Sunday, March 23, 2014

Android indie developer interview: Tomasz Kucza

Hi guys! Thanks for waiting so patiently for this post. Some exciting things are happening for me right now, which are eating up quite a lot of my time. Anyway, I'm proud to present to you yet another interview with an inspiring indie developer from my own country. After spending a couple of years in corporate jobs he managed to get full time with his mobile games. Quite interestingly, he does his graphics and sound by himself, and the effects definitely can't be called programmer art. Take a look by yourselves.

Bartek: Tell us something about yourself. Who are you? Where do you live? What do you do in life?

Tomasz: My name is Tomasz Kucza. I'm from Poland.

Bartek: When did your Android adventure start and how? Why did you decide to do it?

Tomasz: While I was working as a freelancer I started developing Android apps to broaden my programming knowledge and experience. And since it was more fun than doing boring corporate jobs and it brought similar money, I decided to go full ahead with Android development. And here I am.

Bartek: Do you work full time on your apps or do you have some other job as well?

Tomasz: I work full time on games right now.

Bartek:  How did you learn how to create apps? What resources were you using?

Tomsza: I have long experience in programming – master degree and a few years of different corporate jobs – which made learning Android development quite easy. I mostly use online sources to learn new stuff. When it comes to books I prefer novels.

Bartek: What libraries/frameworks do you use if any? Why did you choose them?
The Lost Heroes

Tomasz: I decided on using libGDX because it offered a lot of freedom. And in hindsight it was a good choice, especially with its new great support for iOS.

Bartek: Where do you take app/game ideas from? How do you know if they have a chance to be successful?

Tomasz: I mostly look back at games I liked as a kid and go from there trying to make something similar, but more modern and with a twist. But most of the time I make simple games because they seem to get more downloads than complex, large games.

Bartek: Where do you get resources from (graphics, sounds, music)?

Tomasz: One of my hobbies is composing music, so I make my own soundtracks. I gather sounds from different sources – sometimes I record them myself, sometimes hire someone to do them or find free sounds on the web. I plan on learning more about how to create sounds using software synthesisers so I can make my own retro sounds in the future.
With graphics I have only recently learned how to draw properly. You can judge how good or bad I am at it in The Lost Heroes – where all graphics are mine apart from the wizardess character, which was made by Olga Bikmullina, a great vector artist from Russia. But since I don't really like programming I try to draw everything myself – so I have an excuse not to code. For me the ideal graphics is the one from Rayman Origins and Legends – I would like to be able to make similar games one day. The most problem with my drawing is that it takes me a lot of time because I am too slow at it and I am often stuck at simple things that I just cannot draw. Thankfully, I have additional resources I use in that situations.

Bartek: What software do you use to create your music and graphics?

Tomasz: For making graphics I use free software - Inkscape (for vectorgraphics), MyPaint (for drawing) and GIMP (for additional work).
For music I bought over the years a large selection of music software (Cakewalk Sonar, Omnisphere, various orchestral libraries, synths and ethnic libraries), an electronic piano, and an electronic flute that
comprise my music studio.

Bartek: What other programming tools do you use?

Tomasz: I use Dropbox as a backup and some automated scripts instead of SVN or git. Nothing really sophisticated.

Bartek: How long does is take you to make a single app?

Tomasz: It depends. I've been working on my puzzle platformer The Lost Heroes for over a year now and there is still no end in sight. This project is turning out to be a little too large for me. On the other hand the new game I am working on – a brick breaker inspired by Arkanoid – shouldn't take longer than 6 weeks.

Bartek: How do you test your apps? What devices/tools do you use for it?

Tomasz: I have a lot of tablets and phones for the sole purpose of testing. And some friends who enjoy testing new games from time to time.

Bartek: How much are you making on your apps? You can give a general estimate, if you don’t want to reveal the details.

Tomasz: No details on that, sorry. Enough to make a living in my country.

Bartek: How do you monetize your apps? What ad networks do you use if any? Do you have any advice on it for others?

Tomasz: I mostly use banner ads in my apps and experiment with in application payments. I'd much prefer if my apps had no ads or no in application payments... but you have to make money from something and paid apps are not selling that well.

Bartek: Which ones of your apps were the biggest success and which ones were below expectations? Why?

Space Bubble Shooter
Tomasz: My biggest success so far is Space Bubble Shooter – it's a unique reimagining of the classic bubbles shooter genre where I used physics to make the game more interesting. So in Space Bubble Shooter bubbles are much more lively – always in movement, shaking and reacting to the ball that hits them.

Bartek: Do you use any marketing techniques or ASO to promote your apps?

Tomasz: I don't even know what ASO is. I am not very good at marketing.

Bartek: What are your favourite Android games/apps?

Tomasz: On a big screen – using OUYA – I love playing Nimble Quest. On a tablet – Bean's Quest is amazing and I always enjoy a good tower defence like Castle TD.

Bartek: What Android blogs/sites do you read regularly?

Tomasz: I mostly use RSS and Google+ to gather news so I don't really read anything regularly, just what I find in my news aggregators.

Bartek: What are your plans for the future? What do you want to create/achieve?

Tomasz: I have to make more games. The old ones are, well, old. My plan is to make a small, simple game and then a complex, large game and then a simple one and then again, a complex one. And try to do the best job I can in all of them.

Bartek: What advice would you give to other developers (something that you wish you had known before yourself)?

Tomasz: Have patience. And don't try to save a game you think that is extremely good but which people just don't enjoy to play – you will only lose your precious time on that. And don't change something that works well and people like.

Bartek: Where can people find you on the Internet?

Tomasz: My apps:
iOS: search for Space Bubble Shooter in the AppStore
Me on Google+:
Me on Twitter:!/MagoryAndroid
Me on Facebook:

If you're wondering, what I've been doing recently, I can reveal some of the secret. I'm studying really hard for a job interview. To be more specific, I'm watching the Introduction to Algorithms video lectures prepared by MIT. I'm also reading books on algorithms and I'm practicing solving problems similar to those on Google Code Jam. I have to say that it's good programming practise and it's fun as well. You should definitely take a look at some online problem sets. They deserve a separate post, so I'll try to write more about them in the future.

If you're waiting for a change on my blog, I will be happy to surprise you soon with a completely new type of content. I decided to gather resources useful for mobile developers (e.g. free graphics/sounds sites, as networks, game engines, etc.) and publish them for all of you to use. It's going to take me some time to prepare, but I'm sure it will be worth it.

I'm aware that my posts have been somewhat irregular lately, so if you'd rather receive email/RSS notifications instead of checking the site every once in a while, sign up using the form on the right. I never send any spammy content. In fact, I don't even see the email addresses, because they are handled by the Blogger platform. Anyway, it's just a friendly suggestion :) See you next time!

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