Who is/are Acid Ape Studios? Please tell us a bit about yourself
Acid Ape Studios is based in Brussels and currently consists mostly of me, your friendly interviewee. I am a software developer, and (as the reader might have guessed by now), one of my great interests is chess.
How did you arrive at the unusual and funky name of ‘Acid Ape’?
We simply wanted a name that would stand out, feel fresh and convey our taste for innovation and creativity. After some tinkering, Acid Ape Studios came up, mainly because I had a mental image of what the logo could be. We saw that there seems to be a band named Acid Ape, but as we clearly do not plan to make music, we decided that there would be no conflict.
What were your goals and objectives in developing Acid Ape Chess?
Myself an avid chess player, I was quite dissatisfied with the chess offering on Android. I therefore decided to create an application that could support engine and online play and had a decent user interface. The focus was immediately put on knowledgeable players (there are already gazillions of chess apps for neophytes, all full of bells and whistles).
As development proceeded smoothly and ideas popped up one after another, the official goal quickly became to provide the most comprehensive and elegant chess Swiss Army knife for serious amateurs and professionals.
How long has Acid Ape Chess been in development?Development started during summer 2015, with the first release published on the Play Store in October 2015.
Acid Ape Chess is a sophisticated and complex app; roughly how many hours do you think you have spent developing it?
I clearly did not count, but just sketching a very rough estimate using my recollections: probably along the lines of 1000 hours.
What has been the most enjoyable part of developing Acid Ape Chess?
The most exciting part was developing novel features that are usually nowhere to be seen in other mobile chess applications (blindfold mode, DGT e-Board support, and so on).
…and the least enjoyable (worst)?
Developing the FICS and ICC support. This was a rather tedious task as the FICS/ICC protocol (which must be about 25 years old or so) is extremely obsolete by modern standards. Protocol in this case is actually an abuse of terminology, as FICS and ICC use a command line interface which was not originally meant to be interpreted by machines.
You are very generous in making Acid Ape Chess free and without adverts, do you ever plan to charge for it?
Certainly not for the application itself. We believe that these apps (more often than not of dubious quality) who feature ads, annoying popups or charge for an uncrippled version simply do not provide good value for money. Because of this, we have created an application that is entirely free and does its best at outperforming the non-free competition.
However, we have plans for an online service (see next question). While we will never require our users to subscribe to it, it is obvious that we would have to charge a small fee for it (the kind of hosting solution that we would need is definitely not free).
What are your future plans for Acid Ape Chess?
Some future plans for the app itself are:
– Lichess support
– Better first-class support for engine analysis (graphs, and so on)
– Address some feedback from our users
Other than that, we would like to launch an online service that would feature things such as:
– A high quality game database
– Interactive IM and GM coaching
– Instant access to Lomonosov 7-man tablebases
Are you aiming to release an iOS version?
We certainly are. Time constraints have been in the way, but stay tuned!
Do you have any other apps in the pipeline (chess or otherwise)?
We do have a few ideas and needs, but no precise designs in mind yet.
Hope this ok and not too much – many thanks again for agreeing to take part! 🙂
Was nice, you are welcome! 🙂
Note: This interview was conducted by email on 3 September 2016