Melbourne-based studio Gravity Four has launched a game that pits Android and iPhone users against each other. We talk to co-founder Loki Davison about a game concept so brilliantly simple, we wonder how no one had ever thought of it before.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Who is Gravity Four, and how did you get into mobile-gaming development?
I'm Loki, and I live in Melbourne. I left my cozy and very enjoyable job at a commercial mathematics company (Biarri) in February to start a company with my best friend, Mirsad Makalic. He'd been keen on making games for quite a while and kept pestering me. I finally decided that it might be fun. We then found an artist, Veronica, who's based in Indonesia, to draw our ideas for us.
Tell us more about Fruit vs Robot. What is it about and how does the gameplay work?
Fruit vs Robot is basically a collection of games, all of which are real-time and multiplayer, one on one. There are three types of games: trivia, arcade and board games. You design an avatar, choose a game — for instance, Four in a Row — and then you're matched up with another player. You play the game and, if you win, you earn coins, which you can use to unlock later games or you can make your avatar snazzy.
What made you decide to pit Android and iOS users against each other? It's genius.
Our workplaces, friends, the internet. Everywhere we were, people were arguing over which one was better. We thought there had to be a way to make people have fun with this, instead of just post comments.
There's massive competition in the mobile-gaming market — what does Fruit vs Robot offer that other games do not?
Quick, fun multiplayer. I'm a bit of a fan of playing against other people, and most mobile games fall short in making it a good experience. We want it to be just: click play, match quickly, then have fun. Games like Draw Something are great, but a single game can go on for weeks. Fruit vs Robot is faster, and I think that makes it more addictive and more fun. It also supports other people writing mods, which means other people can expand it.
(Credit: Gravity Four)
What has been the biggest challenge for you, so far? How did you overcome it?
I'd love to say something technical, as building a reliable, fault-tolerant system is really hard, but in really — it's promotion. We have no background in getting the word out to people, especially in international markets. We got the game translated into six languages, made demo videos in all of them, and tried to contact people in our major markets. So far, it seems to be paying off well, as we're getting more non-English speaking players than English speaking. We still haven't got many players in Korea and Japan, though.
What do you think is the essential ingredient of a truly awesome mobile game?
Apart from the most important — that it has to be fun — is good controls. Touchscreens work well for some games, but they are terrible for others. You need to take that into account and play to the strengths.
What is the best thing about working in mobile-gaming development? What is the worst?
The best thing is that you get to make things that people have fun with. I love watching people play the game and have a good time. The worst thing is the approval process. You just have to sit and wait, hoping that everything works well for the Amazon/Apple/Google testers, who might be testing on platforms you haven't seen.
Do you have any advice to offer aspiring mobile-game developers?
Stay positive, try something different, remember there are phones in a lot of different countries and, of course, write a mod for Fruit vs Robot to start with.
What's next for Gravity Four?
We're going to keep adding games, improving the way the server side works, and hopefully scale things up as we get more players on. Players have suggested lots of new features, so we're busy adding them at the moment. Pretty graphs and nicer web leader boards are first on our list.