From DarkBASIC to iDare: The Game Creators explain their newfound App Store love

Aliens inspired app is now #1 in UK free chart

From DarkBASIC to iDare: The Game Creators explain their newfound App Store love
| iDare

One of the most significant things about the App Store is how it enables technically skilled individuals and companies who have never previously made games to get their ideas made and distributed to loads of people very quickly.

An excellent example of this station is The Game Creators. The team behind the DarkBASIC and FPS Creator gamemaking tools have spent years helping others make games, but now it's getting in on the act too.

We caught up with TGC's Richard Vanner to talk about the transformation from gamekeeper to poacher.

Pocket Gamer: The Game Creators has a great reputation for its gamemaking tools so why did you decide to get into gamemaking yourselves, and why iPhone in particular?

Richard Vanner: We've always had other developments that are non-gamemaking focused. For example we've worked very closely with Focus Multimedia to product Driving Test Success Practical and Road Signs for the UK market.

The iPhone seemed a perfect opportunity to break into a new area without taking too much risk. We still want to work on PC game making with DarkBASIC Pro and FPS Creator. It's just we need to grow as a business, so if we can generate revenue from a wider market it will help fund new developments in the gamemaking side.

What was the process behind making your first iPhone game Touch & Go!?

An old colleague of ours developed a PC version and showed us it. Instantly we knew that it would work great on the iPhone with its touch facility. On the PC you just play with the mouse and that can become a bit tiring. With the iPhone you get to interact with the game directly as you can see in this video.

How different is it making games?

It's a lot, lot easier and quicker! Game making tools are very difficult because they need to cater for all possibilities. With an iPhone app you're just coding what you want the players to see. I'm sure apps will become more detailed and take longer but they'll still be a lot easier to code for. Even now we're adding new features to DBPro and making it compatible with new versions of Windows.

You've done a couple of iPhone applications - iBlow and iDare. How did you come up with those?

Last year we were one of the 25 finalists in a Facebook application competition. Our title was called Social Arcade. So we flew over to San Francisco only to find out we weren't one of the five winners. As a small company we decided it was too risky at that time to keep developing Social Arcade so we put it on ice.

On the flight back (with my programming colleague Dave), we started to dream up what we could do on the iPhone. The idea of blowing bubbles on the device seemed innovative and we hadn't seen anything like it.

A month later we had it completed and released it as iBlow. Then we started working on Touch & Go! and a wack-a-mole game called Smack It! (due out very soon).

I'm always trying to think up cool app ideas and the scene from the film Aliens where Bishop the android holds down a crew member's hand and moves a knife between his fingers came to mind.

So we dropped what we were doing and in three days had the completed app [iDare] ready to submit. A week later Apple approved it and then it just took off and is now #1 in the UK charts! I think the name, idea and the fact it was free all helped it stand out from the crowd.

How do you plan to develop the concept, especially with respect to a paying app?

We're working on some new game modes to make it more interesting and longer lasting. We'll add more hand types and different items to stab down with. Who knows, it might turn into a brand of its own.

Should we expect a version of Dark BASIC for iPhone developers?

It's not a focus of ours right now. I think in time, as we build our library of routines up, we may decide to make the code available to other developers though.

Finally, what other game ideas are you kicking around?

We have lots in the pipeline and we can't tell you about them right now. All I can say is we'll be looking to innovate with games for the iPhone.

Thanks to Richard for his time, and catch iDare on the App Store now to find out what all the fuss is about.
Jon Jordan
Jon Jordan
A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.