This app started life as an experiment. In an attempt to get on top of a game technique called “emitters”, Steve decided to build a magic wand for his three-year-old daughter. She loved it, and would proudly wave his iPhone around casting spells on visitors to the house. Good spells of course, except for the guy who came to read the gas meter (now a frog).

Soon after, we were experimenting with a completely separate technique of getting a “bubble” emitter to react to microphone input and the proverbial lightbulb appeared above Steve’s head… wouldn’t it be nice to combine these things into a little toy for kids?

His five-year-old son had words to say though. He demanded something in it for him, and we settled on a laser. He designed how it should look using Lego pieces and Steve built the graphics in Adobe Fireworks.

Steve’s family took a day trip to Deal in Kent in the summer. The kids loved playing with those little hand-held windmills on a wooden stick, and that gave us the idea for the fourth and final “toy”.

Massive thanks to…

Rachel Coulter – illustration

All of the graphics were just sitting on black backgrounds, which somehow just didn’t feel good enough to consider releasing as an app. Cue Rachel Coulter, an illustrator based in Belfast.

I’d been admiring her work for a long time, consistently blown away by the galleries she would upload to Facebook (before I kicked Facebook into touch). I asked her if she would like to do some backgrounds and hand-drawn art for the app and she said she’d love to. And what a job she did! The whole thing just came to life once she had added her magic touch.

She drew a beautiful moonlit fairytale castle, a cute outdoor scene with trees and hills and a hot air balloon, a lovely little galaxy with planets and an alien spacehip, and a beach scene for the windmill. All are just lovely pieces of work. I decided to pull some elements apart and animate them – for example the hot air balloon in the “bubbles” toy, and the comet in the “space laser” toy.

Jules Maxwell – sound design

I’ve worked with Jules on many, many projects over the years. It would be fair to say that from a musical point of view he remains the most inspiring person on earth to me. His approach is often completely the opposite to what anyone else would do, and that is why I asked him if he would create the sounds for the app.

I almost laughed aloud as the ideas came in – using the laser colours as words to make the sounds, using the word “bubble” to accompany the bubbles scene, and a simple “wheeeeee” for the windmill, along with nicely judged ambient tracks. The approach was perfect. As we reviewed the app time and time again, Jules would offer insightful comments about how the sound was feeling as part of it.

He delivered some exquisite piano sparkles for the magic wand scene, to which I added my own “Pixiphone” sounds and which I treated with effects in Logic Pro. The end result was just the polish the app needed to finally hit that “Submit” button.

Thanks also to…

Riq and the Cocos2d community for their ongoing magic and support to new developers.

Last but definitely not least, thanks to Luka Jones for designing the laser gun.

Tools used to build Mini Magic

Game framework: Cocos2d for iPhone
Sprite sheets: Zwoptex
Particle Emitters: Particle Designer
Fonts: Glyph Designer
Sound processing: Logic Studio, Guitar Rig 5

“My 4 and 6 year olds can't get enough of this beautiful app.. but to be honest, I think I like it even more than them.... yet more fights over who gets the phone then!”


“My 3 girls love this app! Especially my youngest. The fairy wand is her favourite! Simple but very effective. :-)”