10 Burning Questions with J Brothers from Blew Tower Defense


J Brothers is the team responsible for the game Blew Tower Defense. The developers are great fans of tower defense games and have created one with a very unique and special touch, focusing on visuals, simplicity and pure fun. After 3 years of hard work, J Brothers has managed to win its audience’s support with constant hard work, passion and an open ear. The team really values user feedback, and they claim that it has been one of the biggest inspirations and catalysts that have led Blew Tower Defense to what it is now.

Developer Appreciation Month has just kicked off here at, and we are very glad to learn from those that make it all happen. We have sat down with Pascal Jacobi from J Brothers to learn about his experience developing for our favorite mobile OS – Android. His answers highlight the passion and dedication developers need in order to succeed in the Android platform. One can also see the pride and love that can be developed when working with a product from the ground up and bringing it to life.

Phandroid: How did you get started with Android Development?

Pascal Jacobi: This goes back about 3 years ago, a colleague at work was rambling on about how great the Android market was for developers and what potential it had, so we decided to give a try. A couple of days later I had an animated image walking around on my Android emulator and I was actually enjoying myself more than I expected.

We were already great fans of tower defense-like games, so we looked around on the market and – back then – only Robo-Defense was a serious game in the genre. On the other hand, my brother managed to validate the idea as his final project in college (majoring in multimedia design). We had the idea, we had the will and we had the team, Blew Tower Defense was born. It’s like a little baby, our baby… only without the crying :)

Phandroid: What phone do you personally use?

Pascal Jacobi: HTC Hero. I want to keep testing our application on the oldest phone possible for as long as we can support Android 2.1. I’m seriously considering buying the Samsung Galaxy S3. Although I’m not too sure about how I feel about the “cold war” that’s going on between Samsung and Google. It feels like bad Karma. I don’t know…

Phandroid: What was your biggest challenge in developing Blew Tower Defense?

Pascal Jacobi: Definitely the game design. It was like being in Alien II – Aliens swarming all over the place, and by handling one side you’d be torn apart from the other. But seriously, Blew Tower Defense games can be customized in so many ways that we ended up needing months to test all case scenarios and re-tweak values.

We didn’t want to see someone win all the quick-games with a “perfect” tower combination – but we also wanted to give the game a different feeling depending on the towers you’d pick. Really challenging, especially considering neither of us had had any game-designing experience.

Phandroid: Your game is very visually enhanced and good-looking, but in a different way. What inspired you to create this almost abstract design?

Pascal Jacobi: Overall, we completely altered the theme more than 4 times. Trying to build up graphics for a mobile tower defense is tricky and challenging. It has to be both understandable and good looking. Doing so in a limited space of a 40 pixels square is tricky (creatures, towers…). So one of the solutions we came up with was to make easy shapes with distinguishable colors to differentiate towers, creatures from one another. On the other hand, the maps used in Blew Tower Defense have a different look: more detail with a more realistic feeling to them. This big contrast was made in order to directly show the player what he/she is able to interact with. Adding some glowing effect above all this gave it an interesting effect.

Phandroid: Monetization: in terms of driving revenue, can you tell us about your experience, your strategy, and the overall potential?

Pascal Jacobi: As I understand it, there are two main ways to making money with Android apps. The first is off of adds and the second is through various types of customer purchases (the app itself, services/features inside the app…). Even though we have a “lite” and “full” version of the game (I think “lite” versions are often ideal for advertisement because consumers are more tolerant when they’re seeing them in free apps), we scratched out adds because we wanted our customer’s game-play experience to be genuine while playing the Lite version, in the hopes that they’d enjoy themselves enough to purchase the full version.

On the other hand, the full version is supposed to sell, and at the moment we’re a bit below a 2% conversion ratio (lite to full) which is lower than what most games get. We have quite a few reasons for that. I’ll omit the game itself as a factor (which can still be improved in many ways, and we’re working on that) because I think the game is pretty complete and it’s not the topic of our conversation.

The second most important element in selling an app (in my humble experience) is the marketing aspect of things: We’ve made a Facebook page, added a Twitter account and even made a nice video which is posted on YouTube. But that’s all we did, neither of us has had the time to try and build up a buzz around BlewTD.

In a sense, we’ve gotten pretty much what we worked for. We are, nevertheless, hoping to advertise our game a bit more in the near future as we work on nice new features. We would’ve loved to be able to quit our daily jobs and work full time on Android apps, but as long as our sales ratio is this low and scotch still costs money, I’m afraid that isn’t possible yet.

Phandroid: What do you want to see in future versions of Android?

Pascal Jacobi: We’re trying to keep the game living for older versions of Android, so I’m not really looking into Android’s newer versions from a developer’s perspective. But, as a consumer, I’m eager to see the keyboard laser projection take life. I think typing on a laser projected keyboard is the second coolest thing there is, Blew tower defense being the first (I had to say it)

Phandroid: Do you develop for other platforms and how does Android compare to those platforms?

Pascal Jacobi: No, we decided to stick with one platform. Considering I’m the only one developing, I’m always the one with the most time consuming tasks and behind schedule.

Phandroid: If you could give one tip to fellow Android Developers, what would it be?

Pascal Jacobi: Based on what we’ve seen with game apps, I think the best way to approach this when you have a “standard” application (nothing completely out of the ordinary, just an average game) is to simply build up a decent minimal version of the application and slowly let it build up as you get feedback from your users (quick hello to our fans: We love you!). Give yourself a realistic goal, don’t go beyond your borders. don’t add up too many ideas, stick to the basics and finish those. Once you’re done, publish it and add updates later to boost your game.

Phandroid: Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.

Pascal Jacobi: I often have one-sided conversations with my computer. My brother likes to sneak up on me and scare the bajeezus out of me.

Phandroid: What towers do you put first, the poison or the slow ones? ;)

Pascal Jacobi: Do you like to see your enemies agonize in pain as they approach their goal while dying on their way or do you like to keep them in place and butcher them to death? It’s up to you. Building up a poison tower at the beginning of the game is a really good strategy. On the other hand, building a slow tower helps you assist your other damage dealing towers. It’s not only a matter of when you build your towers, it’s also a matter of the amount towers you build as well as the positions you put them at. Understanding this is the way of the Blew (that sounded better in my head than when I read it out loud…)!

As a tech writer that constantly interacts with many developers, I must say that J Brothers is one of the most down-to-earth and passionate ones I have ever worked with. The team is very attentive to its audience, and really listens and helps you with all your issues and comments.

If you would like to check out the game Blew Tower Defense, you can get it straight from the Google Play Store for $1.99. You can also check out the Lite version for free or take a look at their official website. The tower defense game is very fun and aesthetically pleasing in a very unique way, and I have definitely enjoyed many hours playing it.

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Edgar Cervantes

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1 Comment

  1. I hope you do some of these with non-game developers too. I’d like to hear some developers talk about UI design between phones and tablets and how hard it is to implement Android’s design standards (I’m thinking of trying to get into non-game app development myself).

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