Frank Condello is the solo developer behind Chaotic Box, now well-known for dEXTRIS, which has surpassed one million downloads and become one of his most popular games. Condello has been at work on the App Store for years now, but this stands as one of his biggest releases yet. Condello was gracious enough to take the time to answer some questions about dEXTRIS, and what it means for him.

148Apps: What was the rationale for making dEXTRIS?
Frank Condello (FC): Nozoku Rush had just come out and promptly flopped despite some decent features. Having spent the better part of 4 months working on that I decided to lower my risk and began prototyping "2 week" ideas. dEXTRIS uses the core mechanics and even some code from an older cancelled project, Solenioid, so I felt I could turn it out quickly. 4 weeks later it was submitted to the App Store.

148Apps: Was Flappy Bird a big inspiration for the game, or more so for the free-with-ads part?
FC: Not so much the game itself, but the idea that a dead simple one-trick-pony could become a huge hit. Flappy Bird blindsided a lot of developers who assumed those days were long gone.

The free-with-ads decision was based on personal experience. I released a free version of Critter Panic([Editor's Note: originally released as Match Panic) back in January of 2013, and even though it averaged fewer than 200 players daily it consistently outperformed the paid version. I knew since then that I would try ads again at some point, and after another "premium" flop with Nozoku Rush it was a no brainer to try ads for dEXTRIS.

148Apps: Why no in-app purchases to remove ads?
FC: A vocal minority of users has asked for this, but every developer I've spoken with made it clear that conversion rates for this type of IAP are too low to worry about. dEXTRIS was built on a tight schedule and adding any sort of IAP just wasn't in the cards for version 1.0. I haven't completely ruled it out for the future, but only as part of a bundle of extra features.

148Apps: The game has reached a million downloads - does this secure any kind of financial future for you as an independent developer?
FC: The game is doing great but it's really too soon to tell. Right now the App Store is plastered with big dEXTRIS banners, little dEXTRIS banners, and dEXTRIS icons in all the main sections. It's a little nuts. I'm hopeful the strong chart positioning will keep it going once the features end, but I've had free apps in the top charts before and know how quickly things can go south. I'm hopeful but cautious at this point.

148Apps: Why did you decide on the five obstacle types that the game eventually ended up with?
FC: The control scheme determined those. The squares are only stable in 4 positions: left, right, middle, split. The obstacles were designed to leave just enough room to get by in one of those 4 positions. Except the small diamond. With that you have a choice of 3 moves and it's always you're own fault when you hit that one.

I had prototyped several other shapes and even moving obstacles early on, but using just a few static and easily distinguishable shapes let me ramp up the speed while still keeping it playable.

148Apps: What tips do you have for people trying to do better and get high scores at the game?FC: PRACTICE!

148Apps: What's your high score?
FC: 133 (Editor's Note: Carter's is 125)

148Apps: What's in the future for dEXTRIS?
FC: MFi and iCade controller support is in the works, as well as new color themes, and a UI to show off some lifetime stats that the game has been stashing away since day one. I'll be experimenting with at least one new mode but I don't want to complicate things too much.

Thanks to Frank Condello of Chaotic Box for his time.


+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2014-05-08 :: Category: Game


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