PopCap's Latest Was Designed By A 10-Year-Old

PopCap's Latest Was Designed By A 10-Year-Old

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PopCap's latest title features no colored gems, nor shambling undead. Instead, it's a real-time strategy game developed by a 10-year-old.

As far as young boys go, Owain Weinert is a pretty standard kid. He's 10-years-old, in the fourth grade, and he loves videogames. Like all gamers at that age, he dreamed of building his own games, and thanks to the generosity of Peggle creator PopCap Games, Weinert has been given that chance.

Unfortunately, Owain suffers from acute lymphocytic leukemia, a rapidly progressing form of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Though its status as the most common form of cancer among children offers a relatively good chance for treatment, the cancer's voracious attack is still incredibly dangerous and claims many lives each year.

Thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation, PopCap heard about Owain's plight and teamed with the boy to develop an iOS real-time strategy game dubbed Allied Star Police.

PopCap's site now features an "Owain's Wish" page that details the collaboration in full:

PopCap met Owain in April when Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alaska & Washington told us about his wish to make a video game. Owain (which means "little warrior" in Welsh) was diagnosed with pre-B Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia last year and has gone through lots of difficult treatments. But his dad said that what he really wanted was to hang out with "real game designers". So we volunteered to help Owain make his video game during PopCamp. PopCamp is a unique time here when folks can tinker around with interesting ideas, learn lots of new stuff and share it with everyone else at the end of the week.

Well, little did we know that Owain would be our teacher and lead game designer!

On the first day of PopCamp the team -- a producer, several developers, programmers and a musician -- invited Owain to our Seattle office to learn more about his idea for a video game. They were blown away when he came with a PowerPoint presentation and basically walked them through the game.

Here's how his first slide began: "You are a military genius who has just been released from cryo-sleep. Your brilliance in the Lunar War convinced the A.S.P. (Allied Star Police) to put you in cryogenic slumber, just in case WWIII showed up. It's not exactly WORLD war three, more Galactic War one..."

Okay, you get the picture.

Owain described his game in detail as he went through each slide. He had mapped out pretty much everything - storyline, unit types, firepower, shields, respawn times. We were blown away. Clearly, Owain was not your average fourth grader. He knew everything about this game. The challenge for us was how to build it in just one week. The game he'd presented would take us 18 months to create. After kicking around some ideas we decided to create a demo of Owain's real-time strategy game. The team got to work that night.

Over the next week, Owain came in for another design review, giving us more feedback and game details, like unit names, cheat codes and a finished backstory.

At the end of the week, Owain and his family and friends came to PopCap for an awesome release party. Since Owain's family doesn't own any iOS devices, we gave him his own fully-loaded iPad -- complete with his A.S.P. game (and, of course, other hit PopCap titles).

Those of you who took a momentary break from shouting at puppies to read the above only to scoff aloud, wondering to no one in particular, "how good could a game possibly be if it was developed by a 10-year-old kid?" can sate your angry curiosity right this very moment. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can download Allied Star Police via the iOS App Store free of charge.

I was intending to conclude this piece by marveling at PopCap's generosity, but at this point, the company's random acts of kindness towards kids just aren't all that shocking. Only a month ago we covered an eBay auction PopCap held where the company sold off rare pieces of artwork to benefit sick children in the US and the UK. If I read tomorrow that PopCap found a way to launch the physical incarnation of childhood sadness into the sun, I would fully believe it.

No, the really impressive part here is the game itself. I don't expect any of you to believe me until you actually play Allied Star Police, so I urge you, if you have the means, download the game. It's surprisingly good, and I say that with my cynical, game critic hat pulled down firmly over my ears.

Forget how old he is, Owain Weinert has quality game design chops for a person of any age.

Source: PopCap, via Eurogamer
(Propers to Aidenthel for the tip!)

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Getting it now.

The game description says "nine-year-old", btw.

Glad to see Popcap being all nice...and stuff.

Onyx Oblivion:
The game description says "nine-year-old", btw.

Yup. He was 9-years-old. He is now 10.

Earnest Cavalli:

Onyx Oblivion:
The game description says "nine-year-old", btw.

Yup. He was 9-years-old. He is now 10.

WAS?

Are you trying to tell me that childhood doesn't last forever and that people age?

Btw, the game is actually pretty fun. It's better than the other free games on iOS, that's for damn sure. Outside of the occasional lucky Free App of The Day being good.

well, glad to see that EA hasn't corrupted the simplicity of PopCap...

That's seriously awesome. But yes, you'd be surprised how intelligent and detailed some children can be in their games.

Thats awesome. A kid that age wanting a RTS warms my heart. I thought most kids his age just wanted to play CoD. Makes me happy when kids branch out from the usual set of games.

Sounds cool, hope they make an Android version

Wait, so they made it in a week?

I want it. But, I also have no iOS devices. I want it.

What system is this game for? Because it looks awesome, and this kid certainly deserves a ton of praise for this.

Reading articles like this really proves that companies aren't all about making profits.

Earnest Cavalli:

Those of you who took a momentary break from shouting at puppies to read the above only to scoff aloud, wondering to no one in particular, "how good could a game possibly be if it was developed by a 10-year-old kid?" can sate your angry curiosity right this very moment. If you have an iPhone or iPad

Is there any way to sate my angry curiosity without an iPhone or iPad?

Wow, that's real standup of PopCap. It's always nice to be reminded that there are genuinely nice people out there, especially in industries where its hard to remember that people have other motives besides just profit.

I don't own an iProduct, so I suppose I won't be able to see how this turned out. But still, props to PopCap for giving a sick kid a chance to express his dreams.

What humdrum. I would love to play this game but it's only for the Apple people. Daw well it's a nice story anyways.

enzilewulf:
Thats awesome. A kid that age wanting a RTS warms my heart. I thought most kids his age just wanted to play CoD. Makes me happy when kids branch out from the usual set of games.

I was playing rts's from about 8 years old :P
No regrets!

WHy will none pay me to make a game!

I really think Popcap should have charged $.99 and given the proceeds to childhood cancer research. Don't get me wrong, this is a fantastic thing that Popcap has done, but imagine what it would have been like for Owain to not only realize his dream but use it to fight back against cancer.

Anyways, I love stories like this. A tip of my hat to both Owain and Popcap.

Alar:
That's seriously awesome. But yes, you'd be surprised how intelligent and detailed some children can be in their games.

The usually concentrate better and focus long at what the do, before the age of 13 when you have to worry about social status, drugs and girls ;).

Wow. 10 years old and he already has more initiative, talent, and leadership skills than Bobby Kotick. ZING!

Seriously, that's a cool story.

Awesome. I'm planning on picking up an iPhone in a few months, I will definitely have to check this out. I like the fact that making this a free app will help to possible generate some donations toward cancer and lukemia research.

Stories like this though also make me a bit nervous what with the whole EA buying out Popcap. I hope kotick keeps his grubby mitts away from such a great team of people.

Glad to hear this come to fruition- I remember reading about this when it was just in it's planning stages.

Good on Popcap.

Wow, popcap sure is weird. They came out of nowhere, makes crazy addictive games that are actually good, and they're really nice. Who are these people and how can they be so good??

orangeapples:
well, glad to see that EA hasn't corrupted the simplicity of PopCap...

I sense a "yet" there in your ellipsis.

OT: Seriously, that's pretty cool, and the game actually looks fun. Gotta love PopCap, and i really do hope EA doesn't defile them.

PopCap: the nicest drug dealers you will ever meet. Now shut up and go click at sun balls for six hours.

...you misspelled my name.

I thought this thread was about somebody bashing popcap's game-crafting abilities...

I would get it for my iPhone, but thankfully I own a good smart phone. So I will have to wait until there's an Android or PC version of this game out.

ios? Eek. Well, anyway, it seems the sad slippery slope:

This is the only way to get innovation into the industry nowadays. Many, many people have what they think is an epic idea, but if you haven't cracked into the industry, good luck!

"Game made by a 10-Year Old" is Basically PopCap in a nutshell.

Gerhardt:
Awesome. I'm planning on picking up an iPhone in a few months, I will definitely have to check this out. I like the fact that making this a free app will help to possible generate some donations toward cancer and lukemia research.

Stories like this though also make me a bit nervous what with the whole EA buying out Popcap. I hope kotick keeps his grubby mitts away from such a great team of people.

*facepalm*

Kotick is Activision, not EA.

Anyway, nice going there PopCap. Don't have any Apple Products though, so I guess I won't be seeing this Game any time soon.

D'awwww, how sweet of them. I'd give the kid money but since I'm underage I can't

Hoping that:
A. This will be released on PC. (Not everyone wants to spend money on super expensive smartphones or their plans)
B. A full game will be made based on the popularity of this one. With part of the profits going to Make a Wish and other organizations.

Monoochrom:

Gerhardt:
Awesome. I'm planning on picking up an iPhone in a few months, I will definitely have to check this out. I like the fact that making this a free app will help to possible generate some donations toward cancer and lukemia research.

Stories like this though also make me a bit nervous what with the whole EA buying out Popcap. I hope kotick keeps his grubby mitts away from such a great team of people.

*facepalm*

Kotick is Activision, not EA.

Anyway, nice going there PopCap. Don't have any Apple Products though, so I guess I won't be seeing this Game any time soon.

wow, yeah >< embarrassing.... I get those two confused, still the hear of what I was going for remains.

Yeah... sorry... I'll just go slam my head in a door now.

 

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