Interview with Nitzan Wilnai of Tatomic

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AppCraver recently heard from Nitzan Wilnai, the creative force behind Tatomic. He answered our questions about developing apps for the iPhone and iPod touch.

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

Nitzan: We only started developing Tatomic for the iPhone the day the App Store came live.

2. What was the inspiration behind your app?

Nitzan: My wife and I were watching a Discovery channel special on Einstein, his e=mc2 equation and how it relates to the atomic bomb. That suddenly gave me the idea that a game where the goal was to group atoms until they reach critical mass (the point at which a nuclear explosion starts) would be pretty cool.

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

Nitzan: We debated the price point for a while. Almost half of our development time was spent on polishing the game to make sure we delivered the best game possible. Most games seemed to be launching at $4.99, and while we felt that our game stands above most other iPhone games, we decided to price it the same. We also released the free Tatomic-Lite version of the game, which includes 10 full levels, to give people an opportunity to try it out before buying.

4. Roughly how many units have you sold?

Nitzan: We are seeing a nice growth in sales, and receiving great reviews. We’re very happy to see that people love Tatomic and that we’re getting great feedback. We promise to keep improving the game in the next updates.

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

Nitzan: Coming from a console background, we found XCode to be very accessible and easy to use. It’s not perfect, but we were able to develop Tatomic with relative ease. Our game uses OpenGL for graphics and OpenAL for music and sound effects, so we did not need to delve too deeply into the iPhone specific frameworks.

6. Is your company privately owned? Venture backed?

Nitzan: We are privately owned.

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

Nitzan: There are several good game apps, but I have yet to find a game that I am interested in playing for more than a week. Galcon and X-Plane come closest.

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

Nitzan: We are very happy with the iPhone SDK. It provides everything we need to make a great game: A good editor debugger, OpenGL for graphics and OpenAL for sound. Our biggest wish is better memory debugging in XCode.

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

Nitzan: It took us a few months to make Tatomic, but that includes building a cross-platform engine. Now that the engine is done, it would take us less then half that time to make a similar game.

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

Nitzan: Our time right now is spent optimizing the engine and adding features for the next update, but there are many game ideas in the queue.

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