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AppTalk: Interview with Adam Stewart - Developer of Tilt To Live

May 11, 2010

Who is One Man Left composed of, and how long did it take to create Tilt To Live? One Man Left is actually a two man operation: Alex Okafor handles programming, I handle the artwork, and we collaborate on game design decisions. Tilt to Live was an after-hours labor of love for both of us, developed alongside our day jobs over a period of about 6 months. There wasn’t really any deadline pressure, since no one knew who we were or what we were doing for a rather long time. Why did you decide to develop for the iPhone, and what's the story behind the idea of a simple game with simple enemies, but complex weapons? The App Store, despite its quirks, seemed to offer high visibility compared to the PC in regard to how much marketing effort is required to get the word out. The technology also has great interactive potential, and the iPad is something we’re even more excited about in that regard. Ah, the story of Tilt to Live. Once upon a time, Alex showed up with an iPhone demo he had created. There was a white triangle for the player (which, after hours of sketching, I turned into a white ARROW), some constantly spawning red squares (which I developed into DOTS), and a green square that detonated into a big green circle (a naked nuke). We spent our nights and vacation days adding to this demo with a mantra of “tilt only” interaction, which sparked some other cool pickup ideas that were dead simple to interact with. We stumbled across the game’s title while discussing ways to keep the menus as straightforward as possible. We joked that tutorials could be cut altogether if we just had the countdown go: “3, 2, 1, Tilt to Live!” We took it a step further, made that the title, and all of the writing and aesthetic decisions from there on were total malarkey. Did you think Tilt To Live would receive such a good reception, and most reviews loved it? We were brainstorming ideas for our next game like the week after our release, because we literally thought the thing had run its course. We were happy with the reviews, the sales had been better than expected, and now we were fading back into obscurity, we thought. Then we got featured by Apple (to our surprise), and since then the word of mouth has apparently been very good. Because a lot of people like it and we still have lots of ideas to play with, we decided to expand Tilt to Live rather than move on just yet. What do you think of the App Store economy as an independent developer? It's a very fast paced market, and at first glance, seems like we would have to compete against a 'flavor of the week' mentality in the games category. But once we started getting into it, we felt that it's much more sustainable (and less taxing on our sanity as well) to just focus on cultivating a following of our own with a polished game. There still seems to be a decent amount of pressure in the App Store to sell games cheaper and/or free if you don't have a strong brand. While there definitely is an expectation coming from the players I feel it may partly be coming from the developers as well. Charging 99c when you're the next Doodle Jump at #1 or #2 makes sense, but it may send a signal to players and developers alike that this is the price for "top-quality" entertainment. Yet for the vast majority of apps that aren't topping charts that's not a sustainable price-point, so I guess it becomes a vicious cycle. Will Tilt To Live be coming to the iPad, and/or any plans for your next game? Tilt to Live will definitely be on the iPad, but we haven’t started production just yet. We have an announcement coming in May about what IS in production, though, and it’s wicked neat. As for our next game, we've got a lot of ideas in the pipeline but nothing concrete yet since we're focused heavily on Tilt to Live for the next month or so. What is your favorite iPhone game that is not your own? Alex: Love Canabalt. Recently had a lot of fun playing through ZombieSmash on my iPad, but currently hooked on 'The Impossible Game'. Adam: I’ve played like 5 apps, total. Freaking Inkies might be my favorite. I mostly play console games.

Mentioned apps

Tilt to Live
Tilt to Live
One Man Left

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