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Windryder

Starting out in iPhone development

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After several months of contemplating my options for post-school employment, I've finally decided that I want to give indie game development a shot. I think by now I've considered most of the available platforms. From what I've read and heard from others, it seems like the iPhone market is where I'll want to be. However, since the iPhone has been around for some two and a half years by now and the App Store, according to Apple, has around 140,000 apps, I'm wondering if a lone developer like myself will simply be crushed by the competition. I have a fair amount of game programming experience, mostly in C++ and Java, but I have no doubts as to whether I can handle the technical side of things. As far as art goes, I'm pretty green but I'm hoping to learn as I go. Eventually I'll go looking for an artist with whom I can join forces, but until then I'm planning on running solo. I should probably point out that I still live with my parents, so I won't be depending on my success in iPhone games to pay my bills. :) My question to all you iPhone developers and industry veterans out there is this: would it be reasonable, given my skills and current situation, to try my luck at iPhone game development or should I look elsewhere? Any input is highly appreciated!

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If you have the time, resources and inclination, why not go for it? I don't think you will have much commercial success due to the crowded market place (as you noted), but there is value in designing, developing and publishing a game start to finish even if it does not become a commercial success. At worst you gain some skills that make you more desirable to potential employers. Good luck!

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Original post by kdog77
I don't think you will have much commercial success due to the crowded market place (as you noted), but there is value in designing, developing and publishing a game start to finish even if it does not become a commercial success.


A very good point. While I can't deny the fact that I'd love to pull an iShoot, experience is more important to me than money at this point. With that said, I do hope to make some money, or I'll be broke for the next year or so.

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So I do iPhone Development on the side for fun and a very small amount of dollars. Best month ever was $200

Here's the thing. All the iPhone millionaire stories are from when the iPhone was a new platform. iShoot came out almost the day the App Store opened, as did a lot of the other hits. There are certainly some recent indy successes: Pocket God, Trenches, Knights Onrush but they're super rare. Most of the biggest grossers now are big publisher titles: EA, Gameloft, ngmoco, etc

I would never assume that iPhone development would be my full time job unless I got lucky. Sure there's always the chance that you have a runaway hit, but that's super duper unlikely. The only real market driver currently is past success. The app store is a positive feedback loop so the better you do, the better you do. Apps that appear in the top 25 lists automatically start generating asstons more cash. Also, if you have one successful title, you'll have others because fans will follow your company. The only real backdoors are: getting featured in the store (editors choice), getting reviewed somewhere that attracts enough fans to boost your sales enough to enter positive feedback loop land, creating a free version which makes people want to buy more. It's just hard to figure out a successful marketing strategy since most of the consumers simply look at the top 25 lists and maybe search around for free apps.

The only other advice I can give you is that, in general, the quality of your graphics is hugely important. If you're green in art, you're better off getting an artist-friend to do the art for you. Though there are certainly exceptions, the general thing that separates the app-crap from the app-gold is how professional your app looks art-wise.

But, it's definitely a super high-risk career choice. App Store success is highly unlikely given how many apps are there and how the store itself is designed.

Though I suppose if you're going to try crazy risks, right out of college is the best time. [smile]

good luck!

-me

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Original post by Palidine
Here's the thing. All the iPhone millionaire stories are from when the iPhone was a new platform.... Most of the biggest grossers now are big publisher titles: EA, Gameloft, ngmoco, etc

Agreed - all the big players have moved in now with their license driven games and marketing budgets. There are lots of games released every day and only a few of those will ever get reviewed/press coverage.

Quote:
The only real backdoors are: getting featured in the store (editors choice), getting reviewed somewhere that attracts enough fans to boost your sales enough to enter positive feedback loop land, creating a free version which makes people want to buy more.

Agreed - the problem is that getting picked is a lottery. There is no way to know what will get you selected so it is out of your control.

Quote:
The only other advice I can give you is that, in general, the quality of your graphics is hugely important.

Agreed again. Doing your own art simply isn't an option unless you are a good artist. Your title simply won't compete in today's market.

The chance of success on iPhone is minimal. What is worse, as a closed system you are subject to the whims of Apple.

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Wow, all this sounds even more discouraging than I'd imagined! Based on what you said I'm not so sure about making the $700 investment into a Mac Mini any more. Is there any other platform where a lone developer like myself could stand a chance?

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Android market place is still pretty fresh, and no need for any expensive hardware to develop for it. Well, an android phone is probably required. But you need no $100 developer license from anyone in order to code and deploy/test your stuff on the device, and development can be done on any PC.

The downside is that since the android platform is so open as it is, your game will most likely be available for free on various "warez"-sites moments after you release it. Not really any different than on iPhone I guess, but not as many people have jail broken iPhones.

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Quote:
Original post by Windryder
Wow, all this sounds even more discouraging than I'd imagined! Based on what you said I'm not so sure about making the $700 investment into a Mac Mini any more. Is there any other platform where a lone developer like myself could stand a chance?

"Standing a chance" is not the same thing as "guaranteed easy success." Nothing is guaranteed, except that nothing is going to be easy.

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Original post by Tom Sloper
"Standing a chance" is not the same thing as "guaranteed easy success." Nothing is guaranteed, except that nothing is going to be easy.


I understand that running a one man shop in this business won't be easy. The question is not so much "am I guaranteed to succeed" as "am I (more or less) guaranteed to fail?".

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Original post by WindryderThe question is not so much "am I guaranteed to succeed" as "am I (more or less) guaranteed to fail?".

Can't guarantee that either.

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