Development History

Early Development


TowerFall originated as a design created by Matt Thorson alongside Alec Holowka during the June 2012 Vancouver Full Indie Game Jam. They iterated through Legend of Zelda inspired gameplay centered around weapon combat. Archery became the focus of the gameplay and was designed to afford a sense of mastery to both experienced and inexperienced players. Medieval towers and castles were chosen as the setting for the game, inspired in part by the Game of Thrones book series. Thorson had intended to send the game to Adult Swim to publish but choose to continue developing the game, expanding upon the version created during the game jam.

Thorson later moved into the Vancouver residence known as "Indie House", alongside Holowka and other game developers. It was there that the game received many hours of multiplayer testing and the competitive multiplayer aspect became the focus of the design. Thorson credits Super Smash Bros. and Bushido Blade as inspirations for the game's competitive nature. The game was exhibited at both PAX East and the Game Developers Conference in March, 2013 where it received its first public exposure.


Platform(s) Release date(s)
Ouya June 25, 2013

Aiming to develop TowerFall into a full fledged release, Thorson sought the assistance of additional artists to improve the visuals and audio. MiniBoss developed the character and world designs and created the game's visuals, Alec Holowka composed the game's soundtrack and Power Up Audio created the game's sound effects.

After the increased exposure at PAX and GDC, Thorson entered into a exclusivity agreement with Ouya to release the game on the fledgling console. He felt that the Ouya was a good home for TowerFall because of the console's emphasis on the local multiplayer experience and it allowed him to continue development without the added pressure of releasing on a major console. TowerFall was first released on June 25, 2013 as an Ouya exclusive. It saw moderate success despite the console's relatively low install base.

Thorson later demoed the game at the Evolution Championship Series fighting game tournament in July, 2013 where he received praise and feedback for improving the game's competitive viability.

TowerFall Ascension

TowerFall Ascension
Platform(s) Release date(s)
PlayStation 4, Windows March 11, 2014
Linux, OS X May 29, 2014
Ouya August 28, 2014

After the Ouya release, Thorson took time developing the game into a fuller package, stating plans to expand the single-player component. He later signed an exclusivity agreement to release the expanded TowerFall Ascension on PlayStation 4 and Steam after the Ouya exclusivity ended. The game was ported to XNA with assistance from Sickhead Games. The game was released on March 11, 2014 and featured a new co-op Quest mode, new unlockable archers and stages, and a multitude of new powerups and variants. Linux and OS X ports followed on May 29, 2014. Since its release, the game has received several minor updates improving performance and tweaking mechanics along with minor additions.

TowerFall Ascension was released on Ouya on August 28, 2014 after the PlayStation exclusivity period ended. It was available as a free update to those who had already purchased the previous version.

TowerFall Dark World

TowerFall Dark World
Platform(s) Release date(s)
Windows, Linux, OS X, PlayStation 4 May 12, 2015

In late 2014, Thorson began teasing the development of a new TowerFall expansion via the Tumblr Devlog. The expansion would come to be known as TowerFall Dark World and was released on PC (Windows, Linux and OS X) and PlayStation 4 as paid downloadable content on May 12, 2015. It included the new ninth playable Red Archer, new alternates for all the archers, new stages, and the new Dark World mode which allowed for 4 player co-operative play. The four new stages featured in the Dark World mode introduced new mechanics and powerups and four entirely new boss battles. The new stages are also playable in Versus mode, with the Cataclysm stage featuring procedurally generated levels. Several minor improvements and additions were also made, such as a refined tournament rule set, several new Versus Variants and mechanical improvements.

An Ouya release of the Dark World expansion is not planned.


Thorson has indicated that he would like to take a break from TowerFall development, making the Dark World expansion the final edition of the game for the time being. Despite this, there has been mention of further updates and additions that may occur in the future.



During development of the Dark World expansion a new Versus mode known as Warlord was teased, though the concept was later shelved. Thorson indicated that he may return to the idea in the future.

6 Players

There has been mention of expanding TowerFall's multiplayer to a maximum of 6 players, allowing for 3 vs. 3 team battles.

Possible Sequel

Thorson has stated that if a sequel were to ever eventuate then he would consider making online play a core component of the game design.

Graphic Novel

Thorson has expressed interest in creating a graphic novel collaborating with TowerFall artist Amora Bettany, detailing the events of TowerFall's plot and exploring the characters more thoroughly.

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