Silicon Prairie News

As he preps for NFL, former Husker QB Martinez sees apps in his future

Lincoln January 30, 2014 by Jordan Pascale Only 21 days until Big Omaha. Get your tickets before they sell out!

Taylor Martinez knew his latest iPhone game Tiny Ninja Jump would be a hit when his little siblings couldn't put it down.

"They're addicted," the former Husker quarterback told Silicon Prairie News. "I was hoping they didn't like it only because it was my game... But I don't think that's the case. I think a lot of people will enjoy it."

The game, which was released Tuesday, involves a tiny ninja sliding down hills with the goal of getting from start to finish as fast as you can while performing tricks to earn points. It has a single player and multiplayer mode.

Martinez compares it to Tiny Wings, saying it's just as fun, but with more levels.

The former quarterback has been quiet on the football front, not talking with reporters since the last time he played on Oct. 26 against Minnesota, but he was eager to talk about the games he's made.

"I think this is definitely something that will always be a part of my future regardless (of what else I'm doing), I love doing it," he said by phone from his home state of California. "It's a fun hobby and a challenge to do.
"I've heard from several people in the app business that it's one of the most growing and best places to be."

He cited success stories like the disappearing image app SnapChat and iOS game Flappy Bird

Martinez, one of seven children, enlisted his siblings, Damian, 6, Dawson, 7, and sister Hanalei, 8, who wore a black Husker jersey with his No. 3, to help him make a YouTube video to promote the game. 

"We did that for a few hours a couple weeks ago... it didn't turn out as well as I would've liked, but the babies were getting tired," Martinez joked.

His notoriety as one of the prolific Husker quarterbacks ever will probably help the game catch on among Nebraska fans, too.

"It helps," he said. "But it's not whether they like it or not, I just do it and put it out there (because I enjoy it)."

Martinez holds records for most career starts, total yards and passing yards at Nebraska before he injured his foot in September and only played once after that. He's preparing for the Huskers' Pro Day on March 6 to showcase his speed and playmaking ability to NFL scouts.

While he was incredibly busy with football during the season, leading the Huskers to a 30-14 record over four years and becoming one of the best quarterbacks in Husker history, he did find time to work on the games in the offseason and in downtime.

He graduated in December with a degree in ethnic studies and a minor in sociology. 

Martinez said he's the mastermind behind the games and his company TTM3, but enlists help with executing the ideas.

Martinez guides the games from idea creation through the marketing phase, where he often shares his games and challenges his 32,000-plus followers on Twitter, Vine and Instagram, where Silicon Prairie News heard about the release.

CBS Sports outlined one of his first games, Follow the Pattern, in a feature last March. The game that's no longer in the app store, but was similar to Simon Says.

"There's not much to do in Nebraska, so you just start thinking of ways to make money," Martinez told CBS Sports in the story. The apps are free, but does make a little bit of money off ads.

He reiterated that thought Wednesday.

"I'm not really sure what turned me onto game development... You just get bored and think of stuff to do and try it," Martinez said. 

When he was a teenager, he helped create a website with Dreamweaver for his dad's home buying business. He moved on to creating other websites and then apps as smartphones took off during college years.

Speaking from California, he's preparing for the NFL draft, but relished in the excitement over the response to the game Wednesday afternoon.

Blake Lawrence, a former teammate and now co-founder of opendorse—a social media marketing firm for athletes Martinez is a part of—said not many people knew Martinez was into app development before last year's CBS Sports article.

"He's a techy guy," Lawrence told SPN. "Kinda crazy to think, huh?" 

Martinez thinks he may be one of the few college athletes out there creating iPhone games.

"I don't have too many friends who do this," he said. 

Watch Martinez's siblings in Tiny Ninja Jump's promotional video: 

 
Credit: Photos from Twitter and App Store, video from YouTube.

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