AppCraver recently caught up with Mark Helmuth of touchGrove, the makers of LED Football. With a little help from the technical guys over at Neon Surge, he answered some questions about the process of creating an iPhone app.
1. When did you start developing apps for the iPhone?
Mark Helmuth: The day the SDK came out.
2. What was the inspiration behind your app?
Mark Helmuth: To bring something totally different to the IPhone. I thought it would be super-cool to have this 30 year old game back in my pocket. Most of the digital music I carry around in my iPhone is over 30 years old. So why not have my 30 year old game available in it's original form? That's why LED Football is the real deal. We want it to be just like you remember. A totally awesome little game. With a funky molded case and bad sound and everything.
3.How did you settle on your price point for the app?
Mark Helmuth: 99 cents, I don't think it was an issue. Look at the success of the 99 cents stores. I think everything should be 99 cents always.
4. How did you like the developer tools provided in the iPhone SDK? Is there anything missing?
Mark Helmuth: A lot of documentation is very lacking, specifically, look at "Frameworks -> CoreOS -> System" and "Frameworks -> Security". There used to be more gaps in documentation but Apple has slowly been getting it more up to date. We also found the "moving target" of the beta very annoying. The game we attempted to develop in time for the App Store launch got delayed because every time they released a new beta, it broke half the old code, and took a day or two to repair.
5. Is your company privately owned? Venture backed?
Mark Helmuth: We like the idea of being Venture backed.
6. What are some of the other iPhone apps that you like?
Mark Helmuth: I really like GPS and social networking apps, unfortunately I have not found one that really does something _really_ unique and immersive just yet. I'm waiting for something to sweep me off my feet. Other than that I enjoy simple, fun, easy to pickup and put down games.
7. What kind of features should apple implement in future versions of the iPhone / SDK?
Mark Helmuth: Ability to have background processes, or at least schedule to trigger a process or thread at a certain interval. It may ask the user if they will allow this. This would allow us developers to do something like apple's "Alarm Clock" which currently is impossible with the current SDK. I'd also like to see more documentation, more example applications, and for them to allow us developers to communicate more. There is no easy way for us to talk to other developers, and seeing as how we're all still bound under that strict NDA, we technically shouldn't be talking on any third party forums about it either. It's just anti-progress. If we had a good place (an apple forum?) to discuss the SDK and iPhone apps, and some techniques, we wouldn't have to start from scratch like every other developer hacking away to make a decent application and a honest buck.
8. What's the development cycle for iPhone apps like?
Mark Helmuth: Idea, concept, art, working model, tweaking, more tweaking, improving art, improving usage/gameplay, final tweaking, beta testing, hopefully only minor tweaking, and then release. After that it's all about listening to the input of the public, our previous game we really listened to what other people had to say about our game, and that currently has our game doing good at a solid 4 star rating. Keeping our customers happy is what it's all about. And if something is lacking, they really will let you know.
9. Are you working on any other apps that you will be releasing soon?
Mark Helmuth: Oh yeah, Over here at touchGrove our team of designers, engineers, scientists and craftspeople are obsessively working on all sorts of crazy s___! Like"Slinky" for the iPhone. It's so awesome! One feature is you can drop the phone down the stairs and see the "Slinky" acting just like a "Slinky" would if you dropped it down the stairs. The only thing is you need to have carpeted stairs. And hopefully Shag carpet.