A Spotlight on Three Talented Indie iPhone Developers

Design Week recently ran an article in its Interaction Design supplement that examines the golden opportunity for indie developers that is the iTunes App Store. With $30 million in sales for its first month alone, Apple’s access-anywhere mobile application delivery vehicle is quite a success.  Design Week sits down with three indie iPhone developers and shares their experiences and thoughts on the platform.

Nathan Hunley of Igloo Games, author of Dizzy Bee

‘BUDGET? What’s that?’ laughs Nathan Hunley, Dizzy Bee’s designer, when asked how much the development of his first iPhone game cost. ‘I made Dizzy Bee by begging. Every few months I had to borrow cash from my dad to pay for rent and macaroni cheese. Friends helped translate some text, and did the play-testing, and I was even borrowing the iPod Touch I did my development on.’

Simon Oliver of Hand Circus, author of the upcoming Rolando

Despite being one of the iPhone’s more ambitious first-wave games, the oddball Rolando is largely the work of one person – Simon Oliver, a Flash developer who contracts for design consultancies such as Ideo and All of Us. With a day job creating experience prototypes and game-based museum exhibits, Oliver had been circling the indie development scene for some time, searching for a way in. ‘I’d been looking for the right platform to focus on, but the opportunities for innovation and huge potential user-base of the iPhone stood out,’ he explains. Oliver set up Hand Circus, his own micro-studio, in June 2008. ‘It’s just me at the moment,’ he says, ‘but the plan is to bring other people on board on a project-by-project basis, to get the best and most suitable people working on each title, according to genre and style.’

Steve Demeter of Demiforce, author of Trism

By day, Steve Demeter writes ATM software for Wells Fargo. By night, he programmes and releases casual games under his own Demiforce label. His latest, Trism, has become one of the early success stories of the iTunes Apps Store.

Demeter suggests the iPhone games market is likely to become crowded fairly quickly. ‘Within the next month, people will start getting their first pay-cheques from Apple. Companies like EA are probably already well on their way to getting a return,’ he predicts. ‘In one year the iPhone will have a lot of all kinds of games on it. I’m interested in seeing how long that period lasts. In the end, I think we’ll see a good variety of simple timewasters – a mix of casual games and toys, simple experiences for busy professionals.’

Hats off to these and all indie developers who are turning the iPhone into the best mobile games platform on the market.  See Design Week’s story for the full interviews with these three talented individuals.