7 min read

Interview: Gluing Together Rocket Riot

We talk to Dutch developer Codeglue about its experiences creating intriguing Xbox Live Arcade title Rocket Riot for THQ, why they chose 800 Points ($10) as a price point, making the game in XNA, and more.
[In this interview, originally printed on Gamasutra sister downloadable console game site GamerBytes, we talk to Dutch developer Codeglue about its experiences creating intriguing Xbox Live Arcade title Rocket Riot for THQ, why they chose 800 Points ($10) as a price point, making the game in XNA, and more.] Next week's Xbox live Arcade release is Rocket Riot, a collaboration between developer Codeglue and publisher THQ. It's a unique-looking multiplayer-centric game -- here's a trailer video -- that involves little legless men flying around and shooting each other dead. Now, we speak to Codeglue about developing for the Xbox Live Arcade, what makes Rocket Riot different to other titles on the market, and what it was like to use Microsoft's XNA codebase to develop an online multiplayer title. Who are you, and what is Codeglue? Peter de Jong: I’m one of the two co-founders of Codeglue and most of my time I take care of the business side of things. During the development of Rocket Riot, I was responsible for the production of the game, in other words I was the producer. Maurice Sibrandi: I am the other co-founder of Codeglue, and in daily life I act as the technical director for Codeglue’s game projects. During the development of Rocket Riot, I supervised the programmers on the project, including Henry Falconer, lead programmer of the game. PDJ: Codeglue is an independent game developer from Rotterdam, The Netherlands. In the mid-nineties, Maurice and I developed several CD-i games for a small Dutch game developer, a job which we really enjoyed. So back in 2000, we decided to get back in the games industry and started our own company called Codeglue. At first we worked from our homes, where we started developing games for mobile phones. Later we got our own office, an attic (I’m serious), and hired our first employees. Now we have a team of ten and shifted our focus from mobile games towards games for digital download platforms like XBLA, Playstation Network, WiiWare and the Apple iPhone. Yes, the Apple iPhone is still a mobile phone, I know! MS: Maybe you know us from CD-i blockbusters like Christmas Crisis or Christmas Country… Nah, probably not. But maybe you play some games on your mobile phone and have you come across one of our games. Mobile games we have developed include Monkeyball Minigolf, Love a Lemming, various versions of Worms World Party and HydroTilt XL, our latest iPhone game that comes included with a level editor. So tell us about Rocket Riot. PDJ: Rocket Riot is Codeglue’s first XBLA game. It is a side-view shooter featuring a bazooka-wielding jetpack soldier. Hell yeah! The game has a highly stylized 8-bit era feel (because that’s the kind of games Maurice and I grew up with), but it is still clearly a next-gen title. Players have to blast their way through pixilated environments against enemies or multiplayer foes online. These environments are completely destructible and will randomly uncover special power ups to upgrade (or downgrade) your bazooka. Other features of the game: 80 single player missions, 4 multiplayer modes (local and Xbox LIVE) and an insane co-op mode.
What makes Rocket Riot stand out from the crowd? MS: Pick-up-and play controls are a big thing for us. We want all our games to have easy controls, so that they will appeal to a broad audience. At least in theory, we don’t test our games with 80 year-olds yet, honestly. For Rocket Riot we kept things as simple as possible. We only use the two analog sticks on the Xbox controller. The storyline in the game is quite bizarre. Stealing the legs from everyone? What was the process of coming up with this story? PDJ: Actually we didn’t intend to put in a story line at all! The legless characters all started with some silly artwork the lead designer of the game, Sander van der Vegte, had drawn. We all thought this was a cool idea, but there never was a story behind it. (Stealing legs happens a lot in the Netherlands, no stop! don’t believe that). I think it was halfway during the development process when THQ asked if it would be a [good] idea to add a storyline. The problem with that was we already had drawn and designed all the levels, which had different themes which didn’t relate to each other at all. The only thing we could do was create a totally absurd story and hope it would work. Funny enough, it did! So far it has been received brilliantly. I really have to thank our twisted designer Joost Peters for this one, who came up with this story.
GB: The game appeared to be finished for quite a while now – how long has the waiting period been for you? Do you have any say on when the game will be released? PDJ: The waiting period for us has approximately been 9 months, which certainly is a long time. But this hasn’t been due to the notorious certification process with Microsoft only. We have developed Rocket Riot using Microsoft’s XNA 2.0. This has been a great technology for us to make the jump to a console platform like the Xbox 360, but we knew we were taking a risk when choosing this technology, as it hadn’t been fully developed yet. And because our game uses all the Xbox 360 features so extensively, we had to wait from time to time for the XNA team to catch up with our own development. That said, the XNA team has always been very responsive to our requests and we’ve always had their full support during the development of Rocket Riot. The most important thing now is that game has been certified and will be released very soon now. Unfortunately, I can’t give you an exact date yet, that’s part of the launch procedure. What I can tell is that the date has been chosen by THQ and Codeglue out of a few available timeslots give by Microsoft, so you definitely have some freedom there. This way you can make sure you are not up against heavy competition.
GB: Do you have any plans for additional maps through DLC? PDJ: Whether we are going to have additional maps through DLC is going to depend on how well the game does. If it does really well we might choose to go that route. GB: Has a price point been decided and what process did you go through to reach the final price? What kind of influence does Microsoft have on the price of your game? PDJ: Yes, a price point has been set! The game is going to cost 800 points. So there is your scoop! Microsoft does have some influence on the price point, but they will generally take our lead. Together with THQ we came to the 800 points price point after having discussed all the pros and cons. We basically decided to go for the “great value for money” route instead of releasing it at a higher price point. The game is filled to the brim with cool features, and it only costs 800 points, this should make it a very good deal we think. GB: So what’s next for Codeglue? Will you continue developing downloadable games? PDJ: Definitely! We feel the digital download space offers independent game developers like ourselves great opportunities to develop the cool and fun games they want to create. It’s here where we can experiment with new game design ideas and new visual styles. For us XBLA is just the starting point, from now on we aim to bring our games to more of these platforms, like WiiWare and Playstation Network.

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