Category Archives: Spicy Horse

“BigHead BASH” Open Beta on Kongregate

Everyone at Spicy Horse is very excited to announce BigHead BASH is now in Open Beta on Kongregate!

Who’s up for some free-to-play BASHING action?

Time to get of the farm, stop counting cows and start collecting exclusive toys and weapons! This is the first of three new titles Spicy will release in 2012 – all of them designed to push online gaming to new heights of quality and fun.

Like collecting things? You can get Mr. Destructoid and his Rooster Launcher, or if you’re in a more gentle mood, Nurse Tacky and a Chainsaw. Monkeys, lasers, robots, pirates and more! BigHead BASH is where your toys go to play!

New toys and weapons will be launched every two weeks, with exclusive posters and wallpapers on our website and Facebook page.

Check out and join the fun!

UPDATE: The kind folks over at Destructoid have covered the Open Beta story here.

State of the Horse, March 2012

Know what’s incredible? Spicy Horse is preparing to release not one… not two… but THREE new games in 2012! It’s been a wild ride since the end of development on “Alice: Madness Returns”. Back then, the studio escaped certain death. We were lucky enough to secure investment from solid, committed partners. And for all of 2011 the team cranked away on new titles for a new generation of gaming platforms.

Here’s what’s coming in 2012:

BigHead BASH” is competitive multiplayer deathmatch action set in a toy store – for the adrenaline junkies out there. It’s filled with original toy concepts and awesome licensed content from bands, brands, games and comics. BHB is the online toy store of the future. You can check it out right now:

“Akaneiro: Demon Hunters” is an online, lite-RPG based on a dark, Japanese themed Red Riding Hood – for those of you who are quest & collect fans. If you liked the dark, twisted atmosphere of the “Alice” series, you’ll love this adaptation of “Red”. Expect this online and on Tegra-powered Android tablets.

Lastly, “Crazy Fairies” combines comedy and fairy tales with turn-based multiplayer “Worms” style game play. This one will be playable across ALL mobile devices (iOS, Android), online, and on social networks (like Facebook).

Personally, I think these titles are set to revolutionize the way people think about “browser games” – and “Facebook games” in particular. Cool themes, super high quality art and really fun online game play. A little something for everyone in this lineup! The devs here at Spicy Horse are delivering on the promise – AAA quality games in your browser, on your mobile device.

Stay tuned for more news here and on our main Spicy Horse site. It’s going to be an exciting year!

“Best Art Direction” for Alice: Madness Returns

MSNBC Tech has awarded Alice: Madness Returns a “Best Art Direction” award for 2011. Alice had some serious competition for the honor, going up against some of the year’s biggest and most beautiful games, including:
* Rage
* Batman: Arkham Asylum
* El Shaddai
* Skyrim

Landing this prize speaks volumes about the continued rise in high-quality AAA game development being seen here in China – and specifically in Shanghai. For years, Western developers and publishers utilized China as their outsource art asset factory. And over time the artists, animators and modelers here increased their capability and creativity – with a game like A:MR being wonderful testament to the sort of surreal, imaginative and detailed work the Chinese game industry is now capable of.

Large-scale AAA console games often spend 50% or ore of their budgets on art alone. Alice:MR was no different. Of a 65 person internal team, nearly half were working on “art” (animation, 3D, concept, effects). Another 45 artists spread between 4 different outsource studios contributed the bulk of 3D asset production for the game. This “near sourcing” of 3D asset production meant we could outsource 98% of all 3D artwork for the game to local outsource teams.

Not only did this model produce impressive results, it was reliable, cost-effective and creatively engaging for all involved. Geographic proximity meant that the outsource teams felt like a true part of the larger art department. And one of the shining examples of effeciency and creativity was outsource shop “China West Coast“.

Kudos to Spicy Horse’s internal art team must be shared with outsource groups like China West Coast. Without the seamless and effective integration of the internal and external art pipelines – and the beautiful work being produced by all – the game would never have attained placement among the year’s other AAA titles.

Awesome work by all involved. Thank you, Spicy Horse art team and all the outsource groups like CWC who did the creative heavy lifting!

If you’re interested in using CWC on one of your AAA projects, you can learn more about them HERE.

Spicy Horse Gallops in a New Direction

Really Spicy Horse

Christian Nutt over at Gamasutra covered the initial announcement of Spicy Horse Games’ new business and development direction. From the article:

Today, the Shanghai-based studio Spicy Horse, which has completed work on Alice 2 for EA, is announcing that it has secured $3 million in investment from Singapore and Shanghai-based Vickers Venture Partners.

The company, from this point forward, will focus on developing 3D social, online games for a global audience. Spicy Horse is working on its first post-Alice 2 project alongside PopCap’s Shanghai studio — a 3D online version of one of the casual titan’s games, to be launched initially in the Asia/Pacific region.

There’s a tremendous amount of excitement around these studio these days. We’ve just finished “Alice: Madness Returns”, which has turned out beautifully and marks a historic occasion in game development, the first-ever AAA console game developed entirely in China. Having finished with Alice, we’re returning to our roots, online games (like “American McGee’s Grimm“, on which we founded the studio). Best yet, we’re joined in this adventure by two great partners, PopCap (who’ve given us a really cool development deal) and Vickers Capital Group (who’ve given us a really cool investment deal).

Going forward the focus is going to Free to Play, Online, Multi-player games built using high quality 3D assets and distributed via mobile platforms and F2P operating partners world-wide. This strategy effectively combines two things Spicy has proven it’s great at – casual online games (Grimm) and AAA console games (Alice). My belief is that this combination will be the next big wave in the casual online space. Where audiences have had their fun with great 2D Facebook games, the market demands evolution, and we hope we’ve got the secret formula.

Over the coming weeks and months we expect to announce more details about a range of exciting projects, including the collaboration with PopCap. For the “Alice” fans, we’ve got some twisted fairy tales being adapted into F2P format – very dark stuff. And the creative minds at the studio are also stretching out, building a diverse offering of IPs which we hope will capture audiences around the world.

Stay tuned here and via our other media feeds like Facebook and Twitter for more info.

Bigger Budgets != More Quality

Read on today of an interview with Romuald Capron, COO at Arkane Studios of his views on budgets and team size as they relate to the creation of quality games. He says of smaller teams and outsourcing,

“I think that’s a good way to maintain reasonable budgets, and I think a lot of companies are coming round to this way of working right now,” he continued. “They’re realising that having 200 people in a studio – okay, it can work for ten months of scheduled development, but is it the way to make a triple-A game?

“Maybe they could re-organise and say, okay, let’s keep to a three-year schedule again, but with less people – and more polishing at the end? At some point I’m not sure the markets can follow as fast as the development costs.”

From where I’m sitting it’s great to hear solid developers touting a method of production that we’ve been utilizing at Spicy Horse for the past 4 years. All of our 3D asset production is outsourced (nearly 99% of it) to nearby outsource shops like China West Coast and Nuke. These guys become a virtual extension of our team (greatly benefiting from the fact that we’re all in the same city) – allowing us to produce and wrangle content like a 150+ person team while maintaining an internal core size of less than 65.

There’s a lot to be said for simplicity in production teams – higher communication, accountability and quality output being the three most obvious benefits.

As 2nd-hand sales and piracy continue to threaten the viability of larger-budget games, this sort of thinking will become more and more critical to publishers and developers alike – the simple fact is that cheaper games (which maintain AAA quality) are better able to survive the drag placed on them by things like 2nd-hand sales and piracy.

Read the full article HERE.