The SwordSwipe Manifesto

Wonder and Imagination

We remember playing the NES as youngsters, and the pure wonder of what was behind the next door.  Our goal is to craft games that hint at possibilities and stoke the imagination, much like a good book. We want to make you feel like a wide-eyed kid, whether you’re 5 or 50.

Vibrant worlds

We aim for our games to be a ray of light that contrasts against the multitude of dark, gritty experiences out there. We want to remind ourselves that the world isn’t always a dark place.  We enjoy color and want to revel in it.


Pixel art and chiptunes are nice, but we prefer a different approach.  We like to imagine an alternate reality where polygons never came into play and awesome 2D games continued to be made, but in a refined way. Besides, all those rough pixels hurt our eyes.

Melodic music

We miss the magic of the early video game music. Modern game music has evolved into mostly ambient environmental mood-setting. Our goal is to create music that will drive you forward and stay in your head for days.

Satisfying sound design

We strive for top-notch sound effects. A great animation can fall flat if it doesn’t result in a meaningful audio payoff. So much of the feel from the classic games is owed to stellar sound, a fact that is not lost on us.

Tight gameplay

The core experience of any game has to be fun in and of itself. Most of the time, this boils down to intuitive, responsive controls. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what window dressing gets applied — the best games are those that just feel good.


We make GAMES. Above all else, when we make decisions, it comes down to “what makes this more fun for the player?”


Who We Are

We are 2 dads with young kids.  We are both from midwestern small towns.  We work all day at an insurance company and burn the midnight oil making games.  We are both very alike in some ways and very, very different in others — but we challenge each other and produce results that far outweigh what either of us could do on his own.  We do our best to balance our family lives, but refuse to give up on our dreams.

Doug Pohl – Game Designer, Art / Music / Sound

Once an aspiring rockstar, Doug has found an even better application for his songwriting — video game music!  Freed from style labels and lyrics, he’s feeling like he did long ago plunking away at his grandfather’s piano, or the first time he picked up a guitar.  Defining his own meaning and sound in the endless possibilities of the audiosphere.  What’s even better is that he gets to reconnect with his first love — drawing.   Doug always enjoyed art, but struggled with the blank sheet conundrum: “what do I draw?”  Many times in the old days he would draw and expand upon his favorite video game characters.  With newfound purpose, it has never felt better.  Always an avid gamer, he never seriously entertained applying these skills to making games.  Until he met Mike…

Mike Gracik – Game Designer, Game Systems / Programming

Mike has always known he wants to make games.  He has an innate desire to analyze and craft game mechanics, be they video games, card games, board games, mind games.  Mike has pursued game making in his education and ever since, often recruiting peers to build out a new game idea.  Mike loves to think about the details that most people don’t.  Small number tweaks and skill progression that players often take for granted.  Mike’s skill in game design is one of many things that separate SwordSwipe from the plethora of programmer-led indie game devs out there.