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Reverse Dev Interview: Quid PRO Mode?

If a typical interview would be me asking a developer questions on your behalf; today I present the reverse! I'd like to ask you questions on a developer's behalf.

In a recent comment on Arctic Key's latest update, reader gatearray pointed out some weird behavior in Arctic's delay effect. I asked the developer, Peter Johnson at One Red Dog, about this and he agreed that it was not working very well. But he was already on the case, developing an entirely new rewrite for Arctic's engine!

Alas, such a drastic change has some pitfalls. Most notable among those is compatibility! The delay does work, so it is something you may have already used a dozen times over, working with its quirks. With the quirks gone, your patches will not sound the same as they did when you designed them.

Additionally, Apple prevents developers from charging for App updates. Which means there would be no compensation for Peter's effort to rewrite everything. Essentially doing the whole App over for nothing.

With these concerns in mind, he has been considering releasing the rewrite as a separate "Arctic Pro" App. He'd love to get user feedback ahead of time, before you guys go hunt him down with pitchforks and torches. So I'll present his dilemma here and I encourage you to share your Answers in the comments!

Q1: Is it worth buying a separate app if an update would break your current patches?


Q2: How do you feel about buying a new version of an app you've already bought?


Please share your thoughts and help Peter with his quandary!
And be nice, at least he's asking instead of just doing shit to you like other developers have!

Reader Comments 10

A1: God that is a tough choice. I'm infamously stingy, but on the other hand... I will fight you to the death if you break my patches. And probably cry. In fact, I would definitely cry if you broke my patches. So yes, I'll cough up more money to avoid that.

A2: Arctic is $5, and that is a really important factor here. $5 means something different to just about everyone all over the world. For $5 Sunvox has been getting huge updates for years, but the developer lives in Russia, where the cost of living is low, and he solicits donations. Peter is in Australia, and I don't care where you live, the cost of living is more in Australia. Likewise $5 means something different to just about every user. For me it would have to be a really big change, or I'd feel somewhat cheated; even if it was just another $5 for the new app. Like it or not, the rest of the app developers have spoiled us with tons of updates and low prices.

Make the fixes along with a toggle for "classic" knob response mode, or even have existing saved patches (pre-update) call upon these "classic" knob settings behavior?

May 04, 2012  | person_outline gatearray

1. Apple needs to allow paid upgrades.

2. Meanwhile, in the real world:

You can think of pricing two ways:

a. Developer's labor vs. cost to consumer
b. Benefit to consumer vs. cost to consumer

People being what they are, most consumers are going to focus on (b).

If that's right, then Peter should wait until he has the ingredients for a MAJOR upgrade: not just a better delay, but actual new features (e.g., supersaw and "metallizer" waveforms; or multisampling).

May 04, 2012  | person_outline dswo

1. Don't touch my patches, okay ;-)
2. I would definitely buy the new version, anyway.

May 04, 2012  | person_outline Thierry Lalinne

the short answers
1) no. i can recreate a given patch from scratch quickly
2) like a beta tester

the long answers
1) & 2) i have two versions of technobox, two versions of beatmaker, two versions of nlog synth. if an update is substantial, and the developer seems to be sincerely trying to improve the product, i'd probably go for it. but, it needs to be bug free in addition to the delay fix.

this may give everyone some perspective
http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2012/05/ios-app-success-is-a-lottery-and-60-of-developers-dont-break-even.ars

May 04, 2012  | person_outline a1

I remember waiting in anticipation for the first release of Arctic Keys as it's spec on release was fantastic. Despite many bug fixes and updates + it's release on iPhone too I still feel rather underwhelmed with the sound of this app. I would pay for a 'pro' version but this would have to be a total rewrite and have a super low launch price (69p). Any higher and I would be reluctant to purchase unless review after review convinced me otherwise :-)

Peter - I presume any further development would only be on the new app and maybe the original Arctic Keys would be left behind. Regardless, I really do hope you take this project on and create the synth app that Arctic Keys has always threatened to be.

May 04, 2012  | person_outline Trueyorky

do a new app, add some new form of input, or new sound style or manipulation method, and we'll all buy it.

May 06, 2012  | person_outline hogo

I agree with several of the comments above. I am generally pretty frugal, so I would like an opportunity to have a discount of sorts due to my investment in arctic from the beginning. Maybe an intro price is advertised as an upgrade message for people who already own the original? Also, I agree with the idea that adding something significant would also be a plus. Maybe add a custom waveform input to the oscillators or hand draw mode? Maybe multitrack record or a user-chosen interface (isomorphic or grid interfaces would really improve usability)? Right now I drop to either Geo Synth or iFretless, but I would rather stay in-app while recording and have a few sliders to tweak parameters on the left side and pitch bend between notes. Overall, I love the current app and would invest in other products of yours, but with added kinds of things, I wouldn't hesitate at all. Wait. There is another thing. Grainbender is completely awesome for the ability to record parameter changes in real time and play back via keys over midi with. Cc messages. If you could enable similar capability within app with interfaces, that would make my day!

May 06, 2012  | person_outline Marlow77

I sympathize with Peter's position, really, and I know what it is like to identify a small seeming bug that will require a massive rewrite.

If I buy a product and it has a fault, then I expect that fault to be fixed without paying more. If I have used that fault to my advantage.... well, then it was a feature, albeit an unintended one. So what is really needed then is a combo free-of-charge in-app-purchase for those who own the app and couldn't care less about their patches (which is likely to be a sizable number of users), an opt-in update if you will , and a second app purchase for those who want to protect their patches and are willing to pay to do that *.

I agree with the other posters who have said that to be a new/Pro version then some new features would be needed.

* I am assuming here that a "legacy delay effect" button wouldn't be possible.

May 07, 2012  | person_outline pantsofdeath

First off thank you all for your comments! I'll be submitting a new version Arctic Keys to the App Store soon that will have a fixed delay effect. I can't guarantee it will be exactly the same as the current delay effect but all the factory patches sound correct to my ears. The sync'ing now works, the panning is better and the dry/wet mixer has been corrected so it behaves like a delay should.

Secondlly I'm very encouraged by what you guys have said about Arctic Pro and yes it will have a "supersaw", a whole new effects section and maybe a couple of other things. Can't wait to share this with you :-)

May 13, 2012  | person_outline Peter (One Red Dog Media)
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