AppCraver recently heard from Guy Moss of Cave Bear the developers of the Jumble! family of word-search apps. He answered our questions about developing apps for the iPhone and iPod touch.
1. When did you start developing apps for the iPhone?
Guy: We started developing around the end of August. As a group we’d all been watching the iPhone and were increasingly impressed with the whole ethos of the design. It was the ideal platform for what we had in mind and in the end we felt we just had to develop for it.
2. What was the inspiration behind your app?
Guy: We wanted something that felt natural, fun and simple, the sort of thing you play from a very young age. We also wanted it to exploit the unique input mechanisms of the iPhone. Stacking things is something we seem to naturally enjoy doing, and the accelerometers in the iPhone gave us a chance for the first time to add physical balancing into the equation. It just seemed a natural fit.
3. How did you settle on your price point for the app?
Guy: I think we went for what we felt was a fair reflection of the quality of the software. We’ve put a lot of effort into making a product that we’re proud of and are happy to put our names on. At the same time we did not want to charge too much; at much the same price as a beer I think we have hit the sweet spot.
4. How did you like the developer tools provided in the iPhone SDK? Is there anything missing?
Guy: The iPhone SDK, and the Mac development environment, is frankly superb. I think all four of us would agree that using a Mac to develop on has been an eye-opening, and refreshing, experience. From a game development point of view, I found nothing lacking in the SDK and in Xcode. It’s a testament to Apple that both are provided free to Mac owners. It gives a wonderful feeling of being back in the old 8 and 16 bit days of gaming where control was largely in the hands of small developers.
5. Is your company privately owned? Venture backed?
Guy: We’re completely self-funded. This of course means we have complete creative freedom, but nonetheless it also means we’re living off very thin sandwiches! Cave Bear is all about passion and wanting to do something really fun together for the iPhone. Unfortunately it has meant selling various body parts to medical research. So please buy Jumble! so we can get them back!
6. What are some of the other iPhone apps that you like?
Guy: Between us some of the titles we like are Labyrinth, facebook, traffic info and tangrams. We’ve been so busy on Jumble! though most of our game playing time is spent playing that!
7. What kind of features should Apple implement in future versions of the iPhone / SDK?
Guy: Ideally a better built-in speaker would be good, and making the home button a flat joystick button resembling that on the Sony PSP would be pretty awesome. A pocket warmer function would be good for those delayed winter trains. As a mobile device though, I think it’s pretty neat as it is!
8. What’s the development cycle for iPhone apps like?
Guy: Jumble! took us just over two months from concept to release, with an awful lot of late nights and weekends in the mix. A substantial chunk of that was developing technology that could be used across future products, so I’m tempted to say that will reduce in future. Then again, there is the desire to push things further next time!
9. Are you working on any other apps that you will be releasing soon?
Guy: Yes we’re working on smaller version of Jumble! for Xmas. This is an eleven-level Christmas-themed version that will sell for a cheaper price. We believe this will give people the opportunity to try out the game first before buying the full version.
*Editor's Note: This interview was received prior to the holidays. Read AppCraver's review of Jumble for Xmas.