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Stories Behind the Apps

Stories Behind the Apps: Spaceteam

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This is one of the most original apps we have come across! Spaceteam is a cooperative shouting game. You connect to other players in the same room and try to fly a spaceship as a team by manipulating random technobabble controls. Meanwhile your ship is falling apart and being chased by an exploding star. After a few minutes of chaos you inevitably lose and everyone gets a medal.

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Well this is where we usually ask about similar apps, but… I made Spaceteam because there are no similar apps and I want to see more! I prefer to think that I have no competitors, only peers.(I stole this line from Steve Gaynor) It feels kind of like a board game because everyone is in the same room interacting with each other. I think this is a really compelling design and I'm excited to do some more explorations in this space.

spaceteam_512Could you talk a bit about the app UI and icon design? Yes I'd love to! I love doing UI and graphic design so I enjoyed coming up with the app icon. It's supposed to be stylized letters 'S' and 'T' joined together. As a bonus, the negative space between them is in the shape of a lever. The user interface was extremely important to me. Some of the things I'm proud of:

  • I wanted the connection flow to be as simple as possible: no host or join, no server lists, no IP addresses, no system dialogs. It was tricky to get it working and it's not perfect but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.
  • Having a dial on the Title Screen instead of a button isn't just a gimmick. It teaches you how to use the dial (the most complex control), so you become familiar with it even before the game starts.
  • Also along the same lines, I use the interactions in the Waiting Room to teach people that a) their games are all connected and listening to each other, and b) that sometimes you all have to perform an action at the same time.
  • I intentionally didn't include tutorials for certain gameplay interactions like wiping away the slime or fixing the dangling panels because people discover these things by themselves anyway and I don't want to take that moment away from them. Games need more of this kind of discovery.

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What tools and communities assisted you in building SpaceteamTools and technologies I used: Cocos2d + various extensions for the core engine. CocoaAsyncSocket and HHServices for networking. Bfxr and Audacity for sound. Photoshop and Inkscape for graphics. The Noun Project for symbols. TestFlight for testing. You can see the full list herePeople: all my friends who came to my "Spaceteam Potlucks" to help me test the game.

What lessons did you learn in the process? Multiplayer games are very difficult to make, test, and debug!

iPhone_Screenshot2What went right and wrong with the app release? What Went Right: Keeping the project scope small. Using existing tools and resources as much as possible. Working with Apportable for the Android port, they are awesome!

What Went Wrong: In hindsight I regret not making the game more portable to other platforms, but at the time it was a conscious decision due to short time constraints. I had no idea how popular it would become. On release I should have tried to convince Apple to feature the game since it was iOS-only and required multiple Apple devices to play. 🙂 It might have helped me get some early publicity. But I certainly can't complain about the publicity I've gotten since then.

Who is on the team and what are their roles? Most of the team is me (Henry Smith). I'm the only full-time person. I did the design, programming, sound, concept art, and PR 🙂 Philippe Lachance did the music. Jérémie Benhamou did most of the final art. Sara Breitkreutz is my lead tester, producer, voice actor, advisor, and reality checker. And, while not involved with the original game, I'm now working with G.P. Lackey who is doing art and graphic design for my Kickstarter campaign (if you want to learn more about it, please sign-up here.

What was the team doing before SpaceteamI used to work at BioWare before I quit my job to go indie. Philippe was (and still is) a guitar teacher. Jérémie was an Art Director at EA. He now works at Sledgehammer Games. Sara was (and still is) a student working on her Master's in Anthropology.

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What are some of your favorite apps? Mobile games that inspire me: Corrypt, Out There, Hoplite. Mobile apps I can't live without: Mailbox, Remember The MilkRecently I've also been playing a lot of Hearthstone on iPad.

Head over to the App Store or Google Play to download Spaceteam and get playing with your friends!

Hey you app devs!  Wanna be featured like our friends at Spaceteam? Be sure to check out http://www.powerslyde.com/get-discovered.

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