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Nikhil Khanna, a 16-year-old budding game developer out of Lakeside School, the alma mater of Bill Gates.
Nikhil Khanna, a 17-year-old budding game developer out of Lakeside School, the alma mater of Bill Gates.

Nikhil Khanna impressed us last year, building an iPhone game and creating a company in just two months with $600.

Now he’s back again, this time on a whole new platform. The 17-year-old game developer out of Lakeside School — the alma mater of Bill Gates — just put out his second game, Bandit Bolt.

After launching Bounding Blob on iOS last fall, Khanna decided it was a good idea to reach out to non-iOS gamers and also pick up some Android development skills in the process. So in August, he started working on Bandit Bolt, an addictive puzzle game with bandits, arrows, trampolines and fire.

It was difficult to learn a whole new platform, but Khanna followed the same blueprint he used to teach himself iOS development, tapping into free online programming tutorials and using community forums.

“I really wanted a new challenge, and I felt that I could learn far more by trying to transfer what I had learned from my previous game to a new platform than I could by remaining on iOS,” he told GeekWire.

Bandit Bolt.

He also found out that when people tried out Bounding Blob, his first title, they were often playing in environments that prevented them from giving full attention to the game.

“Because the game was so skill and reflex-based, playing on a bus, for instance, proved to make the game unfairly challenging,” he explained. “Because of this, I designed [Bandit Bolt] to be slower paced, but still engaging, and more suited to play in the variety of environments that smartphone users find themselves in.”

Khanna iterated through more than five different prototypes, play-testing with friends and family before eventually coming up with Bandit Bolt, a game that is similar to Bounding Blob but with a completely different premise.

Bounding Blob was Khanna's first game.
Bounding Blob was Khanna’s first game.

Both games are a part of Khanna’s game company, Tangled Fire. It was important for him to have presence on two major mobile platforms, and now Khanna has done that.

The senior is thinking about college and said he wants to attend a school with a good computer science program. Khanna also would like an environment that has a startup-mentality and encourages student projects.

“I think I have found a passion in creating entertaining experiences and I want to continue to expand the tools I can use to make new apps while simultaneously continuing to create new products,” he said.

As for Tangled Fire, Khanna has ideas to expand past just games. Now that he’s learned how to program for iOS and Android, the teen whizkid is ready for the next challenge.

tangledfire“The famous idiom, ‘variety is the spice of life,’ has proved 100 percent true for me, and because of this I want to continue to explore new things beyond games and maybe even beyond mobile apps,” he said.

Khanna’s story shows us how easy it is for a teenager with some smarts and motivation to build apps or games and compete with bigger companies. Whether or not Tangled Fire turns into a commercial success, Khanna is certainly picking up some valuable skills and lessons.

“I learned that releasing one successful product is only the beginning,” he said. “It takes multiple iterations on multiple products to make something really indicative of what the company is trying to really create (for instance, Rovio released 51 games before making Angry Birds). Personally, I loved making Bounding Blob and was ecstatic about its success, but the only way I can continue to be content with what I have done is by making even better products and raising the bar for myself.”

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