Proving that gamers can be a fun bunch who are light at heart, Cape Town-based game developer Thoopid always gets the last laugh, thanks to its name. The studio decided on the lispy pun when the development team realised that anybody who said it out loud would immediately feel, well, a little thoopid.
The joke continues with the name for its very first game, Snailboy. It’s just ripe for a spoonerism: just wait until you tell somebody you’re playing Thnailboy, by Stupid.
One thing is certain, though, these guys are anything but.
Snailboy not only shot to number one on the South African charts (in the entertainment category – a few days before Apple made games available), it also enjoyed success in other markets. RW Liebenberg, lead developer on Snailboy, says that their game also featured at the top of the Irish iTunes App Store charts, and in the top 100 paid apps in the American store.
He credits this success to the fact that Apple’s App Store curators have featured the game in their top new app selections. Again, in the American App Store, Snailboy was highlighted in a list of the top 20 new apps. In fact, as of today Snailboy has featured as one of the best new games in iTunes App Stores for more than 60 markets.
Featured in Best New Games on the App Store in over 60 countries!
— Snailboy (@SnailboyTheGame) October 25, 2013
Not only that, but eight months of development and hard work has also exceeded the team’s expectations. RW says they aimed for 10 000 to 15 000 users, and despite delayed App Store statistics from Apple, they estimate there are around 63 000 people enjoying the game. And it’s less than a month old.
Apple is known for communicating only when it feels like it. There was no official explanation from the company about why games were unavailable in the South African App Store. It also didn’t communicate to developers ahead of time, when games did becomes available. And its known for tight policies when it comes to getting apps approved in the App Store, sometimes rejecting apps without an explanation.
Despite these things, Thoopid still chose to publish Snailboy for iOS, first. RW says that Apple’s quality and review process is a lot better, and the team loves developing for Apple’s mobile platform. According to him, it’s easier to develop for and get the game looking good, and it’s mostly as a result of there being very few variations in Apple hardware compared to the myriad devices running Android.
That said, an updated version is in the works for Android devices and it’ll hit the Samsung app store (oh dear; Thoopid, Thnailboy, Thamthung…) in the next two weeks. There’s no date yet, but the game will also be available on the Amazon and Google Play app stores – something that could potentially spell huge success for this gorgeous game.
That’s probably the best thing of all. We can all be proud of a local developer that’s pushed out a quality product, but Snailboy blows away most people’s expectations of what’s possible from local companies. The visuals in this fun-to-play platformer are – as we said before – as pretty as something from Pixar. Snailboy himself is a cute, loveable character, and RW says that it’s the result of having fresh, creative minds work on the project.
While he has a background in advertising, where he tended to the demands of difficult clients, the designers, animators, and artists working on Snailboy have literally been snatched up as they left animation school. These are their first jobs. What a fantastic story they’ll have to tell their grandchildren one day: “I helped build South Africa’s video game industry.”
That’s something that no amount of success can buy.
Not that it’s going to stop the team. Updates for Snailboy are on the way. The Android version will be better. And there’s plenty more coming from the creative team.
Snailboy is available in the South African iTunes App Store for R15.99, and will play on your iPad or iPhone.