Eric Betts, Deseret News
WEST JORDAN — Millions of people have downloaded apps for their iPhones or iPads. Some may have downloaded apps created by Clayton Ward, a 10th-grader from West Jordan.
He has created five apps for the Apple operating systems. His latest one, Xellic 2, was just released in the App Store this past week.
Clayton taught himself to create programs back in the eighth grade. He picked up the book “Beginning iPhone Development,” and he's gotten pretty good since. His first two apps were instructional, showing how to make boondoggle craft items, popular in Scouting. It took him six months to complete Boondoggle Full and Boondoggle Lite. Both apps were released in December 2010.
Then he went into games. Eight months ago, he released "City Sky,” where the character in a cape negotiates various city skylines, avoiding obstacles in his way.
His next game, Xellic, took him three months to finish. It features a character named Xellic who tries to advance to higher and more difficult levels. A player does that by tilting the iPhone or iPad in various ways. The game has 54 levels on the iPad and 60 levels on the iPhone. The game even comes with 20 unique characters.
“I wanted to have simple gameplay, but still make it unique,” he said. It was released in January.
And this week, he released Xellic 2, a multi-player sequel to Xellic.
Clayton begins his app designs first by sketching with pencil and paper. "This is how it starts. I just drew every level, where every monster would be, where they'd move, all the positions," he said.
Then he puts his algebra and geometry skills to work at the computer where he writes the complicated codes, which will ultimately make the game come to life. It took six months to complete his latest project.
“It was challenging,” he said, “but very rewarding once I learned how everything worked.”
Once he has completed the game, he lets his friends play it. They tell him if there are any problems, or glitches. If all works well, he sends it to Apple for approval. “They have to view it, make sure it's good for everyone, age appropriate, make sure it doesn't put any viruses on their devices and then they put it in the store," he said.
The hardest part of the process isn’t putting it all together, it’s actually just getting started on the project, he said.
Clayton's five apps have been downloaded about 1,500 times so far, but he has huge plans for his latest game. His goal: 700,000! At $2 per download and after Apple's cut of 30 percent, the remaining 70 percent will make him a millionaire.
"That's a good number", he laughs.
Clayton has two more projects in the early development stages, one will be in 3D. “I think 3D is cool, especially for the iPad,” he said. “It has the new processor and screen.”
Surprisingly, his future plans don’t include making more games. He said he wants to own a company that builds airplanes.