JOURNALIST • EDITOR • DIGITAL STORYTELLING
SANTA CRUZ — In the world of free downloadable mobile game applications,
simple ideas like getting a football player to hit a target with a watermelon can draw big digital crowds, according to game developers at FuzzyCube Software, who watched their latest release for the iPad climb to No. 2 last month on the free game shelf at the Apple App Store.
In the first week after its release on May 18, iQuarterback 2, an updated version of a game created in 2009 for the iPod, had more than 150,000 downloads, according to Jeff Ruediger, chief executive officer and the founding partner of FuzzyCube.
“We completely rewrote it,” Ruediger said. “It has better controls and way better graphics and user interface. Everything about it is way better.”
Compared with the screens of smartphone, the iPad’s relatively large touchscreen real estate is perfect for the “casual” gamers, Ruediger said. The company plans to release a new iPhone version of the game in the next few days.
It is the first of several new games slated to be released this year by FuzzyCube, which is still just a two-person virtual company but is getting ready to grow.
“In the next games you’re going to see things you’ve never seen before,” said Pete Parisi, 39, chief creative director and business partner at FuzzyCube.
Parisi, who worked on the original iQuarterback, is responsible for the simple, rich graphics in the update. In it players are rewarded for good timing and accuracy as they throw various objects at targets in different digital environments. The music for the game was created by Ruediger’s wife, Laura. The game can be downloaded for free with banner ads or without the advertisements for $2.99.
“We have, like, 50 ideas and we’re looking at what we’re most passionate about,” Parisi said.
Jeff Ruediger, 37, spent about 10 years working on game development at Microsoft Corp.’s Ensemble Studios, home of real-time strategy genre titles such as Halo Wars, Age of Mythology, and Age of Empires.
He launched FuzzyCube in 2009, created the original iQuarterback and ChemoCalc, a chemotherapy dosing calculator for medical professionals, before he was lured into a job at Apple’s iPhone Game Technologies group. In March, he left Apple and “rebooted” FuzzyCube. Parisi, who also worked at Ensemble Studios and Apple, rejoined him in the spring.
“I really missed making games,” Ruediger said. “That’s all I’ve ever done in my career — is make games.”
While the first part of their gaming careers were spent making titles for teenagers, the mobile application world has broadened the market with millions of mobile gamers. Instead of focusing on visually rich games created to occupy users for about 20 minutes, mobile game developers aim for simpler minute-long playing arcs.
The iPhone audience loves the casual games such as Angry Birds, Ruediger said.
“Now we’re on our own and we’re very excited not having to make something for the ages 13-24,” Ruediger said. “We want to hit the broader market of everybody — from my mother-in-law to my 13-year-old cousin. We’re looking to grow. We have a laundry list of ideas to do.”
FuzzyCube Software LLC
WHAT: A privately owned mobile and social game developer for Apple iPhone, iPod and iPod Touch.
HEADQUARTERS: A Santa Cruz-based virtual company
BACKGROUND: Founded in 2009 and rebooted in 2011
PARTNERS: Jeff Ruediger, founder and chief executive officer, and Pete Parisi, chief creative director
GUIDANCE: The company plans to release five new games this year, beginning with a game to be called ‘Panda Picnic.’
This article appeared here.