Interview with Daniele Zannotti

Nov 28, 2010 by

Interviewer: Dennis Fan

This is the second interview we’ve done in a while.

Daniele Zannotti is one of the developers of the up and coming puzzle game “Go Usagi!” and we asked her a few questions regarding development, Apple, and piracy.

I: Interviewer

D: Daniele

I: Do you agree that anything said in this conversation will be published on our site?
D: Yes of course.

I: How long did it take you to create your puzzle game Go Usagi!?
D: About 1 month and half including design of the levels/game.

I: How many people worked on the game?
D: Me (Daniele Zannotti) and Jonathan Bartram (level design, graphics), and after release my partner Sarah helping with marketing the app (which turned out to be the biggest and hardest job really!).

I: Was it hard?
D: I’ve been a programmer for a very long time, Jon is a very skilled graphician so, and the framework we picked to work with (Sparrow) was great, so no it wasn’t hard, was really good fun. The only problem that came up is that as an hobby, towards the end of the project was using a lot of our spare time ’till it became basically a second fulltime job during the last week, I ended up sleeping 4 hours/night for a good few days. However, was worth it.

I: Are you satisfied with Apple’s business practices?
D: With business practices yes. I am however not satisfied with the app reviewal process at all. It’s like handing “your baby” over to unknown people for a certain amount of time without knowing what’s happening. It’s stressing, and I think Apple could do much more to improve this, not to reduce the time but to let the developer know what’s actually going on, like “You are in queue position 100/1 million”, or something like that would greatly improve that feeling. I ended up having 1.01 ready to be uploaded before 1.0 was even approved. That should not happen, maybe a fasttrack for updates (maybe a paying service for it?) or for new updates could be a good idea as well but the latter could end up messy.

I: How long did it take for your app to get approved?
D: About 10 days.

I: What is your view on jailbreaking?
D: I’m absolutely impartial on this matter. I belive that everyone has the right to decide what to do with their own device. I personally do not jailbreak any of my iDevices, because I never felt the need for it, if one day I think that I need to do it to obtain a certain feature I can’t live without, I’ll do it.

I: What is your view on application piracy?
D: Piracy has always been there and will always be. From my experience number of pirated copies grows with the number of sold copies. Most likely pirated copies are sales you would have not had anyway, but at the same time it increases the word of mouth. Overall I don’t like it, but it’s not the end of the world.

I: Are pirates a big issue for your apps?
D: Not that I am aware of.

I: Do you find Go Usagi is being pirated?
D: Not yet, but probably I didn’t look enough for it.

I: Are you more likely to take action against the pirate or work out a solution with them?
D: I am more likely to contact the source of the piracy and ask him why is he doing this to me. Working out a solution is only putting a small bandaid on a gushing wound. There are companies around the world that spends over 300k/year into making new antipiracy components to their software, and every year regularly it gets cracked, makes you think why was it put there in the first place and how effective it really is as precaution.

I: How important do you think it is to get promotion from app review sites such as our own?
D: Apple gives you about 1-2 days of exposure in the new released apps, upon that it’s on the team to make sure the app stays on the chart or it’s high enough on the chart to automaintain itself at the top. Any non top 100 apps require HUGE amount of hours spent doing PR, asking for reviews, Facebook/Twitter advertising and such. Any top 100 apps sort of self-maintains itself in there thanks to the sales/downloads, quite often despite the quality of it.

I: Do you feel that social networking is a great way to spread your message and promote your app?
D: Yes! And I have proof of that, I’ve been monitoring on app figures before and after the Facebook/Twitter promotions (read promotions, not adverts!), and it did change the ranks effectively. As well we received requests to integrate Facebook/Twitter into our game so people could brag their progress to their friends.

I: Do you take time to read your app’s reviews?
D: Yes, every comment, I have found, I reply to whether it is positive or negative it’s all constructive .

I: Do you take criticism personally?
D: As long as the critic comes from a source that proves to me that atleast tried the product, absolutely not! I take it as a time to think where we went wrong as a team, and as suggestions to be considered for the next version (like the Facebook/Twitter integration which has just finished the development).

I: Were sales of Go Usagi as expected?
D: We did not make expectation on sales, we did this to have fun and to learn the market. This is our hobby, there were no initial plans to make this our day job, nor there are currently. We are overall pretty happy of the sales/reviews, recently we been mentioned even on the guardian!
The money has always been a plus for us, but still we wanted to give a ‘value’ to the work we did, since we thought it came out pretty good!

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