The apps that we have had the best successes with are the apps where we have felt before we released them that we stumbled upon something “magic” before we ever showed it to anyone else.

Stephen is an app developer here in Calgary. I’ve enjoyed many of Stephen’s games and he’s been known within the Calgary app development community for awhile. I was super excited to get the opportunity to ask him some questions about his iOS developments.

What got you started developing for iOS?
At the time I started (Spring 2009), iPhone was the “New hot thing” but it certainly hadn’t reached the market penetration it has now. Still, it had reached my radar, and after having spent over a year developing games in C# and XNA for PC, I was ready for a change. My most recent job had run into a lot of issues to do with different resolutions / etc. and the idea of programming for a device that only had 1 interface to support appealed to me. (Three and a half years later I’m still programming for that device but that means supporting 3-5 resolutions now – if only I had known!)

Can you tell us about your success within the app store?
Fleeting, Ephemeral, A Tease. Castle Conflict was a big hit when it came out, because Apple loved it (thanks guys!) and promoted it big time in the iTunes Store. So we made a nice chunk of change from that. Nothing since has quite gone as far. Dirt was our next most successful – it resonated with a lot of people but never quite had the spread we had hoped. Still, of all our games, it is still the one that gets the most reviews from people telling us how either a) they don’t get it or b) it made them cry.

Most of our other games were complete, utter flops.

Tell me a bit more about Castle Conflict and how that project has gone.
As I hinted in the previous question, Castle Conflict has been our most financially successful title, and also the cheapest one to make ironically. It did really well up front, and as we supported it with campaigns, it got little bumps in popularity (smaller each time). About half of the money it made was in the week apple promoted it, which was before we ever added campaigns. We spent a large chunk of that money on banner campaigns around the time we did the second campaign map; it had almost no effect.

You recently attempted to do a campaign on IndieGoGo for version 2, is that correct?
Yes, we did, and it went alright. All donations were from people we knew in real life except 1 or 2 by a fan, which is illuminating. I think we were too early – especially considering that a portion of what we wanted was for advertising, and the game isn’t really ready to advertise yet.

What has been your biggest surprise so far?
I think it was when Apple decided to promote Castle Conflict. We had just thought we had a hit when our analytics showed 1000 users on day 1, only to find out that we only made $50 (pirates accounted for the rest!). So when we got an e-mail saying, “Hey, this is Apple, we love your game so give us assets to promote it with”, our first thought was, “yeah, this is like those 1000 day 1 users. Too good to be true.” But it was true after all!

Do you work on apps full time?
Yes – I consult for Robots and Pencils full time right now, and have worked with a few other companies in town over the years. I have helped them out on several titles, the most recent one that went live being Spy vs Spy, although I was not hugely involved in that one. I am currently working on wrapping up two more licensed games for them.

Broken Kings still operates as a product company as well, developing games during evening and weekends. So I suppose it’s a little more than full-time these days.

What have you been up to lately?
Castle Conflict 2. It takes everything I’ve learned in the past 3.5 years, from consulting to my own projects to marketing, and applies them to our most successful title. We get requests for updates all the time but the original artist is usually unavailable so this is also Broken Kings first title with Sean Dunkley on art (barring Furious Tactics, which was done for BigStack Studios).

On top of featuring the original Castle Conflict gameplay, it’s going to have a story, generals, online multiplayer, game center achievements, and it’s going to support all resolutions, including Mac. So it’s both a gameplay upgrade and a technological advance on the original.

Is there anything you’d like to mention that I haven’t asked you about?
First of all, thank you for the interview, it is always great to talk about what we are doing behind the trenches here :)

Also, ai is hard, so sorry to all beta testers who have been waiting for the second beta build to go out. But we are looking for a few new beta testers to test the game, so if you are interested and have patience while I teach the game to think, please send me an e-mail or visit our facebook page at!

If you know a developer (and you can nominate yourself – we won’t judge :D) that needs(!!) to be interviewed send us an email!