Playtonic, the promising ex-Rare developers behind Project Ukulele, have been interviewed by The Guardian. There’s a wealth of information contained within the interview, especially about Rare of the past and of the present. Interestingly one of the former staff members says that Microsoft gave Rare more freedom than they had with Nintendo. You can read the full interview, right here.
“I still chat to them, I know what they were working on when I left last year,” says Playtonic’s studio head, Gavin Price, who worked for Rare for 20 years, having joined as a tester in the 1990s. “It sounds really good.”
“I want them to do well,” says Price. “They’re mates and we left them behind to come and do this. I’m looking forward to what they’re doing next – people will be really happy to see it.” Asked whether it would be a Kinect-focused title, like the studio’s other recent projects, he replied: “I can’t say for sure what they are or aren’t doing with that piece of hardware that Microsoft isn’t supporting much anymore.”
The team has also talked about including a vast range of non-player characters in Project Ukulele, who will then star in their own spin-off titles. Intriguingly, they have even expressed an interest in working with Rare again in some capacity. “You never know, there are some good old mates of ours down the road, they may might want to do a little multi-studio collaboration,” says Price. “We’re just going to be open minded. We’re not trying to look too far ahead. We’ll make the right decision when we get there.”
“For me, it was more about [Rare founders] Tim and Chris Stamper leaving,” says Playtonic technical director Jens Restemeier, who worked at Rare handling handheld conversions of key titles. “There was no sense of progression about what the company was going to do from that point on. The story people want to hear is that Microsoft came in and destroyed everything. It wasn’t like that. They gave us freedom, almost more freedom than Nintendo gave us.”
We were all overjoyed to know that a batch of former Rare developers were hard at work developing their own spiritual successor to the classic Banjo Kazooie. We know that the team is called PlayTonic and you can follow their Twitter account here. PlayTonic have revealed that the 3D platformer will be coming to PC and also consoles. The team told EDGE magazine that “There’s been so much pent-up passion for doing something like this, because we’ve all been sat on a lot of these ideas since Banjo-Tooie came out,” We should get more information on the game soon, but for now be sure to check out the concept art.
Former Rare games coder and Nyamyam co-founder Phil Tossell has claimed that Nintendo were once “quite envious” of Rare’s technical ability and artistic design within their hit games. After becoming a second-party developer for Nintendo in the early ’90s, Rare had success with Donkey Kong Country, Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Starfox Adventures to name but a few, though it was Banjo-Kazooie that really kicked up a storm on the N64.
According to a RetroGamer interview, Phil Tossell, while working at Rare, said Shigeru Miyamoto often visited the studio regularly and heard a startling rumour that Nintendo revised their textures on Zelda after seeing Rare’s game development.
“Nintendo were often quite envious of us. I got the feeling they thought our games were technically and artistically superior to theirs. Miyamoto would visit regularly and I heard a rumor they redid all of the textures on Zelda after they’d seen our work on Banjo-Kazooie because our game looked better!”
Phil Tossell, a former programmer at Rare who worked on notable titles such as Donkey Kong Country and Star Fox Adventures, has openly talked about his experiences after being taken over by Microsoft. Tossell says that the company were initially determined to create titles that gamers had always expected from the company, however Microsoft told them to make the games they had always made for an audience that basically didn’t want those types of games.
“We were being asked to make the games we’d always made for an audience that didn’t want those sort of games. The reason we did Black Widow, Crackdown and aged up Kameo was because we were trying to bridge that gap but Microsoft wouldn’t let us.”
Creative director of Rare, Simon Woodrooffe, has stated that he wants Kinect Sports Rivals for Xbox One to stand the test of time the same way Nintendo’s Wii Sports and Mario Kart games have. Much like Wii Sports, Kinect Sports Rivals features sports-based mini games like soccer and bowling. The title, which was recently delayed from this holiday season to Spring 2014, is the follow-up to 2010’s Kinect Sports. Woodrooffe said he hopes gamers are still purchasing the game along with an Xbox One console for years to come. Here are the director’s full comments on the matter:
“We think–well, we hope–that this is the sort of game that’s still one of the first things that anyone who buys an Xbox One gets even two or three years from now…sort of like Wii Sports and Mario Kart for the Wii.”
Rare studio’s Simon Woodroffe has told The Official Xbox Magazine that there’s a possibility the company will revisit one of its older franchises after it’s done working on Kinect Sports Rivals. Woodroffe says the developer has got numerous ideas for Kinect in Perfect Dark, Banjo Kazooie, Viva Pinata and other historic games. He also said that Banjo is very popular internally and that the staff would love to do something with the series.
“When we launched Kinect obviously there was a big focus on ‘everything must be Kinect,'” he said in a behind-closed-door chat at the show. “Now it’s in the box, use it where it make sense, don’t where it doesn’t. It can be used in some really – not gimmicky ways, which is what I think you’ll see a fair amount of – but ways that actually really enhance the game. We’ve got some ideas for how to use it in the right way.” Which might even be in a new Perfect Dark.
“Maybe! We’ve got an idea for that. It would be controller plus Kinect. We’ve got ideas for most older Rare IP, you won’t be surprised to hear. There’s quite a lot of desire to do that, and Viva Pinata, Conker… Banjo’s very popular internally, a lot of people want to do stuff with Banjo.”
“So if we can find the right – we’re all about giving people new experiences, that’s what we want to do. It’s a very technical studio. I’m relatively new, what I’ve learned is they’re brilliant at technology, they really know how to make creative things out of technology.”
“We want to find that thing that nobody’s ever done before and make a game out of it. We should be inventing new genres, inventing new ways to play. And this sensor gives us new opportunities to do it, with the fidelity it has now.”
Conker’s Bad Fur Day director, Chris Seavor, has revealed that Microsoft mistakenly thought they owned the Donkey Kong franchise when they purchased Rare back in 2002. The information came about when Seavor was asked where the Xbox One’s equivalent of PlayStation 4 exclusive Knack was. Seavor then told the tale about Microsoft and Donkey Kong. Here’s what he had to say.
The current generation of ‘enablers’ won’t even know they own the IP… Here’s a true story.. When Rare was first bought by MS a group of execs came on a tour.. One of them noticed the Donkey Kong. ..Posters everywhere and said.. ‘Hey that’s great.. We own Donkey Kong right??’ ………/massivesigh