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Introducing Phil Symonds, Developer of Abduction! [Interview]

WorldAttackAfter writing our recent piece on our top five independent Android games, I was lucky enough to be able to sit down with Phil Symonds, the creator of Abduction! We talked about all things big and small: the meaning of life, how much we both hate the moon, and, more importantly to you, his game!

Oh and I was lying about all the other stuff we talked about…

Check out the full interview after the break as well as screenshots from his new game to be released later this month.

First allow me to thank you for taking your time to answer these questions. I play your game at least once a day, so you could say I’m a bit of a fan. It’s probably the only game on Android I’ve really played longer than a couple weeks.

1. First question; an easy one! Where did you come up with the overall idea of your game; Abduction!?

There is a nice flash game named Winter Bells which features a rabbit jumping into the night sky. It’s a really beautiful game and it came to mind as something that would translate well to a mobile device. I wanted to make levels have a goal and to add several new gameplay mechanics to spice things up a bit, but that was my original inspiration.

2. Abduction’s style is really fresh and unique. Did you create it all by yourself? If so what was the inspiration behind the art work’s unique cartoony style?

Abduction’s art style is completely dictated by my lack of artistic talent ;) The cow was something I just threw together as a placeholder for my main character whilst I looked for a source of free sprites. I liked the absurdity of a jumping cow and enough people liked it for me to keep it. The other characters just came one by one and the style developed as I went. I have a fairly good knowledge of Photoshop from a graphic design job I had a while back, so making backgrounds and other graphics wasn’t too much of a challenge once I had a good vision of the bold-stroke, colourful and simple art style.

3. About how long did it take you to create the game?

I think it was 2 weeks after I started work on the game that I released the first free version, but those who played that early version will know it’s changed a lot since then. I’m honestly not sure how much time went into it because the first month or so after release of the beta was a really intense iterative cycle and it felt like I was working on it 24/7! If I was forced to put a figure on it I would guess it was a month to make the demo version and another 6 weeks worth of extra content for the full version. Having said that, I try to add content regularly so the work doesn’t really stop.

4. I don’t want to get too personal, but there’s a lot of curious people out there. Has Abduction! sold well enough to make you a profit?

I made the game in my free time and it was a fun experience, so I consider all sales to be a profit! Abduction recently passed the 10k downloads mark and after Google’s cut and taxes, I’m seeing around $1 US per sale.

5. Why did you decide to develop for Android as opposed to more popular application markets such as the iPhone?

I didn’t set out with an aim to publish games, so there wasn’t really a conscious decision on platform. I’m a Java programmer and got hold of a G1 as soon as they were available in Australia just to play around with. A couple of days later I had a working game which I realized would likely appeal to others and decided to tidy it up enough to release. Before I knew it I was working on the full game. Right now I have no interest in developing for other platforms as I just don’t have the time! Apple’s marketplace policies don’t exactly appeal to me either.

6. Moving on from Abduction!, do you have any future Android applications or games that you are working on? [If the answer is yes] What details can you share about the game/application?

I got into developing several different games in parallel once the success of Abduction! made me realize there was a real market out there. I have three games in a playable but unfinished state all on the shelf for now. I fully committed myself to one idea a couple of months back and that should see a release by the end of October. It’s fully functional, but is the kind of game which requires careful balancing, so I have several friends and developers playing it right now.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. I really appreciate it!

No problem, thanks for the interview! I’m happy to participate in any way that encourages the Android community to grow. With all the new phones and a rapidly growing user base, it’s an exciting time to be involved in Android.

And now for the promised screenshots. Enjoy!