Saturday, January 9, 2010
1st Anniversary of Pocket God
It is exactly on year today that the first version of Pocket God was approved on the iTunes store.
Backing up a little, in the latter half of November 2008, I (Allan) went over to Dave's place to have him help me upgrade my laptop. I asked him how app-land was with his first app. He said "great!, I sold 1,700!". I said "that's awesome!" and then we went to lunch while OS X was installing. He asked if I wanted to do a project together, and I thought for a second before saying "sure, sounds fun." He suggested we create an app involving "pygmies on an island that you can throw around". Then I did a few sketches of the pygmies and the island, and agreed to have it done in a week or two. We decided to keep it really simple so we could just put it out fast and then update it. Each update would cause it to move to the top of the Entertainment list (not the ranking, just the new adds). And our strategy was to keep updating it to move it to the top of the list. So it made sense just to initially have it do very little. I took a week out of my regular schedule to design the pygmies, the island, the animations, the splash screen and of course, the icon. Dave then spent a week or so programming it and submitted it around Jan 1. It took 8 days to be approved and then it was out there. Within hours, we saw some mentions on Touch Arcade (and I mean TWO hours after it was approved).
The reigning opinion was that it was "cute" or "interesting" but ultimately wasn't worth 99 cents. Then Dave and I promised to update it often...for a time, weekly...and were open to suggestions.
We retroactively titled that episode "Nowhere To Go, Nuthin' To Do" which was a misquote from the intro an old animation by OddTodd, called "Laid off land". The point was that it didn't do a whole lot. The pygmies just wandered back and forth across the island and the big thing you could do to them was pick them up and throw them in the water. But soon we added the volcano, then the gravity and earthquake, lightning and so on. For about 11 updates, along with our regular work, we worked all weekend, ending at about 4 or 5am on Sunday night to finish the update.
Somehow this ad hoc strategy actually worked and PG drifted up in the ratings. It got a lot of attention on YouTube and Touch Arcade...with widely varying opinions. Some good, some really REALLY bad. But it was all good. We figured if we kept at it, eventually it would be worth 99 cents. The app eventually reached number one and stayed there for almost a month. Then it stayed in the top ten for 4 months and hasn't left the top 100. We're planning a few spinoffs and still will continue updates as long as it makes sense. With 28 updates so far, PG basically took over Dave's and my life. Kind of a feat for a bunch of hapless pygmies!
So, a big thank you to everyone for all the feedback, testing, glitch-finding, videos, cartoons, etc. It was a fun year for us!
So we've probably recounted this story a dozen times, but I thought I'd repeat it one more time in honor of Pocket God's one year birthday!