One of the corners of Eurogamer that I was particularly intrigued with was the Carmageddon booth. I managed to pull aside Stainless Games’ Neil ‘Nobby’ Barnden and Patrick Buckland for an interview. In what felt strangely fitting, I ended up interviewing them by some wheelie bins in some obscure corner of the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre. With a strange vomit-like stain on the ground between us, we talked about Carmageddon Reincarnation, what new features to expect, and their intention to bring the legendary splatterfest to Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
What the hell took you so long in making another ‘Carmageddon’ game?
Nobby: The IP of Carmageddon was owned by the publisher rather than the developer. So when we signed our contract with the publisher, they then owned the brand. We did the first two games, and then someone else altogether did the rest of them. We did the original Carmageddon, the Splat Pack, and then another game. We also made the game for the ill-fated Gizmondo, but luckily we’ve managed to bring over much of technology for iOS. That being said, we found that there was still a lot of work to do to make it work.
Why did the publishers part ways with you when you had such a good thing going with the first two games?
Developer-publisher relations. Don’t go there.
This game got off the ground with a lot of help from Kickstarter…
Patrick:We were working on the game anyway, having bought the rights back last year. So we’d already been designing the game. What we then needed was additional funding on top of the funding we already had. We’re a strong company, with all the Magic: The Gathering work. We’ve also done work for loads of other people, with all the profits going into Carmageddon Reincarnation. The Kickstarter helped us really get going with the fanbase, and also helped out with the funding process. It’s part of the jigsaw.
Nobby: It helped us rebuild the brand, and re-establish its identity, because we’ve been out of the loop for several years. The money was obviously really useful.
Patrick: We’ve got lots of good publicity in the sense of getting the brand back in the public eye, and that includes things like the BBC website and the Daily Mail getting on our backs again. Kickstarter helped get the mainstream press talking about Carmageddon again.
Nobby: It’s great to hear that after all these years, we’ve got them whinging about it again.
From your point of view, that’s great publicity!
Another developer using Kickstarter as a platform has recently said that they used it because there’s a ‘lack of opportunity’ in the games industry right now. What do you think of that comment?
Nobby: The thing that we found was that publishers aren’t interested in funding a game unless they end up owning the IP. We spoke with publishers who knew that we weren’t at all interested in giving away the IP. Although everyone was glad to hear we’d won the rights and was really encouraging, they weren’t going to put money into it because they’re after the name.
Patrick: Publishers aren’t interested in many new ideas right now. The industry goes in cycles, and we’re at the end of the Xbox 360 and PS3 at the moment. It’s a trend of the industry that you don’t get new IP’s as a cycle is coming towards its end. Only when new consoles come out do publishers get interested in new ideas again. Even then it’s a plughole out there. That’s why Kickstarter is really really good, if as a company you’ve already got a reputation. We’re known for delivering products, and delivering on time. New startups still have it tough.
With gamers being desensitised to much of the violence in video-games these days, are you looking to recreate that ‘shock’ factor in Reincarnation?
Nobby: It’s increasingly difficult to shock people, and that wasn’t the raison d’etre of the original games anyway. We wanted the games to be bloody funny. We put stuff in them that made us piss ourselves laughing while we were developing the game, and wanted other people to have the same reaction. You’ve got to be pretty damn extreme to shock people these days.
Patrick: The shock that we wanted to do was very ‘Black Knight’ sketch from Monty Python & The Holy Grail. We’re always aiming for black humour, not just SAW-style violence.
Nobby: It’s going to be very violent, but hilariously violent.
Patrick: Body parts will fly and there’ll be a lot of liver. Rivers of liver. You can quote that!
The Death Race game mode will obviously still be there. What other modes can we expect to see?
Nobby: We don’t want to give away too much, but we’re much more aware of how important multiplayer will be. With everyone now playing online, we’re going to maximise the multiplayer fun of the game. We’ll be bringing back the Fox & Hounds mode, where essentially one person is ‘It’, and everyone chases him down and kills him.
Patrick: We want to bring some of that multiplayer experience into the single-player experience as well.
What new weapons and power-ups can we expect to see in the game?
Nobby: There have always been power-ups, and we’re taking that up a notch. There’ll be pick-up power-ups which will give temporary abilities. But we’re also gonna major on every car having a character of its own. The variety of power-ups is going to be vastly improved. Things like accessory-affected power-ups. Like in Carmageddon II, the Repulsificator would fire away pedestrians and opponents, but now we’ve got the ability to do that with street furniture, trees, and the like.
Patrick: If you want to fire a tree at a pedestrian, you can!
Nobby: … and it’s fun. You can do all sorts of other things with inanimate objects that make them interact with pedestrians in a fun way. The power-ups use a scripting language that means that the player will be able to start from scratch on their own power-ups or play around with the ones we’ve already created.
Are there plans to bring it to the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360?
Patrick: We really want to get it out on consoles as well. It depends on additional funding, but we’re working on that anyway. So we’re hopeful it can happen around the same time as the PC version.
Nobby: It’s not like we completely have to re-do all the work to bring them to consoles. A lot of the technology is already there to take it to other platforms. We’re hoping that we can bring it out sooner rather than later.
Patrick: If things go well, we’re hopeful that there’ll be an announcement about it later this year!
Good to hear guys. Thanks for your time!