WHO: Eli Bock
WHAT: The 16-year-old Newton North High School student recently released his first video game application, Space Kiwi. In the game (iPad, iPhone, 99 cents), players manipulate the title character through a series of competitive space adventures in minimal, but cute and well-designed levels.
Q. How would you describe the game to people who haven’t played it?
A. It’s kind of a shooter game, a rail shooter if you’ve ever heard of that genre. The Space Kiwi main character flies forward, and obstacles fly at him and he needs to shoot them. It’s pretty easy to understand, you tilt to move, and tap to where you want to shoot. I think it’s pretty accessible and attractive to people of all ages. A game kind of similar to it came out recently called Sleepy Jack. It’s pretty much an adventure style game, you start off on the first level and try to make it to next level. The better you do per level, you get a better rating, and there’s the aspect of sharing the better rating you get with your friends.
Q. So you designed the game and programmed it yourself?
A. I did all of the art and background, I programmed the levels, I did the music, the timing. I outsourced the programming to a company in New York. I pretty much did everything I could possibly do except the raw coding itself. I’ve tried to learn it, but it’s pretty complicated.
Q. You have an art background?
A. I do a lot of animation on Flash. I do a lot of digital art. I had my own Web series Tod Pole (www.todpole.com). It was just a little Web series. I made a little comic strip, and had a few art jobs, making a commercial. I worked on something for my father. He has a drug practice, getting people off of drugs, to encourage drug addicts to get clean. I also did an introduction video on Rocketlance.com to describe how to use the website. I have just loved to draw forever.
Q. How long did it take to design the game?
A. Well, from start to end, the entire project began in early summer, so it took about half a year. Hours-wise I probably put hundreds of hours in. To do all the art for all the levels themselves, all the play-testing, all the debugging, the music. I used FL Studio to compose it. I write songs, but mainly for my own amusement.
Q. What else do you do with your time besides games?
A. I do some sports after school, soccer, wrestling, squash. I work at Newton Squash and Tennis Club. I used the money that I made from that to pay for my programmers.
Q. The app was released by Orro Games. Is that your own company?
A. I needed a label for myself. I figured it would be more exciting than Eli Bock Productions, and easier to remember so when I have another app, people will say “Oh that’s Orro, I remember them from Space Kiwi.’’
‘I pretty much did everything I could possibly do except the raw coding itself. I’ve tried to learn it, but it’s pretty complicated.’
Q. What other ideas do you have in mind?
A. There’s probably going to be a puzzle game coming up. I have a couple I want to get finished, I’m not sure which one I’ll finish next. I started a lot of them. One of them is kind of a platforming game where you tilt to move left and right, flick the guy to jump, touch the environment to do anything like touching a block of ice to make it shatter.
Q. You’re pretty young to already have an app on the market, right?
A. Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s good to get an early head start. It’s going to be an investment for me. I invested money to get it created, hopefully now it will start bringing in some income. So far a lot of my friends tried it, and I haven’t heard anything bad from them, but they’re my friends you know? It has a good rating on the app store, all reviews are 5 stars, thumbs up so things are looking good. AppAdvice gave it quite a congratulatory review. I was pretty blown away.Luke O’Neil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.