Interview: How Nalin Sharma honed iPhone's Killer Edge Racing

From mobile demo to App Store in three months

Interview: How Nalin Sharma honed iPhone's Killer Edge Racing
| Killer Edge Racing

Considering the flowering of creativity that's been unlocked by the App Store, it's heartening to see one the UK's longest serving indie developers getting in on the action.

He may not be a household name but Nalin Sharma has been making games for over 20 years, from SuperSprint on the Atari ST to ZooCube on GameCube and PlayStation 2 and, more lately, PC match-three game Jungular.

His latest release is Killer Edge Racing, a technology demo originally made for smartphones but now converted to iPhone and iPod touch. We dropped him a line to find out more about the game.

Pocket Gamer: How much new work did you have to do to get the mobile demo ready for iPhone?

Nalin Sharma: From start to finish the whole project took about three months. It was already a really good arcade racing game running in OpenGL ES, which is why Nvidia, Motorola and Broadcom showcased it.

However, there were some significant enhancements to take advantage of the iPhone with relation to the touchscreen, tilt controls, 3D OpenAL audio and music. Also, it needed a little tweaking to get the frame rate up to 20 to 30fps.

I plan on writing up a retrospective development diary on the Killer Edge Racing website to document the key learnings over the next month or so.

How did you find the iPhone as a development platform?

Awesome. It is light years ahead of any other mobile development platform. It really is a brilliant system from start to finish, although XCode does take some getting used to if you are familiar with Visual C++ and with other mobile platforms.

In the past, Java games were a nightmare to develop and test, but because this is a native platform you have all the hardware available to develop great games like Killer Edge Racing, and at an efficient cost.

Killer Edge Racing is a mix of track racing with weapons and physics, so why do you think it will appeal to the more casual App Store market?

I think it's perfectly suited as a casual arcade-style racer because it is very much a pick-up and play racer, plus the physics makes the whole experience far more authentic. Nothing is locked and you can race any of the 12 cars on any of the tracks in any of the game modes at any time, which makes it hugely accessible.

Furthermore, it represents amazing value at £1.19, particularly when compared to other racers around that pricepoint. If you race all the cars across all the tracks then you have around 10-20 hours of gameplay.

When I look at other racers I cannot quite see anything in its style or pricepoint that offers so much. Some of the other racing games look pretty but there is no playability and it's more akin to a camera moving round the track.

Others have only four cars onscreen, which reduces the car to car battling and fighting which is something I have always loved in racing games. Overall I tried to put a lot of soul and personality into the game.

Some of this is from SuperSprint, a classic arcade game that I did over twenty years ago on the Atari ST. Others have said that it reminds them of Outrun, and some really like the graphic style because it is quite bright and very unique for an iPhone racer.

How's the bet about Killer Edge Racing's sales progressing with your wife?

The first weekend I had not expected any sales at all because I had not actually launched Killer Edge Racing. All that happened was that I got an email from Apple on 12th May saying that it was ready for sale. When I did check I was pleasantly surprised that it had sold over a 100 in the first six days, which is probably 100 more than my wife expected!

When I did tell my wife, she said that I need to sell another 10,000 to cover the time I’ve spent making the game so I think it's a case of moving goalposts. I'm destined never to win the bet.

How about iPhone versions your other games like ZooCube or Jungular?

They would be lovely to do at some point as I think they would fit perfectly on the iPhone, but the challenge would be more commercial - i.e., even though they would be unique, how could they stand out against thousands of other games?

Thanks to Nalin for his time.