Interview: Grant & Bert Studios Talk Astounding Puzzle Adventure ‘Abi’

Masterpiece isn’t a word to be casually tossed around, but it’s hard not to ascribe it to Lilith Games and Grant & Bert Studios’ Abi: A Robot’s Tale (out now, $2.99). Captivating visuals, delightfully clever gameplay, endearing characters, and more combine to make this story-driven puzzle adventure a true work of art and one of the best iOS games of the year.

Eager to find out more about Abi and the amazing people who created it, I recently spoke with Grant & Bert Studios’ Cheng Peng. Check out the interview below.

Thanks so much for joining me for this chat. Can I start by asking you to introduce yourself and tell me a little about your position at Grant & Bert Studios?

My name is Cheng Peng and I’m the animator and the story writer at Grant & Bert Studios.

What is Grant & Bert Studios’ mission statement as a company?

To express our thoughts to the world via artistic media.

Abi arrives on iOS this week. I’ve played through a decent chunk of it already and I’ve got to say, it’s one of the most beautiful and visually unique titles to grace the App Store in quite some time. How long has it been in development for, and how many people worked on it?

Thank you! We’ve been developing the game for 2 years with 6 people. A game level designer, a special effects designer, a programmer, two background + character designers, and me.

In addition to gorgeous visuals, Abi features a very engaging and emotional story. Without giving too much away ahead of release, what can you tell my readers about its premise, plot and characters?

The story is established on a lonely post-apocalyptic world where only robots walk the earth. Our main character Abi is going to help another robot named DD to find his long-lost friend — a white bird.

When brainstorming and designing Abi’s futuristic world and the robotic creatures that inhabit it, did you guys look to any particular games, movies or books for inspiration?

Yes. Some inspirations to mention are Amanita’s Machinarium, Pixar’s Wall-e, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Blade Runner (1982), Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man, and Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing.

Abi scooped first place at the Big Indie Pitch at ChinaJoy a couple of months ago. It must have provided your team with a big boost of encouragement and motivation to win an award like that so close to the final leg of development? 

Yes, we have never won any prize like that. It was really a huge encouragement to the whole studio. People did show great interest in our game and wanted to hear the story.

Abi and DD are such a charming and lovable duo! Do you have more plans for these characters beyond the current game?

We love them as well! Perhaps we’ll release comics about their past (and comics for other robot characters, too. All of them have their own interesting background stories). We also have the ambition to make some animated shorts. *fingers crossed*

What’s next for Grant & Bert Studios after Abi? Any upcoming projects in the works that you can tell me about?

We are not sure about that yet, maybe a sandbox game? And besides, Abi’s story is far from over…

Okay, I’ll wrap up with a question I always like to ask successful (or soon-to-be successful) indie developers. What advice do you have for up-and-comers looking to break into the mobile games scene?

Keep the operation as simple as possible. We put lots of functions into the game but later we had to remove many of them. The brain always prefers a more relaxing way. Also, graphics and sounds are essential to providing players with sufficiently deep and lasting impressions of your game.

Thanks for such an interesting chat, Cheng Peng. Also, a huge thank you to Marco Cárdenas Alfonso from Lilith Games for facilitating this interview. 

Abi: A Robot’s Tale is available on the App Store for the very reasonable price of $2.99. To find out more about the game, you can visit its official website and Facebook page.