A guest post by Mike Smithwick, author of Distant Suns 2 for the iPhone and blogger at distantsuns.com. Mike is a seasoned iPhone developer who has developed numerous iPhone applications. Follow Mike’s work on Twitter for more information.
It has now been just a little over a 20 months since Apple changed the industry, (yet again), by releasing the iPhone SDK. Had anyone back then predicted that less than two years later, less than two circuits around an average yellow star in the outer arm of the galaxy, the Appstore would be bulging under the weight of over 100,000 applications, they would have been carried away, hidden and fed raw cabbage for about 12 years.
But here we are. I personally have 5 apps up on the store (Distant Suns, Distant Suns (lite), Grand Tour, Weather Planet, and the Live365 player), with one more on the launching pad.
Perhaps one of the keys to this explosion of creativity among the app development communities, is that it revives the notion of solo-programmer applications. In the early days of the PC, the very first software packages were generally created by one or two people on their kitchen table. Heck, they probably even used zip-lock bags as their “packaging.” The systems were small as were expectations for the applications. A “major” game might take only a couple of months for one guy to develop, with perhaps a little additional help from a single artist. As the machines grew larger and more feature-filled the expectations grew as well. Simple 8-bit pixilated images gave way to complicated 3D renderings. Basic static splash-screens were replaced with new cinema-quality animated intros. Cheesy electronic soundtracks were shunted aside for fully orchestrated mini-symphonies. And with the latest game titles, for example, such as Spore or Grand Tourismo, the budgets and manpower approach those of Hollywood feature films costing tens of millions of dollars.
The original version of my first app, Distant Suns (back then called “Galileo 1.0”), was developed over a year of spare evenings on a budget of about $2000 on a floppy based Commodore Amiga 1000 with two meg of RAM. With the advent of the iPhone version, the good ol’ desktop version has now been officially retired. But with few exceptions, up to the very end, DS was still a solo-programmer desktop product and held the distinction of being one of the last vestiges of a more, dare I say, “romantic” nerd era. (If of course “romantic” and “nerd” can be used in the same sentence.) Likewise, it has also been a point of personal pride. Read the rest of this entry »