“We were thinking of a name for the studio,” says Tomaszewski. He’s sitting in the middle of the small but sparse room Crunching Koalas uses for its office. It’s the size of a large bedroom with bookshelves along one wall and a bank of floor-to-ceiling windows along the other.
When the Koalas moved into the space it was barren. Concrete walls painted battleship grey, bare floor, no bookshelves. It could resemble something out of a post-apocalypse scenario, which, in a way it is. The decaying building had been passed from hand to hand after the fall of communism, and eventually became a sort of low-rent, all-purpose space, used almost exclusively by small, young companies like Crunching Koalas. Warsaw is littered with these buildings most are scheduled for destruction and being squeezed for every possible last use before the wrecking ball swings.
Tomaszewski and his co-founders Lukasz Juszczyk and and Kris Lesiecki put in a particle board floor, built the shelves and painted the walls. Then they installed a set of lime green shades in front of the windows, which, on sunny days like this one, diffuse the room in a kind of acid trip green. The effect is at once alarming and mildly exotic.
Tomaszewski is one of a new generation of Polish game developers, raised after the fall of Communism in a country where the idea that you could grow up to do whatever you wanted had suddenly become somewhat normal. Tomaszewski learned to make games at the local technical university in an elite program for game development run by fellow indie game developers and the founders of Thing Trunk, Filip Starzynski and Konstanty Kalicki. After graduating, Tomaszewski entered a business plan competition in which the top four companies would get funding. He placed fifth.
“So I didn’t get anything,” he says. “We were sure we were going to get it. We already rented a flat, which was bigger. It was supposed to be our studio. When the results came and I was fifth, it was like, oh my God. How are we gonna do this?”
A few weeks later, he got a second chance. He applied again for the funding, and his business plan came in first. Now all he needed was a name.
“I know we wanted a sweet animal, a sweet creature in the name and the logo, because we’re making games that are partly casual,” Tomaszewski says. “We wanted to appeal to people who like sweet animals.”
“Capybaras was taken. There was no studio with koalas, so we took the koalas. We didn’t just want to be koalas, though. We needed something more. … The guys who funded our studio came up with the idea to name it the Crunching Koalas.”
Tomaszewski and his partners were “crunching” on games for other studios, putting in long hours and basically working themselves into exhaustion. To the company’s investors, this seemed cute. The team members were not just koalas; they were “crunching” Koalas.
See more here:
The Warsaw Indies