For the past 3 weeks, our friends from ustwo™ have been working on a radical new iPhone app with the latest member of the team, Jack McLean – a 16-year old work experience student. Here are all the details of the incredible story and an exclusive interview with Jack.
Having recently finished his GCSEs, and unlike most teenagers over the summer holidays, Jack intended to spend his free time doing work experience, making sure his dreams of becoming a famous iPhone app developer became a reality. In just 3 weeks he developed, produced and launched Terry Touch™ – with some help from the team at ustwo™.
The premise of the app is simple: Tap, Slide, Glide or Spin your way to the top of the leader board. Terry Touch™ is a finger tapping, nerve-shattering game designed to push your touch skills to a new level. Compete using the 4 simple games to beat your best score and don’t let Terry Touch down!
Jack McLean, the creator of Terry Touch™, says, “It was the best 3 weeks I have had! Working alongside fantastic developers and designers was like a dream. I learnt more from creating Terry Touch than I would have learnt from 3 months in a computing lesson, and it was fun! It’s so exciting to be involved with an inspiring company and work with them throughout the creation and release of an iPhone application.”
Mills, Creative Director at ustwo™, adds “We constantly want to innovate and experiment with our publishing’s and Terry Touch™ showcases our willingness to be at the forefront of this experimentation. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for any kid of Jack’s age to be given the chance to do commercial work during a placement, and Jack has gone above and beyond our expectations with his phenomenal dedication to Terry Touch™.”
Jack first impressed ustwo™ back in Nov 2008 by creating his own successful iPhone application, aged just 14 years. The free ‘Countdown to Christmas’ app has been downloaded125,286 downloads since launch, and used mobile advertising to rake in enough profit for Jack to buy a MacBook Pro.
Terry Touch™ is FREE to download from the iTunes App Store now
Most of your school friends did work experience in banks, newsagents and supermarkets but you chose to work for a iPhone app development studio – why?
I got into programming when I was 14 and I published my first iPhone application on the App Store in 2008. I then published another simple one in 2009. By this time my interest had grown massively.
About a year ago I did compulsory work experience with school and decided to do it at a local debt management company in their programming department and it put me off programming altogether because the work was so boring and mudane.
I therefore decided to concentrate on the sort of development work I was interested in and off my own back I emailed ustwo™ and to my surprise was immediately contacted by the man himself, mills.
ustwo™ is a company I have followed on twitter for over a year and I’ve been fascinated by their mad and beautiful applications and I’m so glad I gave it a shot and emailed them.
What is it about app developers, ustwo™ that made you want to work for a company like it?
From seeing tweets, blog posts, videos etc, ustwo™ seemed to be an amazing company to work for because it looked so fun and the people there seemed so friendly. I loved just looking at their approaches to applications, how they worked and the amazing graphics and sounds they used. They obviously focused on design and quality, which I admired and really wanted to learn from them and discover how it was all done.
Why do you love developing apps?
I love developing applications and the satisfaction of solving problems and creating software that works well and look nice.
It’s so great when you know 1000’s of people have used your app – especially when you get emails and reviews from people saying how much they love it and enjoy using the app.
When developing apps, I constantly learn new things and I am experimenting with interactive design and animation with applications which I love doing.
What’s the hardest part of being an app developer is?
Personally over the couple of years that I have got into iPhone development, the hardest thing was solving problems on my own, without being able to discuss concepts and problems with other people because I had no one to contact. It was extremely hard to get around the concept of programming at the beginning, without a teacher and I still have so much more to learn.
It’s hard to just pinpoint one thing that is a challenging being an app developer but fixing complicated bugs and crash’s will always be a problem to all developers and I personally think it is the hardest most time consuming.
Terry Touch™ is a simple finger olympic-esque type of game, almost pointless. But fun. Do you think it will do well?
Yes, I hope it does well because many of the applications, which are doing well on the App Store, are totally pointless but I think that’s a good thing. The Terry Touch graphics are great and anyone can pick up and play the game because the learning curve is so small. The game can be strangely addictive especially with its global leaderboard and achievements on OpenFeint. This will hopefully attract kids at school to complete and help it escalate it to the top of the charts!
I see you have supported Terry Touch™ with iAds, meaning the app is FREE to download, do you think FREE is the only way to get big downloads?
I don’t think the use of iAds is the only way to get big downloads, but maybe an easier way, because Terry Touch is a quite small simple game which people would be more than happy to download for free but, due to big company’s such as EA selling their games for very low prices, customers are no longer happy to spend the same amount of money for an independent simpler smaller game. iAds keep the quality of the game really high and help bring in revenue when the game is doing well.
ustwo™ chose to release Terry Touch™ as part of their ongoing mission to ‘TRY ANYTHING on the app store – will this work?
Most definitely because they have tried various ways of cracking into the App Store top charts such as the ‘coollectable’ 48hr games with their small but addictive and gorgeous games. The Granimator™ is a mad but fascinating idea of getting artists around the world to get involved with one app masterpiece, and now they have free iAd supported fun game developed by me, a student on work experience. I haven’t heard of any other company who has tried so many things on the App Store whilst concentrating on creating quality applications and not just to make money.
When you leave college what do you want to be?
At the moment I really don’t know because I have only experienced a very small portion of the programming industry. But I loved working at ustwo™ as an iPhone developer and would really love to work in this area as a future career. I want to see what interests me most through school and university. I am interested in user experience and interfaces, which is why I think I like developing for the iPhone because the small screen size means restrictions, which creates a challenge. So at the moment I would love to develop mobile applications and maybe even Mac software once I have finished my education.
That’s it people, if you want to find out more from Jack or ustwo, leave your questions in the comments section and you’ll get the answers straight from the chaps for apps in no time. In the meantime get Terry Touch™ and give it a spin.