Prior to starting Naiad Entertainment, cofounders Don Wurster and Jay Epperson were worlds apart. With thousands of miles between them—Wurster in Seattle, Washington, and Epperson in Orlando, Florida—the two video-game developers were on decidedly different career paths.
In 2004, Wurster, a programmer, cofounded Gastronaut Studios, where he developed innovative and award-winning games for Xbox Live Arcade, including Small Arms and Gel: Set & Match. Nominated for Best New Studio at the 7th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards, Gastronaut Studios was acquired by PopCap Games in 2009 where Wurster then worked on Peggle, Plants vs. Zombies as well as the newly released Peggle 2.
On the other side of the country, Epperson, an artist, had become the art director on Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure. His creative vision was exhibited in the preeminent Into the Pixel collection in 2008. After leaving Electronic Arts, he joined Retro Studios, a subsidiary of Nintendo, where Epperson produced concept art for the Donkey Kong Country and Mario Kart series.
By 2013, Wurster and Epperson had left their full-time positions, each in search of a creative partner. Soon after, they were introduced by Henry Hatsworth creator and Tomorrow Corporation cofounder Kyle Gray.
"Jay and I clicked almost immediately," recalled Wurster. "I wasn't expecting to join up with someone I've never met. We shared interests, tastes in games, and even similar hobbies. Maybe that's only because we're both nerds but we became fast friends and started prototyping games."
"I had actually tried to get something going with other like-minded people. They just wanted an artist to come in and fill a role though," Epperson continued. "I didn't want to be a small cog in a big machine again. Don and I wanted to break out on our own. We wanted to build something that would last."
"We wanted to be in control of our destiny," confirmed Wurster.
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