September 15, 2011 | by Ben Crawford
In what I hope will be the first of many Android developer interviews, I nabbed Kevin Baker, the developer of Sinister Planet, on Google+ for a discussion on his experiences with Android.
Kevin Baker is a 42-year old Brit working as a web developer, carrying an HTC Desire, and he came to our hangout without a camera or microphone. My first question was a freebie, but Kevin had a surprising answer.
When I asked him what he had developed before Sinister Planet, he said, “I started programming when I was 14 on the Commodore 64. From there, I worked for Activision at 16, working on games that we all enjoyed as kids.” Baker helped on one of my favorite games and genres of all time in R-Type as well as Super Sprint, and Rampage.
Kevin has since made the jump into Android, and he explained to me the behind-the-scenes story of programming and what it was like to get a small bump in fame from the Amazon app store.
“I could already program in Java, and with the development kit for Android being free, my only barrier was the $25 fee to register as a developer with Google. Once I created his app, it was putting it out into the endless waves of apps in the market that became the most trying, yet fruitful, part.”
While Amazon and Apple regulate any apps or updated versions of apps, Google allows instant uploads and quick resubmissions.
“I had already worked for four months to get to the stage where I could release Sinister Planet into the market, but once users got their hands on it, I spent two hours a night for three more months re-coding and fixing bugs.”
That long and stressful process of pleasing users actually improved his game by adding pieces he had never thought to add. There wasn’t a story, power-ups, a Galaxy Tab version, or a Korean version before users submitted their feedback. Now, Sinister Planet is getting re-skinned and an HD version by his two new artists/housemates.
Kevin has an interesting take on the multiple app store scene and on the Amazon free app of the day fiasco. While Amazon is notorious for confusion within their app store (especially regarding their free app), Kevin simply e-mailed Amazon and told them their “app store sucked.”
“They took notice and phoned me the next day to help him promote Sinister Planet, and I was getting more downloads than ever until Google pulled my app.”
“While uploading and resubmitting to Amazon was a tedious process, they helped me improve Sinister Planet. Google, meanwhile, took Sinister Planet from the market, and I didn’t find out from Google for two weeks. I found out from a fan and lost all my downloads for having ‘gaming’ as a keyword in the description.”
Finally, I asked him what his next project was going to be.
“After re-skinning Sinister Planet, I am thinking about doing a vector-style game, a la Geometry Wars, that works across Wi-fi for multiplayer. Then I found some artists, and I don’t want to waste them so I am more or less open to any suggestions.”
If you have any comments or suggestions about this interview or any future interviews, leave them below.