Interview with Todd Hooper - CEO Zipline Games

This is the face or rather the icon of the game that millions of users have played on their mobile devices or chrome browsers. The face/people and the technology behind this is Moai from Zipline games and today we are in discussion with Todd from Zipline games.

Hello Todd, How do we best know you?
I'm Todd Hooper, the CEO of Zipline Games, a Seattle based mobile gaming company and the creator of Moai, as well as fun mobile games like Wolf Toss.

You have some exciting news for us, what is it?
Today Moai is dropping the beta tag and we are announcing availability of our 1.0 release. Over 6000 developers have checked out Moai during our beta, millions of Moai powered games have been downloaded, and Moai Cloud has processed many millions of transactions. In addition to high profile third party games, we created our own game Wolf Toss with Moai, and launched it on three platforms to over a million players, so we know it's ready for prime time. During the beta, we've built a great community of pro game developers and we will be announcing more high profile studios and gaming companies adopting Moai in the months ahead.

So, how does a developer benefit from using Moai?
We've seen Moai help developers solve a number of problems. Building modern, cross platform mobile games is hard, and with all the different devices and the need to build online components there is a lot of complexity. The goal of Moai is to provide an open source SDK and cloud platform that solves most of the challenges, but doesn't constrain what a game developer can do. In short, Moai helps you build scalable, innovative games quickly, without having to reinvent the wheel. We've integrated many of the core game, social and monetization features that game developers need, and you are free to add more if you need them.

As a quick example, Moai Cloud now has turnkey services for cross-platform leaderboards and achievements, and actionable in-game news and push notifications to any existing iOS or Android game - services that all game developers want. You can build your own Moai Cloud services in Lua and easily scale them up as your game grows in popularity, without hitting the wall when your game gets popular.

Isn't Moai Open-Source and Free?
Yes, the Moai SDK is available under an open source license. We believe it's the fastest growing open source solution in the mobile gaming market today.

What is the pricing model about? What is on offer there?
Moai Cloud has a usage-based pricing model designed to allow you to get started at no cost. You can see the Moai Cloud pricing on our site at

Some devs love the sheer power using the low level API's, some don't, what about them, are they not welcome?
We have built Moai for professional game developers and we assume a certain level of familiarity with using development tools like Xcode, Eclipse etc. One of the beauties of being native and open source is that you can access any API you need and add any third party code you want, and we heard that loud and clear from pro game developers.

At this stage, Moai SDK isn't ideal for developers who are just getting started. There are other great choices like Corona and Game Salad that don't require programming expertise. And Moai Cloud can be used by any type of game, so we welcome developers to Moai Cloud regardless of what they are using to build their games.

One issue that has been is the ease of use in terms of templates and sample apps, with the release of Moai 1.0 will that be resolved?
Yes, we've done a lot of work on documentation, templates and sample apps. And of course, you can always look at the source code to see what is happening.

What platforms can a developer develop for using one Moai codebase?
Today you can develop with Moai for iOS, Android and Chrome. We also support Windows, Mac and Linux hosts, which are great for rapid development. Our focus for shipping games is the mobile platforms and Chrome.

And all of that is available for Free and with the Cloud-based subscription
Correct. The Moai SDK is free to use, and you can get started with Moai Cloud for free as well.

We had reviewed Crimson Steam Pirates and Wolf Toss, are there any other apps made with Moai?
We've got a number of games under development, and we've seen several great games ship on iOS, Android, Chrome and Kindle and go to the top of the charts. Moron Test 2 is one of the most well known mobile game franchises that is now Moai-powered. I'd also recommend Go Go Kiddo which is a great educational app on iOS, Android and Kindle. And Robert Nay, creator of Bubble Ball, has created a new downloadable level service for his Corona game using Moai Cloud.

What do you feel is an advantage for the developers to use Moai over other game frameworks and/or lua based frameworks?
There are certainly a lot of fine choices out there, but finding robust open source solutions is pretty tough. Most pro developers don't want to be constrained by a closed source solution. And developers are looking for a way to build the cloud component of their games, so we think Moai has a unique combination of both.

Why did you choose Lua as the language?
As most game developers know, Lua is a perfect scripting language for games. It's very performant, compact and efficient. During the development of Wolf Toss, we saw that everyone in our studio could contribute code, animation or content as needed, but it didn't limit our experienced developers. Combining a language like Lua with native OpenGL performance and a C++ engine is a great way to solve a lot of common development challenges.

Who is/are Zipline games?
Moai is the brainchild of my cofounder, Patrick Meehan. Patrick's been working in the games space for 20 years, and started his career at Nintendo. He's developed a number of successful mobile games and Moai is the result of his experience over the years with a variety of different game development platforms.

That sounds interesting, we will be looking forward for the launch and many more titles to be made using Moai.