Named after the company’s HQ address in Seattle, PopCap Games has recently announced the opening of 4th & Battery, a new initiative to foster experimental game development. According to PopCap, the new design center is located in a, “secret druidic chamber below one of Seattle’s largest parks.” I’m not making this stuff up.
Chamber dwelling PopCap designers and developers will have free reign at 4th & Battery, where they are encouraged to let their minds’ run wild and focus on creating small, simple, and the occasional edgy games. And given the lab’s location, it’s fair to say that this team of devs and designers are by in no means under the constraints of a corporate situation.
“4th & Battery is a pressure valve intended to keep our heads from exploding,” explained Ed Allard, Executive Vice President of Studios at PopCap in a statement. “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.”
And while this sounds great in principle, 4th & Battery is still under the gun when it comes to results. The project is expected to push out several games a year, mainly small, arcade style games aimed at a wide gamut, including PC, Facebook, and iPhone. Eager to prove their point, and give audiences a preview of what they are in store for, 4th & Battery’s initial offering is titled Unpleasant Horse, and is geared towards “Mature” audiences. And by “Mature” I certainly hope we’re talking about booze, boobs and bongs and not blood, bullets, and bombs. Unfortunately, the game description reads more like similar game mechanics put with an “Unpleasant” ending for trampled horses. Read: The glue factory awaits.
“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 in a statement. “Expect weirdness.”