Massachusetts Teenager Launches his First App
By Brian Scott-Smith | February 06, 2012
It doesn’t matter where you go these days it’s all about the apps.
Telling us the time of our next train and even where we can get a table at a restaurant. But there is the lighter side to these helpful computer programs and that is gaming.
And Eli Bock, a sixteen year old from Newton, Massachusetts has taken his love of animation and music to the next level with his first iPhone game called Space Kiwi; a shooting game for all ages involving a little fluffy ball of a hero.
But this young entrepreneur started his creative career at an even earlier age, “I’ve been drawing since I was three or something and I started animation when I was in fifth grade.”
Very impressive when Bock explains it’s something he’s done himself, “I’m really pretty much self-taught. I don’t know if you can’t teach it in school, but I like to think its best just to teach yourself.”
As sixteen year-olds go Bock is very confident and as I interview him you get the feeling you’re talking to someone at least ten years older.
He’s working with software packages that most professionals in the media industry would use, but to him they’re just the tools he uses for his creations.
Bock is no stranger to the Internet having created http://todpole.com/ a few years ago, a site with cartoon characters who tell stories through video and music. It’s a site that, for the time being, has had to wait as Bock marches forward with his other projects.
Mention the word genius and Bock laughs it off, so what do his friends and family think of him and what’s he’s doing?
“My friends are really encouraging as are my family. They both really love the product I’ve created. So far they’ve just been fantastic. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
The Space Kiwi game hasn’t come cheap. Bock had to raise almost five thousand dollars and he did that through a part-time job locally and with matched funding from his parents to pay for the computer programmers, the bit that Bock says he can’t do himself.
And despite there being plenty of games out there, Bock says his is different.
“I figured that the app store needed an accessible gender neutral, fun for everybody, shooter.
“All the current games on the app store are shooters with spaceships and it’s not really as accessible for casual app players, it’s more intense and hard core. Space Kiwi is a difficult game but more relatable to people and more cartoony.”
Creating something like Space Kiwi takes time as well as money and it mustn’t be forgotten that Bock is still at school.
He spent hundreds of hours coming up with the idea, creating the characters and then the backgrounds along with menu’s and levels of difficulty. The process is not a simple one and requires meticulous attention to detail. Bock often stayed up in to the early hours to keep the project moving along.
He’s very proud of the game and a particular friend of his who helped to test it.
“I showed it to many friends but had one particular friend, Sean McIntyre; he was kind of my official tester. He came to my house a couple of days to just run through the entire game, to tell me if it had any faults or what wasn’t working out well. And it turned out really well, it was really helpful.”
And just like professionals older than him, Bock says he’s taken some of his creative cues from other successful games currently available as well as things from when he was younger; drawing some comparisons to his art style to that of Nintendo games like Mario.
When I asked Bock what was next for him he was open to a point, merely stating he had “six or seven ideas he’s been tossing around for the next app.” Adding “I’m not entirely sure which one I’m going to do next.”
Whatever he does go on to do, he certainly has a great future ahead of him. In the short time Space Kiwi has been launched, since December 2011; he’s sold (at the time of interviewing him in late January 2012) around three hundred full versions of the game and moved twelve hundred free versions.
Bock’s official website: http://orrogames.wordpress.com/
App available at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/space-kiwi/id484106153?mt=8