Creative studio ustwo and famed illustrator Jon Burgerman have revealed the long, sometimes frustrating, process behind its new iPhone app Inkstrumental. Digital Arts caught up with mills from ustwo and Jon to find out the story behind the much delayed app.

DA: Why was Inkstrumental so long in development?

M: It's a good question, and the only answer I can really give is that we were cursed by some dark app voodoo magic -- meaning we were always pushing back the submission date. We started hyping the 'new app coming soon' in April of 2009' and had the pre-launch party back in October with Jon live drawing across the wall of a London tea bar.  

ustwo Inkstrumental


DA: Do you think developers make the mistake of trying to cram too much in and please everyone?

M: Totally, it's pretty much a common perception that 20 per cent of the features make up 100 per cent of the experience, meaning all the little extras that push the app back and back offer pretty much nothing in terms of value.

The true success of app development is to get the app out in phases i.e. prioritising the ultimate 'has to have' features and releasing with them initially with planned updates to follow, dependent obviously on the success of the app itself.


ustwo Inkstrumental 
You also need to decide what the app is about and stick as much as possible to the game plan/strategy. We changed and changed Inkstrumental so many times we were almost sectioned. Inkstrumental is a masterpiece that seemingly didn't want to be released into the wild.
 
DA: And when did you start seeing light at the end of the tunnel with Inkstrumental?

M: The true light was seen when we brought in Jim, who is a true gamer and musician at heart. He was able to focus 107 per cent on Inkstrumental with no distractions other than the sounds being generated from the app itself.


ustwo Inkstrumental 
Having a developer who understands music technically working on a musical based application suddenly made a lot of sense and we realised this 6 months in!!!
 
DA: Is it an easy game/app to explain to others?

M: Two words 'make & share'!  It’s as simple as that. Choose from 31 Jon Burgerman characters, each with their own accompanying sound effects, and build a musical soundscape you can upload to YouTube is a slightly longer explanation. Bottom line is that is must be seen to be believed. Even when you believe it, you won't necessarily see it though.  

ustwo Inkstrumental

DA: How did JB get involved, and who approached whom? 

M: [We said] "Hey Jon, you fancy working with us on an iPhone app. We want to work on an app that cannot be copied by anyone else and uses your wonderful style."
[He said] "Ok, let's do it. Sounds fun."

DA: Why do you think Jon has been so successful?

M: Because he tirelessly works and works, pushing his unique blend of doodling and story telling. Although he has one style, he manages to apply it to almost anything. From Nike trainers, to Wipeout PSP game level design, to plastic figures, to clothing. Added to that he is one of the most pleasant and funny people I know. Which goes an awful long way.