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From Zombies to Caching: Meet Smudgy Games

When computer-game producer Edios – famous for titles such as Tomb Raider: Underworld and Batman: Arkham Asylum – closed its office in Sweden in 2008, it would have been easy for programmers René Højstrand and Alex Hartly to look for work at another gaming giant.

But they didn’t. With the quickly evolving smartphone market coming to the fore, they had been throwing around ideas of  “making something for the iPhone”, making the decision to strike out on their own an easy one. And so, in late 2008, Smudgy Games was formed.
 
If you own an iOS device, you may be familiar with some of their games already. Zombie Nombie, a pocket-sized zombie head that you poke, spin and smack for fun, is my personal favourite.
 
While Smudgy Game is not yet a household name in geocaching circles, it may soon become one with the recent release of the company’s geocaching application, iGeoKnife.
 
I reviewed iGeoKnife at the beginning of the month and, being extremely impressed by the app, gave it 4/5 satellites.

René, the geocacher of the two programmers, had wanted a database-driven geocaching app for iOS since he took up the hobby in 2010.

“Being able to browse all ‘my’ caches offline on my mobile device, without first setting up filters in GSAK and exporting as gpx, is something I have been missing for a long time.”

With a number of geocaching iOS apps already on the market, the pair wanted to achieve something the other developers hadn’t.

“Being able to bring all caches in GSAK with you and access them in a fast and intuitive way.  You only have to deal with PQs when you work with GSAK. And when you want to go mobile you just copy your databases over.  That, combined with fast filtering and sorting is something I haven’t seen so far.”

But don’t mistake iGeoKnife as an alternative for GSAK. “iGeoKnife is more meant to be a GSAK browser plus some navigation tools. Our aim is to continue evolving the app and add features as we go along. But it’s not meant to replace GSAK, it’s more like an extra tool in ‘the Swiss Army knife’.”

One of the neatest tricks in the iGeoKnife set is its ability to automatically update you GSAK database in iGeoKnife. All you have to do is add the GSAK database file to iGeoKnife in iTunes and each time you sync it will be updated.

The custom filter settings

Like all good programmers, René and Alex haven’t finished developing iGeoKnife yet. In future, they plan to introduce the following features:

  • Extend the filtering;
  • Extend the GPX/ZIP handling even more;
  • Geocaching tools for solving puzzles;
  • Searchable logs;
  • Searchable user-waypoints;
  • Offline maps.

And they’re willing to hear requests! “We also hope to get some feedback from customers, if they feel something is missing we will look into that.”

You’d would think that designing a database-driven geocaching app would be a bit dry after creating games such as Zombie Nombie and 3 Blind Mice but this is apparently not the case. “The process is very much the same, though it’s completely different fields. Developing iGeoKnife was just as fun to develop as any of our games.”

René (GC handle: Teamhoejstrand) now uses iGeoKnife as his primary geocaching app but still has a Garmin Oregon 450T as a backup. His introduction to the world of geocaching came after his daughter went caching with a friend’s family.

“I went on the net for more information about it and did end up at Geocaching.com. After reading a bunch of information, I downloaded the free app from Groundspeak to my iPhone. The following weekend we went out trying to find the nearest three caches. After that, the whole family was hooked.”

You might also think that it would be all about the numbers for a man who created a geocaching database app. “Not that much. I keep our statistics up to date. But it’s not a ‘religion’ to me. But we do use the statistics as ‘inspiration’ sometimes, e.g: if we just need a couple of points to get a new/better badge.”

Looking to the future of geocaching, René believes that eventually only hardcore geocachers will be using traditional GPSrs. “Right now, a traditional GPS is still superior in terms of accuracy, roughness and battery lifetime. In terms of user interface and user experience, the smartphone is way ahead …”

Overall, the future of geocaching looks bright, he says. “Exactly what to expect is hard to say. But it’s clear that more and more people are getting into the game. So hopefully we will see more and exciting caches popping up all over the world. And who knows? Maybe new types of caches will be invented too.”

3 comments

  1. Edd De Clercq

    Hi,

    iGeoKnife is indeed a nice tool, but I have a remark on:

    “One of the neatest tricks in the iGeoKnife set is the ability to automatically update you GSAK database in iGeoKnife. All you have to do is add the GSAK database file to iGeoKnife in iTunes and each time you sync it will be updated.”

    AFAIK this isn’t true, unless the newer versions does support this (which I didn’t try yet). The database is not synchronized, you have to copy the file over each time.

    Eddy

    1. Cumbyrocks

      You are correct and I am getting my apps mixed up. iGeoKnife doesn’t (yet) auto-update the database. Thanks Eddy.

  2. Suzanne

    Can anyone tell me why my downloaded files with proper names when syn’d from itunes who up in igeoknife as sqlite.db3 instead of the name given it when added to itunes

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