This week we talk to games veteran Ryan Mitchell whose humble beginning started in the education market and then branched out into more and more mainstream games. Ryan now has his sites set firmly on the iPhone/iPod market and has a plethora of upcoming games up his sleeves and a self made engine to build it on:
We also feature his latest game Slingers reviewed here >>
– Tell us a bit about Banshee Soft and how/when you started the company?
Banshee soft was conjured up on a hot summer day in my pool with an old time friend that I use to work with at a small time education game developing company. Tom Cybulski was over with his family, and I told him how I had started Banshee Soft with Slingers and wanted to have some help. Right from the start he was very interested. Like I said, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away we had worked on some small time education games together, and then he went big business and I went big games. Now here we are again, Ten years later making our own games that mix action and strategy genres into a perfect blend of fun. I am really looking forward to our future releases. Our current work in progress; Undead Reich.
– What attracted you to get into app development for the iphone?
The ability to get my game to market with hardly any middle man being involved. I worked on AAA Titles, and the complexities of the business model was stunning. Next to none is the amazing POWER that these iPhone’s have. I would have to say that overall this is what attracted me to developing apps for this industry. It’s really amazing that I can now hold what use to be a big machine in the palm of my hand.
What just a few short years ago was console has now been re-placed in your PHONE… amazing…
– What software do you use when creating apps, do you use software such as unity, free software like cocos2d or just code the old fashioned way?
I have used many middleware applications in the past and in the end I always grew to dislike the “little black boxes” as I call them. So for me…..when ultimate performance is an issue, there is nothing like knowing the ENTIRE code base and knowing where and how to tweak for speed. That is why I have created my own engine to make my iPhone games…..The SouLEnginE! It is extremely fast and nimble along with the fact that I know it like the back of my hand.
I used this engine on Necromancer Rising, an iPhone game soon to be released, and brought it over to make Slingers.
– What was the inspiration behind the ‘slingers’ games?
It’s funny actually; If you remember the old days of Rampart in the arcades Slingers really harkens back to that. I woke up one day with the idea of wanting to create a fun simple game that would keep players coming back for the un-lockable abilities that unlock permanently once they achieve the next level.
– Would you say that Banshee Soft has a ‘visual style’ all its own which will follow through your games?
That is hard to say. The next game Undead Reich, will follow the cartoon-ish look with cartoon looking characters, but will be violent in a Tom and Jerry way. So in ways yes, however this is not a rule of ours.
Good, fun games that keeps players coming back is the rule.
– What have you found really helpful during development?
My Engine, SouLEnginE !!!!! The most valuable thing I have is the fact that I solely wrote the entire engine from a blank page. This allows me to know exactly where issues might be. It also allows me to squeeze the most out of these little devices called iPhones.
– What problems did you encounter creating it?
TIME!… 😉 .. As always I could use a few flux capacitors to spread the time out. Other then that the environment apple provides is BY FAR the easiest I have had the opportunity to develop on. The XBOX was not so bad but this is a dream. Of course this is after you remove as much Objective C as possible and get back to good-ole zippy C. =)..
– What has been the biggest challenges you have had to over come?
I have a very loving and understanding family and my challenge has been to make sure I give to them as much as I give to my work. What can I say…. I love what I do and I want the people who play my games to like them too. I want to be successful in my career and at home in my personal life, a 24 hour day just isn’t long enough for me to get done all I want to do! This is why I have my computers setup in the living room in a corner of my own so I can watch TV with my family and be “making the game happen”.
This is not too bad of a deal for me as I really am A.D.D. to the EXTREME. In fact they need a new classification for me. So having two things to do at once is nice =).
– How did you go about marketing your app and what do you expect to have the best return?
This is a tough one. When I started app development the market was not flooded with so many apps, not to mention the free apps, so it was easier to perform in. Now some of the apps out there are very good but I would say a majority of them really need a lot more work. Getting your head above water is hard. I am approaching it with the attitude that a good product will sell, especially one with good marketing strategies.
The first wave is handing it off to review sites and word of mouth. The second wave is adding a free version that you can upgrade to a full version with an in app purchase. That might take some time as apple has just allowed this, and their rules seem to keep contradicting each other now. Purchasing advertising, for a $0.99 cent app is almost impossible to recoup. To purchase just a 100 dollar add you have to sell 130 apps to break even. The final plan will be tattooing it on my forehead running and screaming through as many parks as possible; I really hope I do not have to go there though. …So right now we are trying to bank on good product, lots of good reviews, being featured on websites or magazines, and word of mouth to market the company. (by the way I thank you so much for your review and for taking the time to interview me, Thank you). Thank you for helping us get the word out!
– What hints or tips would you give to budding developers?
If your willing to put all you have into it then go for it because this is a VERY tough market. I want to say though what market is not tough? That which does not kill you only makes you stronger. My main advice is do not expect it to be easy. I have spent the last year with 30% – 40% of my evenings drifting late into the night working on apps. Working to the bone is hard. Is it fun? YES! But after a few months it does get difficult. Oh, and ignore the get rich quick stories please 😉
– What does the future hold for Banshee Soft ?
Undead Reich will be next; a much larger game in the veins of Ikari Warriors… And a lot more to come too! Banshee Soft isn’t planning on leaving any time soon.
We are free to go wherever we want with our games so I am very excited, and I will work as hard as I can in order to make the games a success!
Thanks for your time and I hope you enjoy the game. Please keep up with me on my blogs at RyanMitchellGames.WordPress.com. Please post there I love talking to users and developers alike!
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