Interview with Garth Chouteau VP of Communications at PoP CaP Games

POPCAP Interviews

MasterAbbott kicks off POP CAP Games FEVER with an interview with Garth Chouteau VP of Communications at PoP CaP Games.  Garth answers in fine detail information on POP CAP Games, designs and development on certain games available at the moment.  PLUS A LOT MORE !!

Enjoy the read.

Capsule Computers Question 1: Do POPCAP Games create games on all the major platforms, such as PC, XBOX, PS3, Nintendo, DS, iPhone? 

Garth Chouteau : Yes PopCap is available on all major platforms –

These breakdown by market as follows:

  • Apple iPod/itouch – US & Worldwide
  • Apple iPhone US & Worldwide
  • Gameboy Advance – US & Worldwide
  • Gameboy Micro – US & Worldwide
  • In-Flight – US & Worldwide
  • Lottery Tickets – US (Bejeweled, Chuzzle and Bookworm)
  • Mac – US & Worldwide
  • Mobile phones – US & Worldwide
  • On-Demand TV– US (in numerous hotel chains)
  • PalmOS – US & Worldwide
  • PC – Worldwide
  • Pocket PC – US & Worldwide
  • Retail – US & UK
  • Ultra-Mobile PCs – US & Worldwide
  • Web – US & Worldwide
  • Windows Mobile PDA – US & Worldwide
  • Xbox 360 – US & Worldwide
  • Sony Playstation – US & Worldwide
  • Facebook/social – Worldwide
  • Nintendo/DS – Worldwide

Capsule Computers Question 2 : Is development of POPCAP Games done in-house? How many software developers are employed by POPCAP Games?

Garth Chouteau : More than 150 of our 250 employees are directly involved in the design and/or development of our games. We have perhaps two dozen games in the pipeline at any given time, including adaptations of existing games for new platforms, sequels, add-ons and expansions of/to existing games, and all-new games. Most – roughly 80% – of the development of our games occurs in-house; occasionally we’ll farm out the adapting of an existing game for a particular platform or work with another developer who we admire, such as our collaboration with Q Entertainment on Peggle Dual Shot for DS or our work with Square Enix on Gyromancer.

Capsule Computers Question 3: The Apple iphone / iTouch is starting to be one of the biggest consumer products used worldwide at the moment for mobile gaming.  Currently how many iPhone / iTouch games do POPCAP Games have available for purchase via iTunes?

Garth Chouteau : We have currently 3 games available in the iTunes store – Peggle, Bookworm and Bejeweled 2 which also has the free update to Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook – you can connect to Facebook and play Bejeweled Blitz online or an option to play offline. We’ve got several other iPhone/iPod Touch games coming soon – stay tuned!

Capsule Computers Question 4 : And what are your best sellers and are there any plans on bringing out more of your original titles and new titles to this market?

Garth Chouteau : Bejeweled 2 has been a Top 5 best-selling application since its release.  Our games are quick, simple fun and are perfect for on-the-go gaming where the user doesn’t have to spend a lot of time learning how to play the game or struggling against complicated controls.  Our games appeal to the masses and the masses seem to be buying iPhones and iPod Touches. 

  • Bejeweled 2 is, according to Apple, the #4 best-selling paid app of all time.
  • Peggle is the #11 top paid app for iPhone (#10 for iPod touch) and #8 top paid games. 
  • Bookworm has been a top 100 paid game for most of its lifetime on the App Store

Capsule Computers Question 5 : What was the development process like in creating one of the most popular games in POPCAPS Line up: PEGGLE?

Garth Chouteau : (This is regarding the original PC version of Peggle, not the iPhone version.) In the first 5 months or so of developing Peggle there was just the Producer and Developer. Then Walter Wilson joined the team as Lead Artist. In the last third of the project, Marcia Broderick (Background Artist) and Eric Tams (Developer) joined the core team. We also had lots of great input from our QA team – and the rest of the PopCap staff throughout the project. So depending on how you look at it, you could say 5 people created Peggle, or you could say 150 people were involved! It took almost 2 and half years from prototyping to release.

Capsule Computers Question 6 : What sort of research was done in creating a new and certainly a very enjoyable and challenging game for players, please explain the entire process from Storyboarding, concept art, QA etc.

Garth Chouteau : The idea for Peggle first came about by one of our PopCap’s peeps had played an imported pachinko game back in the late ‘90’s and thought “this game is awesome!” The trouble was pachinko was purely luck-based and didn’t translate well to a downloadable PC game. Then another PopCap staffer started work on a 2D physics engine, and we talked about one day making some sort of pachinko/pinball/breakout style game. John Vechey, one of PopCap’s founders, thought it was a great idea and basically pushed us forward even though we both weren’t quite ready to start.

 We spent the first few months working on a basic engine and level editor that would let us create pinball or pachinko levels. We basically tried to one up each other with our levels, and came up with some inventive and fun stuff, but it was all either pretty fast paced using the typical non-stop ball shooting that you would see in pachinko, or very skill based.

So, we started simplifying. We made a level that had 100 rotating crosses, which all had to be cleared. This seemed to be the right direction – it was a lot of fun, addictive and replayable but we soon found the frustration factor was really high.

Over the next couple of weeks or so this was distilled down to a field of static round pegs so you could get a more predictable bounce, then we finally decided to just use a subset of randomly selected orange target pegs to help balance levels and ease some of the frustration of getting the last peg. After that, we had to get the scoring right. Since there are fewer pegs to hit as you play, we escalated point values as you progressed through the level so you don’t just earn the bulk of your score with the first few shots. By that point, we were pretty hooked ourselves, as were others who tried it.

Capsule Computers Question 7 : For new players not aware of POPCAP Games.  What sort and style of games do you have available for consumers.  Please explain in as much detail the broad range of titles available to consumers.  Are most of the Games created by POPCAP only suitable for a specific age rating or can anyone enjoy playing PopCap Games.

Garth Chouteau : Everyone is a potential player of PopCap games. We strive to make games that appeal to everyone and anyone – from mothers to their renowned nemesis, hardcore gamers. PopCap research shows that casual games naturally skew towards an older (three quarters of our customers are aged 30+), female (two thirds are female) audience but those are just the people who buy the games on the PC. Many of our games are on Xbox Live Arcade, for example, and are doing well with traditional gamers – while PopCap’s mobile games do very well with younger gamers.

Our mission at PopCap is to be innovators of casual games on as many platforms as possible to make our games as accessible to this audience of ‘everyone’ as possible. As we discover new genres of casual games and make these playable on new platforms, the PopCap audience likewise continues to expand and diversify.

Capsule Computers Question 8 : Finally what can fans and consumers expect to see in terms of innovative, creative and new games from POPCAP.  What new titles can we all expect to see in the future and on what gaming platform will they be made available on.

Garth Chouteau : As a company policy, we don’t discuss future plans or upcoming games. However I can say that a priority will always be to make PopCap games as universally available as possible through different markets and platforms.

MasterAbbott & Capsule Computers would like to thank Garth once again for taking the time to answer all these questions about POP CAP Games.  We know our readers and also fans of POP CAP Games have found this interview very interesting and informative.

Next we move onto the video reviews.  Stay tuned !! 🙂

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