Saturday, June 20, 2009

C64 for iPhone: Rejected.

After a deafening silence, I can finally talk about my little side project.  I posted my initial efforts about a year ago and after the excitement of TUAW publishing a story, I spent some more time adding a keyboard and improving the performance with dreams of an App Store release.  That is, until reality sunk in.  There is an incredible amount of work to turn a concept like this into a polished, user friendly and legal product, ready for sale.  I attempted to find who owned the Commodore 64 brand, but constantly hit dead ends.  I finally took a break from C64 and played around with new projects, like the SID player.  It has made progress, but I'll leave that for another post.

Not much happened with the emulator for some time; however, everything changed when I received an email from Brian Lyscarz, a Danish entrepreneur who is now a resident of Sweden.  It turns out he is just as passionate as I when it comes to retro, and had personally funded some initial development of a C64 emulator for the iPhone.  Fortunately (for me) this didn't go too far and Brian found me because of the initial press.  Aside from an initial phone call, we have communicated entirely via email, post and Google chat, to achieve what follows.

We concluded (having never met) that the next obvious step was to form a company dedicated to retro gaming, and Manomio LLC was born.

As the months have gone by, we've really settled into what has become a great partnership.  Essentially, I got it working and Brian had the aesthetic eye and the skill with Photoshop to make it pretty:

The next hurdle was licensing.  Fortunately, Brian knew the right people, which lead to Manomio securing an official license for the brand from Commodore Gaming and Kiloo Apc.

The final hurdle was Apple and the SDK agreement, section 3.2.2.  We contacted Apple Developer Relations in the United Kingdom and explained our approach.  In principal, we don't allow you to download arbitrary content - we'll secure the licenses and release game packs officially via the App Store.  We agree it's not ideal, but we had to start somewhere.  If Apple loosens the reins, so will we!  They were very excited by what we had built and assured us we'd be okay given we weren't directly competing with the App Store and had locked down the emulator to only installing official titles.  They also mentioned there were already other 'emulators' available, like the SID player and SC68, which actually can download content freely via the net.  This leads us to today - we've been rejected on those very grounds.  We're going to resubmit with no access to BASIC, so it simply plays games in the hope it will be perceived as just a pack of games.

Hopefully we can be noisy across the digital communication channels and perhaps Apple will change their mind.  We have our first review in too, so go check it out!

Enough talk, here it is in action on a 3G (not my new 3Gs):