Saturday, November 12, 2011

The 3DS Starts Here!

Tomorrow is a day that provides US gamers with a brand new Mario game for the Nintendo 3DS. It is called Super Mario 3D Land (SM3DL), just in case you haven’t already heard of it. Despite the obvious design and gameplay differences between SM3DL and Mario Galaxy 1 and 2, this is essentially the equivalent of Mario Galaxy for the handheld market. This is a big deal!

I love Mario games, so I am naturally excited about the game. I have purposely stayed away from watching too many trailers. I’ve watched just enough to whet my appetite and catalog what I’m in store for. But, I’m a fan – so I was already sold on the game and the Nintendo 3DS.

However, this title is of great importance to the success of the Nintendo 3DS. People who have not yet purchased a 3DS need a reason to do so. SM3DL is poised to do exactly what it needs to do: attract new customers and sell Nintendo 3DS hardware. Who can resist a next-gen Mario game of home console quality that you can take anywhere with you? This is the beginning of the 3DS’ road to success.

If SM3DL doesn’t do the trick, there’s Mario Kart 7 next month! What, seriously? Yeah, I know, right? Believe it or not, Nintendo are releasing two of the biggest selling DS brands in the same Christmas season for the 3DS - stunning! I’d place a bet that anyone who thinks Nintendo is giving up on the 3DS is sorely mistaken.

Meanwhile, on the eShop, we have Mighty Switch Force, VVVVVV, and of course, our very own Mutant Mudds making their way to the 3DS’ digital download service in the coming months. After that we have the likes of Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil being released in February 2012 – just in case Nintendo’s first-party titles aren’t edgy enough for you.

Who knows what other delights we may be in store for. The likes of Smash Brothers, Luigi’s Mansion, Kid Icarus, and Paper Mario are on the horizon. And perhaps we’ll even see titles such as Donkey Kong Country, Metroid, and Kirby make their way into the world of 3D. Good times are ahead.

The 3DS is here to stay, and here to provide people with an amazing assortment of gaming experiences. Are you ready? I sure as hell am!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

3DS Rant!

I am surprised that people are saying the 3DS is a failure, it is doomed, etc. According to the information I can get my hands on, which may or may not be accurate, the 3DS has sold nearly 5 million units in about 6 months – the same amount the Nintendo DS sold in its’ first 6 months of release.

One of the big differences between the 3DS and DS launches is the launch date. The 3DS launched in February/ March, while the DS launched in November/December. The DS was able to take advantage of the Christmas holiday sales, a time when more people typically purchase items for gifts and such. Therefore, it seems impressive to me that the 3DS has sold an equal number of units considering it had no holiday to take advantage of. I admit that I am not an expert on Japanese holidays, so there may be a big Christmas-like event in February/March which helped sales of the 3DS in Japan. Even so, sales of the 3DS being equal to that of the DS within the same timeframe seems like a positive start for the platform, especially considering the hefty price tag of $250.

Now, fair enough, sales of the 3DS dropped dramatically after the initial launch, and this seems obviously tied to the fact that there are a serious lack of decent games to purchase – a big mistake. But, as an owner of a 3DS, I am happy to see that successful brands like Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Cave Story 3D, Shinobi, and Bit. Trip Saga are being released in 2011. These well-known titles should give a lot of people a reason to buy the 3DS for Christmas, or before. And, we can’t forget the enhanced ports Zelda 64 and Star Fox 64 to whet the appetite.

The future looks bright. So, what really disappoints me about all of this is how publishers are reacting to the situation. Before the price drop and news of Nintendo’s financial situation were released, publishers were already playing the wait-and-see game. They wanted to see how the 3DS performed at Christmas. Sure, games were being developed, but at a cautious level. We were fortunate enough to already be working with Majesco on Face Racers: Photo Finish, which was originally destined to be a DS title that took advantage of the DSi camera, but switched to become a 3DS title shortly after the new handheld was announced. We were also fortunate enough to sign on with Ignition to develop Planet Crashers 3D for the 3DS prior to the dramatic news of the price cut et al. And, we’re publishing Mutant Mudds on Nintendo eShop ourselves!

It has always been difficult to find funding for original third-party games on handheld devices. Even though there have been some truly amazing original third-party games released on handheld platforms in the past. I expect it was not easy for the creators to convince their publishers to fund them to market. We managed to release four original titles on the DS, and I am confident we’ll develop many original games for the 3DS in the future. But, right now the outlook of publishers for original content on the 3DS is not good in the short-term.

Publishers say that they are waiting to see the sales of the 3DS over Christmas before committing to any new titles. But… why? Sales so far are pretty darn good. Sales of the aforementioned titles are sure to increase sales of the hardware. So, right now seems like a perfect time to start the development of a title so it can be released next year, when the number of 3DS owners has doubled from today. Unfortunately, it seems as though publishers do not have long-term vision. Short-term is their world, and this is probably largely due to being public-companies and such, but that’s a different story. The reality is that the majority of third-party publishers (I say majority, because there are still some great publishers out there that “get it”, and are in the business for the right reasons) are waiting on Nintendo to release their awesome first-party games to increase sales of the platform before third-party publishers will step up and release their own. Unfortunately, history tells us that publishers will more-than-likely opt for licensed titles over original titles in 2012 and beyond. It is a safer bet, and there are always plenty of licenses out there to take advantage of. And, when I say take advantage of, you know what I mean!

So, there you go. Take what you will from my polite rant. Personally, I think it is a foregone conclusion that the 3DS will be successful. The writing is on the wall. The success of the 3DS is reliant on the games released for it. And, as usual, (most) third-party publishers will rely on Nintendo’s great first-party games to fuel hardware sales and let the same ol’ story play out. You can also bet they’ll complain about Nintendo dominating the market and it not being “fair” for third-party publisher to “compete”. Give me a break. Third-party publishers, this is your chance to shine. Shine get!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

ATV Wild Ride 3D - Looking For a Publisher!


Introduction:
The debut of Renegade Kid's original arcade ATV racing title for the Nintendo DS, ATV Wild Ride, was met with high praise from the gaming press - making it hands-down the best ATV racing title available for the platform.

Evolution:
The next exciting installment of this off-road thrill ride, ATV Wild Ride 3D, turns the dial up to 11 with more insane airborne tricks, dramatic panoramic vistas, exhilarating audio, and a brand new "Wild Ride" power-up; enabling players to reach new intense speeds - bringing the excitement of extreme ATV racing alive.

You are thrown into an adrenaline-charged off-road trick-racing event across the globe. Hold onto your handlebars, it's about to get wild!

Main Features:
  • A true 'console' ATV racing experience for the Nintendo 3DS.
  • Utilizes the proven power of the award-winning Renegade Engine.
  • 12 Exotic locations, with 48 extreme tracks to tear up.
    • 6 new locations, with 24 new tracks.
    • Unlock 6 "retro" Nintendo DS locations, with 24 "classic" tracks (enhanced to utilize 3DS graphical capabilities).
  • Perform dozens of insane airborne tricks to earn nitro boosts.
  • Land 3 consecutive "hard" tricks and enter "Wild Ride" mode; increasing your overall speed for a short period of time.
  • Skid around corners, soar over chasms, and experience the speed rush with physics-based racing dynamics.
  • Up to 4 players go head-to-head with Internet and Local play for ultimate bragging rights.
  • Expected ESRB rating: E - Everyone.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 1: A Week in the Life of a Game Developer

I thought I'd do something a little different this week. A lot of people who visit my blog and/or comment on my videos on YouTube seem interested in the process of making games. It was something I was always interested in as a kid, while I was at school. So, this week I am going to attempt to record a blog each day of this week to give you an idea of some of the things that may happen in a typical week at a video game studio.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mutant Mudds: Game Content

Some info on the game content of Mutant Mudds...

Levels: Mutant Mudds contains a total of 40 challenging levels. There are a total of five worlds. Each world contains 4 regular levels. Each regular level provides access to a secret sub level. When you add all of that up, you get 40 levels. However, only the first four worlds (16 regular levels & 16 secret sub levels) are initially presented to you. You must collect the Water Sprite from each of the first 32 levels to unlock the fifth world. Now, the fifth world is a little different from the first four worlds. Each level in the fifth world is locked. You must collect all of the Golden Diamonds from the first world to unlock the first level in the fifth world. There are 100 Golden Diamonds in each regular level. The secret sub levels do not contain any Golden Diamonds. There are a total of 400 Golden Diamonds to collect in the first world to unlock the first level in the fifth world.

Power-ups: Some of the secret sub levels require the use of a power-up to gain access to them. There are three power-ups that can be purchased from your Grandma's shoppe. She has an unhealthy obsession for Golden Diamonds, and demands steep prices for her gadgets. Each power-up is temporary, and will be lost when a life is lost. Do not fear, collected Golden Diamonds are never depleted from your inventory; once you've earned them they can never be taken away. If you lose a power-up before it has been utilized, you'll just need to visit the shoppe, purchase the power-up, and try again.

Multi-Tiered Completions

Completion 1: Collect the Water Sprites from the first 16 regular levels. This results in celebration ending #1.

Completion 2: Collect the Water Sprites from the first 16 regular levels and their 16 secret sub levels. This results celebration ending #2 and the unlocking of the fifth world.

Completion 3: Collect the Water Sprites from all 20 regular levels and their 20 secret sub levels. This results in celebration ending #3, immense self-pride, and a special surprise!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mutant Mudds: Amazing Reception

I went to E3 2011 with a little 3DS demo in my pocket, called Mutant Mudds. It is a project that was started out of pure love for platform games. A chance to make a game for ourselves with no outside input from anyone, and no consideration for how well it may or may not sell. A true indie effort, if you like. Mutant Mudds is unlike any title we have developed at Renegade Kid. Caution has been thrown to the wind. We are fortunate enough to be able to develop this title without the need of funding from an outside source. This is the pivotal reason that enables us to develop what we want, just because we want it.

My main mission at E3 was to get the word out about our game that is destined for the Nintendo 3DS eShop. I honestly did not expect the response to be so positive. I did not expect to find as many gamers who wanted the same things that we did. The reception for Mutant Mudds at E3 was amazing. Everyone who played the game genuinely enjoyed the experience. They commented on the old and the new contained within the game. 16-bit era platformers have long been dormant, and Mutant Mudds seems to be a welcomed breath of old-school fresh air.

I want to send a sincere thank you to everyone who shares our love of 2D platform games, and have shown their support for Mutant Mudds. It makes all of our hard work well worth it. We have a few months left before Mutant Mudds will be ready for release. We will continue to make what we think is good. And we hope you like the result.

Here are some of the kind words expressed in the gaming press:

"I absolutely loved Mutant Mudds."
- James Higginbotham, Pure Nintendo

"Portable gaming just doesnt get any better than Mutant Mudds."
- Andreas Asimakis, Games Abyss

"A landmark title for the 3DS eShop, the 3DS as a system, and the next generation of video game devices as a whole."
- Austin McLaughlin, Nintendo Everything

"Mutant Mudds is everything a platformer fan could ask for."
- Corbie Dillard, Nintendo Life

"This game feels great."
- Neal Ronaghan, Nintendo World Report

"A 3DS eShop title that is definitely on my radar."
- Justin Berube, Ripten

"There's a lot of Nintendo love in here."
- Tony Ponce, Destructoid

"Easily one of the most enjoyable titles I had the opportunity to play at the E3 show."
- Corbie Dillard, Nintendo Life

"The kind of challenge that fans of classics such as Mario and Mega Man enjoy."
- 8-Bit Jay, BYTE

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mutant Mudds

OK, so the cat's out of the bag on Mutant Mudds, thanks to an early copy of Nintendo Power falling into a scanner and spilling its guts all over the internet. I would have preferred the magazine to have actually been released to the public on June 7th before the game was unveiled, but that's not going to happen now, and that's OK. I'm excited to have the news out there.



Just in case you've been chilling under a rock somewhere and missed out on the Nintendo Power leak (which also revealed new Sonic & Shinobi games for the 3DS): Mutant Mudds will be 2D platform game for the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

Here's the link:
http://www.handheldgamingblog.com/nintendo-power-reveals-mutant-mudds-nintendo-eshop/

Here's some info:
Our hero is Maximilian, who has made valiant efforts to enter the video-game market in the past. His first attempt was with a retail Nintendo DS title, where he would have been displayed as a three dimensional polygonal mesh with applied textures. When this proposal fell flat, Maximilian pitched a lighter version of his 3D platform adventure to publishers as a DSiWare title. Unfortunately, this too did not see the light of day, despite some heart-warming support from his avid fans (Max says, “Thank you!”). Upon hearing of the Nintendo 3DS eShop, Maximilian knew this was finally his chance to step out into the spotlight and claim his 15 seconds of fame, and stomp on the evil army of Mutant Mudds who is bent on claiming his world while he's there.

Equipped with a H20-powered jetpack and heavy-duty water cannon, Maximilian has what he needs to vanquish his long-term nemesi: the Mutant Mudds.

----

Right now, we're working on finishing the E3 demo of Mutant Mudds. It consists of three levels (easy, medium, and hard) that each take you to a different land and feature a bevy of filthy foes. Anyone who finds me at E3 is welcome to play Mutant Mudds. I'll be wandering around the LA Convention Center with it in my pocket. Oh, I'll also have stickers and keychains to give away too. :)

The Mutant Mudds website will go live tomorrow. It was originally planned to go live with the unveiling in Nintendo Power, but that's already happened now... so the website will go live one week early. It will contain screenshots and other media delights.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mutant Mudds Freebies at E3 2011

Find me at E3 this year and I'll happily unload a Mutant Mudds sticker or a keychain on you.

Want a limited edition Mutant Mudds sticker? Find me at E3 an... on Twitpic    These nifty keychain buttons arrived today. More E3 freebies ... on Twitpic

Worried about the future of the 3DS?

Do not fear. Have faith. Nintendo know what they’re doing. Nintendo are cash rich. They are experienced, skilled, and able to get the world excited about the 3DS when the time is right. I believe the 2011 launch of the Nintendo 3DS is a soft launch. There are probably many reasons for opting to go with a soft launch in lieu of an all-out, guns-blazing, saturate-the-airwaves launch, which I won’t go into today. Let’s assume 2011 is for the early-adopting hardcore players, while 2012 is for the casual players to join in the fun.


Fast forward to Christmas 2012; the 3DS is the mega hit of the season. What? Not Christmas 2011? That’s right. Christmas 2011 will treat the 3DS very well too, but 2012 will be the real success story in comparison. It is when the casual gamer market finally sees the potential of the 3DS, much like they did with the DS. The reasons for this include a lower purchase price ($199 or less), and a sleek “Lite” version with a selection of fun colors. The library of games sitting on the store shelves will include such must-have titles as Mario, Mario Kart, Zelda, Castlevania, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Kirby, Pokemon, and much more. The eShop will be pre-installed and ready to go with ease, making it hassle-free for casual players. Services such as Netflix will also be available. And, by that point Nintendo will have opened the marketing floodgates and saturated every media outlet imaginable to ensure every potential customer is aware of its beautiful baby.


Am I bias? Absolutely! But, that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. ;)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Face Kart Tilt-Steering Facts

The Austin Chronicle posted an article about Face Kart, here, saying “Turn off the 3D and play the game by tilting the handheld system. Amazingly, the screen tilts as you turn so the game world always looks right-side up. A small detail that makes all the difference.” Some folks have taken this as meaning that Face Kart is not a 3D game or that we encourage players to turn the 3D effect off for some "artistic" reason. This is incorrect.

First off, the stereo 3D effect of the Nintendo 3DS is amazing. It’s magic. I have been lucky enough to spend each day for the past several months ogling at the wonder of its stereo 3D power, and I love it. Oh, and my eyes are still fine btw. :) Face Kart fully supports the 3D effect – and it looks fantastic. However, the stereo 3D effect tends to get displaced when tilting the 3DS unit to the side (like a steering wheel). For this reason, having the 3D effect on while the tilt-steering option is active can make it difficult to view the 3D effect properly if the unit is tilted too far. Therefore, the tilt-steering control option works best with 3D turned off. Tilt-steering is a lot of fun, and it feels great to turn your 3DS like a steering wheel. If you want to fully experience the amazing 3D effect that the game has to offer, you’ll want to stick with the default standard Circle Pad control option instead.

Friday, February 18, 2011

ATV Wild Ride Video Footage: Mexico Track Play-Through

This is the first video footage of ATV Wild Ride that gives you a good look at how the game plays. GoNintendo have a play-through of the first track, Mexico, with commentary by me.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

ATV Wild Ride - Games Abyss Review - 9.5/10


Games Abyss's Managing Editor, Andreas Asimakis, throttles up his ATV in ATV Wild Ride and shares his wild experience with us.

"ATV Wild Ride is a rare treat for the Nintendo DS."

"Pure, unadulterated on-the-go racing bliss."

"Clever track design and ear-pleasing soundtrack."

"Yet another testament to the power of the Renegade Engine."

"ATV Wild Ride handles beautifully."

"ATV Wild Ride not only delivers on the fun factor, it makes me appreciate the genre a whole lot more than I ever would have imagined."

"ATV Wild Ride is what the DS was sorely in need of."

"I found myself effortlessly pulling off all sorts of stunts and sticking my landings like a pro."

Read the full article here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

ATV Wild Ride - Destructoid Review - 8/10


Destructoid's Editor-in-Chief, Nick Chester, takes ATV Wild Ride through its paces and gives us the low-down and dirty.

"Renegade Kid succeeds in building a solid portable DS racer with ATV Wild Ride."

"Excellent handheld racing package."

"Impressive amount of game content crammed onto the DS cart."

"Tracks are cleverly designed."

"Fans of arcade-style racing will feel right at home."

"Smooth-as-butter movement."

Read the full article here.

Now, all we have to do is find out when the game will be released! As soon as I find out, you'll be the first to know!! Frustrating? Yeah, a little bit.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Big Divide

I think most gamers believe that developers of original games always create games that they want to make. This isn’t true.

For me, Dementium: The Ward was certainly a case of us creating a game just for us. But, after that, Moon came along. Moon was an opportunity that arose from discussions with Mastiff, who wanted to work with Renegade Kid on a FPS for the DS. I dug into my bag of ideas and resurrected the essence of an old sci-fi game concept for the Gameboy Color and pitched the basic idea in FPS format, and then we got started into development. Getting the game signed was a ridiculously quick and easy process. This is not typical. Now, I’m not saying that Moon was a game that I did not want to make, but it wasn’t born of pure game-making desire. It was a business deal that afforded us the opportunity to cobble together some ideas in an effort to convince a publisher to pay us to develop an original game.

There was no publisher input with Dementium: The Ward. It was literally made just for the pure sake of making a game. Moon, on the other hand, had a publisher involved from day one. Those of you who have played both games will hopefully agree that both Dementium: The Ward and Moon are pretty much of equal value, with some people favoring one over the other as a matter of taste, which is a pretty amazing result, and a testament to the publisher’s / developer’s tolerance of each other.

Dementium II was also born from a business opportunity. SouthPeak purchased Gamecock, who published Dementium: The Ward, and as part of their new acquisition decided to act upon one of Gamecock's successful titles. Dementium II was a lot closer to my heart than Moon because it was a sequel to the pure-born Dementium: The Ward. And, with a HUGE thank you to SouthPeak’s David Dienstbeir, John Kaiser, and Aubrey Norris, the developer/publisher relationship on Dementium II was a smooth as warm butter. They let us make our game, and supported it in any way they could. It couldn’t have been any better. I really enjoyed working with those fine folks on D2.

ATV Wild Ride was a semi-pure-born concept. We’d wanted to develop an arcade racing game for the DS for a long time, and found ourselves with no development deals on the table after Dementium II was completed (even though I'd been in talks with dozens of publishers for over 6 months), so we decided to start making an ATV racing game – called ATV Spirit at the time. The ATV direction was directly influenced by the awesome title, Pure. We also decided to go with ATV because that theme of racing has sold fairly well on the DS, and we wanted to develop a racing game that players and publishers would be interested in. I know ATV racing is not really on the top of the list of hardcore gamers, but it is a genre that appeals to a lot of casual players, and perhaps with a little Renegade Kid magic we can turn a few hardcore players into believers. We’ll see…

So, anyway, my point is that we don’t always get to make our heart’s desire. Personally, I have wanted to make a 2D platform game for many years. I’d also like to develop a 3D platform game, hence the Maximilian demo we made. It can be argued that if a developer simply goes ahead and creates a game that they’re passionate about, it will find a home with players. But, what stands in-between the developer and the players are publishers. If publishers don’t think they can make money from your game, they won’t be interested in it. It can be a risky market out there, and publishers are even more careful with their investments than ever before.

Now, one of the main reasons that publishers must be so careful with their money is because the retail industry controls what games are put on the shelves. This includes Gamestop, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, etc. Publishers must convince each retail outlet to place an order for their game(s). Each retailer obviously wants to make as much money as possible, so they want titles that they think will sell. Are they experts on what will sell? Um, no, they really aren’t. But, they are in control of what product goes on their shelves, because they own those shelves. So, if a publisher goes to each of the big retailers with a single DS game and tries to place it with them, they’re going to have a hard time with an original title with an unknown brand that is only on the DS. If this title also has a Wii version, suddenly the deal looks better to retail. It feels like a more established brand and perhaps the publisher is going to put more marketing into a two SKU title. Now, if it has 360 and PS3 versions too, well, now we’re talking! How can we make this deal even more appetizing to retail? Huh, OK, how about we dump the artsy fartsy original content and replace it with a known brand, such as a movie or TV show? Yeah, now that’s money! Now, we have a game that has a built-in audience from the license, and it has multi-platforms. How can we lose? Oh? The game is shit? Never mind, it’ll sell anyway. :) Sure, I know that was a little sassy, but it is unfortunately very true.

This brings me neatly to one of the many things that is changing the video-game industry: digital content. The ability to cut-out retail is a beautiful thing. If we – and when I say we; I mean developers and publishers working together in a balanced partnership – if we can focus on making games that do not need to be engineered to impress retail for shelf space, but instead are able to focus on a game for game’s sake and invent creative ways for marketing our games to players, the number of high quality titles will surely increase. On top of that, not having to spend / risk money on manufacturing cartridges or DVDs is also a huge benefit that helps steer the focus of game making back onto the game and not all of the abstract and unnecessary obstacles that stand in our way today.

I see the road to a brighter day being paved today. We'll be there before you know it!

I hope you're having a great day. TTYL.

Jools

Monday, January 24, 2011

ATV Wild Ride: Nintendo Power Review

Nintendo Power have reviewed ATV Wild Ride, and they scored it 7/10. This is a decent score. I would have preferred a higher score, but I am pleased with a 7. Not only does Patrick have the splendid things listed below to say about the game, but NP scored MX vs. ATV 6/10, which puts ATV Wild Ride as the best ATV racing game on the DS according to their scoring system. I'll take that. :)

"Keep you engaged race after race."

"Clever interplay between nailing tricks and winning races."

"An undeniably solid feature set."



The full review can be found in the February 2011 issue of Nintendo Power, on page 87 (issue 264).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Reaction Time: Nintendo 3DS

The Nintendo 3DS will be priced at $249 in the US, and released on March 27, 2011. Am I excited? Hell yeah! Am I concerned? Yes.

I know I'm not alone on this. $249 for the 3DS is simply too expensive. The DS released at $149. If Nintendo couldn't afford to release a new handheld for less than $200, they should have designed a different new handheld. They could have released a "real 3D" version of the DS to save costs and release it at $189.99. People would still have been impressed with the real 3D tech, and let's face it, most people think the 3DS is just a glorified DS anyway (which it isn't).

Jools

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A pivotal time in gaming!

I just spent the past four years focused on the development of DS games. There were a few occasions when I worked on some game designs for the Wii, 360, and even PS3, but it always came back to the DS in the end for one reason or another. Renegade Kid’s fourth game, ATV Wild Ride, is coming out very soon, and our fifth DS game, codenamed Smoke, will be released in the summer of 2011. Also, as you may already know, our first 3DS title, Face Kart: Photo Finish, is coming in the fall of this year.

Now, the question is: what should we develop for next? The DS market is coming to the end of its life. Not much point in devoting many future plans there. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to continue developing games for the DS. But, publisher’s interest in the platform is decreasing fast. The 3DS is about to start its life, and everyone seems very excited about it. There’s also the iPhone and Android. Those devices are providing a rather large outlet for gaming. And then, there’s still the 360 and PS3 of course. But, to be honest, developing a multi-million dollar “next-gen” game seems a little too far to stretch right now. I realize I didn’t list the PSP, because that market has been in trouble since it started. It will be interesting to hear about what the PSP2 is all about. If it too is a gaming device and phone, it may do well, or it may fail next to the 3DS, iPhone, and Android. But hey, I guess it’s possible the PSP2 could trump them all! We’ll find out soon.

This is a pivotal time in gaming. There are many options to choose from for developers; too many perhaps? There are many platforms to develop for, many business models to consider, and many different audiences wanting to play different types of games. In the last round, the Wii and DS both provided affordable markets for smaller publishers to make a profit. Due to those platforms being family-friendly and casual, parents and kids purchased a ton of value priced garbage for those platforms, which fueled the creation of even more value priced garbage. And now, you look at the Wii and DS shelves in Target and Walmart and you see tons of games that you’ve never heard of. The number of games that are released and never reviewed in magazines or gaming sites is tremendously high. I have never witnessed this on a console before. Publishers knew that game reviews of their games had little impact on sales – a crazy concept – but, it makes sense when your audience is primarily people who don’t visit video-game websites or buy video-game magazines. It’s shocking stuff, really.

Now, with the Wii (nearly) seemingly gone, are publishers going to continue trying to milk the Wii market? After all, the primary audience of the Wii is not interested in forking out $250 for a new console when they already have one that works just fine. The Wii might be classified in the same way a casual player views their DVD player, and as such, they might expect to hold onto their Wii for another five years. The Wii does have a remote, just like their DVD, after all. Is it possible that Wii sales can continue that long? Or, will it quickly die with its’ customers going to iPhone, Kinect, and 3DS? 2011 will tell us.

The DS is definitely going away, of course. Its older brother, the Nintendo 3DS, is on its way and will overshadow any DS efforts publishers may have for 2012. 2011, on the other hand, still has a shot at making some profit from DS sales – especially this Christmas. So, what is a small publisher to do for 2012? If the Wii and DS options are gone, the natural choice may look like the 3DS. But, is the 3DS a Wii or is it a DS in terms of retail and budgetary concerns? The problem is that it is neither a Wii nor a DS, and yet it is both at the same time. Really, if you had to choose one that the 3DS resembles the most, it would be the DS. It is a handheld with two screens. I’m sure it will be very confusing for the execs whose job it is to mitigate risk, and such. The 3DS presents the development cost of (nearly) the Wii for a handheld console, which have always been considered “lite” gaming devices. From that perspective, it doesn’t seem to make much sense to invest Wii budgets into a DS market. In fact, it is starting to sound more like the PSP financial dilemma that turned many publishers away from it. I find all of this quite fascinating. The good news is that all publishers are clamoring to get 3DS titles out, so let’s hope this pushes through the barrier of executive concern and lands us nicely on easy street in 2012. :)

Alright, that’s enough waffling for today. I hope you’re having a great day. TTYL.

Jools

Monday, January 10, 2011

No Rise For Maximilian

It looks like Maximilian will not be rising up to thwart the Mutant Mudds on DSiWare. This makes me sad. I really wanted to see it happen. One month after I put the call out, we have 452 comments from fine folks who want to see Maximilian and the Rise of the Mutant Mudds on DSiWare. Unfortunately, that is 548 votes short of where we need to be in order to start development of the title.

I realize that Max may not seem special to some people. But, I believe Max could have been a very special addition to the DSiWare library.

Very special thanks to Kevin Cassidy (RMC), head honcho at GoNintendo, who agreed to display the Max banner on his awesome site, and kept it up there much longer than I expected. I really appreciate it, man. You’re a gentleman and a true gamer.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ninja Senki

A good friend of mine, Michael Veroni (who is the lead artist on DreamRift's debut title, Monster Tale), sent me a link today. It was this: http://www.ninjasenki.com/

I downloaded the game and played it. It is great. You should play it too, and tell Jonathan Lavigne that his game is cool.

Here's a trailer for the game.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 Goodness

I am really looking forward to 2011. We have at least three games releasing this year! How crazy is that? Well, if they’re not delayed for some reason outside of our control, that is. First up, we have ATV Wild Ride releasing this month. I don’t have a release date yet, but I will share it with you once I know. After that, “Smoke” will be released for the DS sometime in the summer, I expect. And then, “Face” will come out late summer-ish, which is not for the DS! ;)

On December 9, I asked those interested in seeing Maximilian on DSiWare to comment on the blog post, saying that if we receive at least 1000 comments then we’ll bring it to DSiWare. So far, we have just over 400 comments. I will give it until January 9, to see what the final number is, but at this rate it looks very unlikely that we’ll receive 1000 legitimate votes for the game. This is sad, but also exactly why we asked for votes; to help us gauge whether development of the game would be financially wise or not. Honestly, if we can’t scrounge up at least 1000 votes in one month, it’s a fair sign that there aren’t enough people out there interested in the game, DSiWare, or both. I know I don’t have thousands of people visiting my blog, but Go Nintendo were kind enough to place a banner at the top of their site for many weeks, and even that did not drive enough people to vote.

Right now, we’re in heavy get-new-projects mode. There is one 3DS title that we’re in talks about with a publisher. It is a really cool game. It would be a conversion of an existing title, which we would bring to the 3DS. Let’s call it code-named “Planet”. In theory, we’re very close to signing this deal with the publisher. But, anything can happen in the world of business, so all we can do is hope everything stays its course and we sign it soon.

We’re also in talks with a couple of publishers regarding some value DS titles. Now, before you assume “value title” is synonymous with shovelware or crap, it doesn’t have to be that way. It depends on how you approach it. In my mind, the concept of a value title is a simple and fun game that costs less than a regular game. When you buy a DSiWare game for $8, for example, you are not expecting the same scope of game that you would buy at $29.99. They may be smaller in scope than games that cost $34.99 or $29.99, but that doesn’t mean they have to be any less fun or contain less quality work. Shantae, Dark Void Zero, and Cave Story are good examples of smaller scoped titles that are high quality in terms of craftsmanship and fun. Perhaps there are 10 levels instead of 15, or 4 characters instead of 8. Or perhaps it is a conversion of something that was developed for a different platform.

Now, why would anyone want to release value titles for the DS, right? Well, the market can create the need for publishers to consider these options. Value titles cost less to produce in terms of development costs, and the size of the cartridge that the game uses is smaller. So, instead of the development cost being 300,000 potatoes, it may cost just 100,000 potatoes due to the smaller scope of the game and/or leveraging of existing technology. Remember, this does not need to affect the quality of the title; just the size of it or perhaps the effort needed to complete the title (by leveraging existing assets). Also, instead of using a large cartridge that may cost the publisher 8 potatoes per cart to manufacture, a smaller cart may cost just 6 potatoes. Nice! So, we’ve managed to save a bunch of potatoes in development cost AND 2 potatoes PER CART by going with a smaller cartridge. If the first run of cartridges is 30,000 units, for example, that’s 30,000 multiplied by 2 potatoes, which is 60,000 potatoes in savings - based on the cart size alone! Plus, the 200,000 potatoes saved in development costs is a total savings of 260,000 potatoes. Very nice! However, due to the fact the game may sell for $19.99 or $14.99, there is less profit made on the sale of each game, but the hope is that more copies are sold due to the lower price. I know, I know; you don’t buy those lower priced titles anyway because you assume they’re all cheap crap. Fair enough. I am hesitant too. They usually are cheap crap. But, the majority of people who buy video games, on the DS and Wii anyway, are not hardcore gamers. They are casual gamers or parents, who do not perceive lower price as lower quality. The unfortunate reality is that many publishers take advantage of this and DO produce cheap crap. Sigh. I hope this evil practice ends eventually, but I know it won’t. Anywho, rest assured that if we sign on to develop a value title for the DS, our focus will be on producing a good game that is fun to play.

Here’s a quick question for you…

Which genre would you like to see Renegade Kid create for the DS?
  • First-Person Shooter
  • Third-Person Shooter
  • Vehicular Combat
  • 2D Platformer
  • 3D Platformer
  • Racing
  • Virtual Pet
Thanks. I hope you’re having a great day!

Jools