The Epic Story Behind Explodemon, Hitting PSN on February 8th

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Hello again! Explodemon is out in just a few weeks’ time – February 8th, save the date! – so we thought it would be nice to take a look at the long, long history of Explodemon and the realities of life as an independent developer (and now publisher!)

Our wonderful design director and (non-biological) father of Explodemon, Jonathan Biddle – known almost exclusively as Bidds – has documented the whole five year saga. It’s a long tale, so I’ve formulated a super-condensed version here – but if you want the full, unedited saga, point your Internet Machine over here.

To set the scene: Curve was founded in 2005, a pretty dire time for game developers in the UK. The fledgling company got some work making ‘joystick games’ which, while it could be considered a comedown having previously worked on triple-A products, turned out to be a great chance to get back to gaming’s roots:

After finishing a long, complex, demoralising project, working on getting five 2D games out of the door within three months was refreshing and liberating. The constraints of the system, combined with my love of classic arcade, SNES and GBA games made for an interesting period.

One of the joystick games we were working on at the time was a Spider-Man platform game, and I’d had to spend a good deal of time explaining to the game’s coder the basics of platform game control. The more I thought about it, the more my neurons flickered with my multiple past replays of Yoshi’s Island and Treasure’s Astro Boy and Gunstar Heroes. These kinds of games possess a certain quality to them; something about the pixel art, the depth of gameplay deriving from simple rules, the accessibility, the collecting, the level designs, the perfect controls. I felt a burning desire to create my own game that explored these mechanics.

Explodemon: prototype

Explodemon prototype (above); Explodemon final version (below)

Explodemon: Final game

Over the next few months, the game began to take shape. Those interested in exactly how the mechanics in Explodemon! came about should check out the unabridged Part 2 and Part 3, but for this whistle-stop tour we’ll scoot forward into March 2006, when the prototype was considered complete enough to show colleagues. A spontaneous showing to a visiting publisher brought favourable reactions, so we decided to cast it further afield.

Publishers initially showed interest in it, but would always find reasons to not get involved – concerns about an exploding character in the post-9/11 climate, or that it was “too Japanese.” Nevertheless, our art team plowed ahead and made a concept video of how we imagined the finished product to look like, which we used to get more interest from a publisher and to secure a PSN slot for the game. But when that publisher pulled out in early May 2008 we found ourselves once again back at square one.

One platform holder decided that we hadn’t progressed enough to keep our slot, but luckily Sony believed in us and let us soldier on. We started our first coders working on the engine in November 2008 and Explodemon’s lead artist joined in January 2009.

Then, on one unsuspecting March day, we were sprucing up the website when we decided to put the concept trailer up on it, as it was mostly only publishers that looked at it. Simultaneously, we switched to a new piece of software and the manufacturer asked if they could put out a little press release about us.

Explodemon: prototype

Explodemon: Final game

Perhaps we were naive to think that the two wouldn’t be connected, but the next day – April 1st – the Internet was ablaze with stories about Explodemon. While it was great for the team to see such excitement about a game that had been knocked back so much by publishers, the high was to be short-lived.

“It was also on April 1st that the most insane thing happened. Something that I still can’t really believe to this day, something that shows that truth really is stranger than fiction. A few hours after our video was revealed, a totally different developer on the other side of the world independently announced a 2.5D platform game with an exploding lead character. We literally couldn’t believe it.”

With all the media interest, though, guess who came knocking back on our doors again: yep, the many legions of publishers. Once again we went back into their green-light process. By this time, we had not made huge progress with our limited resources, whereas the other guys were gearing up for release. Once again: all rejections, this time because of our new competition, which was (deservedly) going down a storm.

“That game launched at the end of July, to great acclaim and sales. While we were happy for the developers – they’re good people, and it’s always good to see indies prosper – they were dark days for me. With our tiny team, and massive collection of publisher refusals – about 20 companies – we’d been unable to make an impact on production. We were at a crossroads. There was no getting away from it this time: there would be no funding from any external sources, we would have to make this game ourselves or just give it up forever. What was it going to be?”

Well, given that you’re here now, reading this, you can pretty much figure out what happened: we put our money where our mouth was, hired a full team and, in late 2009, the project entered full development, with a full team of artists, programmers and designers all beavering away at producing an overwhelmingly awesome experience.

“We were still unsure of how it was going to turn out back then, and we weren’t always convinced that it was going to get finished. And because running an independent games developer is very hard and very stressful, it’s true that things haven’t always gone smoothly. One thing’s for certain, though: when Explodemon is finally released, I’m just as convinced now as I was then that our belief in the game will ultimately enrich the lives of everyone in the world and bring peace and harmony to all. Or it’ll just be a great video game, whichever is more important.”

Let’s start with the latter.

(Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @curvestudios for all the latest information and chances to win copies of the game!)

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11 Author Replies

  • sounds tempting but gonna wait for a trailer before i go for this one

  • That’s quite the backstory… I never read up on all of it but I knew it was filled with a lot of ups and downs. Whatever the case, I can’t wait for the game’s release. Hopefully you guys see the success that the game merits and I’ll make sure to try it out come February 8th :) I’ll help spread world peace brought by Explodemon! Or maybe just that the game is fun :P

  • click on the “Explodemon” link and you get your trailers. two of ’em.

  • game comes out in two weeks but yet you can’t give us any screen shots… Good luck with that.

  • First Fluidity (great game!) and now this? You guys are on a roll! Really looking forward to Explodemon…will be purchasing it on day one.

  • Chuckbait: it’s called google.

  • Nice story but can we get a gameplay video to go along with it?

    The game comes out in 2 weeks and you can’t include a video of the game in action? I don’t get it.

  • Finally. Looking forward to this for a while now.

    Is it true the latest ps3 system update prevents you from upgrading your hard drive? That’s what n4g is reporting.

  • I’ve been waiting for this game since I first saw it in 08.

    I’m a HUGE Classic Megaman fan (See Avatar) and this game hits that nerve hard.

    Serendipitously, I am off the week of the 8th. Excellent. Eeeeeeexcellent.

  • For those asking about screenshots, Explodemon has been on the PS Blog before AND even brought a long a trailer. Oh and what’s that? A trailer? NO WAY!

  • Thanks manufract

  • Looks pretty good, its on my watchlist for now. Convince me even more!

    Explodemon Gameplay Video:

  • I will be supporting you guys with this game for sure. It sounds like one heck of a journey you have been on. I hope all the gamers out there realize all of the struggles and strides over adversity you guys have accomplished. Keep up the great work. I’m sure this game will be very enjoyable.

    And possibly bring world peace =p

  • (Idk why my first post didn’t show up but..)

    I will be supporting you all by getting this game when it comes out for sure. I appreciate the excerpt from your journey over the years and I hope that gamers around the world will recognize all of the hurdles and obstacles you guys had to overcome to get to this point especially as an indie studio. I hope the fruits of your labor are truly realized. I cant wait to try out the game and I’m sure it will be an enjoyable experience. Keep up the good work.

    Maybe it will bring us world peace! =p

    • Thanks so much. Funding a project for yourself is a super-scary prospect, and everyone that manages to get a game out this way deserves a massive round of applause! It’s great to see PSN helping people do this, and we’re super proud to be a part of it :)

  • if you trust n4g please leave

  • I assume it will set me back 14.99 but how long will the game last?

    • As superfan VofEscaflowne says below, we’re confirmed for $9.99. February is a crazy month for games, so we’re being wallet friendly! :)

  • @so-knee

    They confirmed not too long ago that the game will launch at $9.99.

  • “One platform holder decided that we hadn’t progressed enough to keep our slot”

    Might said publisher be headquartered in the state of Washington?

  • Any way we can get your avatar on PSN cause that explodemon avatar looks amazing!

    • We’ve got five avatars going up in next week’s update, although this avatar isn’t one of them. We’ll be doing a second batch, though, so I’ll make sure it’s in that!

  • This was a brilliant blog post; I love hearing about the indie game development process — even a grotesquely simplified version of it that cannot even begin to convey the hardships you all must actually have faced along the way. I can imagine that when you first saw ‘Splosion Man, it would likely have stirred an uneasy combination of terror and validation. Nevertheless, congratulations on completing the game (it is done, isn’t it!?) as well as having a release date.

  • I’ll be getting this game the second it comes it. It looks amazing, and from the video it looks to have incredibly tight controls. Great work guys hope and I your game achieves the success your desire!

  • Finally! I’ve been waiting for this for forever now! Day 1 purchase! :D

  • I love those modern yet oldschool games. As a fellow developper, I encourage other devs working on such titles all the time by buying their game. I have been waiting on this one! Can’t wait!

  • Oh! and I kind of want your avatar :D

    • We have five avatars going up on the store next week! Not this one though… although we are planning a second batch, so maybe we’ll do my one then! :D

  • This game looks great, its unfortunate what happened with it in regards to ‘Splosion Man.

  • Cool can’t wait xD!!!!

  • I might try it, I really need some sort of Mario like game.

  • Will there be a demo? No demo = no sale.

    • I think there will be one at some point after release, yes, but not for day one. Just a timing and resource issue. Hopefully only a few weeks!

  • i’m gonna support you guys. its tough to make it as a business now a days and to see you guys pushing hard to succeed deserves credit. i’ll be there day 1.

  • I remember initially seeing this and later ‘Splosion Man and wanting this more. Nice to see it’s finally coming out.

  • Will this work with remote play?

  • uummmm wow I just saw this video on youtube you linked and this game looks like LBP on speed (and that’s a good thing). Will there be a demo, and how many levels and total bosses are there?

  • Crap. Another game to buy in February. Well, I’m all for supporting this one. Hope it plays well and does well.

  • Thanx for the screen shots. This game looks interesting. I’m hoping for a demo. Good-luck with sales. :)

  • Will there be trophies?

  • Complain complain complain. Not only have screens and trailers been on this blog before, but there is this big place called the internet. We’re actually on it right now. Its THAT crazy. Look it up and stop with the entitled act.

  • @35, You’re kidding right? PS3/PSN games have required trophies since January 2009…

    In other news, this game and a few others are going to make me do a PSN splurge again. My hard drive is filling up super slowly.

  • it’s great to see more indie titles coming to PSN after a lot of harping on about their AAA titles. frankly, I didn’t buy a PS3 for the AAA titles.

    As an entrepreneur who has done self-funded startups in the past, I commend you for sticking to your guns. It can be really tough, and quite crushing at times, but it’s usually worth it once you release to happy customers :)

    Couple of questions:
    -who is doing the music?

    -will the game render in 1080p natively? 720p with AA?

    -are the audio assets in HD (24-bit and losslessly compressed)?

    -any plans for level editors?

    -any plans for Fluidity to come to PSN?

    thanks, keep up the good work!

  • The elephant in the room, I suppose, is the price. Do we have any news on it yet? $9.99 would definitely be the sweet spot for me; I’m very much a hard sell on $14.99 PSN games, and if that were to be the case, I might have to wait for a sale. Of course if the game is lengthy enough, even $14.99 might be worth it.

  • Looks nice!

    Will there be a demo?

  • I really love reading blog posts like this on the Playstation blog because they show what goes on behind the scenes. I know a lot of people just look at something like say, a triple-A game and they just see the game, and don’t know the work, or passion that goes into making games.

    I really feel like the people who’re a lot more into indie games have a deeper connection with the game and an interest in the creative process that goes with it.

  • Looks like fun, a fast action platformer. I will pick this up for sure. I’m ashamed to say I played the Fluidity demo, loved it, but haven’t bought it yet, I’d prefer it on PSN, but I’ll get it eventually no matter what, promise.

  • Been following this game since the beginning, so excited you guys are finally getting it released. Day one buy, no question about it, all the best to Curve in the future. Oh and Fluidity was fantastic btw!

  • “…Treasure’s Astro Boy and Gunstar Heroes. These kinds of games possess a certain quality to them; something about the pixel art, the depth of gameplay deriving from simple rules, …the level designs, the perfect controls. I felt a burning desire to create my own game that explored these mechanics.”


  • Gunstar Heroes was one of the first games I ever played. I didn’t know anything when I was 5, but I knew I F’ing loved playing this game. And now I know I was completely spoiled from day one. No other game has ever matched the experience. Contra, and Megaman, close. Astro boy…almost!

    – I want to select my stages.
    – I want a generous yet varied selection of weapons.
    – I want dozens of bosses, so many bosses.
    – I want minions and things to be exploding all around me from my millions of shots. Shots so powerful, it’s surprising your character can hold onto their gun.
    – I want to jump-kick a turret (GUG-GUG-GUG-BOOOOOM!), Bodyslam an enemy ship (Gug-gug-gug-FOOM, *sails to ground on fire. Or throw a bomb back at a cluster of minions “SCHIGHYAHHH” -BOOOOOM!

    I want to feel the power!!!!

    Because you’ve mentioned two amazing Treasure games, I seriously hope this game has a similar flavor, and will be holding possibly delusional expectations. : )

  • looks fun

  • This game look freaking awesome and when I first hear and saw the trailer it look freaking amazing and this is 2d platformer game at it best. I knew I have to get it and it only cost 9.99 that not bad at all. Also hearing about Curve studios 5 years struggle trying to put Explodemon on the map. I glad they never gave up and I will be supporting and buy this game on day one. Freaking two more week to go and I be save the world with Explodemon. One thing to add to my comment I love your Explodemon avatar and look forward to more of the other avatars.

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