This is what happens when you're relegated to a life of pretty unicorns, stone frogs and tiny peashooters. You set up a small studio for whacky, dark ideas. The kind that, unchecked, could ruin the harmonious balance of your company's very being.
Maybe I'm just overreacting.
PopCap has announced a new substudio, 4th & Battery. The press release detailing its formation and what it stands to offer dropped today. In it, Ed Allard, Executive VP of Studios at PopCap explained the need for the studio.
"4th & Battery is a pressure valve intended to keep our heads from exploding…The PopCap brand has become closely associated with ultra-high quality, polish and attention to detail — which is a great thing. But our standard game development process is therefore long and involved, and doesn't really accommodate all of the creativity pumping through our collective veins. 4th & Battery gives us a way to quickly try really strange or marginal ideas, and to give our designers a safe area to hone their chops."
Allard is absolutely right; PopCap has become synonymous with polish as far as I'm concerned. One thing that initially worries me about 4th & Battery's formation is the removal of the company's penchant for polish. It's one of the reasons why I consistently turn to PopCap for fun.
Jason Kapalka, Co-Founder and CCO at Popcap offered a further explanation of 4th & Battery.
"4th & Battery is a purely experimental, creative label with none of the typical concerns like schedules, profitability, or even target audience. It's kind of the video game equivalent of B-sides or short films…Expect weirdness."
And weirdness, it seems, is being built. Here's the company's first project, Unpleasant Horse.
Here's the closing chunk of the press release from PopCap, for the giggles.
"The first game from 4th & Battery, Unpleasant Horse, was announced today. Players take on the role of – wait for it! – a strikingly unpleasant horse that sports wings and advances through the game by destroying small birds and landing on more pleasant horses from above. Landing atop other horses enables the player to force them earthward into a perpetual meat grinder for extra points and special bonuses. Available later this month for the iPhone and iPod touch through the Apple App Store, Unpleasant Horse will be available for free.
About 4th & Battery – 4th and Battery is located in a secret druidic chamber below one of Seattle's largest public parks. Small groups of PopCap® game developers gather there when the stars are right to let their imaginations run wild. The results can be alarming."