Behind the Work: Doflball

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Last week Firstborn released what could possibly be the first iPad game for pets, Doflball. The game, which brings a touchpad interface to air hockey, can actually be played by humans too, but its most clever feature is the pet mode, which allows you to test your skills against Kitty (preferably declawed?) or your pup. Creativity checked in with its inventor, Firstborn senior developer Dofl Yun on how he went about creating, and testing, for four-legged gamers.

So what inspired you to create this game? How did you come up with the concept?
The iPad itself inspired me, basically. The iPad has a much bigger multi-touch screen compared to other smart phones including the iPhone, and the screen size of the iPad allows natural multi-use. I just wanted to create an app that took advantage of this, so I decided to make a simple "air hockey" type game for fun.

Can you tell me a little about the development and production process? How long did it take/what steps were involved?
There is no special process compared to other projects. There's the usual planning, design, development, usability test and QA. But the usability test was the most interesting and biggest challenge, because it had to be done with uncontrollable pets.

When you set out to build it, did you have all the tools and knowledge already at your disposal, or were there new things you had to learn?
Of course I had to learn a lot of things while building this project. I especially learned how pets interact with others so that I could make them interact with a moving ball on the screen.

What was the most challenging part of the process? How did you tackle it?
The most challenging part was the Pet mode. Originally this game was designed for only humans, but I found the possibility of making it accessible for my kitten unexpectedly. I just showed a prototype to my kitten, and she was interested in a moving ball on the screen. She tried to catch it by touching the screen. So I decided to add the Pet mode. Pets act differently, and I didn't know much about them. Besides, no pet iPad games exist. So I had to research and keep watching them to figure it out. An interesting fact is cats have rather poor color vision and can only see two colors: blue and green. We decided to use blue for the ball and a simple black background, instead of the rectangular pattern for human mode. It was a totally new experience and got amazing results in the end.

How did you go about testing the game-especially on the pet side? Who did you use are your guinea pigs?
My kitten was the first volunteer. Unfortunately, she lost interest in playing the game after two weeks. So I had to find another pet in the office. Finally I asked people to act like pets.

How many people were involved in building the app? Can you break down the team?
This project was started as a one person project, but I found it would be great to work with more people as a company project: Creative Director, Joon Park; art director, Aaron Polick; designer, Katie Fahrenthold; developer, Dofl Y.H. Yun; copywriters, Nikki Defeo and Ryan O'Keefe; app registration, Phil Baudoin and executive producer, Crystinue Cho.

The app approval process-how long did this take? Anything interesting about it?
It just took two days. I think this game is simple enough to be done quickly.

Are you coming out with a version for the iPhone, or other tablets?
We already have a prototype version for the iPhone, which we decided not to launch at this time. I hope we can go to the next level for iPhone.

Looking back on the process, is there anything you wish you could have done differently?
I am pretty happy with the current one. It's simple enough and designed just for fun. I hope users enjoy it with friends and pets.

Any plans on adding updates to the game experience?
I just want it to be simple enough for killing time.

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