Meet Matchmaker Millie: the brain child of married couple Chen-Po Sun and Ee-Leng Chang and their indie dev label, Games for Gummie. They went into the app business together and this week, Developers Cubed investigates if their relationship helps or hurts their endeavours.
Who are you and where do you work?
My name is Chen-Po Sun and I'm a programmer and one half husband/wife indie developer team, Games for Gummie. Ee-Leng Chang, my better half splits her time between her own design/accessories business, Hooby Groovy and handling the art work for Games for Gummie.
Why do we know you? What have you created?
The both of us used to work in the local games industry. I was a console programmer with Firelight Technologies, where I was part of creating one of the worlds leading game audio middleware solutions, FMOD.
Ee-Leng was an associate producer for now shut down games studio, Bluetongue Entertainment, where she worked on many titles including Barnyard, various Nicktoons Titles and Marvel: Super Hero Squad.
What platforms do you develop for?
We currently develop for iOS, but have plans to branch out to Android, PC and Mac for future projects.
What are you working on right now?
We just launched our latest title Matchmaker Millie yesterday and we're currently in the planning stages of our next game which will be quite different from what we've made before.
Our next project will be taking Games for Gummie into a slightly different direction than we first planned but we are very excited about it. We are still prototyping and concepting so I don't want to give too many details until we have something concrete, but it is a possibility we may move away from mobile/iOS as our lead platform.
What do you think about the rise and rise of App Stores? How has it influenced your titles?
The rise of App Stores, is what drew us to iOS in the first place. The low barrier to entry, especially in comparison to other platforms has been great for indie developers, however this means a lot more competition. It is getting harder and harder to get your game even recognised on the App Store, and consumers are expecting a lot these days for a free or 99 cent app.
The App Store these days seems to be dominated by larger companies now which are able to spend large amounts of money developing and marketing free and 99 cent apps which indies simply cannot compete with. A bit of luck seems to help these days, but having said that, there are still some great indie games and apps doing well on the App Store which is always great to see.
What’s your favourite app that you didn’t create?
There's quite a lot, and it changes quite often. Lately, I've been playing Mikey Shorts, by indie developer BeaverTap Games a lot. I don't usually like playing platformers on an iPhone, especially having to use the touchscreen as a d-pad but theres something about the crispness of the movement in Mikey Shorts that makes it work.
Ee-Leng's favourite app, in terms of what she uses the most is ABC iView, which she finds really useful for listening to the news and current affairs without having to take time out of her day-to-day work to read up on it. She's also always on Instagram, which she finds useful in building up awareness and buzz for her other venture, Hooby Groovy.
What phone do you use? Why?
I currently use an iPhone 4S, mainly because the main platform we develop on is iOS.
What advice do you have for budding Aussie developers out there?
We're somewhat newbies as indie developers ourselves, so all I can say is that we try to stay positive and motivated. It is more than likely that it will be somewhat of a grind so prepare yourself mentally and financially for it. Start with small projects and work your way up from there, and always make sure your next project is better than your previous.
Find some balance in your life with other actives, don't take yourself too seriously, and remember to have fun! Otherwise what's the point?
Is it tough being in a relationship and working together on an app like this? Does it make it harder to work with your partner or is it easier? Why?
I wouldn't say it is tough, just different. It can be harder to be critical of each other's work because they are your partner, which is where outside opinions and critiques can help a lot. We've heard horror stories of strained relationships and such when working with your partner, but to be honest we have yet to experience anything like that (knock on wood).
We also have many common interests and taste, as well as knowing each other so well, that our ideas often mesh and it is much easier to communicate these ideas to each other.
I think it also helps that we have clearly defined roles that we do in Games for Gummie, so much so that a lot of things can be done individually and not stepping on each others toes, and that we also have other, individual ventures outside of Games for Gummie.
I also think it's important for one person to be in charge. In a personal relationship, equality is a great thing. But when working professionally, things go a lot smoother if there's one definite leader. That being said, its definitely important to constantly listen to what each other has to say and to take all opinions and suggestions into consideration (and it doesn't get you into trouble when you're back in husband/wife mode).