How To Develop an iPhone Game with a Killer Theme and Gameplay

Wow it’s been an interesting few weeks. I received the first delivery of LOB from my developer. My first impressions were quite mixed. As I loaded the test file from the Macbook to my iPad there was a real sense of excitement.

As I fired up the game, pen poised in hand ready to take notes, the splash screen appeared. So far so good. Then the main screen appeared a few things out of place but for the most part everything looked promising.

Time to launch the gameplay screen. By the time I was ready to press the ‘Play’ button my oldest son had some to join me. Now expectations were really running high!

We launched into the game, and the game graphics appeared. Sadly this is where it all began to unravel. Objects out of proportion or worse – some were missing. The game play was far too easy and a little too clunking.

Nobody said developing an iPhone app was going to be easy.

I spent the next few hours rigorously testing the game and recording all the defects. I’ve since forwarded all the defects to my developer. He’s now working to correct all the issues identified. Hopefully by the next post I can give you another update.


Now, let’s get on with today’s topic.


What We’ll Explore

In the previous post we looked at ways you can nurture those killer iPhone game ideas. Now it’s time to expand your game ideas. I’ve found the best way to approach this task is to think of it as a two part process.  The first part is to determine the main game theme.


Game Themes

Given that you already have a basic idea the game theme should already be evident to you.

The game theme is best described as the dominant idea or subject matter of the game.

Classic examples of game themes include: casino style games, racing games, build and construction style games, flight simulation and flying games, social interactive games, warcraft and medieval style games.

Identifying your game theme is essential if you have any interest in developing the perfect user experience for your end users. Understanding the game theme enables you to bringing together the perfect blend of game theme, sound and artwork. getting the user experience right is essential to your games marketability. I’ll explore artwork, design and the user experience in greater detail in the next article.

But what if you’re still struggling to generate game theme ideas?

If you’re still finding it difficult to come up with a concept for you game theme, I suggest you have a search through the Apple App store to see what’s currently hot. As I’ve said before this is a great way to conduct free, targeted market research.

Once you’ve established the game theme the next item to consider is the gameplay.


Gameplay Types

Gameplay is described as the interactive aspects of the game. It is the specific way in which you intend to have the users (players) interact with your mobile game.

Your choice of gameplay determines the rules of the game, the obstacles and challenges facing the player and ultimately how the player overcomes these challenges to win the game.

A simple way of thinking about gameplay is that you’re establishing the ‘psychology behind your game’.


You may think that there are a variety of gameplay types but invariably they all come down to two main categories:

1. Thinking Games – strategy, physics, word based, puzzle, adventure

2. Reflex Games – action, simulation, role play, arcade, warfare, sport


A core component of your gameplay is how the end user will overcome the obstacles and challenges confronting them . How the player overcomes these challenges is often referred to as the ‘winning variable’.


There are basically two types of winning variable:

1. Time based

2. Score based


With time based winning variables the game is completed or the player achieves the outcome after a predefined time limit. With a score based winning variable the games outcomes and achievements are determined by the player reaching a predefined score. One final winning variable consideration is whether you intend to create a game that is ‘endless’ or ‘level based’.



Ok let’s wrap things up, so you can get on with creating your own mobile app.

Once you have the basic app idea then next step is to define the game theme. This will provide a framework around which you can craft your user experience. The key is to take your game theme and find the right blend of layout, design, background, characters and artwork.

The final part of the user experience is the gameplay. Here you’re thinking: game rules, obstacles/challenges, and the winning variable.

In the next post we’ll expand on the concept of ‘user experience’ focusing on artwork, design and layout considerations.


Sign Up

If you’re interested in following the development of my first game LOB or you’d like to be notified of the latest post, you can sign up to receive the ‘itcanappen’ newsletter .

As a bonus for signing up, you’ll gain access to a variety of checklists (as they’re released) so you can start developing your very own game.



Game On…….



Category : Blog &developing iPhone apps

One Comment → “How To Develop an iPhone Game with a Killer Theme and Gameplay”

  1. [...] the next post we’ll look at: game themes and gameplay [...]

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