Interview with Ian Dunlop


ian dunlopAppCraver recently spoke with Ian Dunlop, the developer behind Cosmic One, Tilt Me, iVoodoo, and Stress Toy. He answered our questions about developing apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

1. When did you start developing apps for the iPhone?

Ian Dunlop: I started back when the real SDK program was launched.

2. What was the inspiration behind your app?

Ian Dunlop: [I assume you are referring to Cosmic One – my most recent one, there are a bunch of other apps I’ve released]

I’ve always loved puzzle games and as a developer I’m always in the quest to find that magic formula. That was the inspiration, like if you strip away the gloss and look at the basic mechanics of some of the most popular puzzles out there – what are you doing as a player? What’s running through your mind? The other large part of the equation was to get away from emulating buttons on the touch screen and make something that felt natural and at home on the iPhone. I love Tetris, but if I’m going to play it I’ll use real buttons. The space / future theme just came naturally given my natural interest in sci-fi.

3. How did you settle on your price point for the app?

Ian Dunlop: I want to see what a polished fun puzzle game can do at the lowest price point possible. It’s more of an experiment than anything else. I’m also trying to target casual players who may decide, $0.99 (USD) is low enough they’ll take a chance.

4. Roughly how many units have you sold?

Ian Dunlop: I’m not going to divulge sales data, but what I can say is that being a small developer I rely on word of mouth, press coverage and very importantly visibility on the App Store. Those first crucial days when you are a New Release are very important. That is why I was very disappointed when my app appeared in the store on 9/30, but had a release date of 9/15 – thus it sorted way down in the list. Clearly something went wrong and to say I’m unhappy at the moment is an understatement. The good news is that this will be fixed, although unfortunately I don’t know exactly when.

5. How did you like the developer tools provided in the iPhone SDK? Is there anything missing?

Ian Dunlop: The development tools / SDK are fairly solid. I don’t have any complaints as I’m mostly focused on games. I can’t say much as there is an NDA in place for unreleased stuff and trying to keep it all straight in my head, it’s just safer to assume the NDA covers it.

6. Is your company privately owned? Venture backed?

Ian Dunlop: oeFun, Inc. is owned by myself and it’s completely independent. So no venture capital anywhere.

7. What are some of the other iPhone apps that you like?

Ian Dunlop: I don’t have much of a chance to play other apps, but recently I’ve been playing Star Trigon. I’ve always been a Namco fan, and it was interesting to see the Mr. Driller character in there.

8. What’s the development cycle for iPhone apps like?

Ian Dunlop: It’s fairly standard, albeit compressed. You get so much for free that just works out-of-the box so to speak. It really allows you to concentrate on the game itself and not worry about supporting overly complicated API’s. To illustrate, hooking up the online portion of Cosmic One (the leader-boards) which are fully integrated with the game took a day. Similarly for other handheld consoles, that type of thing has taken about 1 week.

9. Are you working on any other apps that you will be releasing soon?

Ian Dunlop: I’m working on other apps at the moment, but can’t say anything about them! :)

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