Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Renegade Kid’s Swan Song for the DS!

It is an interesting time for the Nintendo handheld market. The DS has tens of millions of owners scattered across the world, and the new 3DS is going to be released in early 2011.

As a player, and a fan of Nintendo’s handhelds, I look forward to getting my hands on the 3DS. At the same time, however, I feel sad that the DS era is coming to a end. Ignoring the fact that the first exterior design of the DS was “phatt” and ugly, it has been an incredibly enjoyable games machine to own. The unit is (fairly) durable, and the games have been a lot of fun. Sure, there are now oodles of terrible games available for the DS, and the explosion of less-than-mediocre virtual pet and fashion games is not something that gets me excited (I do enjoy good virtual pet games, though), but, I believe the likes of Mario Kart, Henry Hatsworth, New Super Mario Bros., the Call of Duty series, and of course Renegade Kid’s own contributions, provide an incredible gaming experience that can be enjoyed on-the-go, or anywhere you choose, due to the portability of the console. I guess I am just unwilling to let the DS go in the same way I was hesitant to let the GBA step aside for the DS. I loved my GBA, and I love the DS. And, I’m already falling in love with the 3DS. Everything will be ok. :)

Now, as a developer, I am torn. Naturally, I want to dive into the development of 3DS games. And, we are doing just that at Renegade Kid. But, at the same time, I don’t want to turn my back on the DS. As I mentioned above, the DS has tens of millions of owners, whereas the 3DS currently has zero. If I had enough money of my own, I would invest it into the development of something truly special for the DS: Renegade Kid’s swan song for the DS. However, the reality is that I don’t have enough money of my own to fund development, and publishers are unlikely to invest in the development of something that hasn’t been proven to be a financial success by existing sales data – which unfortunately boils down to the safest bet being license games at this point. Sure, games like Scribblenauts have a chance too, but that avenue requires the developer to essentially develop the game first to prove that it is cool to a publisher, which requires a whole lot of money / risk.

We rely on publishers to fund the development of our games, so we have to sell the concept of our games with a proposal document or a playable demo. Obviously, a proposal document is easier, cheaper, and quicker to create than a playable demo – but it also relies on the publisher sharing your mental vision of the game, which is very tricky. So, it is not always the best way to sell an original idea. Moon and Dementium II were fairly easy to sell in concept to publishers due to the fact that Dementium: The Ward acted as proof that a decent third-party FPS could be created and it could sell OK too. Both Dementium: The Ward and ATV Wild Ride needed to be playable before publishers were interested in signing on to invest money. On a side note, something that the publishers failed to recognize with both Moon and Dementium II was the fact that Dementium: The Ward had a hefty on-line ad campaign when the game was released (on time) on Halloween 2007, which was instrumental in the exposure and ultimately decent sales of the title. Thank you for that, Gamecock. I could go on about my annoyance about all of this, but not today. ;)

OK, I got a little off track there. Back on topic. It would seem like a reasonable idea to develop titles for the system that has tens of millions of owners out there: Nintendo DS. Especially, when considering the high price of the 3DS and the subsequent lack of players who will be able to afford to buy it in 2011. Until the 3DS drops in prices to below $200, it will not be selling like the DS did. Hm, what was the price of the DS at launch? Oh yes, $149.99. Interesting! Taking into account inflation since 2004, I would say that even a higher price of $189.99 for the 3DS would be acceptable today – perhaps even $199.99.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling for one day I think. I’m not sure there’s even a tangible point to this post. I just felt like sharing some of my thoughts. In summary: looking forward to the 3DS. Still want to make great DS games. Hope the price of 3DS drops to below $200 ASAP.

I hope you're having a great day.

Jools

Saturday, December 18, 2010

General Update...

I haven’t written a proper update for a while, so I thought I should…

Recently, we did a media blitz for Maximilian and the Rise of the Mutant Mudds to see if there was enough interest out there in internetland for it to be brought to DSiWare. [glances at the total votes] It would seem that of the 1000 votes we needed, only 374 have come in so far. The game has received fairly decent exposure over the past week, with Go Nintendo kindly allowing Max to take over their site banner all week, and news pieces on IGN, Destructoid, Pure Nintendo, Nintendo Life, and many other cool websites. In all fairness, we should have received more than 1000 votes by now if there were enough people out there wanting Max on DSiWare. I truly appreciate the 374 people (and the other 50 anonymous!), but the forecast doesn’t look good for Max on DSiWare. It makes me feel bad, because of those who do want it. But, it will take a lot of resources for us to bring it to DSiWare, and we’re just a small studio. We have to be very careful with what we spend our time and money on. I’m sure you’ve noticed the many studios that have closed or had lay-offs in 2010. We want to stay in the business of making games, so we have to tread carefully. I’m not saying that Max won’t happen on DSiWare, but so far it looks improbable that we’ll see 1000 votes before the end of the year, which is very sad.

As you know, ATV Wild Ride has been completed. Hooray, and congrats to the team. Here’s a rundown of the team: Gregg Hargrove produced most of the fantastic in-game art, as well as provided the rockin’ music with his band Swift Justice and the Hired Goons. Bob Ives was the lead programmer, handling the core engine and gameplay components. Andrew Brown was a programmer, handling the menus, user interfaces, logic, and particles. Giovanni Acosta was also a programmer, handling the networking/multiplayer component. And, I handled the gameplay, track design, audio effects, menu/user interface artwork, and schedules: a small and very capable team, who produced a great game in a short amount of time. Well done chaps! I am very proud of our accomplishments. There have already been some hands-on previews at Destructoid, Pure Nintendo, and Nintendo Power – all of which had very positive things to say about the game. I expect we’ll see some reviews in January. I do not know the exact release date yet, but it should be January 2011.

We have three other projects in development: codenamed Smoke, Bit, and Face.

Smoke is progressing nicely. It was originally planned to be a holiday release. But, we ran into some issues which have delayed the game. The good news is that it is all in the name of quality. Like I’ve said before, and will probably say again, Smoke is a kid’s game. I am not sure if we’ll go for a big media push like we have with our previous games. The majority of the people who Smoke is supposed to entertain probably don’t read video-game websites. And those players who do read video-game websites probably don’t play these types of games. There may be a small crowd of those who do, but I honestly don’t want to throw this out into a media blitz on the web only to receive a bunch of inevitable “WTF?” comments. I already know that it is NOT suited to those who enjoyed Dementium and Moon, and I don’t need proof in the form of negative comments. Smoke will probably be released sometime in the summer 2011.

Both Bit and Face are rolling along nicely. I can’t say much about them at this stage, but we’re having a lot of fun working on them. :)

Right now, I am working on a bunch of proposals to secure our next project(s). Because, before we know it we’ll be done with our current projects and have nothing new to work on / get paid for. This happened at the end of Dementium II, and I want to avoid that happening again. ;)

I hope you’re having a great day.

Jools

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Want Maximilian and the Rise of the Mutant Mudds on DSiWare?


Maximilian and the Rise of the Mutant Mudds (MUDDS) is a title that we revealed to the world back in June 2009 on IGN. Unfortunately, we could not find a home for MUDDS with a publisher. However, there seems to be a number of people out there who are still asking us about this game. Are there enough of you to warrant a release on DSiWare? Perhaps!

I propose this to you. If we receive over 1000 comments from different individuals on this blog post saying they want it, then we will bring MUDDS to DSiWare.

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

1. YOU MUST BE LOGGED IN, by selecting/creating a profile (Google, LiveJournal, Wordpress, TypePad, AIM, OpenID).

2. Leave a comment telling us that you want to see MUDDS on DSiWare.

3. No ANONYMOUS or DUPLICATE posts – they will be DELETED.

4. Tell your friends.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Tale of ATV Wild Ride

Phew! Man, oh, man, it feels good to FINALLY announce to the world that our next game is ATV Wild Ride. Now, find a comfy chair. Pour yourself a big cup of hot chocolate, and let me tell you the tale about how it all began…


Once upon a time, in the wintery month of November, in the year two thousand and nine, Renegade Kid found itself in a particularly tight spot. It was a particularly tight spot that could be considered somewhat uncomfortable. Having completed the eagerly anticipated game, Dementium II, it had no other game deals on the horizon. What was an independent studio to do?


After many attempts to woo would-be publishing partners with proposals, demos, and kolaches, the small studio found itself at a loss. Many months had passed, and the temperature outside was dropping. But then, all of a sudden, an idea found its way into the machine known as Renegade Kid. It was an idea that was pure. It was an idea that strived for higher standards. It was an idea that could one day become a reality.


With its cogs turning, and its steam hissing, the Renegade Kid machine started to work. In two short weeks, a magical thing had happened. The idea had become a playable demo. Bursting with excitement, the playable demo was packaged up and sent out to dozens of publishers in the hope that it would find a welcoming home.


However, the excitement soon turned sorrow when no one opened their doors. More proposals and kolaches were sent out. It seemed as though the idea was destined to die on the vine of hope. That was until a band of Destineers looked beyond the veil of administration and understood the boon of the idea.


Finding themselves on the cusp of spring, Renegade Kid and their new band of Destineers entered an agreement to work together, and bring the idea to the people. Many hurdles, challenges, and struggles were overcome, and finally they sought the approval of the mighty Nintendo. With bated breath, they waited for their final word. Many days passed. Much sleep was lost. And, then it was told. Their idea met the standards put down by the wise and powerful Nintendo, and it was considered true.


And, that’s how it all happened. Pretty much. ;)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

This Blog is Featured in: 20 Blogs Game Design Students Will Love!

I am happy to share that my blog has been featured on Rasmussen College's blog as one of the 20 Blogs Game Design Students Will Love. You can find it here.


Here are some handy links for those of you who are interested in game design.

Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/rasmussencollege
http://www.facebook.com/rasmussentechdesign

Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/rasmussen
http://www.twitter.com/degreeprograms
http://www.twitter.com/rastechdesign

I hope you're having a great day.

Jools

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My Hands-On Impressions: GoldenEye 007


I am a fan of nSpace and their FPS work on the DS. I have completed all three of their Call of Duty titles. I am a fan of the original GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64, made by Rare. I was very excited when I heard nSpace was developing GoldenEye 007 for the DS. Do I wish Renegade Kid had the opportunity to develop it? Sure. But, I knew it was in good hands with nSpace, and this way I get to actually enjoy playing it. :) I preordered GoldenEye 007 on Amazon, because they offered delivery on the day the game was released. However, Amazon failed me and they had no explanation of why. So, I canceled the order and picked it up at Gamestop on release day. On the drive over to Gamestop I was excited. There’s nothing like the feeling you get when you are on your way to pick up a game that you’ve been looking forward to. There is so much hope and mystery that all combines inside you to make you feel like a kid again. Love it!


Anyway, onto my impressions: I’m a sucker for the 007 theme. It adds a lot to the atmosphere and sense of purpose to your actions. The visuals in GoldenEye 007 are good, with some nice touches of excellence sprinkled throughout the journey. The frame-rate dances between sluggish and silky smooth. I wish it stayed in the silky smooth, but it isn’t a deal-breaker for me. The first portion of the game felt like Call of Duty with different artwork, with my main objective feeling like I just needed to sink as many bullets into the enemies as possible. I am relieved to say that the game soon shakes off its COD-ness and falls nicely into its own groove quickly, and I started to feel like I was playing a 007 game – kicking some ass! The level design and variety in gameplay is good. A variety of gadgets and new ways to interact with elements in the game offer a refreshing break from the gun-toting action. The gadget usage and their connection to the missions aren’t quite up to the standards of its N64 cousin, but I applaud the team for their efforts and appreciate what it does to improve the overall game experience. The audio is good. Music is great. And, there’s a ton of high-quality dialog. Something I personally really liked about the original N64 GoldenEye was the ability to replay completed missions and try to improve your completion time, shot-accuracy, etc. Incidentally, this is something we added to Moon as homage to GoldenEye 64, because I think it really helps with replay. Unfortunately, this feature is not supported in GoldenEye 007 on the DS, and I wish it was. This feature was supported in previous Call of Duty titles that nSpace developed, so I am not sure why they chose not to include it on this title. GoldenEye 007 may not be a perfect game, but it is certainly a good one that I recommend to anyone who is looking for a fun FPS adventure to enjoy on their DS, and I look forward to playing nSpace’s next title, Call of Duty Black-Ops, which is due out on November 9th.

* Updated Note: I forgot to mention that there is a time trial mode that opens up upon the completion of the game, which allows you to replay any mission and improve upon your completion time in three different difficulty settings. This feature definitely adds some replay value as you are able to easily access your favorite parts of the game.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

1UP Presents: Alternate History - Son of the Dragon

1UP's Matt Leone looks at things that almost happened. Tuesday, November 2 focuses on Renegade Kid's cancelled Wii project, Son of the Dragon.

Check out the article here.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween - Play Dementium!!

Happy Halloween to everyone!

Today, just like any other day, is a great day to play Dementium: The Ward and/or Dementium II.

The fine folks over at Angry Bee Gaming think so too. Angry Bee Gaming's Cazza has written an article about Dementium, and why you should be playing it right now, here.

Hope you're having a spooky day!

Jools

Friday, October 15, 2010

Killing humans is OK, if done right!

Two victims walk into a bar. One is a fictional monster. The other is a human. You shoot both of them in the head. They both die.

Which death is more disturbing?

In theory, the human death should be more disturbing to you than the fictional monster because the human has an emotional link to your reality, while the fictional monster should, in theory, have less of an emotional connection to your world.

Whether blood spurts were shown or whether they deserved to die or whether you were hired to kill them should have no bearing on the fact that you just killed a fictional monster and a human.

So, why is it that shooting a human in the head in a game such as Call of Duty on the DS is rated T, while shooting a fictional monster in a game such as Dementium on the DS is rated M?

Don't get me wrong, I like the Call of Duty games on the DS and we knew Dementium was going to be rated M before we started making it. I have no issue with the rating the games received. I just find it interesting that our society is more OK with seeing a human die (as long as there's no blood and it wasn't a so-called "senseless act" - even though war is pretty senseless IMO) than seeing a fictional monster die (with blood, etc.).

What do you think?

Hope you're having a great day! ;)

Jools

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Renegade Kid is an Authorized Nintendo 3DS Developer

I am extremely proud to annouce that Renegade Kid was blessed with authorized developer status for the new super sleek and sexy Nintendo 3DS a couple of months ago. Apologies for the delay in letting everyone know, but we've been kinda busy digging into all of the 3DS goodness.

I hope you're having a great day!

Jools

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Top Ten Handheld Games

I think listing a top ten list of anything is difficult and I found the task of listing my top ten handheld games very tough. There are so many great handheld games. I think of how many times I have played each game, and what emotions I have associated with each experience. It is possible that if asked to make a top ten list next week that it would differ a little from this, but for today this is my top ten handheld games:

10. Contra Advance - The Alien Wars EX (GBA)
When I first played Contra III: The Alien Wars on the SNES I was blown away. It was more coin-op than most coin-op games at the time. The graphics were incredible. The audio was almost movie-like. And, the gameplay was executed perfectly. The pacing of challenges was amazing. The game made its way onto the GBA in 2002; 10 years after its' original SNES release. Sure, it is still bloody difficult, but it is fair. Oh, and the overhead "mode 7" levels from the SNES version have been replaced with levels from the Genesis Contra: Hard Corps title, which I think works really well and improves the overall experience.

9. Ninja Five-O (GBA)
When I first saw Ninja Five-O I was not impressed. The art style looked out dated, and it just didn't jive with me. Probably because I had already experienced the delight of Castlevania: Circle of the Moon on the GBA, but more on that title later. Fortunately, a good friend of mine, Peter Ong, urged me to play the game. Ninja Five-O is a very well balanced and extremely enjoyable game that will test your skills. I have enjoyed many hours with this game, and feel accomplished when saying that I completed it.

8. Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure (DS)
I first heard about Hatsworth from the same friend who urged me to play Ninja Five-O. He also happened to be the Lead Designer of Hatsworth! Knowing of Peter's abilities as a designer I was eager to check out his baby. I was lucky enough to play the game once during the development of the game, and I was instantly impressed. The platforming gameplay is fun, tight, and challenging. The blend of melee combat and projectile combat is superb. And, the puzzle game on the lower screen is simple, fun, and a welcome breather from the frantic action on the top screen. The only bad thing I felt after playing the snippet during the development of the game was the fact that I had to wait months for the final game to be released so I could play it again!

7. New Super Mario Bros. (DS)
I have been a fan of Mario side-scrolling platform games since Super Mario World. I know, Super Mario Bros. came first and established the genre, but when SMB was released I was still messing around with my Commodore 64, so I missed a lot of the NES glory. Anyway, when NSMB landed on the DS, in many ways it felt like a refined Mario experience with fancy graphics and presentation. The new power-ups and modern updates provide a truly enjoyable experience that is easy to play at any time for long or short periods of time.

6. Metroid Zero Mission (GBA)
The fact that I kinda missed out on the NES days, and therefore the original Metroid, in some ways, made Metroid Zero Mission a wonderful treat for me. I had already played the original NES title, but it was after I had already enjoyed the wonders of Super Metroid. It is hard to appreciate an 8-bit title after having been captivated by its' 16-bit successor. Anyway, Zero Mission is much more than a reskin of the original NES Metroid; it feels more like a modern homage by the folks who made the original. A truly incredible experience.

5. Metal Gear Solid (GBC)
The Gameboy Color version of Metal Gear Solid was released in 2000, after the original PlayStation version and before the PS2 version. It has all of the MGS features that established the series as an incredible experience, including story, stealth, action, puzzles, and fun. Being able to take MGS with you on the go is a joy. Makes me wonder why there was never a version made for the DS. Oh well, at least the 3DS is getting one. :)

4. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (GBC)
The flow of Link's Awakening is truly great. I think this title benefited from being developed after the SNES title, A Link to the Past, as it feels tighter and more focused. Personally, I like the "burst-scrolling" utilized in Link's Awakening as it forces you to see all of your immediate surroundings - even though the effect was probably used to avoid the blur of the original Gameboy with scrolling games. I list this Zelda game over the DS titles because this title was simply more enjoyable for me.

3. Super Mario World - Super Mario Advance 2 (GBA)
Super Mario World bowled me over when I first saw it running on the SNES. The art style. The audio. The gameplay. All stunning. Super Mario World is an incredible piece of work. The minds behind the design of this title were truly gunning for gold, and they hit the target. The platforming gameplay is ridiculously tight. The world map is superb and fun in itself. The variety in gameplay and visuals as you proceed through the game. Just incredible. When this gem made its way onto the GBA I couldn't have been happier. Sure, the screen resolution is a little smaller on the GBA, but the game translated very well from the SNES to the GBA. Bravo Super Mario World. Bravo. I love you!

2. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (GBA)
I'll admit that I haven't played Symphony of the Night much. I know. It's sad. Anyway, when I first started playing Circle of the Moon it felt very fresh to me. Sure, it kind of had that Metroid feeling going on, but the variety in weapons, items, and the leveling up with experience points was all very cool. And, I am a sucker for the gothic theme. The more I played it, the more I fell in love with the game. It was the first time that I experienced grinding in a game, and actually enjoyed it. I encountered a boss, and he kicked my ass. I was not ready for him apparently. So, I went away and killed a bunch of enemies to level up and also got my hands on a new nifty weapon power-up. I returned to the boss and handed him his ass with my new-found powers. It felt great. The simplistic beauty of Circle of the Moon is what makes it trump the DS Castlevania entries to the series for me.

1. Mario Kart (DS)
I fell in love with Super Mario Kart when it was first released on the SNES in 1992. Wow, what a fun game it was. Both single player and multiplayer were tons of fun. When Mario Kart 64 came along in 1996 it lost a few fans, including me in a way. It changes a lot of what made the original so fun, primarily by changing the jump-into-corner-slide-boost technique, which was so much fun and advantageous in the original SNES title. In retrospect, I was too harsh on Mario Kart 64. I was being snobby. It is a great game. I played it recently actually, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Although, I did find the laps to be awfully long! :) The GBA version of Mario Kart is a strange beast, but I'll save that for a different discussion. When Mario Kart DS was released I was suspicious of its ability to outshine the original SNES game. My oh my, it outshines it, and every other version (including Gamecube and Wii), in a major way. Mario Kart DS just feels great. It looks great. It sounds great. It features retro tracks from all previous versions. It is a great Mario Kart title. It is going to be hard to top this title, but I have high hopes for the 3DS version. The replayability of Mario Kart DS is insane. Just a great game!


Honorable Mentions:

Dementium II (DS)
Yeah, I know this is bias because I worked on the game, but I truly think Dementium II is the best FPS on the DS. There, I said it. It has great visuals, story, gameplay, and audio. And, it is all presented in smooth 60 frames per second. I am very proud of Dementium II, and think the team did an outstanding job.

Retro Game Challenge (DS)
This game is clever, fun, and challenging. With a wealth of fictional retro titles that feel authentic, Retro Game Challenge really brings the feeling of old with a modern presentational wrapper. The inclusion of the story and requirement to "read" gaming magazines of that time make this title a uniquely fun experience that everyone should at least check out. A very clever and fun game.

Super Mario 64 DS
Last, but by no means least. When Super Mario 64 was released on the Nintendo 64 in 1996 it was a significant milestone in 3D gaming. This game demonstrated how a third-person platform game can be executed very well in 3D, which is certainly no easy task. This was the birth of the analog stick too, which contributed greatly to the smooth controls of Super Mario 64. Alas, the lack of analog stick on the DS unfortunately made the DS version feel stiff and awkward. It is still a fantastic game on the DS, but it simply does not play as well as its original N64 brother. Once again, the 3DS addresses this shortcoming and should prove to be a capable platform for smooth analog control once again.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my top ten handheld games. Tell me about your favs.

Metroid Other M: Not Convinced.

Am I the only one not convinced about Metroid Other M? I don't know what it is, but the gameplay approach taken with the game does not excite me for some reason.


I love Super Metroid on the SNES, and I really enjoyed Metroid Fusion and Metroid Zero Mission on GBA. I also thought the first Metroid Prime on Gamecube was good too, and although it was as close as you could probably get to Metroid in a first-person perspective, it didn't feel like a true Metroid to me. I get the same feeling about Metroid Other M. The original Metroid on the NES was great too of course, but it feels like a first draft when compared to Super Metroid. And, yeah - I'm not too keen on Metroid II on Gameboy. :)

This is all speculation and I may be wrong, but it looks like the shooting is using auto-targeting in the third-person camera mode. If you don't need to aim at the enemies in third-person, what gameplay is left in that mode, run and jump? What I like about Super Metroid, for example, is the intimacy of the level design and the enemy placement. You must progress with caution to avoid losing energy. An enemy may require you to simply shoot forward while running, or you may be required to aim up, or crouch, or aim diagonally up, or even jump and then shoot. There is depth in how you tackle each enemy. I would be surprised if this depth in gameplay was absent from Metroid Other M, but the gameplay videos seem to suggest it is.

Personally, I like the minimal story approach in the original NES Metroid, Super Metroid, and Zero Mission. I enjoyed the added story in Metroid Fusion, but it felt like a departure from the Metroid formula. Metroid Other M seems to be very story driven with a lot of cut-scenes and dialog and such. I don't know what it is, but I prefer my Metroids with hardcore gameplay and none of the other fluffy stuff to entertain me.

I hope my concerns are dashed when I play Metroid Other M. I want it to be great. Perhaps it is just the fact that I just want Metroid to return to the side-scrolling perspective. We'll see.

Here are some videos - what do you think?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Development Update

I haven't written an update for a while, so here it is:

"Spirit" is near completion. Pure excitement. We're in the final stages of Beta; finding and fixing bugs. We should be able to announce the game pretty soon, just waiting to get all of our ducks in a row. Here's what I can tell you about it: It is for the DS. We're aiming for a Q4 2010 release. It is not a FPS. It supports local multi-card multi-player. It is inspired by two games: one was a NES classic that made its way to the N64. And, the other is an original 360 title. It is a genre Gregg and I have wanted to work on for a very long time. It will probably be rated E by the ESRB.

"Smoke" has been given a small extension of time in the name of quality. We'll be entering Alpha in a month or so. Here's what I can tell you about it: It is for the DS. We're aiming for a Q1 2011 release. It is not a FPS. It is a single player game. If you're reading this you're not the intended audience for this title. :) It is a fun and simple kid's game.


"Face" is shrouded in a little more secrecy than our other titles. Here's what I can tell you about it: It is not for the DS. We're aiming for a late 2011 release.


AND, there's a new addition to the codenamed bunch: "bit". This is a new title that we're kicking around, which I am currently working on the design for. More on that later.


Hope you're having a great day. TTYL.


Jools

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jools, Jim, Joy!

Edited 08-12-10: I used to have a copy of my twitter conversation with Jim Sterling posted here, but I decided to remove it as it served no purpose other than showing how I moronically jumped on Jim about his review of Dementium II.

In hindsight it was a waste of Jim's time and my time. We have more constructive things to do with the hours given to us. I respect Jim's perspective on games and do not wish to paint him in a negative light. I enjoy reading his articles and watching his Jimquisitions.

I have since approached Jim and apologized for said mess and moved on. You're welcome to visit my twitter page to view the conversation if you like, but having it here on my blog doesn't fit the positive/fun tone I try to keep with my other posts.

Move along, nothing to see here. :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My DS Collection

* Updated 01-25-11 *

In alphabetical order (more or less):

  1. 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors
  2. Advance Wars: Dual Strike
  3. Animal Crossing: Wild World
  4. Assassin's Creed II: Discovery
  5. Batman The Brave and the Bold
  6. Beat City
  7. Blood Stone 007
  8. Boing! Docomodake DS
  9. Bomberman
  10. Brain Age
  11. Brothers in Arms DS
  12. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
  13. Call of Duty: Black Ops
  14. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Mobilized
  15. Call of Duty: World at War
  16. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
  17. Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
  18. Chrono Trigger
  19. Contact
  20. Contra 4
  21. Cooking Mama
  22. Cop The Recruit
  23. C.O.R.E.
  24. Dawn of Discovery
  25. Dementium II
  26. Dementium: The Ward (US, Europe, and Japan)
  27. Diddy Kong Racing DS
  28. Dig Dug: Digging Strike
  29. Dirt 2
  30. DK Jungle Climber
  31. Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter
  32. Dropcast
  33. Elebits The Adventure of Kai and Zero
  34. Elite Beat Agents
  35. Exit
  36. Fast Food Panic
  37. Final Fantasy III
  38. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time
  39. Final Fantasy Fables Chocobo Tales
  40. Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends - Imagination Invaders
  41. Ghost Trick Phantom Detective
  42. GoldenEye 007
  43. GoldenEye Rogue Agent
  44. Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars
  45. Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure
  46. Hotel Dusk: Room 215
  47. How to Train Your Dragon
  48. Impossible Mission
  49. Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings
  50. Insecticide
  51. Intellivision Lives!
  52. Ivy the Kiwi?
  53. James Pond Codename: Robocod
  54. Kirby Canvas Curse
  55. Kirby Squeak Squad
  56. Kirby Super Star Ultra
  57. KORG DS-10 Synthesizer
  58. Lego Batman: The Videogame
  59. Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventure
  60. Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues
  61. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
  62. Lock's Quest
  63. Lunar Knights
  64. Mario Kart DS
  65. Mario & Luigi Bowser's Inside Story
  66. Mario & Luigi Partner's in Time
  67. Mario Party DS
  68. Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2 March of the Minis
  69. Megaman Battle Network 5  Double Team DS
  70. Megaman Zero Collection
  71. Megaman ZX
  72. Metal Slug 7
  73. Meteos
  74. Metroid Prime Hunters
  75. Monster House
  76. Moon (US and Europe)
  77. My Sims Racing
  78. MX vs. ATV Untamed
  79. N+
  80. Namco Museum DS
  81. Nanostray
  82. Nanostray 2
  83. New International Track & Field
  84. New Zealand Story Revolution (Europe)
  85. Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword
  86. Nintendogs Dachshund & Friends
  87. Orcs & Elves
  88. Petz Dogz Pack
  89. Phineas & Ferb
  90. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
  91. Pipe Mania
  92. Plants vs. Zombies
  93. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky
  94. Pokemon: Pearl Version
  95. Pro Evolution Soccer 2007
  96. Professor Layton and the Curious Village
  97. Rayman DS
  98. Resident Evil: Deadly Silence
  99. Retro Game Challenge
  100. Ridge Racer DS
  101. Scooby-Doo! First Frights
  102. Scurge Hive
  103. Sim City DS
  104. Sonic Classic Collection
  105. Sonic Colors
  106. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
  107. Soul Bubbles
  108. Space Bust-A-Move
  109. Space Invaders Extreme 2
  110. Spider-man 2
  111. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  112. Star Fox Command
  113. (New) Super Mario Bros.
  114. Super Mario 64 DS
  115. Super Monkey Ball Touch & Roll
  116. Super Princess Peach
  117. Super Scribblenauts
  118. Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop
  119. Tetris DS
  120. The Legendary Starfy
  121. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
  122. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
  123. The World Ends With You
  124. Tomb Raider Underworld
  125. Tony Hawk's Proving Ground
  126. Trace Memory
  127. Ultimate Mortal Kombat
  128. Viewtiful Joe Double Trouble
  129. Viva Pinata Pocket Paradise
  130. Wario Master of Disguise
  131. Wario Ware D.I.Y.
  132. Wario Ware Touched
  133. Wire Way
  134. Yoshi's Island DS

Jools

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Alan Wake Impressions

Based on the positive reviews that Alan Wake received I blindly purchased Alan Wake for the 360. I purchased Red Dead Redemption the same way. I love RDR.


This is by no means a fully fledged review of the game; just the initial impressions of a spoiled gamer (spoiled by the goodness that exists out there).


I really liked the approach the team took with the narrative, and how it takes you through the game not only in cut-scenes but also in gameplay. But, I felt it was a little heavy handed in some places, taking some of the surprise out of me discovering things. The engine is fantastic. Some of the visuals are simply stunning. But, I experienced small game pauses when data was being loaded, which I assume must have been enemies or a new segment of the world being loaded/unloaded. C'mon guys, really? Our DS games don't even do that! I appreciate the amount of script and acting in the game, this is something I really like about RDR too (I use present tense because I am still playing RDR), but in Alan Wake the acting felt like acting for the most part and not natural. The concept of the enemies was pretty cool, the axe murderer angle is pretty freaky, but I found the repetition required to kill the first 20 enemies made the experience dull and ironically left me wanting to just sit back and watch the movie... oh wait, this is a game. Hehe.


Overall I was impressed by many of the things accomplished in Alan Wake, but I simply lost the desire to continue playing it. This rarely happens to me, I like to give games a chance. But, I guess I was expecting something different and expectations can be a products' enemy sometimes. The reason I mentioned RDR above is due to the hype that I had heard about the game before playing it myself, an it lived up to that hype. With all of the positive buzz around Alan Wake I was expecting something more than what I experienced.


For me, Silent Hill 2 is still the King of psychological thrill.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Update Time!

It's update time!

Spirit is progressing very nicely. I took a build of the game to E3 and had a number of people play our new baby to see how they handled it. It was very informative. Now that we're in Alpha it is the perfect time to have lots of different people play the game and see what does and doesn't work. We have three weeks left in Alpha, and the list of tweaks seem just about manageable, which is splendid.


Smoke is moving along at lightning speed. Have I mentioned that this project time-line is incredibly short? :) Fortunately, Smoke is a small game aimed at a younger audience so the scope fits the time-line... when you throw awesomely experienced people at it who are working as furiously as hell-fire to get it done! ;)


As I mentioned before, Face was going through a big change and now we're through with that change and back to making the game. The time-line has been extended as a result of this change and it seems plausible that we'll have a playable at E3 2011. So, it'll be a while before I'll have anything more concrete to share on this one.


If you haven't already checked it out, please go see my E3 2010 video recap - it's just 7 minutes long.


I hope you're having a great day. TTYL.


Jools

Saturday, June 26, 2010

E3 2010



I left Austin and headed for Los Angeles on the morning of June 15. I arrived around 10am and headed for my hotel... you can watch my E3 video to see some of the action.



I love E3. I was sad when it went away for a couple of years; reduced to a small invite-only event in a tiny hangar. E3 is a very important part of the video game industry. For me it is not only a great way to see new titles and hardware but also reconnect with friends and colleagues.


E3 2010 was a milestone show because of one new tiny hardware platform called the 3DS. If it were not for one special feature, the 3DS would be a relatively simple evolution of the Nintendo DS. The 3DS displays "real" 3D on one of its screens. 3D that can be seen without glasses. It is magic. Magic in a box.


It was wonderful spending some geek-filled time with old and new friends - gotta send much love and shout outs to Tim H, Matt K, Dana D, Derek, Glen E, Jay, Jon J, David J, Aubrey N, David B, Richard I, Michael D, Matt M, Husky, Kevin, Aaron, and all of the other fine folk I was lucky enough to hang with.


Until next year... keep playing.

Jools

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Alpha Alpha E3

Spirit went alpha yesterday. Hoorah! It is probably the cleanest and most complete alpha build that we've ever made at RK. Our previous games were all completed on time, but I don't think they were quite as "complete" as Spirit is now when they reached alpha. A lot of that is contributed to the genre of Spirit being different too, which allows us to focus more of our attention on the content of the game as it is a little simpler in some regards. This is actually a perfect time for the game to be alpha with me going to E3 next week. It'll be good to get friends' and colleagues' feedback on the game so we can make important adjustments to the game. If you are going to E3 and you see me, please feel free to stop me and I'll be happy to show you what we're working on and get your feedback.



I'm flying to LA on Tuesday morning. E3 opens its doors at noon. I have a bunch of meetings set up, and waiting on a couple to confirm a time. We have an assortment of pitches to present to publishers. This is an exciting time. The near-end of one handheld and the near-beginning of another. For us that means we can pitch games for both the DS and 3DS for a 2011 release. I am hoping to get my hands on the 3DS at the show. I'll be sure to share my thoughts if that happens. I plan on taking my pocket-sized video camera to record the events of the show like I did last year.


Hope you're having a great day. TTYL.


Jools

Monday, May 31, 2010

Jools Watsham's Developer Diary - May 31, 2010

Monday May 31 2010: My gosh, we have a lot going on right now! This is a good thing. Spirit is progressing very quickly, and very well. We're getting close to being Alpha, which is quite shocking to think really. Let's take a quick look at where we've been, where we are, and where we're heading to: We started the development of the project in January 2010. We had a playable demo working within a couple of weeks and we shared that with numerous publishers. We signed a publishing agreement in March 2010. We are currently adding the final assets to the game. In a couple of weeks we'll be in Alpha, where we no longer just focus on adding content to the game but instead we get to examine what on earth we've thrown into the bubbling pot of Spirit Stew. We will find that some of it tastes good, some needs extra seasoning, and some isn't even fit for the dog. We have 5 weeks in Alpha to do this, which, by our standards, is a great length of time. Once those 5 weeks of tweaks is up, we're onto the Beta phase where our focus is now purely on fixing bugs and errors for 6 weeks. Wham-bam, thank you Ma'am. Exciting stuff. Even though we'll have a fairly decent build of the game around E3, I think we'll hold off on showing it until it is fully spit and polished to avoid any issues. Sometimes, showing off a game too early has negative repercussions.


Smoke is also thundering along at a tremendous rate. We'll be done with that game before we know it! We have the design doc near-final. We're in the stage where we're doing both creative and schedule work at the same time. The ideas we have in the design doc are good and I think it will make for a fun little game. Gregg has created some kick-ass concept work, which I am hoping will be available in the game somehow. We have hired a new programmer, Matthew Gambrell, to help us out on the project. He has many years of experience and is a huge fan of the platform we're developing the game for. Welcome aboard sir!


Not much to say about Face just yet. More on that project later. :)


Let's face it, Red is dead. Won't be bothering to mention that title again I expect. I think three projects is good for now. However, by the end of this year we'll be needing some more, so let's hope E3 brings some our way.


I hope you're having a great day. TTYL.


Jools

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jools Watsham's Developer Diary - May 21, 2010

Friday May 21, 2010: The project that is code-named Smoke is now a go! It's official. It's happening. There's no stopping it. The train has left the station. Hello Smokey. This is a super short project, so I expect you'll be hearing details of this project about the same time we're able to chat about Spirit. Smoke is SOOOO different from anything we've ever made before. I imagine some Dementium and Moon fans will be like, WTF? But, to be honest, Smoke is aimed at a different audience, which is exciting for us... and the audience hopefully. :)


Spirit is moving along very nicely. We're now nearer the end than we are the start of the project. I'm still not sure when we're going to reveal what the game is, but I'll be sure to let you know when I do. The game is turning out to be everything that I hoped it would be. There are some rough edges that need to be filed down, and I hope we find the time to do so in the Alpha phase... which is coming up pretty soon! The entire team is kicking some major booty, and the game is rockin' as a direct result of that effort. The publisher has been great to work with, which allows the development process to be effective.


Face is going through a big change that is great for the project. This game is nowhere near completion, so it'll be a while before I can give any details. I'm really excited about it though.


I hope you're having a great day. TTYL.


Jools

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jools Watsham's Developer Diary - May 15, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010: We submitted another milestone for Spirit yesterday. The game is progressing really well; I'm really pleased with it. We included all of items listed on the milestone deliverables and also managed to squeeze in a little more on the UI side that I didn't expect... well done chaps! It feels good to be on track to get get this game completed on time and to a good quality standard.



Face is cruising along nicely. We had a dramatic "change" dropped on us on Friday. It is a rather large and exciting change that will delay us a smidge, but the outcome is something of sweetness that I think every one will enjoy. Man, I wish I could tell you more.


Smoke is getting closer to getting signed. It is possible that we'll start development next week. Very excited about that. Not sure if I mentioned this before, but Smoke is with the same publisher as Spirit. I'm really happy about the idea of working with the great guys there; they've been nothing short of awesome to work with. I appreciate it when I am fortunate enough to work with people who are both real and nice... it's really nice. :)


Nothing new on Red, so I'm not going to mention that anymore unless something happens. Feels silly just saying "nothing on Red" every week.


E3 is soooo close - just a month away. I am very excited about going. I love E3. My bionic heel is going to slow me down a bit, but it'll be worth the marathon. I enjoy going to E3 for so many reasons: 1. It is my geek getaway, where I get to indulge in my love for games and the games industry. 2. I get to hang out with old friends, meet new friends, talk shop, and drink beer. And, this year I get to learn more (and hopefully play) the Nintendo 3DS. Awesome!


Hope you're having a great day. TTYL.


Jools

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Deadly Premonition


Warning - this contains spoilers on Deadly Premonition. Zach, did you get that? Are you there, Zach?

I ordered Deadly Premonition for the 360 through Amazon.com and it arrived this week. I have only put a couple of hours into playing the game so far. The reason I bought the game is because of Jim Sterling's review on Destructoid. He loved it. And, the video Jim posted of the game - the coffee scene - well, that's when I fell in love with the game.

Deadly Premonition is a very campy survival horror game that has humor, scares, and oodles of entertainment. The key to enjoying this game is knowing what you're getting into before you play it; it is strange and wonderful. In comparison, Silent Hill takes itself a lot more seriously than Deadly Premonition.

-:SPOILERS:-
What I really like about the game is the main character: Agent York. He is hilarious, and ridiculous. He talks a lot, he's smart, and he's probably a little insane. Oh, and he has an impeccable palette and a weakness for biscuits - especially those made by Thomas. The way York introduces himself in the same exaggerated manner each time he meets someone new just cracks me up. It is both campy and adds to the OCD nature of his personality. There is a lot to like in Deadly Premotion. At $19.99, you can't go wrong really.

Jools

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Jools Watsham's Developer Diary - May 8, 2010

Saturday May 8, 2010: The big news for last week was the release of Dementium II. Not only was the game actually released (finally), it was met with positive reviews. Yes! There are still a few sites, such as Destructoid, who have not posted their review yet and I look forward to reading their thoughts. It seems the main negative point reviews have found with Dementium II is the length of the adventure, which I find puzzling. Dementium II is the same length, if not longer than Dementium: The Ward, and no one said that it was too short. Perhaps it is because the added variety in Dementium II makes the experience feel as though it goes by quicker, or perhaps reviewers are just looking for something to criticize. If it is too short, then I would certainly prefer a short experience that is good over a long experience that spreads the goodness too thin. I think Moon suffered from the latter.


Progress on Spirit and Face is going very well. They’re both in production. We’re all extremely busy of course. Two new programmers joined us this month: Andrew Brown, who worked with us on Dementium: The Ward, Moon, and Dementium II – it is great to be working with Andrew again (welcome back dude). And, we’re happy to welcome Giovanni Acosta to the team for the first time, who headed up the network side of the Call of Duty series on the DS. Sure, this certainly suggests we’re doing some multiplayer work… but more on that later. :)


I have heard nothing regarding Red.


Smoke is getting extremely close to becoming a reality. We received the contract and are now finalizing the milestone deliverables with the publisher. This project is likely to start within the next two weeks. As I mentioned before, Smoke is a fun, small project. It is something that I personally think is a great deviation from our other games. I can tell you now that if you’re a fan of Dementium, Smoke may not be for you. :)


Hope you’re having a great day. TTYL.


Jools

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dementium II is on the shelves

Dementium II is Released Today!



Today is the day that Dementium II is finally released in the US for the Nintendo DS!

A team of ten hard working chaps worked together for 11 months to make Dementium II. Our goal was to improve upon Dementium: The Ward in every way. We read every review, every forum comment, and created a list of the features that we thought either worked, failed, or were missing in our debut title. We treated this project as if it were our last hoorah! Our last epic story to tell on the DS. We wanted the player's journey to feel real, not restricted by repeating corridors, respawning enemies, or a bad save system. Every step you take as William Redmoor treads on unique ground crafted by designers and artists. Each of the 12 enemies and 4 bosses are designed to not only present unique visuals and audio, but also require you to decide which of your 10 weapons is most effective in killing them. Dementium II was a labor of love. It was a great project that ran smoothly, and was completed on time. It was my favorite project to work on in my 18 years of game development. Wow, what a ride. Now, it is finally in your hands to enjoy. I hope you enjoy every nook and cranny of the Bright Dawn Treatment Center, Pelf Village, and beyond.

Visit our new forum to share your thoughts with your fellow renegade kids, here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Renegade Kid Forum

I have set up a Renegade Kid forum. Please visit it here.

Feel free to post your reviews on Renegade Kid games, and chat about anything video game related.

Thanks,

Jools

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Jools Watsham's Developer Diary - April 24, 2010

Saturday April 24, 2010: I didn't get a chance to post a development update last week. Sorry about that. It has been very busy. We submitted a milestone for Spirit on April 16, which has already been approved by the publisher (thank you for being prompt Mr. Publisher), and we submitted a milestone for Face yesterday. Phew! Both projects are going really well. Spirit is thick into the production stage. We have the game playable with AI, music, and all sorts of goodness going on. It already feels like a real game. We just need to add more "stuff" to it and tweak what we have. I am very happy with how it is progressing. Face is in it's early stage. We just finished the GDD, TDD, and milestone delivery schedule. It was a lot of work to get all of that completed, but it feels good to have it done. It shows us what the game is in terms of scope, which is vital for both us and the publisher in knowing what we're making in the time/budget available. We always weigh the contents of the game design against time and resources (people) to make sure it is doable, and as such I feel confident we're in good shape. As usual, it won't be easy to complete the creation of the game, but it is doable. If it is ever "easy" for us to complete a game, then something has probably gone wrong! :)

The publisher for Red visited us last week. That went well. It was part of their due diligence. So, it doesn't mean we've got the project. We'll hear more about that later.

We're in talks with one of our current publishers about a new game - let's call that Smoke. It is a fun, small game that would need to be started immediately if it is to be released on time. So, that may happen fairly quickly.

Hope you're having a great day. TTYL.

Jools

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tweeting

OK, so I have started tweeting now. I'm new to this, so I don't know how often I'll update - we'll see how it goes.

Follow me here: http://twitter.com/JoolsWatsham.

Jools

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jools Watsham's Developer Diary - April 10, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010: Spirit is still on track - hoorah! No, that's not a reference to Spirit Tracks! :) Our game is progressing very well - I'm liking the results. I'm having fun playing it, even at this early stage. Bob, our programmer extraordinaire, is rocking the house as usual. We added a new gameplay feature this week, which is working well. We continue to refine the AI and player controls. And, we have all of the "player variation" assets in the game now, which is great. We also implemented a large amount of the music audio, which not only helps us see if it accompanies the on-screen action, but also helps us gauge how much memory it all takes up. I now have three "levels" designed out and built in proxy geometry, and I'm happy with how they play. Gregg is working on making them look pretty, and the results are simply gorgeous. We're looking good for our milestone next Friday, April 16.



Progress on Face is also cruising along nicely. We have most, if not all, of the GDD elements now in place and we're now adding details to everything. This stage really helps solidify the vision of the game, which is extremely important. The aim here is to list everything that exists in the game, and add as much detail as possible on how you see it behaving in the game. This not only helps build your own sense of what the game is in your mind, but is also tremendously helpful for the publisher so they too can imagine the game. We're constantly measuring features against the time we have for the project, so it is vital from that perspective too. The scope of the game must fit the time and team you have to make it. Sounds obvious, but it is easy to lose sight of that and design a game that is bigger than you can handle effectively. We should have everything wrapped up with a bow for our milestone on April 23.


Our proposal for Red has been sent to the publisher, and they're evaluating it. They will provide feedback and we'll have some time to implement revisions. This will happen next week. Some key people from the publisher will be visiting us in the next couple of weeks to check on us - all part of their due diligence.


Hope you're having a great day.TTYL.


Jools

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Dementium II's First Review

Official Nintendo Magazine's Simon Bramble reviews Dementium II, and he likes it... a lot!

"A sequel that trumps a very respectable first game."

"It's hard to fathom just how Renegade Kid have squeezed it all in."

"The impressively rank enemies that ram the claustrophobia home are the best we've seen on the DS since, oh... Dementium."