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Evil Apples: A Twisted Social Card Game

Evil Apples Screenshot on iPhone

Danny Ricciotti and Sean Conrad are the kind of developers Parse was originally built for: independent, inspired and scrappy. Danny started developing on iOS2 and has worked on iPhone apps exclusively since then, both freelance and for small companies. Sean has a slightly different background, having worked in software product management with no first-hand experience writing software until about a year ago when he decided to leave his career and teach himself to code, with the goal of working on indie projects from scratch.

The two founders created Evil Studios Limited, and according to them, “our office is our sunny kitchen in the Mission. We are 70% powered by Burritos from the amazing Taco Truck just one block away. The other 30% of our power comes from coffee, music and purple elixir.” They share the code work and Danny also spends his time designing App features in Photoshop and talking to their community on Twitter. Sean seems to have reached his dream of working on indie projects, explaining that their process is, “we basically wake up every day, talk about what's on our minds, and build what feels like the most important next thing. It really is that simple, and that magical."

So far, Evil Studios has produced a very successful app, Evil Apples, a twisted card game for the iPhone similar to the popular party games 'Cards Against Humanity' and 'Apples to Apples'. Danny describes the game as playing a social Madlib where the goal of the game is to fill-in-the-blank with the funniest/dirties/cleverist thing you have. Players take turns getting a card with a fill in the blank, and those playing with them are responsible for filling in that blank - either with the cards in their hands, or by playing a Wildcard, which lets you write in whatever answer you like. This is the core gameplay mechanic; the structure encourages you to play with friends, but you can also play with random strangers in a super-fast Blitz mode.

Sean and Danny had wanted to do a project together for a while, and one afternoon started talking about building something inspired by Cards Against Humanity (and thus Apples to Apples and Madlibs), but for iPhone and influenced by their vision. Within 10 minutes they had a dozen ideas that could only be done online or with technology. They knew the opportunity to innovate was huge, and were confident that the two of them would make a good team that could execute very well on the project.

A few days later, they got to work, and their vision has paid off. For the past few months they have been consistently in the Top 5 Words Games and Top 5 Card games in the App Store and have hit the Top 100 Overall Games a few times. Evil Apples has over 10,000 games being played every day with a minimum of three players per game. With 200,000 downloads in their first four months, they send out, daily: 500,000 Push Notifications, 50,000 chat messages, and 10,000 game invites to 30,000 daily unique users.

Having used Parse for other apps and meeting the team at events around San Francisco, they used the platform for an early proof-of-concept using Cloud Code and decided to use Parse for Push Notifications in the final product. A push notification is sent every time it’s a player’s turn to move and in the last 30 days, have sent 12,194,603 Push Notifications.

According to Sean, it only took about 5 hours of developer time to set up the push system. As Danny says, “the Push Notification system in Parse is very well designed. The concept of using channels for sending pushes is strait-forward, and honestly nobody else seems to make it as easy to integrate. We don't have to think about device tokens or any other push nonsense, just the channels that we decide to define, which are all just strings!” Sean goes even further, feeling that as an indie developer, especially a new one, that, “Parse is an amazing service: I can focus on building a great client-side experience and let Parse handle everything behind-the-scenes. This is particularly critical for me because I am still learning the modern software ecosystem at the engineering-level, because I really want to remain focused on the iOS world and not get lost in the rest (yet).”

Download the app here. The pair also has a small request for their community: they’d love to hear your new card ideas. If anyone plays the game and has ideas for new cards, email the duo at - terrible ideas welcome!