With nothing on the radar for several months, we're a bit concerned about the state of DS gaming. Sure there are lots of casual thingies popping out over the summer but, other than Final Fantasy sequels, what's a DS gamer to do past August? Well, our money's on Moon, the follow-up FPS to last year's impressive Dementium. Will it be a success? No telling just yet, but developer Renegade Kid has proven its technical ability so we're leaning towards the "probably" side.
We recently had an email chat with Renegade Kid owner/creative director Jools Watsham about Moon, DS development and what might be next for the boundary-pushing team.
GamesRadar: Dementium was one of the most technically impressive DS games of 2007. What did you learn from building that title, and how did you apply that to Moon's development?
Jools Watsham: Thank you for your kind words. We learned that the DS is a relatively powerful console, capable of producing much more than we had originally imagined. Having developed the framework of a 3D title with Dementium, we have a great foundation to build upon with Moon. We have a better understanding of the DS, and as such some new tricks to produce results that would otherwise not be possible without our exploration of the system and iteration of ideas.
GR: Have you been approached by anyone else asking to use your FPS engine? It seems to us like it works pretty damn well.
JW: Yes, quite a few companies and individuals have approached us with an interest in licensing the Renegade Engine. It is something that we’ve talked about and something that we may do someday, but we’re focusing all of our attention on making games right now.
GR: What're your thoughts on the state of DS development at this point? Maybe it's just us, but lately we're seeing more fodder and cash-ins than intelligent design. Renegade Kid seems to be, for lack of a more polite term, actually trying to do something different.
JW: Yes, I agree. Where have all of the good games gone? Thankfully, Nintendo is still producing some great titles for the DS. But generally speaking, the DS market has unfortunately fallen prey to the inevitable cash-cow-console catastrophe; a lot of publishers are looking for ways to spend little money and little time on projects in an effort to make some quick and easy cash – it is very disappointing. The same thing happened at the end of the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance’s lives. These practices force a lot of developers into a situation where sub-par games are produced due to the constraints put on them by the publisher. However, developers like Wayforward are doing a great job. Contra 4 was a welcome breath of fresh air, which is peculiar thing to say about game based on a classic Super Nintendo title.
GR: Is it a hard sell to get games like Dementium and Moon (and any future titles that defy DS standards) green-lit? Has Moon been easier to develop thanks to Dementium?
JW: It has always been difficult to sell original game concepts to publishers. With Dementium we dove straight into the fire with a 3D mature-themed first-person survival-horror title. It was a risky game concept for the DS market, but at the same time an undeniable forbidden fruit that we felt a large percentage of the DS audience wanted to experience on their handheld. That’s the type of game that we want to play on our DS’s anyway. Because Dementium was received favorably, Moon was an easier sell – even to us. It is exciting to build upon what we have created with Dementium; exploring a different gaming experience while improving upon the technology. I wouldn’t say Moon has been easier to develop than Dementium though – Moon has a slew of additional features, which makes all of the team’s lives a lot more difficult.