Interviewing TBO team member and Domination theme designer: David Wilson

“My name is David Wilson but some know me as daveyannihilation and I make themes. Specifically black themes. I’m from Perth, Western Australia, I’m a part of Team Black Out and I also make a theme called Domination which is available for both CMTE and Substratum.” said Dave as he agreed to let me ask him a few questions that have been on the back of my mind lately. Here’s how the Q&A proceeded

How did you first get involved in Android theming, or theming in general?

I first got involved in Android theming back in the Samsung Galaxy SII days. That was the first Android device that I owned, and I stumbled across this wondrous website called XDA which had a truck load of ROMs and mods and also themes on it. I remember seeing screenshots of a theme named Domination that was made by a user named Vertumus (who has since gone on to make a ton of amazing icon packs which everyone should buy shameless plug) that was just brilliant.

I remember seeing the screenshots and being enthralled with it, so I had to have it. I applied it and was in love with my phone lol.

So after I installed it I wanted to modify a few things but didn’t really know how. I searched and found a few guides on how to make themes by way of a VR Theme zip file.

I needed a lot of help though, and a dear friend of mine Spannaa was as patient as can be, answering my plethora of noob questions with easy to follow answers. I eventually figured out how to make my own theme, and I kept doing that every morning before work, just doing more and more, learning more and more.

When I eventually upgraded to the Galaxy S4, Vertumus was still making his theme Domination. There were a few tricks that I had learnt that I helped him with, and eventually he asked me to take over making the theme for him so that he could focus on his icon packs. Then my theming really took off from there I guess, with his help and guidance.

What motivated you to create Domination?

The way that Domination is right now was motivated by some really good friends of mine who have been testers for me since I released a previous Layers theme which shall not be named lol. They suggested that I make a different theme which kept the colours in apps but changed the backgrounds to black, the same way that The Real Dark Slim switch and TRDS Gapps used to on SlimKat. And so the current iteration of Domination was born.

As a themer, what do you think Substratum has to offer that Cmte didn’t.

Well look I’m not going to bash either theme platform lol. They both change the horrible ugly look of stock apps, so they are both alright in my book.

I guess the biggest benefit of Substratum is that the OMS system which it utilises is built into stock Android. This means that the bring-up to get Substratum working properly on a new version of Android takes up to about a week or so. With CMTE, Nougat has been out now since what, September? October? And we still don’t have it yet.
In terms of theming, CMTE is quite a lot more robust for the time being. The reason that I say that is because with CMTE allows themers to add their own resources and a common folder, as well as the ability to self reference.

This makes it much easier for themers to do their thing.
Substratum is making leaps and bounds though in adding a lot of abilities for themers that wasn’t previously available, so it is almost at the same level but there is still a bit to go. There are a number of super talented developers working on the system to try and make it as good as can be, and I am really proud to have had the opportunity to help in the birth of the system.

What would be the impact of Lineage OS Theme Engine on you as a themer?

Well it would give me the option to update my CMTE/LOSTE theme to be Nougat compatible. I haven’t updated it in a while because I don’t have a Nougat ROM to test it with.

It will also mean that a lot of the big name CMTE themes like BlakKat/KlearKat, SuperNova and BSC will get updates to the latest versions which will be a big relief for those users. It will be great to see how LineageOS implement it and what changes they will make for the Nougat release. I am really looking forward to it being updated.

Honestly, Dave, why isn’t such a diserving theme paid?

Look Pav I have always just felt like it was never good enough to be only paid. When I initially released it, I had a free and a donate version so that if users felt it was worth it, they could buy the donate version as a sign of appreciation for my hard work. But it never struck me as being good enough to be paid only, that’s why I never did.

When I do release the next update however, the only version that will be updated on the Play Store will be the Donate version. The free version will still be available, but people that want it will have to look for it to get it. And of course the Github repository will continue to be updated too.

All of Davey’s apps pubished to the Google Play Store can be found here.

Should Google switch permanently to Black UI, or should there at least be an option?

Lol I don’t know about a permanently black UI. An option for it would be great, or even an option for the current light as well as dark and also black would be even better. But…. only if they do it properly. The previous Day/Night switches have been janky as fuck, messing with themes completely. If Google can implement the Day/Night/Black switch properly so that it doesn’t mess with themes at all, then I am all for it. Options, yeah? This is Android after all.

If Google goes ahead and includes an option of having a dark or black UI, how would that affect theme engines, or themers like you who concentrate of turning the white into dark/black?

Look I think that will affect some themers like me. I mean people will always be able to change the accent colour, but in my case I don’t include a lot of custom images in my theme. I’m a very simple themer, so it would almost do me out of a job in some respect. There would be lots of themers who would still be creating very different themes to what the stock options are, but not yours truly lol. I guess that would give me a lot more time to focus on the TBO apps though which would be good.

Is it tough to build a Substratum theme as compared to building  a CMTE theme?

Look I don’t think so. Both systems have the theme files residing in assets/overlays so they are very similar in that sense. All I had to do was download the template, fill it with the theme files and then build it with Android Studio, and that was the case for both systems. Plus there is a lot of support from the Substratum Development community on Google + and most of us are very approachable if someone needs a hand.

How long did it take you to build a Substratum theme?

Lol well it is hard for me to answer this, because Nick actually got me to make the first Substratum theme which was tested when the system was brand new. So from when I started to now, it has been like 6 months I guess? Lol.

But if I was just starting now then I guess it would take me a few weeks maybe to get it the way I wanted it? I’m not a very quick themer, I like to take my time and make sure I do things right. Plus working full time means that I only have very early morning or late at night to work.

What were the difficulties you face as a themer

Oh fuck where do I begin???? G O O G L E ! ! ! They have absolutely no idea how to properly code an app. Hiding stupid shit like text and background colours in fucking smali of all places, how fucking idiotic do you have to be? I’m a dumb shit and even I know that doing that is stupid.

That’s obviously the reason that we have the Team Black Out Theme Ready Google Apps, but if Google’s app ‘developers’ had half a fucking brain between them then we wouldn’t bloody well need to make Theme Ready anything. Just fucking stupid. Can you tell that this shit gets me mad? Lol.

What is your stand on piracy?

Look I disable Substratum’s built in anti-piracy system in my themes. What Nick and everyone else have implemented is awesome and I respect them wholeheartedly for doing it, but I don’t think it’s worth me enabling it when my theme is available for free. I totally get why other themers enable it though, and I think people who pirate themes and apps are the scum of the fucking Earth.

Now when it comes to Fucky Snatcher though, that’s another story. I have the checker for that enabled in my themes so if someone has that disgusting app installed, they won’t be able to use my theme. I love that addition to Substratum, massive kudos to the team for implementing that. And it’s given me hours of entertainment too. Go have a look at the Play Store reviews for Domination and have a right old chuckle, ya scurvy bilge rats. Yarrrrrrrr

By the way, you can grab Domination here

What do you do for recreation, or when you’re not theming?

Well my entire weekend is taken up looking after my 2 daughters. I work every Saturday until 12:00 and then I look after them for the rest of the weekend so I don’t get a lot of time to do much these days.

I play guitar in a punk band currently, we have released a few albums and made a film clip too. We’re looking to tour Australia in 2017. Anyone who is interested can hear our latest album here.
I have been playing in hardcore and metal bands for about the last 15 years, I’ve toured the country and played a number of large shows supporting some of the biggest bands on the planet in that scene.
I enjoy hanging out with my mates, listening to music, watching movies, going hiking, snorkelling and lots of other stuff. But I don’t get much time to do that these days lol.
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Whew. That was a really nice interview, and I appreciate Dave for all the hardwork and effort he has put into creating Domination.