Making a living from mobile
Phil Hassey | Indie developer
Galcon, Galcon Labs, Beast
What was the inspiration for creating Galcon?
Galcon was actually prototyped about five years ago in a 48-hour Ludum Dare game jam, and I think it was pretty much the winning entry across the board. I was actually doing healthcare consulting and web application development at that time, and one of the full-time indie developers suggested to me that the game looked like it was good enough to go ahead and sell. So at that point I started to develop it as a piece of desktop shareware. Then, about three years ago, I was at a Python developer’s conference and someone showed me their iPhone – this was before there even was an App Store – I tried it for a few seconds and the whole touch interface was just perfect. So I was still doing all the healthcare stuff, but I signed up for the development kit and got myself an iPod Touch, and then managed to release Galcon on the iPhone.
Galcon came pretty early in the App Store’s life – do you think its success could still be repeated today?
I think it would definitely be more challenging to get that initial breakthrough if I did it today. If you follow iPhone gaming news sites, there’s still a lot of coverage on these gems out there, but there are so few that are really doing something truly unique. Adapting your game to take advantage of the newer Apple technologies is a good way to get attention, because you might be the first game that used this or that technology.
What about the challenge of promoting yourself and your game?
I think word of mouth still gets things out there, and one of the key things is always getting your game reviewed on the various iPhone review sites. There are PR companies that can help do that sort of thing, and some people have used those to great success, but I know people who’ve used them and haven’t really seen any difference. It seems like it’s pretty straightforward. You just need to send out the information to the reviewers, and hope that they like it! If you give them a game that’s boring, they probably won’t.