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Home » Patient Spotlight » Patient Spotlight: Joe Bergeron & Solipskier iPhone App

Patient Spotlight: Joe Bergeron & Solipskier iPhone App

We haven't had a patient spotlight in awhile, so I am excited about this. After Joe Bergeron's recent eye exam, he and I were chatting and he mentioned an iPhone app that he had worked on: Solipskier. It has been very successful and wanted to ask him a little more about it. - Dr. Nate

Dr. Nate: What is solipskier?

Joe: Solipskier is a fast paced video game where you draw snow slopes as a skier follows along for the ride. You draw down slopes to pick up speed, up slopes to navigate through gates, and ramps do crazy jumps. Tricks and successful gate hits rack up points. Solipskier is available free online ( and in the App store for the iPhone and iPad (  I had the pleasure of developing the iPhone/iPad version, and I'm porting the game to other platforms as well.

Tell me a little about solopskier's development.

It was originally a flash game developed by a couple good friends of mine who live in Iowa where I moved from. They asked if I would port the game to the iPhone. I play tested the flash version and immediately knew it would be perfect on a touch screen. I had never written an iPhone App before, but I was familiar with the Apple's development tools and programming language. I started writing code on the weekends and sent the progress to my friends each week. It went on like this for about a month and a half. Eventually the iPhone version got to a point to where my friends back in Iowa could start contributing more. One of them actually flew down to Florida for the weekend and we pulled a couple all nighters. The game came a long way in just that one weekend. It was nearly finished and entered what we call the polishing stage. It took about another 3 weeks to finish and submit the game. After that we were contacted by a Apple representative asking if we would want our game featured in the App Store. We of course did want that and were pretty excited about to say the least.

Are you pleased with its reception?

I'm very pleased with the game's reception. The reviews and comments have been overwhelmingly positive which is what most game designers consider successful. The most rewarding part is that people play your game and have fun. I think Solipskier is successful because it is simple to understand but challenging to master. On the first couple of goes, you'll quickly learn the game mechanics, but as you continue on you'll start to realize there are many play styles and ways to rack up points.  I think that learning process is what makes the game fun for people. It has that classic arcade feel where you're always trying to beat your or a buddy's high score.

What advice do you have for app developers?

Make what you love to play, but don't let yourself get carried away or you'll never finish.  The iPhone/iPad market is tricky. You'll need to figure out what your goals for the game are and design appropriately for those goals. Don't be afraid to throw ideas away. Make a small prototype of a game just to play it and see if it's fun. If you're on the coding side of development, there are plenty of awesome libraries out there that do all the tricky math and physics for you, so don't spend your time reinventing the wheel; spend it designing a fun game!

What else are you working on?

Currently I'm working on getting Solipskier on more platforms. There are tons of Android phones out there that are perfectly capable of running the game. Also the Palm Pre is a good platform. Other than that, I've got some game ideas rolling around I want to start prototyping. It's still fairly abstract and mostly in my head, but I'm interested in creating a rhythmic game were the music adapts to your play style.

Anything else you'd like to share?

Yes, actually. I'll take this opportunity to let people who don't know that there is an amazing community of independent game developers out there who are some of the most creative and driven people I know. If you're at all interested in making games as a hobby or even for a living, it is becoming more and more possible everyday. You don't have to be a mad computer hacker or anything. There are plenty of free tools floating around the internet. A game is considered by many indie developers as a form of art, and there are plenty of indie games out there that back that theory up.  You can find indie games that are meaningful and sometimes downright moving.
Dr. NateNathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

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