CommunityDeveloper Interview: Mike Blazek, Piasa Games


Amit Bijlani
writes on July 10, 2014

When you think of mobile games, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Angry Birds, or maybe Flappy Bird?

Gaming has come a long way, and with the iPhone it has become even more accessible for players and developers. There are over 22 categories of apps that range from business, finance, games, music, photography, and more. Amongst these categories, gaming leads them all with 42% of apps in the iOS app store.

Why such an enormous number of games? Does a huge supply mean there is a big demand? You don’t need statistics for this one, just look around and watch as you see people hunched over their phones. They are either playing a game or interacting on a social network. Of course, for every good game there are many terrible ones but that is a discussion for another post.

Barrier to Entry

Games dominating the app store also means that it has become a lot easier to develop and design a game. Gone are the days when you needed an enormous team to produce a game. A one to three person team can create an amazing game played by millions. All you need is your imagination, time and a love for video games.

iOS Game Development

At Treehouse we pride ourselves on producing high quality courses. So when Apple announced the release of Sprite Kit their 2D gaming framework last year, we couldn’t wait to release a course for it. Our experience with gaming being limited we sought a partner who could help bring an amazing gaming course to our students. After searching for months we found Piasa games, an indie dev studio run by an awesome trio: Mike Blazek the developer, Jake Fleming the designer and Corey Warning the sound designer. These three came together to build Piasa Games couple of years ago and have been turning out amazing games in their spare time.

Jake and Corey helped us create a course on Mobile Game Design, where they teach how to conceptualize a game, design characters and animation, and engineer sound. Mike helped us create the game development course where we learn to program the Space Cat game using Sprite Kit. His experience with programming several games helped us craft a course that is easy for beginners to follow along while creating a game that is worthy of the app store.

Mike is not a big gamer and yet now he’s a passionate game developer. We did a brief interview with him to understand how he got started with game development.

Tell us a little bit about how and when you got started with game development?
It all started with going to lunch with the incredibly talented Jake Fleming.  We both wanted to make something that we could show off to friends and family.   Something where we didn’t have to listen to clients or a boss and we can do it all our own way.  Since most of our conversations happened over lunch we came up with our first idea Grilly The Cheese and got to work.   We enjoyed it so much that we formed Piasa Games with Corey Warning to continue making games that we love.

Which platforms have you worked with and why is Sprite Kit your favorite?
So far we have used Cocos2d, Sprite kit and Unity.   When it comes to working on iOS only, Sprite Kit is our first choice. It allows for quick development and use of other iOS features easily within the game.

What advice do you have for newcomers wanting to get into game development?
The best advice I can give is to do it while you enjoy it. Game development is not easy and it takes a huge amount of time and energy. If you do not enjoy it then you will probably end up quitting. However, having someone play a game you have made is an incredible accomplishment.

What is the most challenging problem you’ve had to solve while building a game?
Efficiency and resource management are always the biggest challenges. Mobile games must work on devices that are new and old. The older devices may not be able to move as fast as the newer ones which causes lag and memory problems. Finding creative solutions to managing these problems is the biggest challenge I have faced.

What is the most rewarding part about developing games?
Watching someone play your game and seeing your thoughts and ideas come to life.   It’s almost magical and sometimes I even find myself in disbelief that I created the game I am watching.

Any last words?
Just keep plugging away. Things are always hardest the first time you do them, but just like anything else in life you get better at game development the more you practice and challenge yourself.

Thank for taking the time for the interview Mike. If you haven’t seen the epic trailer for the Space Cat game then you must check it out. If you want learn how to design or develop a game then do checkout our courses: Mobile Game Design and Build a Game with Sprite Kit.

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3 Responses to “Developer Interview: Mike Blazek, Piasa Games”

  1. Awesome job, I really like your blog. If you want you can check out my game which i’ve just released. It’s using libGDX

  2. I am a android developer and just started my career in development in this field. I am a good gamer too love to play Angry Bird. Thanks for posting this interview here. Such interviews are very helpful and motivating to us as an android developers.

  3. Hi Mike, its true people are very much into game and love to be a greta part of this social media.Every next person is using an andriod apps phone.I myself use the same and very much fond of playing the Angry Bird.
    I loved the blog and the things mention in it. I am very happy of using tjis android application and love to paly all type of games of my phone .
    Happy playing.

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