GamesBeat

How loading screens inspired three friends to make their first mobile game

Above: Twenty Percent Games's mobile title Circle Stop for iOS and Android.

Image Credit: Twenty Percent Games

Loading screens are the buzzkill of the digital age. They get in the way of the action with their spinning icons that vaguely convey that something is potentially happening among some rogue 1s and 0s.

All of that didn’t stop a developer from making a game based on the spinning icon common in many types of loading screens.

The game is Circle Stop. It’s the first release from startup studio Twenty Percent Games, and it turns the boring, frustrating loading screen into something colorful, interactive, and entertaining.

A strike in Circle Stop from developer Twenty Percent Games.

Above: A strike in Circle Stop from developer Twenty Percent Games.

Image Credit: Twenty Percent Games

“I got the idea from looking at a loading screen — seeing that circle spin around and wanting to interact with it. That’s basically what the game is,” Circle Stop designer Nathan Jones told GamesBeat. “You have a spinning cursor and you try to stop it on different targets, and you get explosions and feedback based on what kind of target you hit.”

It gets more complicated than that. Circle Stop’s early moments are sparse and clean, with pastel coloration and not much else to distract you, but the action quickly ramps up.

“We also have targets that move and that you have to hold down and grind, kind of Guitar Hero-style, but that core mechanic is the same all the way through,” said Jones.

You can miss a target, but it’s three strikes and you’re out. It’s similar in experience to popular mobile game Super Hexagon, which has players guiding a tiny arrow through a rapidly collapsing maze. Like Super Hexagon, Circle Stop captures the kind of simple one or two-finger touch gameplay that most people want from a touchscreen device.

Circle Stop is available now for $1 on iOS, and it’s due out soon for Android. In addition to the upfront price, Twenty Percent may sell additional color packs that change the look and feel as well as the music.

Circle Stop is the first commercial release from Twenty Percent Games, which is composed of three friends who decided to start working seriously on their own projects one day a week. Jones works with fellow developer Nolan Filter and Chris Dugan, who all attended NYU together.

“At the beginning of the summer, we decided we want to devote one day a week as a sort of full-time job toward the game — hence the name Twenty Percent Games,” said Dugan. “While we were kicking around a ton of different ideas. Circle Stop is the one that, from its very first prototype, we already saw a ton of potential for it. It’s simple and straightforward and people can get into it.”

Filter, Dugan, and Jones all have different jobs in the industry, but they established a strong working relationship in college that they didn’t want to give up. Since leaving Zynga New York, Jones works as a consultant. Dugan and Filter both work at mobile developer FlyBy.

“Nathan, Nolan, and I have been working together since we met in undergraduate classes,” said Dugan. “Just kind of making student games. Nathan and I made a platformer. Nathan, Nolan, and I made a bunch of different local-multiplayer competitive games, but this is the first product that we’ve really polished to the point where we are excited to bring it to market.”

“I think we’re just ready at this point,” said Filter. “We had a lot of projects that we never really finished, so it was nice to have something we actually could complete and push out.”


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