Review Fix chats with “Mandie Manzano Jigsaw Puzzle Art developer Antti Lehtinen (Owner and Lead Developer, Octo Mini), who discusses the game and the awesome puzzle art and unique gameplay experience.
Review Fix: What was the inspiration for this game?
Antti Lehtinen: I enjoy assembling puzzles, and my daughters love them. After trying several puzzle apps on my iPad, I decided to create the most beautiful and real puzzle assembling experience available on the App Store. The existing apps served as an inspiration — but at the same time, I saw many things I would do differently. Often, the puzzle images were lacking: In many cases, they consisted of stock photos (beautiful stock photos, but still just stock photos) — which made them all look the same. I wanted something different — completely unique artwork.
I also noticed how some puzzle apps had too many bells and whistles. For example, I didn’t like it when I was trying to find the next corner piece — and at the same time, I knew there was a button that would fetch me the piece automatically. This made me restless. I decided to omit that kind of feature and keep it as close to a real-world puzzle assembling experience as I could. I see the fun in finding the right piece by myself. That was my mindset when I started the development process.
Review Fix: What was the development process like?
Lehtinen: It took more than a year from the idea to the finished product. Before I searched for any artwork, I wanted to create a prototype just to see if I could do it. Being a one-man studio, I don’t always have the resources to do everything I want — and I need to think carefully about the scope of each project. After a couple of months, I had the puzzle assembling mechanics working exactly the way I wanted. That was the point when I knew I could do it, and I began to search for the artist.
My plan for finding the right artist was very simple: I decided to browse through deviantart.com to find the most beautiful artwork and ask the artist if he/she would be interested in licensing the art. I had to keep two things in mind: I knew I needed to have 30-50 images in the app, so I needed someone with a large portfolio. It also makes sense to have puzzle images with lots of details. With these things in mind, I found a couple of inspiring artists and contacted them. Mandie Manzano was my first choice — and fortunately, she was immediately interested. Instead of just licensing the art for my use, she suggested 50/50 collaboration. And that’s how we started working together. It was a perfect match because she has a large portfolio — and her images are strikingly unique and loved around the world. It was still early in the development process, so she had time to create 3 never-before-seen paintings for the app! In addition to developing the art, she also took part in the design process. Working with Mandie was a great experience. She’s bursting with positive energy, and she’s the kindest person you’ll ever meet.
Review Fix: Who do you think will enjoy it the most?
Lehtinen: I have no idea, but if I had to guess, I would say moms. They need the relaxing artistic experience that this app can provide. That said, the app really is designed for all ages. I have seen my 3-year-old daughter mesmerized by the artwork and assembling 12- and 20-piece puzzles by herself. I can also see experienced puzzle enthusiasts completing 500-2,000 piece puzzles.
Review Fix: What are your goals for it?
Lehtinen: To be found. I believe Mandie Manzano Jigsaw Puzzle Art will do well if it finds an audience. As an independent developer, it’s very difficult to complete with large developers. The App Store keeps growing by more than 1,000 apps per day, so it’s incredibly difficult to be noticed.
Review Fix: How do you want it to be remembered?
Lehtinen: I want it to be remembered as the most beautiful puzzle app out there — and as a relaxing puzzle assembling experience. I spent a lot of time creating the most beautiful puzzle pieces and finding the artwork to match.
Review Fix: Bottom line, why should someone play?
Lehtinen: The art of Mandie Manzano. It’s a special feeling to assemble a puzzle and to see Mandie’s magical art in it for the first time. While I do believe my play mechanics offer a superior puzzle assembling experience, it’s Mandie’s art that shines through! Her dazzling paintings make this the most unique jigsaw puzzle app on the App Store.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Lehtinen: Updates. I have already received some very good ideas from users on how to make the app even better. I really enjoy the fact that the feedback has been very positive — and the suggestions I have gotten so far go hand in hand with my philosophy of mimicking real-world puzzle solving. The app was released in May, so it’s still early. I’m waiting to see how it fares and how users respond to it. I have several other apps in the pipeline — but right now, I can’t look past this. I’m focused on supporting Mandie Manzano Jigsaw Puzzle Art and making it the best it can be.
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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