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The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Tap Them


Indie developers are the starving artists of the video-game world, often brilliant and innovative, but also misunderstood, underfunded and more prone to writing free-form poetry on their LiveJournals. We at Joystiq believe no one deserves to starve, and many indie developers are entitled to a fridge full of tasty, fulfilling media coverage, right here. This week, we're talking to Jordan Morgan about tappin' that app, with Tap Them.

What's your game called, and what's it about?

My game is called Tap Them. There are two versions, Tap Them Pro and Tap Them Free. At its core, it's what we iOS devs call a falling-objects game. Evil circles fall from the top of the screen, and you have to "Tap Them" before they reach the bottom. During development, my family always asked "What's the story for the mean-looking circles?" and the truth is, I never had one! They were easy to make and edit in CS5, and since there are nine different types I just stuck with it. I might add a little background slapstick story behind it in the future, who knows.

How did you get started in development?

I always loved video games since I played Mega Man X for the SNES. Between being a newlywed, a full time student and worker, and this weird black box in my living room made by Microsoft, I didn't have a lot of time to get into it. That changed when the iPhone SDK became available. Since then, making one was always in the back of my mind. A mix of starting a computer science degree and slamming four books on iPhone development and Objective-C, it became a reality.

Why did you want to make games?

A lot of people get into the iOS scene just hoping to make a buck, but the App Store is definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes hard work, originality and a bit of luck.

Who doesn't? The only thing better than playing video games, I've found, is making them. Every time I bought a new game, the "it-would-be-cool-ifs" started going on in my head. Being a developer allows you to act on those, really put the ideas that you think are great into your own game. The chance to really show your creativity and let people enjoy it at the same time is a great feeling.

How did you go about the development process?

The first thing I looked at before I even started was the App Store's Top 25 section. For weeks, I just looked at what people were enjoying. Barring being a giant studio (i.e. Gameloft) with a budget for giant 3D environments and graphics, I looked at how the small guys were getting it done. People seem to enjoy a lot of "quick fixes" from the app store. An easy-to-learn, enjoyable game. I made that my mission, an easily accessible game with staying power. From there, I would say my time was spent 70% coding, and 30% in CS5 for the next five to six months.

What are you proudest of about Tap Them?

That not only my buddies, but I myself actually enjoy it! You always will get the encouragement from friends and family, but in the end you know the quality of the product. When I found myself in the mall waiting for my wife to finish up, playing tons of rounds trying to top my high score, it hit me. I was like "Dude, I am actually getting addicted to my own game!" and that really gives you the confidence that other people will, too. Making a game that you enjoy really makes you feel that you succeeded in what you set out to do. A lot of people get into the iOS scene just hoping to make a buck, but the App Store is definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes hard work, originality and a bit of luck. My next game screams original, it's called Tiny Winged Nazi Bird Zombies. (Kidding.)

Anything you'd do differently?

Tons! And that's the real advantage of developing mobile apps, you can have an update approved from Apple within the week. Once version 1.0 went live, I noticed a bug I missed, and some other things that just didn't feel right. I got straight back into the code for the next two months, and released the update, adding a whole other game mode (and Game Center) with a slew of optimization fixes. Now, I still have things I want to change, which I am doing for the next update. For example, I have a button that says "Game Center" and when you tap it, it logs you in. However, that process takes about 3-6 seconds, so I noticed a lot of people were like, "Nothing happened." I realize now it's more user friendly to just have the user logged in automatically and ditch the button. And Time Attack mode is a little too crazy. I'm working mainly towards streamlining the user-interface experience further.

What games are you playing? Are any of them influences?

Either Bad Company 2 or Black Ops. My favorite game by far is the Mass Effect series; I can't wait for the third. Games I have previously played haven't really carried into personal development, but I did get the idea for Tap Streaks from the Call Of Duty series (killstreaks). I am currently engaged in a heavy legal battle with Activision over it (again, kidding). You can find me on Xbox Live with the gamertag "live4ever777."

What's next?

Still going strong on Tap Them! Success in the App Store (unless your app involves slinging birds at pigs or something with zombies) can be a long road. I want my customers to know I am not going anywhere. That's why a new update for both versions of Tap Them are working now, along with a new title called Th@T WuZ HaRD!!! which I am really excited about.

Find out more about Tap Them on the Jordan Morgan Apps official website, Facebook page, or download Tap Them Pro and Tap Them Free on iTunes.

If you'd like to have your own shot at converting our readers into fans, email jess [at] joystiq [dawt] com, subject line "The Joystiq Indie Pitch." Still haven't had enough? Check out the Pitch archives.

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