There is a very interesting interview with Chair Entertainment’s co-founder Donald Mustard over at Polygon that is very much worth your time. Chair Entertainment has been around for a decade, but it was their excellent platforming adventure Shadow Complex which really put them on the map when it arrived in the summer of 2009. With Shadow Complex’s critical and commercial success, Chair was already well underway with a sequel by January 2010.
It was at this time that Mustard was sitting around watching football and got the urge to play Mass Effect 2, which had just released that month. It would have involved going upstairs, firing up his Xbox 360, and possibly committing more time than he had planned to, though. To his own surprise, Mustard instead opted for unlocking his iPhone and diving into Subatomic Studios’ classic tower defense game Fieldrunners ($2.99). Mustard shocked himself by choosing a mobile game over a console game, but it made him realize that there was a place for that “in-between" style of gaming, and that stuck with him.
Mustard contemplated how his company could shift and adapt to the coming mobile gaming storm, but with Shadow Complex 2 in progress the studio just didn’t have the bandwidth to take on a new project. Then in mid-2010 Apple presented Mustard with a unique opportunity he just couldn’t pass up. The iPhone 4 was on the horizon and it included powerful hardware capable of impressive 3D visuals. Chair’s parent company Epic Games was already in the process of porting their award-winning Unreal Engine to the iPhone. Apple told Mustard that if his studio could make an iPhone-exclusive game in Unreal Engine that they’d feature it during the keynote announcing the iPhone 4. Chair put Shadow Complex 2 on indefinite hold and their new mobile game, codenamed Project Sword, was unveiled to the public during the Apple keynote in September of 2010.
To those who weren’t involved in mobile gaming during this time, this was a huge freaking deal. Unreal Engine was one of the most popular game engines in the console and PC world, and its entrance into the mobile device world brought a ton of promise. Of course the Project Sword you see in the video above eventually splintered into two different releases, the gorgeous tech demo Epic Citadel (Free) and the on-rails sword-fighting adventure Infinity Blade ($5.99). The rest, as they say, is history as Infinity Blade became a massive success on mobile and spawned two sequels, most recently Infinity Blade III ($6.99) in September of 2013.
The interview also touches on subjects like SpyJinx, which is a collaborative project with J.J. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot Interactive and Chair Entertainment that was formally announced this past November. They also discuss the recently released for PC and coming soon for consoles Shadow Complex Remastered. Unfortunately they don’t triumphantly announce a Shadow Complex iOS port, which would have made me extremely happy, but it’s a great interview nonetheless so head on over to Polygon to check it out in full.