With yesterday's announcement from Apple of its much hyped "latest creation" -- the iPad -- and the news that already existing iPhone applications (that means games too, folks) will be playable on the device, we started wondering how the developers of the world felt about this shiny new piece of gadgetry. So we asked a handful of our favorites -- Canabalt's Adam "Atomic" Saltsman, Pocket God's Dave Castelnuovo, and PopCap's Andrew Stein, just to namedrop a few -- to give us their reactions.
"It's hard to say anything concrete without actually playing with the thing personally, but I'm optimistic about it continuing to open up video games to even more 'normal' people," Saltsman told us. "I'm hopeful that having a big multitouch space will help mediate the whole 'fat fingers on a tiny screen' problem." PopCap's Andrew Stein agreed, telling us "We'll certainly look at the unique capabilities of the iPad and work hard to utilize those in instances where they can make our games even more fun."
Republic of Fun prez Mike Rasmussen sees things a bit differently, noting the opportunity in the upped horsepower of the device. "From a pure gaming perspective, I'm excited about the additional resolution and horsepower, and really interested to start understanding the 3D performance of the A4 [chip]." But even the most successful app developer on the market -- Pocket God creator Dave Castelnuovo -- seems a bit reticent of the iPad, telling us he sees "a lot of potential with the device," but his company is going to "wait to see what kind of acceptance the tablet will have" before moving forward with development.
But that's not all! See the full reactions from a variety of iPhone game developers after the break.
Andrew Stein, director of mobile business development at PopCap (creators of Bejeweled, Peggle, and Plants vs. Zombies):
We have our hands on the OS 3.2 sdk and are evaluating what we might do on the iPad but we haven't announced any plans yet.
The bigger screen and more horsepower won't affect development here at PopCap, much if at all. We pride ourselves on making games that will run on 10-year old PCs, let alone some gadget from the future that Steve Jobs has brought back to 2010. We'll certainly look at the unique capabilities of the iPad and work hard to utilize those in instances where they can make our games even more fun, but we certainly don't build games with an eye to pushing the maximum capabilities/performance of a device.
There's absolutely the possibility of existing games being re-released for the iPad; this doesn't mean they'll be showing up tomorrow, however. We tend to take longer than most game makers in bringing our games to new platforms, but when they do show up we like to think they're as optimized and customized for the platform in question as they can be.
Dave Castelnuovo, founder of Bolt Creative (creator of Pocket God):
I think it looks slick. I will definitely get one, especially being a developer for the App Store. It was pretty much what I expected, a bigger version of the iPhone. I feel like there is a lot of potential with the device. The promise of the device (and past net devices) is that it can replace the laptop for people who just want to browse the web, view content, write emails and do basic word processing. In fact, the tablet is much farther ahead than previous net devices because Apple has a huge community of app developers that are ready to fill in the functionality gaps between a net device and what a full featured laptop would provide. However, I can see it going the other way as well. People may not buy into that promise and not want to give up their laptops. There is a level of control that you have to give up when a single company controls the software you are allowed to install on your device. In the second case, the iPad might be looked at as a luxury item that is not as necessary as a cell phone or a music player.
"I may have an iPad at home, but not at work. I will be able to reach my iPhone while driving, but not my iPad. These dynamics paint very clear use distinctions that developers should cater to."
We will look for ways to make our apps compatible with multiple screen sizes. Ideally you would want to have one app that supports both screen sizes. If it's played on an iPhone, you default to the small screen layout, if you play it on an iPad, it defaults to the large screen layout. We will have to be much more aware of this moving forward so we can maximize our audience on future products.
[On the subject of updating already existing games for the iPad]
Not right away. We will wait to see what kind of acceptance the tablet will have. Our game is pretty difficult to make a version that will make the best use of both screen sizes in a single app. The iPad version of Pocket God will need to support more characters on the screen and bigger environments. We are thinking of how we want to do it but don't want to commit the resources until we know it will be worth it.
I'm most excited to see what other developers will do with it. Right now, most of the focus is on taking iPhone apps and supporting a bigger screen but I can't wait until we see the apps that are built especially for the iPad. Apps that make use of its unique screen size and features.
Adam "Atomic" Saltsman of Semi-Secret (creator of Canabalt):
It's hard to say anything concrete without actually playing with the thing personally, but I'm optimistic about it continuing to open up video games to even more "normal" people. I am hopeful that having a big multitouch space will help mediate the whole "fat fingers on a tiny screen" problem. I am curious about multiple users on one screen. I really want to play with that Brushes business RIGHT NOW.
Jason Franzen, FORMation designer (creator of Kern):
The iPad represents a unique potential for gaming and entertainment that is skewed toward the target audience for the device itself, which I deem to be more adult (it is a luxury item, not a necessity like a phone), very educated and technology-savvy. Within that demographic, the opportunity will be to create Apps that offer a pleasure escape that benefits mainly from the larger display and touch interactions. I think the important thing to acknowledge is that this is a big transition from private use (a small screen, single-user smartphone) to a much more visible and public experience. I'm not sure users of this demographic want to be tilting and spinning the iPad for virtual snowboarding or racing while they wait at the airport. The size of the screen will likely make the user's choices much more public and I am personally aiming towards more sophisticated games that users won't be ashamed to be seen playing in public!
As for the relation between the iPhone (or other smartphones) and the iPad - it is important to distinguish the use paradigm of each. When traveling, I will still carry an iPhone AND the iPad - to read and access the web. I may have an iPad at home, but not at work. I will be able to reach my iPhone while driving, but not my iPad. These dynamics paint very clear use distinctions that developers should cater to. For us, the plan will be to build experiences specifically tailored to each device. Beyond the obvious differences in screen sizes, the depth of engagement is also quite unique between the situations that the iPhone is appropriate for (say, a quick taxi ride or on-the-go breakfast) and the iPad will be. Sitting at home on the couch or waiting at the airport lounge, a user can be more immersed and the gaming experience should be tailored as such. I think many people have compressed (crammed?) big ideas onto the iPhone which aren't appropriate. The iPad will be a better platform for these deeper, immersive concepts.
Our plans are to build new, special-built versions of our Apps for the iPad. While the user will be able to use any of our existing titles on the iPad already, albeit in a compromised version via 2x scaling, it is important to directly address the distinct benefits of the larger screen and contextual use changes described above. We have also been preparing for this launch with new concepts that won't be appropriate to the iPhone. We're excited to have the chance to spread our design wings a bit more and show what we can do with 1024 x 768 pixels!
Tom Frencel, CEO of Little Guy Games (creator of Battle Blasters):
We think it's great! It's got the best mobile UI packaged in a much larger form factor. It's hard not to get excited about the development opportunities on the iPad. We are also fond of the ease of transitioning from the iPhone/iPod Touch to the iPad both from the user's and developer's perspective.
The iPhone/iPod Touch will likely remain our primary focus for the time being. However, future games will likely get a special iPad design treatment to ensure they can take full advantage, not only of the larger screen size, but also the larger touch control real estate.
We started playing around with the SDK. Battle Blasters will definitely be compatible and the controls will actually feel great on the iPad. We are not yet sure whether or not we will update the art to higher res. The iPad is actually perfect for Battle Blasters same device multiplayer as well, which was a little limited on the iPhone due to the screen real estate.
The larger screen size and screen control real estate opens up a whole new range of game design possibilities. That's very exciting. For example, just imagine playing Starcraft 2 on the iPad. A full blown RTS that was rather challenging to pull off on the iPhone due to a small form factor will now feel as natural on the iPad as it does on its native home - the PC.