It’s always nice to see a strong team of indie developers hitting the App Store out of nowhere, which is why we were pleasantly surprised when the three-man Digital Poke released their addicting physics puzzler, The Drop Out. When we heard that Digital Poke was rolling out a huge update for their first iOS title, we thought we’d catch up with the crew and get a glimpse at their plans for the future.
We know Digital Poke was founded spur of the moment between three close friends. How has that adventure been for you guys so far? Was it worth the risk?
When we started Digital Poke, It was very rocky just like any start-up would be. We worked for 80-90 hours in a week, had sleepless nights, and quit being social for almost a year. We did get our usual motivational high by watching a Steve Jobs Stanford speech, but what made us clear the sail was the support which we had from each other.
It looks magical how we made everything work when we look back at those days. They were chaotic, but somehow were made fun because we were in it together. Now that we think about it, we wouldn’t have preferred it any other way.
What are the best aspects of working amongst a small group of friends? Have you ever wished you had a larger team, or is keeping it indie the way to go?
Working with friends does have tremendous advantages. You never get bored, can bring booze to meetings, plans are made and changed on the fly and overall you are never afraid to speak your mind.
It also backfires when any one of us goes into the technical details of how they came up with the brilliant stuff which makes their thing work. It can leave you in a dizzy state, but overall it’s always more fun to work with buddies.
Keeping it indie is great for starting your enterprise. We often have to share our work and that makes us understand what everyone does. Also, being an indie means handling the support of your apps by yourself. This makes us see what our users actually want, which in turn helps us in designing upcoming updates.
Your first three apps (360 Web Browser, Meteoric Video Downloader, and Emoji Pro) were built around productivity. What brought about the transition into making games?
Apps are a great way to enter the market and to learn about the App Store and the technicalities involved. We always wanted to shift our focus towards games, but we felt that we need more experience before we can have a go at it.
We started off with 360 Web Browser because we had some fantastic ideas which we waited for too long to come in a mobile browser, and finally decided to have a go at it by ourselves. Meteoric was a branch out of 360, with more power on downloading. And Emoji Pro was just a side project that we did as a result of a bet.
All that experience made us confident enough to plunge into making games. There’s also a greed factor involved as well, as games tend to do exponentially well when compared to apps.
What were some of the biggest struggles in getting your first game (The Drop Out, soon to be Drop Out Adventures) onto the App Store? How about biggest rewards?
One of the biggest hurdles in designing our game was that we wanted it to be a different concept and yet be simple enough to be understood by everyone. We tried drawing stuff, flapping our arms and making a presentation out of it, but it seemed too confusing. It struck to us at that moment that all the great games and their rules can be clearly defined in 3 lines or less, and perhaps that’s what we should do if we want our game to appeal to a larger audience. It took us an eternity to come out with those three lines, but it was definitely worth it.
Another struggle was the interface and controls of the game. We wanted it to be intuitive, which made us go through countless iterations before we could have our “Eureka! moment.” Not to mention, the physics engine had to go through so many performance and technical tweaks that we are now afraid to try out its latest update for the fear of working over it again.
Our biggest rewards came when we ran across a group of fans who were playing Drop Out Adventures in a cafe. We were thrilled to see them tilt the device in an effort to make the Furries fall, and the celebrity status which we got over there was outstanding.
What were some of the inspirations that went into creating the concept for The Drop Out?
We started with the idea of Drop Out some 6 months back. What we had in mind was to give to people a game with really addictive with gameplay that feels like second nature to them. We wanted the game to be a physics-based one because we were really mesmerized with the way popular physics game levels worked, and the way they changed according to the user’s interaction. That was the time when we started working on the game. It took us quite some time to figure it out how to design fun and interesting elements, get their physics right, and to come up with gameplay that is different than the games that are already out on the App Store (like Cut the Rope and Angry Birds).
A lot of developers leave the promise of “more levels coming soon,” but we’re happy to see you adding a big addition to Drop Out Adventures today. Could you tell us a little bit about what you have planned in the new update?
This update is humongous. It took us nearly two months and a lot of drawing board changes to make it happen. For starters, you will get to play a brand new episode (Science Lab) which introduces Teleportation and Spikes. Boos will have to teleport through portal devices to reach and rescue Furries. The spikes are deadly for all the creatures and will instantly vaporize them if they land on it, including the Zombie Furries.
In addition to this, you can now use skip level coins to skip levels in case you get stuck on one. We also went through each level designs and have improved them to make it more fun. And finally we have worked on the tutorials and have revamped the entire interface along with each episode to uplift the graphics and the gameplay.
We would be hitting our conscience if we didn’t extend thanks to our reviewers and users for giving us their suggestions. Quite honestly, most of the ideas for this update were taken from the awesome people who wrote about us and poured our inbox with their elaborate feedback.
Are there any plans to bring Drop Out Adventures to the “big screen” as an iPad/HD release?
Plans are on for bringing Drop Out Adventures to iPad, but we want to get the game to perfection first.
What’s in store for the future at Digital Poke? Any plans for a second release in the App Store anytime this year?
We have some amazing ideas which we want to try out this year. There’s this music app that we are working on which can read you mind (at least that’s the plan). That will be going into beta pretty soon.
There’s another untitled game which we are working on, its code name is Project Boost, which is a dash-ish type of the game that will likely be coming out by November of this year.
Finally there’s E-volve, which is a time travel game that might be rolled out by us in 2013.