(This is a guest post by Michael Heller from ThisGreenMachine.com. The original article can be found at this link.)
Developer Spotlight is a new feature on This Green Machine with a focus on diving into the mind of the every day developer. Each feature will consist of a screen shot of the developer’s current home screen, along with a few simple questions to get to know the people whose products we use daily. Please note that the interview and all contact was conducted via email.
Ninja coders by night, David León and Víctor Pedreño are university students from Barcelona, and the minds behind Hyperactive Ninja. Currently one of my favorite Android games, Hyperactive Ninja is an homage to NES platformers; it is fast, fun, challenging, sometimes frustrating, but ultimately rewarding. In the game, you are a ninja who needs to traverse levels filled with enemy ninjas, mages and ghosts, but there is a catch: you must stay caffeinated or you will fall asleep.
Both David, 22, and Victor, 20, study Computer Science at Pompeu Fabra University where they learned the basics of programming. But, in order to improve their skills, they wanted to pursue their common passion of making games. They hope to finish college soon and enter into the Masters course in Game Programming in Barcelona.
Five questions with David León:
1) How did Hyperactive Ninja come about?
I always wanted to make video games, but the PC market was too competitive, especially if you’re only one person and you are starting. When I got my first Android, I saw my chance to try some luck, but mostly I did it with the intention of learning.
Every day, on the train on the way to college I picked up a paper and pen and wrote ideas of games I wanted to do. When I looked for games at the market, all I could see were ‘Tower Defense’ games, ‘Hyper Jump’ games and puzzles. The few platformers available had awful controls, so I looked for a way to make a platformer game “playable” on a mobile phone. That is why I came up with Hyperactive Ninja.
2) How do you feel about the state of gaming on the Android platform?
Android gives you a lot of freedom programming, in addition of having a huge community of users willing to help you. But, Android gaming needs originality, and quickly. The Android Market “feature” system doesn’t help new developers, as it only “features” top downloaded old apps, and doesn’t pay attention to new ones. Also, they tend to give priority to companies porting their apps from iPhone to Android, “killing” local developers efforts to get some attention. I only hope they fix this soon and copy the App Store “Hot Apps” rules, where the faster growing games, and not the top downloaded are the ones featured.
3) In your blog you mentioned as of September 4th, that there had been 7,000 downloads of Hyperactive Ninja, but only 90 purchases. How do you feel about this? Do you have any plans to try to push purchases?
I think it’s kind of normal. Android users are used to getting things for free, either because the huge amount of free apps or because the high amount of piracy in the market. Also, the Android Market let’s a user cancel a purchase if less than 24 have passed. This is awful for game developers. Any user can basically buy a game, complete it and just cancel the purchase.
On the other hand, Hyperactive Ninja it’s not the usual “casual” game; it’s more likely to be played by “hardcore” players, and because of that it is not a “mainstream” game. It’s the kind of game that you love or you hate. If I wanted to sell a lot, I’d make another Tower Defense, but as I started developing for learning purposes and for fun, I’d rather do something original. Also, we are getting a lot more positive ratings than any other game with the same downloads, which tells us people really appreciate having some original games on the platform.
As of plans for pushing purchases, right now we have around 14,000 downloads and 196 purchases, and we are quite happy with that. We’ll stick to adding more content monthly to support the actual game owners and to (hopefully) get more Lite Version players to try the full version.
4) Would you consider ads in the free version?
We really considered it, but Hyperactive Ninja is a game heavily inspired on classic NES games, and we tried to give him some “nostalgia touch”. Putting ads in the middle of the screen would negatively affect its retro appeal and the first impression a user gets when they play it. Also, being a fast-reflex game you may need as much free screen size as possible to see what’s coming at you.
The Lite version already has 15 of the actual 40 levels, and we tried to fit in those 15 levels some of the main essence of the game. People who liked it may get the full version and be sure to get more free content over the time. As a side note, I wouldn’t be against a free game supported by ads, but only if it doesn’t affect gameplay.
5) Do you have any new projects that you’re working on now?
Besides working on more content for Hyperactive Ninja, I started planning with Víctor a new game and we are just brainstorming. It’s likely to be a RPG but we’re not still sure. I also recently purchased “Minecraft”, so maybe I will make some kind of Minecraft support app just for fun. Any update on this shall be told at our blog.
Many thanks to David for helping us out. If anyone would like to contact the Ninja Coders team just head over to their blog.
Have some fun and check out Hyperactive Ninja: