Twisted Pixel Games
|Industry||Computer and video games
|Headquarters||Austin, Texas, United States|
|Josh Bear, CCO
Bill Muehl, CEO
Frank Wilson, CTO
Ms. Splosion Man
Number of employees
|Parent||Independent (2006-2011; 2015–present)
Microsoft Studios (2011-2015)
Twisted Pixel Games is a video game developer based in Austin, Texas, USA. Originally a contractor, Twisted Pixel releases games based on its own intellectual properties such as The Maw and 'Splosion Man. The company uses its own proprietary engine, known as Beard, to power its games. On October 12, 2011, it was announced that Twisted Pixel had become part of Microsoft Studios. However, Twisted Pixel was separated from Microsoft and became an independent company again from September 30, 2015.
Twisted Pixel Games was founded in 2006 by industry veterans Michael Wilford, Frank Wilson and Josh Bear. The company first performed contract work for the now-defunct Midway Games, providing engineering work for NBA Ballers: Chosen One and Blitz: The League II. In 2008, Twisted Pixel announced that its focus had changed to digitally distributed games based on its own new intellectual properties. In 2008, the company moved from Madison, Indiana, to its current location in Austin. According to the CEO Michael Wilford, the move was to "tap into a broader talent pool."
Initially, Twisted Pixel targeted WiiWare as its service of choice. Speaking of the 2005 planned state of the service, Wilford said, "Back then, WiiWare was planned to be more like Xbox Live Arcade." He noted the original plans for the service would require companies to submit games to Nintendo for approval, similar to the submission process Microsoft uses for Xbox Live Arcade. Early discussions with Microsoft were not positive, but Wilford stated that Nintendo was eager to work with them. "Twisted Pixel was the first company to get a green light for WiiWare." Nintendo later changed its WiiWare model to one that required no submission process. Twisted Pixel opted not to use the service and continued talks with Microsoft. In 2007, Wilford met with David Every, the portfolio planner for Xbox Live Arcade at that time. Twisted Pixel pitched multiple games, including The Maw, which became its first Xbox Live Arcade title.
Released on January 21, 2009, The Maw tells the story of the extraterrestrial Frank and a purple, amorphous creature called The Maw, who have crash-landed their spacecraft on an alien planet. Its second title, 'Splosion Man, is a platform game where players control an escaped science experiment with the ability to explode himself repeatedly. It was released on July 22, 2009. Twisted Pixel's third title, Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley was released on October 6, 2010. Players control Captain Smiley, a comic book hero whose comics are poorly received. Seeking help from Twisted Pixel themselves he "jumps" in other comics, hoping to glean from each genre's popularity. On December 3, 2010, Twisted Pixel announced Ms. Splosion Man, a sequel to 2009's 'Splosion Man. It was released on July 13, 2011.
On February 1, 2011, the company revealed its fifth original game, The Gunstringer, a third person shooter designed for use with the Xbox 360 Kinect peripheral. The game was originally intended to be the first Xbox Live Arcade game to be featured as a Kinect title but instead became a retail release. It is set as a live-action play set in the Old West. The protagonist, killed by his posse, has been resurrected and seeks revenge. Live action sequences for the game were filmed at The Paramount Theatre in Austin where the company is located.
Its games have been generally well-received by critics, and collectively have won several awards. The Maw won the 2008 Audience Choice award at PAX10, and was a finalist at the Independent Games Festival 2009. 'Splosion Man was voted by the Xbox Live community as the Best Original Xbox Live Arcade Game of 2009. In a September 2010 ranking, IGN listed it eleventh in its top twenty-five Xbox Live Arcade titles of all time. It also received several Best of E3 awards in 2009. Captain Smiley, the lead character in Comic Jumper, received the Best New Character award from Official Xbox Magazine in 2010.
In January 2011, Capcom released an iOS game entitled MaXplosion, which had several similarities to 'Splosion Man, including the same game mechanics. Speaking on Twitter, the Twisted Pixel programmer Mike Henry believed the game to be "a complete theft". Twisted Pixel's CEO Michael Wilford also pointed out that they once pitched 'Splosion Man to Capcom, but it was rejected. Twisted Pixel does not plan to take legal action against Capcom. Capcom responded to the allegations saying that the game was developed independently by Capcom Mobile, a different division from the one that had discussions with Twisted Pixel, and the game's similarities to 'Splosion Man were a coincidence. Wilford later explained that the pitch to Capcom was presented to the US branch of the company, and that the UK division handles all mobile game development. He stated that it was unlikely that Capcom US passed on the game pitch to Capcom UK.
All of Twisted Pixel's games are powered by Beard, a proprietary engine. Content is developed with the company's proprietary Razor editor in conjunction with RAD Game Tools' Granny 3D animation toolset. Razor can be adapted to develop in 3D or 2.5D configurations. Games are scripted using Lua, which allows the developers to share code between titles.
|2009||The Maw||Xbox 360, Windows||Action-adventure|
|2009||'Splosion Man||Xbox 360||Action, Platformer|
|2010||Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley||Xbox 360||Side-scroller, beat 'em up|
|2011||Ms. Splosion Man||Xbox 360, Windows||Platformer|
|2011||The Gunstringer||Xbox 360||Third-person shooter, rail shooter|
|2013||LocoCycle||Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows||Racing, vehicular combat|
|2017||Wilson's Heart||Oculus Rift|
- Kumar, Mathew (July 9, 2008). "Q&A: Twisted Pixel's Wilford On Being Swallowed By The Maw". Gamasutra. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
- "GameSetInterview: 'The Maw's Deleted Scenes - A Twisted Pixel Approach to DLC'". Game Set Watch. March 18, 2009. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
- "Game Informer" (September 2011). The Zen of Twisted Pixel
- Whitehead, Dan (January 29, 2009). "The Maw Xbox 360 Review". Eurogamer. Retrieved October 8, 2010.
- Sessler, Adam (June 15, 2009). "Splosion Man Hands On Preview". G4TV. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
- OXM Staff (October 4, 2010). "Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley". Official Xbox Magazine UK. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
- Grant, Christopher (December 3, 2010). "Ms. Splosion Man makes her debut, sploding 'fall of 2011'". Joystiq. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
- Navarro, Alex (June 7, 2011). "The Gunstringer Is a Retail Game Now, But Is It Any Good?". Giant Bomb. Retrieved June 12, 2011.
- Fletcher, JC (January 26, 2011). "Twisted Pixel shooting video in Austin for unannounced game". Joystiq. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- Dyer, Mitch (September 30, 2015). "LocoCycle Developer Twisted Pixel Is An Indie Studio Again". IGN. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
- Fahey, Mike (September 23, 2008). "The Maw Devours PAX 10 Audience Choice Award". Kotaku. Retrieved October 8, 2010.
- "The 12th Annual Independent Games Festival: Finalists and Winners". Independent Games Festival. Retrieved October 8, 2010.
- Hryb, Larry (April 6, 2010). "Xbox LIVE Marketplace release schedule". majornelson.com. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
- "The Top 25 Xbox Live Arcade Games". IGN. September 16, 2010. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
- Ferry (July 22, 2009). "On Xbox Live Arcade today: Splosion Man". Video Games Blogger. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
- "@OXM OfficialXboxMagazine". Official Xbox Magazine. January 13, 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
Well-deserved! Give the Cap our congrats. RT @mrwilford: Thanks @OXM for voting Captain Smiley as 2010's "Best New Character"! Awesome!
- Ivan, Tom (January 12, 2011). "Splosion Man dev accuses Capcom of 'complete game theft'". Computer and Video Games. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- McElroy, Justin (January 13, 2011). "Twisted Pixel CEO: We won't pursue legal action over Capcom's MaXplosion". Joystiq. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
- Good, Owen (January 13, 2011). "Capcom 'Saddened' By Plagiarism Allegations". Kotaku. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
- Gilbert, Ben (December 3, 2010). "Twisted Pixel's Josh Bear on giving Ms. Splosion Man more than just a bow". Joystiq. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
- "Dev Talk-Twisted Pixel Games". Gamer's Mint. February 17, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
- Alexander, Leigh (July 19, 2010). "Twisted Pixel Uses RAD's Granny 3D In Comic Jumper, BEARD Engine". Gamasutra. Retrieved January 20, 2011.