Happy Monday, everyone!
We made it to the 20th issue! Thank you to everyone who read last week’s issue ❤️ Last week we had a special three developer issue so this week we are bringing it down to one developer.
📆 Today I’m featuring Michael Temper.
👉 Please make sure to follow them or support them anyway you can! 😇 I’m excited to share their indie dev stories.
1) What is your name? Where do you live?
I’m Michael Temper and two years ago I moved from Upper Austria to Vienna and live there since then.
2) Introduce yourself. Education? Background? Main job? Interests outside of tech? Interests inside of tech?
After finishing my technical college for electrical engineering I decided to not follow this path and wanted to do something where I can on the one hand work at any place and on the other hand create/invent something on my own. So I started to study Mobile Computing at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria in Hagenberg where I learned programming with a special focus on mobile platforms - finding my passion in iOS development in the end. Therefore, I also had two internships as an iOS developer during my studies, one in Linz at an app agency and one in Munich at Freeletics - a full body workout app.
Since I was always interested in gaming I decided to switch to Interactive Media with a focus on game development for my masters. This was some kind of a jump into the deep end since it was a master course and therefore already on a bit more advanced level, the basics were most probably covered in other bachelor courses. Nevertheless it was very interesting to learn how games work in the background and furthermore I liked that this course had also a more creative part instead of only technical ones like in my bachelors. There I first got in touch with game development tools and engines like Unity, Blender and more.
After finishing my masters I decided to go back to app development since I always liked the idea of working on an own project one day and therefore, I thought it’s easier to create an app instead of a game where you can specialise on so many different things like modelling, game mechanics/logic, sounds, animations etc. and then probably also need a bigger team. So now I work as an iOS developer at an app agency since I always want to improve myself and in an app agency you get in touch with many different projects and teams, so it never gets boring and I always learn new stuff.
In my free time I do quite the usual stuff like meeting friends and family, going to the gym, travelling, playing games and now also work as an indie dev on my own game. 😁
3) Have you ever considered yourself an indie developer?
As mentioned before, I always had in mind to create something on my own one day, so I probably can answer this question with a yes. I think it all started eleven years ago when I was playing Doodle Jump on an iPhone 3G, I was so fascinated that such a funny game was done by a small number of people. As you can see this basically influenced my whole life somehow. Today I have my own little game which maybe brings the same passion for others one day.
4) What got you started/interested in creating your own applications outside of your “normal” job?
Even though I like my “normal” job, it was quite a change from studying before - especially in terms of time and having the feeling to achieve something. Of course it’s great when you release a new app or feature, knowing that many people will use it and that it helps them, but still it’s not that fulfilling when it’s not your own product and it feels like time flies by so fast. So I kinda had the feeling of not having a real goal anymore like graduating as a student before. Sure it’s nice to finally earn some money after all those years of studying - but the older I got, the less interesting buying fancy stuff got - so I quickly had everything I needed. So I decided that I want to change and achieve something. When I saw the new iOS 14 Game Center changes on the WWDC20 I was on the one hand really hyped by them since they looked really great and on the other hand saw my chance in starting my own project, implementing all of those features and maybe even getting featured by Apple by doing so. Unfortunately … that didn’t work out that well. 😅 But still, I am happy with what I achieved and I am highly motivated to keep on improving the game for having others the best gaming experience possible. 🙂
5) How do you balance your time between friends/family, work, hobbies, and indie dev?
The answer is simple - I didn’t. Since my deadline for releasing the game was basically the release of iOS 14, I had quite a pressure working on the game. Furthermore, I first had to learn all the stuff like working with design tools, what I never did before, how SpriteKit works and more. So I had a quite tight schedule and therefore, I unfortunately lost everything else a bit out of sight. I spent hours on implementing the game after work, on weekends and even on my vacation. I can definitely not recommend this - after a while I got such a headache that I had to stop working on it for two weeks, got out of shape and of course also social contacts suffered from it. So looking back on that, it seems really stupid of me putting such a pressure on myself - but the interesting thing is, at some point I actually wanted to work on it all the time. Instead of playing online games, relaxing a bit or doing sports, I rather wanted to implement a new feature which I can show my friends afterwards - that’s what kept me motivated, seeing others having fun with what I created.
Now after the release it’s much better - family, friends and sports have again highest priority in my free time and when there is time left, I either work on the game or just relax a bit.
6) Ploppypop - This game is such a pleasure to play! But I think I need to ask the obvious question first here… Where did you get the name and concept of Ploppypop from? 😊
Great to hear that you enjoy playing the game! 😊 I sat together with friends, brainstorming about some good concepts and we came pretty soon to the conclusion that the game has to be simple in general and that it has to have some absurd kind of theme like Bacon - The Game, Goat Simulator and Untitled Goose Game. So as everyone who ever saw the game can probably guess, that the basic game concept was slightly different in the beginning, until I submitted the app for the beta review, where it was kindly pointed out that the concept does not fit to the guidelines. So I basically changed the previous triangular shape to a square and tada 🎉 - the first Ploppy was born. 😄 Now I am even more happy with this solution since it is something unique. I tried to achieve the same with the name, to have something short, unique and easy to find - and since you actually try to pop objects which plop from top to bottom, I came up with Ploppypop.
7) Ploppypop - I love that the first feature that you list in your App Store description is “No Pay2Win or advertisements’’. These are my favorite types of games! It makes me want to play more and also support with the other in-app purchases offered. I couldn’t resist purchases Melonplop and and Plopkin 😂 What were your reasonings for building the game this way?
First of all, thank you very much for your support by buying some skins - I really appreciate that a lot! Nowadays many games in the App Store are some kind of cash cows full of advertisements and Pay2Win mechanisms. I can totally understand that such games are often made by big companies who have to pay their employees and want to make revenue with it; to be fully honest, maybe even I will make a game one day with similar approaches - but still I think it’s important that the focus should always be on people having fun with the game instead of making the most money out of it. So that’s why I decided that Ploppypop should be totally free and without any annoying advertisements and if someone still wants to support me, he can do it by buying skins. The initial idea was to make even the skins for free by trying to get into Apple Arcade. So the game was even running on Mac Catalyst and Apple TV for quite a while, but since the game is highly relying on this touch mechanism, the game mechanic did not feel right on other platforms than iPad and iPhone, so I dropped this idea after some time.
8) Ploppypop - This game looks so great and runs so smooth. I’d love to know how you built this! I’m slowly building a game of my own using the Love2D framework / game engine and I don’t think I could ever make something as good as this 😛. What game engine did you use? Did you have any other options you were looking at? Have you made any games before?
As mentioned before, I already used Unity in my studies where I developed various games with different teams in some courses. My main reason for considering Unity was the cross-platform support. Still I never really explored the engine and C# in detail, so I felt a bit overwhelmed by all the functionalities of Unity and therefore, decided to keep it simple by creating a 2D Game. The main reasons for choosing SpriteKit were on the one hand that I was way faster since I work with Swift and Xcode on a daily basis, and on the other hand I automatically could learn new iOS related stuff like how to use the compositional layout while I was adding the Ploppydex. So even though other engines have probably more functionalities to offer, I as a “hobby game developer” can definitely recommend SpriteKit to get a bit into the world of game development. Especially the Game Center offers now a lot of nice features like leaderboards, achievements and multiplayer support which can be used out of the box without much additional effort.
9) Ploppypop - The Ploppies are too cute for me to handle. I just discovered that I’m able to use them in iMessages 🤯 I rarely use stickers in iMessages but I’m for sure going to use them! What are the plans for adding more Ploppies into the game and into the sticker pack? Will you be releasing some winter/seasonal ones? 😁
Nice that you found the stickers - I think not many people have seen them yet. 😅 That’s actually a great reminder, thank you! 👍 I am constantly thinking about adding new features that I totally forgot about new Ploppies. I directly created a new skin after reading this question - so check out the next version, it will definitely contain a new seasonal skin! ⛄️ Beside that, I also want to add new Ploppies and Skins in future from time to time to keep the game interesting and entertaining!
10) Ploppypop - The different mechanics / side effects make this game so much fun! I think I had some high water when Ploppies were falling faster and I was freaking out but loving it. Were there some mechanics that were more difficult to add than others? Were there any issues with combining some of the different behaviours / side effects of multiple Ploppies with each other?
Actually the one you mentioned with the high water was exactly the one which was the most difficult to handle. Since I support portrait and landscape mode, it was quite tricky to handle the positioning and animations correctly. In general all those configurations were pretty hard to define - changing single parameters slightly could affect so many other things, so that it took several rounds of letting friends test the game and adapt everything correctly to have a balanced fun game. So adding a new feature or a new Ploppy can always be a challenge since there can be so many side effects which I have to consider like is it playable on all different levels of difficulty, what happens when Ploppy X and Ploppy Y are active at the same time and so on. So working on the game will definitely never become boring.
11) Ploppypop - What’s next for Ploppypop?! Do you have any future features that you can share?
As a next step I want to improve the replayability and the general flow of the game. When you start the game, it’s quite funny - you unlock new Ploppies, see their effects for the first time and try your best to survive as long as you can. So far so good, but the better you get, the higher scores you reach, and after a while some kind of routine comes in and so players are not so motivated to keep on playing. And when you lose, you have to start over from zero which can be quite frustrating. So one idea was to add some kind of leveling mechanism where you get experience points for each round, depending on your scoring, where you can then unlock new abilities at each level to beat the highscore more easily. But I am open for any kind of ideas - so if anyone has a good one, feel free to contact me anytime!
12) What’s been the hardest part of being an indie dev? What the most fun part of being an indie dev?
Time and marketing are definitely the hardest parts of being an indie dev, finding and spending so much time on something and seeing only few downloads can be a bit frustrating in the beginning, but seeing people playing your game, having fun with it and talking about it or even just seeing random people, you never heard about before, popping up in the highscore is such a great feeling which keeps me motivated continue working on it. If I ever see someone playing the game randomly somewhere on the streets or in the subway for example, I would be more than happy with what I achieved. 😄
13) Is there anything else you’d like to tell the indie dev community about you?
I guess that’s the best place to make some self-advertising 😁 So I would highly appreciate ratings or eventually even reviews on the App Store! Furthermore feel free to like, share and follow Ploppypop on the following pages:
Additionally, I appreciate any kind of suggestions, feedback, critics or even questions like about SpriteKit for example - so feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime, happy to help! 😊
14) Do you have any other indie devs that readers should follow / lookout for?
Unfortunately not since I am rather new in this indie dev area - but I would like to use this part to thank you very much for this opportunity talking/writing about my game - I think it’s a great platform for indie devs and can help a lot! 👍 As further feedback, it was a quite funny experience telling my colleagues that I have an interview with a lead maintainer of fastlane, which we basically use every day at work, they were like “woooow, cool!” 😂
So if anyone came randomly on this page I definitely recommend to follow @IndieDevMonday on Twitter and any other available platform - you definitely deserve every follower and it’s a great platform to learn more about other indie devs and their products! 😊
Thank you to everybody who made it to this footer! You either spent the time to read or took the effort to scroll 😊
Make sure to visit https://indiedevmonday.com/subscribe to get an email of future issues!
And go to Twitter and give @IndieDevMonday a follow… or multiple follows if you manage more than one Twitter account 😜