How A Wish And A Nine-Year-Old Led To A Great Game

Tanks and Hovercrafts rage against the evil purple Flamions. Shots are fired on both sides as the player attempts to subdue the oncoming hoard of enemies. Sounds like a fun game, if not a little common in it’s setting. But Allied Star Police, and how it came into being, is anything but typical.

The game just hit the iTunes, published by 4th & Battery, a PopCap development studio committed to bringing more experimental ideas to the market. The studio was created to explore unconventional game development, making sure the different and weird ideas that usually never see the light of day, actually get a chance.

Allied Star Police was first imagined and designed by Owain Weinert, a nine-year-old leukaemia patient with a serious passion for gaming. As a Make-A-Wish foundation recipient, Owain worked closely with developers from 4th & Battery to create Allied Star Police. But Owain is not simply a charity case.

“Owain was literally like every other designer and developer I’ve worked with,” said Matthew Lee Johnson, Senior Producer at 4th & Battery. “The minute he walked in the door he handled us a fully realised game design, figured out the last detail. He stuck with that vision, and directed the team through the development process like a pro.”

Owain not only guided the development process, but he is currently the reigning champion in the office.

Allied Star Police handles like a tower defence real-time strategy game. The game is set in a standard good vs evil world with a futuristic style. The player deploys different unit types in rows, driving them past the swarms of enemies to estroy the evil Flamion base. The gameplay is familiar and intuitive, as well as addictive and fast paced. The team says that’s thanks to Owain, who displayed an amazing amount of intelligence and familiarity with game creation.

“He came in and presented this game in a PowerPoint and we thought ‘Oh this kid, is a 9-year-old kid who loves games and he’s smart, right?’” said producer Kirk Scott, “But we had no idea how smart he is — he came in and was using terminology we use every day to make games.”

Working with Owain also opened up the group to their “dormant youthful and ‘indie’ passions,” said Tysen Henderson, executive producer of Allied Star Police. “I recall playing countless games and thinking to myself how any given game could be improved or ‘made even more awesome with like, dino robots that roared laser flames!’ These days I find myself concerned about accessibility, replayability, platform, monetization and a variety of other polysyllabic ‘adult’ worries.”

The combination of a fresh, more innocent view of game development with the experience 4th & Battery brought to the table created a working environment wholly unique to this project. Not to mention Owain always expected the best from the developer team. “Children also lack a courtesy filter,” said Henderson, “allowing them to deliver unabashed instant and sharp critique.”

The game was originally meant to be a week long project, not an actual retail release. But the team was so excited about the project they asked for extra time and now PopCap has released a full, free version of Allied Star Police for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

“I have to say, my brother can’t stop playing it, my dad can’t stop playing it, and neither can I,” said Owain. “This started off as a dream of mine, and now my friends and people all over the world can my creation.”

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