Available from the Apple iTunes App Store, Monster Pinball is a great start from the new media design team Matmi. The company’s first foray into the world of iPhones and iPods is a fun, addictive, beautifully rendered melding of two of life's great distractions - monsters and pinball.
In their own words, Matmi combines graphic designers, animators, 3D artists, special effect artists, directors, musicians, programmers, copywriters, dreamers, viral marketeers, game makers and a digital visionaries. The company has a suitably impressive list of both blue chip and cool and contemporary clients including Universal Music, Polydor, EMI, Sony BMG, Comic Relief, Scouting for Girls and Lily Allen.
Macworld caught up with Jeff Coghlan, Creative / Managing Director at Matmi to discover a little more about the company’s iPhone plans.
Q. What was the idea behind your first iPhone application Monster Pinball?
We love pinball and we love our Monsters. We always thought traditional pinball was great but after a while it can get a little boring. We wanted to bring pinball up to date by removing the constraints of a traditional table. The idea of linking the tables together, that had never before been possible. I guess we have made 'Pinball 2.0'.
Q. Pinball seems to have universal appeal; why do you think that is?
It's very easy to play and instantly engaging for a mass audience. The beauty is the simplicity of using two buttons for the flippers and being in control of your whole environment. David Jones, the creator of Grand Theft Auto, recently told me that he got inspiration for the original Grand Theft Auto from Pinball.
Q. Was the iPhone platform something you had thought about creating content for for some time?
Yes, we have wanted to produce mobile games for some time, but the networks were greedy and porting to multiple devices was costly. The iPhone changed all this, therefore we invested a lot of time into iPhone development.
Q. And is developing iPhone applications any different than the numerous games you have created for other platforms?
At first it was a little harder, but now it’s much easier. The touch screen and accelerometer were a challenge but really benefit the device and many of the available games.
We love the iPhone for games. We are now using Unity3D for some of our new projects, Unity3D allows us to make 3D browser games and port to the iPhone and the Wii. This will change everything.
Q. With many free applications, lite versions and various price points, did you have an idea what to charge for Monster Pinball when you had finished the development process?
This is the question that I get asked the most. It was a difficult decision to work out the price point. We put a lot of work into Monster Pinball and think it is worth the money that we charge. We did some research on how much people think the game is worth. It seems the majority of people who have bought the app are really happy with its value.
Q. And with tens of thousands of applications, the majority games, how
do you go about standing out from the crowd?
Just make a really good addictive game that has great graphics and gameplay. Then shout as loud as you can on the web. With a great development team and the big mouth of Matmi it seems to be working for us.
Q. And do you think with so much competition small time developers thinking about creating iPhone applications can actually make a living?
We are an indie developer and we are making money. I think if you make good original games and market them well, you should expect to do well.
Q. How important are iTunes App Store 'Customer Ratings' and do you think they help drive sales?
Yes and no. The ratings help form an opinion, their value is very important. However it seems that the ratings systems can be abused with competition sometimes scoring you deliberately low. The majority of our reviews have been really positive and I think that has increased sales.
Q. Finally, can we look forward to new Matmi iPhone titles shortly?
Yes, we have many new iPhone games in production at the moment, all I can say is the next game will be 'Infectious.'
Available from the Apple iTunes App Store, Monster Pinball costs £2.39 and requires the iPhone 2.2.1 Software Update or later.
You can read Macworld's review of the game here.