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TUAW @SXSW Interview: Pangea Software CEO Brian Greenstone

Pangea Software have made some of the most successful and fun software for the Mac. Games like Cro-Mag Rally, Nanosaur and their most popular title, Bugdom, have propelled them into the upper echelon of Mac game developers. More recently, Pangea is making games for the iPhone and iPod touch and have, in fact, made the decision to develop for those devices exclusively.

I sat down with Pangea's CEO Brian Greenstone during SXSW to talk with him about his favorite games, making games for the iPhone and why he thinks its easier to make games for the iPhone and iPod touch.

CHRIS ULLRICH:
Hey Brian, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. First question for you about games on the iPhone is why the iPhone?

BRIAN GREENSTONE: Originally I chose the iPhone because i wanted to see my games on a mobile device. For years i had been trying to get my games ported to Gameboy or something and companies would always say they would do it then it would never happen. They would just vanish.

I just wanted a mobile version of a game so the iPhone came along and I decided to do a couple games for it. I didn't care so much if we lost money, i just wanted to do it. Of course it turned out well and now it's what we do full time.

CU: You're focusing exclusively on the iPhone now?
BG: One hundred percent. I'm not doing any Mac stuff or anything else. It's all iPhone and it's all good.

CU: Is developing for the iPhone very different or more challenging than developing for the Mac?

BG: The only real problem is Objective-C. But what I always tell people is that games are lucky because they don't really need Objective-C. Normal iPhone apps need a lot of Objective-C because they use the iPhone interface.

Games use their own interface and maybe end up needing a few dozen lines of Objective-C code to use the accelerometer for example. That's one of the hurdles i need to get people over when they start to develop games for the iPhone. They don't need to really know Objective-C and can just use regular C.

CU: So, what games do you guys have coming up in the pipeline?

BG: Well, we just released Ottomatic last week so we're not jumping into anything just yet. But we think its the best game we've done so far. Best on the Mac and best on the iPhone for sure.

But because its an action adventure game and not something like a fart app we're not sure how well its going to do. Even though in out opinion quality-wise and playability-wise we think its a console game. But that doesn't necessarily seem to be what people want in an iPhone app.

So for our next games we're really debating between more console type games and fart apps.

CU: You will try to develop more of a broad range of products to appeal to a larger potential audience then?

BG: Yeah, I'm thinking that the next game may be a little more of a low-brow game. Not necessarily a fart app but something that has more of the stupid frat boy appeal. Mostly because those kinds of apps seem to do very well.

You could have the greatest game in the world and it still might not do as well as iFart.

CU: Your company is based in Austin. Do you have trouble finding developers?

BG: Not really. I usually end up using people i know and have worked with for years. i've got people working from all over and a lot of it can be done remotely.

So having a big pool of developers here in Austin doesn't really make that much of a difference. At least for what we're doing.

CU: Since you make games are you a gamer yourself?

BG: I used to be but its hard to find the time now.

CU: What's your favorite game?

BG: That's easy: "Carmageddon." Not "Carmageddon 2" because that sucked. Loved the first one but unfortunately it doesn't run on my machine anymore. Also, my second favorite: "Bomberman." Not "Bomberman 2" or "Bomberman 3D" because those all sucked too. Just plain "Bomberman" for me.

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