Head inside to read our exclusive interview with Rob Maher, the developer behind Rex Rocket. We ask his thoughts on the eShop, Streetpass & Miiverse and he also tells us what he would do if he was Satoru Iwata…
What is your background in gaming; What games and systems have had the greatest impact on you?
I’ve been a gamer as long as I can remember. The first gaming system I ever played was an Atari 2600 in my grandmother’s basement. She had an awesome little collection of the Atari’s best titles (Frogger, River Raid, Defender II, and Pong, to name a few). Soon after, my Mom got my older brother and I our very own NES. My imagination ran wild when I was introduced to the NES; I think it’s what really instilled a passion for pixel-art in me from a young age. When it comes to what system has had the greatest impact on me, I’ll always say the SNES. During the 16-bit era, my parents choose to break off from Nintendo and purchased a Sega Genesis (not something I was happy about). While the Genesis was an awesome machine in its own right, I always really wanted to play the games for the SNES. Since I could only play at friends’ houses, the SNES always left me wanting more. Today, the influence that the SNES left on me is apparent in games like Rex Rocket and Blossom Tales. Rex Rocket is the 16-bitish Mega Man game that I never got to play as a kid, and Blossom Tales is the Link to the Past that I just couldn’t get enough of.
What one game inspired you to get into video game development?
Canabalt, an amazing auto-runner Flash game for the PC created by Adam Saltsman, is what gave me the game development bug. At the time it came out, I was a front-end developer working for a local advertising company and I had never seen any other Flash games that struck me like this one. I quickly researched Canabalt and discovered the Flixel Framework. Flixel is an awesome and powerful 2D framework that is capable of making any 2D games you can imagine. My first game was a fun little platformer called Mysterious Mayhem (http://www.robertmaherdesign.com/MysteriousMayhem.html). I’ve had compelling urge to develop my own games ever since.
You’ve nearly reached your $6000 Kickstarter goal. Once this is reached which platform(s) is your priority?
While our primary targets for Rex Rocket are PC, Nintendo, iOS and Vita, we are still aiming to bring Rex Rocket to Ouya and Linux. We’re developing with XNA, so Rex will most likely see his first downloads on PC and Xbox Live Indie Games, but from that point onward we will be porting to as many platforms as possible. I can’t speak for the rest of the team, but personally, Nintendo is my first priority. Being raised on Nintendo, the platform holds a special place in my heart and would be a childhood dream come true to play my own game on any of Nintendo’s devices.
We posted our stretch goals a few days ago to reach the other platforms but we didn’t set one for Nintendo. We felt like a stretch goal wasn’t needed to bring our game to Nintendo as it’s something we dead set on making a reality.
We have discussed a release date of January 2014. This would be the initial release, so what time-frame could we expect to see the 3DS & Wii U versions?
Depending on how the process goes with being approved by Nintendo to become developers, I’d say that there’s an excellent chance that you’ll be seeing Rex pop up on 3DS and/or Wii U by Spring 2014. Hopefully this will happen sooner than Spring; we’ve already begun researching the steps to bring Rex to Nintendo and should have more info in the coming weeks.
Outside of implementing the touch controls of the two Nintendo systems, have you considered using either systems unique features such as Streetpass or Miiverse?
We are definitely taking StreetPass and Miiverse into consideration. While there are no concrete ideas yet for utilizing either, Tyler and I have begun to discuss implementing these two exciting features. High scores, player comment nodes, and replays are all on the table and we have a few more surprises in store.
Porting your previous game Blossom Tales to Nintendo’s platforms has been mentioned. Do you think you would go down the Kickstarter route again?
Absolutely! Kickstarter is an amazing platform for bringing your concepts, ideas, and dreams into the world and we can’t thank their staff enough. When we move onto development for Blossom Tales, a Kickstarter campaign will be on the roadmap.
How has your experience so far, working with Nintendo been? Is there anything you would like them to change?
As I said above, we are still in the early stages of bringing Rex to Nintendo. So far we’ve been heavily researching all the intricacies that come with publishing to a Nintendo platform, and we’re happy with what we’ve found. My only gripe is the high cost that it takes to obtain a dev kit, but this is really the only downside I can think of. During the past couple months, Nintendo has really taken some big steps forward in opening up their platforms to indie-devs and it’s looking more attractive than ever to us.
What do you think to the eShop?
I think it’s the best thing since sliced bread for Nintendo. With the recent lax in their policies on indie-devs, it seems like Nintendo is putting their best foot forward, and we want to dance.
Is there any advice you would give to any other indie developers out there unsure about bringing their game to a Nintendo platform?
Do your homework! If you had asked me a year ago what I thought about Nintendo’s handling of indie developers, I would have sadly said that there is much to be desired. Recently, and after a good bit of research, in my mind Nintendo has really pulled a u-turn.
On NintendoEnthusiast we have a weekly featured called The Score where we ask our community a question and poll their responses – If you were Satoru Iwata, what would be your first plan of action?
Great question!! If I were Satoru Iwata my first order of business would be lowering the barrier of development for indie-devs. I know in the past couple months I’ve heard rumor that Nintendo has been giving out free dev-kits, so I would expand this practice (or discover an alternative that didn’t require a dev kit).
Lastly, which 3DS & Wii U games are you looking forward to in the future?
Megaman 5, Zelda, and Ducktales reboots!!!!
Thanks to Rob for taking some time to answer our questions, we wish you the best of luck with the development of Rex Rocket, and can’t wait to get our hands on it!