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.



    I think the app stores are more like Democracy. Democracy works in theory, but the big guys get bigger and small guys get smaller. For anyone that has any knowledge of communism and it's history (not the USA perspective) you would know that if the apps store was like communism, there would only every be indie developers and the only Operating Systems that would exist would be Linux and Android.

      I used to have this idea that App Stores were this really great idea, that It would bring together products for consumers in an easy to discover way, that we'd all find the things we love and that everyone would be happy as long as we all worked together.

      When I say app stores are like communism, what I really mean is, that the idea is good, but we haven't seen a really nice implementation yet. Not that the app stores run in a "Communist" way.

        Thanks you for clarifying. Much appreciated. I just get emotional about people using the word Communism. Communism is not as evil as people make it out to be or as evil as the America's portray it. Democracy is no better. America has an indescribably amount of people homeless and one of the worst health care system around. Anyway, wish you much success with your app development in future and I hope that things like the OUYA help boost the indie scene.

          Rubbish Haley. Communism is a far worse ideology than Democracy. Communism concentrates power to a handful of elites and cadres. While democracy might not always give you the best candidates, there is at least a choice and leaders can be deposed through the ballot. And don't get confused between democracy and capitalism please.

          Ultimately Socialism is the shadows of Communism . And, while simplistic, the best way to describe the failures of the failures of a socialist governance system is as follows:

          A Texas Political Science Professor was teaching his class about the failures of Socialism in world governments. A bright young student arose to challenge the Professor and insisted that Socialism does work in certain areas of the world and indeed is working now in the good ole US of A as well!

          The Professor said "Ok class if you all agree we will conducted a live experiment in the merits of Socialism, but you must all agree to accept the results of this experiment". The class all agreed, they were very eager to precipitate in the Professor's experiment; which was:

          1. Quiz on Wednesday, Test on Friday, the grade will be on an average.

          If the average score in the class was an A then everyone gets an A.
          If the average score in the class was a B then everyone gets a B.
          If the average score in the class was a C then everyone gets a C.
          If the average score in the class was a D then everyone gets a D.
          If the average score in the class was an F then everyone gets a F

          2. This experiment in Socialism would last for one month.

          The first grade on the Quiz was a B, so everyone in the class got a B. Some of the A students were complaining, but the C students were happy to get a B. The A students started to study less and complain more.

          The results of the Test on Friday was a C, now the A students were really complaining to the other students about studying and they were trying to encourage the C students to bring up their grades, but the C students did not respond.

          The next week the grades were a C and D, the former A students lost interest and did not bother to study because now there was no incentive for them to excel and the former C students were mad at the A students for not helping the C students with their studies, so the C students just quit studying.

          The result was that at the end of the month the whole class got a F. The Texas Professor said, "This is perfect example of how Socialism does not work and why Socialism fails people as a whole!"

      android is a bit of joke when compared to it's mother, a truly open source os linux. Sure it's a thousand times better than ios but still quite locked down.

        what part of android is locked down?

      I thought if the app stores were like communism, only the government would be making apps? As there is no such thing as private property or businesses?

        Yyeah they more described capitalism.

        Communism is extremely left so government intervention represents the working class ( anti-monopoly and therefore in this case indie developers). What you describe is Fascism where the government controls everything and believes people need to be controlled (extremely right).

    Great to know that there are game developers in Brisbane.

    Anthony's come a long way from "The Golf War" (his team's captstone project at QUT). Congrats to him and the team on their success.

    Why have u only released on app stores?
    What about steam or even just self publish digitally?
    Many people have done it before. Mine craft, Kerbal Space and Torchlight
    I've been in the industry for a good 6 years and I've learnt that app stores aren't the way to go to make games.

    Because you can't market outside of the App Store(s)?

    Go viral, get your own site, publish YouTube of your game, start an ARG but mostly get people talking about (and presumably, buying ) your game. Do these things and your app will end up in the charts.

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