hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

10-year-old helps create PopCap's latest iOS game

1:00 PM on 07.29.2011 // Tara Long

When I met up with a few of the guys from PopCap Games a couple weeks ago, it was nothing but smiles all around. Not really understanding how anyone could be cheery before I've consumed my daily intake of coffee, I chalked it up to the unseasonably warm San Francisco sun and kicked back with my deliciously refreshing French beer that you’ve probably never heard of.

As I chatted with PopCap’s Senior Producer, Matthew Johnston, about their new experimental label 4th & Battery, and its latest collaboration with 10-year-old Owain Weinert, my disposition improved and things quickly started making sense.

Forged from a desire to cultivate creativity from within the company, 4th & Battery was established two years ago to act as basically an island of misfits for some of PopCap’s edgier and less mainstream titles. Their first game, Unpleasant Horse, was a simple side-scrolling jumping platformer for iOS originally conceived during of one of PopCap’s annual in-house game jams, where developers create a working game from start to finish in 24 hours. Although Unpleasant Horse is actually pretty adorable, its hilariously gruesome combination of ponies and meat grinders doesn't necessarily make it suitable for a wide release.
 
Their second title, Candy Train, began as the side project of an employee in PopCap's accounting department with lifelong aspirations to design a video game from scratch. Through self-determination and encouragement from her superiors, her game saw a full release on the iPad this May and secured her promotion to a full-time video game developer at PopCap.
 
4th & Battery’s third and latest release, Allied Star Police, is the game I really met up to discuss. I had briefly heard the story of Owain Weinert, the 10-year-old boy recently diagnosed with pre-B Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, whose wish to help create a real video game was sponsored by the Make-a-Wish Foundation. After reaching out to PopCap Games, who were more than happy to help, but weren't quite sure what to expect, Weinert was brought in for a visit to their studio.


 
"He walks in with his laptop, plugs it in, and proceeds to give us a 25 minute PowerPoint presentation on his game design," laughs Johnston. A decidedly precocious young boy, Weinert already had every single aspect of the game planned out in extensive detail. Though originally planned to be a first-person shooter, that would've required much more development time than the week PopCap had initially designated for it. They eventually compromised on a side-scrolling shoot-em-up.
 
Every other day for the first week, Weinert popped into the studio to check up on his game’s development, offering plenty of criticism and advice - the kind that could only be considered adorable when given by a 10-year-old. After a solid week of programming but with work still needing to be done, PopCap decided to extend development two weeks until they had a playable prototype of the game. Two weeks later and still not satisfied with the overall product, they commissioned two full-time employees who had coincidentally just ended other projects to finish the game in two months.
 
Pleased with the final result after months of hard work, PopCap threw a party at their offices, complete with pizza, a limo ride for Weinert and all of his friends, and a complimentary iPad for him with Allied Star Police pre-installed.
 
With his friends gathered around him, an excited Weinert played the first ever run-through of the videogame he’d been wanting to create his whole life. Suffice it to say, he was already an expert.
 
"I think the game turned out exactly as he expected," said Johnston, "except for that fact that it wasn't a first-person shooter." A small price to pay for a dream come true, I’d say.
 

The premise of the game is simple. Flamions are invading every planet in sight and it's your job to take them out with a fleet of tanks. Each enemy ship you destroy earns you money, which can then be used to upgrade your weapons and defense. The ultimate goal is to take out your enemy’s base, a job which is made relatively easy with the near unlimited ammo and money the game offers you. Along with regular artillery, you also make use of a few special weapons, such as bombs and missiles.
 
Allied Star Police was released for iOS devices on July 21 and has since garnered a huge amount of attention, receiving over 800 reviews in the week since its release. (All five stars, of course!) The game, which is free, includes an optional button that takes the player to the donation page for the Make-a-Wish foundation.
 
If you want to hear more about Owain’s story, you can visit the website that 4th & Battery created to tell his story. Take my advice and download Allied Star Police from the App Store immediately, or better yet, donate to the Make-a-Wish foundation to ensure that more heartwarming stories like Owain’s can be read on Destructoid in the future.
Photo Gallery: (4 images)
Click to zoom - browse by swipe, or use arrow keys



Tara Long, Queen of Video Things
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
I like bunnies. more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

IDrawOnTape avatarIDrawOnTape
If I was to play through the NES library, besides being madness, what order do I do it? Alphabetically or Release date-wise? Whats the Dtoid universe think?
Gundy avatarGundy
Maybe someday I'll finish Natural Doctrine AKA Natty Doc...
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
You've got guts, a powerful soul You've got guts, sweet and sour You've got guts, do the guts A man sweats, he really does, go!
Flegma avatarFlegma
Finished Xenoblade Chronicles for the first time in about 107 hours. Got tired of attempting to clear as many sidequests as there were left available. Maybe in NG+...
techsupport avatartechsupport
Woah. I consider myself a nerd and all, but the trophy hunting community is next level. Is there a biopic about the people at the top of these leaderboards? I'd find that very interesting.
Paul S avatarPaul S
GeoHolmes [img]https://www.filepicker.io/api/file/ntf3p5PqS2GteYfXUH33[/img]
Mr Knives avatarMr Knives
I have no idea what this game is about but if this isn't the best goddamn cover art ever, I don't know what is. [url=http://imgur.com/3yw3G8S][img]http://i.imgur.com/3yw3G8S.jpg[/img][/url]
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
#thanksnintendo.
Shinta avatarShinta
Xenoblade X limited edition on Amaxon now. Will probably sell out very fast like usual. http://m.neogaf.com/showthread.php?t=1103729&page=1
BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
Just got a Vita with a 16GB card for super cheap. What games should I be looking out for?
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
So the XCX Special Edition was marked as in stock for 20 seconds and I got a copy! I am disproportionately excited considering what it comes with. Hopefully the art book and packaging are high quality. WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Surprise, Xenoblade Chronicles X Special Edition has already sold out on Amazon.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Just a heads up, the Xenoblade Chronicles X Special Edition is up for preorder on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Xenoblade-Chronicles-Special-Edition-Wii-U/dp/B014LNTVGK I think it'll be available elsewhere but you know. Nintendo. Love em but hard to find.
Clicks Clacks avatarClicks Clacks
Picked up Valkyria Chronicles for $5 in the Humble Store, figure I'd advertise that for anyone that doesn't have it yet. Sale ends in less than 42 hours after this post yo. https://www.humblebundle.com/store/p/valkyriachronicles_storefront
gajknight avatargajknight
My copy of National Geographic came today. Best subscription I've paid for, worth it for the lovely pictures alone. This one has a story about elephant poachers and ivory tusks with spy chips in 'em. James Bond shit man.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
If someone used the blog reply feature to just divide a somewhat long blog into easier-to-digest chapters that could be consumed at the leisure of readers, would that be kosher?
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
[youtube]https://youtu.be/7bzKWOeSVn4[/youtube]
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
@Barry Kelly It looks like it will get pretty difficult later on. It even has instafail stealth sections according to @Chris Carter #neededanexcuse to #tryouttheatfeature
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
I hope MGS V manages to have some sort of challenge to it. I just replayed MGS 4 for the first time since release and wow that game just practically plays itself. And that's outside of the long sections it is playing itself!
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Splatfest Decipticons, Let us crush the Autobot menace [img]http://www.tfw2005.com/boards/attachments/transformers-fan-art/27462687d1408744118-3d-tarn-model-tarn-propaganda-copy-01.jpg[/img]
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -