Mutant Mudds Interview With Creative Director Jools Watsham

During my college years, circa 1998, I spent considerable time shooting holes through monsters in the bloody first person shooter, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil on Nintendo 64, unaware that designer Jools Watsham helped bring this Cerebral Bore firing gore fest to life.

The man has one epic shelf of retro gaming goodness.

In fact, I found this out today, fourteen years later, when Watsham agreed to discuss Mutant Mudds, the latest 3DS title from his company (which he co-founded), Renegade Kid.

If you're a hardcore DS fan, then you're already familiar with the studio's work. Watsham and co. helped push the envelope with the violent first person adventures, Dementium: The Ward and Dementium 2, then created Moon, another atmospheric title that brought out the best in Nintendo's handheld system.

I nearly failed exams because of late night Turok 2 sessions. Thanks, Jools.

Mutant Mudds, on the other hand, shares little in common with Renegade Kid's previous offerings, where instead of plunging gamers into creepy environments, Watsham and his team developed a sharp 2D platformer that would've been right at home on the NES.

That said, we sat down with Jools to talk 3DS development, the eShop and Mudd's place among the company's history.

Renegade Kid earned kudos for the horror fest, Dementium: The Ward

You guys are best known for the Dementium series and Moon, games clearly designed for older players. What inspired you to create a retro 2D platformer?

Platformers have always been my favorite genre. I think if you ask any of my close game-dev friends, they'll say that Mutant Mudds is the type of game they have expected me to create from the beginning.

Jumping between the foreground and background plays a huge role in Mutant Mudds. Was that part of the game from the beginning? When did you decide to include it?

When we started the development of Mutant Mudds, it was not Mutant Mudds. It was in fact being developed for XBLA! We thought it would be fun to develop a retro platformer for that market. One day, I thought it would be fun to create a pixel version of Max, and it turned out pretty cool. Mutant Mudds was born! But once I got my hands on the 3DS, it was obvious what had to be done. We started development of Mudds for the 3DS, which then led me to think about how we could utilize the 3D, and fond memories of Wario Land on Virtual Boy came to mind.

Mutant Mudds is classic 2D fun.

We've seen 2D platformers on the App Store. Why did you go with 3DS over Apple? What advantages do you have releasing this game on a Nintendo platform?

Buttons.

Was it more expensive to create this game for 3DS as opposed to a smart phone?

Yes. I believe the 3DS audience expects something with a lot of value and play time. Developing a 2D platformer for a smart phone would result in a different game. I think the average smart phone user wants a simple gaming experience for when they have a few minutes for fun. Simpler games typically cost less money to make.

How big is the staff that worked on Mutant Mudds?

Just three. Matthew Gambrell on programming. Troupe Gammage on music. And, myself on art and design.

Help Max collect all the Golden Diamonds, but you better be quick about it.

It's rare to see a developer known for an M-rated series switch to an E-rated game. Does this represent a change in philosophy at Renegade Kid, or will you go back to blood and gore? Can a developer really do both family friendly and adult in parallel without losing its identity?

Our philosophy hasn't changed. We like playing lots of different types of games, so we also like developing lots of different types of games. To date we've developed four different genres (First-Person Shooter, Racing, 2D Platform), and now we're finishing up the development of a 'dungeon crawler' with Planet Crashers. I hope our identity is one of good games.

It seems like time is such an understated element to this game. I didn't know I was being timed until it ran out on one particular occasion. Why didn't you put online leaderboards into Mutant Mudds?

We considered adding on-line leaderboards as well as support for DLC, but the amount of work required to make this happen is tremendous. Our goal for our first self-published eShop title was to create a good game that focuses on the single-player experience and have it launched at the beginning of the eShop's life. This is no easy task in itself, so adding substantial features on top of this would have clouded our goal.

Mudds lets you run amok in the background.

Where does Renegade Kid go from here?

The Nintendo eShop opens up a lot of potential for independent developers. We will be developing more titles for the eShop. We will also continue to forge partnerships with publishers to develop games for 3DS retail titles. We're in talks now with a few publishers. I'd like to think we can devote all of our attention to the 3DS. We'll have to see how well publishers jump aboard with the system now that it is having success.

Mutant Mudds releases Thursday, January 26 at $8.99. You can purchase it through the 3DS eShop.

Mutant Mudds Impressions