Lambs and HOGs: An interview with Codeminion

By Erin Bell |

Codeminion might be best known for creating the superb action/puzzle games Ancient Quest of Saqqarah and Stoneloops! of Jurassica, but the studio tackles the hidden object genre with its latest project, a collaboration with TwinBottles called Brunhilda and the Dark Crystal. Gamezebo recently caught up with Codeminion Co-Founders Maciej Biedrzycki and Konrad Olesiewicz to chat about the making of Brunhilda and upcoming projects.

When we interviewed you two years ago, you had recently launched the puzzle game Ancient Quest of Saqqarah and said you weren’t big fans of hidden object games. And now, here’s Brunhilda and the Dark Crystal! What happened between then and now to change your opinion of HOGs?

Our opinion about hidden object games hasn’t changed that much, but the market is pretty clear about what it wants. But the decision to develop Brunhilda was not a result of cold calculation. Together with TwinBottles we are big fans of classic DOS adventure games like Legend of Kyrandia and when we discussed the game ideas we’d like to make we immediately thought about combining the humor and look and feel of older games with the accessibility of modern casual hidden object games. That’s how the work on Brunhilda begun.

Brunhilda was created in collaboration with TwinBottles. Who are these guys?

TwinBottles is a young game development company from Poland set up by Konstanty Kalicki and Filip Starzynski. We met them during our college studies but it was several years later when we decided to work together on a game. We are very happy what Filip and Konstanty have done with Brunhilda and we know it wasn’t easy for them. This is their first such big game and they’ve really put their hearts and lots of effort into making the game as good as possible. We are happy we could support them in the process. We are already thinking together on future endeavors.

One of the beta testers of Brunhilda and the Dark Crystal, Toni, named her lamb “Brunhilda” in honor of the game, and Codeminion and TwinBottles teamed up to send her a lovely bell. Can you tell us the story of the bell and how it all happened?

Yes! This was really great. When we started our internal BETA one of the testers said that she had a small lamb born on this day and that she named her Brunhilda. Everybody liked it a lot and we soon begged her to post some pictures of the small Brunhilda. We were so charmed with the little fellow that we wanted to commemorate this event by ordering an engraved bell with Brunhilda’s name and our greetings. Now she’s out there enjoying life and ringing her bell. Isn’t it great!?

That’s not all, there’s actually a character in the game that looks just like Toni’s lamb. Tell us about that!

During beta tests we are not only fixing bugs but also enhancing the game and adding graphics and effects. We all liked the whole ewe baby event so much that the devs repainted one of the “anonymous” lambs from the later chapters to resemble the real-life Brunhilda from the photo Toni sent us. It’s always nice when you can go out and share your passion with the gamers. These games are not done in some sterile office space laboratories; everyone involved is a living breathing person and really likes to share their work with people who find it enjoyable. All our work comes down to ensuring that people like Toni and the rest of our fine gamers stay entertained and get their money’s worth.

How have the recent floods in Poland affect casual game developers?

Almost everyone in Poland was somehow directly or indirectly affected by the floods and storms. Our office building has been flooded and we had electricity cut off for several days. It’s been many weeks after the water is gone but the building still needs more cleaning and repairs. We also know about developers who weren’t affected by the flood directly but their families and friends were so it also makes problems.

Earlier this year, your iPhone adaptation of StoneLoops! of Jurassica was pulled from the App store. Can you give us any updates on that situation? Will iPhone gamers ever see StoneLoops! again?

Unfortunately we don’t have any good news to report on this topic. We are still trying to do something about StoneLoops! removal, but it’s very difficult to stand and defend your rights against a bigger US company for a small foreign company like us.

The hot new platform for casual game developers is Facebook. Any interest in developing games on that platform?

Not really 😉 Facebook sure is very popular, but we have other ideas that we are working on and planning. I’m sure that some of our games will have Facebook and other social networks integration to some extent in the near future, but we plan to stick with downloadable games as our core development activity.

Can you give us any hints or sneak peeks about what you’re working on?

Currently we are doing a lot of different stuff, both in-house development and with external teams working as a publisher. Internally we are working on a hidden object game Phantasmat that will be completely different from Brunhilda, a puzzle game that will be a continuation of Saqqarah, one iPhone matching game (Bayo Bongo) and we’re also working on bringing our games to the iPad. We also have two games being developed by external teams, but the titles haven’t been announced yet. Anyway, we’ve got some great games in the works, and we can’t wait to see how gamers will react to them.

Any last words for your fans?

Together with TwinBottles we’d like to thank everyone who supports us and especially people from the Gamezebo forums who are kind enough to share their feedback and help us make the games better. We’ve met with a lot of enthusiasm from the casual gaming community and it’s the single biggest source of our motivation. Thanks and we’ll try to keep up the good work!

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