Interview with Mike Kasprzak of Smiles

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AppCraver recently spoke with Mike Kasprzak of Sykhronics Entertainment, the developer of Smiles. He answered some questions about his process for app development.

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

Mike: Well, I started prototyping game ideas for the iPhone earlier in the year. It was inevitable that anSDK would be available. It wasn’t until the end of June when I settled on the puzzle game that eventually became Smiles.

2. What was the inspiration behind your app?

Mike: Actually, of all things, my mother. We’ve had this half joke between us for a number of years, “make me a game.” So I did. She’s a pretty serious casual gamer not far from core gamer territory, having played (and nearly beaten) pretty much every Blizzard title.

I’m sure this will sound incredibly strange, but being the self-proclaimed game designer I am, I’ve studied my mothers gaming habits over the years. I’ve always had much admiration for that “Blizzard level” of game accessibility. After some mis-steps with other projects, a puzzle game seemed like both a good change of pace, and the right way to enter the iPhone platform.

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

Mike: I’ve been watching the store closely from the beginning. I knew I was pushing to create a premium title from the beginning, so I had to find the right balance between value and fair price. I also decided I wasn’t interested in playing the price jumping game, so I picked what I believe to be the right price from the beginning.

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

Mike: I think it’s an excellent suite of tools. I’m no Objective C fan, but having the option to work in C++ or Assembly makes it great for me.

5. Is your company privately owned? Venture backed?

Mike: Privately owned. Entirely my own dollar.

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

Mike: I am biased, but Galcon is one of them. I’m also a bit of a physics nut, so I thought Aqua Forest was pretty slick.

7. What’s the development cycle for iPhone apps like?

Mike: For me it’s a “when it’s done” mentality. I’ve been making games professionally for some 9 years now, and always had reservations about the milestone and due dates approach.  Milestones are great mind you, but there’s the final date, and then we ship. With deadlines as tight as they always seemed to be, I’ve never had the chance to finish a game, play it as a finished product, then go back and make some radical changes to make it an even better product. It’s just not practical when doing work for hire. As a result, I’m extremely proud of Smiles.

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

Mike: Many ideas in the pipeline, and many prototypes to iterate through. I think Smiles sets a good quality bar to gauge my future games by, but that bar takes time. Keep an eye out for me some time next year.

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