Nathan Vella is the co-founder of Capybara Games, the company that worked with musician Jim Guthrie and the artist Superbrothers to put together the extremely popular and critically acclaimed Sword and Sworcery EP, originally released on iOS. Capy, as it's sometimes called, is a Toronto-based game developer that started out making puzzle games, including Critter Crunch and the Ubisoft-published Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes.
But Vella told me during a quick conversation at WWDC last week that Capy "had no plans whatsoever of being a puzzle game studio." Capy's developers followed their own interests into puzzle games early on. It was that interest that led to collaboration with Guthrie and Superbrothers and, ultimately, success on the App Store.
Vella said that he and the S&S EP team didn't anticipate the success they'd eventually have on iOS, but as the development time went on, the team got more and more feedback from players and critics that showed them they had something good happening. The IGF Mobile Award for the game was a big bonus, says Vella. "That helped instill some confidence."
In the end, however, the real reason Vella says Sword and Sworcery did so well was because the team decided to "make stupid decisions" during development, like add in crazy systems or try really wild approaches to storytelling. "Those were the decisions that made it a success," says Vella. In fact, his advice to any iOS developer out there would be to "make those dumb calls," he says. "If you're making safe, easy decisions on iOS, I give you a 50/50 chance of success," he told me. But for developers who break the rules and try something new on the App Store, "your chances will go up for success, and you'll at least have more interesting failures."
These days, Capy is hard at work on Super Time Force, a console title that, because of the way it works, probably won't transition to iOS. But when asked if his company will return to iOS in the future, Vella says that "absolutely" will happen. The studio really just chases its passions. "If everybody really believes in [a game], we'll try to make it," says Vella. Capy routinely hosts internal game jams, and Super Time Force actually came from an event like that.
"We will not be ignoring iOS" in the future, says Vella. Between Capy's earlier work on the platform, and its enormous success with Sword and Sworcery, we can't wait to see what they're going to do next on Apple's devices.