位于旧金山的Pocket Gems就是这样一家手机游戏开发商，该公司不久前通过红杉资本融资500万美元，并因《Tap Zoo》、《Pet Hotel》、《Tap Store》、《Tap Farm》和《Tap Jungle》等一系列免费游戏大获成功。
该公司首席执行官及联合创始人Daniel Terry告诉媒体，“我们向iOS平台推出了6款游戏，它们都跻身前十名游戏榜单。我在康奈尔大学就读计算机专业时遇到了我的搭档Harlan Crystal（游戏邦注：他也是Pocket Gems联合创始人及首席技术官），当时我们都在做由美国国立卫生研究院（NIH)资助的人工智能研究”。他后来在斯坦福商学院深造，并在拿到学位之前成立了公司。
他们看到iOS App Store的发展机遇后，“就用闲暇电动机开发了第一款游戏，俩人一起编写了所有代码，并于2009年12月将其投向App Store，游戏很快就受到欢迎，并晋升至排行榜前十名”。
目前该公司已经招聘了更多富有经验的开发者，团队成员也从原来的2人扩大至30多人，他们的创意来自“一个没有多少游戏设计背景的团队”，但他们认为这一点实际上正是Pocket Gems的优势所在。Pocket Gems团队在开发过程中从来不会有“好吧， 这个平台就得像另一个平台”或者“社交元素很流行，所以我们就得让游戏更加社交化”这类想法，而是奉行“多加思考，想想什么才是真正可行的东西，真正的兴奋点在哪”这种原则。
当然，他们也不可能拿《Tap Zoo》和《Pet Hotel》这类拥有广泛用户基础的休闲游戏冒险做尝试。Terry认为iOS平台提供了极富吸引力的大众娱乐体验，这对他们来说是个大好机会，“庞大的用户基础是一笔丰厚的可持续资产”。
从Pocket Gems成员的对话中可以看出，该公司将创意视为灵魂，而这一点也正是开发者在App Store竞争挑战中必不可少的基因。（本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译，如需转载请联系：游戏邦）
Interview: Pocket Gems CEO On Seeking New Creative Horizons
by Christian Nutt
One of the more exciting aspects of the smartphone gaming revolution is that developers are springing up who have no experience in games — and are feeling their own way through the creative process, spurred on by user feedback and intuition about what makes sense.
One such developer is San Francisco’s Pocket Gems, which recently raised $5 million from Sequoia Capital and others, and has had a great deal of success with free to play iPhone titles such as Tap Zoo, as well as other games like Pet Hotel, Tap Store, Tap Farm and Tap Jungle.
“We have released six games for iOS and they’ve all been great hits, all of them have been in the top ten apps,” Daniel Terry, the company’s CEO and co-founder told Gamasutra recently.
“I met my co-founder [CTO Harlan Crystal] at Cornell studying computer science and both of us actually did artificial intelligence research for like three or four years funded by the NIH,” he said. He followed it up with a stint at Stanford Business School, starting the company before he earned that degree.
Seeing the possibilities of the iOS App Store, the two “just built this first game in our spare time. The two of us wrote all the code for it and threw it out there in December of 2009, and it just was an instant hit and shot up to the top of the charts.”
The team made its first successes “during the wild west of the App Store,” says Terry, launching “three games in that, like, eight month period.”
Riding high on the success of their initial plays, the two began to see the App Store as “one of those once in a lifetime opportunities, where there’s this platform emerging with a huge amount of momentum behind it, as well as this new business model of free-to-play.”
Pocket Gems, philosophically, sees the smartphone as a platform that offers “an opportunity to create some really exciting next-generation entertainment,” and soon set its sights “on being the dominant free-to-play player for mobile.”
Right now, says Terry, you’re seeing “just the beginning of” what this new outgrowth of games can offer. “There’s some amazing new genres I think will emerge, that will make the platform look really different than anything else that’s out there.”
Important to Terry, he says, is a “strong creative component,” in which games look “less and less like traditional games,” offering their players a “creative experience, or self-expression.”
This “new kind of behavior” causes Terry to “think of it more as entertainment, even, than games.”
So far, though he has recently recruited developers with more experience in games — the team has swelled from two into to the 30s — “the creative effort has come from a team that didn’t have a lot of background in game design,” and “that actually was something of an advantage to us.” Pocket Gems, at its inception, was “not thinking that, ‘Okay, this platform needs to be the same as another platform,’ or ‘social is doing really well, let’s do exactly what’s on social,’” but instead “more thinking, what’s really, really going to work and be really exciting about this?”
In Terry’s view — noting the company is still focused on iOS and hasn’t yet approached Android or other platforms — “the platform is really unique and we want to continue to approach it as if it’s a fresh place to create new kinds of entertainment experiences.”
So is there a chance to push the medium forward? “Absolutely,” says Terry. “I think we take that really seriously.”
Like most free-to-play developers, Pocket Gems takes an “iterative approach” to development, in Terry’s words. “We like to get stuff out there, understand what works about it, what doesn’t, and let it evolve from there.”
But instead of sticking strictly with what makes money, he says, the team likes to “experiment with new and different things — which that’s exciting, that’s for sure.”
Of course, it’s hard to pat him on the back for taking creative risks with titles like Tap Zoo and Pet Hotel — broad-based casual titles with clear antecedents.
With iOS, “there’s an opportunity there to put out entertainment that really has a broad and universal appeal and we think that’s an exciting opportunity,” says Terry. “A large user base is a great lasting asset,” he says.
But the realities of the App Store are what drives this. “If you’re popular in a broad way you’re at the top of the charts — whereas if you’ve got a niche appeal, then it’s harder to do that.” And right now, being at the top of the charts is essential.
Of course, the team is primarily concerned with keeping people playing longer — and thus paying more. But the approach is one that focuses on efforts to “expand this canvas that the user is building on… we’re very focused on the creative aspect of our game. I think that’s a core tenet. We have this idea of users starting with a blank canvas, and being able to create something there, and so with each release, we like to give them a little bit more depth in what they can create.”
Of course, it’s hard to offer too much of this kind of opportunity on a small phone screen with a simple interface. While acknowledging its limitations, Terry says that “there’s the potential for a lot, actually. We’ve only scratched the surface of what you can create.”
Where the team adds depth is by developing games that operate on multiple scales — “whether you start out really zoomed into a tight scale because you’re starting out with a small portion of this ultimately very large canvas, making it so that, at every scale, it’s still an exciting experience. You’re starting out small, but then you’re going to have to, if you want to build something really complex and deep, it’s going to have to exist at a larger scale.” The challenge for the developers is, then, “making both of those sorts of levels still feel exciting.”
Whether or not the team can push out games that allow both more depth for their players or original themes is yet to be seen — but it’s clear from the conversation that Pocket Gems has evolved a creative ethos, which will be core to the company sticking out the App Store fight. （source:gamasutra）