Kamibox Discusses Casual Game Design and Corona SDK

This interview was originally posted on the Fuse Powered blog.

We sat down with Corona SDK developer and publisher, Philipp Stollenmayer of Kamibox to talk about his latest releases, the games that inspire him, and what advice he had for anyone getting started in mobile.

 

Tell us about Kamibox. Is it just you? Or do you work with anyone else?

It is just me. I am a communication designer, basically, and work with Corona SDK, which is pretty easy to learn, so I haven’t needed a programmer yet.

 

Up until recently, most of the games and apps you’ve published have been paid and did not feature ads. “Sometimes You Die” did particularly well in the charts. What made you decide to start making free, ad-supported games?

In the past, I tried to make games that have a particular kind of atmosphere, and ads would have disturbed that. Two of my newer games, Pancake and Get Hi, have ads, because they are super casual games without any pretence of being somehow deep or atmospheric. After all, I want the player to have fun and not be scared off by interruptions after every game, so I try to implement them in a non-intrusive way.

 

In the past two months, you’ve released three one-touch-action games. Have you had these ready for a while? Or are you making a new game every few weeks?

I make games for people, and people play mostly in the subway or at boring meetings, and one-touch games in portrait mode only require one hand, and make you look like you’re working and not playing. When I have a new idea, I try to get the game done as quickly as possible, trends are changing so fast. So there is not much time between the idea and the finished game.

 

What other titles inspired you to start making these games? Do you have any favorites?

There are a few games that changed our expectations of mobile games. Tiny Wings creator Andreas Illigerdiscovered very early that we don’t want games that feature all the iPhone’s possibilities of super exact controls, that only a single tap anywhere on the screen is the most exact and satisfying way to control a whole game. Yet you did need your other hand to turn the iPhone sideways. This sounds so decadent that it must be true, and Flappy Bird proves that. Together with the short sessions from Angry Birds and the innovative pricing concept ofCrossy Road, I assume that my next game will also feature a bird.

 

What development environment do you typically work in? Why?

In the fourth semester of my communication design studies, I tried to teach myself Objective C to make a game (What The Frog). It was just too hard for me without any coding background, and I was very happy to discoverCorona SDK. The language is so much easier and I can publish games on iOS and Android without any extra effort. I recommend it to every designer that I see in my studies (who are) making concepts for apps but fail at the realization.

 

How much time do you spend optimizing your ads compared to development? Do you use a mediation solution, or a single provider?

I haven’t really spent much time on that yet, but I will sure have to dig into that for my next apps. Until now, I only use the standard providers for iOS (iAd) and Android (Admob). My latest game, Get Hi, features optional video ads to get an extra life.

 

How have your banner ads performed compared to your video ads?

Get Hi is too new to allow any statement about that, at the moment the revenue curve is extremely unstable. On some days, the videos win, and on others the banners.

 

What advice would you give to developers and publishers who are just starting out in mobile?

It is extremely important to know the market. Analyze successful games and win the player over in the first seconds, or your game will flop. That’s why the first levels of successful games are ridiculously easy. As a game among thousands of others, you have to distinguish through a clear and resolute design. Most developers underestimate that.

 

Do you have any plans to release updates for either Pancake, Okay?, or Get Hi? Or are you focused on releasing new titles?

Yes! A big update for Okay? will be released within this month, hopefully. New levels and new mechanics, I racked my brain about that.

 

Very cool. Thanks very much for your time, Philipp. We’re all looking forward to your next release!

Thank you!

 

You can find Philipp’s games in the App Store and the Google Play Store.

Why You Should Go See “The Witch”

The Witch is a punishing movie.

It’s also a good movie, centered around a colonial family’s struggle for survival in the New England wilderness. It’s uncompromising in its vision, and director Robert Eggers has talked openly about how the film allowed him to indulge his curiosity for America’s past, theology, the English language, and his own nightmares. The resulting horror-fable is worth movie-dollars, and here’s why:

It’s Scary

Startling people is easy. Frightening them is hard, and The Witch aims to frighten. It pairs domestic dysfunction with primordial paranoia to sustain a tension that settles in at the end of the first act and persists until the movie’s final seconds. It’s a hard-won tension, earned through a steady drumbeat of quietly violent vignettes and the family’s constant struggle against nature’s indifference. The combination is troubling, and compels you to sympathy as  you watch them endure a slow, painful implosion.

It’s Brutal

Typically, characters that suffer will also have things go their way at least once or twice, even in movies that end on a downer. Audiences and critics have reported similar feelings of trespass, as though they’re watching something they “should not be seeing”, probably because the family of The Witch don’t ever get that. Instead, their fortunes take a dive from the get-go, only occasionally leveling out to fully digest their new, fresh hell. It’s exhausting to watch, especially when the smallest respite proves short-lived and some intrinsic character flaw drags them down again.

It’s New

With a few exceptions, witches don’t get the credit they deserve for being among history’s greatest monsters. Time has turned them into blunted, fang-less trouble makers who let the minions get their hands dirty.  Eggers fixes this, and gives his villain an overtly terrifying physicality. While deception still plays a central role in the film’s conflict, it’s more druidic than Machiavellian. Change is affected through cunning, illusion, and strength, in that order. Never through dialogue.

To say nothing of its chilling score and visual aesthetic, The Witch is a beautifully realized movie. It’s a merciless horror story, set in an under-exploited time period seemingly tailored to the genre’s need for human vulnerability and well-meaning ignorance. Expect to leave the theater short of breathe and hungry for more.

– EFP