Interview with James Bryant, Developer of Land Air Sea Warfare by Isotope 244
We’re pleased to have had the chance to spent a little time with James Bryant, owner and president of Isotope 244 – a small game development company he founded 10 years ago. Bryant has had success programming games for various platforms including Windows, Mac OS and even mobile platforms as well. This is his story of getting Land Air Sea Warfare ported to the iPhone.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and Isotope 244.
All was lost when my parents gave me the Atari 2600 many years ago; I was hooked on gaming and knew it’s what I wanted to do! I grew up with Nintendo and Sega and started programming games in high school, later while in college I sold my first game to a company making a compilation CD. The games kept getting bigger and eventually I quit my daytime job and started doing it full time, that was about 10 years ago. Isotope 244 is my massive company of one person.
2. You have been developing games for other platforms for over 10 years. These other platforms include windows and mac os and windows mobile. What is the main draw to the iPhone?
The main draw of the iPhone is its cool multi-touch interface, being the first mobile platform to feature it. After its popularity surged the other draws are its huge market, easy distribution, good API, and rock solid hardware.
3. Any drawbacks to producing apps for the iPhone?
The fact that the API is based in Objective-C was a drawback for me, and probably most people. With how popular C/C++ is it should have been the obvious choice. When writing a game though the Objective-C portion of the code is minimal, but it still takes significant time to learn those portions, which could be spent making the game better.
4. Will you produce any iPad apps?
Yes I plan on doing an iPad optimized version of Land Air Sea Warfare, it will most likely be a universal binary. The game will carry over to the iPad very well; I already have user interface mockups done and am excited to see how it plays.
5. How long did it take you to develop (or port) your app to iPhone? (estimated hours and timeline)
I have been working on Land Air Sea Warfare full time for 2 years, so about 20,000 hours. The iPhone specific portion of it took about a month.
6. What assistance did you get in developing? if any. (people? training? etc)
I am a one man company and did all of the design, programming, graphics, testing, audio editing, and some of the artwork. I do get some of my assets from third parties such as some 3d models and artwork. I also hired voice actors for the sound effects in the game.
7. Many people that develop for iPhone are new to Objective-C (Apples programming language). Did you know Objective-C prior to writing the app? or did you learn it as you went?
I had no experience with Objective-C before this game, I learned as I developed the game, Apples documentation and examples were a great starting point, and the message forums were my second source and a great learning tool.
8. What were some of the barriers that you had to overcome in getting an app coded, completed and into the iTunes store?
The number of assets in the game is a lot to handle for one person. The game has over 10,000 frames of animation, 100 different units and technologies, over 500 sound effects, artwork, supports resolutions from 240×240 to 1920×1200, and supports four different platforms. Making a game as complex as a real time strategy game to scale over that range of devices was a great lesson.
9. Do you feel your time was well spent in developing for the iPhone platform?
It is still to early in the games release to judge, but I am hopeful as almost everyone who has reviewed the game has given it 5/5 stars and says it’s the best RTS on the platform right now. I am still ramping up my marketing efforts for the game by requesting reviews, doing interviews, and setting up advertising.
10. What is your expectation of success? ie: we know that there are Cinderella stories for iPhone developers going huge, what are your expectations?
I expect the game to sell decently and make it into the top 25 strategy games at one point. Hopefully the mighty hand of Apple will help me out on this with a feature on the game in the future.
Land Air Sea Warfare is available in the iTunes App Store for $4.99