Interview with Persona 5 IM App Developer, Nick Greenan!

Greg here today with Nick Greenan (known on Twitter as @alfredbulbasaur), creator of the Persona 5 IM App, possibly the best way to send and receive messages on your mobile phone. How are you adjusting to you expected skyrocket to fame and glory?

Nick: It’s been strangely fun! At first it was crazy – my phone was going off every few seconds with notifications from Twitter and then I got an absolute ton of messages and emails once I actually released the app which took days to get through, but it’s been really awesome hearing from and getting so many positive messages from people from all over the world.

Just thought we would take some time with you to ask a few questions for Persona and app developing fans in general. Ah, and thank you so much for your time!

Nick: No problem!

 Persona 5 IM App- screenshot                          Persona 5 IM App- screenshot

Q: I guess we’ll start off with your inspiration. What made you want to take all of your free time and develop a free Persona SMS app for the masses?

A: I’d been playing through Persona 5 and was really enjoying it, and after seeing the IM app in game so often I thought “I wonder if someone’s made this for actual phones yet?”, and assumed that someone would have done. I did a quick search on Google to see what came up and I couldn’t find anything, so I thought “how hard could it be to make it myself?”. I’d also been keen for some kind of development project and had some previous experience with Android, so I figured I’d give it a go!

Q: What was your experience like with Persona 5? Did you beat it and how many hours did you put in?

A: It was amazing – I’d been looking forward to it pretty much since I finished Persona 4 Golden so the wait was pretty hard, but I think it was more than worth the wait as I just loved everything about the game, would definitely rank it as one of my top games ever.

And yes, I beat it – took me just over 100 hours! I’m having a break from the game right now but plan to go back and play through New Game Plus and get the platinum trophy at some point.

Q: So, it was your favorite game of the series, right? Like no game can even come close to it in terms of story and characters. A ton of our fans are rabid for it.

A: It’s definitely my favourite of the series, just edges out Persona 4 Golden for me. I think it was just the whole style of the game, the characters were great and I LOVED the city and all the different places you could go, and I can’t wait to get back into it or to see where Atlus might go with the inevitable spinoffs.

Q: So, what was your biggest challenge in developing the app?

A: The graphics mostly. I don’t want to say it’s easy (because it’s not!) but the actual sending out and receiving of messages isn’t that bad – it’s all behind the scenes stuff that just needs to work correctly. With the app, not only did I have to take normal app components like text boxes and buttons and make them look different, but I had to make them look a very specific, very stylized way. And if I never have to have a look at the code for making those zig zags that go behind the messages ever again I’ll be very happy – it’s a mathematical nightmare!

Q: Have you gotten any response from Atlus on it? I assume they would be thrilled because now they don’t have to make an official app.

A: I haven’t heard anything from Atlus, but I’d love to know what they make of it!

Who knows, maybe they will try to recruit you to be part of the next Persona experience!

Ha, well if they ever need an app built, they know where to come!

Q: So, how many apps have you made before this one, or is this your first?

A: This is my second app – my first is also available on the Google Play Store. I wanted to build an app and a work colleague suggested an idea for an app, so it went from there. It was a good learning experience but it was never going to set the world alight – think it’s only ever been downloaded about a hundred times, so not quite the same level of success as the Persona 5 app!

Q: I’m sure it was a huge undertaking, but as any good app developer will tell you, there is always an eye for the future. What has been the most request feature so far? Next to MMS ability, of course.

A: MMS and group chat are by far the most requested features right now, which I kind of expected. I did think about not releasing the app until it supported both of those, but I knew they’d take a while to implement so I figured it’d be better to release the app without them so people could use it while I was working on it.

And of course I’m often asked about an iOS version, which I’d love to do, but because iOS is a lot more restricted than Android I don’t think it’d be possible. I might see if I can do something slightly different for iOS though if a straight port isn’t possible, definitely want to do some iOS development at some point.

Q: Anything crazy people have asked for?

A: I can’t think of anything crazy that anyone’s asked for – I’ve had some really good suggestions for additional features that I hope will make it into the app at some point.

The one suggestion/complaint that does make me smile though is when people say that the top of the IM logo is cut off at the top and I need to move it down a bit, without realizing that it’s cut off at the top in the game, too, so it’s meant to be like that!

Q: It’s funny seeing what you notice that others don’t when you open it up to millions of people. Is there anything you are currently implementing? Anything you are thinking of doing next?

A: Last time I checked I had 60 different things, either new features, tweaks to existing features or bugs to fix, that I want to get into the app at some point. Some of these will take a few minutes, some could easily take a few days. Right now, I’m focusing on bugs and small features that are quick and easy to add in, and once I’m happy that everything is nice and stable it’ll be time to add MMS to the mix!

Q: How has the response been personally? Is there more of a response than you thought there would be? What has surprised you the most?

A: Honestly, I’ve been blown away by the response – when I started I figured some people might be interested, but didn’t expect much more than a few likes or retweets on Twitter and a handful of downloads. When I got nearly 1,000 retweets for an early screenshot out of nowhere I couldn’t believe it, and the messages I got were overwhelmingly positive, which made me even more determined to finish the app and make it something people actually use rather than just a throwaway novelty.

Q: Any other projects you are currently working on that people should know about? Any personal website you’d like to plug?

A: I work full time and my job keeps me pretty busy so I don’t have any time for more projects unfortunately! One day I will set up a personal website, but for now you’ll mostly find me on Twitter or on Twitch, where I mostly play racing games, most of the time pretty badly.

Q: I think we have time for one more question, so I’ll cut right to it. Who did you romance? The world is dying to know.

A: Makoto. Before the game came out I was leaning towards Ann, but Makoto won me over!

Image result for makoto p5

Again I’d like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit down and talk with us. It was a pleasure and we hope to talk to you again!

Nick: No problem – thanks for asking in the first place!

Again, make sure to download the Persona 5 IM App on the Google play store and follow nick @alfredbulbasaur on Twitter. You can also buy Nick a cup of coffee at https://ko-fi.com/alfredbulbasaur, that way he can stay awake to bring us more amazing updates to the app!

Can’t get enough Persona? Check out our analysis of Persona 4!

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Written by: Greg

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