A mere two months ago, while searching for the next intriguing game app to review for our hungry Poptimal audience, a recommendation came my way for a delightful little game called Bag It! The strategy based app, which manages to utilize both physics and imagination while focusing on the seemingly ordinary task of carefully bagging one’s own groceries, quickly gained a hefty following in the Android and iOS worlds. With engaging gameplay and cleverly personified food-based characters, the popularity only grew and the minds behind the hit at Hidden Variable Studios quickly realized that the story of Bag It! was not yet quite complete.
Those familiar with Bag It! will already know all about the game’s most endearing characters, like the mighty Spilt and a sensitive Sir Eggward, as well as the various grocery aisles, or stages, they can peruse such as “Udder Mayhem”, “Ultimate Bagger”, and the stress-relieving favorite, “Endless Rampage”. Always open to expanding upon a great thing, the Bag It! development team recently announced the plan to release a new, shiny updated version of the game on May 25th. Here at Poptimal, we were fortunate enough to get the insider details from Hidden Variable Studios’ own co-founder, David Marino, who filled us in on the upcoming release, how paying attention to life’s simple details is key, and a bit about the newest member to the Bag It! cast, Fizzy.
First off, can you tell us a little bit about who Hidden Variable Studios are as a company?
We believe that there is a ‘Hidden Variable’ to be found in everything all around us – it refers to the things that we may not recognize exist but bring us joy upon discovering them. When my two partners and I co-founded the company, we wanted that to be our mission, to bring out the fun and fantastic in the world around us. We feel that there is a lot of exciting aspects to life that people don’t notice in their daily lives, and our job as creators and entertainers is to illuminate as many of those possibilities as we can.
What was the primary inspiration for Bag It! and how did the idea for its characters materialize?
Like our company, Bag It! was created to show players a whole new amazing world inside something as mundane and “everyday” as a grocery bag. As with most creative efforts, it evolved in a series of steps. We wanted to take the familiar elements of grocery bagging — size, weight, fragility — and turn that into a compelling, rewarding, and accessible experience. Anyone who has ever bagged their own groceries knows there’s a bit of inherent strategy in performing that simple act, so using that core concept as a base, we expanded on it to bring an entire world to life.
The characters were actually a new idea that sprung up early in development. Whenever we are exploring new ideas, we have a very open and creative environment. Our senior artist just happened to be doodling, putting little faces and expressions on the groceries, and when he showed it to us, it immediately struck us as a natural fit. Companies already try to personify their groceries with marketing and branding, so people already see little bits of personality when they pick up a box of cereal or a bag of chips. Turning the groceries into characters seemed like the ideal extension of that concept, and it immediately gave us ideas on how those characters and their expressions could reinforce gameplay.
What are the newest and most important features fans can look forward to from the Bag It! update?
The number one request we get from our Bag It! fans is new levels, and we’re happy to say that this new update has a whole bunch of them. In fact, we introduce 16 new levels in a mix of all the different modes, from the original ‘Classic’ to the cathartic ‘Rampage’. We also added over 25 achievements built on our own internal achievement system, so no matter what device you are playing on, or how much of a Bag It! pro you already are, there’s a new set of goals that you can set out to achieve.
In addition to those two major updates, we are also introducing our newest character, Fizzy, a nervous soda bottle with an explosive personality. It’s our most ambitious character yet, and he has unique mechanics that we really hope makes the player think about how they are packing him into their grocery bag. Finally, we revamped all of our ‘Endless’ modes to make them more satisfying and engaging. All in all, we feel that this update is going to bring hours and hours of new gameplay to our fans.
What does Hidden Variable Studios foresee for the future of the company? Will there be more Bag It! updates or entirely new game apps altogether? And are you perhaps thinking of one day expanding beyond the smartphone platforms?
We would definitely love to continue supporting Bag It!, and we have no shortage of ideas for new characters and mechanics that we would love to bring to life. If people keep playing it, we’ll keep making it! As for the future of the company, we have just started work on fleshing out and prototyping some exciting new ideas for our second game. We are always looking for inspiration from the world around us, and our team is very excited to begin work on the next project.
We come from a PC and console background, so we are always looking for ways to increase the reach of our games and get them into as many hands as possible. While we have been thrilled with the smartphone and tablet markets, we would definitely be interested in expanding our influence into browser based, Facebook, and handheld devices.
Are there any final thoughts that you’d think fans and readers should know about Hidden Variable Studios, Fizzy or the rest of the Bag It! family?
We are really committed as a company to providing a great experience for as many of our customers as possible. Your opinions and feedback are of paramount importance to us, hence why we added buttons throughout the game itself that let them send e-mails directly to us. If you like or dislike something, let us know! We read everything that gets sent our way, and we are constantly figuring out ways to improve our games.
Finally, we just want to thank everyone who has supported us over the last year. Knowing that people are having a great time with our game is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a game developer. The more directly we can communicate with our fans and understand their wants and needs, the better our games will ultimately be.
The updated Bag It! app will be available on Friday, May 25th and for a limited time can be purchased for the sale price of $0.99 on your Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, and NOOK Color devices.