Exclusive: Interview With Fourth Estate, Developer Of The Scott Pilgrim Android App

August 16, 2010 - Written By Mike Corbett

  • Tell Android Fans a Little about The Scott Pilgrim App

Scott Pilgrim for Android is an exciting new way to read Bryan Lee O’Malley’s brilliantly zeitgeist-y, idiosyncratic graphic novel series, which has already met much acclaim in its native America. As the name suggests, the series centres around Scott Pilgrim – a 23 year old living a totally sweet life until he meets the mind-blowing, dangerously fashionable Ramona Flowers. What happens next – well, you’ll have to get the app to find out.

  • What got you started developing Android Applications?

Scott Pilgrim will be the first Android Application created by Fourth Estate; we developed the app in conjunction with the fantastic Robot Media, who have been creating excellent Android comic book apps much longer.

  • How did you come up with the idea to develop The Scott Pilgrim App?

Graphic novels are in many ways made for mobile devices. Scott Pilgrim’s frames fit ideally within the confines of a smart-phone touch-screen. Scott Pilgrim also has so many video game nods that we knew we could do something special with the functionality of a smart-phone – such as making the phone vibrate when Scott is fighting one of Ramona’s evil exes.

  • The Scott Pilgrim App is getting recognition, are you surprised by the popularity?

Bryan’s drawing and storytelling ability have already gained him thousands of fans across the world, long before we decided to make Scott available on mobile devices. We had nothing but confidence in the source material which is really where app adaptations stand or fall. The reason to make it available on these platforms was pure and simple: to make sure as many people as possible could enjoy Bryan’s excellent creations, the characters of Scott and Ramona, for example, on whatever device they owned.

  • Is this app endorsed by the comic or movie?

As Fourth Estate, we publish the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels in the UK and several other places around the world. We are working closely with the movie company and in fact in upcoming updates we hope to include a couple of nods to the movie. Scott’s original publishers, Oni Press, and Bryan have also been involved in the app’s creation.

  • Tell us why Android users would want to get The Scott Pilgrim App

For me, Scott Pilgrim is a universally recognisable story – or life, love and early twenties angst. It’s incredibly fun, funny, witty and cool. It’s a great addition to anyone’s digital reading collection, it’s also perfect for anyone who’s never read on their phone before, or even read a graphic novel before.

In short, the Scott Pilgrim app is a great way to get fully immersed in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s imaginative world, whether you’re a graphic novel newbie, or a self-confessed comic fan since birth. With the major motion picture upcoming from Shaun of the Dead creator, Edgar Wright, and the fab retro-looking game by Ubisoft, it’s a great way to get acquainted with the story for the first time, or catch up on any volumes you’ve missed.

  • What new features can you share with android users that will be coming to The Scott Pilgrim App?

There are more exciting unlockables coming up in future Volumes. And of course, the long awaited Vol 6 to look forward to – Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour.

  • Have you been working on a new version for Android 2.2?

The app makes use of some of the newest features of Android 2.2 while still being compatible with Android 1.5 onwards. In particular, Android 2.2 users will be able to install the app in the SD card to save space.

  • Are you thinking of doing other apps in the future?

Of course, the Android platform is very interesting space for us.

  • What do find is the easiest thing about developing for android compared to other Mobile OS’s?

Being able to access the source code is a huge advantage. No matter what difficulty you encounter, you can always resort to the source code to find the best solution.

  • What can be the most frustrating part of developing on the android OS & How does all the different versions of Android OS affect you development of apps?

The variety of devices and OS versions might seem daunting at first, but it gives you access to a much larger audience. When you target all Android models like we did with Scott Pilgrim, you don’t have the luxury to assume many of the capabilities of the device, while still incorporating the newest possibilities of the latest devices, such as pinch to zoom. A universal Android app definitely takes a lot of time to test.

  • What would you like to see in future Android OS versions or Changes?

I’d be interested to see the introduction of in-app purchase to Android apps, as I think this might make it easier for consumers to purchase several volumes in a series and keep their purchases organised.

  • What is your opinion on the Android Market? positive and negative?

This is our first experience on it as Fourth Estate, so I’ll have to update you when our app has been out there a short while.

  • What new phone from Android has you the most excited?

I’m a fan of the HTC Hero. Incredibly stylish in its design and I like the level of customization on offer. Plus, the social integration is great.

  • Besides Your Own Apps, which apps do you use most on your Android Phone?

I’m excited about the Kindle app that was recently announced. Our main interest, as a publisher of non-fiction and fiction, is digital reading and the opportunities for evolution in the space – in creation and consumption.

  • Will there be any other UI changes to the app at all.

It’s possible. As ever, we’ll watch user reactions and if we feel the need to make tweaks then we will. But the reaction to the iPhone version has been pretty positive, hopefully the Android experience will be even better.

  • Will this app be similar to the iphone app, or different in any way?

If it ain’t broke, why fix it? The main difference with the Android version will be that each Volume is a separate download (see above, re in-app purchases.) There will be a couple of other small tweaks too.

  • Are you taking advantage of Android features?

Definitely. Among many other features, we are taking advantage of Android’s unique intents, which allow apps to work together to give the user the best experience possible. Scott Pilgrim for Android uses intents to let users share the favourite scenes of the comic with their social network.