Today we’re lucky enough to have Kevin Glass of Coke and Code (@cokeandcode). Kevin describes himself as an “obsessive hobbiest game developer” and has been designing games for, well let’s just say he’s well deserving of this interview. This interview should appeal to the techies. It’s about designing games for the iPhone (and other devices) and about mixing passion with a day job.
You’ve been writing games from the age of 7 I believe. That’s quite an impressive CV. Can you give a little bit more background as to how someone ends up becoming a games designer?
I’m not sure I’d call the things I was writing back then games, but I was lucky enough to be brought up in a household full of electronics and early computers. The first one I got to play with was the NASCOM. My dad was really into computers and encouraged me (and my 2 brothers) to get involved. So we had the NASCOM, ZX81, Spectrums, Commodore 64, Atari ST and then finally a PC all stuck infront of us. I started out copying code from magazines at the time into the Spectrum and moved slowly onto making games on all the rest. It’s just always been there for me.
I studied Computer Science at University, mostly because I thought it’d be an easy ride. Got my degree and headed out into the workplace. I’ve been doing corporate/telecoms/defence software development for 13 years now. However, all the way through my spare time was filled up with writing games, libraries and demos and pushing them on to the web.
It’s only relatively recently I’ve decided to really try and push it. I’m not sure I’d really call myself a games designer, I just put things together and see what people think. I believe the most important thing in games development is feedback, which is why I got on about release early, release often so much. Game designers have a habit of designing games they “think” will be good rather than listening to the players. That’s where I’m at, get the game out there, see what people think and base development of their opinions. It seems to work ok.
Now you design for both the iPhone and for Android. Do you have a preference for either? Don’t worry we won’t be offended if you say Android. Or will we?
I think they both have their place. Technology for Android is better. It’s that simple, it’s a better piece of software and in most cases hardware. Ease of use and polish is still better on the iPhone. I use an Android as my main device but thats mostly because it lets me as a techy do the things I want. However, I have to work with both everyday and the only clear thing to me where games are concerned is Blackberry devices suck.
You’ve recently made the decision to start charging for games (and it’s going well I take it). Obviously it’s easy to get stuck in the ‘free only’ model but you seem to have got passed that without too much teething. Any tips for fellow developers? How long should you wait before charging and do you have any tips for moving over to a ‘paid for’ model?
It’s going “ok” ™, in my case I needed to start charging simply because the backend server costs were about to go up (Google App Engine). As to when to start charging, I think thats the one thing Legends of Yore taught me. If you’re going to charge, charge up front. Make sure your players know they’re going to be charged eventually. It was unfortunate in my case that I hadn’t originally intended to charge for the desktop version and then had to start. I know I lost some players over that and that really bugs me. [Read more…]