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Interview with Doodle Jump's Igor Pusenjak, part 2


In part one of our interview with Lima Sky's Igor Pusenjak, we talked about how his Doodle Jump game became so successful, and how other game designers might be able to replicate its success. In this part, however, we get a little more concrete -- Pusenjak discusses current and future updates to the game (there will be an underwater content pack out this summer), as well as the long-awaited iPad version and how it will be different from the iPhone game.

Bad news: it won't be universal, so if you want to play it on the iPad, you'll have to buy it again. But Pusenjak explains why, and according to him, it'll be a very different experience anyway. Read on for part 2 of our interview.

TUAW: You and I are very excited about this business stuff, but I think the fans of the game just want to know what's coming next, so let's talk about that. Soccer? Is soccer out?

Igor Pusenjak, Lima Sky: Yes, Soccer is out. Soccer is a little twist on what we've done so far -- it's basically that Doodle is dressed up in soccer shoes and a soccer outfit and is shooting balls when he jumps. Still a jumping game, but the look and feel is soccer, and the enemies are basically members of the soccer teams of some of the most successful national teams in the world. So what you do is basically go through this sequence of soccer games. You have your 11 soccer players and they're all from the same team, and you get the exciting soccer sound effects, and at the end of the game there's a goalie and a goal, you jump through that, and you go on to your next game.

So when you release one of these content packs, how does it start? Do you say the World Cup is coming up, let's make one of that, or are you messing around all the time?

It's a combination of things. One of the first ones we released was a Halloween pack. People liked it, and it got good reception, and we released the winter one, the Christmas one, which had really great reception and got us into the top five. And then we decided to add more of these, and people really loved it and it added some variety to the game. We try to follow some of the bigger holidays or events, or we released a jungle one and a space one that are not necessarily tied to anything at that specific moment.

And the next one we're doing is underwater, which is tied to the summer, also tied to Jacques Cousteau's 100th birthday. We try to find a tie-in event, which is always good to have.

So how's that work, gravity is lower?

Well, one of the things we tried with space was messing around with gravity, and we haven't actually found it to be as interesting to play as it sounds when you say it. So the gravity in space is just normal. And we'll play around with it in the underwater theme as well, but I wouldn't be surprised if, in the end, it actually comes up being the same game mechanics, just a little twist. Soccer added this whole idea of going through the matches, and at the bottom of the screen it tells you which country you're playing, so it has a hidden educational element to it. With water, we'll probably have some ways, like a coral tunnel that pushes you up or a submarine.

And then the iPad is next.

Yes, the iPad. We're working on the iPad, and again, that goes back to the question you asked about Apple and why they haven't released their own version of Steam -- it's just a matter of resources and really wanting to do the product right. So when the iPad was announced, we decided to wait until we actually got the iPad in our hands, and then we saw a large number of games coming out right at launch in the first week. Then, we were kind of in a panic mode for a while, and figured we needed to get something out as soon as possible.

Why was that?

We thought the competition was going to really be much stronger than we really expected. We weren't expecting so many apps and games to come out. And it hasn't slowed down, but it hasn't been as threatening as we thought, and what we've seen is a lot of developers taking their time to do things right. And we've decided to take that approach, and really create a new experience for the iPad. You asked me about a sequel earlier, and the iPad game very well may end up being that sequel. Something that is still Doodle Jump in its DNA, but a new game, that has sort of levels that you progress through and goals that you accomplish as you go through. Obviously the real estate is much larger, so we will have to work on getting the graphics to really shine and look brilliant on that screen. We're looking at changing the orientation of the device and actually changing it horizontally vs. vertically, because there's plenty of sort of that vertical space to go up, and I'm really excited about the direction we're taking it.

So you're still working on it? How long?

We still have some work to do.

Have you loaded it up on the iPad? It doesn't seem too hard to just port over?

One of the things that we've really done with the iPhone is take that platform and see what is the best fit for it. Obviously you play with one hand, it's a tilt device, it's perfect for short gameplay, something that you play casually. iPad is a little larger, it's heavier, you can't hold it with one hand. We've been surprised at how well the game plays on it just out of the box, just 2x, doesn't even look that bad. The one thing that doesn't function great on the iPhone version is the shooting mechanism, because you can't really reach the entire width of the screen. But you know, what we've done is taken the screen and started doing some preliminary designs. It looks fine at times, but it kind of looks a little empty. If you enlarge the graphics, it looks a little small. What we've found that works best is really the 1.5 size, which gives us more of a world, but also not too big characters. We looked at it some more, and found that if you just use the same models, suddenly you have all of this real estate, and not much to fill it in, it kind of looks bare and not that exciting. So we started changing out the backgrounds, and started creating a richer environment, still a doodle environment, but richer, and it really looks much better, and it's really much better suited for the device. We've also experimented with being able to play in any direction you want as well.

Work continues, I assume. Any thoughts on price yet?

We haven't decided yet. It will not be a 99 cent game.

Sounds like it won't be universal. Did you consider that at all?

Yes, and the reason why we're not going universal is because in order to go universal, you have to have so many different graphics in the game. And to include all that into the iPhone version, it just enlarges the file size tremendously, and we don't feel that it's optimal. Plus, it'll be a different game. So it just doesn't make sense.

Great. That's everything I had. Thanks very much.

Great, thank you.

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