If you play a lot of Flash games then it’s almost a guarantee that you’ve seen the familiar clanging-swords-and-shield splash screen belonging to Armor Games. Founded in 2005, Armor Games has grown become a well-respected Flash developer and online games destination, producing hundreds of award-winning Flash games including GemCaft, Shift, Crush the Castle, and Upgrade Complete. Armor Games Founder Daniel McNeely took some time to chat with Gamezebo about his company, the Flash gaming scene, what’s coming up next for Armor Games, and what the deal is with all the elephants.

What was the inspiration behind calling the company Armor Games?

The inspiration for Armor Games came from several sources – the first being the theme and niche market I wanted to go for. I’ve always loved stories involving knights, castles, dragons and any sort of far off adventure. Armor represented these themes to me. The second came from the Book of Ephesians in the Bible, where it talks about equipping the “Full Armor of God.” This verse has always been one of my favorites and the word “Armor” seemed like an appropriate word to build the company on.

What are some of the advantages of operating a virtual company over the Internet? What about challenges?

One of the advantages of running a virtual company is the hours. Your website (company) is open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, 365-days a year. Even though we operate on the Internet, we have a company office in Irvine with a full workforce.

The biggest challenge of running Armor Games is being in front of a computer 8 hours a day. Living in Southern California gives us the luxury of amazing weather and it’s tough being confined to a desk when it’s 90 degrees outside and the beach is a 10-minute drive away.

What criteria do you have for recruiting new Flash developers into the fold? What criteria do you have for accepting games to distribute?

We that they have a passion for games, an understanding of Action Script and the ability to work well as a team – simple stuff. Our games have to be both fun and suitable for teenagers.

What are some of the cornerstones of your game design philosophy? What makes a “good” Flash game?

Originality, a huge fun factor, playability and presentation. Good flash games should always have quality sound, great playability and should create an experience that draws the user in from the very first click.

Overall, how healthy is the Flash games industry right now? Where do you see it evolving to in a year? Three years?

The flash industry is very healthy right now. We just attended the 2nd Annual Flash Gaming Summit and it was exciting to see all the new features Adobe is planning to release in CS5. Most smart phones will support Flash in the future, and we’ve already built a mobile version of our website that users can visit.

I think Flash games, in the next three years, will become more social as developers learn to take advantage of social media. I think the industry will continue to grow as more and more households get broadband access and as people continue to look for quality entertainment that’s better value for money.

A couple of your Flash games, Shift and Crush the Castle, have been ported to iPhone. How involved were you with the process? Are you pleased with how they turned out?

I provided constant feedback on CTC and Shift as they were ported to the iPhone and I was exceptionally pleased with how they turned out. (CTC hit #6 and Shift hit #4 on the Top Paid App listings)

Any plans to expand full-tilt into the iPhone market? Perhaps develop original titles for that platform? What about Android and other mobile devices?

Yes, we are looking to hire a full time iPhone developer and have already conducted several interviews. I don’t think we’ll ever do original titles for the iPhone, purely because Flash is such a great platform to develop for. Flash allows us to test an idea, and if it works we can bring it to the iPhone and add new levels and enhanced features to entice players to spend a few extra bucks for the game.

We are looking at the Android OS as well and we plan to have a few of our games on that platform by years’ end.

How do you feel about Facebook as a platform for game development? Any interest in expanding into social games?

I think Facebook is a great platform, and we plan to explore a few options in ways we can bring Armor Gaming to it.

If you could pick a handful of your games that you’re most proud of, which ones would they be, and why?

It’s hard to pick favorites, but if I had to they would be (in no particular order), Hedgehog Launch, Shift, Crush the Castle, Warfare 1917, Sonny and the Bubble Tanks franchise. All these games have taken many hours of my life.

You seem to have a soft spot for elephants in your games. Why is that?

John Cooney (jmtb02), who heads up our game development, really likes elephants. He’s the mastermind behind such hits as This is the Only Level, Achievement Unlocked and Elephant Rave.