Casual giant PopCap has opened the doors on a new 'design centre', offering its developers and designers a place to realise creations of a more lo-fi aesthetic than typical releases from the Plants vs Zombies outfit.
"4th & Battery is a pressure valve intended to keep our heads from exploding," explained Ed Allard, executive vice president of Studios at PopCap. "The PopCap brand has become closely associated with ultra-high quality, polish and attention to detail - which is a great thing. But our standard game development process is therefore long and involved, and doesn't really accommodate all of the creativity pumping through our collective veins. 4th & Battery gives us a way to quickly try really strange or marginal ideas, and to give our designers a safe area to hone their chops."
Pitched as an experimental games label that lets PopCap staff have free reign to create smaller, simpler, and potentially 'edgier' games without the typical constraints of a high-profile publisher, 4th & Battery is expected to produce several games per year for platforms such as Facebook and iPhone.
A degree of the content produced at 4th & Battery will, unlike much of PopCap's content, be of a mature nature, including its initial launch title Unpleasant Horse.
"4th & Battery is a purely experimental, creative label with none of the typical concerns like schedules, profitability, or even target audience. It's kind of the video game equivalent of B-sides or short films," explained Jason Kapalka, co-founder and chief creative officer at PopCap. "Expect weirdness."
Unpleasant Horse, 4th & Battery's debut title, lets players take on the role of a 'strikingly unpleasant' horse intent on destroying small birds and landing on more pleasant horses from above, and looks set to compare to Adult Swim's infamously puerile, witty content.