iWarrior: an African iPhone Game

There aren’t a lot of African gamers, as would be expected due to the general lack of access to gaming technology and platforms in Africa, relative to other parts of the world. There are even fewer game developers on the continent. Due to being a gamer myself, I like to keep track of this as much as possible, and it’s always fun to announce a new one.

iWarrior - an African iPhone gameiWarrior is an iPhone game (iTunes link), created by the cross-Afrian team of Kenyan Wesley Kirinya and Ghanaian Eyram Tawia of Leti Games. It’s a unique top-down shooter game that utilizes the iPhone’s inbuilt accelerometer to both move and shoot. Your goal: protect your village, livestock and garden from the incoming marauding animals.

It’s a great first-effort from the team, and I believe it’s the first game created by a team in Africa. This itself is a much more difficult task than what many might expect. Just to get an iTunes account and a way to be be paid for your application is a challenge due to Apple’s inbuilt prejudice against Africa (they’re not alone in this, as many other platforms, like PayPal’s or Google Checkout’s are the same). That seems like a dramatic statement to make, but I ask you to stay your judgment until you’ve walked in the shoes of an African programmer.

Gameplay
I’m not an exceptionally talented twitch gamer, so I found the unique movement plus shooting actions hard to come to terms with. However, as I played it longer, I found myself slowly figuring it out and getting better at it. Thankfully, the team has built in a completely different way to play using your finger to slide and tap, you can move and shoot. So, for the accelerometer-challenged (like me) there’s another option. :)

iWarrior also allows you to play your own music while playing the game. This might seem small, but it’s something a lot of game maker’s overlook, and it’s a lot more fun than listening to the same repetitious in-game music.

The game costs $2.99, which is a little steep for new games on the iPhone. For many reasons the costs of most applications (games or otherwise) on the App Store have been driven to about 99cents. So, it takes either a really big name or an app that has hard to replicate features in order to break past $1.99 and sell a lot. In the team’s defense, it’s difficult for them to download paid games to test and see if they compare to their own prior to putting it on the market (again, due to them being in Africa).

Graphics
The graphics are okay. I’m a stickler on this type of thing though, and I go for either over-the-top quality or simplicity. Examples of this is comparing Fieldrunners to Doodle Jump, both excellent graphically, yet with completely different aesthetics.

iPhone game design - fieldrunners vs doodle jump

So, I’m going to ding the team on this part of the game. This, after a lengthy discussion in Ghana with Eyram over the difficulties of finding quality digital artists. It’s not an easy thing to do, the best designers aren’t digitally literate, with a few exceptions. So, you get great sketching and painting, but few can put that into vector graphics, 3d or even Photoshop.

Though the challenge is high, we live in a digitally connected world where top quality digital artists from Asia and Eastern Europe can be found to do the work at acceptable rates. There are other options, and a game can be made or broken on looks alone.

Summary

iWarrior is an excellent first game on the iPhone platform from two highly talented and creative African game developers. I expect that there will be a lot of good games, and other applications, coming from this team over time – both on the iPhone and other platforms. It’s a game to be proud of and one that I hope a lot of others will buy.

24 thoughts on “iWarrior: an African iPhone Game

  1. solomonsydelle

    Wonderful to learn of this new app. I also worry that the cost ($2.99) might be a problem given the economics of apps but I do wish these entrepreneurs the best of luck. Considering the number of gamers on the continent, it really should produce more content. This is definitely a step in the right direction.

  2. marionwalton

    I would love to try it, it sounds great. Getting good 3D artists and animators can be a huge challenge here, especially if you’re on a tight budget. There’s quite a bit of game dev in South Africa. I know i-imagine has developed games like Crash for XBox etc. http://www.i-imagine.com/ Haven’t seen many orginal African-designed and -themed games though.

  3. marionwalton

    Getting good 3D artists and animators can be a huge challenge here, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Still, there’s quite a bit of game dev in South Africa. I know i-imagine has developed games like Crash for XBox etc. http://www.i-imagine.com/ Haven’t seen many orginal African-designed and -themed games though. Would love to try it!

  4. Tim Harper

    Erm, that’s great and all, but surely the app should also be available to African’s?
    I get the all to familiar message:
    Your Request could not be completed. The item you requested is not currently available in the South African Store.

  5. Jimmy Gitonga

    Congratulations to Wesley Kirinya and Eyram Tawia. I am happy to see that the team there is gone beyond coding corporate apps and have taken a plunge into their own stuff. I agree that design is a big issue since its the first emotional relationship one has with the game before game play addiction.

  6. Fatherboye

    I’ve played it and I really enjoyed it. Its fun, the graphics and sounds are great. I actually think the game is worth the price. I hope its gets on the top 20 download list.

  7. Edward

    For me this is a very encouraging story. Entrepreneurship in Technology is a very big battle out there. And the set-backs in Africa even make it more challenging. I say a big Bravo to Wesley and Eyram for making it this far despite the odds.

  8. Wesley Kirinya

    On behalf of my development and business partner, Eyram, thank you all for your comments.
    Let me dive straight into the issues brought up:
    1. Pricing: We didn’t gather a lot of data on this. Basically we would have to download various games and compare with what we developed. However we are keenly looking into this.
    2. Game dev in Africa: I’ve been following up on Gamedev in SA. Once in a while I check out sagamedev.net. There is a company called Luma which I think was working on a game. About the Ugandan game. I will contact the developers and see whether they can send me a version of the game to play. I will also alert them about this blog.
    3. Content creators (graphics and sounds) for games are rare in Africa but the numbers have been increasing over the past few months. Therefore this might not be in an issue in a year or two.
    4. Availability in Africa: We chose to make this game available on all Appstores. Eyram will contact Apple and find out why SA guys cannot purchase it.
    We have also ported the game to J2ME. It will be available soon. I will announce it once it’s ready. One of the motivations for this was for our African audience. So we are very interested in having our games playable in Africa.

    Thanks again, and look forward to more great games from . We appreciate your honest comments and criticisms.
    8~)

  9. Gameli

    I’m highly impressed by Eyram and Wesley’s achievement. They are leading the charge for what i perceive as an African onslaught into the global high technology arena. We shall follow them!

  10. Balika

    Wow, what an inpriring story from Wesley and Eyram. With this duo, i’m very confident gaming that in Africa would receive a huge boost.

  11. Hamukwaya Aron

    I’m so much proud of Wesley and Eyram! The first game from Namibia is free for download on my wesite http://www.hamukwayaaron.totalh.com. I’m a software engineering student in my 4th year now in Russia. I developed the game a year ago but i didn’t have much time time to finish it totally because I had to attend to university projects and besides i also had to attend to my part time job as a programmer. I really love game programming and I want to come back home to Africa to make more traditional games after my bachelors but I’m so worried about the internet access for most Africans probably won’t have access to the games.

  12. Simon

    Hi Guys,

    I found your game via 71squared and I’ve subsequently bought it. I like it, it’s original and fun to play. I myself am also developing my own game and I’m new to the whole game development arena. I have a few questions about sales, as I’ve searched the web to try and get an idea of the potential income, but found nothing. So I wanted to ask, how have you found it as a source of income? (i don’t expect figures lol Although…). I’m in the process of writing a brief review for the app store and I noticed that you’ve not had any other ratings or reviews and I guess what I really wanted to know is whether this has affected sales?

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  16. Eyram

    @simon, I just read your post. I wasn’t notified by the system of any new posts so I’m very sorry for the delay. Yeah, about iWarrior, its a great game alright. iWarrior hasn’t been marketed yet since it took longer than planned to get it out for that matter ate into the timeline of our next game due may/june 2010. This is the reason why you see very little of it online. Its a first game and a good start to get the name out there :). We’d be grateful for any suggestions in marketing it more. With the reviews, I feel they are good ones as it is now and so long as they remain good :) :) its OK lol.

  17. Spidergeuse

    Good to know. Great work and hope you hard work turns into various “pimping” versions of iWarrior and other projects. We meet someday!

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