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'Come to mobile after you've had success elsewhere'

Mike Bithell made his first leap onto mobile, with an iPad port of Thomas Was Alone facilitated by the team as Bossa Studios. At what point did Bithell decide that a mobile version might be a good idea after all?
Just over a year ago, British developer Mike Bithell was happy to see so many other developers shifting gear to mobile -- it meant that the PC and console doors were left wide open for everyone else. Today the developer made his first leap onto mobile, with an iPad port of Thomas Was Alone facilitated by the team as Bossa Studios. At what point then, did Bithell decide that a mobile version might be a good idea after all? "I honestly expected it not to work," he says. "Bossa asked me for my source code, I expected to have a nice meeting and turn them down, but, it worked." "The controls of TWA are simple," Bithell adds, "and their team had made a really smart set of choices. That's when I said yes, and wrote a few pages of notes on what I wanted tweaked." Bithell notes that he could never have put the mobile port together himself, especially with his work on Volume ongoing, and as such he warns other PC and console devs who are considering a mobile port to keep this in mind. "Making games is hard and fun, but making ports is hard and frustrating," he adds. "In order to carry on with Volume and get that where it needs to be, I needed to rely on a few other people to do the legwork on ports for me."
"Release it on PC first. Release it on console first. Make a name for yourself or it."
"Of course, I'm still a control freak, so I fill their inboxes with notes and suggestions," he laughs. "iPad was fun too, because I got to redesign the in-game interface, which was a weird trip down memory lane, building stuff for a game I'd not made art choices for in a couple of years." For those developers looking at Bithell's path from PC to console to mobile for Thomas Was Alone, and wondering whether to take a similar route, he has this to say: "Release it on PC first. Release it on console first. Make a name for yourself or it." "When the game comes out, you want to be known enough to get coverage on the big sites, and do everything you can to get a feature," he says. "Right now I'd actively encourage indies to come to mobile after they've had a level of success elsewhere on more specialised platforms." Thomas Was Alone is out now on iPad.

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