At some point – probably when sitting in a pub or on a train, tapping away on our GALAXY Note II at whatever game currently has us in its seductive grip – we've all had the same thought: "Why didn't I think of that?"
We've all daydreamed about creating the next big smash-hit on Google Play Games, amassing fame and fortune in the process. But is that a realistic possibility?
Android: democratising games development
Well, creating the next game to take the Android world by storm won't be easy, and it won't happen overnight. But neither is it beyond the realms of possibility – as one man recently proved. Simon Read is the (solo) creative talent behind New Star Soccer (New Star Games, £1.99), the awesome football management/playing game that any connoisseurs of the beautiful game will surely have purchased.
And recently, his efforts were rewarded in the most prestigious way possible: New Star Soccer won the Best Sports/Fitness category at the BAFTA Games Awards, triumphing over the mega-budget likes of FIFA 13 and Nike+ Kinect Training.
So how long did it take him to make a successful mobile game, and did it involve a lot of dedication and single-mindedness?
"Yes, that's the key thing. I started making my own football games back in about 2001. It was just a hobby, but it was something I loved to do – it was fun as much as anything. If you're not having fun building games, then you're probably not in the right business. Even when it became a full-time job, it still felt like a hobby. So I put in 12-hour days, just working on the game – that dedication is very important."
From PC to Android
Read only recently brought New Star Soccer over to Android: earlier versions of the game were just on the PC: "I ported the code across using a language called Monkey, which is a simple gaming language, but it will build the app on whatever platform you want to put it on.
"Then I had to bring in the gameplay for the mobile version, because obviously it's a touch-screen game opposed to one that you would use a gamepad or a keyboard for. That was relatively easy – I just wanted to play the highlights of the games.
"Because it's a mobile game, you don't want to spend ten minutes on a match; you want it to be easy to dip in and out of. I got the ball bouncing across the screen where you tap it to kick, and that seemed to work well; it all just seemed to come together quite naturally.
"The process of launching it on Android was dead easy: you can basically just sign up with Google and get it on Google Play and be up and running in a matter of days. I think the hardest thing, for me, was implementing in-app purchases, which I still haven't done.
"I had a job up until 2006, working on an IT helpdesk. There were sometimes long hours during the night when I didn't have much work to do, so I'd just get the laptop out and work away on New Star Soccer. Eventually, New Star Soccer 3 came out, and that made me enough money to quit my job and do this full-time.
"Over the last six or seven years, it has been tough at times. Some games didn't do very well, but generally, I just scraped by. My wife is a nurse, and that helped – I wouldn't have been able to survive without her support and her income."