Last week ustwo™'s Whale Trail [99¢] hit the App Store. It was quickly featured as game of the week, and was met with tons of critical acclaim. We thought it was great in our review, and most other reviews online that I've seen mention similar feelings. Sure, the gameplay is a little on the basic side but Whale Trail's production values are absolutely through the roof.

A behind the scenes video from ustwo™ recently was released, and aside from the game's producers and designers providing their thoughts on the game, ustwo™ also revealed the staggering amounts of time, energy, and money that went into the project. "Chief Wonka" Mills also discusses the concept of a "succailure," citing previous apps Papercut [$5.99] and Nursery Rhymes with StoryTime [$3.99]. Both well received, with tons of support from Apple, but neither turning a profit.

Take a look:

Another interesting point raised in the video is the significant advantage that indie developers can have. Running a design firm like ustwo™ is expensive, and investing in the App Store is risky business when you've got a full office, staff of employees, and all the other expenses that come with that. The App Store is a curious place, as it really makes no difference to the end user if you're working out of your bedroom or releasing projects from a design firm that have invested over £500,000 into them. Every iOS developer has equal chances of discovery, visibility, and success-- Assuming of course that they put out a good product.

We're anxious to see what ustwo™'s next move is going to be. Whale Trail is going to need to be downloaded a ton to break even, especially at a 99¢ price point. I'd love to say "hopefully this doesn't discourage them from iOS development," as I think it's outfits like ustwo™ that seem the most likely to push the platform forward, but how much of a financial hole can they dig themselves keeping their fingers crossed that critical acclaim and love from Apple eventually turns into the hundreds of thousands of downloads they need?

  • Anonymous

    I have grown to love this game. I thought at first that it would become boring fast but it hasn't its good trying to climb the leaderboard. I really like it plus the graphics and sounds are sweet.

  • http://twitter.com/polygrafix mike amerson

    I'll get the game just to support these guys.  It's only .99 cents.  Anyway it reminds me of Sega - Nights

    • http://twitter.com/coolpowers Simon Windmill

      Yes! I was trying to think of what it reminded me off, then I played NiGHTS last night as we were testing out the old Saturn before selling it.

      Of course Whale Trail is a simpler game, but it's all about feeling, and it delivers in spades

  • http://twitter.com/charliesabers Carlos Escalante

    Just got it. Really identified with the guys at the studio, I run a design/marketing firm too, and we want to develop our own products (no Apps for the moment though) too. Looks positively inspired, and I hope they turn a profit!

  • http://www.facebook.com/OoOoOomonkey John Usher

    I hope this does well for them as I for one am loving the craziness and especially the theme tune of whale trail. Brilliant game.

  • Sangean Blanchard

    I think they did *everything* right, except the game mechanics.The game is extremely well polished, and I am sure that they did a fantastic job on the marketing as well, but I was bored before I finished my first game.

  • Anonymous

    What a grand experiment!!!  I hope they turn a profit.

  • http://www.vitaltitles.com/ Nick

    I love Whale Trail quite a lot. It's very similar to Mighty Fin, Tiny wings and Jetpack joyride, but has a very unique visual style, along with some very cool game design twists to make me not feel like I just bought a copy of another game.

    I like it significantly more than the higher budget swing the bat, as well.

    The developer needs to not compare its other apps with Whale Trail. They are both so very, very, very different. One is an interactive book containing obscure authors and a, by app store standards, fairly sizeable price tag. They'd have been smarter to release it for free or cheaper and then allow people to purchase the other books. Additional book apps are a very hard sell these days. iBooks is the default app and people don't want 30 different apps that do different things, unless it's something like Al Gore's book.

    As for their other app, the Nursery Rhyme book, has major problems. It's expensive, and it seems available only in the US store. So many people outside of the US will buy these books, and not being accessible is a huge problem. I'm in Canada, but I am not able to purchase it. Might be the best book ever, but I'll never know.

    It would be like Chillingo making a software app and assuming the masses would buy it.

    App store buyers are very fair weather people. Sure, there is some brand loyalty. I look with a slight higher interest in apps produced by some of the bigger devs, however if I hear or am drawn to indie games for whatever reason, I am not selective and, especially with a reasonable price attached, snag it and play it.

    Simply put, the creators of Velcro aren't guaranteed to knock it out of the park every time. Just as the creator of Microsoft Bob isn't destined to only churn out lemons.

    I hope Whale Trail succeeds. It's a great game and deserves as much notice as Tiny Wings has. They just have to keep adding to it or else people will move on, interest will wane and word of mouth will disappear.

  • http://twitter.com/Aghartastudio Alex

    Nothing to add about the game it is great but in my honest opinion, devs shouldn't invest that much BEFORE a game is released (offices,staff etc..) here we made the first game on our spare time, and started to invest only when we got the first payement from apple. still we cannot manage to enlarge the team nor rent some office , but we can manage each 3 of us a suffisant salary while waiting for our next big hit ^^still I hope it will works , whale trial is one of my fav so far

    • Baby Landlord

      1112 and whale trail are both such great games that it would deeply upset me if either company had to cut their losses and close shop. I will do my part by gifting the game to friends! It's cheaper than picking them up a coffee and certainly will last longer. Bought my friend a game the other day and he was beyond happy! Hey it was only a buck and he wouldn't have had the same response if I had brought him a beer, which is five times as much!

  • http://twitter.com/ezonecom The Edis Bros.

    One of the reasons they aren't making money on their games is because they've probably spent more money making videos like this one than other developers would on developing an entire game.

  • Anonymous

    To be honest I don't like when devs put too much emphasis on how much they worked or how much they spent to make an app. In the end, if the app is not good or not appealing to a large portion of people, it doesn't really care. The app should speak for itself. I remember the dev of Dapple doing that, complaining that he spent a lot of money to make a game that nearly no one bought. After trying the lite edition, I thought that Dapple was an average game at best and did not buy it.

    That said, I'm deeply in love with whale trail. 

  • Anonymous

    What a cry-baby video! "Boo hoo we made yet another endless runner type game and no one buys it", maybe it's because people are bored senseless of these? maybe because sugar coating the dull gameplay is not enough? Maybe because it should have been a 2 man operation working from home in their spare time instead of spending loads on it is just plain stupid? I pity these guys, they are just digital beggars, looking for us to feel sorry for them so we toss a Dollar their way.

  • Anonymous

    I like ndre comment "To be honest I don't like when devs put too much emphasis on how much they worked or how much they spent to make an app"

    Suggesting that a game should do well based on money is not a fair point, a game does well based on the game.  Now this game is a great game, but it doesn't have the originality of Tiny Wings.  I think the expectations of the studio are really vastly out of propotion to a realistic achievement on the app store.  Any app that pushes $100,000 is an extreme success.  For these guys to top £500,000 they need a small miracle.so many factors contribute to it that you can't reasonably predict it.

    Make the best game you can for under $50,000 and then hope it sticks.

  • Scott Lembcke

    Holy crap?!!? They spent how much money up front to make this game? I mean did they do any research at all into how few games actually sell well and how to monetize them?
    Did they expect they would end up as the next Angry Birds or something just because it was a cute, polished version of tried and true gameplay? You can't copy success just by copying the formula...

    I think they spent more time on their weird video than most devs spend on their game. O_o I mean I have a hard time finding sympathy for them if they were naive to think that making an expensive polished game was the same as a profitable one. It would be real nice if the world rewarded hard work with a nice pile of money. Too bad it doesn't work that way.

  • Jacques Perreault

    All the money and time spent here, I'm quite curious how this compares to the one man team that did Tiny Wings.

    Anyone know?

  • terry gregorowich

    "I can see my house from here!" -Whale