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Feature: A Year in Development - Renegade Kid

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

A Q & A with Jools Watsham on 2013

In the second of our "Year in Development" mini-series, we sit down for a Q & A with Jools Watsham, co-founder and main spokesman for Renegade Kid. We already reported on confirmation of Mutant Mudds Deluxe content as a free update on 3DS, and below is the full manuscript that focuses on the studio's year, from expanding to other systems, a continuing commitment to Nintendo and an explanation of the challenges releasing all titles in Europe, as well as North America.


Nintendo Life: First up, has 2013 been as frantic as 2012? Can you maybe kick us off with a quick summary of how many projects you've been balancing?

Jools Watsham: I need to look at our website to see which games came out this year!

It has been a very busy year for us, for sure.

NL: It looks like Mutant Mudds Deluxe, ATV Wild Wild 3D and lots of multi-platform ports! Plus new projects, of course.

JW: We kicked it off with ATV Wild Ride 3D, and then later released Mutant Mudds Deluxe for Wii U. Then we also got greenlit on Steam, which required us to turn our attention to that version, as well as the PS3 / PS Vita version of Mutant Mudds Deluxe which released this week. And, of course Treasurenauts was happening in there somewhere too - not to mention Cult County and an unannounced game. Phew. So, yeah - a busy year.

We like to stay busy. Apparently!

NL: To start with the Nintendo-based projects, were they relatively simple (new version of a DS game and an expanded 3DS port), or were they perhaps more of a challenge than we may appreciate?

JW: ATV Wild Ride 3D was redone completely from the ground up. So, not really a port in the traditional sense. It is the same game as the DS version, of course, but the driving physics and a lot of the engine work was created to support the game. Not to mention the online multiplayer. It took a lot longer than we originally expected to complete.

Moving Mutant Mudds Deluxe over to the Wii U was a relatively simple and fast process, thanks to Matthew Gambrell's huge brain. I had to get back into the Muddy mode in order to create the 20 new ghost levels, which was a lot of fun.

NL: As you mentioned earlier you did move onto Sony platforms and PC this year. Was 2013 a year for expanding the Renegade Kid brand and awareness, perhaps, with Mutant Mudds at the forefront?

JW: Yes, it was exactly that. Now that we're travelling down the independent path, and not relying on funds from publishers, we need to try and earn as much revenue as possible from our games in order to continue making original games. Mutant Mudds was our first self-published game, and it has been received so much better than we could have ever imagined. So, it made sense to port our début effort over to multiple platforms first to get those channels open.

We need to try and earn as much revenue as possible from our games in order to continue making original games.

NL: How big is your team, and has it been a resource challenge to work on projects across platforms, while jumping through different hoops to publish in different marketplaces?

JW: Our team is tiny. We have two main programmers: Bob Ives and Matthew Gambrell. Bob primarily handles our 3D games (Dementium, Moon, ATV Wild Ride, etc.), while Matthew focuses primarily on our 2D games (Mutant Mudds, Bomb Monkey, Treasurenauts, etc.). And then there's Gregg Hargrove, RK's art director, who handles the 3D artwork and myself who handles game design and 2D artwork. Troupe Gammage is our wizard musician who created the music for Mutant Mudds, Bomb Monkey and Treasurenauts. Back in the DS days, I created the title tune and few others for Dementium while my friend, Gareth Vilday, created the rest for Dementium as well as all the music for Moon.

We also hire contractors to help out with art, audio, and such where needed, which we have done for various assets in our 3D games.

So, yes, it has been very challenging moving from just focusing on the Nintendo DS to multiple platforms.

NL: Are you happy that moving to self-publishing was the right move, however?

JW: Absolutely. I love the fact that we're now in control of our games. It is no more or less stressful than working with publishers, doing work-for-hire gigs. So, we might as well have more fun making our own games.

Using someone else's money is always added stress. And sometimes an unwanted source of creative input.

NL: Though I know figures are locked behind NDAs, have the new platforms delivered the success RK needs, in business terms?

JW: No, not yet.

The 3DS is still the most successful for us in terms of self-publishing. And, Mutant Mudds specifically.

NL: That leads to the next point, ultimately. Are Nintendo platforms valuable to you and the team financially, as well as the very obvious personal sentiment for the systems?

JW: Yes, Nintendo platforms will always be important and valuable to us. Our games are very much "Nintendo Style" games. Nintendo is a huge inspiration to me in terms of game design and philosophy. When we released Mutant Mudds, we did not expect anything in return. We created it simply because we loved the 3DS and wanted to release a platformer on it.

I think the audience is a great match for the types of games we create.

NL: Are you and the team excited about the progress so far on Treasurenauts, perhaps even nervous about its release next year?

JW: Yes, I am very excited about Treasurenauts. It covers many different personal development goals for me, and continues to surprise me in terms of where progress in development takes us. It is a very inspirational game for me, one that has a lot to offer in terms of personal satisfaction. I am always nervous about the release of our games. How players and press respond to our games is important to me.

NL: I have to ask, will it be making its way to Europe in good time? For those that don't know, can you explain the challenges that have held back some games from Europe?

JW: I sincerely hope so.

Being such a small team, we have little time to handle non-game development tasks, such as age rating companies. The ESRB in the US has made this process amazingly quick, simple, and free. I got the ESRB rating for Mutant Mudds Deluxe in 10 mins - no exaggeration.

There are multiple age rating companies in Europe and Australia/New Zealand: PEGI, USK, and COB. Each company requires a substantial payment to review your game, an online questionnaire, and a DVD sent to them with gameplay footage for them to review. This may not sound like much, but it is for us when we need to focus on the development of our games and not dancing with the age rating companies. The ESRB have made this much more difficult for us to swallow, due to how easy it is with them in contrast. The European age ratings companies are slow bureaucratic dinosaurs. If we had a mature game on our hands, I would understand more, but I don't think a kid-friendly game like Mutant Mudds, ATV Wild Ride, or Bomb Monkey should not have to jump through so many hoops.

NL: Crikey, that all sounds a bit much!

JW: However, I should add that we are going to slip around this with an update of Mutant Mudds on the 3DS next year. In Europe as well as North America.

EXCLUSIVE: We're going to bring the 'Deluxe' content to the 3DS version, as a free update in 2014.

SCOOP!

NL: That's fantastic! I imagine that'll cause plenty of delight!

How would you rate 2013 as a whole for RK? Has it been successful, and has it been a demanding 12 months for the team in terms of workload?

JW: Yes, I think it has been a very successful year for us. We have managed to branch out to many more platforms, and as such, reached new players. It has been a lot of hard work, but not really any more than past years. We're always working hard on new stuff.

We love to do what we do, so it doesn't usually feel like work.

NL: So is 2014 the year of new games, ultimately?

JW: Yes, we'll have at least 2 or 3 new games released in 2014, which we're very excited about.

I'm sure we can get Mutant Mudds on a few more devices too. Perhaps your calculator?

NL: Is it on phones?

JW: Yes, it is on iPhone. We have not moved it over to Android yet. One day perhaps.

NL: Do you have an end of year 2013 message for our readers, perhaps?

JW: Having goals is good for everyone. Make plans for big things in 2014, and they might happen. Make no plans for 2014, and nothing will happen. Also, grab Mutant Mudds on 3DS now while it is 50% off because 20 new levels will be coming to it in 2014 absolutely FREE!

Also, something new we started this year was having our own booth at PAX East in Boston. That was a new milestone for us. We plan to continue this, and have already signed up for PAX East 2014. It is an amazing way to meet players and other developers. It is a great time. Hopefully, someone from NL will be there!

NL: We'll try! Can I check whether the 3DS Mutant Mudds update has a target release window, or would you rather just say 2014?

JW: We're hoping it will be Q1 2014 - closer to Easter / Spring time.


We'd like to thank Jools Watsham for his time.

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User Comments (29)

Giygas_95

#1

Giygas_95 said:

Great interview! I really enjoyed reading it. I can't wait for the Mutant Mudds 3DS update and Treasurnauts! Keep it up, RK!

Thanks for the great games @Renegade_Jools !

Nintendojuenger

#2

Nintendojuenger said:

the success in the us market, the age rating companies - who finds the next argument to avoid the European market?

TreonsRealm

#4

TreonsRealm said:

I've gotta say, I am really appreciating the big Nintendo indie developers more and more and love supporting their great games (Renegade Kid, WayForward, etc). They don't make lame excuses about why they can't support Nintendo and in turn, the Nintendo fans support them and make them profitable. Traditional third party's could learn a thing or two from them but it's probably too late for them considering they have burned every bridge possible with the Nintendo community since the N64/GameCube days. My Wii U has about as many indie games downloaded to it as actual retail discs I own for it. Outside of Cult County, the biggest thing I want to see happen for Renegade Kid is for Nintendo to hire them to make that Wario Land Virtual Boy port (talk about a day 1 purchase!). Thank you Renegade Kid and thank you Jools, you rock!

PS: Hey Jools, how about releasing Dementium HD & Dementium 2 HD for the Wii U? I would love a retail disc with both games but would still be thrilled to purchase off the eShop.

LDXD

#5

LDXD said:

Man I can't wait for mutant Mudd's 2 whenever that comes out and treasurenauts

Stu13

#6

Stu13 said:

Treasurenauts looks like a criminal amount of fun. That'll be a day one purchase for me.

Kid_A

#7

Kid_A said:

"That's fantastic! I imagine that'll cause plenty of delight!"
"Crikey, that all sounds a bit much!"
Was this interview conducted by a cartoon stereotype of a British person? :p

lividd3ad

#9

lividd3ad said:

So is Mutant Mudds Deluxe basically not coming to Europe at all? Sucks, but hey, as long as we get the 3DS content it's fine.

ecco6t9

#10

ecco6t9 said:

I personally would not mind seeing Dementium 1 & 2 or Moon spruced up on the 3DS as well.

BinaryFragger

#12

BinaryFragger said:

Great interview. I love how some of the best games, such as Mutant Mudds, Spelunky, Runner2 and Retro City Rampage are made by small companies, proving that you don't need to spend $100M to make a great game.

Grubdog

#15

Grubdog said:

Eh, kinda pointless to focus on "developing games" we can't play. I agree the ratings companies are terrible (especially as an Australian), but it's necessary and you just have to deal with it like every other developer. They aren't reading this article so it's just useless whining.

micronean

#16

micronean said:

I'm having a great time playing Mutant Mudds on the Wii U. Very glad for the sale, but it's even worth it at full price.

DarkCoolEdge

#17

DarkCoolEdge said:

I want to see more of Cult County, the handheld desperately needs an fps and atmosphere heavy/misterious games are most welcome.

@Grubdog So, the way to go is to say nothing about it? Telling the truth is whining. Great...

And no, they are not necessary. Some parameters could be arrange and then the companies could put the warnings by themselves. If something was wrong a big fine should be enough to make them think it twice next time.

readyletsgo

#18

readyletsgo said:

Jesus, mutant mudds is balls hard! Hate the blowing clouds, can't time the jump to block right in level 4 , very frustrating

best 5euro I've spent in a while 😁

Morph

#19

Morph said:

I cant understand how a team that obviously could do with the money, given that their games havent yet hit predicted targets can afford to not prioritise getting them out in europe, dont get that logic

McGruber

#20

McGruber said:

@Morph Clearly it has to do with the piss poor Nintendo presence in Europe, thus making the cost and process not worth it for them. If they thought they would make a profit from it I'm sure they would have done it.

Geni

#21

Geni said:

I hated, hated HATED Mutant Mudds. Paid a lot of money for it, and then it's so fricking difficult that I cannot even progress beyond the first 8 levels. The demo was more fun that this punishing turd. I will never buy a game again by this team.

Morph

#22

Morph said:

@Lionsgate well we'd have to see actual figures but i cant imagine the cost of approval would outweigh potential sales

unrandomsam

#23

unrandomsam said:

Treasurenaughts would have to get 10/10 for me to consider it. (Mutant Mudds is dire it is loads worse than Jet Rocket 2). The best indie games coming to the 3DS are Gunlord and Retro City Rampage. (Proper amount of effort put in for a start.)

LDXD

#24

LDXD said:

@Geni wow really the game isn't even that hard hate to see what you would say if you played something truly difficult

Gustoff

#25

Gustoff said:

Ever since ATV Wild Ride 3D came out on 3DS, i've been a fan of RK. Even went out and got Dementium 2 so that i could play it. Very good game and pretty scary. @Windy currently holds ATV Wild Ride online tournaments on Saturday nights, check the Online Forums for details. @Jules - any new insight on Cult County? Nothing in the interview on that front. I remember an article earlier this year that yall were aiming for a 2013 release for the first episode. I figure that may not happen anymore since it is the 23rd already...keep up the awesomeness RK!

GC-161

#26

GC-161 said:

Great interview!

@Kid_A

Believe it or not, real people do say crikey. Just like we Americans say "dude" or "awesome" or some other stereotypical expression you see in the movies or in a TMNT cartoon.

@Geni

My 10 year old niece beat the whole game. I repeat, she's a GIRL and she's 10 years old. She beat Mutant Mudds. She can't wait to play more of it when they release new levels.

You can always play pinochle.

123akis

#27

123akis said:

ughh why can't europe use ONE age rating company! and make the process more simple... seriously WE ARE ALL HUMANS, countries don't need different age ratings for games

Gustoff

#28

Gustoff said:

Got the eShop card from Best Buy yesterday for $16. Came back home and got Mutant Mudds. Awesome game RK! Keep up the good work! :) And a thanks in advance for the free DLC next year for the game!

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