It’s been almost 5 years since the last game released by Codeminion (Phantasmat) and I feel it’s time to explain what we’ve been up to all this time. The timing is perfect, because Thing Trunk has just announced Return 2 Games.
But what does it have to do with Codeminion? Let me tell you a story.
A Great Start
Almost right from the beginning (2004), Codeminion focused on the casual downloadable games market. Between 2006 and 2009 we were one of the biggest Polish companies that specialized in such games and we released many successful titles that reached the tops of the charts (such as Magic Match, Saqqarah, Phantasmat). Our dedication to high quality earned us a solid reputation amongst gamers, publishers and casual game reviewers.
Our ambition was always to make each new game better than the last one, and for each game to bring some kind of innovation to its respective genre.
This is how we created the match-3 “drag-to-select” mechanics (first introduced with Magic Match), which is still popular today and is used in many games on many platforms.
Unfortunately, sometime around 2010, we started to notice that the casual games market was taking a turn in a direction that we didn’t like. Many publishers, including such trend-setters as BigFish Games, decided to release more and more shorter games, all very similar and at lower prices. The casual audience, once diverse and feasting on games of different genres, suddenly shrunk and everyone but the hidden-object game fans were left to search for games on other markets/platforms. When Codeminion was taking first steps on the market in in 2004, the bestseller charts were full of different casual games (match-3, strategy, marble-poppers, adventure, card, shooters, time management, etc.) and the audience was divided almost equally between young and old, women and men. Today the picture is very different.
Quite suddenly Codeminion awakened in a market where we couldn’t compete and we had to make tough choices. On one hand we could adjust, but it would mean turning our studio into a hidden object game factory and abandoning our mission of trying to innovate with each title. The alternative was to take a step back to do some game development soul searching. And this is what we decided to do.
A New Idea
The searching didn’t take long at all. Once free of the day-to-day production management we almost instantly came up with the idea of a game series we named Return 2 Games. The idea was so enticing that it would quickly become our obsession. We knew what we had to do.
Despite our enthusiasm, launching the project turned out quite tricky for the downsized team and the work was hardly progressing. We didn’t immediately see that Return 2 Games was a huge endeavor, more complex than anything we did before. The pre-production was full of challenges and surprises that probably deserve a blogpost of their own. Due to this, and because of various complications in my and Konrad’s personal lives we ended up taking separate routes.
Although we both got involved in the founding of Crunching Koalas (which would later release the puzzle game MouseCraft), Konrad had to shift his priorities and decided move away from gamedev for some time, as he had to help in the family business.
As for me, having come up with the R2G idea, I wanted to see it materialized very badly and I wanted to push on against all odds. Still, I clearly saw all the piling problems with the design and production, and I understood that trying build it on my own would be a wild goose chase. Fortunately I managed to find people equally passionate about the idea and this is how Thing Trunk was born.
Thing Trunk takes charge
In February 2012, together with Filip Starzyński and Konstanty Kalicki (who should be quite familiar to Codeminion fans, as the authors of Brunhilda and the Dark Crystal) we founded Thing Trunk. A team was born solely dedicated to bringing Return 2 Games to life.
And here we are, almost 3 years of hard work later, ready to show the first teaser of the series. It wasn’t easy, but everyone on our small team is giving their best and so far we managed to overcome all the obstacles on our way. There still are challenges to be tackled of course, but we feel that we’ve reached a point in the production where we can start making promises. The teaser trailer we have released is only the beginning, just a small taste of what’s going to be revealed in the coming months. The year 2016 will be a turning point for us, as we will first reveal (in the first half of 2016) and later release (in the second half) the first game in the Return 2 Games series.
It’s kind of sad that Codeminion is not developing new games, but everything we have learned has stayed with us and will be somehow reflected in Return 2 Games. But R2G is much more than that – it’s a new direction, one that can’t easily be categorized in terms of casual and hardcore games. Yes, R2G will be very different from anything that we did at Codeminion, but that’s exactly why it’s so exciting. And knowing what we are preparing and how the first game is coming up, I’m sure that Codeminion fans will not be disappointed.
So what now?
I hope that I managed to spark your interest in Return 2 Games. Just like Codeminion, Thing Trunk too is an independent developer and our success largely depends on the engagement of people such as yourself. This is what we are counting on, and what I would like to thank you for in advance!
The Sneak-Peek Program
For those who are especially excited about R2G and willing to help, want to learn about game development process, or for those who are simply impatient, we have prepared the Sneak-Peek program. Everyone who subscribes, will have a chance to beta-test R2G games long before their official, public release.