With EGX Rezzed currently ongoing, we thought we'd sit down for a chinwag with one of our favourite devs from last year's show, Nic Makin. Our topics this week include upcoming beat-'em-up Raging Justice, Street Fighter 2, VR and the getting shipwrecked with the Dreamcast!
What inspired you and your team during the development stage?
Raging Justice came about from a shared passion for the good old 2D brawler, we felt as a genre it'd fallen out of favour, so we wanted to bring it back! As a result, our inspiration was first and foremost the greats from yesteryear; Vendetta, Final Fight, Streets of Rage 2, and Double Dragon. Not only that, we've taken direct inspiration from modern games such as God of War, Bayonetta, and Sleeping Dogs.
Can you tell us about your team at Makin Games?
Makin Games is a micro company based in the Midlands, just Anna (my wife) and myself (Nic). Anna looks after the business and promotion side, allowing me to focus on development. My previous experience includes a 10 year stretch at Rare, then periods with Sony and Codemasters.
We are collaborating with a couple of guys I worked with at Rare, to make Makin Games' first title, Raging Justice. Jay Howse is our art guy, everything from; the level backdrops, to the characters, and every weapon, has been designed and built by Jay. For audio, we're working with Steve Burke, an amazing composer and sound designer, who helps bring the game out of the screen and into the room.
"we definitely think that it's important to look to a niche you feel passionately about when developing an independent game..."
How difficult is it for indie developers in this current market? Can you take artistic risks and still make a profit?
As Raging Justice is due to be released I can't comment on profit, but we definitely think that it's important to look to a niche you feel passionately about when developing an independent game; find something you can do well, something under represented, and give it your all.
What advice would you give to someone looking to work in the video gaming industry?
The gaming industry is a very tough nut to crack, but it’s worth it. My advice would be to work hard, be persistent, and make sure you finish what you start.
Where do you think the industry is heading - is VR the future in your opinion?
VR is one future, I doubt it'll be mine (I've experienced motion sickness every time I've tried it!). I expect VR to be more of an experience, a ride, rather than mainstream gaming. At the moment VR is expensive and doesn't work 100% of the time. I'd expect it to become a good sized niche like motion controlled gaming now is.
What game(s) have had the biggest effect on your life, and why?
Oh, tough one, probably Street Fighter 2. I fell in love with this game back in the arcades and played it on (almost) every possible console since. The characters, the balancing, the competitiveness, it's such a great game.
What does the future hold for Raging Justice and Makin Games?
Right now Raging Justice is everything, we're pushing to complete it, release it, port it, and update it with anything that didn’t make launch. With our first update we intend to add online multiplayer to Raging Justice, but I've also a list of alternate modes and tweaks that I may add too :) The list goes on and on!
If you were on a desert island (it has power) and could only take one console, what would you take, and why?
Console... probably the Dreamcast, as a stand-alone machine it had so many awesome Sega games on it!
Thanks to Nic for talking to us - for all things Rezzed and Raging Justice, keep your eyes on PTC.
Everything is a game in which you can quite literally control any and everything. Where No Man’s Sky failed to deliver on its galaxy-hopping ambition, this indie project makes good on its titanic promise and is constantly impressive as a result.
Everything's explorative and seamless gameplay loop never ceased to blow my mind, but the sheer freedom won’t be to everyone’s taste.
It’s tonally odd then that this poignance is juxtaposed by bizarre animations and simplistic models that make traversal somewhat comedic. Ground-based creatures either glide along inanimate, wiggle as though a child were manipulating a toy across the floor, or, most amusingly, move in 90-degree increments (upright, flat on their face, standing on their head, lying on their back, then returning to the upright position). It makes for close comparison to the outlandishly bonkers Katamari series, which is interesting, because while Everything isn’t nearly as “video game-y”, they each convey a strong environmental message.
All things are sentient and capable of thought in developer David OReilly’s world: rocks worry that nobody will remember them once they’re gone, bugs wonder if their home will still be there when they return, and household objects lament not having spent more time with family members while they had the chance. When combined with the ability to see the world from new perspectives - for example, how powerless a blade of grass is as creatures tower over and threaten to trample it - the game’s purpose becomes quite striking. All the weird and wonderful things in our world are sharing in life together, so, whatever may happen, live and let live whilst enjoying what you have as best you can.
At this point, when the game has lodged its foot in your mind’s door, it proceeds to kick it all the way open, and the mindset you've been conditioned to adopt means you’ll very likely take it in your stride. I’ll avoid any specifics for fear of spoilers, but the game has no end and in time you’re given additional tools that allow you to wreak havoc on your perceived reality to some interesting effect.
As I reach my conclusion and declare that Everything is fascinating, technically astounding, even breathtakingly beautiful in spite of its simplistic presentation, but isn’t necessarily a great video game, you might wonder why this piece is listed as a feature and not a review. Sometimes a game defies being neatly defined by a numerical score - I thought State of Decay did in much the same way - bringing about an uncomfortable catch 22 as one conclusion does disservice to the artistic work, while another misleads the consumer I’m striving to advise. It’s in this situation I decline to do either, and part by recommending you give Everything a fair try should you find its concept intriguing.
You may be familiar with our Taken for a Quickie series, in which we answer questions to offer a speedy overview of a game, but that just wouldn’t be fitting here. We've taken Ms. Kitty Powers’ dating sim out to dinner instead.
A friendly and inclusive little game that entertained us far more than we’d ever have expected a dating simulator to.
Zing! Be honest: Did you nick that from the game?
Unashamedly. It’s absolutely awash with racy innuendo and there are some real gems in there, though the humour may be somewhat lost on those outside Britain. As someone with a personal penchant for awkward situations, dating and its stilted interactions are fertile grounds for comedy.
Would you recommend a purchase?
Though we enjoyed our time with Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker, characters did begin to repeat themselves, which is pretty damaging when the snappy writing is what’s keeping you around. By the same token, different types of dates (you’re only able to eat out) would’ve been a natural progression and added some much-needed spice to the game’s love life.
That said, playing in short bursts now and then should go a long way to remedying those issues. If you aren't put off by the £12.39 asking price, it’s a friendly and inclusive little game that entertained us far more than we’d ever have expected a dating simulator to. So, by all means, give it a go if this piece has managed to arouse you in any way... Oh, err, your interest, that is.
Our Nintendo Switch review went live earlier this week following the hybrid console’s launch last Friday, but while I’m also up on the machine in general, there are a number of issues that I don’t deem acceptable.
I take little to no issue with the Switch as a handheld console, in fact, on that front, it’s only impressed me.
It hasn’t happened to me personally (perhaps only because I dock and undock like a surgeon playing Operation), but there are plentiful reports of deep scratches being inflicted on the screen in the process. The resulting consensus is that a screen protector is a must, except that’s far from a perfect fix. Several protectors from different manufacturers are said to have melted along the edges as a result of the heat they’re exposed to when playing a game while docked, which is worrying to say the least.
Whether you opt for a protector or not, you’re sure to incur a few more hidden costs. Throw in a case to keep it safe when you’re out and about; an SD card if you intend to download games from the eShop; a second AC adapter if you don’t want to unplug your dock whenever you need to charge in handheld mode; an additional stand if you want to charge in tabletop mode; a portable battery if you want to stay topped up on the go. Depending on your luck, the pricey Pro Controller may or may not join that list.
As was reported before release, the left Joy-Con can suffer noticeable input lag, become totally unresponsive, and lose sync entirely when unaffixed from the console. All of these problems occur fairly frequently for me, which has gradually beaten me into making the purchase.
I’d be lying if I said these control issues hadn’t put a downer on playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on my TV, but, sadly, it isn’t the only contributing factor. Nintendo’s flagship launch title suffers regular frame drops that mire gameplay at a clunky, stuttering 20FPS, making it feel markedly worse than the consistent 30FPS that handheld mode boasts. A difference in performance quite this pronounced is most definitely not worth the jump in resolution from 720p to 900p, which is cause for concern when the likes of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are targeting a seemingly unrealistic 1080p/60FPS docked.
I’d be lying if I said these control issues hadn’t put a downer on playing Breath of the Wild on my TV, but, sadly, it isn’t the only contributing factor.
Zelda’s motion controls also have me approaching Arms with some degree of caution. Very infrequently (thankfully) you’re asked to guide a ball through a maze as the entire thing spins uncontrollably with every tilt of the wrist - it’s legitimately awful - while the reticule when aiming the bow can drift and make aiming a pain.
It speaks to the quality of Breath of the Wild that I think it’s outstanding regardless of these issues. It packs innovative gameplay into an enormous, enthralling open-world that’s rich with RPG and survival elements; though it’s a large departure for the series, it’s a welcome evolution in my book. It’s just a shame there isn’t much else to play (or do in general with no video apps or browser) at the moment. Keep an eye on the site for our full BOTW review soon.
I can ignore the UI foibles and missing features this early in the Switch’s life - Nintendo earned some slack by righting so many of the Wii U’s wrongs - but the hardware and software issues with the dock really are inexcusable even at this stage. It definitely feels like the console was rushed out, though I can’t be certain why: common sense seems to dictate it’s to avoid direct competition with either the PlayStation 4 Pro or the Xbox Scorpio, but the Switch isn’t really geared towards competing with either of those high-end machines.
If Nintendo can improve on the docked (and docking) experience they’ll have a hybrid console I’d happily recommend.
Ultimately, it’s an impressive handheld console - easily the best on the market - but the implementation as a home console is very lacking in my experience so far. If Nintendo can improve on the docked (and docking) experience they’ll have a hybrid console I’d happily recommend, but, until then, you should probably only consider the Switch if you’re in the market for a new dedicated handheld. While it’s annoying that the Switch doesn’t quite scratch the itch I bought it to satisfy, a superlative entry into the Legend of Zelda series and a better-than-expected handheld mode have been enough to stave off buyer’s remorse.
It’s finally upon us, chums; four years and a few delays after its original reveal, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is out this Friday! The game's being touted as a system-seller for the latest Nintendo home console/handheld hybrid, the Switch, and it almost certainly will be. The Switch version has been confirmed to run at increased resolution with more realistic sound, so with this in mind, why have I decided to play it on the geriatric Wii U?
With many glimmers of hope along the way since that first sight, I pre-ordered Zelda and waited first for a 2015 release, which ultimately wasn't to be. Surely 2016 would be the year, especially since the Wii U was experiencing another console-defining games drought? Nope. Again, my pre-order was cancelled, and rumours of a move to the NX (Switch's codename at that point) were confirmed. Eventually we were given a release date of 3 March, a day that can’t come soon enough for me, along with a few million others.
So, why am I choosing to play the inferior version on washed-up hardware? They’ve taken out all of the gamepad-exclusive features, I hear you cry! Well, two main reasons: this is the game I bought the Wii U for, and perhaps not so good for Nintendo, I’ve lost trust in them as a hardware developer.
£279.99 might seem like a good deal for the Switch, and I’d be inclined to agree if I haven’t already been stung with the sad story of the Wii U. Everyone knows it well by now; Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros. were going to massively increase sales and the third-parties that had abandoned ship were going to come crawling back. Neither ever happened, and we got a painfully slow release of Virtual Console content to keep us going.
Why am I choosing to play the inferior version on washed-up hardware? Two reasons, really: this is THE game I bought the Wii U for, and perhaps not so good for Nintendo, I’ve lost my trust in them as a hardware developer.
The fact that Switch won't even have this Virtual Console support at launch is worrying, as are the rumours of rental-style versions of classic games to offset the cost of their new premium online service. Throw in reports of connectivity issues with the left Joy-Con (God, I hate that name), as well as instances of hand cramp, and there isn't a rosy picture heading into launch day.
I really want the Switch to be a success, I honestly do, but I can’t see that happening until Nintendo address the third-party issue, the speed they get their first-party offerings out at, and, of course, the quality of the games on offer. The Joy-Con issue can be sorted with a patch, but the current price of accessories and games is a massive concern; £49.99 for Bomberman R and £64.99 for a Pro controller are both absurd figures that are likely to anger and dissuade many.
Can Nintendo sort out their relationship with the third-parties? They certainly tried at the Switch event, with a seemly-pleased-to-be-there EA discussing Fifa (whatever anyone says, getting huge games like this on the console every year will definitely help to sell units), but what will the strategy be if EA, Ubisoft, Bethesda et al disregard them again? I truly hope that Nintendo puts their trust in indie partners like Shin’en - maker of the excellent FAST Racing NEO and upcoming Switch title FAST RMX - giving them classic IP to recreate (F Zero in this case).
Regardless of whether that happens, yesterday's 'Nindies' showcase was a step in the right direction, serving up a buffet of tasty-looking games from a range of independent developers.
The quality of Nintendo’s first-party games has rarely been in doubt, and I don’t expect Breath of the Wild to let us down on that front. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that they can continue to produce enough high-quality content to get people buying the Switch, otherwise we’re going to have another Wii U on our hands. Until that time, I’ll be cutting and cooking my way through Hyrule on my trusty, dusty 'ol Wii U - the way I'd originally intended.
Are you getting the Switch at launch? Or will you be joining me in playing Breath of the Wild on the Wii U? Let us know here or on the forums.