This is the first part of a 3 part interview with Kate Connally, Vice President of AddictingGames. Each part of this interview will be followed by a mini-review of one of AddicitingGames' first three iPhone games. For part one the mini-review will be about iPark It!
I would just like to take a moment to thank Kate Connally for her time in answering my questions, and also to thank Chrissy Kelleher of Bender / Helper Impact for arranging this whole thing. This is my first real interview, and they were both very helpful and cooperative throughout the process. Now, on to the interview...
Me: With all of the free flash games sites out there, what makes AddictingGames so... well... addicting?
KC: We pride ourselves on having the most fun, fresh and addicting games around. We publish a new game each weekday, and over ten games every Friday. So, we are constantly on the hunt for the best new games out there. In addition to our proactive game scouting, we have a developer network of over 1,000 Flash game developers who submit games to us, and we choose to publish only the best from that group. Plus, our developer incentives, like the AddictingGames Bonus Program, provide developers a way to earn continuing revenues on hit games.
Me: Given all of the mobile options available, why choose the iPhone platform to port AddictingGames properties to?
KC: Well, the growth of the iPhone has been very exciting in the last two years. It has been rapidly adopted across a number of demographics, and in particular we are seeing strong interest from our core demographic, teen-agers and young adults. The features of the iPhone, the accelerometer and or course the touch screen, make it a great application for new, fun experimental game mechanics, like iParkIt, where you have to both accelerate and aim with the touch screen. AddictingGames and our network of developers are excellent at innovating new game mechanics and techniques, just as they did on the Flash platform.
While our iNetwork is initially focused on the iPhone, we will be targeting other smart phone platforms as well.
Me: How do you determine which games will be ported?
KC: We are looking for games that will be hits on the iPhone platform. These are first and foremost games that are can be tightly integrated to the platform -- games that take advantage of the specific features like accelerometer, interesting touch screen controls and as you'll see coming up more with photos.
We ask ourselves, what can we add to this game to make it fun on the iPhone?
On iPark It, for example, we translated keyboard and mouse controls into touch screen accelerator and steering. Then, we added a double tap control for the user to center the car. This added a new dimension of control and accuracy to the game that is unavailable online. We think this makes this game really stand-out on the iPhone. 50 States has a "shake" that enables you to "re-roll" the play so you can try again. The "shake" utilizes the accelerometer to give a new state to the user.
Me: Even though you can use frequency of play on the web side as a metric to help determine game popularity, will you consider simply asking AddictingGames players what they'd like to see ported?
We definitely want to hear from our users what they want to see on the iPhone. We will be leading discussions on our blog, http://blog.addictinggames.com/, within individual game reviews on the site, as well via our other social marketing outreach across the web.
Look for part two of the interview coming soon...
Mini-Review: iPark It!
The basic premise behind iPark It! is that you must park a car in a particular parking spot over the course of 40 different parking lots. Each parking job is timed, and when time runs out you lose a life. You also lose a life when you crash into something. Once all your lives are gone you may choose to start over or start on the last level you played with a score of 0. Naturally, since this game comes from the online community you have the option of submitting your scores to an online leaderboard. So far my scores haven't been worthy of that honor.
The controls consist of a slider on the left that you push towards the top to go forward and towards the bottom to go in reverse. Distance from the center of the slider determines how fast the car goes. On the right side is the steering wheel, which turns your car left with a counterclockwise movement and right with a clockwise movement. Personally I would have loved to have the option to switch these two controls so that I could steer with my left hand. Plus, since most of the action seems to take place on the left 2/3 of the screen, the steering wheel would be less obtrusive in blocking the action than the slider is. The steering wheel seemed a bit wishy-washy on responsiveness to me. I often felt like I had to spin it quite a bit to turn at all, and then suddenly I'd be turning so much that I'd be running into something before I had a chance to correct my direction. It seemed like a sensitivity setting might help in that regards.
The game looks pretty good. A little more variety in the background might have been nice, but overall the graphics are sharp and detailed. Sound, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired. The main sound effect is the engine revving up before the start of each level, and some odd thumping sound throughout the game. Some ambient sounds would have been great, and maybe some noises like an alarm going off when you accidentally hit another car. There should also be some music playing in the background. You are in a car, after all. Some good audio would have really made the game come alive.
iPark It! is enjoyable, but there's nothing in the game that really stands out. This might not be a problem in general, except that I believe there are several games with this same theme that already exist or are coming out in the near future. As such iPark It! will have some stiff competition, and in it's current shape I'm not sure it can rise to the top.
Next mini-review: World Wars