We haven't released a developer interview for some time now, and I must say I was feeling a bit nostalgic about having a chance to talk to some developers and get a feel of what's out there right now. I continue to have a strong belief in publishing these small insights in the hopes that you might find it useful and get some tips and tricks into what's at stake when that new awesome puzzle game got released, or that much needed business app is finally on your iPhone. And who knows, some of us may even go into developing at some point and our little spotlights will serve as a good starting point.
Onto this week's spotlight, and I decided to do it with the development team behind a small fun game like Touch Attack. It's been a pleasure reading their insights and might I add, really insightful.
1. Tell me a bit about ProRattaFactor, the values and team that hold it all together. What drives and motivates you? How long have you been in the business?
Casey Gatti: ProRattaFactor is an indie studio that strives to produce fun, dynamic, and engaging interactive experiences. The team is comprised of like-minded developers that share interests in the game development process, exploring unique game approaches and delivery platforms, and bringing rich experiences to gamers. ProRattaFactor has been in business for 5 years and has released 2 games: The Adventures of El Ballo (published by Ambrosia Software), and two versions of Touch Attack (published by Apple iTunes).
2. What does it take to succeed in this market?
Casey Gatti & Jake Peterson: There are a great deal of factors involved. However, we feel marketing exposure is the absolute key due to competing with the incredibly growing library of games in the marketplace; followed by a great game with a unique hook, user-based viral hype and/or publisher with deep advertising pockets, and/or a dose of luck...
3. What made you develop for the iPhone? Are you planning to extend to other mobile platforms?
Casey & Jake: Jake has had many years of previous experience dealing with Apple API's, and we thought it'd be great that Apple would handle security and payment processing, and we could just make small, fun games for iPhone, and maybe something would come out of it. It turned out to be a much different experience than we imagined, but it has been very interesting!
Expansion to other mobile platforms is definitely a possibility and is being looked at, although there are no immediate plans.
4. What sets you apart from competition both in the App Store and the general market?
Casey & Jake: We tend to focus on ideas that exist primarily in a 2D space and that have some form of inspirational roots. These "retro"-inspired ideas (with new twists) provide a familiar ground for gamers and touch at their fundamental roots/interests in gaming.
5. Your favorite gaming genre for the mobile age?
Casey: It's hard for me to say. I like many genres equally (action, strategy, puzzle).
Jake: Yeah, definitely hard to say. I guess I'm not into racing on mobile devices so much.
6. About Touch Attack, we’ve tried it, we’ve liked it. I’m sure our readers will to. Any hints or tricks you’re willing to share with all of us as to gameplay?
Casey: In the Touch Attack mini game, keep an eye on the "remaining" number. The number always decreases before the critter with a "target" comes out of the hole. This may help you be aware of critters that don't have a target if you see one pop out but the "remaining" number never decreased.
Jake: Here's a little secret: The first five critters that pop out on every level always have a target on them.
7. Any updates being prepped up for Touch Attack?
Casey & Jake: We are currently just watching for bugs in the new FREE+ version.
8. For our readers, please describe Touch Attack in just one word.
9. What was your favorite thing about designing for the iPhone and iPod Touch? The biggest challenge?
Casey: The opportunity to see the game concept, interface designs, animation, and music all come to life on this cool phone/device that I can then share with anyone at anytime was just the best thing about it all.
The biggest challenge has been breaking through the marketplace.
Jake: I think one of my favorite things was that I could whip the game out of my pocket at any time and show my friends and family what I was working on.
The biggest challenge for sure was memory management. Fitting all that stuff into like 10 to 12 MB of RAM, and less than 10 MB of disk space for cell delivery was a bit of a trick.
10. What apps do you have on your iPhone or iPod Touch? What’s your favorite?
Casey: Dropbox, Tweetie, Flixster, and Flashlight are the ones I use the most. (Touch Attack FREE+ is my favorite :P Well, besides our game... I'd say Dropbox is my favorite outside of Apple's Mail app.)
Jake: Right now, I'd say Twilight Golf is my favorite. The 2D shadowing is really neato, plus the physics are totally awesome. In fact, the game is developed by the guy that makes Chipmunk physics, which is an open source 2D physics library.
11. What’s next for ProRattaFactor? And with the Holidays coming up, what do you have in line for your users?
Casey & Jake: We have some game ideas in development and getting ready for the prototype phase. We are looking forward to exploring those ideas. Touch Attack FREE+ was our holiday release project.
Thank you to both of you for taking the time to talk to us about Touch Attack and the iPhone. I must say the first think I did after reading the interview was to test out your tips and hooray, they're awesome. I think Casey's tip was kind of out there, but once you're into the game, you can't really pay attention to those seemingly small details. It's all about hitting those critters. :)