Intropy Games is a two person game studio based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Founded in 2012 by lifelong gamers Lisa Walkosz-Migliacio and Michael Migliacio, the studio originally focused on “bringing the cute” to the iOS AppStore – finding some success with their first mobile title, the recipe-crafting, saccharine-sweet Usagi-chan Bunny Treats. Now, the dynamic duo has console gaming in its sights, blasting off for the Wii U eShop with their multiplayer action puzzle game, Astral Breakers. Lisa shares the story.
Intropy Games was founded almost by accident, when I – then in the process of testing out new technologies – became excited by the prospect of creating a game for the AppStore. While no stranger to game development (in fact, one of my middle school history projects was an interactive game based on Joan of Arc), this was my first foray into the commercial space. Having a penchant for cute, fun, Japanese-inspired games, I wanted to infuse the concept of a recipe crafting game with a spoonful of sugar.
To me, this kind of game made all the sense in the world, but to my partner, Michael, it made very little. A forum-scouring, review-analyzing, hype-devouring hardcore gamer through and through, he continually questioned the need for a game like Usagi-chan throughout its development cycle, wondering aloud what kind of game player could be excited for a game starring a rabbit that needs the player’s help to make desserts.
Apparently, a lot of people were excited for such a game: Usagi-chan Bunny Treats bounced to a successful launch, gathering upwards of 350,000 downloads in the process – a sweet, sweet victory for me. As for Michael, he was eating bitter-tasting crow for months. Om nom nom. Delicious.
The winter descended upon Minneapolis with fury, bringing with it plenty of freezing, swirling, arctic snow across the region. Traditionally, this was the time of year when Midwestern gamers (including both founders of Intropy) would empty their backlogs while snuggled up inside, safe from the fierce winter weather. But this year was going to be different for us.
It was during one of the season’s famous blizzards that, while trapped in the house, we began reflecting on Usagi-chan’s success and came to a realization together: our differences in the definitions of what constituted “gaming” pointed at a problem much more personal than the demographics of Usagi-chan or casual gaming in general – being two lifelong gamers, we rarely found a game that we could enjoy together.
We began to discuss our gaming habits (and our usual winter backlogs): as a creator, I enjoyed games containing creative, world-building elements, while Michael, often tasked with covering fighting and action games for major eSports outlets, preferred competitive, technical titles that required lots of time to learn and master.
The idea of crafting a game that would realize the intersection of these two seemingly opposite styles of play proved to be an interesting one, and we got to work…forging an action puzzle game with a fun aesthetic that would appeal to hardcore gamers and casual players alike. A game that we – and gamers of all ages and experience levels around the world – could enjoy together.
Cute, Casual, Console
Astral Breakers was designed from the ground up to appeal to the players that liked Usagi-chan as well as those looking for a more skill-centered gaming experience. To that end, the game was developed with a three-pronged approach: Cute, Casual, and Console.
Cute: One of the reasons for the surprising success of Usagi-chan Bunny Treats was Usagi-chan herself, a ridiculously cute bunny mascot that would guide the player through the game. It was decided early on that Astral Breakers would need a memorable character as well – one with a bit of an “edge” to reflect the more competitive nature of some of the modes of the game. Enter Kira (shortened form of “きらきら“, the Japanese word for “sparkling”): a cantankerous, “star”-castic astral entity that gently (or not-so-gently) reminds players that the universe is at stake throughout the various modes of Astral Breakers.
Casual: What we mean talking about “casual” gaming is accessibility – something easy to learn and difficult to master, with a variety of modes that can be played together with a friend.
Console: Over 600 apps launch on mobile platforms every day, making discoverability difficult. Exponentially more difficult, in fact, than during the launch of Usagi-chan Bunny Treats. Thus, the Intropy team felt that the smaller, more focused libraries of console platforms (along with the unique input devices those platforms provide) would be the best fit for Astral Breakers.
Through the creation and launch of Astral Breakers, the devs have learned a lot, and while it’s certainly been quite the adventure for them thus far, they can confidently say that the best is yet to come. Following an exciting international debut at Tokyo Game Show 2015’s Indie Game Corner, Astral Breakers was Greenlit for a Q1 2016 release… in both English and Japanese language! There are even more exciting developments on the horizon, too… but unfortunately the Intropy Games team can’t share too many details just yet. “Our cosmic journeys have only just begun”, Lisa Walkosz-Migliacio adds. The game is currently available on the Wii U eShop.