I am a former Apple retail employee of 8 years. After Steve passed, it reminded me of how short life really is and to go after the things that you want in life. I left Apple this past June and founded my own indie game studio, apixal. I am currently the only employee and building my first game, Phoenix Dawn, from the ground up on my own. I am a one man band determined to change the world for the better and risking it all.


I'll be live from 7PM EST to 9PM EST, so please - ask me anything! :)


Thanks everyone for the fun chat session! Feel free to continue to ask questions if you'd like. I will continue to respond to your questions over time. I'm a big Reddit fan. Night!


Company page: apixal.com


Game Page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/erictrowbridge/phoenix-dawn


Proof: (image hosted on company page): http://www.apixal.com/global/i/imareddit-proof-EEEETTTT.jpg


Comments: 96 • Responses: 43  • Date: 

BXP_Thunder18 karma

How do you plan on marketing this game? If you game is released on a Monday with 100 other games, why are people going to buy yours?

EEEETTTT13 karma

Great question. Like any industry, there is always competition which is great - it keeps things fresh. Working at Apple, I learned very quickly the best marketing you can have - build something great and those people will spread the word. So many companies under estimate the power of personal recommendations. So, I am focused on making something that when people play it say "Wow! I have to show [fill in the gap] this.." :)

Lady_Aijou10 karma

He's not alone in it. When you start a new company, and you make a great game, you end up bringing in great people to help you. The community you build helps you get there :)

EEEETTTT12 karma

I met Lady_Aijou on Twitter a few days ago - that probably has been one of the most rewarding things so far is meeting so many cool people. Lady_Aijou - you definitely are a very cool person :D

BXP_Thunder6 karma

I hope you guys get the community response that you're looking for - props for having forums etc for people to discuss your game and contribute.

I think most game makers want to make something cool that we'll show to our friends - but a lot of great games just fly under the radar.


Thank you sir. :)

It's a tough world out there.

Ad__Hominem5 karma

Retail video games are released on Tuesday. PSN and iOS games on Thursday. Xbox on Wednesday.

Which ones are released on Monday?


Mine? ;)

lumonisity14 karma

This sounds really awesome!

What game would Phoenix Dawn be closest to? What type of gameplay is it?

If it sounds appealing from the detail you give, I'll be pledging. ;)

EEEETTTT14 karma

Thank you so much!

1.) Game is a mix of Journey & Diablo. Also inspired by the Final Fantasy series and Chrono Trigger. Classics!

2.) The game is in 3rd perspective, roaming the world ridding it of monsters and bosses while using XP points to level up your current spells, mix new ones, and uncover the story. She's a young girl, doesn't know much magic, so that is where the game's heart is. Learn spells, find new spells, mix them, and fly around this low poly magical world. :)

lumonisity8 karma

That sounds perfect. The Final Fantasies and Chrono Trigger are some of my favourite games. I'll be very much looking forward to this!


Me too :D

askingthetoughqs9 karma

1) What has been the biggest challenge since starting Apixal?

2) What was your motivation to risk a comfortable life at Apple to work seemingly endless hours on a gamble?

EEEETTTT10 karma

1.) Staying positive. I never anticipated how lonely it can be to do something like this, especially when you are in a room by yourself all day. Self doubt creeps in - you are just always in this state of having internal conversations with yourself - not knowing what is going to happen. It can be really hard to sweep that away and stay focused and positive.

2.) Death. In SJ's Stanford commencement, he said that we wouldn't regret the things that we did in life - we would regret the things that we DIDN'T do. Starting a company would be one of those regrets. That's my motivator. If I was hit by a bus tomorrow I could go peacefully thinking "I tried" instead of "I should have.".

askingthetoughqs9 karma

thanks for the response! I can't imagine taking a risk like that but thank you for inspiring others to do so! Instead of giving you reddit gold, I will be upping my contribution for your kickstarted.

Good luck!


You are very kind and I won't let you down :-)

NorbitGorbit9 karma

how would you change how the apple store functions? do you think the store culture fosters entrepreneurship?

EEEETTTT10 karma

Hmmm, interesting questions.

1.) I would change the stores by preparing them for the future. The future of retail, in my opinion, is not sales - it's service. Online orders are way up, and as soon as drones are delivering packages to us 24/7, who really is going to go to physically buy product? People will go to retail stores for questions and to see it in person. But over time, retail sales (not just Apple) will decline and the companies who prepare for that transition now will be the survivors. It's just a matter of time.

2.) I think Apple could better tap into the talent within their stores. I'd love to see them invest heavily in providing professional training like engineering/marketing/programming to the teams. How cool would it be for a company to transform their retail stores into education hubs for their future innovators and engineers? Now that would be cool.

_matt_graham8 karma

How do you become an apple employee?


I did 1,000s of interviews... best tips:

1.) Apply, of course, to jobs.apple.com 2.) Recommend going to the store and asking to speak to the "People Manager" which was me. 3.) Email the store email address (ask for anyone's business card, it's on there.) with a PDF copy of your resume.

If you get an interview - be YOURSELF. Really just looking for passionate people who love technology, Apple and customer service. Good luck! :)

thealiendudeman8 karma

The game looks sweet! What software did you use to make it? What modeling software? Where can a regular person like me learn to code a game?


Thank you so much! For the art, a combination of Sketch (fantastic vector app for the Mac), Cinema 4D, and Photoshop.

The best place for anyone to start - that I have found - is digital-tutors.com. It is a treasure trove of information and well worth the subscription! Unity is a great game engine to start with, tons of resources!

reaofsunlight6 karma

Since you quit your job to pursue your dream, how are you funding it? How are you funding your life? Did you have a large savings ? Why not just continue working at Apple and develop your game on the side so you could still have some money flowing in?


Money came from Apple stock and cashing out my vacation hours when I left. Two reasons I didn't stay.

1.) At a certain point, it would have become a problem. Developing an iOS game while working for Apple is a conflict of interest, so I really couldn't continue to talk about it in good faith while still working there.

2.) Two - like any dream, it requires your full attention. It's like a baby. After coming home from a long day at work, it was hard to sit down and try to teach myself 3D, programming - all that intense stuff. I knew I just needed to give myself the time the it required to do it right.

Seanana5 karma

As a former Apple Store employee myself and a desire to do exactly what you're doing. How and where did you start? Have you always wanted to do this, or was it a "you know I'm going to design a game." Thank you for the time, and I'm sorry if you've already answered this.


Great question! Well, it was messy. Aftter Steve passed, I knew I wanted to start a company but had no idea what kind of company. It took me nearly a year of self reflection to figure out that all my life - no matter what job I wanted - were related to three things: Art, Story Telling and Technology. I just really sat back and thought about what I have always loved my entire life and it was those three things.

Then, I realized that that was exactly what game design was. It has art, story telling and was a super technical process to make. So, it was just a lot of self reflection and "connecting the dots" from my past to re-think my future. :)

eersnherd5 karma

How are you managing to live day by day: finances, healthcare, etc?


1.) No healthcare right now.

2.) I had a bunch of vacation time when I left Apple that is cashed out to you when you leave. Spent the last 3 months living off of that - and now ... credit cards! Yikes! :O

eersnherd5 karma

Best of luck to you for following your dreams, and where others are terrified to go!


Thank you very much buddy!

I now know why more people don't follow their dreams - it's terrifying!

redditferdas5 karma

Did you ever met Steve?


Didn't introduce myself, but I saw him 3 times. I used to be a theater presenter at the Apple Store, and he walked in as I was giving my presentation to the customers - I nearly died. But he must have thought I was decent - didn't fire me :-)

coniform5 karma

How much in savings did you set aside to help start your new venture?


I have about 15K when I left Apple. Of course, I should have always have put in more. It always costs twice as much than you expect and twice as long to do it! :D

coniform5 karma

What are the things you feel should be prioritized the most when starting a new company?


Honesty - a big learn of mine. The single most important decision you can make is who you decide to take the journey with.

It can be great to being your friends onboard, but don't forget that it is a serious business venture. I started with a really good friend. Each person must be able to bring technical and leadership skills to the table. They also MUST have something invested. I asked myself the question, "What if this fails?" if both parties's answers aren't somewhat tragic then there is no fire to see it succeed.


As a side note - almost all of it came from the little Apple stock I had left and cashing out my vacation hours when I left.

RizzMustbolt4 karma

Will your game be available for Macs?


Yep! If funded, releasing on iOS/Mac/ and PC!

Shawnzan23 karma

Do you believe android is overall better then Apple? *cough cough htc m8vs iphone5


Haha - no way. :D

But, it is interesting now that I don't work for Apple anymore. There are definitely perks to Android and shortcomings of iOS. Android can just be a beast for a game developer where Apple makes it much easier.

jgray720103 karma

When will your game go live, and are you building it for the App Store?


Anticipating Spring/Summer 2015. And yes, iOS app store! :)

Henk_jobs3 karma

you think they will let you put your game in thier IOS app store ? After you detched them!!


LOL. I would hope that they would be proud to see one of their own make something great for them. ;) It would be a win/win for both of us!

Henk_jobs2 karma

I had the impression that they would add you to thier "no-fly-list"...lol


Nah, Apple's not like that :)

idoescompooters3 karma

How did you get your job at Apple. How was your high school and college education?


Oh, and for Apple - I walked by the store everyday while going to school. Thought it would be a cool place to work - coming from Wyoming - the Apple Store was an incredibly rare species!


Highschool I was so/so. Not bad - but not acknowledged as some extra intelligent human being.

College - Academy of Art University (San Francisco) - dropped out after year 1. College #2 - Los Angeles Film School (LA) - certificate in Art Direction.

However, I would never recommend an art/film school to anyone seriously pursuing the field. I learned way more about life, business, and myself from Apple than I did either of those two schools.

Just don't believe in for-profit schools and art/film schools are the kings of the playground. Beware.

idoescompooters5 karma

Yeah, I'm not into any of that stuff. Haha, thanks for sharing!


Good :)

No problem!

NachoFresard3 karma

Were you inspired by any other games? What do you think about digital distribution?


Games (and series) that have influenced me in no particular order: Diablo, Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Journey and Portal!

Digital distribution is the key reason why I, and do many others, can even dream if doing this. 12 years ago, I would be pitching this idea to the studios - today I can make it and sell my work all on my own. Creative freedom - love it! But the competition is fierce.

NachoFresard2 karma

Makes sense! And what a really nice collection of influential games :)

I'll check out your game when it's out! Thanks for answering!


Much appreciated. Thanks buddy! :)

lpzahner3 karma

Will you let some of us redditors be your beta testers? Your game sounds awesome!


Thanks so much! :)

Need to get it funded first before I can even think about beta testers - but stay close :)

SmokinSickStylish2 karma

Is there an interest for beta-testing on reddit? My game is launching mid 2015, when I'm looking for testers, should I post to /r/gaming?


Certainly. I have gotten a few requests on Reddit for beta testing. If you're developing for iOS I have found Touch Arcade's forums to be a great place to find beta testers on mobile as well. There are a lot of subreddits for gaming - check them out, read their rules and start getting involved in their communities!

hsvp3 karma

Do you follow Steve's advice on healthcare, treating employees like dirt, and ignoring family as well?

In all seriousness, What happens to ur dream if kick starter goal ist realized in 14 days?


1.) Not at all. I was a "People Manager" there and took great pride in making it a fun and fulfilling experience for everyone in the store. I have no idea why Steve acted that way, but I got the feeling that you were working for "his" company and he expected excellence, so it's tough...

2.) Well, I am a believer in that if it is meant to be, it's meant to be. If the project is unsuccessful then I move back in with my parents and frantically go looking for another job! There are only 2 scenarios - heaven and hell. :D

peterandrewbaldwin3 karma

How did your friends and family react to you life change and, if people were negative, how to you respond to that?


I am very lucky to have the family and friends that I do. Mom - she did what all moms do. Worry! My Dad, brother, and sister have all been so supportive. I am really lucky and counting my blessings.

Life lesson - treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect. You never know who may come back to help you when you need it the most.

TryAnother-Available2 karma

What are some perks working for Apple?


The list goes on and on. My favorite thing was the people you get to work with. I worked at 7 different stores and each of them had these crazy enthusiastic people that I loved and have become life long friends with.

Benefit wise - pay is very competitive for retail, health insurance is fantastic, discounts... there is a whole page dedicated to just discounts as an employee. But my favorite perk was the people. :)

hoodyupload2 karma

Is your indie studio lucrative or do you regret resigning from your job in apple?


I don't regret resigning from my job at Apple at all. Realistically, it could take me years to build enough momentum behind apixal - just got to keep releasing great games, building a great community - there generally needs to be a storm before there can be rainbows. :)

jesuslolwat2 karma

Apple or android?


Seriously? :D

My answer begins with an A.

jesuslolwat2 karma

Android!? Suprised


You're killing me ;)

BeardieBro1 karma

Why not android:/ they're only a year or so ahead of apple XD no need for a handicap


LOL. Simply because I am not familiar with it. Android comes in at a stretch goal - but releasing the game on PC/Mac/iOS is already a huge under taking. Don't want to spread myself too thin!

BeardieBro2 karma

I'll check out your game someday, assuming a remember the name XD. Relevant link: http://www.dzineblog360.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Android-vs-Apple-title.jpg



SirBroozer1 karma

  • What did they teach you at Apple about culture?
  • How much has it changed since Steve's death?
  • How is Apple as a company outside the USA?
  • What is your take on the iPhone 6 as opposed to the other phones?
  • What was the most annoying thing about being in the store?
  • Does Beats resemble Apple in it's values and culture?

thanks for taking the time to read this and hopefully answer!


Wow, alright I'll do my best to answer these. :D


What did they teach you at Apple about culture?

  A lot! Apple's history of innovation, the history of the retail stores - a lot of the culture is centered around customer service and teamwork. The folks who work there really do care about each other and the customers. They are genuine people who will go the extra mile for nice and respectful customers.


How much has it changed since Steve's death?

  I think there is some denial here, but a lot has changed. You can't blame them. When you had one of this century's most innovative minds leading the charge there was bound to be a major change. Good news - Steve wanted it that way. He didn't want Apple to say "What would SJ do.". So it was meant to be this way - we just have to ask ourselves the question if we connect with this new Apple or not. There also was a blip with our Sr. VP of Retail for awhile with John Browett. Honestly, I don't think the stores have ever recovered fully from that mistake. Business Lesson - I am amazed how 1 person, in the wrong position at the wrong time can nearly destroy 10 years of work in the matter of 6 months. It will takes years to fix what he broke. Your people choices matter.


How is Apple as a company outside the USA?

  Never had much experience with it. However, one of the beauties of Apple is that whenever I visited a foreign Apple Store it always felt like home. It was like having family all over the world.


What is your take on the iPhone 6 as opposed to the other phones?

  It is a great Phone, and I will be getting one for sure. However, I feel that Apple needed a leap frog product to put them ahead of the competition. I don't feel the new phone nor watch are leap frog products. 5 years ago Apple was YEARS ahead of the competition. Now, the competition has caught up.


What was the most annoying thing about being in the store?

  For me, customers who treated employees without respect. We work so hard, and I never understood why some folks decided to take out their frustrations with us. However - this wasn't a common thing but really annoying when it happened. Positive intent people! ;-)


Does Beats resemble Apple in it's values and culture?

  No, I am still clueless about this merger.

floop20111 karma

When I send my mac for repair and leave my dick-pic folder on my desktop and open, do apple employees enjoy the free sneak peak?


LOL. No - we see so many things everyday that its a much more pleasant day when we don't come across those things. We never went looking, but some folks definitely should have checked their wallpapers before bringing it in. ;-)

floop20111 karma

Do you wanna see one now?


No thanks ;)

wrasslin11 karma

Are you currently seeking help in developing it?


If this goes well - yes! I would really be looking to hire 1 experienced C# programmer with knowledge in game design with Unity - part time.