Interview with CrazyQuest Developer - Graham's Solutions L.L.C.
Interview with CrazyQuest Developer - Graham's Solutions L.L.C.
1) Tell us about yourself. How long have you been developing for iOS? Any other games or projects before this? What made you want to make games for iOS?
I'm a 31 year old software engineer living and working in Silicon Valley. I've been rather obsessed with programming since I was 10 or so, when I encountered my first MUDs and quickly got involved in creating new content for other players, so I've basically always had the "itch" to develop games. I've been developing for iOS since before the AppStore launched, but I worked on commercial (non-game) products for a company called Rocket Mobile. During my professional career I have developed for the BREW, J2ME, Android and iOS platforms, as well as a significant amount of web-based work. During my tenure at Rocket Mobile, my most notable/successful software project was participating in the development of a BREW SMS/EMS/MMS client (text and picture messaging) that was preloaded onto the RAZR/KRZR/SLVR handset lineup for Verizon Wireless - millions of units shipped with software I had a large part in designing and developing. Other notable projects (in no particular order) that I've worked on during my professional career include an Android application marketplace app, a social networking iOS app, a web-based CMS tool for image gallery content programmers, an iOS streaming music player, an iOS song identification app, various BREW apps, a mobile messaging SDK for Android... probably some other stuff that I'm missing but those are the big ones.
CrazyQuest is my first commercially launched game.
2) Tell us about your game. Where did you come up with the idea for it? How long did it take to create it?
As other people have pointed out, the game is obviously largely inspired by my childhood (and adult) experiences with MUDs, and with the proceeding games such as Everquest, City of Heroes, and of course WoW - all of which I've played to varying degrees. Diablo is also an inspiration. Kingdom of Loathing has made a big impact, too...
It's hard to gauge exactly how many hours/days I've put into it, but probably on the order of about 750-1000+ person-hours.
At its core, CrazyQuest in its current form is a rather simple single-player MUD/RPG with some social features that allow some player interactivity (presence, chat, leaderboards, viewing other peoples' equipment). Players can kill monsters, perform quests, train skills, and collect loot. To break up the monotony, I try to add as much (bad) humor into the game as possible...
On the technical side, player state, as well as all game content, is persisted server-side for a variety of fairly reasonable design purposes - first and foremost, I wanted people to never be in a situation where they'd lose their hard-earned character (and also so they can switch between their iOS devices with ease). Additionally, having all content and game logic controlled by the server allows for very rapid deployment of changes, circumventing the (hope I don't get in trouble for this) dreadfully slow Apple app review process. All that being said, the game client does contain its fair share of custom native code so that the game feels "fast", only hitting the network when 100% necessary. Some all-networked games feel sluggish to the point where you want to blow your brains out.
3) I must know, and I am sure others are wondering as well, but what made you decide to make the game free to play, with no ads, and no in-app purchases? In a world where so many developers are attempting to nickel and dime every user, it is super refreshing to see this.
I have a day job that pays well and that I am very happy with. I work with some very cool and smart people. CrazyQuest is a hobby (and perhaps obsession) of mine. I've made a decision that the only IAP's I'll ever add are donations and perhaps perks such as XP bonuses per kill and things of that sort - never anything that prevents you from playing when you want, how much you want. IAP just isn't a priority right now.
4) No good thing can remain free forever, no matter how much you would like it to. So, what are your plans going forward to be able to generate some income off of this game?
I've kind of covered this on the CrazyQuest TouchArcade thread a bit.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The CrazyQuest Thread on TouchArcade can be located here!
5) You do a ton of interaction with your players not only in game but also on the forums. How rewarding is it for you to see so many people posting ideas on your threads to help continue to make the game better and also see so many players chiming in to support you?
Extremely rewarding. To be honest I'd much rather get some constructive criticism than "this sucks" or "this is great". I am committed to my long-term vision of CQ, which is to make it as fun and "clean" as possible, with more and more MMO features as I find the time to implement them.
6) With the success of CrazyQuest, are you starting to work on any other projects or have any in the pipeline?
CQ currently has 3.4k registered players and gets about 40-100 downloads a day, averaging around 10 players online at any given time, approximately 150-200 unique logins per day. Most of my downloads are dependent on the current placement of the app on TouchArcade. To be honest, without TA's influence I would probably be getting on the order of 10-15... I am not honestly sure that you can call CrazyQuest a blazingly huge success, but it's nice to hear someone say it anyway!
I am committed to making CrazyQuest better. I have no other projects in the pipeline because I have no time for that given my other work and personal responsibilities. Eventually I may go off and do something else, but not anytime soon.
7) I know this is a long shot, but do you have any secrets or tricks up your sleeve for CrazyQuest you would like to share or hint at?
I was alerted to an exploit regarding the town priest that was so ironic that I chose not to fix it. See if you can abuse him...
8) I personally see you in CrazyQuest a lot, are there any other games out there that you play at the moment? Are there any games in the Upcoming Games forum you see that you might be interested in playing?
I don't really do a lot of gaming myself right now, but I LOVE watching E-gamers. I'm a huge fan of professional Starcraft 2 and my favorite commentators are Huskystarcraft and Day9 (in no particular order! <3 both of them equally!) I do eventually want to take a crack at Diablo 3...
Speaking of upcoming games, though one of my very good friends Jonathan Jackson has recently "gone rogue" after working at Apple for a while and has been focusing on developing a game of his own... He's an awfully smart fellow. While I can't divulge any specifics on the game, what I've seen thus far is pretty damn cool.
9) If CrazyQuest starts bringing home a nice chunk of change, do you plan on expanding your "team", to pump out updates faster or work on a new game or do you enjoy sort of being a one-man show?
Big "if" to be honest... What I'd really love to do is create a community around CQ that would help share the load. I've thought about open-sourcing certain components of the game to deal with this issue, but I'm just not sure I want to release my baby into the wild. If the number of active users continues to grow I think it's inevitable that the dev/support team will need to grow beyond just myself.
10) Of all the forums out there that you could have joined dealing with iOS Gaming, you chose TouchArcade to be a huge part of. Why?
LOL man I am terrible at marketing... Can you tell me some other ones I should be hitting as well???
EDITOR's NOTE: I won't advertise another forum on here.
11) Are there any features out there that people are requesting a lot of, or things you just want to add, but just aren't possible to add in CrazyQuest?
One thing that I am fairly certain I will never add to CQ is being able to see other people moving around on the map. Anything is possible, really, but due to the design of the game it would just be awkward, I think. That being said, I don't think you necessarily need that to have a fun interactive experience with other players. Another feature that will not be implemented is asynchronous turn-based PVP (fighting other players, awaiting their response, etc). That's not to say PvP will not be implemented, but it will be done as more of a "pie eating contest" where players pit themselves against hordes of mobs and the winner is the one that kills the most (or gains the most points, somehow) in the allotted amount of time.
This concludes the first intrerview. It was a pleasure getting to interact with Graham and a ton of fun overall. Really looking forward to setting up some more of these and I hope as readers you enjoy it as well. If you guys and gals have any questions you would like to see in future interviews or any developers you want me to contact just let me know! Same thing with tips or constructive criticism! I am all ears. Thanks again and thank you all for your time.
Last edited by Varking; 08-01-2012 at 10:21 PM.