Wojciech Borczyk, co-founder of Incuvo, founded the game development startup in 2012 with Jakub Duda. His love of games began as a child, and his desire to create games started almost as early. He convinced his brother to teach him programming, and a few weeks later he had made his first game. Although it was a very simple game, he said, “Watching those pixels obey my orders and watching my friends play it – you can’t describe that with words.” He continues in the games industry because of his love for games and because of the new learning opportunities. What he enjoys the most is the chance to continue doing what he loves with his colleagues. However, if Borczyk was not in the games industry, he would be developing his scientific and academic career. He has a PhD in Informatics and Computer Graphics and enjoys teaching.
Because Incuvo is still a small company, Borczyk’s work encompasses many different areas including design, programming, and fundraising. His previous game industry and business software experience, combined with his scientific career, have all been beneficial in his new company. He also learned many helpful skills as a demo scene member.
Creating with Createrria
Borczyk tells us the formation of Createrria has been the most exciting time of his career. Borczyk emphasizes that he loved creating games as a child, but it was a difficult thing to do. “I always wanted people to experience how it feels to create your own game, but to take the hassle away. And now I know we’ve done it right,” he said.
Incuvo is focusing on community trends with Createrria. They believe user-generated games will be huge. This opinion is certainly well-founded, given that within the first month after a worldwide launch, people created over 700,000 games in Createrria. And although Createrria was not created specifically for children, Incuvo has enjoyed seeing it embraced by young people.
A Long-Time Gamer
As a longtime gamer, Borczyk currently enjoys playing Zelda Wind Waker HD on Wii U. He prefers Nintendo platforms, and is spending more and more time on Wii U. For mobile games, he prefers iOS to Android, feeling its user experience is superior.
The trend that Borczyk sees most influencing the game industry during the next few years is the new wave of virtual reality equipment. He claimed Oculus Rift is taking it in the right direction. “However, I believe this won’t be an experience for the masses (too many people experiencing heavy side effects),” he said. “Also, the technology gets better and better, but I haven’t seen a polished game experience.” But he also noted that the controls are challenging and pointed out, “Now that your brain is tricked into thinking ‘I am there,’ many things that were acceptable are no longer.”
Incuvo is a game development startup created in 2012 by Wojciech Borczyk and Jakub Duda. Previously, they bootstrapped an indie gaming startup and successfully exited to lead a large console development studio for a major Polish publisher. However, they decided to get back to their roots and start something completely new. Jakub shared the story about its flagship project, Createrria.
It’s Always Been Games
I knew who I wanted to be in life when I was ten. This decision came shortly after I got my first 8-bit computer and started playing games. I didn’t have this “firefighter or policeman” dilemma. I wanted to create games – these magical windows leading into different realms. Their creators were giants to me. But at that time, I couldn’t fulfill my dream. Something scary, called 6502 assembler language, stood between me and my desire to create games. I eventually learned BASIC language, dropped the game developer idea for some time, and returned to it a few years later, sometime around 2004.
When we were looking for a new idea, I discovered that Wojciech and I share the same childhood experience: fascination with early computer games and frustration with the development learning curve. At the same time, we started looking at the rising popularity of tablets and amazing possibilities of touch interfaces. That decided us. We wanted to bring the fun of game creation to millions of mobile players who have no time or desire to learn game programming and master all the other skill necessary to create a game now. They could already create great photos, music, and even shape virtual pottery on tablets, but mobiles were still missing a great game creation app.
Thus, Createrria was born.
We wanted Createrria to be an easy-to-use, fun, no-skills-required game creation app for mobiles. From the beginning, we wanted it to be 2D experience designed for touch screens, not controller/mice/keyboard input. Also, it needed to be social – everything created should be instantly shareable with friends.
When we started Incuvo, everything was new: the company, the office (We worked without walls during the first week), the team (with some long time friends who decided to share this adventure with us), the platform (we were purely consoles in the past), the engine, and even the genre. The first few weeks were crazy. Things took shape slowly. We started with a cross-platform engine evaluation (Unity3D won!), then started working on a playable prototype. This prototype was to determine if our idea was at all achievable. We were afraid of ending up with something overly complex and hard to use, just another developer tool masked as a user app. Fights over game details went on for hours and were fierce. Then we started having our first moments of triumph (“The physics engine is working!”) and despair (“it crashes every ten seconds!”). But finally, our first tech demo appeared. With four graphic themes, several different gameplay types, initial cloud sharing (added as a last-minute hack), and early iOS and Android support. The biggest success was a lack of an external game editor. We initially planned it as a support for an in-app editor – but first attempts were successful enough that we could drop this idea entirely and design everything inside our app. This was a breakthrough and our first milestone.
Createrria was growing fast. Still accompanied by fierce and passionate fights over every feature, we iterated over every single thing. Long live agile development! The biggest challenges proved to be character design and cloud backend. The first challenge was strictly a design one. How could we create likeable, customizable and universal characters, also meant to be used as avatars, without copying existing games? We went through dozens of options, ranging from hamsters running in balls (easy to animate) to fully customizable avatars with exchangeable mustaches. Eventually, we managed to work out our own recognizable style: humanoid avatars, with detached limbs, based on one shape, but extremely customizable. Yes, we love them, and yes, we want to have more. Luckily, one of the cool things about mobile games is the easiness of updates – we can always add exchangeable mustaches later.
F2P or not F2P?
Free to play seems to be a very controversial topic these days. For most developers, free-to-play means robbery. Is it really that bad? Of course not! Createrria is a pure free-to-play game designed in our way: “Game first, money second.” Don’t blame the sales model – blame those developers who abuse it. We believe that well-balanced free-to-play games may bring pure joy to the players and pay our bills by the end of the day. Still, I sometimes feel like a dinosaur when I look at how much the business model has changed since we developed our first console titles.
The Journey Ends
Createrria‘s development was a long journey and great adventure for us. Now it is ready! It will be released for iOS in the second half of October 2013, with Android following shortly afterwards. We hope you will share the fun and adventure with us – playing the games we created with it and creating new ones we could never have imagined.
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