Jul 29, 2013

PixHole - A Unique Interactive Game to Enjoy Instagram

I'm always on the hunt for new apps - I'm not sure why since I have some pretty amazing ones already and haven't even tapped into their capabilities.  Not all of the apps I download are photo editing apps. Some of my favorites that have nothing to do with photo editing are Mailbox, MyFitnessPal, Launch Center Pro, W.E.L.D.E.R. 

A new discovery is one that allows me to view my Instagram feed while also challenging myself with the unique puzzle feature of PixHole.  I have to admit it is addictive!

I had a chance to interview the developer to find out more about PixHole.

G:  What is your name and where do you live?

S:  My name is Stefano Figurelli and I live in Italy, with my wife and our two kids, 4 and 2, in a small town called Savona near the sea.

G:  What is PixHole?

S:  PixHole is a photographic game for iPhone based on Instagram.

G:  How did you come up with the idea?

S:  I'm a software engineer so I try to stay updated with latest technologies and, since mobile is now overtaking desktop development, I decided to try to build a mobile application in order to put into practice what I was learning.  I chose to build a game since it's technically simpler than a utility app and you have complete freedom to do what you like.

At the same time I was discovering Instagram. Usually I don't like social networks, but I like photography and I realized how interesting this network is - a great place for people to share their photos and also to get inspired!

I decided to put this all together and build an app to play with Instagram photos that would provide an endless flow of great images and a way to enjoy Instagram in a different, fun way.  I approached the idea for gameplay by devising a puzzle that was completed by filling the holes drilled in the photos with their missing pieces.  To make it more challenging, some of the pieces may rotate.  There are also bonus levels, objectives to reach to increase the score multiplier.

I then decided on the app name, PixHole, for obvious reasons.  I'm not a huge fan of games, but when I do play on my iPhone, I prefer simple games that are quick and addictive.  I really enjoy Tiny Wings and Letterpress for example.  I couldn't come close to these great games, but I decided to try and make it simple and as elegant as those.

I wanted users to also be able to play offline, but that would mean I would need to insert some photos directly into the app.  I contacted 80 of my favorite Instagram users, explained my project and asked permission to use two photos inside the app.  Some said yes and others never replied.  In the end, PixHole now has 120 photos by 55 great photographers from Instagram. Several of them have over 100,000 followers (brahmino, brenton_clarke, croyable, hirozzzz, jeera, laurenepbath, puanindya, craighowes1, herbertschroer, kevinruss, to name few of them) so even being able to convince them was a success for me.

All photos have been lent to me for free for the app and everyone can play with them for free too.
Along with offline playing, PixHole offers the option to play connected to Instagram with the user's own photos, his likes, his feed, by searching photos for a particular tag or with the popular photos.

I'm offering PixHole as freemium with most features for free but there is also an in-app purchase to enable extra features. 

G:  Is this the first app you have worked on?

S:  Yes.

G:  What has been the response from people who have used PixHole?

S:  I receive a lot of messages from people saying that PixHole is really fun and addictive (and that's the most important thing).  Others are happy that they are discovering new users by playing with my selection of photographs.  All of the user reviews around the world have been very good.  I'm quite happy at the moment but obviously PixHole is a new app and it will take months to see if it is successful or not.

G:  Do you have a photography or art background?

S:  No art background.  I have always liked photography since I was a teenager (in the film era).  I even set up a darkroom in the basement where I used to make my own black and white prints using an old enlarger my parents bought in the 60's.

G:  I can see an app like this geared to children as well - have you explored that area?

S:  Yes, I think I could make an iPad version with images for children - that would be interesting.

G:  Do you have any other apps in the works?

S:  No...sorry!

G:  Is there anything else you'd like to add?

S:  I hope people will give PixHole a chance by downloading and playing with it once. That's the best way to understand its potential.  It is free to download so there's nothing to lose!  This is a small personal project developed in my spare time over a 10-month period.  I'm not a company and I'm not doing this for a living, so I can't really promote the app in the standard aggressive way.  I hope that word of mouth helps me to spread the app along with some exposure like this on blogs about iphoneography and gaming.

Download Pixhole

Find Stefano:  Instagram / Twitter / Facebook / Website 

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