Kris Jones of Pocket Monkey Games is a one-man studio who decided to take his passion for game design and technology to start making his first iPhone game back in March. He has since seen early success with his first release Sparta [App Store] (now in the Top 50 Paid apps) which will allow him to continue to work full-time in iPhone gaming.
Jones told us that he first started visiting TouchArcade as a regular visitor, keeping up with latest iPhone gaming news, but later became an active community member to engage with the community and to get direct feedback on the game's direction.
I wanted to take a very active and direct role in communication with the community, primarily through forum discussion in TouchArcade. Unlike in "traditional" business, these active forums allow for instant communication and feedback, which creates better overall games.
Jones generated quite a following as his game progressed.
As a one man studio, however, Jones was realistic about what he could offer in the 1.0 version of the game and laid out a plan for constant free updates with a ramped pricing scheme:
I decided that I wanted to create version of Sparta that rewarded early adopters, rather than create this massive game all at once and charged a higher price for it.
Version 1.0 is a survival hack and slash. The player must survive hordes of of enemies until they eventually die. This version was priced at $.99.
Version 1.5 includes a currency system, a story mode, an assortment of new weapons and levels, coming with a $1.99 price tag.
Version 2.0 (to be priced at $2.99) is even said to include online multiplayer mode. The App Store's easy update system as well as the low pricing structure is allowing small game developers to produce early and iterate their product often. While this can result in a backlash if the 1.0 version is poorly received, the sense of community and direct developer feedback can generate some strong loyalties as we've seen with Bolt Creative's Pocket God.
Pocket Monkey Games' Sparta game is a side-scrolling hack and slasher with a wonderful art style. The game has drawn some obvious comparisons to Zombieville in gameplay. While early reactions from the community have been generally positive, we believe the gameplay feels a bit incomplete at this early stage -- that's perhaps not surprising, of course. A gameplay video is available.
If you're looking for an inexpensive game that may grow in value over time, this is one to consider investing in.
App Store Link: Sparta, $0.99