May 112011

Traditionally, mobile games were developed by developers who took the risk, and reaped the rewards. A studio called Bravado Waffle has decided to try and turn this process over by using “venture capital” contributed by users.

Read on to find out more about them…

Please tell us more about yourself and your company
I’m Stephen, the CEO and Game Designer for Bravado Waffle Studios. We are a startup mobile game development company based in San Francisco. We are made up of 3 team members right now and we have been working for the past seven months on our debut title RoboArena for the iPhone and iPad iOS devices. RoboArena will be a multiplayer casual strategy game inspired by the classic board game RoboRally, and is just the first of many titles we have slated to develop.

Please describe the program for which you seek crowd funding
We are turning to Kickstarter for fund raising to help us complete the development of RoboArena and start the marketing. Kickstarter is an exciting platform that allows small startup companies and entrepreneurs crowd source their fund raising. Supporters pledge money to the projects they would like to see completed, and get to be a direct part in the development cycle. What makes it even more exciting is the fact that it not only allows you to raise funds, it lets you build a community of loyal invested supporters and fans. These fans are what will make or break your success, especially in the competitive world of iOS Apps. Crowd Funding is fund raising, market research, and community building all wrapped into one!

Traditionally, developers have born the risk of development costs themselves. What has motivated you to deviate from this strategy
Traditions are old and crusty, they are made to be overturned. My question is: Why bear all the financial risk if you don’t have to? Web 2.0 has brought us many ways to waste our time, but it has also brought new and exciting ways for savvy startups to raise funds and build their fan bases. Going the crowd funding route, you literally have nothing to loose and everything to gain. It lets you interact directly with your fans, it lets them be a part of the process and feel like they are part of something bigger, it can endear you to your fan base, and it lets you see just how interesting your ideas really are!

How did you set up the crowd funding process
We researched what it took to run a successful campaign and structured ours so that it had the best chance to succeed. We planned the pledge tiers carefully and weighed the costs involved so that we could set a reasonable and fair funding goal. We decided to go with Kickstarter even though it limits us to a US audience since it is the most popular platform out there and has the biggest audience. This is important for us since we didn’t come into the campaign with a fan base to start out.

Above, you mention that you expect support from the fans who invested into the game. What kind of support do you expect?
Well these fans that are willing to invest in your campaign will likely help you in spreading the word to their friends, and giving your game great reviews. They get to feel like they are a big part of the games production, and indeed they are. Word of mouth recommendations is the very best way to market and advertise a game, and it’s probably the hardest as well.

Given that this is an iOS title, I always include a few generic questions. Do you still see sense in supporting OS 3?
Of course. There’s a ton of older devices out there, and not supporting the previous OS systems would be like shooting ourselves in the foot. Especially since our game is 2D and *hopefully* will be easy to run on them. I don’t know the numbers of those who run the older iOS versions, but I’m guessing it’s surprisingly high.

Do you plan to port your products to other platforms
We’d love to port it to Android as well as release the game on the Mac App store. Steam is also an option for the future that we are considering since it is very indie game friendly.

Nov 032010

On the iPhone, getting application design right is crucial. Deidra Jones from JonesAPR has scored a few lifestyle hits on the platform – here is what she has to say about herself!

Please tell us more about yourself?
My background is a bit eclectic. I managed a bar while going to school and obtained degrees in fashion design, marketing, PR and advertising. From there i moved on to ad sales, where i spent nearly 10 years selling integrated marketing programs to national clients including L’Oreal, Mazda, and Unilever. Now i’ve moved on to apps.

We have 18 apps available throughout the world, with over 3 million total downloads. We are now pursuing partnership related apps where we are producing apps for established people & brands. For example we are currently working on an iPhone app for a former senior executive at Disney.

What motivated you to start developing for the iPhone?
I guess I was in the right place at the right time. I needed a new phone and figured … iPhone – why not!, I received the phone at the exact same time the app store opened. When i saw the apps that were on the store, i thought, “I can do this!”, so i discussed the idea with my partner who has content from the book publishing space. Together we decided we would try to create fun apps .

How difficult was it to get started with Objective C?
To be honest Objective C is not my forté. I would say technically i am more of a “Software Architect”. I painstakingly flowchart the look and feel and execution of the app and i leave the nitty gritty coding to developers we work with that are more specialized in putting this together.

I will say that once you have the source code, Objective C/Xcode is pretty friendly to be able to modify … A good story, our Pocket Cocktails app has a number of fields that are appropriately named, i.e. Martinis, Shooters, Mocktails etc. In our SixPack App rather than renaming these fields we reused them to save time and cost, its funny to think that at the root of SixPack app, a workout app, “Bench Press” is technically classified in the “Martini” category, but it works!

What do you consider important for a successful iPhone app?
A confluence of things really. Its getting pretty crowded on the store, you really have to do things to make your app stand out. I would say a great idea that hasn’t been done to death would be first. From there, great production value and simplicity of navigation are things we strive for. Finally the marketing of the app is really the key ingredient.

We were at an app conference and a speaker said if they spent $20K on an app, they would spend $100K on the marketing! This is a bit crazy in our minds, but it demonstrates the current attitude, particularly among larger vendors that understand the marketing component is a critical part of the app producing process.

Was getting into the App Store difficult?
Not for us. Apple posts guidelines for their developers, focusing them on what things they look for when reviewing your app. We were able to conform our apps to meet these requirements, so it was not an issue for us.

Not wanting to offend, but did being female bring you benefits or weaknesses?
Different is sometimes good. Certainly iPhone development is predominantly male. Being female gives us the opportunity to get some additional exposure.

Do you plan to port to other platforms?
We are in the process of porting Pocket Cocktails for Android. We think there is a lot of opportunity with this platform.

What would you like to change about the market?
We feel our apps are really well put together. It would be nice if there was a way for users to be able to see apps into 2 categories, perhaps standard and premium, the powers at be could sort the apps according to their quality. Premium apps would carry a more premium price. We would love the challenge to be able to sell apps in a premiere category. We think the app market is mature enough to be able to dually support 99 cent apps and premium priced apps.

Which advice would you give to new developers?
Planning is really key. Look at the market first and ask yourself is your idea truly unique. If it is, spend significant time thinking about how the app will be executed from start to finish and THEN try to determine what it will cost. You can always make an app better, try not to get “featuritis” when you are creating it. Add modularly to the app once it proves it has the wings to take flight.

Anything you would like to add?
I think app development is really a cornerstone of 21st century commerce. The key word is disintermediation, there is no middleman, its you and Apple working together. The freedom of being able to subsidize your bills or make an existing living working at home is really nice. We know a number of developers that pay their rent or their bar tab from their app sales, either way apps are helping to contribute in a positive way!