Worse things can be said about a new iPhone game beyond being too much like the blockbuster hit Cut the Rope. That’s the rap on still-addictive physics-based puzzler Spider Jack, the subject of this edition of Game Theory.
The folks at Chillingo - the publisher behind Spider Jack, Cut the Rope and Angry Birds - of course know a thing or two about what makes a game popular. Levi Buchanan, the company’s senior manager of developer relations, explains what makes Spider Jack unique, the “common DNA” between iOS and Android platforms, and his challenge to convince gamers that far from everything played on an iPhone or iPad is “half baked”.
Appolicious: With so many physics-based puzzle games available for iOS devices, explain how Spider Jack separates itself from the pack.
Levi Buchanan: Spider Jack is loaded with not just over 75 puzzles, but oodles of personality. He’s a genuinely fun little hero to root for, which makes helping him score his meal at the end of each stage all the more satisfying. There’s also multiple solutions to each puzzle, which cuts down on the frustration some gamers feel in physics-based puzzlers. Mind you, Spider Jack is no push-over, but as you swing through the stages, you aren’t punished for not following some invisible script. We want to encourage gamers to try new things, not discourage them from using their imagination
APPO: There are a lot of similarities between Spider Jack and Cut the Rope. How do you balance between incorporating elements from such an iconic game that you know are popular with users and also giving them features they can't find anywhere else?
LB: The folks at MaxNick, the developer of Spider Jack, are admitted fans of Cut the Rope. Spider Jack, however, offers players a different adventure where Jack himself is the swinging object. Jack can crawl up, down, and pretty much any which way to get his next meal. We’ve heard from fans of both games and what they appreciate most is having hundreds of clever puzzles to three-star.
APPO: What are the biggest differences in gameplay between the iPhone and iPad versions of Spider Jack?
LB: The larger playfield of the iPad offers a bigger view of Spider Jack’s action, but both versions of Spider Jack offer the exact same content and gameplay. We make sure that nobody gets left out because of the device they own.
APPO: Spider Jack was released earlier this month. After the initial buzz and publicity, what are you doing to continue to drive awareness and downloads?
LB: We are continuing to talk to fans about Spider Jack’s great gameplay – and great value! There are dozens and dozens of puzzles in there to three-star… and more on the way. Fans are also driving awareness, thanks to the new level-gifting feature in Crystal, our social gaming platform. It’s easy to share puzzles from Spider Jack with a friend so they can try it out and see what they’re missing by not having Spider Jack on their devices.
LB: We are currently working closely with Indie Developer, MaxNick to evaluate an Android edition of Spider Jack.
APPO: In your opinion, how apart are the iOS and Android platforms for both developing and marketing games like yours?
LB: iOS and Android are different platforms to be sure – as any heated fan of one or the other can tell you – but they share common DNA: they offer exciting new places to play games. However, the social nature of mobile makes it so much easier (and fun) to share our excitement about Chillingo’s games with both current and future fans.
APPO: What keeps you up and night and are your biggest areas of concern for the mobile gaming industry? What about the biggest opportunities not yet realized?
LB: The biggest opportunity comes from making sure more and more people know that mobile devices like the iPhone are a great place to play games -- and not just half-baked games, but real games for all types of players, from recreational gamers to the hardcore. The best way to accomplish this is to keep releasing great games like Spider Jack that people love to share with friends.
APPO: What is next for you?
LB: Jack’s hunger is hardly satiated, so be on the lookout for new stages and playthings for Spider Jack fans!