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Interview: Renegade Kid on Moon Chronicles and New Horizons on the 3DS eShop

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"I definitely feel the loyalty and expectation of the players"

Early this year Renegade Kid began to build hype for an FPS release on the 3DS eShop, and after some teasing revealed Moon Chronicles. It's an intriguing prospect for the portable, as it'll be the first notable FPS and, more notably, the first episodic release on the platform. An idea that's become more relevant on most other platforms finally makes its way to Nintendo hardware, so no doubt its level of success will be watched by other developers.

The first "season" of the game will be a re-master of the original Moon on DS, while season two will feature all new content in 2015. We caught up with Renegade Kid's Jools Watsham to learn more about the upcoming series, and to get some updates on the developer's other projects.

NL: Before we talk about Moon Chronicles directly, we'd like to touch on the anticipation you were able to build with some simple tweets and teases. How important a marketing tool are social networks such as Twitter to spread the word and build some hype?

JW: The importance of being 'social' seems to be becoming increasingly more significant. Twitter and Facebook, as well as the many other social outlets, all continue to gain more popularity and larger audiences. It is a wonderful way for us to connect and communicate with people who are interested in our games, and it also offers people an opportunity to contact us directly. Those few teasing tweets played a huge part in building anticipation for the reveal of Moon Chronicles - something that would have been much more complex to orchestrate without Twitter.

NL: It strikes us that while the consumer base may be comparatively smaller, there's significant loyalty and engagement with gamers that enjoy download-only games. Do you agree with this, and is that engagement rewarding, a source of pressure, a combination of both?

JW: I view the Nintendo 3DS eShop audience as players who want great games. Their loyalty might also be with certain companies or genres, but at the end of the day I believe it is good quality games that they want the most. Renegade Kid is one of the few developers dedicated to producing games that are tailored to the eShop audience. Our goal is always to make a great game, and whether we accomplish that is in the eyes of the player. I definitely feel the loyalty and expectation of the players, and even though that does add pressure, it is a healthy pressure to have. If we accomplish our goal and deliver a game that players enjoy, it is extremely rewarding and motivates us to work harder and smarter.

NL: Were you pleased with the reaction once Moon Chronicles was revealed?

JW: Yes, I am very pleased with the reaction to the reveal of Moon Chronicles. The ratio of players who are excited versus those who are not is overwhelming on the positive side. There will always be some players who are not interested in what we create, and that is OK. But, the positive reaction to the reveal of Moon Chronicles exceeded my expectations.

NL: Can you tell us more about when the idea for this release and its structure came together? Has this been a short or long development project?

JW: We have wanted to bring Moon Chronicles to the 3DS for a very long time, but our early proposal attempts - in early 2012 - didn't convince the previous publisher to go for it. Our hands were tied. So, we waited. The publishing rights reverted to Renegade Kid in January 2014. We started the development of Moon Chronicles for the 3DS in May, 2013. It was a big decision for us, as we had a lot on our plate at the time. The development of Moon Chronicles required us to develop a brand new 3D engine in order for the game to run at 60 frames per second with the enhanced visual fidelity offered by the 3DS hardware. It has been a big focus for us and required significant attention, especially in the technical and art departments. I am thrilled that is has all come together so well.

NL: Do you consider it a gamble to bring this episodic and seasonal structure to the 3DS eShop?

JW: Yes, it is very much a gamble due to the fact that episodic content is not only new-ish to the gaming world, but will be the first of its kind on the 3DS. It is a model that we're excited about, and can only hope other players are excited by its potential as well.

NL: You've spoken about two seasons so far — first of all, are you confident that the first season (a remake of Moon) will be attractive to both newcomers and those that played the original?

Our goal is to continue the story of Major Kane for as long as players are interested and enjoying it. Moon Chronicles is our dark Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica.

JW: Players who are familiar with the original will naturally be mostly interested in the new content that will come in season 2. But, I think the visual upgrade the 3DS version offers will also be appealing to many that have already experienced the game on DS. Newcomers to Moon Chronicles will have a wealth of new and exciting content to look forward to with the story, gameplay, and the first true first-person shooter in the 3DS.

NL: If both seasons go well, would you happily continue for a number of years with the Moon universe, or are you settled on two seasons?

JW: Our goal is to continue the story of Major Kane for as long as players are interested and enjoying it. Moon Chronicles is our dark Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica. The potential of where we can take the story is limitless, and I hope we are able to continue producing new content for Moon Chronicles for many seasons to come.

NL: One thing we're unsure of is the release schedule for season one. Assuming it starts in March / April as planned, how long will it take for all four parts to be released?

JW: The rough schedule is a new episode each quarter, this year. Even if that doesn't happen as perfectly as that, all four episodes of season 1 will be released before Christmas 2014.

NL: Do you have other franchises that you're considering for this seasonal approach?

JW: Cult County adopts the same model.

NL: To focus on Gameplay, does this support Circle Pad Pro, stylus aiming and any other alternatives?

JW: Yes, yes, and yes. We believe that it is very important to offer as many control configurations as possible. Both right-handed and left-handed players will be able to choose stylus, Circle Pad Pro, or face buttons/Circle Pad to move or aim. In total, there will be approximately six control configurations to choose from.

NL: Which, in your personal view, is the best control scheme for this game?

JW: Stylus, hands down. The aiming control it offers is simply wonderful.

NL: Can you summarise the core enhancements of this 3DS version?

JW: Sure.

  • High-detailed geometry models for player (weapons, buggy, etc.), enemies, and key environment elements.
  • Real-time specular lighting on environments and entities (player, enemies, etc.)
  • Full-screen anti-aliasing (with 3D off).
  • Shadow maps, Texture filtering, and Mipmaps.
  • Circle Pad Pro support.

NL Will there be any StreetPass, SpotPass, online or Miiverse features included?

JW: No.

NL: As a studio you have a lot happening in the first half of the year with Moon Chronicles and Treasurenauts, do you expect more games to hit the Wii U and 3DS eShop stores this calendar year?

JW: I think Moon Chronicles and Treasurenauts will be the only games that are released this year, with the potential of a new game at the end of the year - but it will more-than-likely slide into early 2015.

NL: Can you outline what other projects are still on the way?

JW: Mutant Mudds 2 and Cult County will be big focuses for us once we're finished with Moon Chronicles and Treasurenauts.

NL: How is Cult County progressing?

JW: It is progressing well. We are developing the story and art style. It has been slowed down a bit due to our focus on Moon Chronicles, but it is very much an important game to us.

NL: We feel the need to ask in light of recent comments from you and Nicalis, are you optimistic that Moon Chronicles and Treasurenauts will arrive promptly in Europe, alongside North American releases?

JW: Due to the requirements of PEGI, USK, and OFLC, it is unfortunately a fact that any future releases from us in Europe will be delayed after the North American release because they require a final game build before evaluating a game, and a review time of 10 days, whereas the ESRB does not.

NL: Do you have a final message for our readers about Moon Chronicles, and why they should be excited about its arrival and episodic approach?

JW: Moon Chronicles offers a gripping story-driven adventure with silky-smooth controls, so if this is something you're interested in, I think you'll like what the game has to offer. And, if you do like it, there will be a lot more to come in the future.

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

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User Comments (38)



LittleIrves said:

I bought this for DS and got stuck during a mission midway through the story. So it's nice that the episodic release nature means I wouldn't have to buy the early stages I've already played. (Although... maybe you can't start with Ep.2?) Will be interested to see how this does.

Also: I simply can't believe, after three whole years on the market, there has yet to be a first-person shooter on the 3DS.



Symorek said:

I've wanted an FPS on the 3DS ever since I first read about the circle pad pro, so I'm pretty happy that this is coming out.



Kaze_Memaryu said:

@LittleIrves It's not that surprising, seeing how handhelds generally need at least two circle pads/control sticks (like VITA) to work well with FPS. The stylus solution is only useful for roughly half of the audience, leaving the lefties stuck with either forcing themseles to switch hands or get a CPP, which drastically lowers the appeal of the game itself. And the face buttons don't really work well on FPS due to the lack of precision.

If this is all Renegade Kid has to offer, I'd rather wait for IronFall.



ReaperX30 said:

I'm happy for this and will get it but I must admit that the one I'm really looking forward to is Cult Country.



unrandomsam said:

@Kaze_Memaryu Gyro aiming could work (That is all the motion plus is). Problem is it would have to be very sensitive which would take time to get the hang of which people don't seem to like.



PanurgeJr said:

I'm not the biggest of FPS fans, which is why I never got around to either Dementium or Moon, even though both were on my radar. Moon was always the more intriguing of the two for me, so with the episodic structure, and potential for a more expansive story, it looks like now is the time to give it a try.

Control-wise, I vastly prefer the stylus, and I'm very thankful Nintendo included a stand with Kid Icarus: Uprising. My hands still hurt from Metroid Prime Hunters.



sinalefa said:

Nice interview. That part about the European Rating Boards is interesting, as it seems they actually play the whole game before giving the rating, unlike ESRB who only asks for a video, if I remember correctly.

I plan on getting this game, and I don't have a CPP.



Tony_342 said:

I have five games on my 3DS eShop wishlist and four of them are being developed by Renegade Kid.

@LittleIrves I don't think you'll be able to start with Episode 2. I believe that the additional episodes are essentially DLC, meaning they won't work without the code and basic assets in the first episode that are required to run the game. That's why Episode 1 is $8.99 and the others are $1.99. I could be wrong, but I think that's how it works.



Captain_Balko said:

Will probably pick this up, but I'm REALLY looking forward to see what Cult County has to offer. I'm hoping it will turn out really well.



Azikira said:

I remember Renegade Kid talked about multiplayer for MOON back when it was a DS game. It's disappointing to hear they don't plan to include it.



Noboty said:

I hate it when things are released in "episodes." Guess I'm skipping this.



KryptoKrunch said:

Pretty cool interview. I'm glad that Cult County is still in the works(that one maybe a late 2014 release/early 2015).



WaveGhoul said:

RE: Revelations in First person mode for aiming with the 3D slider set to max and 3D set to very strong demonstrates just how amazing and immersive the 3D effect is. Moon will be exciting in the sense that it's the fist FPS hitting the 3DS and the stylus controls will make it all the more awesome just as it did for Demntium.



PinkSpider said:

I really don't understand how this is the first one on the 3DS when the DS had a wealth of First Person Shooter games including Call of Duty.... The console is 3 years old!
I can't believe not one developer thought "hey this genre would look great in stereoscopic 3D"
I just find it odd....
I hope Moon does well, I for one will be purchasing it on release...
I also would like to see another dementium game....



Dragonxflame323 said:

I was a fan of Mutant Mudds, and this game seems very promising to me. I feel like Renegade Kid is one of those quality eshop developers people should look out for, and with Moon Chronicles as the first FPS for the 3DS, I'm pretty excited.



ThreadShadow said:

I'm interested in Moon Chronicles, but how much memory will both seasons take up and is there a chance for a boxed version? Wouldn't local wifi co-op be cool for Season 2? I really like co-op campaigns for FPS's. It doesn't even have to make sense in the story, just let me co-op campaign with family or a friend.



WYLD-WOO said:

I suppose the lack of FPS games on the 3DS, really comes from no second stick, until the release of the circle pro. Well, that and the number of countless FPS games on other consoles.
I`m the only one that doesn`t like FPS games in my group of friends, but I`m the only one of us that owns a 3DS. However, I really can`t imagine them wanting to play this, not over their brand new gen FPS game.

It`s a real bold move by Renegade Kid to release this on the 3DS. Not only because how many 3DS users actually own a circle pad extension but also is the audience of the 3DS really interested in FPS games.



OptometristLime said:

So... the first season is actually just a remake of Moon? I thought the episodic structure began with Moon, and then proceeded immediately into new territory.

Looks like I might have to eat crow for some of my earlier comments, because that price model / wait for content is starting to sound flimsy.



ToniK said:

@WYLD-WOO I think the aiming/crosshair difficulties have also been a factor. If you have the crosshair on level with the screen, you can't really aim because if you look at the crosshair you will see the enemy doubled and vice versa. I guess the only solution is to position the crosshair farther (like Renegade Kid did according to the 3D screenshots) but it will probably still cause some trouble. Still looking forward to this big time. Cult County too.



Prof_Clayton said:

Episodes are nice except its a way of selling you a very expensive game in small chunks, I hate having to buy more to finish what I've started. I hope on the eShop there is an option to buy a whole season for like 10% off, because then I could play it all at once.



dublae said:

I'm tired of remakes but the lack of FPS on the 3DS will force me to try this game again...



samiamiamsam said:

Renegade Kid's other fps on ds, Moon was awesome.

Best fps I had played on a portable console at the time.

Will definitely buy this.



unrandomsam said:

You can play Snake Eater 3D as an FPS if you want seems to work reasonably well. (Didn't try it for long).

FPS's never used to use two sticks. Aim in the centre and use strafe worked fine. (Anything is better than assisted aiming anyway).



WYLD-WOO said:

FPS`s never did use two sticks, the thing is mechanics of certain types of games have moved on. I can`t imagine many people wanting to play a FPS like that anymore. DOOM is the best FPS ever, in my eyes.



WYLD-WOO said:

That make sense. Even tho, I won`t be getting this one. I do hope the bold move of releasing this game pays off for Renegade Kid.



unrandomsam said:

@WYLD-WOO The ones I have played recently and liked (With keyboard and mouse) have been Rage and Serious Sam 3 : BFE. The twin stick console ones I have played haven't done anything for me at all. DaYZ looks pretty interesting.



alLabouTandroiD said:

The eShop gives Ninty consoles some variety that isn't often found in physical releases anymore. It's easier to relate to these games which bring along something new than it is to relate to games that don't really do that. So i wouldn't say it's loyalty on my end, just liking things that wow me in some way.
I hope i'll find the time to play the DS original before the remaster releases in the eShop so i can see if i'm interested.

PS: Bomb Monkey for Europe please.



FireHorsePrime said:

I'm glad they are offering different control options, as sometimes using the Stylus for Metroid Prime Hunters was painful even on my 3DSXL.



brandonbwii said:

Wait, so only Season 2 will have new content or each episode? If Jools is forcing us to buy the original game piece by piece then I'm not too excited for this episodic business venture.

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