Making the Mancala Game App - Try Number Two

Wed 22 February 2017

About a year ago, I started writing the promised Mancala Game app. I got about 50% to 60% done when I encountered a problem that I could't really fix: the computer language I was writing it in, Javascript, can't handle do multitasking.

So, about 3 weeks ago, I started writing it again in Python, a language that should work fine. I'm also doing somemthing unusual: I'm video recording my development and adding commentary as I go along. I'm placing these videos up on YouTube. Think of it as the ultimate expression of transparency :).

Would you like to follow along? Here is a link to the playlist:

Mancala Game App Development

As of Feb 22, 2017, I have six videos posted. More coming soon.

A bit of warning though: you are litterally watching a programmer write a program. It is a fair bit on the technical side.

For the Curious: Why is Javascript a problem?

I had written an AI to act as the opponent in the game. I got it to play a pretty decent game. And, on a full desktop Linux computer, it would make it's decision in less than 1/2 second at max level. Good.

But when I tried running it on a typical mobile device, it would take 10 to 30 seconds (depending on the device.) And worse, while the CPU was locked up busily "thinking", the app would freeze up. No indicators that one should merely wait or anything: a solid freeze.

Modern phones have multiple multi-tasking CPU processors. But Javascript, it turns out, is not able to have the AI run on one processor and have the user interface run on another. Nor can it spawn a new process or task on the same processor. While perhaps not technically a bug, I don't think users would apprecieate an app that freezes up for 30 seconds on every turn.

Category: Products Tagged: MancalaApp Product

Created Materials List

Wed 30 November 2016

If you look in the Materials tab, you will see that I've listed all of the materials required to build the Mancala board. This includes pricing.

As you can see, my wholesale price of $22.50 isn't going to cut it ... 18% is not much margin. This is ...

Category: Products Tagged: Mancala Product

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Expanding the Tic Tac Toe Project

Tue 23 August 2016

Okay, I was in the middle of the Carpenter step of the TicTacToe mobile app. I realized there was a lot I didn't think about in the Architect step. So, I did another Architect video talking about ideas with my friend Brad. I'll leave most of those details ...

Category: Products Tagged: TTT TTTApp Product

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Starting Tic Tac Toe Project

Fri 01 July 2016

After some success with the Mancala Board project; I've decided to branch out and try something different: a Tic Tac Toe App.

Unlike the Mancala App, I'm going to be documenting it. All of it. From the first brainstorming stages, to the very last edit and upload to ...

Category: Products Tagged: TTTApp Product

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Two Sold On The First Day!

Wed 30 March 2016

Wow, that happened fast! Two of the three boards sold on the very first day we became visible. As soon as we get back home (sadly, that is Sunday) we will need to pack and ship more units to Amazon inventory. I think we will put in at least 9 ...

Category: Products Tagged: Mancala Product

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First Try At Amazon Promotion

Tue 29 March 2016

In the last post I mentioned that our Mancala board is not visible in the search results when you search for "mancala." Simply put, we are invisible on

I strongly suspect this has to do with their ranking algorithm sorting not just on content, but also on the ...

Category: Products Tagged: Mancala Product

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Followup On Amazon FBA

Mon 28 March 2016

The first three units showed as available inventory the next day: Friday the 25th.

Sort of.

The three listings that were associated with it were not correct in some way that is, to be blunt, fairly non-obvious. But, after much tweaking of settings and letting the changes trickle through the ...

Category: Products Tagged: Mancala Product

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First Units Arrived at Amazon FBA

Thu 24 March 2016

After much packaging, labeling, and "arranging things," the first 3 units of the mancala board were shipped to Amazon for general sale on Monday. According to UPS package tracking, they just arrived at the Chester, VA warehouse (aka "RIC2," apparently). It will be intersting to see how long it takes ...

Category: Products Tagged: Mancala Product

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