Developing Practical Apps

Five years ago, David Nelson was thrust into the forefront of mobile phone game development. During his junior year in the College of Technology, this computer graphics technology student and his professor, Carlos Morales, worked to create a 3-D solar system application for cell phones. They realized they were treading on new territory. “My professor and I went out one weekend to find books on the subject,” Nelson said. “If there had been just one book, it would have been absolutely great. But there was nothing out there to help you learn it.” So Morales and Nelson took it upon themselves to write the book. “Mobile 3D Game Development: From Start to Market” was written in a whirlwind, three-month period in 2006. “I worked through Christmas,” Nelson said. “As an undergrad, it was exciting and fun. It took my knowledge to a whole new level, and it helped me write more professional code.” The two formed a company as well, Morvid Interactive (, that had some initial success with creating games for national clients. “It was kind of ahead of its time. It would have been great for a smart phone,” he said. “We used every aspect of the phone back then. It took us six months to create a game. It only takes a weekend now. Technology needed to catch up with what we wanted to do.” Technology caught up in a big way in 2007 when Apple’s iPhone was released. As other smart phones and operating systems followed, Morvid was able to be more creative with its applications. “Our focus is creating apps for marketing agencies and brands,” he said. “The success with this has let us reinvest some of our income into our own products as well.” The company just released an application called “HearNSpell” for the iPhone. It helps users learn how to spell and retain words at all grade levels. They also are working on an iPad application that will provide communication assistance for people who have lost the ability to speak. Now a graduate student working on his thesis, Nelson has stepped into a consultant role at Morvid, though he plans to return to work full-time once he graduates. “I’m very fortunate; the people we work with are big-idea people,” he said. “That pushes me to find or develop other technologies to solve our needs.” Nelson realizes that creating games and getting people to use them are separate issues. And both of those challenges keep him interested in the field. “You have their attention for a 10-minute bus ride where they are involved and engaged, and then they are gone for a while,” he said. “You have to get them to come back. The challenges are a huge attraction for me. It’s not just technical, it’s psychological.” The curriculum within computer graphics technology has prepared him well, Nelson said. From his initial class in game development and simulation to selectives such as business law and entrepreneurship, he appreciated the department’s commitment to prepare him for a future after college.