A mix of retail and iOS stars feature here

DEVELOP 100: Profiles 21-30

This month we’ve published the 2011 edition of the Develop 100.

Sponsored by Gamecity: Hamburg and based on data compiled by Metacritic, the Develop 100 ranks the world’s games developers based on their critical reception.

Below you will find profiles of some of the best studios that made the top half of the list.

For all Develop 100 coverage, and more studio profiles, go here.

21. Team Meat

Studio’s 2010 Release
Super Meat Boy (XBLA)
Super Meat Boy (PC)

Founded: 2008
Location: Multiple locations, USA
@supermeatboy on Twitter

Also famous for:
Meat Boy (Flash, McMillen only)
Gish (PC, McMillen only)

Founded by artist-designer Edmund McMillen and programmer Tommy Refenes, the two-man Team Meat has only released one game, the gory rapid-replay platformer Super Meat Boy, famed for its addictiveness and difficulty.

However, both McMillen and Refenes are both also known for earlier projects; mutton-chopped McMillen notably for the original Flash game Meat Boy and the award-winning tar-ball platformer Gish, while tattooed Refenes is known for having his iPhone game Zits & Giggles pulled from the Apple App store, seemingly for his public criticism of Apple at GDC.

With the design-led Super Meat Boy winning plaudits on PC and Xbox (it was excluded from PS3 for contractual reasons), we’re intrigued to see what they do next.

22. Gaia

Studio’s 2010 Release
Sword & Poker (iOS)
Sword & Poker 2 (WiiWare)

Founded: 2009
Location: Chuo-ku, Osaka, Japan

Also famous for:
Mahjong-Bu e Youkoso! 2 (iOS)

Another developer famous for a very limited number of products, the winning idea of Japanese developer Gaia was combining the highly complex, social and addictive game of poker with a classic Zelda-style role-playing game and releasing it on the iPhone. The result, 2010’s Sword & Poker, was swiftly followed by a sequel the same year, the thrillingly named Sword & Poker II.

Gaia announced handsome Wii science-fiction action game Cosmic Walker in the same period, but since then there’s only been silence.

Sadly, it’s rumoured that the studio has shut and its website’s front page seems to corroborate that. However, its apps have recently been added back to the Apple Store, so the company is still going in some form.

23. Kojima Productions

Studio’s 2010 Release
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP)

Founded: April 1, 2005
In-house (Owned by Konami)
Location: Roppingi Hills, Tokyo, Japan
@kojipro on Twitter

Also famous for:
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (PS2)
MGS 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)

Founded by industry legend Hideo Kojima as way of stepping away from his administrative duties inside Konami, his personal studio specialises largely in just one series; Metal Gear Solid.

Sure, they’ve made other titles, like the solid Lunar Knights or Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, but it’s the Metal Gear Solid series that has always won them plaudits.

This year’s offering MGS: Peace Walker was released on PSP, reflecting that the studio, while multiformat, has specialised in Sony platforms. Yet the team is increasingly platform agnostic.

The studio was originally formed from the agglomeration of several smaller studios in 2004, but has since grown to over 200 employees. It’s currently working on Metal Gear Acid ports for the iOS platforms.

24. Armor Games

Studio’s 2010 Release
Shift2 (iOS)

Founded: 2004
Location: Irvine, California, USA
@armorgames on Twitter

Also famous for:
Crush The Castle (Flash)
Achievement Unlocked (Flash)

If you want to find unsung heroes of the games industry, look no further. Producing extremely entertaining, reliable flash games since its founding as Games of Gondor in 2004, Armor originally focused on Lord of the Rings themed content.

After a year of this, they were pioneers in developing and publishing quick, entertaining and high-quality flash games for a range of casual portals, including their own. Among its most popular titles are Sonny, Crush The Castle, GemCraft, Fancy Pants Adventure, and Achievement Unlocked. More recently, it’s started producing games for iOS too; hence its inclusion on this list.

25. Hemisphere Games

Studio’s 2010 Release
Osmos (iPad)

Founded: 2008
Location: Nelson, British Columbia, Canada

Winning awards for your first game is impressive; winning as many awards as Hemisphere’s pioneering title Osmos did is unheard of, especially when one of them is 2010’s iPad Game of the Year from Apple itself.

Osmos itself is an elegant and beautifully-designed art-physics game with a style like Fl0w, where your mote can only absorb motes smaller than it – but can also only move by ejecting part of itself, so levels consist of critical, agonising decisions.

A tiny studio who are mainly based in Nelson, British Columbia, Hemisphere consists of at most ten people, including core members former Splinter Cell programmer Eddy Boxerman and Epic Games veteran
Dave Burke.


Studio’s 2010 Releases
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (PS3, 360, PC)
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam (PS3, 360, PC)
Mirror’s Edge (iPad)

Founded: 1992
In-house (EA)
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
@EA on Twitter

Also famous for:
Battlefield Bad Company (360)
Battlefield Bad Company (PS3)

Originally a demo team called The Silents, Digitial Illusions Creative Entertainment was formed by four students from Växjö University.

The company’s first games were Amiga classics such as Pinball Dreams and, after years of gradual growth and numerous acquisitions of smaller companies, in 2002 they released the game that has come to define the studio; multiplayer World War 2 shooter Battlefield 1942.

The success of that led to their purchase in 2006 by Electronic Arts and the diversification of their remit; since then, they’ve worked on a variety of franchises, from Medal of Honor and Need for Speed to Mass Effect and the iOS version of 2008 acrobatic hit Mirror’s Edge.

27. Art In Games

Studio’s 2010 Release
AirAttack HD (iOS)

Founded: 2006
Location: Slovakia
@artingames on Twitter

Slovakian developer Art in Games was founded in 2006 and, up until now, has just worked on its solid-if-crazy top-down shooter AirAttack, along with outsourcing work. This is a 3D action arcade game in which you fly your fighter jet through eight missions, taking down 58 enemy types (including Corsairs, Stukas and Zeros), grabbing power-ups and weapons, and battling a boss at the end of every level.

Despite this simplicity, the game has been very well received, possibly due to its highly customisable controls, variety of difficulty modes, and destructible environ-ments. Art in Games’ site proclaims them to be working on 15 other games, including projects with Sony, Evolution Studios, Trion Worlds and Splash Damage.

28. Rockstar North

Studio’s 2010 Release
GTA IV: The Lost and the Damned (PS3)
GTA IV: The Ballard of Gay Tony (PS3)

Founded: 1988
In-house (Owned by Rockstar Games/Take-Two)
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
@RockstarGames on Twitter

Also famous for:
Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3)
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2)

Originally founded as DMA Design in Dundee in 1988 and responsible for instant classics Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar North is one of the UK’s longest running studios.

The studio bumbled along until 1997 when it was swallowed up, first by Gremlin Interactive, then by Infogrames, then finally sold to Take-Two in 1999.

It was 2001’s GTA III that propelled the team back into the limelight, triggering the series and open-world format which supported Take-Two throughout the noughties. Given the adulation its games attract from the hardcore, it’s a surprise to see the GTA creators this far down the list, but Rockstar North hasn’t released a full game since 2008’s GTA IV; we fully expect announcements from them soon to rectify this situation.

29. Chair Entertainment

Studio’s 2010 Release
Infinity Blade (iOS)

Founded: 2005
In-house (Owned by Epic Games)
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
@chairgames on Twitter

Also famous for:
Shadow Complex (360)
Undertow (360)

It takes chutzpah to start quoting the abstruse philosophical theory of Plato’s forms on your gaming website, but Chair Entertainment has never been short of either ambition or confidence.

Founded in 2005 in Salt Lake City, the studio aimed to proselytise about universal themes through its games. With that theme in mind, it worked with the author of Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card, on several projects, and has gradually stepped up the quality of its games; its most recent two, Shadow Complex on Xbox Live (the best selling XBLA single-player game so far) and Infinity Blade, are simple, familiar designs, executed with panache and rigour.

After being purchased by Epic Games and the development of the ground-breaking iOS Infinity Blade, we feel it deserves that confidence.

30. Retro Studios

Studio’s 2010 Release
Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii)

Founded: 1998
In-house (Owned by Nintendo)
Location: Austin, Texas, USA

Also famous for:
Metroid Prime (GC)
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GC)

Founded in 1998 by industry veteran Jeff Spangenberg to produce adult-oriented games for the Nintendo GameCube, Retro had a troubled inception. It had several games cancelled and the studio ballooned to 200 employees, all before Nintendo took direct control of the studio.

Metroid Prime and its two sequels proved the studio’s worth; Prime was the best reviewed game on any platform in that highly competitive generation.

By 2007 the studio was Nintendo’s main Western production unit and, after reworking the Prime trilogy for Wii, in 2009 it was tasked with reviving the Donkey Kong franchise. With the success of Donkey Kong Country Returns, the now 60-man Retro has truly demonstrated its potential, achieving one of the highest average scores for any studio (91 average on Metacritic).

The Develop 100, produced in association with Metacritic and sponsored by gamecity:Hamburg was published on June 3rd, with Develop magazine’s June edition and MCV’s June 3rd edition.

Click here for a microsite with a list of the 100 and embedded digital edition of the book

Click here for a directory of all the content develop-online.net is posting from the book, including analysis commentary and much more


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