Developer Interview: Renegade Kid on Mutant Mudds Deluxe and Looking Forward with Wii U
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
"It is all about the games"
Mutant Mudds Deluxe will not only bring the return of the highly-rated 3DS eShop title on a HD platform, it'll also be Renegade Kid's home console debut. Since the studio was founded in 2007 it's focused, primarily, on Nintendo's DS, DSi and 3DS systems, with recent diversions to PC and iOS in the form of Mutant Mudds ports. With such a history on Nintendo's systems — something we've discussed at length with the developer — it seemed inevitable that the plunge would be taken with Wii U. The upcoming release is nevertheless a welcome one for the system's eShop, with exclusive new levels also thrown into the mix.
Ahead of the big release we decided to once again catch up with Renegade Kid's co-founder, Jools Watsham, to talk about the game and also the Wii U system in broader terms. Watsham has been a vocal supporter of the console, while also addressing its faults, and as he's now worked on the system we were keen for his perspective on where the Wii U stands, and what's needed in the coming months to boost its fortunes.
Nintendo Life: First of all, we've learnt much about Mutant Mudds Deluxe since it was announced, but can you give us a brief history of how you came to decide on re-releasing the 3DS title on Wii U, albeit with additional content?
Jools: As soon as I saw the Wii U's GamePad, with its portable screen, I imagined playing Mutant Mudds on the Wii U the same way I do on my 3DS. It's great to have the choice to play the game on a large HD TV in your living room or snuggled up with the GamePad.
There are many Wii U owners who do not own a 3DS or have not played Mutant Mudds. We felt that bringing Mutant Mudds to the Wii U was a great opportunity to get the game into new players' hands. For those players that already own Mutant Mudds, we added 20 new ghost levels to provide some fresh content to enjoy.
NL: Do you consider this an important landmark for Renegade Kid, releasing a game on a dedicated home console for the first time?
Jools: Yes, this is Renegade Kid's first home console title, and is definitely an important milestone for us.
NL: Mutant Mudds has arrived on PC, iOS (and you gave 3DS owners the "Granny" levels for free), so what was your motivation to produce an expanded version on Nintendo's system?
Jools: We could have just created a direct port of Mutant Mudds for Wii U, and released it many months ago, but I felt that adding a substantial amount of new content would be more exciting for players. And, on a selfish note, I had a lot of fun designing the new levels.
NL: In terms of the development itself, how easy or difficult was it for you to bring the game to the Wii U's system architecture, in comparison to your previous experiences on 3DS and PC?
Jools: Matthew Gambrell, our fearless muddy programmer, has a huge brain, which makes the task of bringing Mutant Mudds Deluxe to Wii U very manageable and fun.
NL: It may seem strange to some that HD clarity is a plus with a "12-bit" game, so can you clarify the attraction of applying this visual upgrade on the home console?
Jools: The main improvement that HD provides to Mutant Mudds Deluxe is a larger viewing area. Not just the size of the screen itself, but the ability to see more of the level around you. If you compare the view-able area in Mutant Mudds Deluxe to the original 3DS version you'll notice that more of the level can be seen, which gives you a look ahead. This is especially helpful when approaching those pesky Eye Shot enemies.
NL: With the Ghost Levels, are they accessible from the start or unlocked in standard stages? Also, are these designed to be particularly tough for committed players to take on (like the retro Granny levels) or do they just represent fresh design and gameplay to be enjoyed by all players?
What I love about Wii U is the fact that it knows what it is. It is a gaming console through and through.
Jools: The Ghost Levels are unlocked as you progress through the regular levels. The basic rule is: if the level is available in the regular world, its ghoulish counterpart in the ghost world is also available. This results in there being two Ghost Levels immediately available after completing the first level.
I tried to incorporate a gradual difficulty curve across the 20 Ghost Levels; easing players into the new gameplay of ghost avoidance. Overall, the Ghost Levels definitely pose a challenge, but perhaps not quite as brutal as some of the secret levels.
NL: You've written and spoken about the Wii U a great deal; now that you've developed a title for the platform and become more familiar with the hardware, how would you summarise it in terms of its concept and capabilities for the coming console generation's challenges?
Jools: What I love about Wii U is the fact that it knows what it is. It is a gaming console through and through. In conjunction with the great controls and HD display that the Wii U offers, the Miiverse is a world-wide mega-forum for gamers to talk about games. Once you start tapping into what the Wii U has to offer as a player, you really start to understand the brilliance of what Nintendo has created. The Wii U knows what it is, and it does what it does very well. Nintendo's challenge is to communicate Wii U's message loud and clear to the general public. The Wii U message is tougher to communicate than the Wii's motion controls, but the Wii U has so much more to offer everyone.
NL: After what has been a poor 3-4 months for the system (in terms of sales), what do you hope to see from Nintendo at E3 and beyond to regain momentum?
Jools: Games. It is all about the games. I expect to see an impressive new 3D Mario game, Mario Kart, and at least one new title reveal. Perhaps from Retro? Beyond that, a price cut on the hardware this holiday season will obviously help sell units. None of this is new thinking, of course. Nintendo successfully accomplished this with the 3DS already, and I have faith they'll do it again. The Wii U may not reach the same Wii levels of success, but I am confident that the Wii U will be successful in its own right.
NL: You've tweeted that Renegade Kid will be supporting Wii U, are you able to clarify or tease any future plans for the system?
Jools: Well, we now have a snazzy 2D platformer engine for the Wii U that we'll certainly be taking advantage of in the future. We're also eager to explore 3D games for the Wii U and are currently looking into the Unity engine for that.
NL: Is cross-play with the 3DS something that you'd consider in the future, for something like Cult County?
Jools: It is not something we have investigated yet, but it is possible.
NL: Now that you've published on the 3DS and Wii U eShop, do you feel both are offering a fully supportive environment for indies? Are there any areas where one is lagging behind the other in this respect — for example, free development tools such as Unity on Wii U, are there 3DS equivalents?
Jools: There are many positive parallels between the 3DS and Wii U eShops, and I expect they will become more integrated and connected with each other as time goes by and updates are made.
As far as I know, there are not any third-party engines for the 3DS. This might be because the 3DS requires a more specialized hand to utilize the system.
NL: We have to ask, are you able to provide an update on development progress of Mutant Mudds 2, and a release window when you think it may arrive?
Jools: Unfortunately, I can't share any information on Mutant Mudds 2 at this time. I can only verify that it will be released in the future. I realize that isn't very helpful, but I want to make sure everyone knows that it is still firmly in our future plans, an it is something we're extremely excited about.
NL: Up to now you've mostly stuck with Nintendo, diverting to PC and smartphone markets as well, but do you foresee future releases on Sony or Microsoft systems?
Jools: I see the potential for releases on Sony platforms. We have Vita and PS3 devkits. But, I doubt a release on a Microsoft platform will happen before they allow independent developers to self-publish their games on their platforms.
NL: To finish on Mutant Mudds Deluxe, do you have a rough estimate for the European release, and a message for fans ahead of its imminent arrival in North America?
Jools: We are wrapping up the European version of Mutant Mudds Deluxe now, and will have it out as soon as possible, but I do not have a release date yet unfortunately.
I look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts on Mutant Mudds Deluxe, and I'll be seeing you on Miiverse where you can follow me, if you like: RenegadeJools.
We'd like to thank Jools Watsham for his time. Mutant Mudds Deluxe will be released on the Wii U eShop in North America on 13th June, with a price of $9.99.