Interview with Jody Evenson of CouchWorld Games

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couchworld games interview about shards for iphone, ipod touchAppCraver recently spoke with Jody Evenson of CouchWorld Games, the developer team behind Shards and Shardsette. She answered our questions about developing apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

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

Jody Evenson: CouchWorld Games got its start in November, 2007, when we began developing several concepts for the Wii and other platforms. When we heard the iPhone announcement, we were excited about the fact that it was a new market and a great platform for casual games which happens to be our focus.

2. What was the inspiration behind your app?

Jody Evenson: We found plain inlay games to be vaguely satisfying, but mostly a bit boring. So we thought that combining an inlay game with a breakout game might be interesting, especially since you have the power during the inlay phase to place colored pieces such that you have fewer shards to break out later.

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

Jody Evenson: We analyzed the competition and chose a price we thought was fair for the quality and complexity of game play. But the market is still finding it's way, and as a result we lowered our price to $2.99 USD for the full version of Shards.

4. Roughly how many apps did you sell in the first month of operation?

Jody Evenson: We got off to a slow start with only about 250 sales in the first few weeks. It looked like we had overpriced our app. Sales are improving however, and our demo edition has had approximately 40,000 downloads in it's first week, which we expect will improve sales also.

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

Jody Evenson: The tool set is passable, but there are a number of things that would be improvements. First would be to separate the code signing from the build process. That would allow much more flexible development, especially for those who work primarily in C++. Second, high level C++ libraries that are equivalent to the Objective-C libraries would be nice. Third, documentation changes that better explain what is possible and how the various parts of the system fit together are essential. We spent a fair amount of time, and still are, discovering what is possible with the API.

6. Is your company privately owned? Venture backed?

Jody Evenson: We are currently privately owned.

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

Jody Evenson: We like Pandora because it is a simple and direct way to get the music one wants to hear. You don't have to remember every song you like and where it is in the iTunes library, it just knows. We also like ScribBall because of the simplicity of the game play combined with it's fun use of 2d physics. It spices up the match three or more action by allowing you to use your ability to predict "natural" motion.

8. What kind of features should apple implement in future versions of the iPhone / SDK?

Jody Evenson: In addition to addressing the documentation and the code signing/build process separation, being able to write C/C++ only applications would be great.

9. What's the development cycle for iPhone apps like?

Jody Evenson: Our first app took slightly longer than anticipated, but that was due in part to ramping up in the iPhone SDK. Our second will take much less time now that various hurdles have already been cleared.

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

Jody Evenson: Yes! CouchWorld's latest puzzle game "Hedronism" has just become available for $0.99. In addition to this, there are a couple of other titles in the works which will take advantage of other features of the iPhone, like the built-in networking and geo-positioning.

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