Software

Developers Cubed: 'App Stores Are Like Communism'

Gizmodo’s Developers Cubed series offers a behind the scenes look into Australia’s up and coming dev scene. This week: We talk to Anthony Wood of Screwtape Studios, who carries round a slew of devices and thinks that the app markets on all of them are like Communism. Find out why.

Who are you and where do you work?

My name is Anthony Wood and I am the co-founder and creative director of Screwtape Studios.

We’re a small game developer based in Brisbane, working (at the moment) in the mobile space making casual action/arcade titles. As well as creative direction I’m also lead programmer, and well, responsible for whatever other crap absolutely must get done for our games to be released.

Why do we know you? What have you created?

If you did know me, or indeed the company, then it would probably be for our latest release, Bank Job. Bank Job is a fun little endless runner that we made for iPhone and Android. We’ve also developed a couple of other games, Time Dash and Conduction, also on iPhone and Android.

What platforms do you develop for?

A the moment we’re develop for iPhone and Android, but we’re looking at getting into the PC and Mac space in some of our upcoming titles. Honestly though, we’re a Unity3D developer, so porting isn’t an issue. It’s more a matter of finding the time required to do platform specific things, like monetisation. There’s also some input considerations going between mobile and PC/Mac that mean a bit of our stuff isn’t really fun with a mouse and keyboard.

What are you working on right now?

At the moment we’re finishing up a casual action title for mobile called Invasion. It’s a nod to our forefathers in the industry with a nice modern take. We’re also in pre-production to Invasions follow up which is already feeling fun. And, of course, we are in what seems to be the never-ending maintenance cycle of Bank Job. I take all our user reviews really personally, so it there’s something that isn’t working quite right or just could be better, then we’re really keen to get it sorted so that our players can have the best experience.

What do you think about the rise and rise of App Stores? How has it influenced your titles?

I think that the current crop of App Stores are like communism, really great in theory, but in practice we all end up pretty much getting fucked over. Ask any small indie team the best way to get sales, and I would think that they would all unamiously say, “you need to get on the charts”. That’s fine for bigger players, but for smaller guys it’s a pain in the arse.

It’s so easy to get lost in the sea of apps that are released each and every day. So you pay sites for reviews (yep, that’s right) and you hope that some faceless, nameless editor at the app stores will choose your app to be featured. I think that serious developers should be able to contact editors in these stores with much greater ease than they currently can to discuss options.

What’s your favourite app that you didn’t create?

I feel like I’m supposed to answer this one like a gamer, but honestly, I burn through games pretty quickly for research that I have become numb to them. Recently, I’ve spent a little bit of time playing Major Mayhem, that game feels amazing to play.

My favourite app though, would hands down have to be the iPhone version of OmniFocus. I don’t think I’d be able to function at all without it sitting in my dock.

What phone do you use? Why?

I use an iPhone 4S and I love it. I’m a reformed tinkerer, so a device that keeps things hidden from me like iPhone does is a godsend. And obviously I develop for iPhone and I am always playing the latest build of our games, so there’s that too.

I also have in my bag right now a Galaxy S, a Galaxy Tab, an iPad and two iPhone 3GSs. The Galaxy S occasionally gets graced with my SIM card.

What advice do you have for budding Aussie developers out there?

Make lots of stuff and show it to whoever you can. Just make sure you finish one thing before moving onto the next. It’s a great way to make mistakes and learn from them. If you want to go indie, then prepare for a trial by fire in things like business management, marketing, workplace health and safety, accounting, blah, blah, blah, or partner with someone who is interested in those things (someone likes that stuff, right?).

It you want to be taken seriously, you need to be serious. If you just want to make games for the fun and love of it, then don’t quit your day job.


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