Developer Interview: Arthur Ham, Developer for Run!

mzl_dfcdfifc_100x100-75 Recently we had an opportunity to interview Arthur Ham, the developer of Run! the popular reaction game that was recently reviewed by The Current Gamer. Link to Review

This is the second in a series of Developer interviews. Learning more about Arthur Ham’s story helped me appreciate even more just how much the iTunes app store is changing the landscape of the casual and mobile gaming market. I really enjoyed learning more about Arthur’s story, and I think you all will as well. I think after reading this you may, like me, feel good about the direction the casual and mobile gaming space is headed.

Here is my interview:

The Current Gamer: First of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started as an indie developer for the iPhone/iTouch?

Arthur: I’m a fresh college graduate who likes making simple, high quality games as a hobby. The story of my entry into iPhone development doesn’t actually begin with Run!, but with a virtual pet app called Pet Playpen that I co-developed with a friend. This was back in December 2008 while we were both still in college and incredibly ambitious. Determined to make the next big and original app, we often secretly discussed our ideas in the middle of class, blatantly ignoring vital midterm material in the process. Ultimately, we ended up creating Pet Playpen since we thought it was simple and knew the demand would be high, judging by the phenomenon of the Tamagotchi years ago. Because I had such a blast making Pet Playpen, I knew I wanted to continue making games in the future.

 

The Current Gamer: What made you decide on the iPhone/iTouch as a platform for your games?

Arthur: Everyone has probably heard how easy it is to start developing and getting something in the App Store, but it doesn’t really register until you personally know someone who’s already done it. When I found out a classmate of mine had already published several apps, I was convinced that this was the best platform for someone like me with very little real-world software development experience. After getting past the initial hurdles of learning the iPhone SDK, everything started clicking and I found myself learning more and more about some of the neat ways I could create games on such a great little device.

I also believe the iPhone platform is perfectly suited for the simple and casual games I plan to make. Everyone carries their iPhone around, and as a result, they carry around with them a library of games that they can quickly pick up and play whenever they have a couple of minutes to spare.

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The Current Gamer: Based just on what I can see in the credits for your game, it looks like you developed Run! as a one man team aside from one other person for QA. How did this impact the development of your game, and what are the positives/negatives of working on a game this way?

Arthur: Working alone has the obvious drawback in that it takes much, much longer to complete a game. On the two-man team for Pet Playpen, we split the game evenly into two parts. We each only had to worry about our own portion of the game. If one of us ran into a problem in the other’s territory, we simply gave it to the other to solve and continued on. When I couldn’t figure out why my virtual penguin laid four times the amount of poop it should have, I ran this by the other developer who instantly knew where to look to solve the problem. You don’t get that kind of luxury as a sole developer.

On the flip side, working alone on a game means you don’t feel guilty letting your team down when you take 5 or 6 days off from work to play Rock Band instead. You can work anytime and anywhere. You have the creative freedom to do whatever you want with your game.

 

The Current Gamer: How did you come up with the idea for Run!?

Arthur: The idea behind Run! came from a mini-game I was developing for Pet Playpen called “Frisbee Fetch”. In that game, your goal is to flick a frisbee in the air and have your pet chase and catch it within a certain distance. To simulate the chasing of the frisbee, the pet runs in place while the environment moves behind it. I thought this was a neat idea and began to think of ways to turn this concept into a full-fledged game. As I was trying to fall asleep one night, I started coming up with the basic premise of the game. I was so excited about it that I started working on it the very next morning, just to see if it was a feasible project. I almost missed my afternoon class that day!

 

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Frisbee Fetch mini-game in Pet Playpen

 

The Current Gamer: How long was the development process for Run!?

Arthur: The development process started in April and concluded in August. I created a working app in about two days, using randomly colored blocks as placeholders for obstacles. The brick walls were brown, zombies were purple and the person was green. To animate punching, I simply extended and retracted the right side of green block. When I showed this to a few close friends of mine, they thought I was nuts.

 

Looks familiar doesn’t it?

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However, I soon placed its development aside because graduation was fast approaching and I had my eyes set on another app I was developing. When I realized how time-consuming my other idea was, I picked up where I left off with Run! in July. I spent the next month and a half working on it full-time, creating the graphics, developing the achievement system and creating my own custom global leaderboard.

 

The Current Gamer: Right now Run! is #18 in the top 25 paid apps in the iTunes store, and your game has received very positive feedback from the iPhone gaming media. How do you feel about the publics reaction to your game?

Arthur: I’m glad that people are not only enjoying the addictive gameplay, but also appreciating the humor of it all. Despite being such a hectic game, I tried to inject as many entertaining bits in as possible, such as adding in an evil-looking walrus and the ability to punch sharks out of your way. I’m also very surprised and honored that some people are comparing Run! to some of the best simple games like Doodle Jump in terms of addictiveness. It’s comments like these that motivate me to put in a little more effort each time I work towards developing an update.

 

The Current Gamer: What has the fast success of Run! done for you as an indie developer?

Arthur: It has definitely proved to me that I can at least make a decent and entertaining game. Hopefully, whenever my next game comes out, people will remember Run! and continue to support all the hard work and effort I put into making it.

 

The Current Gamer: Are you planning continued support for Run!?

Arthur: Definitely. I’m currently working on the next update as we speak. There are still many features I originally planned to have in Run! that I’m hoping to add in the future, including power up items and other wacky obstacles. I also have a growing list of great ideas that fans have already submitted. Like our bathroom-sign shaped hero in Run!, there is no limit as to how far this can go.

 

The Current Gamer: What can we expect to see from you in the future? Do you have any new projects coming up?

Arthur: Updates for Run! will be my main concentration for the time being, but expect to see other dead-simple games like Run! in the future.

 

http://www.thecurrentgamer.com

Published in: on September 24, 2009 at 12:07 pm  Comments (1)  
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