11 Bit Studios is a developer based in Warsaw, Poland that's probably most famous for releasing last year's great Anomaly: Warzone Earth, a sort of reverse tower defense game where you control and support a group of vehicles moving through streets filled with hostile alien towers. The game originally released on Steam for the PC, but 11 Bit has found its home on iOS and Mac instead -- the game has sold best on the iOS platform, and won an Apple Design Award for the Mac release.
After Anomaly, 11 Bit followed up with a game called Funky Smugglers, which didn't do as well, but still showed a lot of polish and quality game design. And now, the studio is heading back to the well with a new title called Anomaly: Warzone Korea, a sort of expansion/sequel to the first game. 11 Bit's Senior Writer Paweł Miechowski recently met with me here in Los Angeles to show off the upcoming game, and talk about what 11 Bit is planning to do for the future.
"We treated the first mobile version as a kind of a side project," said Miechowski. But the sales, especially on the iPad, quickly changed 11 Bit's minds. After the team sold about 5,000 copies, "it was, oh my god, this is a great platform." One of the biggest selling points with the first game was the graphics, so for Korea, 11 Bit has emphasized that part of the game, adding in as many special lighting and shadow effects as Apple's mobile device can handle. The game does look terrific, with high-resolution textures on the units reflecting lots and lots of different particle and shadow effects.
The core gameplay is generally the same -- you line up a series of vehicles, and then guide them through a map, making tactical choices along the way about when to use certain powerups and where to turn at road intersections. But Miechowski said that while the first game's development time was mostly taken up by just creating the game and its mechanics, this game is more about content, so there are new vehicles, new powerups and lots of new features to find. One of the new powerups is a "boost" icon, that makes your vehicles' weapons stronger for a short period of time. That is aimed at making the action a little more dynamic and offensive, rather than just protecting your trucks for as long as you can.
Fans of the first game said that the voiceovers were one part where the quality was lacking a little bit. So 11 Bit has targeted that as another place for improvement, hiring professional voice actors and translators to make sure everything is authentic and immersive. The art of the game is being scrutinized also. Originally, 11 Bit's designs tended to embrace a Japanese aesthetic rather than a Korean one, just because that's what the team was familiar with. But of course those are two very different cultures and countries, so the game was revamped a bit to be more authentic to the setting.
Chillingo is still publishing for the company, having published both the first Anomaly title and this upcoming one. 11 Bit apparently appreciates having Chillingo on board, rather than going it alone, and while Chillingo these days has quite a few hits of its own (not to mention that it's owned by EA), it's probably nice to have another gem in the crown like this one.
Anomaly: Warzone Korea is almost ready to go -- 11 Bit wants to have it out sometime this month, and while the price hasn't been decided yet, Miechowski said it will likely be comparable to the first game, which sold for US$3.99 on arrival. The game looks great -- we'll keep an eye out for it on the App Store very soon.
As for what 11 Bit is up to next, Miechowski told us that there are four teams currently working at the company, including one targeted specifically towards mobile development. There's also a big PC title in the works, though Miechowski declined to say exactly what was being made. He did say the PC team is the biggest, however, so it'll be interesting to see what the plan is there as well. 11 Bit's doing some great work, and they are a company that seems completely sold on the iOS platform and its potential for great games. There should be a few more interesting titles coming out of the studio in 2013 for sure.