iPhone Developer Spotlight: David Echols and Poker Stacker


interview with david echolsDavid Echols, the developer behind Poker Stacker, has been programming for a while but only recently for the iPhone. He shares his experience developing games for the iPhone and iPod touch.

When did you start developing apps for the iPhone? Did you have previous experience as a developer?

February '09. I program for a living, but my company doesn't do anything with graphics or game development. I hadn't done the type of programming required for games, so I had to learn a lot on my own. It was definitely challenging. I enjoyed every minute of it.

What / how many apps have you made so far?

Just one: Poker Stacker. Sort of out-of-the-blue in the fall of '08, I decided I needed a new hobby and decided to make a video game. I picked Javascript to start because it was freely available and I could create simple platform-independent games that would play in any web browser. It was a great platform for programming simple games. A lot of the things I learned translated over to creating games on the iPhone.

What type of apps/games/software inspires you? Where do you get your ideas?

The idea and inspiration for Poker Stacker started from one of those block stacker games you see in the arcade. You know, the ones where you put in your money, then try to stack blocks on top of each other to win a prize. I replicated the idea, but realized there wasn't much re-playability there. One day I had a light-bulb-over-the-head moment: to combine the block-stacking gameplay with poker, something I had been playing and was interested in. After many iterations and feedback from friends, that concept evolved into the game Poker Stacker.

How do you settle on the price point for your apps?

Since it was my first app, I decided to stick with $0.99 and see what happens.

What has been the best thing about designing for the iPhone?

Being able to develop anywhere with just my laptop and iPhone. Since my iPhone is always with me, it was easy to show people the progress I was making along the way and get feedback. It was very satisfying seeing others play and enjoy what I created.

What has been the biggest challenge about designing for the iPhone?

Like most people, I'd say learning the Objective-C language. The language is different enough to feel very foreign at times. Also, designing the artwork. Although the graphics are basic in my game, I'm not an artist and had to learn how to do some simple things in Photoshop.

Is your company venture backed or privately held?

This is really just a hobby for me, not a company. I do all the design, artwork and programming myself in my spare time.

Do you have any other apps in the works?

I have a few ideas for some simple games. Once in awhile I'll come up with what I think is a great idea only to find out that someone else created it first. I definitely want to create something that hasn't already been done to death.

What apps do you have on your iPhone?

Almost exclusively puzzle and card games: Mouse House (a great little-known game), Wurdle, Bejeweled 2, Texas Hold 'Em, Solitaire, Freecell, Tiki Towers.

What do you like to do when you're not coding for the iPhone?

Play cards, play tennis, hang out with my girlfriend and go on cruises.

Watch a video demo for Poker Stacker:

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