Accidental App Star - Interview With Rolf Fleischmann

Posted by Chris Hall on September 21st, 2010
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
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I usually do some investigative digging before I start an interview, just to be prepared. Well, I guess more accurately I search for the person's name in Google. I'll typically come up with a Facebook page, a Linkedin page, and maybe a page or two about the person on various websites.

After searching for Rolf Fleischmann, I found a bunch of nothing past the website for his app development company, Vol. 2. After playing No, Human, the debut game from Vol. 2, I had to know more about this upstart app dev "team." I dug around the site for a bit until I found a shocker.

In the FAQ section, the last question is, "Who made this?" followed by this simple answer: "It's an independent production created by me."

The first question I asked Rolf, naturally, was, "I was looking at the vol-2 site, and would I be correct in saying that No Human was created by yourself? Just a one man team?"

"Yes. just me. It's actually more of a learning project for me. I hadn't done very much coding before this." He built the game using the Unity3D engine because of its scripting similarities with Javascript, a platform that he was fairly comfortable with.

So No, Human, the excellent game that has been picked up by just about every app news site on Earth, as well as appearing all over the App Store's main page, was created as a means to learn how to code on the iPhone platform. Not only that, but when I asked him about his initial marketing strategy, something that other devs pour countless hours and dollars into, he responded with, "I had none. I just wanted to make a game."

"When it was ready, I read a lot of blogs and forums to see how people did their marketing. I didn't read enough though, because it was not of that much interest to me. I read somewhere, that you have to be prepared to spend as much time with marketing as I did creating the game so I sat down one eve and wrote a long list of websites and blogs and people I wanted to send the game. I sent out a lot of emails with promo codes and stuff."

When the game finally launched, Rolf told me that only his closest friends knew the game existed in the App Store. In fact, the first high score on No, Human came from one of Rolf's friends that was playing the game in a bath tub with his iPad.

So what's in future for the unlikeliest of App Store stars?

"Well, currently I'm working on an update to the game. It was very often said that the game is too short and that people would like to have more levels. So that's what I'm doing in the near future. Further away, in a not so distant future, I'd like to do another game with what I've learned so far. I know that I made many mistakes in development and in marketing, so I want to know if I could do better!"

I sat for a second and wondered what would come next. If No, Human is what comes from Rolf when he doesn't know what he's doing, what happens when he does? I asked him if he had any projects in mind for the future, and he said that he hadn't thought about it much because of all the craziness that has happened in the last few weeks.

When asked about a sequel, he responded with, "I always thought the cool thing about being independent is that you can do whatever you want. So why do a sequel when you can do something completely new that maybe hasn't been done before?"

Well count me as someone who's excited to see what's next. I'm just glad that he's gotten his "learning experience" out of the way. Sheesh.