In our last post in this series, we met Jennifer Wong of Alt-12 games. Today, we meet another game developer, Mélanie Dompierre of Second Gear Games, makers of “Bubble Defense Free”, “Tropical Fish Shop”, and “Shopper’s Paradise”, to name a few.
Hi Mélanie! I see you have many successful apps in the Android Market, but for this interview, let’s focus on one you just updated in the market in November of this year, “Shopper’s Paradise HD”. How did you come up with the idea for Shopper’s Paradise, a game you describe as “Tower Defense meets Tycoon”?
Tower defense games are a popular genre, so it was not easy to find a fresh approach with so many of them on the market. And then I thought: “What if instead of killing poor dumb creeps the game could focus on something constructive like building a town or a shopping mall?” This is how towers became shops, and the ghouls were replaced by peaceful happy shoppers. And the only damage that is done in the game is to their wallets Also, I worked many years in retail industry as a store manager, so it was easy for me to introduce retail theme to the game.
What was your involvement in the creation of this game? How did you learn how to do these things, did you go to school for it?
I was involved in this game on every stage of its creation, from early conceptual work to final balancing and testing. It is rare that a game like this is made by one person – it requires quite a diversity of skills and talents. In our case, we were lucky to have people with these skills among our family and friends. Not to forget James, the talented artist who worked on the second version of Shopper’s Paradise to help us improve the visual appeal of the game.
Making games is more of an art than science. I learned a lot from the process itself, trying to apply the lessons learned to each new game we make.
What is your target audience for Shopper’s Paradise, and how has it been received so far? Do you find you have a lot of female players? Do you think having a female on the development team makes the end-result more appealing to women?
This game was never intended specifically for female audience. However, women do download it more often than men (probably because of the title ) It was actually quite interesting to read the early comments, for example (I quote): “I’m a guy and I don’t think it should be called Shoppers Paradise. This game is a sweet strategy like the original ‘Lemonade Stand’ game. So fun!”
Overall, the game was received positively, as everybody can see by its rating. Its popularity actually exceeded my expectations. I do hope that the game’s appeal to women was the main reason for its success.
Did you publish your app for Android first, or for another platform? Why did you choose to market it to Android users?
The game came out on Android and BlackBerry almost at the same time. Both platforms are Java-based, both have a large installed base, so publishing on both was an easy decision. We have a long history of making apps for Android: we submitted our first Android app before the Market became available to general public. These days, Android is experiencing such an explosive growth that being present on this platform is a must for any developer.
How has your app publishing process changed over time? What was your first app, and what have you learned since that influences the design of future apps?
Our first game was actually created in Flash, long before smartphones became so ubiquitous. It was an easy transition for me: our games were always casual, and on-the-go style of mobile gameplay is a perfect match for this kind of game. What I learned is that you have to make your game easy to learn (ideally with no tutorial required) and with enough variety in the gameplay to keep players interested. Not an easy combination to achieve.
Do you have any advice for other women that have Android app ideas and are considering designing and/or developing an app?
Go for it! It is easy when you put your mind to it. I like challenges, and I was looking for a new career that I could do from home because we have two young kids at home with us, which some days is quite a challenge:) If you have enough passion and persistence, you can always find tutorials and tools no matter what your skill level is. If you don’t know anything about programming, look for visual design tools. If you need help with graphical design, visit online communities frequented by artists, and you might find somebody willing to participate in your project. As with anything else, if there is a will – there is a way.
Where can we find more information about you & your app? Any last “plugs” you want to share?
Thanks for the interview, Mélanie!
To those of you reading this interview, please support Mélanie Dompierre and check out Second Gear Games in the Android Market, then come back and tell us and her what you think! If you are interested in becoming a developer and have any other questions for Mélanie, please comment below!