‘Moon’ Interview With Jools Watsham

Q: What is the history of Renegade Kid? How did it all start?
Gregg Hargrove and I first started working together in 1994. We were both “pixel” artists at the time, working on Aero and Zero for Sunsoft. Even then, we talked about starting our own company together. Fast forward thirteen years to 2007; Gregg and I finally form Renegade Kid and embark on our first independent title, Dementium: The Ward for the Nintendo DS.

Q: What drew Renegade Kid into DS development?
I have always been a huge fan of handheld gaming. For me, the Game Boy Advance SP was the ultimate mobile gaming platform, until the DS Lite came out. So, the DS was a natural choice for me. We could build upon our prior development experience with the Nintendo 64, and enter the scene as a developer without the overhead of a “next gen” title, which makes life a lot easier when you’re just starting out.

Q: When developing your first DS title, Dementium, what were some of the challenges faced and how did you overcome them?
The whole project was a massive challenge really. That is what I liked about it. Doing a survival horror is a big challenge, and combining that with a first-person shooter in 3D on the DS just makes it even more challenging. Fortunately, the combination of experience between the three of us: Bob Ives – programmer extraordinaire, Gregg Hargrove – artist supreme, and myself handling the game director, producer and audio roles, we had everything covered. It took a tremendous amount of work, but our prior development experience really made the difference.

Q: How did facing those issues help with the development of Moon?
The effort we put into Dementium really helped the development of Moon. We started Moon with an excellent engine that we were all very comfortable and familiar with. This allowed us to focus on the content of Moon, such as gameplay, story, and art without having to put as much focus on the engine work. Without that head start, Moon would have been a very different game.

Q: For our readers who haven’t been following it, what is the basic premise of Moon?
The year is 2058. You take on the role of Major Kane, who is the leader of a special squad sent to the moon to investigate the recent discovery of a mysterious hatch.

Q: What inspired you to create Moon?
I have always been a big fan of sci-fi. The early concept of Moon started life as a Game Boy Color game many years ago. It was a 2D side scroller at that time. The concept went away into the abyss and resurfaced a couple of times, but never got any real development attention until I approached Mastiff, after we had completed Dementium: The Ward, and presented the idea to Bill Swartz (Head Woof). He loved the idea, and we quickly started development in late 2007.

Q: What are your thoughts on the DSi?
I haven’t got my hands on one yet, but I like the idea of the built-in camera and extra storage capabilities. I think they could add numerous new design opportunities to DS gaming.

Q: It was announced this summer that you’re working on a Wii title. When will we find out more about that project? Can you give us a hint on what to expect from it?
At this time, we’re focused on spreading the good word of Moon. We’ll have more news on our other stuff in the future.

Q: Any chance of making games for non-Nintendo platforms?
Sure, there’s a chance we’ll develop games for non-Nintendo platforms. I really enjoy working with Nintendo, they’re a really good group of people at NOA – they make it easy. Our focus is simple: try to make great games on great platforms. I love playing games on my 360, so making a game for that system would be a lot of fun.