Why You Made It in the First Place

Make stuff you like and don’t second guess your tastes. This may be obvious advice, but it’s easy to forget especially if you’re just getting started.

Launching your work into the public eye can be nerve-racking. You may be thoroughly enamored with your newly-christened concoction, but seeing it from a consumer’s perspective can gradually undermine your confidence.

This isn’t all bad—it’s a bit of a double-edged blade. The trick is to parse the constructive criticism from the mindless troll-gibber. Separate deserved praise from excessive adulation. Don’t let either side impair your judgement.

Take what you can—learn from your mistakes and reinforce your strengths. But most important, remember why you made it and why you like it.

How Did We Get into This Stuff?

Every child enjoys playing and pretending, but we were of the curious sort who enjoyed designing the games themselves—their objectives, rules, and playing field. Trampolines, garage rafters, living room floors, and neighborhood street corners all became canvases upon which we could design our games.

Add to this an undying creative obsession. We were never content with being just spectators. Sketchbooks, camcorders, and most of all the family computers became more frequently used than the television.

David and Jonathan got addicted early to the thrilling potential of computers. I think they were nine and eleven at the time when our grandfather introduced them to programs like Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia Director. This was all a bit advanced for me at the time—I stuck with KidPix.

Our concoctions got bigger, more complex, and more ambitious—from simple Myst-like walkthroughs to top-scrolling shooters. As a side note, this is one of the best ways to learn—small, attainable projects that grow incrementally bigger with each success. Enjoy the mini-milestones. It’s okay to pursue big ideas as long as you’re prepared for the many small steps it takes to get there.

Anyway, a decade or so of tech-soaked creative experimentation passed. A year after I got out of high school, the three of us began exploring the potential of iPhone gaming.

It all started with a simple puzzle game, now known as Enso•Dot. I had doodled it into existence one evening thinking it would be great for a puzzle book. David and I developed the brand and created a tiny, prototype booklet with 15 or so puzzles in it. We soon learned that the game required an excessive amount of erasing. We knew it needed to be digital for any sane person to enjoy it.

Within a few days, Jonathan, the true technical genius behind Kieffer Bros., created an Enso•Dot puzzle editor. And after another few days, we were playing puzzles on the iPhone simulator.

And that’s how this experiment began.