Interview with Phil Symonds, Developer of Abduction! Android Game
Apr 30, 2009 6:48 AM –
Abduction! Android Game is Awesome! One of the best games that uses the accelerometer. Even featured on the Android official website. We recently interviewed Phil Symonds, Developer of Abduction! to share his thoughts:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m the developer of the Abduction! game on Android. I’m originally from the UK, but am now living in Sydney, Australia.
Why did you create your app?
I had developed a little using the Android emulator when the SDK was first released, just playing around with it really. When I finally got my Android phone (it only recently arrived in Australia) I wanted to try something I couldn’t do on the emulator, so the tilt sensor was an obvious choice. The app started as a quick test (the main class is still named “MotionControl” :) but it got out of hand pretty quickly and turned into a full game.
What technology did you use in creating your App and why?
I develop on Eclipse, using the excellent android plugin that comes with the SDK. I was just about to start writing my own online high scores when I found “ScoreNinja” by Tony Gentilcore which is a neat little app that does all this for you. I create all the graphics in Photoshop.
About how long did it take to create your App?
To get a playable version up and running, it was only a couple of hours, but fine tuning the game and doing all the artwork took a lot longer. I’d estimate there is a couple of weeks worth of work in the version currently in the marketplace.
What is a cool uncovered tip or trick you can do with the App?
Well, it’s not really a secret anymore, but you can get an alternate theme by holding down the button when you chose the difficulty level.
What other interesting uses can come from the App?
None! This is definitely just a simple but addictive time waster
Can you tell us about future feature enhancements with your App?
I’m in the process of making a full version of the game for release as a paid app. I’ve spent a lot of time adding to and improving the graphics. I’m no artist, so this is actually the most time consuming part of the development. I now have 6 different level themes working nicely, and they all contain more detail than is in the market version. For example, there are more background objects and new foreground objects to give a better sense of depth and movement. There’s also weather effects.
I’m adding more depth to the game by adding new game modes. I have a challenge mode framework and am in the process of configuring the challenges themselves. The storyline will play out in adventure mode, which will be a traditional progression through levels over a world map. Completing challenges or adventure levels will unlock additional characters. The Versus CPU mode is working well and feels quite different to the regular game. Finally there is a custom mode, which allows you to tweak all the settings that go into making a level. This mode will open up when you complete the rest of the game.
There is always up to date info on what is going on with the development at the blog: http://abductiongame.wordpress.com
What did you really like about creating Apps on the Android platform?
It’s very easy to get going and make something of value – the API is amazingly well documented for such a young age. I have really enjoyed the feedback the market gives, and the ability to tune your game to user requests.
What are some things you would like to see improved with Android?
My main frustration is with the sound API, it’s just not cut out for gaming use right now.
What is your opinion of the Android App Market’s distribution method? In comparison Apple’s model (strict control over the iTunes store) or the Windows Mobile model (no store at all).
As someone who bought an Android phone entirely to develop on it, I’m happy with the model as it is. I can understand the frustration people may feel when they see the Force Close errors – but for me that is the real power of the market, you can put your app out there and declare it as a beta to get real feedback quickly. I don’t want to see strict control, the quality control can come out of ratings and popularity.
What is your Opinion on the state of the Rating/Feedback system in the App Market?
It’s not up to scratch right now. The main problem is that the star rating is too simple to sufficiently differentiate the apps. If you have a very simple app that does it’s job perfectly, some people will give it 1 star because it has limited use, but another will give it 5 because it does what it claims. I think the rating system should ask 3 or 4 questions, each of which can be answered by a star rating and compiled into an overall score. This would also allow more powerful searches.
Oh, and the star ranking should round to the nearest 1/2 star, not round down. There’s not much point in having a mark out of 5 if it impossible to get 5.
Do you have plans on releasing Apps for other markets (i.e. iPhone, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, etc.)?
After I’ve finished Abduction! I intend to revisit OpenGL (it’s been almost 10 years since I last used it) to make use of the G1′s gpu for more complex 2D games. If I go down that route, then porting apps to the iPhone would be pretty simple and it might be something to consider. I think my primary platform will always be Android due to its open nature.
Must-have Android Apps?
Any of the micro-apps that toggle wi-fi/gps/bluetooth etc. NetCounter is useful for me on a data cap plan. Twidroid is the only app that has never left my phone.
What advice would you give to another aspiring mobile application developer?
Download the sdk and get going, it’s much easier than you think! If you are already familiar with Java, http://developer.android.com/ has all the info you need to get going and some good example code and snippets.
Can you tell us what future Android Apps you have brewing?
I have way more ideas than time! I have a working prototype of a transport game, but that’s taken the back burner whilst I work on the full version of Abduction. I have a couple of ideas for utilities which would be nice quick projects if I get a few days spare to implement them.
Don’t forget to check out our 4+ Android Tapp review for Abduction! Android Game, and Phil keep up the great work! We look forward to seeing more great Android games you produce!