Jeff Vogel on Abandoning iOS Development Interview

The folks at GamesBeat have interviewed Spiderweb Games' mastermind Jeff Vogel to learn the reasons that convinced him to abandon iOS development for his titles, at least for the time being. From what I can tell, the environment and ecosystem aren't exactly friendly to his development and business style:

GamesBeat: Why did you pull Avernum 2?

Vogel: For iOS 8, the current version, Apple made huge changes in how programs make a window and register events touches, rotated devices, etc. I developed the game and tested it on iOS 8.2. Everything was fine with the older system. I submitted the game, and it passed testing and was ready for release.

Then, a few days before release, iOS 8.3 came out. It caused a wide variety of massive breakages. The thing didn't work, and it broke in completely different ways on different devices.

I couldn't find a way to work around the problem, and, even if I did, I couldn't release the game in good conscience. For all I knew, 8.4 would break everything, or 8.5, and I couldn't be sure that I could always fix the code, as Apple is determined to make me use entirely new code.

So I'd need to get a whole new game engine. It'd take weeks to find it, learn it, port the game, and get it tested. The likely sales didn't justify the effort and hassle. Remember, I'm competing against 500 new titles a day. So I gave out.

I suspect a lot of developers have disappeared over the last few years. They just didn't get noticed like I did.


GamesBeat: What about Mac OS? You've been supporting Apple desktops since the beginning.

Vogel: For Windows, Microsoft is all about backward compatibility. I can still use code I wrote for Windows 20 years ago, and it's fine with only minor tweaks. Code I wrote for the Mac 20 years ago became obsolete and unusable about 10 years ago. When developing for Apple products, you usually end up having to redo a ton of stuff every few years. If you've ever wondered why Windows has such impenetrable dominance in the corporate environment, this is a major reason.

Happily, for the Macintosh, Apple can't make things obsolete quite as mercilessly as it does on iOS, because a lot of businesses use Macs, and big business hates uncertainty. So I'll probably develop for the Mac for a long time to come.

Also, I prefer to work on Macs instead of Windows. This is a personal preference. I don't get into passionate arguments about whether Windows or Mac is better, as I am no longer 19 years old.

GamesBeat: What about Android? Any future plans?

Vogel: Android is really hard to develop for. There's a million different devices, and something will go wrong on many of them. Lots of coding and support hassles.

Here's the important thing. I'm only one guy. I'm pretty smart. I can hold a lot in my brain. However, I can only maintain mastery of a certain number of things. I would love to release games for Android and Linux, but I just don't have the brain space.

Thanks, GamesIndustry.