Welcome to our very first Indie App Dev Chat, a recurring feature where we talk with a variety of indie mobile app developers (from industry veterans to complete newbies), finding out why they got into the business, how they make apps, and what development tools they use. First-up is UK-based Ian Grant, who left his job and started OneManPie back in October, in order to follow his passion to become a full-time indie game developer.
If you’re an indie dev with at least one published mobile app, get in touch and maybe you could be featured next.
OneManPie: Indie App Dev Chat
Ian Grant, founder, OneManPie
How long have you been developing apps and why did you decide to get into the business?
Since I was in highschool I have always wanted to work in the games industry but it was an ambition I never thought was possible. It was in 2010 after I had worked in a job for 6 years, that brought me no satisfaction, that I decided it was time to pursue my ambitions, quit my job and go back into full time education to achieve my career goal of working in the game industry. I enrolled on a computer games and animation course at Liverpool John Moores university and was lucky enough to land a placement with a game company called Atomicom working along side industry veterans, this experience only strengthened my passion to become a game developer and start my own business. Officially I have been developing my own games since last October. It’s all brand new but exciting.
How did you learn app/game development?
I have always loved art and anything creative but drawing was not my strongest skill, so at the first chance I got I taught myself how to use tools like Photoshop that I used to do a lot of graphic and web design during my college days, I even worked with a couple of musicians creating their art work which was fun, but it wasn’t until university that I started to learn the basics of programming and app development. Then during my placement with Atomicom I learned how to use this properly for game development using their own in house engines etc.
Downhill Ninja by OneManPie
What tools do you use to create your games?
I use a variety of engines and platforms depending on the type, look and feel of the game. For the current games I have released on iOS I have used GameSalad, which is a great tool for small 2D projects without the need of much programming knowledge. But I am currently in the process of working with Flash and Away3D, and Unreal Engine 4 for separate projects, with the hope of using Unreal Engine 4 for future game projects.
Why did you pick those tools over others and are you happy with them?
GameSalad was a way to create quick small fun games without the need of much programming, it allowed me to use more of my art skills without having to worry about too much time spent on coding. This was ideal being a final year student working towards graduation, due to the demands of my course this meant that I could develop games in my spare time while working on my university projects. I have only had limited time using Unreal Engine 4 but from what I have experienced of it so far I am excited to continue to use it to see what I can create with it.
Can you explain your design process a bit?
In all honesty it is not as structured as I would like it to be, when I’m working on my own it usually starts with an idea that I write down and try and flesh out into an actual game, working out the mechanics, characters, art etc then I begin making prototypes to see how the game will play and if it is fun. While I was working with Atomicom we used a very organized structure, making design documents and technical documents, working out times lines and task to be done which I think helps a great deal when working on projects in groups.
Wobls by OneManPie
What are the main problems you faced during the development of your last app Wobls?
The biggest problem was time, I never had a enough time to work on it, there was so many ideas and features I wished I had included that I never did, in the end it was ‘get it finished and released or not at all.’ Each game that I have released to this point has been somewhat of an experiment for me, from figuring out how to upload a game to the app store or how to make a particular game mechanic or just how to manage my time better, it’s all been part of a learning experience that helps me grow and develop into a better and stronger game developer. In many ways these experiences have been equally, if not more beneficial then university and has taught me some essential skills needed to become successful.
What about marketing/promotion?
Currently the only type of marketing I have used is through advertising on social networks, which as been fine for the small games that I have released, but ideally I would love to utilize other marketing routes available for future, bigger projects.
Any revenues so far?
In terms of how much I have actually made from my games so far is small, while i have found that the game I have released for free have been considerable more successful in terms of amounts downloaded, the amount earned in revenue from in game advertising is much less than my paid games. Revenue has not been my goal at this point in time and its been more of a process of understanding the market and the industry, and my place in it. Although the response I have had has been more than I expected which is fantastic.
What mobile developers do you admire?
What was the last app you installed?
Bean Boy by Tyson Ibelle, I think its just a fun little game that looks and plays great too.
What was the last app you deleted?
Taekwondo Game Global Tournament, thought it looked like a cool game but I couldn’t play it because it kept crashing before the game would start sadly.
To check out Ian’s iOS games head over to the OneManPie App Store developer page. You can also follow him on Twitter.