Writing for TechRepublic gives me the opportunity to meet some interesting people. We live in a digital age where the Internet connects us like never before. For me, making a professional contact and even striking up a friendship with someone halfway around the world really hammers that point home.
This was the case with Francisco Marzoa (pictured at right), an indie Android developer from the north of Spain who got in touch with me last March after I ran a post discussing techniques for improving your ratings in the Google Play Store. At the time, Francisco had just released his first ever Android app called Luckiest Wheel. Over the course of several emails, we bounced a number of ideas off one another and vowed to keep in touch, sending periodic updates on our respective projects.
Fast forward six months. Today Luckiest Wheel is averaging 16,000 downloads a day and approaching a million total installs. Furthermore, Luckiest Wheel reached number two in Amazon’s Appstore Top 100 Free list (Figure A) and has caught the attention of some bigger gaming companies around the globe.
I often hear that without a big studio, a team of developers and artists, and a lot of cash laying around, it’s no longer possible to create software that can get noticed in what has become a very crowded and competitive space. Francisco and his fledgling game development house, Iberdroid, not only got his title “out there,” he did it while he was laid off from his full-time IT gig due to the struggling worldwide economy.
I invited Francisco to share his inspiring story along with some of the “secret sauce” that he used to launch Luckiest Wheel into the hands of gamers around the world. He graciously agreed.
My interview with Francisco
TechRepublic: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Marzoa: My name is Francisco Marzoa and I was born in Asturias, in the North of Spain. I started programming in 1987 on an MSX computer that was a gift from my parents and an uncle as a reward for my good grades in school. Since then, I’ve continued to code, first as a hobby and later in a professional capacity.
TechRepublic: How did you get into Android development specifically?
Marzoa: Most of my education has been autodidactic, and so too it has been with Android and Java. I bought a book on developing Android games and read about half of it before completing my first game.
There were several motivations for me to move into Android development. Perhaps the most important is that I thought (and still think) that there exists great growth potential. I believe we are still in the first stages of Android expansion, and even in these early stages there have been some great success stories.
TechRepublic: I understand that due to the weak economy, you were laid off from your full-time job. What factor did this play in your decision to branch out into Android as an indie developer?
Marzoa: I never used to prioritize the earnings potential of my spare-time projects, but as you know the economy is really bad in the world and especially in some countries like Spain. By October of 2011 my situation became so desperate that I went and talked with a social worker.
With luck, I landed a job maintaining and improving a website for a company that did most of their sales online. The wage was low and the position was only temporary, but I felt fortunate to have been chosen among dozens of candidates. And on the plus side I could do most of my work from home so I had more time to invest into my personal projects.
Over the course of several months, I started to improve a number of websites that I had built over the years, but never saw any real money for my efforts. Then come the end of April 2012 Google released the Angry Penguin, and I thought that I needed to get out of the website business and try something new. And that led to the first lines of Luckiest Wheel being written.