AppCraver recently spoke with Kevin Heap, Lead Programmer of NinjaBee. He shares his experiences developing for the iPhone and iPod touch.
When did you start developing apps for the iPhone? Did you have previous experience as a developer?
We started working on the iPhone in October 2008. Wahoo Studios has been around since 2001 and in 2004 we created the NinjaBee brand to showcase our independent, self-published games. We released Outpost Kaloki X in November 2005 with the launch of the Xbox 360 on Xbox LIVE Arcade. So we’ve got lots of experience making video games, but this is our first for the iPhone.
What / how many apps have you made so far?
We have 2 apps out right now – Kaloki Adventure and Kaloki Free. We’ve also got two more apps on the way; Kaloki Love and Kaloki War.
What type of apps/games/software inspires you? Where do you get your ideas?
I’m inspired by games that make you think – which usually means simulation/strategy games – but I’m a sucker for a compelling story with just about any genre of games. There have been so many games that have inspired me since I was a kid, but the game that really inspired me to want to *make* video games was the original King’s Quest game.
How do you settle on the price point for your apps?
We settled on $2.99 for Kaloki Adventure because we wanted a price that would make it easy for people to afford, but at the same time represent the vast amount of content in the game. Our upcoming apps, Kaloki Love and Kaloki War, each feature slightly less content, so their prices will be correspondingly lower.
What has been the best thing about designing for the iPhone?
I’m excited about the ability to reach the average person. When even your grandpa can download your game on his iPod touch, you know you’ve got a great platform with the potential to reach anybody and everybody.
What has been the biggest challenge about designing for the iPhone?
The biggest challenge was porting our game engine over to the iPhone. We didn’t want to have to re-write the whole underlying structure to the game so the next best option was to port the engine. The problem is that the iPhone SDK and our game engine were written with two different programming languages – Objective C and C++. It was a unique challenge for me to get the two to work nicely together.
Is your company venture-backed or privately held?
NinjaBee is privately held. There are three owners: Steve Taylor, who is the technical director and president of the company; Lane Kiriyama, who is the CFO; and Brent Fox, who is the art director. There are about 20 of us in total, including other programmers, artists, designers and QA people.
Do you have any other apps in the works?
Yes! We have Kaloki Love and Kaloki War, which are both stories in the Kaloki universe. Kaloki Love introduces a bigger story element to the gameplay, and Kaloki War involves combat expansions and enemy attackers. Look for Kaloki Love to be available on the App Store in the coming weeks.
What apps do you have on your iPhone?
Wow. I’ve got a lot on there. My favorite apps are Sudoku (by Mighty Mighty Good Games), Wurdle, Enigmo, TapDefense, and GPS Kit.
What do you like to do when you’re not coding for the iPhone?
I enjoy reading (especially sci-fi/fantasy), video games, movies, and just hanging out with my wife and kids.