Star Apps: Penny Arcade's Tycho

Jerry Holkins, better known as "Tycho" of award-winning Web comic Penny Arcade, ranks his favorite mobile video games (hint: they're not his own).

As one of the longest-running and most successful Web comics of all time, Penny Arcade has garnered an enormous and devoted fanbase who lives for the topical, no-holds-barred commentary of gamer characters John "Gabe" Gabriel and Tycho Brahe. The Web comic has also spawned the annual gaming convention PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) and multiple video games.

In a recent e-mail interview with, Penny Arcade's co-creator and writer Jerry Holkins, the man behind Tycho, discussed, among other things, his experiences developing games, current gaming trends, and his top five mobile game apps.

Penny Arcade\'s illustrator Mike Krahulik (left) and writer Jerry Holkins (right), hard at play. (Credit: Penny Arcade)

When is On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness Part 4 coming out?
Really, really soon. Like actually soon, and not Internet soon. I actually stopped writing it, so I could reply to these questions! [laughs] It didn't make financial sense to port it to other platforms this time, though; sorry about that. Steam was far and away the best performer, so we need to focus there.

Get your On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 Codes here!

Do you plan to keep making games afterward?
I would like to. I like writing, just in general, and games are another thing to write. I also like to collaborate--even my regular job is like that--and you sort of get spoiled, working with talented, enthusiastic people.

Will there be any more development on the Decide-o-Tron app?
I don't believe so. We want to figure out cool ways to leverage the EEDAR database that powers it, but we haven't figured that out just yet.

What are your essential mobile and desktop apps that you use every day?
It's been very spooky to watch my iPhone essentially become a beachhead for Google. App for app they basically own the daily use apps now.

Aside from the upcoming Child's Play Invitational, what else do you have planned for the near future with Child's Play?
Child's Play has begun speccing out a kind of universal AV cart that we can build for the kids who end up in domestic violence shelters. It took a long time to build trust with those organizations, but we completely understood why. We're hoping to roll out the first cart in our pilot program soon.

Has having a child affected your career or your thoughts about video games? If so, how?
It certainly squeezes the available time, but there are a lot of games I can play with my son and daughter that they really enjoy. These kids are big fans of Go Home Dinosaurs and especially Plants Vs. Zombies, having cut their teeth on puzzlers like Angry Birds or weirdo hybrids like Battleheart.

Do you have a dream video game that you would love to create if given unlimited time and resources?
I like to write games, but I'm not sure I have a full game in me. I'd like to think there was, banging around in there, but I'd much rather work with someone who has a passion for that part of it. I like being in situations like that, where I can learn other ways of thinking.

What are your top five mobile game apps?
Lessee. Not in any particular order:

If you were stranded on a desert island, which would be your must-have game app and why?
I can play an unlimited amount of Carcassonne, so that's probably the best choice. It has a very nice arc of play and fun tile-counting concepts when the pile is starting to thin. It has a lot of inherent drama.

Are there any interesting trends that you're noticing in gaming apps today and are there any that you find not so interesting?
I've noticed that the games I've been playing lately are getting more sophisticated. I think there's a lot of people courting the enthusiast now--there always were, but there's a lot more meat on those bones. I'm playing a ton of Tekken and Duel of Champions at the moment, and I have to say I'm impressed at where we've gotten to. These really aren't games for everybody, and they don't have to be.

About Joshua Rotter

Joshua Rotter is a copy editor for and covers iOS.