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App Store Insiders: David Frampton, Creator of Chopper and The Blockheads

Posted by Carter Dotson on July 12th, 2013

David Frampton, the sole proprietor behind Majic Jungle Software, has been on the App Store since day on with his game, Chopper. Ever since then, he's become one of the first developers to experiment with TV gaming with Chopper 2, and took the open-world crafting genre to a mobile-friendly place with The Blockheads, which recently got a big online multiplayer update. He took some time out to answer our questions about his experiences on the App Store and what he thinks about the future of the store.

148Apps: Why did you get started making apps for the App Store, in particular Chopper?

David Frampton: Before the App Store was announced, I had a day job and was saving towards doing full time indie shareware Mac/PC game development. But then Apple announced the App Store and it seemed like a much better opportunity to survive as an indie, so I decided I had to do my best to have something on there as soon as possible. Chopper was a great fit, given it was a relatively straightforward port and suited the iPhone. So I spent every evening and weekend working on it, right up until the deadline for submitting apps for day one. Boy am I glad I did!

148Apps: You explored TV-based gaming in a significant way with Chopper 2. How did that work out for the game?

Frampton: I think it was great, it did a lot to publicize Chopper 2 before launch, gaining a lot of attention due to the unique wireless control scheme. It was a good fit for the game, and when AirPlay for the Apple TV came out later it was only natural to support that too. I'm not sure that a huge number of people still play Chopper 2 on their TVs, it was and still is a bit of a novelty. But I still think there is great untapped potential in that area.

148Apps: What do you think about future pushes into TV gaming in the market now?

Frampton: I don't really think that AirPlay in its current form can break out of its niche, and I'm not convinced that a full blown App Store for the Apple TV is the answer either. So it's a tricky one to predict. If Apple can find a way to make AirPlay far more seamless and accessible it would have a very positive impact. Or if an extremely popular game used TV integration very well it could have the potential to transform the space, too. Also the new iOS controller APIs hint that Apple might be looking towards future developments in the area.

148Apps: You've made a push into free-to-play with The Blockheads. How did you feel about making a game with this f2p model?

Frampton: I was hesitant at first, but it's been a very positive experience. One thing that is really great about it is that there is financial benefit to keeping up on update releases. With Chopper and Chopper 2 I rapidly saw diminishing returns for the effort I was putting into making updates. With The Blockheads, every update sees a significant increase in IAP sales and ad revenue. Given I have lots of ideas for improvements and I want to keep adding to the game for some time, this is great. The other awesome thing is that such an insane number of people are playing it. To date it's made less money than either Chopper or Chopper 2, but it has had 10x the downloads of either, and has many many more people playing it every day. This makes me really happy. A game needs to make money to pay for development, but seeing lots of people playing and loving the game is the biggest reward.

148Apps: As a solo developer on the App Store, do you think that it will still be viable in the next few years for developers who want to go solo to keep thriving?

Frampton: There's no doubt that the quality of the best games on the App Store just keeps going up, and the bar for any game to get noticed keeps getting higher along with that. But in saying that, throwing more developers at such a problem isn't usually a good solution. It seems pretty common for even the biggest studios to have small clusters working on each game, often only a handful of people. A small team will have a time and experience advantage over a solo developer, and big companies with many small teams have a better chance of striking it lucky with a particular game. But an experienced solo developer can spend a bit longer and if they're lucky, still come up with something that competes with multi-billion dollar companies. It's awesome, and I can't see it changing significantly any time soon.

148Apps: What is your biggest wish for the App Store in the future?

Frampton: Really I just want to see Apple and the App Store thrive. New hardware and OS features are always exciting, both for the new opportunities they provide to developers, and for the new potential audience they can attract. Already we have hundreds of millions of potential customers out there that can download and pay for our games at the tap of a button. But there is still plenty of room for Apple to expand, both within the confines of iPhone/iPad and into totally new markets. And given its success, wherever Apple does take the App Store, there's a decent chance that they'll also take us developers along for the ride.

Thanks to David for his time; it is greatly appreciated.

[ Photo Credit Jon Jordan ]

Favorite 4: iOS Gaming on Your TV

Posted by Carter Dotson on February 2nd, 2011

The iPad may have a big and beautiful screen, but sometimes, you want to play those games on an even bigger screen, like your TV. Thankfully, there are a selection of iOS games that allow you to hook up your iPad and/or iPhone/iPod touch to the TV using the VGA adapter, and sit back and enjoy games on your monitor or HDTV.

Rage HD: Consoles and PCs won't be getting the id Tech 5 engine and the full Rage game until the end of this year at least, but you can play the first fruits of the id Tech 5 engine on your monitor TV through Rage HD. Plug in your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad into your TV, and you can play id's latest game on your TV, making those console and PC owners all kinds of jealous. While the game's on-screen buttons can be a bit challenging to manage without looking at your device's screen at first, the TV still displays the location of those buttons, so you can get used to the location of the buttons using that visual guide.

Max Adventure: Imangi's dual-stick shooter supports TV out as well, allowing you to directly plug in and play on the iOS device of your choice. The game is easier to control in many respects than Rage HD is, due to the easy to use dual-stick controls that let you just use your left thumb to move, and right thumb to fire, with double-tapping on the right side of the screen used to activate your powerups. Easy to setup, easy to play, just as the game itself is.

The Incident: If you want to play this game on your TV, you'll need an iPad and an iPhone/iPod touch to control it with. Despite the cost of entry, The Incident looks fantastic on an external display in HD. As well, the game runs in anamorphic 16:9 widescreen, meaning if you set your HDTV or monitor to stretch, it will fill the whole screen. The game also features simple controls that only require you to tilt your iPhone or iPod touch and tap anywhere on it to jump. This one is almost worth playing just so you can appreciate the irony of using the latest and greatest in portable technology to play an 8-bit inspired game on your TV.

Chopper 2
: One of the very first games to support TV output, and one of the best. While you have to have two iOS devices to play the game with, one hooked up to the TV and one to use the remote controls with, the experience and feature set is probably the best. There's anamorphic 16:9 widescreen, multiple control schemes to use for iPhone/iPod touch depending if you want to use tilt controls or not, and you can thankfully see your firing angle on screen, making the iPhone or iPod touch in your hands practically melt away and become a natural controller. The game thankfully also supports online save synchronization with OpenFeint, so you can easily take your game across whatever iOS device you want to use. You can even use your iOS version of the game to play the Mac App Store version of Chopper 2 remotely.

While the selection of TV-out enabled games is currently limited, the selection currently available is quite fine. As well, worthy of special mention is Red Nova, which supports remote controls but doesn't support TV-out yet. While some form of standardization of remote and display-out protocols would help get more games supporting these features, for now, there is a quality selection of games to enjoy on the larger display of your choice.

The Portable Podcast, Episode 44

Posted by Carter Dotson on August 3rd, 2010
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: BOMBS AWAY :: Read Review »

I implore you, sir, get to the chopper.

On This Episode:

  • Carter gives first-time listeners an introduction to what The Portable Podcast is all about, and why he loves iOS gaming so much to the point where he writes and podcasts about it.

  • Carter talks to David Frampton of Majic Jungle Software about Chopper 2, its long development process, the decision to go to a Universal app, its innovative remote functionality, and how he improved the game from the original Chopper.

Who Are We:

  • Host: Carter Dotson

  • Guest: David Frampton, Majic Jungle Software (Chopper 2)

Where to Hear The Podcast:

Subscribe in iTunes:

to automatically download the weekly podcast to your iPhone.

Listen Fridays at 4pm Central (GMT-6) at WRGT Game Talk Radio

Listen Now: [powerpress]


"BeatNES 3" by The Eternal
"Nanocarp" by The Eternal

Email: [email protected]

Apps mentioned in this episode:

Chopper 2 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Chris Hall on July 27th, 2010
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: BOMBS AWAY
If you were a fan of the original Chopper, Chopper 2 will make you very happy.
Read The Full Review »

Coming Soon: Chopper 2 Universal App can be played on your TV

Posted by Kyle Flanigan on July 23rd, 2010

Chopper 2, the next instalment and much-awaited sequel for the hit game Chopper, has been submitted to Apple and is pending review. The application will be universal, so owners of both an iPhone and iPad will be able to reap the benefits on both devices without having to pay twice. iPhone 4 owners will be able to make full use of their 326ppi display with some the same HD graphics from the iPad edition.

Chopper 2 features "a complete re-written 3D game engine, all new enemies, weapons, graphics, and missions" packed into 36 levels over 12 unique locations. The game will use OpenFeint leaderboards and achievements, a growing gaming network that provides a more interactive and challenging gaming experience.

iPad owners who own an iPhone or iPod Touch also are in for a special treat, with Majic Jungle developers providing the ability to control the helicopter from Chopper 2 on an iPad from your iPhone. The feature works over bluetooth, meaning no network connection is necessary. In addition, you can hook up your iPad to a TV via component cable or VGA adapter and play the game right from your couch or bed from your iPhone. To see how this works, take a look at the video below.

Read the official post at Majic Jungle. Be sure to check back here for updates as soon as it's released.

[Note: the first four images are courtesy of Touch Arcade.]

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