How Feed Me Oil’s developer struck gold in the App Store

Jun 23, 2011
Games

For mobile app developers, having your app declared iPhone Game of the Week by Apple is pure gold. This is the happy distinction of Alexander Ilin, subject of this edition of Game Theory. An independent developer who created Feed Me Oil under the banner Holy Water games, Ilin in February partnered with uber-publisher Chillingo to […]

For mobile app developers, having your app declared iPhone Game of the Week by Apple is pure gold. This is the happy distinction of Alexander Ilin, subject of this edition of Game Theory.

An independent developer who created Feed Me Oil under the banner Holy Water games, Ilin in February partnered with uber-publisher Chillingo to drive downloads of his first title. Shrewd move, as Feed Me Oil became a top-selling game (available for 99 cents as an iPhone title and $1.99 for the iPad) and should keep us all pleasantly puzzled throughout the summer.

In this interview, Ilin talks about how his company expanded after the release of Feed Me Oil, why he is iOS-exclusive at this point, and what other iconic Chillingo title that’s not Angry Birds is currently keeping him up at night.

As Andrew Koziara noted in his video review, Feed Me Oil is “a clever and polished title worth look into”. Here is the video review.

Appolicious: Feed Me Oil is a critical and commercial success. From your experience, explain what it takes to be featured by Apple as the iPhone Game of the Week.

Alexander Ilin: You know, I can’t really say for certain what it takes exactly. I just tried to make the best game possible, paying attention to every aspect of the design, from the physics to the graphics to the overall mechanics. Creating a polished experience was something that was very important to me and Chillingo, and in the end, it looks like all of the stars aligned.

APPO: Since that time, what have you been doing to maintain momentum and drive downloads.

AI: We have lots of plans for Feed Me Oil in the coming weeks, from new levels to Retina display support. We’re working very closely with Chillingo on the updates, so expect to hear more about it soon.

APPO: Tell us, how did you come to be named Holy Water Games?

AI: Some words just flow together, and it was just a random name that popped in my head. The more exciting story involves vampires and werewolves, but we’ll leave that for another time.

APPO: All of your titles to date appear to be for iOS devices. Any plans to expand to Android or other mobile platforms? Why or why not?

AI: We’ve casually looked at other platforms, but really, our primary focus is supporting all of our fans on iOS devices. We wouldn’t be where we are without them, so that’s where we’re spending our time right now.

APPO: Share with us your approach to creating iPad games opposed to smaller screen versions.

AI: In the case of Feed Me Oil, while the games share code, we really worked on making sure our core concept and gameplay worked well on any device, regardless of screen size. We think the end result plays just as good on the iPhone/iPod touch as it does on an iPad, though personally, I love seeing the visuals on the big screen.

APPO: How many people are involved with Holy Water Games at this point, and when did you begin working with Chillingo?

AI: Feed Me Oil is Holy Water Games’ first title, and during the primary development of the game, the company was simply just me. I’ve recently hired five more people to help with game updates, though, so hopefully updates and such will come sooner rather than later.

We started working with Chillingo in February 2011, and we spent every month from then to release working closely together with their production team to polish the game and make it as accessible and addictive as we could. The game went through quite an evolution, and both Chillingo and I are extremely proud of what we made.

APPO: What other titles are on the horizon?

AI: We have a few ideas we’d like to explore in the future, but as I mentioned, we’re really focused on supporting Feed Me Oil as much as we can right now. We’ll definitely get in touch when we have more news to share!

APPO: Name the three things in the mobile gaming space that keep you up at night and why.

AI: Hmm. First is probably new Feed Me Oil levels, because I want to surprise our fans with some exciting new ideas. Secondly, just seeing all of the great new ideas out there is inspiring, and it’s great to learn from all of the creative people out there. Lastly, Cut the Rope keeps me up at night because, well, I don’t think it’s any secret how awesome that game is.

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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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