Interview With Ivica Aracic

I was really amazed to find out just how many transformations your first iOS project went through before it became The Greedy Sponge! It looks like you started out with a futuristic sci-fi setting for the puzzle game, among other iterations. How did you finally arrive at the organic, undersea setting?

Every style that you see in my collage is made by a different person. In the first setting, the player controlled two mining lasers, but it turned out that the controls were too complicated and didn’t contribute to the gameplay, so I decided to redesign this part completely. The redesign led to better controls, but it required heavy changes in graphics design, which I was not able to pay due to my limited budget. So it stopped at this point.

The second style was made by my workmate at tons of bits. I liked this style very much. The idea was to have a tribe dancing around a magic fire and throwing different ingredients into it. But at some point my workmate didn’t have enough time to continue, and the project stalled again for a few months.

Finally, after collecting a new budget, I decided to make a fresh restart with a new graphics artist. This time it worked. I wanted to start with tabula rasa, and after a short brain storming I came up with the primordial soup monster idea. After a few iterations we had Greedy as the main character. Diego, who finally made The Greedy Sponge’s graphics, was recommended to me by a friend. I didn’t know him before, but we understood each other instantly so we had a great start working together.

That’s the story. I had the gameplay ready in April 2010, but I needed seven-to-eight months more to find the right partner for the graphics part.

I was also incredibly fascinated by your experience with How did crowd-sourced translations work out for you, both in terms of difficulty organizing the effort and the quality of the final translations? How do you, as the project director, even do quality control of game text that’s in a target language you don’t speak first-hand?

This was an experiment. For Greedy it worked extremely well! also offers a pretty good infrastructure for coordinating the work. Some translators just came from nowhere and started translating the text, but the majority of them, I found at reddit. The people there are extremely helpful if you ask them kindly.

The quality control was an issue. Some of the languages I was able to check myself, or let friends check them (e.g., English, German, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Russian). For the other languages I had to trust the translator (e.g., Arabic). You can also judge the quality on questions that the translator is asking you about the context. For instance, I understand no word of Arabic, but the translator just asked the right questions and he also discussed alternatives with me, which gave me the feeling this guy knows what he’s doing.

But, there is also a big drawback with this. When you bring out updates, you change text. And I didn’t feel it would be right to beg again and again to translate for me for free.

What’s in store for updates to The Greedy Sponge? When you have plans for updates to previously released apps and plans to develop brand new ones, how do you decide where your development time should go on a day-to-day basis?

Just limited to Greedy and Instamory, I have countless ideas. Greedy is by far not at the point I would like to have it at. It is still a work in progress. But, with a 40-hour-a-week regular job, kid and family, you’re forced to set strict priorities for your to-do list. So basically I have a large list of what I want to do, then I pick three to four things out of it and try to tackle them in the few free hours that I have.

What I would like to do for Greedy is to add new characters with special abilities and a new battle mode for one-versus-one on a single iPad. I started with this already. I implemented upgrades, and Diego also designed Little Miss Greedy, but it’s far away from being finished. And to be honest, right now, I am fully focused on Instamory. The thing is rolling and if I do not roll with it, it will roll over me!

Big thanks to Ivica for taking the time out to chat with us about his experiences as an indie iOS game developer. Check out his Twitter and Facebook accounts for more news on Instamory and The Greedy Sponge. Also, don’t forget that he’s running a $25 USD iTunes gift card contest on the Sponge Forge blog!