The Drama Inside iPod Games

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
46,731
8,949


Macworld takes a look into developing the recently released iPod games for the iPod 5/5.5G. Dave Roberts and Dennis Ryan, CEO executive vice president of business development of PopCap Games (respectively), and Fresh Games President Steve Smith were both interviewed. Notable excerpts are below:

On Development:
Roberts: PopCap has been working with Apple for more than a year to bring its games to the Macintosh in a project that, in typical Apple fashion, demanded absolute secrecy. "We coordinated with Apple engineering," he said. "The first time I was able to play the game on the iPod was at the Apple event."

Ryan: "It was different in terms of using the click wheel as an input device rather than a dialpad," said Ryan. "In terms of technical challenges, it's things we've dealt with before, like a small screen size and different memory requirements"
Future Plans:
Smith: "We're working on a new game that will be released soon," said Fresh Games' Smith. "And we've seen some interest in it for the iPod, so we'll see."

Roberts: "We will certainly do other games for the iPod, but when and what all depend on the normal confluence of events."
In a follow-up article, Macworld talks with long-time Mac developers who were a bit frustrated at being left out of the loop.

"It was lame of Apple to ignore the guys that have been loyal to them," said a developer who asked not to be named. "We were ready, willing and able to create anything they wanted."
Developers are continuing to be frustrated at the lack of a software development kit (SDK) for the iPod that would allow them to program software for the iPod.

"No one can create anything for the iPod without access to an SDK," said one developer. "They don’t even have to release that if they don’t want to. I can see not wanting to open the floodgates to every [amateur]. But they have our number... let us sign an NDA and work on some things."

Digg This
 

kainjow

Moderator emeritus
Jun 15, 2000
7,958
3
Quit yer cryin' ;)

If you're a company and you want to make games, I would think the iPod would be the last device you would want to work with. How about the PSP or DS?

And why should we care about what a few (probably only one) anonymous developers are saying?
 

iKwick7

macrumors 65816
Dec 29, 2004
1,055
12
The Wood of Spots, NJ
I am personally dissapointed by the games for the iPod so far. They only one I might want would be tetris. I could think of quite a few games that would be great on an iPod. A golf game would be great- move the wheel to aim, then move the wheel again to shoot (just like how Tiger Woods golf used to be played). The same could go for a bowling game as well, and I would love to see flash games like Bookworm be ported.
 

HecubusPro

macrumors 6502a
Aug 22, 2006
638
2
Los Angeles
There are a lot of great cell phone-type games they could port over to iPod that don't fit into the normal tetris knock-offs and variants. If they got id on board with Doom RPG and Orcs and Elves, I'd certainly give iPod games another look. As it is now, there's nothing there I'd spend money on.
 

Willis

macrumors 68020
Apr 23, 2006
2,259
4
Beds, UK
Ive got Tetris and its pretty good. In a way, I think Apple should of let developers try their hands at it, but, at the end of the day, only certain developers would do well as these are games. OR, Apple may have another use for the developers for the iPod, not for games.
 

kingtj

macrumors 68030
Oct 23, 2003
2,543
676
Brunswick, MD
iPod games

Frankly, I don't understand why Apple didn't handle iPod game development the way cellphone manufacturers have done. EG. I have U.S. Cellular and they offer DRM encrypted, downloadable games for phones like the Motorola Razr. They have an "online store" of sorts that you search or browse with your phone, and then click to order a program of your choice. The thing is, their offerings may be produced by one of any number of developers. They have a main web site you visit if you want to contact U.S. Cellular about developing a title for them. If they like what they see, they can work out terms with you as to how much money you get per sale and what the asking price will be for that title.

Maybe something like this is coming, but Apple just isn't ready to offer this type of arrangement to developers just yet?
 

roland.g

macrumors 604
Apr 11, 2005
6,559
1,484
I want to see that oldskewl game Cyruss I think it was called or something like that come to the iPod. It was kinda like Galaga but you moved around the screen in a circle. It would be perfect for the click-wheel.
 

Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
37,387
3,494
Los Angeles
Has Apple now released a game SDK, and it was just kept under wraps previously, or are developers still coping without one?
 

JRomero

macrumors regular
Jun 29, 2006
115
0
Ah man... the amount of hours I have wasted in Intech class on popcap.com :D
 

mi5moav

macrumors regular
Mar 12, 2004
223
0
Bringing games to 30 million ipods could become a hassle. By allowing them access to the SDK they are also allowing them access to something all the other music download sites what access to their DRM. I think they will have 20 to 30 games released by next year, but this will be a very very slow moving thing. 4.99 is a great price and I am a little suprised to see Apple not developing the games themselves, but by not developing the games this is actually a good thing when you think about it.
 

Macnoviz

macrumors 65816
Jan 10, 2006
1,059
0
Roeselare, Belgium
odditie said:
Sounds like a couple developers are being drama queens to me...
I don't know, iPod is quite strong thanks to a good 3th party hardware support, why not add 3th party software, too?

Maybe start with games, but why not other useful things, too?

That would be a welcome relief for developers trying to use notes and contact book for a dictionary and such and such

3th party software could be an important factor in defeating Zune (Zune: closed, iPod: open)
 

Clive At Five

macrumors 65816
May 26, 2004
1,438
0
St. Paul, MN
kingtj said:
Frankly, I don't understand why Apple didn't handle iPod game development the way cellphone manufacturers have done.

[...blah blah blah...]

Maybe something like this is coming, but Apple just isn't ready to offer this type of arrangement to developers just yet?
You are most probably right. Apple tends to do "test runs" before they allow developers.

JRomero said:
Ah man... the amount of hours I have wasted in Intech class on popcap.com :D
Classic!

At first I was like, "PopCap games.... why fricken PopCap games? There are so many other MAC Devs out there that need this opportunity." And then I thought about it... and I remembered that I also spent many hours playing cheap flash games in class (I loved in college how I could bring a laptop to lecture and it wasn't suspicious at all ;) ). PopCap is king of cheap flash games for sure. They'll do quite nicely in the iPod.

We need to get Ambrosia SW an SDK, though, so they can (somehow) port Escape Velocity to the iPod. Damn, that would rule. I'd never have to do anything else with my life. EV Portable.

*grins dreamfully*

-Clive
 

Macnoviz

macrumors 65816
Jan 10, 2006
1,059
0
Roeselare, Belgium
k8to said:
Closed platform remains closed. Film at 11.
I wouldn't be so sure of that. Remember the days iPod and iTunes were Mac only?

Things change, and maybe it's time to give some freedom to developers, first under the supervision of Apple, but later on, who knows? The capacity is there, all it needs is the right software
 

JGowan

macrumors 68000
Jan 29, 2003
1,765
22
Mineola TX
mi5moav said:
Bringing games to 30 million ipods could become a hassle. By allowing them access to the SDK they are also allowing them access to something all the other music download sites what access to their DRM. I think they will have 20 to 30 games released by next year, but this will be a very very slow moving thing. 4.99 is a great price and I am a little suprised to see Apple not developing the games themselves, but by not developing the games this is actually a good thing when you think about it.
Well, hold on, hoss :p ... there aren't 30M iPods "out there" that can play the games. Apple wishes...

As stated on the Games page of the ITS: "iPod Games are compatible with fifth generation iPods only. They cannot be played in iTunes."

It's possible to have 20-30 games by next year as you've pondered, but consider this... if Apple had offered 30 games to begin with, what's the chances that people would say "I'll gladly plunk down $150 for all of them"... most people, in my guestimation, would've just said "I'll pick my top 5 (Mine would be Tetris, Pac-Man, Texas Hold 'em, Mini Golf and Bejeweled).

However, by offering less than $45 worth of games, it's more likely that people will just click BUY NOW on all of them and try 'em all out. Heck it's under Fifty bucks. I know I will when I get my next iPod. I think, though, I'm going to hold out for the 6G. (According to Gruber over at Daringfireball, this is more of a 5.5G release). At the moment, quality over quantity is crucial. If there's weak games in the lineup, people will start to poopoo the whole deal. We are negative by nature. You've got to keep it down to the well-known/loved games that people grew up with.

About Apple making them themselves... that will probably come into play, but with games, people want to play games they know FIRST. What I think will actually happen all around is downloadable demos. Play the first level or two for FREE and then make the money when people are good and hooked.

Of course, in my opinion, the best thing they could do is get the Big N involved (Nintendo). Sony and MS aren't because of competition with their own Music/Media devices but Nintendo is probably the most Apple-like company in the gaming world. This has been a long-standing rumor so I don't take credit for the logic obviously -- I just think it would be awesome. Would Nintendo want to port titles over from the DS Lite, probably not, but perhaps they could create some fun games based on their Mario Party franchise. Nintendo is the king of Party games.
 

mrgreen4242

macrumors 601
Feb 10, 2004
4,355
1
I can cetainly see why developers would want a piece of this pie, as opposed to, as mentioned, DS or PSP: There's a sh*t load of iPod out there. development costs for an iPod game are likely much, much smaller than for a DS or PSP game and without any physical product distrobution is much cheaper, too. The price reflects that, but with the sheer number of iPods on the market, and the low price point of the games, I expect the volume of sales for these to be immense.

But, I want some games on my nano, dammit! The nano screen is no smaller than many cellphones, and the nano has some decent power available for some games. I think that the game which could be the killer iPod application is a Dragon Liar style quick reflex game. The "video" could be handled with flash style animation (sprites and paths, etc) the click wheel input is perfect, and having really good sound and music would make it a blast. I would probably upgrade to a 5G from my nano for that.
 

Macnoviz

macrumors 65816
Jan 10, 2006
1,059
0
Roeselare, Belgium
JGowan said:
Of course, in my opinion, the best thing they could do is get the Big N involved (Nintendo). Sony and MS aren't because of competition with their own Music/Media devices but Nintendo is probably the most Apple-like company in the gaming world. This has been a long-standing rumor so I don't take credit for the logic obviously -- I just think it would be awesome. Would Nintendo want to port titles over from the DS Lite, probably not, but perhaps they could create some fun games based on their Mario Party franchise. Nintendo is the king of Party games.
I think you're right about that, especially with their whole, it doesn't need to be 1080i to be fun philosophy, I think they can really work their magic with the clickwheel. I really hope a SDK is available soon
 

840quadra

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 1, 2005
8,151
3,410
Twin Cities Minnesota
I agree that the SDK should be available to all ADC members, similar to how they released Dash Code for new developers to make widgets.

I wouild also love to play video games on my iPod Nano along with my 5G. I haven't purchased any games for my iPod 5G yet, as , well, I don't like any of them.

There are plenty of flash related games that would be quite fun on the ipod, and having an OPEN format would allow MANY more games to be made for the iPod that could not be used on the PSP, or DS! Granted the iPod has less processing power, however it is stll quite robust!

Apple, you have a chance to make the iPod a portable gamers dream come true, don't miss this opportunity to gain more market share!
 

tk421

macrumors 6502a
Dec 7, 2005
654
1
Los Angeles
JGowan said:
Of course, in my opinion, the best thing they could do is get the Big N involved (Nintendo). Sony and MS aren't because of competition with their own Music/Media devices but Nintendo is probably the most Apple-like company in the gaming world. This has been a long-standing rumor so I don't take credit for the logic obviously -- I just think it would be awesome. Would Nintendo want to port titles over from the DS Lite, probably not, but perhaps they could create some fun games based on their Mario Party franchise. Nintendo is the king of Party games.
I don't see Nintendo getting involved in development for another company's hardware. They did it in the old Atari days, and they've had a few things like the CD-i that haven't turned out well.

That said, I would love it if the Nintendo/Apple rumors actually came to fruition and Nintendo and Apple worked together. I love both of those companies!
 

heyisa

macrumors member
Sep 13, 2006
33
1
Kansas
It's a shame outside developers aren't being allowed to make programs for the ipod. Beyond Games there are many great programs that could be created on an ipod - Learning tools, Foreign Language Teaching Software, maybe even driving directions software with the new search function.
I bet 3rd party developers would have even better ideas......
 

chimerical

macrumors regular
Jan 22, 2004
116
0
iKWICK7 said:
I am personally dissapointed by the games for the iPod so far. They only one I might want would be tetris. I could think of quite a few games that would be great on an iPod.
Well, in addition to Tetris, Pacman and Bejeweled are both pretty popular games among the general population. (And they're both also available in the iTunes store.)
 

theheadguy

macrumors 65816
Apr 26, 2005
1,118
1,314
california
odditie said:
Sounds like a couple developers are being drama queens to me...
Actually they bring up some very good points. Apple doesn't feel it needs to be loyal to developers, and quite frequently to customers themselves. However, loyalty to Apple by few developers is one of the only reasons Apple is still around, period.