Mathias Gruber is the founder of Yet Another App Company and the developer of Block Struggle. Developed in just a few months with Corona SDK, the cross-platform game secured Mathias several recognitions at the Danish App Awards 2012, as a winner of the “Independent Developer” category and the “Aller Innovation Prize,” from the largest media publisher in Scandinavia.
As so many others, I’ve been playing games since almost before I could walk. I started my developer career at the age of 15 by making text-based online games, which were the limits of my very inartistic capabilities. Growing up I tried multiple times to break out of the world of text-based games, however, having a lot of other stuff on my hands, I never succeeded. Coding a 2D/3D game from scratch AND doing all the graphics was simply not something I had time to do if I wanted to keep up with my studies and personal life.
All my projects and attempts at creating graphics-based games failed due to lack of time. At some point I decided I wanted to really push through and finish a game. Given that mobile phones and tablets were becoming popular, I decided to make an app. I tried a few things out:
- Objective-C for iPhone – too time consuming and I didn’t want to look into Android development afterwards
- Unity – seemed good and easy for 3D games, but I wanted a 2D game and since I didn’t have time for creating 3D models of everything it seemed a bit impractical games in Unity
Then I found Corona SDK, purchased it, and forgot about it for some months. After having finished my master thesis (nanotechnology), I started to look into Corona again. All of the sudden, things started to speed up. I started reading a few tutorials in April, and after a few days I was coding my first game called “Yet Another Ball Game,” and after TWO WEEKS I submitted it to the app stores. I was blown away by the fact that it had taken so little time to finish my game.
I immediately started with the next game, and after a few weeks released “Yet Another Mind Game.” I was and still am amazed by the development speed with Corona SDK. I was able to keep up my normal work and social life, while still having time to create games and get them published.
I love working on games by myself: iterating through the versions again and again and again, being in charge of coding, graphics and sounds. So I decided to start on a bigger project, imitating big multiplayer games such as Wordfeud and Ruzzle and all the other “with friends” type of games out there. This was the start of “Block Struggle.” Amazingly (and I had been expecting the worst), I quickly managed to get Corona to work with an external MySQL/PHP server. After about 1-2 months, “Block Struggle” was out in its first version.
I did just about everything wrong when it came to marketing Block Struggle – I released it too soon, I didn’t contact any review sites, advertise, use social media, or polish it enough. So started an endless round of updates and improvements. I love that part: you can always keep improving your game and I’m still sending out weekly updates seeing as how I have a long list of things to improve.
After a few weeks of improvements, I was nominated to the Danish App Awards 2012 in the “Independent Developer” category. This was great, but I didn’t think much of it because I didn’t think I had a chance of winning. So I kept sending out weekly updates, and as time passed, the game became more and more popular, reaching some 8,500 users.
Then came the day of the award show; me and my girlfriend had received free tickets thanks to the nomination. It was a fantastic event, with great food, wine, and lots of people. During the weeks leading up to the show, many had asked if I had written a thank you speech, to which I had responded that I couldn’t be bothered because I was pretty sure it would be a waste of time. As the award show started, the first person to win in one of the categories was… Block Struggle! I got up in front of the entire room of people and retrieved my small prizes. This was an amazing experience. I do not feel like I’ve spent that much time developing apps, so winning an award was breathtaking.
This wasn’t the end of it, because during the second part of the show, the larger awards were given out. Again the first winner of the Aller Innovation award, was Block Struggle. This award was given by Aller Media, the biggest media publisher in Scandinavia. Again I went to the stage, without any thank you speech.
Block Struggle is now slowly increasing in popularity, and I hope that with the help of Aller Media, it will reach new heights. I still have a lot of improvements planned for the game, and I’ve also started up a few new future projects in Corona.
Working with Corona SDK is very rewarding, and I plan to get the Enterprise version soon to take my development to the next level. I also plan to start contributing more to the community, as I feel that I’ve learned a lot during the last few months which I’d like to share with other developers.
Mathias Gruber, Founder, Yet Another App Company
If you’d like to check out Block Struggle, download it here: