The iPhone as a gaming platform: we speak to the Aussie developer of FlightControl

Firemint is the developer behind the extremely popular FlightControl game for the iPhone

Collect3 is one of the Australian iPhone developers that has found success on the App Store, but it isn't the only one. Victoria-based Firemint is the developer behind the extremely popular FlightControl game for the iPhone. GoodGearGuide.com.au spoke to Firemint founder and CEO Rob Murray about the iPhone as a gaming platform and the opportunities that the App Store opens for developers.

How did Firemint come about?

I founded Firemint in 1999, although I didn't hire my first employees until 2003. That was also when we made our first mobile game. We wouldn't consider ourselves an iPhone development company so much as a game studio; the iPhone is just one platform we work on, although obviously it's become much more important to us this year!

Is Firemint development entirely in-house or is it also undertaken by freelancers and contractors? How big is the team in total, and how has this had an impact on the frequency and quality of your iPhone apps and subsequent support?

With the exception of a few contracted services (such as specialist engine sounds for Real Racing), all development happens in our Richmond studio [in Victoria]. We have 35 employees but the team size on any one title can vary from as few as three, as was the case for the release version of Flight Control, to more than 20 for Real Racing, with people joining and departing the project as their skills are needed. We still don't have the bandwidth to pursue all the game ideas we have, but we've got enough people to make sure we only ship top-notch games and support them appropriately after sale, with updates and the odd bug fix as well as running community sites and so on.

Can you explain your current role at Firemint? Do you contribute creatively or technically to the development of Firemint's products?

I'm the owner and CEO of Firemint. My background is in game programming, design and production, but these days I mostly run the business side of things — financial, legal and so on. On our self-funded titles like Real Racing, I also take on the "client" role usually filled by our publishers when we work on external projects. It's rare that I have a chance to get hands-on with a game anymore, I had to start Flight Control on my Christmas break to find time for that!

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