Location: Washington D.C Metro Area
Notable apps: Chuck Gnome ($1.99)
Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Specialty genres: Arcade, Action, Adventure, Shooter
Company size: 2
Short description of company : Movable Sprites is a mobile game and application development studio based in Chantilly, VA. Founded in 2010 by Dave Hakim and Steve Tompkins, the company develops software for the iPhone and iPad platform.
How did you and your firm get into the iPhone game development business?
Basically with one question from Dave... “Hey, Wanna make an iPhone game?” Dave left his “secure” full time job with the purpose of becoming a full time iDevice game developer. I actually still have my full time day gig but loved the idea of making a game in my free time. We briefly worked together at a past job and I think there was an understanding of how much we wanted to jump into making games. I received an instant message one day from Dave and he said he had secured a domain name GnomeChucker.com, later changed to Chuck Gnome to give the character some life. It’s funny how in the world of the Internet one of the first things you do to validate a name or idea is see if that domain name is available. So we started to riff instantly on the concept and I made some wire frames for how the game might be laid out. From there, while I started sketching more details of story and characters, Dave was busy building a prototype using simple shapes to test our set designs and ideas. We have spent the last six to seven months trying to get Chuck Gnome out there with the hopes we can continue forward with the other four or five game ideas we have waiting.
In your opinion, how has the iPhone and Apple's iTunes App Store changed the gaming industry?
For me it has brought me back to gaming. As I mentioned before with two kids and one on the way it becomes increasingly difficult for me to spend hours playing games like I used to. At least until the youngest is old enough to play, then it’s bonding and not bad parenting. The beauty of iPhone gaming is that I can sneak some play one minute here or two minutes there and since the phone is the center of everyone's universe it’s a traveling console right in your pocket everywhere you go. It also allows two guys with limited resources to make a game for a mass amount of people.
Describe the differences between developing games for the iPhone and the iPad.
The differences for me are less in the development, and more with the types of games I want to develop (because I want to play!) on each device. I want to interact with a game differently on the iPhone than on the iPad. Chuck Gnome I like to play casually, one handed, looking down, flinging Chuck with my thumb. That doesn’t really work on the iPad, too awkward for me to hold that way at least. But I think games for the iPad can be less casual and there are tons of Minority Report style touch control schemes that I want to try on the iPad that I just would never think of using on the iPhone. I think board games, RTS and tower defense games can be done a lot better on an iPad than an iPhone, perhaps even better than on a computer.
What factors go into how you ultimately price your games?
We looked at other games with similar amounts of content as well as the Indie developed games in general. Next we determined what we might need to continue developing and add more and more free content to the game. We had considered In App purchases for new levels but decided that we would commit to giving away new content as long as the game helped pay the bills for their creation.
Describe what your dream game for the iPhone would look like.
Right now all my dream games all seem to be heading towards the iPad. Its expansive touch screen is really just begging for board or other tabletop type games. Something tactile, something multiplayer, either running on several iPads or one shared device. Like the holo-chess game in Star Wars where you can place a game piece and see it just clobber an opponent's piece. Something where you turn the whole game map with the twist of your wrist or arrange cards illuminati style by dragging and turning. I think table top games can really take on whole new dimension on devices like this. Videos abound of cool things being done on Microsoft Surface and I think many of those same ideas can work and work better on the iPad.