Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Roddie Kieley, co-founder and developer at Binary Dawn Interactive. Binary Dawn InteractiveÂ is a privately held emerging indie game development company focused on the mobile entertainment market. I recently reviewed one of their games WordUs2, which emerged on the iOS App Store as a huge success. The game was great, but the people who developed the game are even better. The interview with Roddie was an absolute pleasure.
Jared: How did you find your passion to create Apps for various mobile devices?
Roddie: I found my passion for creating Apps for various mobile devices mainly through a love for games and game development. The mobile arena presents game developers with a unique opportunity to create products that entertain people wherever, whenever – that’s pretty powerful. Over the years the barrier to entry in the game development space had been slowly coming down, but with the introduction of the App Store model the doors were blown wide open so to speak and myself like many others saw it as a fantastic opportunity to develop our ideas into products and finally get them into the hands of players.
Jared: How did you get into the mobile gaming industry?
Roddie: There’s not much of a gaming industry presence on the rock, i.e. the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, that I call home and certainly no large mobile gaming presence. If I wanted to participate it was be a self started endeavour, and I certainly wanted to participate! Being a former PC game development guy I knew lots about DirectX, Visual Studio, and C/C++/C# but not so much about OpenGL, XCode, and the C/C++/Objective-C world of Mac OSX.Â In the fall of 2008 I set about changing this situation and dove headlong into the world of OSX and what was then the iPhone OS. I started from the ground up; built myself a hackintosh (shhhh… don’t tell anyone!!) using my existing hardware plus a twenty dollar socket 478 Celeron chip with SSE3. A few days and kext’s later, I had XCode running and the port of my existing game engine was well underway – the rest as they say is history.
Jared: Before Binary Dawn was established, where did you start out? How old were you?
Roddie: My first professional software development job was with a company called ‘IES Health Technologies’ working on an edutainment title named ‘Backpack Adventures in Asthma’ when I was about 23. Prior to this I had been focused on the system administration and support side for about 5 years while I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.Â From there I moved on to Sir-Tech Canada Ltd. in Ottawa, Ontario where I had the good fortune of working with some really talented folks who were hard at work on both the Jagged Alliance and Wizardry series of PC games.Â After being with Sir-Tech less than a year, and with two empty houses in my home province of Newfoundland I decided to move back to partner with a previous co-worker at IES, and begin work on game company of my own.Â Of course the mobile market was nothing compared to what it is now so the focus was to be on casual PC games distributed via online casual gaming portal RealArcade. Knowing little of entrepreneurship and what it takes to build a company, we focused on the technology and not the product or business. As a result after about a year and a half of work we had some fantastic tools and a landscape engine that would give anything on the market a run for it’s money at the time but no solid product.Â In the years between then, around 2003, and the founding of Binary Dawn Interactive in 2008 I continued to teach myself what I needed to know about game development outside of my day job; which at times was a Project Lead for an Airborne Data Acquisition and Management System, named A.D.A.M., for surveillance aircraft at Provincial Aerospace Ltd. (http://www.provincialaerospace.com), was Senior Engineer and Patch Manager for the Release Management team at IONA Technologies Plc. – now a part of Progress Software (www.iona.com), and Team Lead, Software Engineering Division, International Communications And Navigation Ltd. (ICAN – www.icanmarine.com) where I built them a new build system and worked on an AIS data management system named DataStore.Â As well I spent a number of years on another startup entitled HeliNutz Remote Sensing Inc. where I and a couple of professional pilots developed technologies, policies, and procedures for conducting aerial photography utilizing remotely operated helicopters culminating in being awarded a Special Flight Operations Certificate, or SFOC, from Transport Canada.
Jared: When and how did Binary Dawn Interactive become established?
Roddie: The team for Binary Dawn Interactive came together in the summer and fall of 2008. At this point in time it was fairly clear that the ROI on the HeliNutz RSI venture would never be significant due to the increasingly complex regulatory environment as well as recent partnership troubles. A co-worker and friend at ICAN had gone ‘Mac’ many years prior and had been following the development of the iPhone and iPod Touch closely and now saw that a new
opportunity was presenting itself in the form of the Apple iTunes App Store. After a number of discussions the decision was reached to ground the helicopter and reignite the game development work to build a business selling products via the App Store. Shortly after I recruited an artist and friend whom I had previously worked with at IES and we got to work on learning what we needed to know about producing apps.
Jared: What is your favorite App that Binary Dawn (or yourself personally) have created?
Roddie: So far my favorite app that I’ve worked on for Binary Dawn has been ‘Giggle Water’. It’s a humorous app that also required some detailed technical work to get going…
Jared: Are there any top secret Apps that Binary Dawn is currently working on? You know you want to tell us…
Roddie: Outside of ongoing work for WordUs2 we’re restarting work on our prototype product ‘Giggle Water’. Right now we’ve got some core gameplay nailed down, but the full product is yet to be defined. Look for more information coming soon!
Jared: On a side note, what is your personal favorite game of all time? It doesn’t have to be WordUs2, or even a mobile game.
Roddie: Favorite game of all time? That’s a pretty tough question as I’ve played a lot of good games over the years. Of the early games I played on the C64 I would say Neuromancer, Wasteland and Pool of Radiance. Of the PC era perhaps Master of Orion, Fallout, and Wizardry VII. Console would have to be Forza III. Mobile, well yes, I do have a certain affinity for WordUs2, but I think Red Nova by Celsius Game Studios is a great game to pass some time with as well.
As I end this post I just wanted to once again thank Roddie for taking time out of his day to interview with Rebel Gaming.
If you want more information about Binary Dawn Interactive, or any of their upcoming gaming endeavors, feel free to check out their website at http://www.binarydawn.com/