Daniel Zandelin, who is apparently a big fan of Mario Kart DS

Donut Games is the developer/publisher of well over a dozen iPhone games including fan-favorites like Rat On A Scooter XL, Comet Racer, and Cows in Space. Officially titled "Swedish Game Development Group AB," Donut Games has all of their games available in flash form on their website, where they can be played for free. With a arcade-like menu and three-star rating system for the levels in all their games, Donut Games has earned a large fanbase by consistently providing simple, quick experiences that draw players in for more, usually with a focus on increasing high scores.

I got the chance to find out a little bit more about one of the important faces behind the company, Daniel Zandelin, one of the founders of Donut Games.

Touch Arcade: What is the history of Donut Games as a company?

Daniel Zandelin: We're a small team of game enthusiasts, with roots going back to the good old days when the 8 and 16-bit gaming systems evolved. As a kid in the '80s I was quickly sucked into the intriguing gaming world of the Commodore 64, and together with my older brother, Ola, I grew an early interest of developing our own games, which lead to a bunch of quirky, buggy BASIC-games. Many years (and programming languages for that matter) later, in 2003, Ola started his own indie company to develop shareware games, and a couple of months later I quit my current job to join him.

The shareware market, which had just started to transform into the casual games market, was a blast! You could be a small team of 2-5 people and release quick, innovative downloadable games on the internet without the need for large budgets, and our titles (which we released under the Arcade Lab brand) were very well receieved.

As the casual games space and its portals grew more mature, productions grew bigger and a few certain genres got established and didn't leave much room for creativity or variety. So in 2006 we launched DonutGames.com, which started off as site for our Flash games. This project would give us our much needed room to play with new concepts and try out new ideas or whatever fun or crazy thing that popped into mind. When Apple announced the AppStore in 2008 and we started to dig deeper into the specs and SDK, we realizied this was the perfect platform for us: a device that you can carry with you anywhere you go, a store that is open for all and an excellent hardware to build your apps upon.


Comet Racer, one of our favorite creations from Donut Games

Touch Arcade: What exactly is your role within Donut Games? Could you tell us about some examples of your contributions to some of the company's games?

Daniel Zandelin: My role differs from one game to another, but my main areas of involvement are programming, sounds and last minute tweaking. The creation of a Donut game typically follows this flow: Ola, the concept master mind, brings up a new idea for a game, decides a theme to go with, and creates a mock-up of the basic artwork needed to get started. A programmer picks up the game and makes it playable, and we evaluate the result to see which elements are in place and what can be improved.

Once the basics are in, the level designers start working on the levels, and may eventually request more features from the programmer. In the last phase, I start working on the music and sounds. Once they're in, it's time for the final tweaking, which may or may not include additional visual effects, an extra mini game, and other last minute adjustments to make the game feel more solid. Simply put, Ola starts off the games, I finish them, and the whole Donut team is involved in the in-between.

Touch Arcade: What's the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you during your time with Donut Games?

Daniel Zandelin: This happens occasionally: When I'm sitting in a public place and a stranger next to me picks up an iPhone and after a few seconds I realize they just launched a Donut game. It's a weird feeling!


Rat On A Scooter XL, one of Donut Game's biggest sellers

Touch Arcade: If you had an unlimited budget to create an iPhone game, what sort of game would you make?

Daniel Zandelin: Back in the '90s, me and my brother started working on a really whacky point-and-click game for the Amiga in which players controlled a crazy kid with long greasy hair called Matthew. I don't remember all of the details of the story that we came up with for the game, but Matthew owned a tiny, aggressive poodle and had a secret band in his cellar together with his best friend who owned a shabby old Hammond organ. It would play like a “Get item A to unlock item B, use item B to find item C” sort of game, but instead of logical puzzles it would involve things like flushing yourself down the toilet to find certain items. I'm not sure everyone would appreciate a game like that for the iPhone, but if money was no issue it sure would be fun to bring this old concept to reality.

Touch Arcade: What is something that you'd personally like to do in a future game release?

Daniel Zandelin: I know that this may sound dull, but I'd like to continue with what we're currently doing. We have great fun creating these games, our model works really well for us and our fans seem to enjoy what we're doing.

Thanks Daniel. Check out Donut Games' catalog on the App Store. Daniel is username DonutGames on our forums.

  • BazookaTime

    Great interview. Donut Games is one of those rare companies that I would buy anything from because I know I am going to get a quality, enjoyable game. I have over a page of games from Donut Games and they are all great.

  • BazookaTime

    Great interview. Donut Games is one of those rare companies that I would buy anything from because I know I am going to get a quality, enjoyable game. I have over a page of games from Donut Games and they are all great.

  • Silverdraken

    Heh, Ikea was my anti-spam word. Go Sweden!

  • Silverdraken

    Heh, Ikea was my anti-spam word. Go Sweden!

  • Cheech

    fine developer and he's hot as hell, too!

    • Ryan Rigney

      This isn't the first video game developer interview I've done, but it's certainly the first time anyone has responded to one like that ;D

      • Richard Spoonts

        Then perhaps you should interview more hot developers like this one!

      • Keith

        I agree with Richard. A hottie, techie and a gamer. Sign me up!

      • mintoncard

        Totally agree, VERY hot. Nothing better than a cute geek.

    • Florian

      Yes, he is really, really hot!!

    • Matt

      Haha, glad I'm not the only one who was thinking it..! ;D

  • Cheech

    fine developer and he's hot as hell, too!

    • Ryan Rigney

      This isn't the first video game developer interview I've done, but it's certainly the first time anyone has responded to one like that ;D

      • Richard Spoonts

        Then perhaps you should interview more hot developers like this one!

      • Keith

        I agree with Richard. A hottie, techie and a gamer. Sign me up!

      • mintoncard

        Totally agree, VERY hot. Nothing better than a cute geek.

    • Florian

      Yes, he is really, really hot!!

    • Matt

      Haha, glad I'm not the only one who was thinking it..! ;D

  • slembcke

    They certainly have a lovely little quirky pixel art style.

    • Adams Immersive

      I agree. I’m actually surprised these were Flash games—they don’t have that look (which is a look I don’t really like on the iPhone).

      I’ve only tried a few of theirs, but Lucky Coins is my favorite. Somewhere between pachinko and pinball. Unexpectedly addictive and replayable.

  • slembcke

    They certainly have a lovely little quirky pixel art style.

    • Adams Immersive

      I agree. I’m actually surprised these were Flash games—they don’t have that look (which is a look I don’t really like on the iPhone).

      I’ve only tried a few of theirs, but Lucky Coins is my favorite. Somewhere between pachinko and pinball. Unexpectedly addictive and replayable.

  • araczynski

    if someone from donut reads here, please add an 'easy' mode and/or sandbox mode to that catapult game, its my favorite game of theirs, but its the one i play the least cuz its the most frustrating to me.

    • http://www.neilkodner.com neil

      I agree - I'd like to see all games have a sandbox mode. My 6-year-old loves comet racer but he's intimidated by timers on games.

  • araczynski

    if someone from donut reads here, please add an 'easy' mode and/or sandbox mode to that catapult game, its my favorite game of theirs, but its the one i play the least cuz its the most frustrating to me.

    • http://www.neilkodner.com neil

      I agree - I'd like to see all games have a sandbox mode. My 6-year-old loves comet racer but he's intimidated by timers on games.

  • lukeb

    Can I get that happy just by playing Comet Racer, or will I need Mario Kart too?

    • Ryan Rigney

      That's the face I made the whole time I played Comet Racer. I don't know about you guys. :D

  • lukeb

    Can I get that happy just by playing Comet Racer, or will I need Mario Kart too?

    • Ryan Rigney

      That's the face I made the whole time I played Comet Racer. I don't know about you guys. :D

  • Kamblad

    I love that my fellow Swedes are doing well, and sticking to the creative approach to gaming instead of the "by numbers" style of companies like Gameloft. All credit to Donut Games.

  • http://TouchGen Kamblad

    I love that my fellow Swedes are doing well, and sticking to the creative approach to gaming instead of the "by numbers" style of companies like Gameloft. All credit to Donut Games.

  • MrMuesli

    Can't fault Donut Games. Every time a winner. I am currently farting my way through 'Rudolph's Kick 'n Fly'; )

  • MrMuesli

    Can't fault Donut Games. Every time a winner. I am currently farting my way through 'Rudolph's Kick 'n Fly'; )

  • Candy

    Daniel is eye candy..mmm he is cute

  • Candy

    Daniel is eye candy..mmm he is cute

  • http://forumninga.com sixline

    My favorite is Lucky Coin. It still gets a lot of play on my phone when I need a brain relaxer before bed.

  • http://forumninga.com sixline

    My favorite is Lucky Coin. It still gets a lot of play on my phone when I need a brain relaxer before bed.

  • samthelion

    I also like donut games. I just bought titanic rescue and got a bunch of the other ones for free, and all of them are a lot of fun. And I love the menus, lol.

    I think I'll check out that comet racer right now.

  • samthelion

    I also like donut games. I just bought titanic rescue and got a bunch of the other ones for free, and all of them are a lot of fun. And I love the menus, lol.

    I think I'll check out that comet racer right now.

  • Steve

    Donut Games are great. I knew these guys had to be a little older (1980's kids) because they are offering some very old school play mechanics. I appreciate this as so much focus in the app store is on 3-D but it doesn't make a game better.
    There are still plenty of enjoyable 2-D explorations to be done. Not to mention they offer so many freebies. Great company.

  • Steve

    Donut Games are great. I knew these guys had to be a little older (1980's kids) because they are offering some very old school play mechanics. I appreciate this as so much focus in the app store is on 3-D but it doesn't make a game better.
    There are still plenty of enjoyable 2-D explorations to be done. Not to mention they offer so many freebies. Great company.

  • roundie

    I think that developer profiles are an awesome way to increase the frequency of articles up. More articles, and more profiles please! yayyy!

  • roundie

    I think that developer profiles are an awesome way to increase the frequency of articles up. More articles, and more profiles please! yayyy!

  • rich_952000

    Ryan, thanks for reminding me why I love TA. Donut Games (Daniel) has been active on these forums for as long as they've been developing iDevice games and it really is nice to see this article show some personal and historical info to put a face to these games.

    Daniel, it's good to see your main objective in continued development is just what you've been doing; making games that are simple, fun and work well on the platform. Cheers and hope your future is just as successful as your time leading up to now.

    These Donut Games are absolutely worth buying if not for the reasons listed above, they'll give you something to discuss in their respective threads with myself, cranker and BazookaTime :)

    Undoubtedly, I am one of those fans Daniel mentioned in the article. Great job guys.

    Richard

  • rich_952000

    Ryan, thanks for reminding me why I love TA. Donut Games (Daniel) has been active on these forums for as long as they've been developing iDevice games and it really is nice to see this article show some personal and historical info to put a face to these games.

    Daniel, it's good to see your main objective in continued development is just what you've been doing; making games that are simple, fun and work well on the platform. Cheers and hope your future is just as successful as your time leading up to now.

    These Donut Games are absolutely worth buying if not for the reasons listed above, they'll give you something to discuss in their respective threads with myself, cranker and BazookaTime :)

    Undoubtedly, I am one of those fans Daniel mentioned in the article. Great job guys.

    Richard

  • Greg

    Bricks of Camelot is one of the best games I've ever played on the Iphone. I'd love to see more level packs and expansions released for it.

    • cranker

      And leaderboards :)

  • Greg

    Bricks of Camelot is one of the best games I've ever played on the Iphone. I'd love to see more level packs and expansions released for it.

    • cranker

      And leaderboards :)

  • http://www.rustysabre.com/ Eric

    I hope they find the money to make that point and click game, because I'd be all for it. Sounds just like my kind of game :)

  • http://www.rustysabre.com/ Eric

    I hope they find the money to make that point and click game, because I'd be all for it. Sounds just like my kind of game :)

  • http://www.donutgames.com Daniel Zandelin

    Really inspiring to read all user comments! Thanks for the feedback, and not to forget Ryan, for working with me on this interview.

    • http://illusionlabs.com Anders

      Hah, you guys are located less than 100 meters from us ;)

      Cheers,
      Anders
      Illusion Labs

      • http://www.donutgames.com Daniel Zandelin

        Anders, that's pretty amazing! Same street, 7 numbers apart, still we haven't bumped into each other. Perhaps it's time to change that! :)

  • http://www.donutgames.com Daniel Zandelin

    Really inspiring to read all user comments! Thanks for the feedback, and not to forget Ryan, for working with me on this interview.

    • http://illusionlabs.com Anders

      Hah, you guys are located less than 100 meters from us ;)

      Cheers,
      Anders
      Illusion Labs

      • http://www.donutgames.com Daniel Zandelin

        Anders, that's pretty amazing! Same street, 7 numbers apart, still we haven't bumped into each other. Perhaps it's time to change that! :)

  • Maeks

    I want a DS....

  • Maeks

    I want a DS....

  • Joel

    I love Donut Games. They remind me of some old Amiga classics :)

  • Joel

    I love Donut Games. They remind me of some old Amiga classics :)

  • Dean

    Is there a dog on the table just out of frame on the right? LOL
    P.S. Great interview, and I also love playing Donut Games.

    • http://www.donutgames.com Daniel Zandelin

      Can't believe you noticed that. It's Luna, our chihuahua!

  • Dean

    Is there a dog on the table just out of frame on the right? LOL
    P.S. Great interview, and I also love playing Donut Games.

    • http://www.donutgames.com Daniel Zandelin

      Can't believe you noticed that. It's Luna, our chihuahua!

  • Melodicer

    Really like their games, very addictive

  • Melodicer

    Really like their games, very addictive

  • http://www.fasttrackyourbizonline.com Cornelius Venhorst

    I'm happy I found this blog site, I couldnt locate any info on this subject prior to. Also operate a site and if you're ever serious in doing a bit of visitor writing for me you should feel free to let me know, im always look for people to check out my site. Please stop by and leave a comment sometime!

  • http://www.fasttrackyourbizonline.com Cornelius Venhorst

    I'm happy I found this blog site, I couldnt locate any info on this subject prior to. Also operate a site and if you're ever serious in doing a bit of visitor writing for me you should feel free to let me know, im always look for people to check out my site. Please stop by and leave a comment sometime!

  • Crazy for farts

    Rudolph's Pillar of Winter. Only one I can't get third star. Can only get 63 and only twice over 60. I am missing something? Played hundreds of times. Easy to get into 50s

  • Crazy for farts

    Rudolph's Pillar of Winter. Only one I can't get third star. Can only get 63 and only twice over 60. I am missing something? Played hundreds of times. Easy to get into 50s

  • Alisa the Muppet

    Pillar of Winter... I have the same problem. The catapult games are my guilty pleasure but I'm getting super frustrated with that level. If there's a trick to this one, it's hidden VERY well. Maybe the level developers meant for 60 to be 3rd star level?

  • Alisa the Muppet

    Pillar of Winter... I have the same problem. The catapult games are my guilty pleasure but I'm getting super frustrated with that level. If there's a trick to this one, it's hidden VERY well. Maybe the level developers meant for 60 to be 3rd star level?

  • http://www.bedroomfurniturewhs.com/ Platform Beds

    That game looks really awesome.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • tienlyvankm

    I appreciated what you have done here. I am always searching for informative information like this.

    I admire the valuable advice you make available in your expertly written content

    Donut Games is one of those rare companies that I would buy anything from because I know I am going to get a quality, enjoyable game. I have over a page of games from Donut Games and they are all great.