Interviews: Renegade Kid - Mutant Mudds

Developer talks platforming

When developer Renegade Kid first showed off some early footage of its Maximillian and the Rise of the Mutant Mudds 3D platform title, many gamers were a bit shocked at the radical departure from many of its previous efforts like Moon and Dementium: The Ward. The game's cartoon looks and light-hearted theme were a far cry from the death and destruction of the first-person shooter titles on Nintendo DS.

Now, Renegade Kid has instituted another radical change, this time taking the 3D platformer idea and transforming it into an old-school 2D presentation for the 3DS eShop. With development already well underway, we thought it might be a good time to catch up with Jools Watsham, CEO and Creative Director of Renegade Kid, to get the lowdown on the game. You can find out what he had to say to us in the exclusive Nintendo Life interview below.

Nintendo Life: After spending much of your development time over the years pushing the 3D limits of Nintendo's handheld systems, why the decision to go 2D for Mutant Mudds?

Jools Watsham: In my mind, 2D is still king. However, 3D games, such as Dementium and Moon, are typically sexier to publishers, and therefore have a higher chance of getting funded and published.

Our debut game, Dementium, was geared towards being noticed on the DS, so going 3D was the right thing to do there. But, I have always had a great appreciation for 2D games, especially the SNES era. It has been a life-long dream of mine to develop a 2D platform game, so it is thrilling to finally be doing that with Mutant Mudds. The 3DS is the perfect platform for it.

NL: What have been some of the challenges of taking a game that was originally created as a 3D adventure and weaving it into more of a classic 2D platformer?

JW: I didn't limit myself to strictly adapting what we created with the original 3D platformer into the 2D rendition of Max's muddy adventure. I looked at what could be transferred and discarded the rest. The hover mechanic works very well in 2D, and was really the only unique aspect of the 3D platformer that was adapted directly over to the 2D Mutant Mudds. The jump, shoot, walk speed, and jumping between layers were all specifically tailored to the 3DS format. In the end, Mutant Mudds is a very different game than the original 3D platformer, and in my opinion, much better thanks to the 2D adaptation.

NL: You've obviously chosen to use a more 16-bit style of visuals for the game. Was that more due to the file size restrictions or a feeling of it fitting the game you wanted to make?

JW: I knew that I was going to create the majority of the artwork for the game, so I wanted to go with a style that I could naturally produce without too much extra research, etc. When I started creating artwork for the game I went with more of an 8-bit style, but it looked more basic than I’d imagined, so I added more colors to everything. The result is somewhere between 8-bit and 16-bit; 12-bit if you like.

NL: How has developing Mutant Mudds differed from your the more ambitious projects your studio has undertaken in the past?

JW: Well, the team is certainly a lot smaller. Right now, it is just me, Matthew, and Troupe. Smaller teams can require more work from each person, but it can also mean less hassle and management in many regards. However, I wouldn't say it is any less ambitious than any of our previous titles. Trying to make a good game is a difficult task, no matter what.

NL: Can you tell us a bit about the basic play controls of Mutant Mudds and what players can expect from a gameplay standpoint?

JW: Your fundamental abilities are walk, jump, shoot, crouch, and hover. These enable you to traverse a multitude of platform scenarios while taking out Mutant Mudds with your Water Cannon along the way. This is a two button game, so it keeps the controls fairly simple to execute. Later in the game you'll have the ability to gain access to some power-ups, which enable you to access areas that are otherwise out-of-reach.

NL: What has the unique 3D display of Nintendo's 3DS system brought to the table from a development standpoint and what does it add to the overall experience of Mutant Mudds?

JW: For me, and Mutant Mudds in particular, the unique 3D display of the 3DS made me look back fondly on the Virtual Boy and remember the inspired fun I had playing it. Wario Land in particular. Jumping between the gameplay layers is a natural fit for the 3D display. Even though this is possible and effective on 2D platforms as well, the sense of depth that the 3D display provides is something very special. You feel like you're physically moving further away from the screen; truly bringing the effect to life.

Now, even though this effect is pretty awesome, and something that I embrace wholeheartedly, it makes the creation of levels a lot more challenging from a development standpoint. Each playable layer is set to a different scale than the others. The background layer could be considered to be rendering at 100% scale, where 1 pixel equals one pixel. I know this sounds a little odd, but bear with me. The middle layer, which is typically the default starting layer for the player, is rendered at 200%, where 1 pixel equals 2x2 pixels. And, finally the foreground layer is at 300%, where 1 pixel equals 3x3 pixels. Even though that may not make much sense, the result is that these layers cannot easily be designed on paper as it is difficult to judge exactly where they connect with each other due to the scale differences between them.

I have found that the level creation for this title is largely trial and error. I iterate on each level/layer until it is right. Once a level is synced up in harmony, the end result is something that I believe is very special. It’s a simple concept that really delivers, and makes your journey through the game a little different than traditional platformers.

NL: Will there be any motion controls or does the game feature a more traditional button control scheme?

JW: There are no motion controls.

NL: How many levels can players expect in the game and will there be any hidden goodies to give the game some added replay value?

JW: The game starts with four worlds. Each world has four levels in it. That is a total of 16 levels. Each level is behind a door, which has a number on it that represents how many Water Sprites must be collected to gain access to it. Each of those levels also provides access to a secret level; a door is hidden somewhere inside each level. Once you have collected all 32 Water Sprites from those levels (16 regular / 16 secret), a fifth world is revealed. To access a level in the fifth world, you must collect all of the Golden Diamonds from one world to unlock one level. The fifth world has 4 regular levels, and four secret levels. So, that’s 40 levels altogether.

NL: Is there any time frame for when we might expect Mutant Mudds to be released on the 3DS eShop?

JW: I am hoping it will be released before the end of 2011. But, we’re not going to rush the game out before we feel it is ready. We have only one chance to release a respectable 2D platform game, if players are to trust us with future 2D platform games.

NL: Is there anything you'd like to tell our readers in closing?

JW: We plan on developing many titles for the eShop. We’re excited about it. Mutant Mudds marks our first step into many things, including our dedication to Nintendo’s digital service. I am confident that the eShop service and 3DS hardware are more than capable of delivering incredible gaming experiences. All that’s left is for the player’s to climb aboard to make it the success it inevitably will be.

We'd like to thank Jools Watsham for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.

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