Last stretch of studio spotlights from the top 50

DEVELOP 100: Profiles 41-50

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.

41. Curve Studios

Studio’s 2010 Release
Fluidity (WiiWare)

Founded: 2005
Location: London, UK
@curvestudios on Twitter

Also famous for:
Explodemon (PSN)
Buzz: Master Quiz (PSP)

Curve’s passion for games and gaming can be felt in its every release, whether through licensed titles or through a recent focus on fresh IP and self-published digital content.

After various licensed Buzz quiz games on PSP it went on to be the team behind both 2010’s WiiWare puzzle classic Fluidity and, this year, Explodemon – a love letter to classic platform action.

With three publisher-funded projects currently running behind the scenes alongside their own fiercely imaginative home-made titles, it’s clear that 32-man Curve are a company with a firm grip on its own future in what are tempestuous economic times. Couple in an avowed dedication to employee well-being and the eradication of ‘crunch’, and you’ve got a studio to keep your eye on.

42. Ready at Dawn

Studio’s 2010 Release
God of War: Ghost of Sparta (PSP)

Founded: 2003
Location: Irvine, California, USA

Also famous for:
Daxter (PSP)
God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP)

Formed in 2003 by some of the brightest minds of Naughty Dog and Blizzard, Ready at Dawn made waves with PSP renditions of some of Sony’s finest franchises. Daxter, God of War: Chains of Olympus and, most recently, God of War: Ghost of Sparta have received almost universal acclaim – firmly raising the bar for PSP triple-A titles. In amongst all this, they were also the team behind the Wii incarnation of Okami.

Having publicly stated a move away from the PSP in late 2009 and outlined intentions to focus on its own console-native and cross-platform Ready at Dawn Engine, the studio’s current projects remain unknown. With this company’s pedigree, however, they are likely to be barnstormers.

43. Firemint

Studio’s 2010 Releases
Flight Control HD (iOS)
Flight Control HD (PSN)
Flight Control (DSi Ware)
Real Racing HD (iOS)
Real Racing 2 (iOS)

Founded: 1999
In-house (Owned by Electronic Arts)
Location: Melbourne, Australia
@Firemint on Twitter

Recently acquired by EA, 60-strong Australian mobile gaming outfit Firemint is synonymous with the ubiquity of Flight Control – a famed iPhone title with over 4m sales and burgeoning cross-platform appeal.

Like so many iPhone success stories, Firemint’s windfall came after years at the coal-face. The move to self-publishing came after over 30 commissioned games, many of them for new leash-holder EA in key franchises like Need For Speed, The Sims and Madden Football.

Recent success has been found in Real Racing, the 2010 sequel to which truly pushed graphical boundaries on both iPhone and iPad. Firemint’s own acquisition of Puzzle Quest developer Infinite Interactive earlier this year, meanwhile, has made it even more a force to be reckoned with.

44. Johnny Two Shoes

Studio’s 2010 Release
Plunderland (iOS)

Founded: 2007
Location: London, UK
@jtsgames on Twitter

Also famous for:
High Speed Chase 2 (iOS)

At once a prolific Flash game studio and an iOS success story, Johnny Two Shoes is an independent London-based studio marshalled by founding brothers Joshua and Maxwell Scott-Slade.

The company’s wide-ranging portfolio of 17 online games includes commissioned works for sites like AddictingGames and cross-media tie-ins for Channel 4 (The Great Sperm Race, Inside Nature’s Giants) and Warner Bros. (Sherlock Holmes). On top of this, the Johnny Two Shoes site is full to the brim of delightful independent work – most notably the sublime Banana Dash series.

The more recent graceful dive into iOS waters came in 2009 with High Speed Chase 2, spectacularly followed up by Plunderland – a tilt-based nautical adventure infused with the spirit of Pugwash.

45. Three Rings

Studio’s 2010 Release
Corpse Craft (iOS)

Founded: 2001
Location: San Francisco, USA
@ooothreerings on Twitter

Also famous for:
Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates (PC)
Bang! Howdy (PC download)
Spiral Knights (PC download)

Three Rings is a bit different, not least because its San Francisco office has been (genuinely) built to resemble the innards of a steampunk submarine. This is the company that brought the remarkably successful massively multiplayer Puzzle Pirates to the world in 2003, and since then have doled out increasingly intelligent and imaginative projects.

The community-driven experimental games portal Whirled, still in open beta, faces issues with revenue-stream – but shouldn’t mask Three Rings’ success with online Wild West strategy game Bang! Howdy, 2010’s Corpse Craft: Incident at Weardd Academy on iPad and the recent release of Spiral Knights with Sega. With the next game on its slate being Doctor Who: Worlds in Time, the nation’s favourite timelord couldn’t be in safer hands.

46. Hello Games

Studio’s 2010 Release
Joe Danger (PSN)

Founded: 2009
Location: Guildford, UK
@hellogames on Twitter

Darlings of UK indie development, and four thoroughly nice chaps, Hello Games is the team behind PSN hit Joe Danger. The Hello boys previously worked at companies like Criterion, Electronic Arts and Kuju – coming together in 2009 intent on recreating the feeling of the simple, colourful games of their youth.

It was a magic formula that worked in spades – not only snagging the company besotted reviews from the games press, but ultimately two Develop Awards and a slot in The Guardian’s Tech Media Invest list.

Quite where Hello will go next is unknown. Its next game is promised to arrive in 2012 and won’t be a Joe Danger sequel. It’s unlikely, however, that we have seen the last of that caped daredevil hero.

47. Revolution

Studio’s 2010 Releases
Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars – Director’s Cut (iOS)
Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars Director’s Cut HD (iOS)
Broken Sword 2 – The Smoking Mirror: Remastered (iOS)

Founded: 1990
Location: York, UK
@revbot on Twitter

Also famous for:
Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars – Director’s Cut (Wii)
Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars – Director’s Cut (DS)

Revolution’s back catalogue has found a new home in mobile gaming. 2010 saw the Broken Sword series delighting a fresh new iOS audience, alongside the established gamers who relished the chance to replay the Templar-chasing adventures of George Stobbart and Nico Collard.

The heart and soul of Revolution, and some might say UK games development, remains Charles Cecil – who set up the company alongside Tony Warriner and David Sykes back in 1990. Over a period of twenty years Lure of the Temptress, Beneath a Steel Sky and four Broken Sword games then graced our release schedules.

It’s a true testament to the original Broken Sword that it’s now experiencing something of a renaissance through its 2009 reappearance on Wii and DS and, of course, the App Store.

48. Treehouse

Studio’s 2010 Release
1951 – World War One (iOS)

Founded: 2010
Location: Turku, Finland

Four-man team Treehouse officially set up its company in January 2010, but by that point the prototyping of iOS triumph 1951 – World War One was well underway. Rather loftily for a top-down aerial shooter with engaging tilt controls, it’s a game set in an alternate timeline where Archduke Franz-Ferdinand l was never shot, and early 20th Century history is therefore entirely rewritten.

Treehouse itself boils the extremely varied backgrounds of its founders down to “a humanist, an animator and a programmer”, and the eclectic nature of the company is more than summed up by its follow-up title Sea Seal and Word Bird. Its gorgeous visuals (made with real scissors and cloth) clearly mark Treehouse as a mobile studio with imagination at its heart.

49. Majic Jungle Software

Studio’s 2010 Release
Chopper 2 (iOS)

Founded: 2008
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
@majicDave on Twitter

Also famous for:
Chopper (iOS)
DuckDuckDuck (iOS)

Majic Jungle is the one-man studio that is David Frampton – formerly an artist specialising in paintings of the New Zealand landscape, and now a permanent fixture in the App Store.

Majic Jungle creates both applications and games, but its most notable success is Chopper – and now its sequel Chopper 2. The original side-scrolling helicopter blast was an App Store resident as soon as it went live in July 2008, and proceeded to sell more than 350,000 copies over the next few years.

Chopper 2 is a great example of what happens when an artistic mind gets to grips with creative design. It boasts a beautiful 3D engine, various compelling locations to buzz your helicopter over, and innovative iPhone-iPad connectivity that turns the smaller mobile device into a joypad. It all certainly underlines Majic Jungle as a talent to watch.

50. Sanzaru Games

Studio’s 2010 Release
The Sly Collection (PS3)

Founded: 2007
Location: Foster City, California, USA

Also famous for:
Ninja Reflex (PC)
Ninja Reflex (Wii)
Ninja Reflex (DS)

Named after the fabled three wise monkeys, Sanzaru is a team of around 60 individuals that most recently was tasked with putting together The Sly Collection – a remastered collation of Sucker Punch’s classic PS2 platformers that proved a huge metacritic success. Far from a straight port, it was a game pack that made the most of the capabilities of PS3; with 3D visuals, updated graphics and mini-games that allowed for use of PlayStation Move.

Originally set up in 2007 by seven ex-Activision workers, they’re registered as a developer on all primary console platforms. They were also the developers of Ninja Reflex, a package of party mini-games on Wii, DS and PC designed to put gamer reflexes to the test.

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 is posting from the book, including analysis commentary and much more

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