Ever wonder what it's really like to develop your first app? Meet Alex Patsay from Mail.Ru. In this interview, Alex Patsay answers our questions and offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into what it was like to create Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering and get it released into the App Store.
AC: Tell us a little about your or your company. What is your background?
Alex Patsay: Mail.ru Games is one of the largest gaming companies in Russia, but until recently we’ve been mostly focused on the online games for the social networks. In addition to that the parent company — Mail.Ru Group — also controls the largest social networks in Russia, has the fourth largest web-mail service in the world, instant messaging division, and various news portals that are visited by millions of users every day.
I personally spent the last 12 years doing mostly consumer software for Apple platforms — from classic Mac OS 9 to OS X, for example, I was responsible for Mac OS X versions of such famous titles like Printshop, KidPix and WorldBook. The last three years I’ve spent in the company that I co-founded — it develops mobile apps for iOS and Android for the largest companies in Russia. And now I’m responsible for mobile gaming division at Mail.ru Games.
AC: Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering is your first app. Why did you want to start developing for the iPhone and iPad?
Alex Patsay: It has become obvious to us that the world moves towards the mobile for some time now, but it took us some time to get into it. Both iPhone and iPad are the most popular devices when it comes to games and we want to bring our experience to this platform and offer users some fresh ideas on what the games might look and feel like.
AC: Tell us about your app. How did you get the idea?
Alex Patsay: The game itself is loosely based on the original MMORPG game Juggernaut that was developed by Mail.ru Games few years ago. But this time we’ve decided to create a single player game where the player has to fight different enemies liberating location after location on the island so eventually he gets to fight the main evil — Lord Sovering. Realistic 3D fighting, maps explorations, built-in mini-games — it all comes together in the game and should make it very exciting to users.
AC: How is this app different from similar apps?
Alex Patsay: The good news is that there are not many apps like Juggernaut so for us there are many ways to differentiate. If we compare Juggernaut to similar arena-based fighting games like Infinity Blade and Blood&Glory, the first thing that user will notice is that the game is turn-based — so user strikes first and then enemy strikes back. So user has limited time to perform attack but he/she can choose either to attack with a sword or glave, or use magic to attack the enemy, at the same time applying special ”rage” to protect himself from the next enemy attack. We try to make it interesting by using a whole set of armor, amulets and other items that improve player’s characteristics such as life, bravery (how much damage the attack causes) or magic.
AC: How did you choose your pricing model -- ad-supported vs. freemium vs. paid? What influenced your decision?
Alex Patsay: We want to reach as wide audience as possible and going freemium in this case seemed like a good idea.
AC: Do you have experience developing for other platforms? How does it compare to the iOS development process?
Alex Patsay: At Mail.ru Games we’ve developed several games for iOS and Android, plus I’ve had experience of developing applications for different platforms at my previous job. In general the development process is not that different when comparing these two platforms, but when it comes to testing and bug fixing, usually there will be far more issues with Android than with iOS.
AC: How long did it take to get your app from idea to App Store?
Alex Patsay: Too long The original idea was conceived in June last year but it took us a while to figure a way to make it as easy to play as it is now. It’s not Angry Birds or JetPack Joyride in terms of ease-of-play, but the game itself has a quite complex world and a lot of things are going on.
AC: What was the biggest challenge you faced while creating this app?
Alex Patsay: Making this quite hardcore RPG game accessible and playable by casual users. Like I said, it’s not a casual game that can just fill a couple minutes while waiting in line. But it interesting to see that even those that played casual games before actually liked the Juggernaut.
AC: What was the best advice you received while developing your app? Where did it come from?
Alex Patsay: KISS (Keep it simple, stupid).
AC: Looking back on this experience, if you knew then what you know now would you do anything differently?
Alex Patsay: I would probably start from scratch and do everything differently — but it’s just me, I always want the product to be so perfect that it drives many people around me mad.
AC: Do you have any future plans for this app? Where do you see it a year from now?
Alex Patsay: In fact we do have many plans for the game — we want to expand the number of main characters that users choose from at the beginning of the game (we currently have five). We want to add new locations to the map, we want to add new items that users can customize their characters with — armor, weapons, etc. Eventually the game might even become of multiplayer type where real users fight against each other using their characters.
AC: Besides your own of course, what is your favorite app right now?
Alex Patsay: I play ”Words with friends” with my brother who lives in NY (I’m based in Moscow), though I have some complaints about their use of HTML5 for it — sometimes it really feels that the app itself is not native to iOS.
AC: What apps do you consider essential to your day-to-day life? Why?
Alex Patsay: As a Twitter user I tried probably all Twitter-clients available and so far TweetBot is the best. Mail.app, Safari and iBooks are the apps that I use most on my iPhone and iPad.
AC: Do you have any new apps in development? What can we expect to see from your company in the near future?
Alex Patsay: The Juggernaut: Revenge os Sovering is the first big mobile title but it’s definitely not the last mobile game for us. We are very aggressive in terms of what we want to achieve on this market and we want to publish hit games that would resonate with consumers. At the same time we want to concentrate on the quality, not quantity, and it will be our main priority when coming out with new games to the market.
AC: Any last words? What else would you like our readers to know about your company?
Alex Patsay: We are late to the party of mobile games, but it’s the case when it’s better to be late than never.
Alex Patsay from Mail.Ru offered some interesting insight into making the move from developing online games to building for iOS devices. Please take a moment to thank him with a message on Twitter or share this article with a friend to spread the word about Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering. If you have additional questions, ask them in the comments and we'll get you the answers!
Contact Alex Patsay at Mail.Ru
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