Ever wonder what it's really like to develop your first app? Developer Ondrej Sedlacek from Promnia took his first iOS game from idea to the top of the charts. In this interview, he offers a behind-the-scenes look into what it was like to create Froggies -- and watch it #become the #1 Puzzle and Board Game in the Czech App Store.
AC: Tell us a little about you and your company Promnia. What is your background?
Ondrej: I was born in the Czech Republic, grew up in Australia and now live back in the Czech Republic. I was always intrigued by computers and spent some time programming Windows apps as a hobby in my teens. This naturally led me to study IT at university and eventually to professional work in the IT industry. I've been an IT Consultant for the last 6 years, working mostly on enterprise software in large companies.
AC: Froggies is your first app. Why did you want to start developing for the iPhone and iPad?
Ondrej: I have always liked developing software and mingling with the newest technologies and I've also always hated having a boss. I saw developing for iOS as an opportunity to do something I enjoy in an newly emerging and fascinating industry while being my own boss.
AC: Tell us about your app. How did you get the idea?
Ondrej: I didn't want anything too difficult or complex for my first project so I began searching for a simple game that I could innovate and bring something fresh to. I asked my girlfriend if she knew of any simple puzzle games and she happened to show me the classic game: Peg Solitaire. I immediately liked the simplicity of the game and the complexity of the puzzle but found it too hard, too long and soon quite repetitive. So I began experimenting by creating bite sized pieces of the puzzle. I was soon fascinated by the endless possibilities of puzzles I could create simply by setting the board up in different patterns or changing the behavior of the pieces. I guess thats when I realized I have an original unique game fans of puzzle and logic games could enjoy.
AC: How is this app different from similar apps?
Ondrej: There are quite a few Peg Solitaire games and plenty of checkers variants on the App Store, but none of them have pieces which behave differently creating an endless amount of new puzzle combinations making the game totally unique not only on the App Store. There are also few board games which present board and pieces in a cute and colorful way which adults and children can both appeal to.
AC: How did you choose your pricing model -- ad-supported vs. freemium vs. paid? What influenced your decision?
Ondrej: I wanted people to have a chance to try the game before deciding to purchase but I didn't want to have two separate versions Lite and Paid of the game. So I chose the quite unconventional model Free with Full Version Unlock as an In App Purchase. This model was not that common when the game was first released and backlashed a little bit as people expected the whole game to be free. I think that this model is becoming more and more common and slowly more accepted but in hindsight I would have probably gone the traditional Lite and Paid route.
AC: Do you have experience developing for other platforms? How does it compare to the iOS development process?
Ondrej: iOS was the first platform I developed for but I would love to make a release of Froggies for Android and even Windows Phone in the future.
AC: How long did it take to get your app from idea to App Store?
Ondrej: A bit over 6 months.
AC: What was the biggest challenge you faced while creating this app?
Ondrej: The biggest challenge was balancing my full-time job with co-ordinating the development of Froggies while still trying to have some sort of a normal life. Many times I didn't know where my head was at and I was quite burned out by the end.
AC: Looking back on this experience, if you knew then what you know now would you do anything differently?
Ondrej: MARKETING! Being a more technical minded person I basically neglected marketing until the game was released and even then I didn't know what I was doing. This was easily the biggest mistake I did in terms of monetary success of the game. While I will participate in marketing and PR efforts in the future, most of it will be outsourced to someone who knows what they are doing and it will begin way before launch. Another big mistake was not getting enough outside people and early enough in development to test the game. This meant that I didn't have enough varied and critical feedback and when I did at the end, it was too late to do anything with it.
AC: Do you have any future plans for this app? Where do you see it a year from now?
Ondrej: There's a pretty big update in the works now and theres a huge potential for a lot more levels if theres a demand for it. I'd also like to see Froggies on Android, Windows Phone and the Mac within a year.
AC: Besides your own of course, what is your favorite app right now?
Ondrej: Cut the Rope
AC: What apps do you consider essential to your day-to-day life? Why?
Ondrej: I use Evernote everyday. It's basically become my second brain, all my thoughts, notes, reminders and ideas are there. I've also become pretty dependent on Dropbox and Box for my storage needs.
In terms of games, even thought it's been out for a while I am a huge fan of Cut the Rope. It's in my opinion the best game out there and was a source of inspiration for Froggies.
AC: Do you have any new apps in development? What can we expect to see from your company in the near future?
Ondrej: I would like to stay in the Froggies realm a little bit longer and when the time comes try something new.
AC: Any last words? What else would you like our readers to know about your company?
Ondrej Sedlacek: I'd like to thank my girlfriend for showing me Peg Solitaire which inspired the creation of Froggies.
AC: She's a lucky girl! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, Ondrej.
Ondrej Sedlacek from Promnia offered some interesting insight into his development process. Please take a moment to thank his by sending a message on Twitter or share this article with a friend to spread the word about their apps. If you have additional questions, ask them in the comments and we'll get you the answers!
Contact Ondrej Sedlacek of Promnia
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