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Thibaud de Souza (@teacup) is known for his in-depth app reviews (167 and counting!) and lists on Appolicious, especially covering adventure games. He divides his time between Beijing and London and creates apps through his company Anime 3D SFX.
1. Tell us about yourself - where you live, your job, things you like to do.
I am based in London, although I do spend a lot more time in Beijing nowadays. I'm an awesome cook when I can be bothered. I would be hanging around coffee shops all day devouring fantasy literature -- unfortunately I'm a bit of a workaholic. Until recently I worked as a software architect in online entertainment. I am now focusing 100 percent on Anime 3D SFX (our company) and mobile gaming.
2. Which iOS device or devices do you own? Why did you choose iPhone or iPad? Name three adjectives to describe your iPhone or iPad.
I have an iPhone 4 and an iPad. I was very curious about the iPad originally. The iPhone 4 is versatile, elegant and intuitive, and is what I use the most. The definition/resolution is awesome and the hardware is powerful. Great device for playing -- anywhere, any time.
3. Is there a particular category of apps that interests you the most?
Games! After age 20, I had to stop playing because I was too busy. But now, being able to play on the go means I can have fun without actually booking time for it.
4. What are your top 3-5 apps and why?
Always having a casual game with great (re)play value is unimportant and essential at the same time. At the moment I'm still into CrazyControl, an awesome, challenging finger skill game (and before that, Save Toshi, The Incident, Spirit, and Doodle Jump -- all great casual games).
5. What apps are popular among your colleagues and friends?
Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds, Doodle Jump, and Pulse. Most of my colleagues are into core gaming. They hang around with a PSP or a Nintendo DS and play Monster Hunter. Some feel uncomfortable about the quick expansion of the iOS/Android market. But they view casual games as “harmless” and refreshing.
6. Give an example of a time an app was truly useful to you.
nciku Chinese Dictionary is truly useful. It’s much cheaper than an electronic dictionary and likely more efficient. My Chinese isn't that great, so it doesn't really matter whether I go to the print shop or the drugstore in Beijing, I always get lost in translation. What's nice about this dictionary is that it's “three ways”. I can use phonetics, translate English words, or check Chinese characters.
7. What other Appolicious member do you admire the most and why?
Appolicious wouldn't be the same without Darthipad. Great name, great collection and amazing throughput. Imperial!
8. Do you have a blog?
For the geeks among us, there is the Oogtech.org blog. It's probably just keeping me from going insane, but app makers may find it useful... occasionally.
9. How did you get into app game design?
Back in the '90s, I gave up on the idea of making games. The industry had become increasingly Taylorized, and creativity went out of the window. Then Apple invented this exciting world where players get fun for less -- and gameplay, creativity, and originality are the recipe for success. At that point (in 2009), I started working on my first game as a solo project, part-time, at night and in the early morning. It was an immense challenge as I'd never had an opportunity to combine my artistic and technical skills. Eight months later, “Codename Hairlock” ended as Antistar 3D: Rising was released.
10. Tell us about your app.
Antistar 3D: Rising owes a fair bit to the mystery genre in Japanese animation (think “Serial Ex”). You land in a dream world where “even your name has been forgotten” and forward is the only way. Girls think it's cute. Boys think it's scary or trippy. Some are drawn into the eerie mood of the piece while others dismiss it as utter nonsense. This reached a climax as a YouTube video came out, comparing it to Tate Modern and LSD(!).
Antistar is a serial game. It will evolve over time, bringing new elements to the story and incorporating improvements suggested by players. As such it is a cross-genre, exploratory matrix and will remain Anime 3D SFX's flagship. We won't start anything else before June 2011.
11. What is most important in building a successful app?
Motivation and feedback. Too many apps out there are just a blind shot. They give it a go, lose momentum and move on. After version one comes out, feedback is key. App users know our apps like we'll never know them. And for every player writing to us, there's a hundred players thinking the same. We address all the feedback we receive -- no exceptions.
12. How are you getting the word out about your app?
Price. A quick price drop or giveaway is the best way to gain visibility. Plus it makes everybody happy. Appolicious, Twitter, and Facebook are essential tools -- if users like an app, they will spread the word. We do a lot of groundwork to make our app known -- for example we created an Antistar cake, blogged about it, posted pictures online and then ate it. That was fun. However, creating a nice app and releasing exciting updates is the most important.
13. Anything else you'd like to share with the Appolicious audience?
Use headphones. It's all too easy to miss out half of a game's spirit and atmosphere when playing on a phone with the sound off.