After Sharyn Efimoff, threw down the gauntlet with a score of 1672 in Flight Control (!!!) I had to get the reaction of the folks at Firemint. Alex Peters was wowed and she was also kind enough to answer my questions! Below is a bit more about this great games company located in Australia.
"Firemint has been making mobile games since 2002. Flight Control is our first self-published game, although we also developed the iPhone games Fast & Furious and its predecessor The Fast and the Furious: Pink Slip, and have about 30 published titles across various platforms. There are 36 people in our studio working in a number of project teams, and we're very excited about our pro-circuit racing simulator Firemint Real Racing, which should be finished soon and will be our second self-published title. We've also developed a technology platform called Cloudcell that allows games to connect to players' social networks. For example, in Fast & Furious you can upload replays of your best laps to your YouTube channel!
The Alex Peter's iPhonespaz Interview
Jamie: Alex, I've got to assume you have a ton of apps. What got you started on the iPhone?
Alex: I'm a compulsive downloader but I also delete apps a lot to make room for new ones, or just because I'm checking out different stuff. At the moment I've got 7 pages, but some only have a few apps... I like to sort them! I didn't actually get hooked on the iPhone as soon as it came out, as I had a bit of "hype exhaustion" by the time it finally arrived in Australia. Then everyone in the Firemint studio was given an iPod touch, and that was it, I pretty much went out and got an iPhone a few days after that. My background is in usability and I found it an absolute joy to use compared to other devices with similar functionality, so it was the awesome interface and App Store experience that hooked me.
Jamie: What made you want to write apps? Any advice for those getting started?
Alex: Flight Control is the first app I've worked on myself, although Firemint has loads of published titles. Rob did the game design and programming, Jesse did the art and I did all the miscellaneous bits like writing the cheesy text, finding the music and SFX, some UI stuff and general production assistance. I'm really interested in the player experience, which ties in with my usability background. There are some really interesting parallels, such as making sure people can concentrate on the important decisions. For people interested in making games, we always say "just make them" and in particular, actually finish them, which can be the hardest part
Jamie: Ha! Sounds a lot like writing books! Any secrets about Flight Control you'd like to share? What's coming up in the next release?
Alex: It's a little known fact that Flight Control is multi-touch... you can direct more than one plane at a time! I don't have that kind of dexterity myself but we've tried it with two people playing on the one iPhone and it works. We've also submitted our first update which will include Online Scores at flightcontrol.cloudcell.com, Google maps and Twitter integration. It's pretty awesome stuff
Jamie: Wow! Scoping out all that additional functionality, I'll bet you have a bead on a lot of great apps. What is your favorite iPhone app and why do you love it?
Alex: I do spend a lot of time playing Flight Control! With all the testing we've done I've had to reset my stats to zero lots of times which is a bit depressing... besides that I spend a lot of time in Tweetie! I also love location-based apps such as Urban Spoon, Metro Melbourne (for local public transport), Now Playing... and of course Google Maps, which I depend on perhaps a bit too much. I've been known to get in the car for a weekend away and then frantically checking my email for the address and Google Maps for directions!
Jamie: What iPhone app do you secretly pine for?
Alex: One that uses the accelerometer to recharge the battery. Shake'n'charge!
Jamie: Brilliant! What would you like to see Apple add to 3.0?
Alex: Well, this is not actually an 3.0 OS related feature, but I would really love a progress meter on our app and update submissions. Something like "there are 425 apps waiting for approval in the queue in front of you", so you could compulsively refresh that page and get an idea of how much longer it might be before it's available. The way it is at the moment, it's turning me into a bit of a nervous wreck from waiting!
Jamie: I know exactly what you mean about the queue. I'd love to see that too. Anything else?
Alex: As for actual OS features, I know our programmers would love some way to guarantee how much memory will be available.
Jamie: So I have to think you have a great, spazzy story about your iPhone.
Alex: Remember that question about how many apps I have on my phone...? I discovered what happens when you have WAY more apps than you should. I was trying to get a new build of Firemint Real Racing on my phone, and it wouldn't load because I'd maxed out the number of apps. I deleted a few to create some empty spots, but it still didn't transfer. I rebooted the phone and the empty spots magically refilled with some "hidden" apps that were on the phone, but hadn't been displayed because there were no spots left. I did that about five times... so, yeah, I guess I'm an app junkie!
Jamie: Attack of the Hidden Apps!!! Gaaaaa! Thanks again for doing the interview, Alex. Best of luck with the next update!