Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Renegade Kid’s Swan Song for the DS!

It is an interesting time for the Nintendo handheld market. The DS has tens of millions of owners scattered across the world, and the new 3DS is going to be released in early 2011.

As a player, and a fan of Nintendo’s handhelds, I look forward to getting my hands on the 3DS. At the same time, however, I feel sad that the DS era is coming to a end. Ignoring the fact that the first exterior design of the DS was “phatt” and ugly, it has been an incredibly enjoyable games machine to own. The unit is (fairly) durable, and the games have been a lot of fun. Sure, there are now oodles of terrible games available for the DS, and the explosion of less-than-mediocre virtual pet and fashion games is not something that gets me excited (I do enjoy good virtual pet games, though), but, I believe the likes of Mario Kart, Henry Hatsworth, New Super Mario Bros., the Call of Duty series, and of course Renegade Kid’s own contributions, provide an incredible gaming experience that can be enjoyed on-the-go, or anywhere you choose, due to the portability of the console. I guess I am just unwilling to let the DS go in the same way I was hesitant to let the GBA step aside for the DS. I loved my GBA, and I love the DS. And, I’m already falling in love with the 3DS. Everything will be ok. :)

Now, as a developer, I am torn. Naturally, I want to dive into the development of 3DS games. And, we are doing just that at Renegade Kid. But, at the same time, I don’t want to turn my back on the DS. As I mentioned above, the DS has tens of millions of owners, whereas the 3DS currently has zero. If I had enough money of my own, I would invest it into the development of something truly special for the DS: Renegade Kid’s swan song for the DS. However, the reality is that I don’t have enough money of my own to fund development, and publishers are unlikely to invest in the development of something that hasn’t been proven to be a financial success by existing sales data – which unfortunately boils down to the safest bet being license games at this point. Sure, games like Scribblenauts have a chance too, but that avenue requires the developer to essentially develop the game first to prove that it is cool to a publisher, which requires a whole lot of money / risk.

We rely on publishers to fund the development of our games, so we have to sell the concept of our games with a proposal document or a playable demo. Obviously, a proposal document is easier, cheaper, and quicker to create than a playable demo – but it also relies on the publisher sharing your mental vision of the game, which is very tricky. So, it is not always the best way to sell an original idea. Moon and Dementium II were fairly easy to sell in concept to publishers due to the fact that Dementium: The Ward acted as proof that a decent third-party FPS could be created and it could sell OK too. Both Dementium: The Ward and ATV Wild Ride needed to be playable before publishers were interested in signing on to invest money. On a side note, something that the publishers failed to recognize with both Moon and Dementium II was the fact that Dementium: The Ward had a hefty on-line ad campaign when the game was released (on time) on Halloween 2007, which was instrumental in the exposure and ultimately decent sales of the title. Thank you for that, Gamecock. I could go on about my annoyance about all of this, but not today. ;)

OK, I got a little off track there. Back on topic. It would seem like a reasonable idea to develop titles for the system that has tens of millions of owners out there: Nintendo DS. Especially, when considering the high price of the 3DS and the subsequent lack of players who will be able to afford to buy it in 2011. Until the 3DS drops in prices to below $200, it will not be selling like the DS did. Hm, what was the price of the DS at launch? Oh yes, $149.99. Interesting! Taking into account inflation since 2004, I would say that even a higher price of $189.99 for the 3DS would be acceptable today – perhaps even $199.99.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling for one day I think. I’m not sure there’s even a tangible point to this post. I just felt like sharing some of my thoughts. In summary: looking forward to the 3DS. Still want to make great DS games. Hope the price of 3DS drops to below $200 ASAP.

I hope you're having a great day.

Jools

Saturday, December 18, 2010

General Update...

I haven’t written a proper update for a while, so I thought I should…

Recently, we did a media blitz for Maximilian and the Rise of the Mutant Mudds to see if there was enough interest out there in internetland for it to be brought to DSiWare. [glances at the total votes] It would seem that of the 1000 votes we needed, only 374 have come in so far. The game has received fairly decent exposure over the past week, with Go Nintendo kindly allowing Max to take over their site banner all week, and news pieces on IGN, Destructoid, Pure Nintendo, Nintendo Life, and many other cool websites. In all fairness, we should have received more than 1000 votes by now if there were enough people out there wanting Max on DSiWare. I truly appreciate the 374 people (and the other 50 anonymous!), but the forecast doesn’t look good for Max on DSiWare. It makes me feel bad, because of those who do want it. But, it will take a lot of resources for us to bring it to DSiWare, and we’re just a small studio. We have to be very careful with what we spend our time and money on. I’m sure you’ve noticed the many studios that have closed or had lay-offs in 2010. We want to stay in the business of making games, so we have to tread carefully. I’m not saying that Max won’t happen on DSiWare, but so far it looks improbable that we’ll see 1000 votes before the end of the year, which is very sad.

As you know, ATV Wild Ride has been completed. Hooray, and congrats to the team. Here’s a rundown of the team: Gregg Hargrove produced most of the fantastic in-game art, as well as provided the rockin’ music with his band Swift Justice and the Hired Goons. Bob Ives was the lead programmer, handling the core engine and gameplay components. Andrew Brown was a programmer, handling the menus, user interfaces, logic, and particles. Giovanni Acosta was also a programmer, handling the networking/multiplayer component. And, I handled the gameplay, track design, audio effects, menu/user interface artwork, and schedules: a small and very capable team, who produced a great game in a short amount of time. Well done chaps! I am very proud of our accomplishments. There have already been some hands-on previews at Destructoid, Pure Nintendo, and Nintendo Power – all of which had very positive things to say about the game. I expect we’ll see some reviews in January. I do not know the exact release date yet, but it should be January 2011.

We have three other projects in development: codenamed Smoke, Bit, and Face.

Smoke is progressing nicely. It was originally planned to be a holiday release. But, we ran into some issues which have delayed the game. The good news is that it is all in the name of quality. Like I’ve said before, and will probably say again, Smoke is a kid’s game. I am not sure if we’ll go for a big media push like we have with our previous games. The majority of the people who Smoke is supposed to entertain probably don’t read video-game websites. And those players who do read video-game websites probably don’t play these types of games. There may be a small crowd of those who do, but I honestly don’t want to throw this out into a media blitz on the web only to receive a bunch of inevitable “WTF?” comments. I already know that it is NOT suited to those who enjoyed Dementium and Moon, and I don’t need proof in the form of negative comments. Smoke will probably be released sometime in the summer 2011.

Both Bit and Face are rolling along nicely. I can’t say much about them at this stage, but we’re having a lot of fun working on them. :)

Right now, I am working on a bunch of proposals to secure our next project(s). Because, before we know it we’ll be done with our current projects and have nothing new to work on / get paid for. This happened at the end of Dementium II, and I want to avoid that happening again. ;)

I hope you’re having a great day.

Jools

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Want Maximilian and the Rise of the Mutant Mudds on DSiWare?


Maximilian and the Rise of the Mutant Mudds (MUDDS) is a title that we revealed to the world back in June 2009 on IGN. Unfortunately, we could not find a home for MUDDS with a publisher. However, there seems to be a number of people out there who are still asking us about this game. Are there enough of you to warrant a release on DSiWare? Perhaps!

I propose this to you. If we receive over 1000 comments from different individuals on this blog post saying they want it, then we will bring MUDDS to DSiWare.

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

1. YOU MUST BE LOGGED IN, by selecting/creating a profile (Google, LiveJournal, Wordpress, TypePad, AIM, OpenID).

2. Leave a comment telling us that you want to see MUDDS on DSiWare.

3. No ANONYMOUS or DUPLICATE posts – they will be DELETED.

4. Tell your friends.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Tale of ATV Wild Ride

Phew! Man, oh, man, it feels good to FINALLY announce to the world that our next game is ATV Wild Ride. Now, find a comfy chair. Pour yourself a big cup of hot chocolate, and let me tell you the tale about how it all began…


Once upon a time, in the wintery month of November, in the year two thousand and nine, Renegade Kid found itself in a particularly tight spot. It was a particularly tight spot that could be considered somewhat uncomfortable. Having completed the eagerly anticipated game, Dementium II, it had no other game deals on the horizon. What was an independent studio to do?


After many attempts to woo would-be publishing partners with proposals, demos, and kolaches, the small studio found itself at a loss. Many months had passed, and the temperature outside was dropping. But then, all of a sudden, an idea found its way into the machine known as Renegade Kid. It was an idea that was pure. It was an idea that strived for higher standards. It was an idea that could one day become a reality.


With its cogs turning, and its steam hissing, the Renegade Kid machine started to work. In two short weeks, a magical thing had happened. The idea had become a playable demo. Bursting with excitement, the playable demo was packaged up and sent out to dozens of publishers in the hope that it would find a welcoming home.


However, the excitement soon turned sorrow when no one opened their doors. More proposals and kolaches were sent out. It seemed as though the idea was destined to die on the vine of hope. That was until a band of Destineers looked beyond the veil of administration and understood the boon of the idea.


Finding themselves on the cusp of spring, Renegade Kid and their new band of Destineers entered an agreement to work together, and bring the idea to the people. Many hurdles, challenges, and struggles were overcome, and finally they sought the approval of the mighty Nintendo. With bated breath, they waited for their final word. Many days passed. Much sleep was lost. And, then it was told. Their idea met the standards put down by the wise and powerful Nintendo, and it was considered true.


And, that’s how it all happened. Pretty much. ;)

Thursday, December 2, 2010