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Interview: Renegade Kid Discusses Its Cult County Kickstarter Adventure, With Wii U Included

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

We’re told why the 3DS version has been replaced

After Renegade Kid’s announcement last week that it would be launching a Kickstarter campaign for a home console project, it’s now lifted the lid on what that will be. It’s not an all-new previously unannounced title, nor is it the much anticipated Mutant Mudds 2, but actually Cult County for multiple systems. With a rather bold funding target of $580,000, the studio aims to bring the title to Wii U, Xbox One, PS4, PS3, PS Vita and PC.

That list is missing 3DS, of course, with the development via Unity making easy porting across other platforms a more viable option. As before when it was briefly announced on 3DS last year, this will be a survival horror FPS experience split over five episodes, with the studio going back to its roots of Dementium: The Ward and Dementium II on the DS.

Naturally there are plenty of talking points with this project from Renegade Kid, such as the move into crowdfunding, the evolution of Cult County onto home consoles and Vita, as well as the likelihood that this game may not reach 3DS. The studio’s co-founder Jools Watsham gave us an early look at the project’s Kickstarter page prior to its launch today, and we caught up to learn more about the project and questions that arose from its pitch.


Today's announcement of a Kickstarter campaign for Cult County on home consoles may have surprised some. Can you outline the process that brought you to this project, and why you've opted for crowdfunding?

We still love the 3DS and plan to continue making games for it with Moon Chronicles and Treasurenauts on the horizon and much more planned. Handheld gaming is my personal preferred choice for gaming, but I also really enjoy console gaming on my Wii U. Ever since we started Renegade Kid in 2007 we have loved pushing the boundaries of handheld platforms, but have always felt the allure of console development. We got close to developing a few console games in the past, but making the jump to console takes more people, more time, which requires more money to do it properly.

While we were developing the design and story for Cult County, our focus shifted from 3DS to console/computers. Cult County feels like a project that can really benefit from the extra graphical power that consoles/computers provide.

Kickstarter offers an opportunity to put our idea out there and see if the players want it. It can help us alleviate the financial burden of developing a game while also soliciting the fan's input to help craft the game.

Can you outline the plot for our readers?

I don't want to spoil the experience for anyone who might want to play the game, but the basic plot is about you, as Gavin Mellick, travelling back to a small town in west Texas to contact your sister and deliver the sad news about your mother who has fallen deathly ill. You have tried contacting her via phone,but no answer. Upon your arrival to the town, a savage dust storm consumed the town. When you reach your sisters house, she is not home. You talk to some of the local town folk, who do not offer much help, but do share their accounts of some strange events that occurred recently that involved a cultish group that moved to town and the unexpected suicide of Father Pearce! And, comedy ensues - just kidding. It's not a comedy.

To get a key point out of the way, this announcement has confirmed that the 3DS version is currently stopped, or may appear as an additional stretch goal should the campaign go particularly well. Was that a difficult decision to make, and when did you make that call?

Yes, it was a very difficult decision for us to move away from the 3DS with Cult County, but the development of Moon Chronicoles helps soften that blow for us. We are very excited about what consoles offer, and the opportunity to flex some extra polygonal muscle with the power that consoles and computers offer.

May we ask how far you got with the 3DS development? You had a brief playable build at PAX East 2013, and told us you were initially aiming for an early 2014 release before other projects naturally took over.

Production of game assets did not go beyond that of the demo. We have spent our time since focused on the story and game design.

So now that you're bringing Cult County to consoles such as the Wii U, what new avenues does that open up for the project's scope, size etc?

As far as the game itself, consoles offer a lot more freedom in how we construct the art assets and obviously provide a lot more potential for higher detailed environments and characters,which is really exciting for us as we've always been in the situation of optimizing everything to make it function on handheld. But,now we're in a position of making what we want based on how cool it will look rather than always worrying about whether it will work within the constraints.

We are using the Unity Engine to develop Cult County for consoles/computers, which is another huge area of excitement for us because it allows us to support many platforms and offer the game to many gamers at once.

The Kickstarter campaign sets a target of May 2015 — is that just for episode one or for the whole of the first 'series'?

That is for all of season one, which is all five episodes.

Do you have a rough idea of how frequently the five episodes will be released once the series is underway?

That is an area we are still working on, and the results of the Kickstarter campaign may affect that if we're lucky enough to reach stretch goals, as that may require more assets, and more time to complete.

Are you confident of implementing a "season pass" on Wii U, as it's not really been used as yet on the system's eShop?

It is something we are already in talks with Nintendo about, regarding Moon Chronicles. Nintendo is very forward thinking, and they are excited by the prospect of supporting a season pass system. It is a logistical challenge that we'll learn more about soon hopefully.

Setting up a credible threat that doesn't always attack you, but threatens to do so can be terrifying. Subtle audio cues, and areas that suggest a threat is nearby can create tremendous tension.

As a studio you're clearly investing in the episodic approach. What makes it so attractive to you and the team?

Gregg and I are big fans of how the episodic format works with TV shows, such as Lost and The Walking Dead - it is exciting. It is our goal, our dream to bring that to some of our games. If the players like it, it means we will be able to continue supporting that story/game for a long time, which we think is exciting for the players, and us!

With your previous first-person games being on DS and 3DS (counting Moon Chronicles), are you at all intimidated by the idea of entering the home console space with this genre?

We have worked on consoles/computers in the past at Acclaim, and also with Mutant Mudds Deluxe on Wii U, PlayStation 3, and Steam. We have also done some top secret "ninja development" recently that utilized the Unity Engine on Wii U, and really enjoyed the experience.

Your video makes a point to reference Dementium, and to emphasize that this new title will provide a true survival horror experience. Can you explain some of the design choices that will emphasize that genre and provoke dread in the player?

Something that we find important with scary games is quiet tension. Scary games can't be all blood and guts in your face. Setting up a credible threat that doesn't always attack you, but threatens to do so can be terrifying. Subtle audio cues, and areas that suggest a threat is nearby can create tremendous tension. It is those elements that we pay special attention to, as well as combat moments where you are fighting for your life with limited weaponry.

Will there be multiple melee and firearm weapons, and will the former disintegrate and break down? In other words, will keeping yourself armed be a stiff challenge in this game?

I don't want to give away too much yet, but yes, keeping yourself armed will be a key element of the game. You will not be an overpowered "action star".

Can Wii U owners expect any unique features utilising the system or the GamePad, or are you aiming for parity across all consoles?

We will utilize unique features of consoles where it is a natural extension of the game, but generally speaking, we are aiming for parity across all platforms.

Now that you're utilising Unity, is it an engine you expect to use more in future projects, and will that mean more home console projects from Renegade Kid?

Yes, we would love to continue making games with the Unity engine alongside our 3DS development.

Should Unity make it to 3DS, is that something you'd hope to use? Are you perhaps disappointed that it's taken three years for Nintendo to come out in public to confirm it's exploring the engine for the handheld?

Honestly, I would be very surprised if Unity could run as efficiently as our own 3DS engine in terms of maintaining 60 frames per second with a first-person shooter. But, I would be happy to be proven wrong.

Your funding target is relatively high, greater than WayForward's Shantae: Half-Genie Hero campaign, for example. Are you confident that you'll hit this target, or nervous?

Nervous? No, terrified! This is the first time we're putting ourselves out there like this, and even though I am very excited about the project and what the fans and Kickstarter can provide, I have no idea what level of interest this project will generate. I hope for the best and try to prepare myself for the worst.

The minimum goal amount is something we have wrestled with a lot. It seems as though $400K is becoming the accepted standard for a video-game Kickstarter projects, but we want to ensure that if we are lucky enough to reach our minimum goal we are able to deliver what we promise and not rely on hitting stretch goals to do that. $580K is the lowest amount that we can deliver a top notch survival horror experience on consoles/computers with confidence. Any lower would compromise our vision and our ability to meet the player's expectations.

Finally, do you have a message for our readers regarding this Cult County campaign?

If you have read this whole interview down to this question, you might already be a fan of the game, or you might be considering backing the project. First of all - thank you! Our goal - our dream - is to develop a unique and special survival horror experience for the Wii U, and other platforms, that gets back to the scares and tension that established this genre with Silent Hill and Resident Evil, and we need your help to make it happen. Not only financially, but we also need your input throughout the development process to make Cult County the wretched reality it is destined to be!


We’d like to thank Jools Watsham for his time. The project’s pitch video is below and you can view its official page for information of funding tiers and more, right here.

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User Comments (72)

Emblem

#2

Emblem said:

I'm interested to see how it will turn out, i expect a whole lot more now that its a full fledged console game. This could be a great or weak so i'll wait for the finished product before i part with my money.

Ernest_The_Crab

#3

Ernest_The_Crab said:

I hope this turns out better than Dementium II HD for the PC. That game got horrible reviews, I'm guessing due to it not being tailored to PC.

dok5555555

#4

dok5555555 said:

Im bummed its not coming to 3DS, was looking forward to it. Also, they didn't explain why it will be on PS Vita and not 3DS, especially since there was already a 3DS build for it.

mamp

#5

mamp said:

Jools how could you do this to me!? I trusted you! You betrayed me! I'm fed up with this world! LOL but seriously good luck hope ya make it cuz I need more horror in my life.

shingi_70

#7

shingi_70 said:

@dok5555555

They're making the game with Unity which the Vita supports and the 3DS doesn't. To make a 3DS version of the game would be to make a brand new game from the ground up.

That and the power difference is the main reason why the Vita has so many indie games compared to the 3DS. Usually when you make a PS4/PS3 game its not hard to convert it too vita.

Robo-Knight

#8

Robo-Knight said:

Meh, they probably would've screwed up the Control's for it like all of there other Games anyway, good riddance.

PKpunky

#11

PKpunky said:

In that case, Renegade Kid can start development on Dementium III.

Not a fan of this episode thing, just give me the whole game at once, and I'll buy it!

Still though, good to see this on Wii U. I'll be on the lookout for it.

shingi_70

#12

shingi_70 said:

@dumedum

Eh I'd say so most indie games announced for PS3/PS4 are usually coming to Vita as well, and there's also the PSM program where any android game can be configured to run on the Vita and PS3.

Jazzer94

#16

Jazzer94 said:

This looks good probably gonna back it as I like Renegade kid's work, pity it won't come to 3DS trying to decide what platform I want it for now.

AyeHaley

#19

AyeHaley said:

"But,now we're in a position of making what we want based on how cool it will look rather than always worrying about whether it will work within the constraints."

Hmm...I don't like this part...

shingi_70

#20

shingi_70 said:

@dumedum

Of course but I was mostly stating that due to lack of Unity and power its harder to port games to the 3DS. I was merely stating that Lack of Unity isn't a good thing for the 3DS since Unity has become the big third party engine in the indie community. So in most cases it means that your having to make a whole new game.

MamaLuigi

#23

MamaLuigi said:

This game will turn out far better on Wii U, graphically. The data might be more limited for eShop than disc but if they can pull of graphic levels higher than PS3 or 360 then that alone would be a milestone.

Varoennauraa

#24

Varoennauraa said:

Ah damn. I'm happy and sad at the same time! I was so much hoping for a dedicated 3DS FPS, but then again, I'm not spitting on Wii U FPS either.(shame about the parity thing though)

I hope there is Wiimote support, as well as gyro support.

Kirk

#26

Kirk said:

I really think they should have stuck to 3DS with this one, even if they were going to do a Kickstarter.

This game was always 3DS quality in terms of production and graphics etc, at best, and it was at least suited to a simple handheld platform like that.

You can't just magically make a game that's average 3DS quality into something people are going to pay upwards of half a million for to get on Wii U.

I mean if they had footage of the game that actually looked like a pretty high quality Wii U game then MAAAAYBE but what the Kickstarter shows; not gonna happen imo.

I think they pushed the boat way too far out on this one and slightly lost touch with reality in terms of believing there's a big enough and loyal enough fan base out there to fund this game on Wii U.

We'll see if I'm wrong in around 30 days though...

NbaJunkie

#30

NbaJunkie said:

This game looks promising. I don't back kick starters though. I back the eshop instead...

Knuckles

#31

Knuckles said:

@PKpunky Jools stated on the kickstarter details page that Dementium 3 can't happen because they don't exactly have the rights to it. "Jools stated Contracting ties us from doing this."

mcusc5435

#33

mcusc5435 said:

I think a little bit of in game footage would've helped the video some but it definitely looks interesting and I'm thinking about backing it

AcesHigh73

#34

AcesHigh73 said:

Sorry guys, but — for now — I just wanna know when Mutant Mudds Deluxe is coming to the EU eShop!! I'm still waitiiiiiiiiiing...

Giygas_95

#35

Giygas_95 said:

Ah, fine by me. I was never really interested in the whole episodic thing. I liked that pitch video though. What I'm really interested in right now is Treasurenauts and the Mutant Mudds update.

JaxonH

#37

JaxonH said:

Over half a mil? That's a steep target. I mean, Earthlock: Festival of Magic is having trouble hitting the 150k they need (only a little above halfway there atm with 9 days left), and it looks like a phenomenal game with a truly unique setting. If THAT game can't even hit 150k, I'm wondering how this one will manage to muster over 500k. But, I hope it does. I'll fund it, just like I funded Earthlock. Shame that game isn't gonna hit its goal- I really wanted to play it.

tanasten

#38

tanasten said:

Not happy at all. That's the type of games the 3DS needs. I was looking forward to the 60 fps in 3d. In any case, they have to prove the game values.

accc

#39

accc said:

Too bad, I was looking forward to it on the 3DS. I still might check it out on the PC or Vita, but the 3DS is my preferred gaming platform.

accc

#40

accc said:

@Jazzer94 I actually prefer the look of the 3DS screenshot for a game like this. The grainyness actually helps build up the game's oppressive atmosphere.

DarkCoolEdge

#43

DarkCoolEdge said:

They've done a terrible mistake. And I feel backstabbed. One of the games I was most looking forward for my 3DS and now it's the only platform that won't have it. Way to go, jack***.

@Jazzer94 The church looks like a 2003 game. Poor.

shingi_70

#45

shingi_70 said:

@JaxonH

Cult County Jools said in a polygon interview that the game would still be made.

Earthlock still might be able to come out but it would probably be a free to play game, based on VC pressure.

Zetchzie

#46

Zetchzie said:

@dok5555555 im mad as they come right now this better be a april fools joke better late then ever i say but i love the idea of survival horror on the go

XFsWorld

#48

XFsWorld said:

It sucks that the 3DS version has been thrown away. Now I will have to choose which system to get it on, WiiU or Vita

If it is funded ofcourse.

AJWolfTill

#49

AJWolfTill said:

I'd much rather have survival horror games on the Wii U than the 3ds. I was also skeptical about how good this game could have been on the handheld.

Action51

#51

Action51 said:

I like this!

It's a departure from the over-saturated cover and strafe dude-bro shooters and reminds me more of Amnesia and Zombie U from the screens and descriptions.

I enjoyed Mutant Mudds on 3DS, and I'm looking forward to seeing this title shape up.

Tops

#52

Tops said:

I'm way more interested in Treasurenauts than I was about this but I hope they reach their goal

Gen0neD

#53

Gen0neD said:

Craptastic. I was REALLY looking forward to that on 3ds... sigh... dammit

Kirk

#54

Kirk said:

@Jazzer94

I actually thought that shot was from the original 3DS version :-o

If you hadn't shown me them side by side I would never have thought this was the Wii U version.

My mind must have filled in a few details from when I first saw the 3DS game.

Oops!

Midayle

#55

Midayle said:

I will probably get this game on this first day of its release on the WiiU, because I believe in the time value of money. Will keep earning interest on my $15 from the bank until then.

midnafanboy

#56

midnafanboy said:

damn this looks really interesting i hope they get funded so they can make this game great.

3dcaleb

#59

3dcaleb said:

damn, thats pretty weak for them just to pull a good game from the 3ds. i was really looking foreward to it. i wont be getting this on any other system. i wanted it in 3d.

PLATINUM7

#60

PLATINUM7 said:

Not sure how I feel. The 3D effect in the game looked amazing so hopefully the HD can make up for it.

VincentV

#61

VincentV said:

I wish it came to the 3DS, 60 FPS means little to me, and I wouldn't mind it rough around the edges, but I can get it on my PC. I do suppose there's Ironfall. Hopefully that turns out good. Shovel Knight'll keep me busy as well. That's for sure.

MAB

#62

MAB said:

Cool, I would rather this on Wii U anyway... My 3DS is almost ready to be sent to the fires of hell ;)

Pod

#63

Pod said:

Just as I thought I was to take a break from Kickstarter, this and Frog Fractions 2 show up!

Monsti

#64

Monsti said:

I loved that did some really brave stuff on the DS, when most played it safe. Already backed. :)

HappyMaskedGuy

#65

HappyMaskedGuy said:

@accc I completely agree- I think the 3DS' graphical constraints would encourage the developers to work more creatively in order to achieve a scarier game as well. I think Renegade Kid has dropped the ball on this one- what could have been a unique and niche market success on 3DS looks set to disappear under the mounds of high budget FPS' on other platforms. There will be a visual gap RK will struggle to fill.
But then I could be completely wrong- interested to read they worked with Acclaim- if they had anything to do with Turok, Turok 2, Rage Wars or Shadowman on N64 then I'll back it lol.

Captain-Falcon

#69

Captain-Falcon said:

why are people fussing over the lack of a 3DS version? The 3DS really can't handle something of this scope due to the lack of power and it would be stupid to downscale an entire project that much for the 3DS.

Ralizah

#71

Ralizah said:

Oh, good. As much as I love the 3DS, this game was NOT a good fit for it. Now I can get it for my Vita instead.

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