The twelve and thirteen year olds who played Conker’s Bad Fur Day in 2001 are in their early or mid twenties today. Chris must feel honored knowing that his game (and his characters) are still iconic and relevant in gaming culture after so many years. I would make the argument that Conker’s Bad Fur Day has probably aged the best out of all of Rare’s Nintendo 64 games. Recently, Chris Seavor started up an indie studio called Gory Details Ltd and their first game is Parashoot Stan. We appreciate that Chris has given us his time to tell us about their new studio, new game, and a few tidbits about his past history at Rare. I want to personally thank Christopher Seavor for doing this interview.
What is the title and genre of your new game?
Well, the game is called Parashoot Stan and it’s a, well its genre is….. Gah !! It’s an endless runner of sorts… !! There i said it.. be done !! Nah, hopefully it’s a bit more than that, in the same way Conker wasn’t just a cutesy plat-former.. 🙂
Can you describe the story/plot? Also, we know that the primary protagonist is Captain Stanley Ottershaw. Can you describe some of his helpers and the game’s antagonist?
The idea behind Captain Stanley Ottershaw is he’s a Comic Book Super Hero, but in the fictional world of the some long gone war, a kinda mix of First and Second World Wars. In this fictional world his number one fan is a little boy who pretends to be Stan as a way of escaping the fear of invasion and being bombed.. That’s the premise of the Teaser Trailer, which hopefully (After Zak’s broken arm has healed, clumsy tinker that he is 🙂 ), we’ll continue with extra episodes to tell not only the further adventures of Stan, but illustrate different features such as the Pals Brigade, and any of the subsequently planned DLC.
The boy in the teaser trailer is just like any other, but the Stan in the comic is who we get to play… The Greatest Hero of The War, fighting valiantly against his Arch Nemesis: Baron Von Bully. The fiery haired terror of the skies that’s always looking for new ways to infiltrate Stan’s homeland… The usual Boys Own type of stuff.
This time however it’s looking like Bully will win as he has collected a horde of Secret Plans from all corners of the world, and kidnapped the legendary Pals Brigade from right under the noses of the Allies. Even now, his domination if the skies above Ol’ Blighty are casting a terrifying shadow, as the Baron’s shaven henchmen the Nozzers, scour this once green and pleasant land totally unopposed..
In one last, final defense the Allies have called upon the services of Cpt. Stanley Ottershaw, Parashoot Stan as his legend would have it, for one final mission to steal back the plans and release the Pals Brigade to help him once more take back the skies……
That’s about the size of it.. Although there’s a little twist associated with the true identity of Baron Bully, but that’s for a future webisode…. 🙂
How long was this game in development, and how many people have been working on it?
The first few scribbles for Stan way back when, sometime over last Christmas, whilst sat in the pub with some friends…. Then I left it for a bit whilst we were working on a different, much more involved concept until April this year when it became quite apparent that we’d bitten off a bit more than we could chew… That’s when I suggested we stop, and what about doing Stan?.. (it wasn’t called Parashoot Stan back then.. In fact it was a generic spaceman leaping from his exploding ship above a Gas giant…. sort of worked, but was a bit bland in the narrative stakes).
There are essentially 3 of us working full time, with 1 part time.. We very quickly knocked out a demo, which had programmer graphics, (and to this day has the single worst sprite I’ve ever seen) etc, but with most of the essentials in place… It worked quite well, seemed pretty moreish, so we carried on…… 8 months later we pretty much had a finished game, and that’s it really…we’re literally at the point of submitting to Apple and will hopefully get through by Christmas, fingers crossed. Like everything I’ve ever worked on it was very much an evolutionary process of try this, try that and plenty of feature creep along the way… The only way of working if you ask me.
You mentioned that working on this game almost felt like old times. What did you enjoy most about making this game?
Every minute of it, not least because I was working on graphics again, 2D graphics.. That’s what i meant by ‘old times’ because the pipeline was much the same as Killer Instinct, 1 and 2. Graphics is my real passion professionally and for quite sometime at Rare it was very much on the back burner as my design and the general team management nonsense became the priority.. The most I’d tend to do, particularly on Live and Reloaded and the various prototypes I worked on, were functional placeholder graphics which I then handed off to full time artists to work their magic.
With Stan I was the only artist, so every little thing you see, be it character, background or icon, is made by me… And that kind of control over the art direction, although quite daunting in many ways, is also really, really great!! That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy doing design again, but the art side of things is the icing on the cake, and in many ways the 2 go very much hand in hand.
You mentioned in a previous feature by rarefanbase.com that the game will feature: Bosses, pets, shop, storyline, and gory deaths.
Yep, we’ve included lots of traditional gameplay mechanics, old favourites tried and tested….. And not to worry about the gory deaths, it’s all good natured comic book fun.
I see there are dogs in the artwork. What role do pets play in the gameplay?
Yeah, the pets or Pals as they’re called in the game were introduced about half way through development when i was looking into alternative ways of doing power ups. Obviously we could have taken the easy route of just having a sphere with the letter S inside, which you pick up and voila!! ‘SHIELDS UP’ and for a while on paper at least, that’s exactly what we were going to do… But lets face it, that’s stale. So i started playing around with combining the largely vanity feature of pets which we had planned, with the more practical notion of ‘Pals Can Be Useful As Well’.
So was born the Pals Brigade. Which feature in the story as a special secret weapons programme developed by Stan’s lot, and stolen by Baron Bully. They do numerous things, like smart bombs, shields, help with Boss’s, hijacking baddies, dropping bombs, speed boosts and they work in similar way to Skill Decks, in that although there are 9 different Pals currently in the game (more to come in DLC), you can only have up to 3 available per game, and 2 equipped in a given moment. This allows in for mini builds, depending on what it is your after, or your play style….
You wanna rank up: deck out with Snags, Ruby Doob and Floss Boss.
You wanna get a high score then go for Chocks, Woofstein and Capt Yarp.
You wanna make some cash get Cashpaw, Mr Dee and Capt Yarp.
and so on….
As well as Decks, the Pals also have little ‘relationships’ with each other, all of them complementary.. I guess you could call em Pal Combos, all of which are secret in the game. The only clue a Pal has Comboed with another Pal is a little effect from them when they join forces… Even then its for you to work out what that effect might be…. Here’s a little example, Ruby Doob, the love interest in the game :), is greatly admired by all the other Pals, but none more so that the dashing flying ace ‘Chocks’.. Without Chocks, Ruby is a bit of a pacifist choosing to ‘charm’ her enemies with love, but when she’s wedded to Chocks., things get a bit more ‘EXPLOSIVE’ 🙂
Describe the shop’s purpose in the game. Can you buy items or weapons from the shop?
The Shop is the meat and potatoes of the game… Although initially you start off with just the one Pal, Jasper, who is pretty useful in his own right, if you want to expand your arsenal your going to have to earn some coin in the game and this can be done in a number of different ways. Collecting dollars, collecting bullion, using Pal skills, trading prizes from Ranking Up or just jumping the gun and buying coin as an IAP.
Suffice to say nothing in the game is restricted to IAP, so if you wanna just play the game as intended and collect your cash from cold hard playing you can still unlock everything. IAP is a shortcut, but is also a way of getting extra funds for future Gory Detail games, we leave that entirely up to the player so I guess you can think of it as an ‘in-game kickstarter’ hehe!!
Oh there are also lots of Vanity Items and Fun items like new Chutes, Scarfs and the like , which of course we’ll be adding to in future DLC.
You mentioned in a previous interview how the game had gory deaths, but you also mentioned how kids liked it. Is this a pretty violent game? Are you attempting any humor in this game on the level of Conker’s Bad Fur Day? Also, can we expect any foul language or sexual innuendo?
This is definitely aimed at the 6 – 120 age group, so no overt innuendo, no disturbingly violent themes and definitely no profanity…. Stan is an as clean as they come Hero, and proper role model for everyone, heh. Conker as a genre was a one (and a half) time visit for me…. Done that now, time for some new things, new genres, new types of ‘experience’ 🙂
Seems like you aren’t the only former Rare employee making mobile games. Three former Rare employees Steve Ellis, Martin Wakeley, and Lee Musgrave started their own studio called Crash Lab to develop mobile games. Have you talked to any of them recently and what do you think of Crash Lab? Also, most people know you for your work in console gaming. What made you attracted to mobile gaming and do you still see a future for yourself in console gaming?
Yeah I know some of the guys at Crash Lab, a couple of whom I see fairly regularly out and about in pubs and curry houses… I used to share an office with Lee (and yes, he still talks to me :)) I wish them all the best in a tough and brutally saturated market… I guess we’re kinda in competition with each other, but to be honest, we always were anyway at Rare… Those barns in Twycross were not just buildings, they were sovereign territories, and beware the person who ventured astray!! Heh….
As for Mobile Gaming, well it’s perfect for the size of games I want to make, and the size of team I can afford. Simple as that really….
Someone asked you on Twitter whether your new game could be ported to PC/Steam. You responded with: “It’s designed specifically around tablet / phone mechanics, tilt – screen taps – swipes etc, so won’t really work that well. Sry :(.”
Would you ever consider porting your game to Wii U, PS Vita, or 3DS to take advantage of their touchscreen and tilt capabilities?
Yep… Tablet and Smart Phones only at the moment… Although looking at the Wii U (as one of my tweeters pointed out last week), it definitely might have potential for the new controller… But only on their indie shop (eShop) thing, and not for while if we do decide to look into it… I’d rather start something new…
What did you think of the Wii U as far as price, bundles, and launch titles?
As for the Wii U, I got mine ordered already and it’s due any day now…. I don’t care what the price is, I’ll get it whatever, although I did just read it had sold out completely… which is a little worrying, as that’s my ‘don’t go mad at the parents over christmas’ pill.
You have mentioned that this game is the third game you’ve started. Are you able to provide any information on the other two games that you’re working on?
Nope… Heh !! Keep watching…. We’re about to (after the Android port is done) start the first concept test of the next game , that melancholy platformer I mentioned earlier, so expect a teaser for it sometime next Spring. If all goes well we should have it ready in about 10 months, maybe sooner… Certainly no more than a year.. Fun Times! I’m really enjoying it………. Making games CAN BE FUN!!!!
Some gamers consider you a tough critic of Microsoft, and a pretty big fan of Nintendo. Back in the N64 Days, Rare use to be known for constantly delaying their games. Did Nintendo ever become frustrated with Rare’s constant delays, and were there any moments where Nintendo made things difficult on Rare during the SNES/Nintendo 64 days?
Nintendo knew the score… That’s why Rare became so important to them, special even. Quality.. It was always about quality, and if Tim and Chris said to Mr Fukuda or Mr Yamauchi even.. ‘Sry, not ready yet‘, they knew it was because it wasn’t ready, not because anyone was slacking off, or taking the piss. Just look at the sales for that golden period… Why the fuck would Nintendo wanna rock THAT boat.. So no.. didn’t happen……….
………rem, well, maybe there was one tetchy little moment when Banjo looked like it might be late and Nintendo had already pre-booked its Christmas ad slots (non refundable !!). But that worked out just fine as what should suddenly get a rename (thanks to Mr Lobb I believe) and step into the breach but ‘Diddy Kong Racing’.. which went on to sell a mega shit ton fuck load!!! It always worked out in the end, so long as people kept their cool and carried on!!
Out of all the Rare games you worked on during both the Microsoft and Nintendo eras, which games did you enjoy working on the most, and which did you enjoy working on the least?
Hmmm.. Bad Fur Day was the most rewarding, but also the most stressful. There was a moment when we knew we had something really quite unique and potentially a classic when we went to E3 with most of the team.. I can’t remember the year, but there was a free bar at the Nintendo stand :), it was the one that was in Atlanta in fact. Anyway, we all went for a meal in a little bar somewhere, and they had this massive range of beers…….. We just spent the whole night going down the list of ales and got absolutely fucking shitfaced.. ALL of us. I remember giving a toast.. ‘Enjoy chaps, because this is as good as it gets’.. And it sorta was, as far as Conker goes.
You’ve been vocal about how you wish Conker’s Other Bad Day had been made. Is there any other specific Rare game that never had a sequel (other than Conker) that you would have loved to see a sequel for and why?
Perfect Dark 1……. And no, I’m not being facetious. I was working on the sequel don’t forget and I know what it could have been.. Maybe one day someone will sneak the story doc online (I know I’m not the only one still holding a copy), and you guys can judge for yourselves if it was worth making. I think it would have been really good, not to blow my own trumpet, and set the game up for at least one follow up after that… In fact, the ending ‘required’ a follow up, as it was planned as a 2 game storyline with a cliffhanger at the end of the first. Here’s a teaser.. The Epilogue to part 1 had this title : ‘The Death Of Jo Dark ?’
When Conker’s Twelve Tales switched to Conker’s Bad Fur Day, it was a response to there being too many cutesy 3D platformers like Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie on the market. But these days, there doesn’t seem to be many 3D platformers at all. Does it make you sad to see the traditional 3D platforming genre being abandoned by so many publishers?
Certainly there are fewer plat-formers and it would be nice to think they’re due for a major comeback… Particularly now we have devices such as tablets and the like where uber graphics aren’t as important as gameplay. The problem with platformers, to my mind is they actually really, really complicated and difficult games to make.. Not to mention slightly more risky.. So if you are a big publisher like Ubisoft and what’s on the table for the next 2 years and 100 people full-time is a) New IP, traditional platformer or b) Assassins Creed 4.
What do you think the choice is gonna be?
It is sad, but they are out there, in fact the next game for Gory is a traditional 2D platformer (admittedly with a twist), oh and not at all cutesy… In fact rather melancholy.. !! Anyway, the point is, yes there’s a market for them, and in the future I’m 99% certain they’ll have a resurgence as the next generation of new gamers realize shooting aliens on a rail (however pretty) can get a bit stale after a while.
Also, Nintendo blocked Rare’s Goldenye 007 XBLA remake from being released. Did Nintendo and Microsoft ever try to negotiate deals to get Rare games on the Wii’s virtual console? I’m guessing Microsoft would have allowed Goldeneye on Virtual Console if Nintendo allowed it on XBLA? Another situation is Donkey Kong 64 has the game Jet Pack in it, and some say that game is keeping the Donkey Kong 64 from releasing on Nintendo’s Virtual Console service even though Nintendo owns the Donkey Kong IP. Did you hear info on any of this before you had left Rare?
Honestly, I have no idea about any of that either.. I’m pretty sure MS would have loved to have GoldenEye on their platform, but don’t forget Bond is neither owned by Nintendo or MS.. EON may have had some part to play in stopping it, or insisted in a huge unreasonable one off payment no one had considered, but I’m just guessing that.
We also interviewed Lee Musgrave, and he said this, “We came close to firing off a conversion of Killer Instinct a few times, but there were licensing obstacles to that, and it never really had enough perceived interest to push it forward.” Lee Musgrave would be the second Rare employee to go on record about lack of perceived interest for Killer Instinct.
Could this be a situation where some Rare employees weren’t aware of what other Rare employees were doing?
Strange coincidence… Someone mailed me today saying pretty much the same thing… An ‘unofficial’ attempt to get KI3 off the ground way back in 1998.. A model of Jago, or something was made !!? Hardly significant. As for MS doing it whilst I was there, which is what my comments refer to, nah.. It’s Bullshit.
That doesn’t mean people didn’t talk about it, but ‘talking’ amounted to 99% of certain peoples jobs, if you get my meaning. Anyway, it’s all fucked now I hear… Killer Indistinct? Thriller Minkstink? Just not the same…
Thank you to Christopher Seavor for doing this interview.