Ryan McLeod—designer and developer of Blackbox for iPhone—talks to me via Skype about how and why he came up with this crazy idea for an iPhone puzzle game. We talk about some of the design challenges he encountered while making Blackbox, and explore what life is like as an indie developer (when the hordes of fans come bashing on your door wanting new levels!). Ryan also discusses the principles of good design, and what it’s been like creating an interaction-heavy game without a formal design background. It’s a fascinating and hilarious chat!
Note 1: You should download the game Blackbox (it’s FREE) on iPhone before listening to this episode, as it will give you some context for the discussion I have with Ryan.
Note 2: Since I recorded the video from my Skype call with Ryan, I decided to test out a video edition of MATE for this episode. You can watch the discussion on YouTube if you’d like some additional visual stimulation.
Links and resources:
- What is an “Interaction Engineer”?
- Download Blackbox, the iPhone game that self-identifies as a “refreshingly oppressive puzzle app” (FREE on the App Store).
- Portal, the highly acclaimed first-person puzzle-platform video game.
- FEZ, the indie puzzle platform game in which it is possible to achieve 200% completion (through collecting all 32 cubes and an additional 32 anti-cubes).
- Machinarium, the puzzle point-and-click adventure game that was developed over 3 years by seven self-funded Czech developers.
- Peek Calendar, the beautifully playful calendar app from an ex-IDEO designer.
- Easter eggs are non-essential part of a game put in by developers for fun. They are secret responses that occur as a result of an undocumented set of commands.
- Pull to Refresh, the user interface gesture (which Twitter strangely has a patent on!).
- The Ookla cat Easter egg in the Speedtest.net app
- The Inception app, which uses the sound around you and your iPhone sensors to augment your reality.
- Clear to-do app, and its secret themes Easter eggs.
- Hatch, the Tamagotchi-style app, which interacts with your device’s current state (e.g. dancing when there’s music playing, or yawning when your phone battery is low).
- Feature creep is the ongoing expansion or addition of new features in a product, preventing it from launching on time or on budget.
- What’s the difference between “Computer Science” and “Software Engineering”?! A simple explanation, and a more complicated explanation.
- The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman.
- Good design is about being empathetic towards other human beings
- Here’s that Vox video we talk about, which addresses the issue of the “Norman Door”, i.e. the push/pull door confusion fiasco:
- Good design goes unnoticed, and that’s a good thing. Good design should be invisible.
- A hilarious example of when rogue chatbots go wrong
- Saul Flores explains why overhyped “innovations” don’t change the world, in MATE podcast episode 005.
- Athan Didaskalou gives his take on virtual reality, in MATE podcast episode 002.
- Budget Cuts is the new virtual reality game where you flick throwing knives at robots. View the trailer:
- The guest on this episode: Ryan McLeod, creator of the amazing iPhone puzzle game Blackbox.
- Podcast logo cover artwork by Courtney Carman
- Music from “Ghosts I–IV” by Nine Inch Nails, used under a Creative Commons licence.
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MATE podcast is a digital radio show about Marketing, Advertising, Technology and Entrepreneurship. Hosted by Adam Jaffrey: Digital Strategist and Entrepreneur. Made with love in Melbourne, Australia.