Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bomb Monkey Blasts onto Nintendo eShop

Bomb Monkey Blasts onto Nintendo eShop

Austin, Texas – June 21, 2012 – Today, Renegade Kid announced that Bomb Monkey, the explosive puzzle game, will be available on June 28, 2012 for $4.99 USD through the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS™.

Blok Bombing is a fine and ancient sport invented by a small and creative troop of primates, called Bomb Monkeys. The goal is simple: do not allow the bloks rising from the jungle floor to reach dangerous heights and knock you from your perch.

With an endless supply of bloks and a steady stream of bombs, you can partake in this legendary sport anytime you have a spare moment. Young Bomb Monkeys will learn patience and strategy. Older Bomb Monkeys will sharpen their wits. And, every Bomb Monkey will have a blast!

“We’re thrilled to be releasing our second title on the Nintendo eShop,” said Jools Watsham, Owner and Director at Renegade Kid. “A special feature of Bomb Monkey that I am particularly excited about is the two player mode, which can be enjoyed with just one Nintendo 3DS!”

About Renegade Kid
Founded in 2007 by Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove, Renegade Kid LLC is an independent development studio based in Austin, Texas. A developer of handheld video-games, Renegade Kid is known for its critically-acclaimed titles including the Dementium series and Mutant Mudds.
For more information on Bomb Monkey, visit

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Nintendo 3DS is a trademark of Nintendo. 2011 Nintendo.

To access the Nintendo eShop, you will need a wireless broadband Internet connection. If you do not have the Nintendo eShop icon on the Nintendo 3DS main menu, you will need to perform a system update. See for more information.

Renegade Kid, Bomb Monkey, Dementium, and Mutant Mudds are trademarks of Renegade Kid LLC. © 2012 Renegade Kid LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Sometimes I like to waffle about thoughts in my head. This is one of those times. I hope you enjoy or get something from this...

The first thing I want to make clear is that I do not think that anyone can guarantee success – certainly not me. However, I think there are some things you can do to help you stack the deck in your favor. Just making a good game is not good enough.

1. Quality.
Whether it means you have to work your tail off and/or hire exceptional talent, you must go into the development of a game with the intent and resources to produce a game of high quality. This should be in all areas of game development: design, art, programming, audio, and planning. If you skimp on any area, it is going to show and bring down everything else. Set yourself up for success. If you are unsure of the level of quality that you should aim for; look at similar games and analyze the overall production quality as well as the small details. The magic is in the details.

With Mutant Mudds, I felt confident in my ability to handle the design, art, and planning. If I did not, I would have hired someone else to handle it. Matthew Gambrell is a very experienced programmer, and has a natural interest in all things 2D and platformy, which made him a wonderful member of the Muddy Team. I considered writing the music for the game, but I do not have any experience with chip music. I have mainly worked with samples/synth devices to create music, such as the Dementium title tune. Therefore, Troupe Gammage was a perfect candidate to handle this aspect of the game based on his prior experience with chip music as well as being an accomplished musician in his own right.

2. Uniqueness.
Some people call this the games’ “hook”. My personal issue with using this term is that it puts undue pressure on the hook being extraordinarily important in comparison to everything else involved in the development of a game. A great game is the sum of its parts – not just the “hook”. Nevertheless, you need something a little different about your game; something that you can explain quickly and easily when someone asks about your game. If you find yourself going into too much detail each time someone asks you about your game, you may have a problem. The unique aspect of your game doesn’t have to be groundbreaking or innovative. It just needs to be different than the other guys’.

Super Meat Boy, for example, offers hard-as-nails gameplay and a somewhat controversial theme. This isn’t to say that the game relies purely on these qualities – Team Meat hit every aspect called out in this blog piece – but at its’ heart, it’s easy to explain what’s cool and different about Super Meat Boy. For fun, determine what’s unique about Braid…

Mutant Mudds is a challenging retro-themed platformer that allows your character to literally jump into the background and foreground, thanks to the awesome 3D capabilities of the 3DS. I’m sure there’s a more elegant way of explaining the game, but you get the idea.

3. Familiarity vs. Innovation.
Don’t get caught up feeling as though your game must be 'completely' different from everyone elses’. Sure, innovation is great. Innovation is important. But, I firmly believe that a healthy dose of familiarity can be equally important in regards to connecting with your audience. Let’s take Dementium, for example. When we announced Dementium: The Ward it was immediately obvious that the game was a survival horror experience viewed from the first-person perspective. If you like these types of games, and want to play one on the DS, the only question remaining is, “Is the game any good?” A quick look at your favorite website(s)' review will give you a good idea of the games’ quality.

If you’re developing a game that offers more new elements than familiar ones, like Pikmin, Pushmo, or Pong, it may take a lot more effort to connect with your audience. It could certainly take more words or imagery due to the fact that it is something never seen or experienced before. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just something to be aware of.

Looking at Mutant Mudds, as an example, it obviously offers a heavy dose of the familiarity, but with a 3D twist. This small tweak on the visual presentation and gameplay experience can spark the imagination of the audience and take it from a standard game to a special game. A simple concept can go a long way.

4. Value.
In my mind, value is relative to price. If you’re asking for $40, you need to provide value equal to that of other video game experiences offered for the same price. Not going overboard on content is just as important as providing enough in terms of budget and return on investment. This is a business after all.

Because Mutant Mudds was always intended as an eShop title, I looked at Cave Story, Shantae, and Dark Void Zero for reference in terms of content versus cost. In the end, I felt that Mutant Mudds sat well offering 40 intricately designed, challenging levels for $8.99. In fact, I think it’s a bargain! ;)

5. Awareness.
The more people who know about your game, the more people can buy it. Assuming your game is in –line with the aforementioned criteria, the next thing to do is get the word out. I have found that contacting the press directly via email, whether they are a website or print magazine, resonates very well with journalists. The majority of games these days are handled by internal PR personnel or PR firms, who contact the press and coordinate previews, interviews, reviews, etc. This has many pros, of course, not least of which is the fact that good PR people do an incredible job of presenting games to the press. It is their full-time job, after all. However, if you’re like me, and don’t have a PR rep or firm to call on, contacting them directly can have a positive result.

Make sure you send individual and personal emails to each journalist. Nothing says lazy more than a standardized mass email that has obviously been written in such a way that it can be sent to anyone. Take the time to write a quick and personal email to each person. It makes a big difference. The members of the press whom I have met are all great people. They are gamers who want to play great games. You are on the same side. If you have a great game, you should want to contact them and gush about it. When you do, they’ll feel your passion and look forward to getting their hands on your game.

Independent games, with no PR/marketing budget, can benefit from a long campaign to create awareness from word-of-mouth. I first announced Mutant Mudds at E3 2011. Over the course of six to seven months I attempted to keep the momentum going with interviews, carefully chosen screenshots, previews, video trailers, music tracks, and competitions – anything to keep the name out there and keep it fresh. Print magazines have a long lead time, meaning they need assets a month or two before the actual article will hit the street. Nintendo Power is a great magazine, and I felt it was very important to make sure they had a timely preview and review in their mag. We were lucky enough to have a two-page announcement in June, a full-page preview in December, and a full-page review in January. I think working directly, and respectfully, with the fine folks at Nintendo Power really made a difference. When it finally came to the release of the game I also sent out dozens of download codes to reviewers one week before the games’ release to ensure reviews would be on-line on or before the day of release. The PR aspect of the project kept me very busy, but it was well worth the exposure the game received. Awareness of your game cannot be underestimated.

6. Audience.
Success can be measured in many different ways. One of the ways of measuring success, which is important to me, is the number of people able and willing to play my game. This does not discount the feeling of success, or accomplishment, from completing the development of a game that you’re proud of. But, for me, I need confirmation from other people to convince me that I am not just high on my own jazz-juice.

With that in mind, I feel that it is important to aim for a large audience. Know where that audience exists. Have a good idea of what that audience may like/dislike. Deciding today that you want to develop a mature first-person shooter for the Wii may not be the best idea. The current state of the market, and where you think it’s going, is very important.

We knew the eShop audience was going to be relatively small at the time we intended to release Mutant Mudds. Being a new market, there’s the added risk of no audience there at all. But, considering Nintendo’s history, it felt like a calculated risk worth taking.

I think it is fair to assume some things about the early-adopter audience who is eager and/or savvy enough to be on the eShop within the first year of the market. A large majority of them will be gaming enthusiasts who want good games and not just games with a Spiderman license attached to them. Chances are, they like Nintendo style games. They might even like retro themed games. These are all just hunches. In some cases, you can obtain historical data with some of this information, which can help you determine whether an audience exists.

In summary, you need to look at many different facets if you want to set yourself up for the potential of success. You can’t rely on just one of the things I listed above. You really need to focus on all of them equally if your goal is to get a great game in the hands of the largest audience possible.

Please share your thoughts on this subject. Good luck with your future endeavors.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mutant Mudds Invades EU Nintendo eShop

Mutant Mudds Invades Nintendo eShop

Austin, Texas – June 12, 2012 – Today, Renegade Kid announced that Mutant Mudds, the eagerly anticipated neo-retro platformer, will (finally) be available in Europe on June 21, 2012 for 9 Euro through the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS™.

Our hero, Max, may be just a 2D sprite, but he can leap into the third dimension by jetting between the background and the foreground playfields with his trusty jetpack in this unique dimensionally-woven experience.

Armed with a heavy-duty water cannon, Max has what he needs to vanquish his long-term nemesis: the Mutant Mudds. Max must blast and hover his way across the soiled landscape to seek out mysterious Water Sprites. Legend says collecting all of the mysterious Water Sprites will wash the filthy Mutant Mudds away for good!

“The Nintendo eShop is an exciting opportunity that has enabled us to release our first self-published title, Mutant Mudds,” said Jools Watsham, Owner and Director at Renegade Kid. “The development of Mutant Mudds has been a labor of love for us. We couldn’t be more excited for everyone to finally experience our “12-bit” baby for themselves!”

About Renegade Kid
Founded in 2007 by Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove, Renegade Kid LLC is an independent development studio based in Austin, Texas. A developer of handheld video-games, Renegade Kid is known for its award-winning titles on the Nintendo DS™, including Dementium: The Ward, Moon, Dementium II, and ATV Wild Ride.

For more information on Mutant Mudds, visit

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Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo DS are trademarks of Nintendo. © 2011 Nintendo.
Mutant Mudds, Dementium: The Ward, Dementium II, and ATV Wild Ride are trademarks of Renegade Kid LLC. © 2012 Renegade Kid LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

E3 2012 Recap Write-up and Video

E3 was a blast, as usual. I got to see lots of old friends and meet new friends. I wasn’t able to play many games at the show, due to the many meetings I had, but still got to see some great stuff.

My trip started at Austin airport, where I ran into Nigel from Devolver Digital. Nigel’s a great guy who I first met while working with Gamecock on Dementium. When we landed in LA we shared a cab to the convention center where we parted ways; Nigel needed to meet with the rest of the Devolver team (Mike and Harry), while I needed to pick-up my E3 badge holder.

While I was walking to the convention center I received a text from Corbie, who arrived in LA the day before. We met up at the show, where I picked up my badge holder. We were both staying in hotels on Flower Street that were very close to each other, so we proceeded in that direction. At that point, the show had not officially started.

After checking into my hotel I changed into my Bomb Monkey t-shirt and packed my backpack with the needed supplies for the day: my 3DS, Bomb Monkey and Mutant Mudds swag, and video camera (to create the video below). I was staying in the Ritz Milner, which is a good hotel for the price. I stayed at the O Hotel last year, which is a lot fancier and more expensive. Plus, the O Hotel has the best tater tots!

Day one of the show consisted of making a beeline to the Nintendo booth and two meetings with potential publishing partners. I also ran into the always awesome RMC and Cort from Go Nintendo. Naturally, we met at the Nintendo booth. I captured some footage of these gents, which you can see in the video below. They played Bomb Monkey and gave the impression they had fun with it. They’re either excellent actors or might have actually enjoyed themselves. They posted their impressions here.

That evening started with a pit stop at the O Hotel to grab some tater tots to go! While waiting for the mighty tots, I met up with my partners in crime, Mat Kraemer and Corbie Dillard, at the bar. Fortunately, neither Mat nor Corbie liked the tater tots as much as I did, so I got to polish them off myself while we strolled through LA to our destination for the evening: Onyx Lounge. This is where Sanzaru were having a small get together to celebrate the near-completion of their awesome new game, Sly Cooper Thieves in Time (PS3 and Vita). You can see some clips of our jaunt through the streets of LA in the video below.

The next day started with breakfast at IHOP. Eggs, bacon, etc. My first meeting that morning was with Daan Koopman. He’s a great guy. Even though he forgot to bring Face Racers, we had fun playing Bomb Monkey and ATV Wild Ride 3D. When I track down his coverage of the game, I’ll add it here.

Immediately after my meeting with Daan, I met up with the Nnooo guys, Nic Watt and Bruce Thomson. We chatted about the eShop and all things awesome and independent. I’m really glad I got to meet these chaps, and play some of their goodness on the 3DS/DS. Good guys.

Soon after that I ran into Justin from Ripten, where we decided to go outside the convention center and get some fresh air away from the noise. More Bomb Monkey and ATV Wild Ride 3D fun was had. This is the second year that I have met up with Justin, and it is always a pleasure. He made the cut, and can be seen in the video below playing Bomb Monkey.

Lunch time was upon us! I had arranged a meet-up with Neal Ronaghan from Nintendo World Report. He, and his entourage, met me outside the convention center and we walked to a nearby taco dive and enjoyed burritos while watching cars travel through the car wash. Bomb Monkey was played, fun was had, and much conversing over games was enjoyed. It was a pleasure to meet with Neal, Jonathan, Aaron, and Guillaume. NWR’s impressions (from PAX East) are here.

The rest of the day consisted of two more meetings: one with a potential publishing partner and one with Dan Adelman from Nintendo. Dan handles the eShop side of things amongst other delights at Nintendo of America. I first met with Dan last E3 where I showed him the three level demo of Mutant Mudds. This year I showed him Bomb Monkey and ATV Wild Ride 3D. We chatted about lots of new goodies coming to the eShop in the future and a multitude of top-secret things that I must keep to myself before they are announced by the big N. Meeting with folks at Nintendo is always a pleasure, and this was no different. Dan’s meeting room was bloody cold though! Perhaps this was to counter Dan’s love of all things spicy? More on that later…

After our meeting we exited the meeting room to discover the show had ended for the day and most people had been cleared off the show floor. While making our way out of the Nintendo booth, Dan introduced me to Tommy Refenes, who programmed/designed Super Meat Boy with Edmund McMillen. Naturally, I shared some of my Bomb Monkey and Mutant Mudds swag with Tommy and Shannon Gregory, who is also from Nintendo (and Tommy’s girlfriend). They were both great and delightful to meet.

The evening plans included a gathering at the Figueroa Hotel, but quickly turned into a long taxi ride to Torrance for some Japanese Curry. $60 dollars later, we finally arrived in Torrance and at CoCo Ichibanya on Sepulveda Boulevard. The food was great. I got a blend of #15 with #17. It was delightful. Their spicy scale goes from 1 to 10. Being my first time, I went with 2, which was mildly spicy. I think I will go with 3 or 4 next time. Dan “Iron Mouth” Adelman went for spice-factor 10 and scoffed it down like a pro. Other splendid peeps at the dinner were Tyrone Rodriguez from Nicalis, Chris Hoffman from Nintendo Power, Robbie and Ted from n-Space, Brian from Disney Interactive, the Corbster, and Neal and co. from NWR.

Day three started, again, with breakfast and some more bacon and eggs. The Corbster and I met up at the Original Pantry Café on Figueroa and 9th. I also ran into my good friend, Kynan Pearson, while we were exiting with the Café – he was entering – just a quick hello. He is now working on Halo 4 at 343 Industries.

I wandered around the show a bit that morning and met a bunch of cool people, including the awesome Victor Lucas from Electric Playground. We always seem to run into each other. He's great. I also met his co-host, Scott Jones. He's great too - and very tall! On my approach to the Nintendo booth, again, I said hello to Jessie Cantrell from the Nintendo Show 3D. She was lovely. I also met Adam Sessler. He was cool, but not quite as lovely as Jessie – but did have a nice hat! I checked out Castlevania on 3DS (very nice) and Retro City Rampage on Vita (very nice), where I ran into my good friend David Levy. It was great to catch up with him. Awesome and talented guy (worked on concept art for Tron and Prometheus, to name a few – amazing!) I also got my hands on some Zen Studios slippers courtesy of Bobby Loertscher – thanks Bobby!

The rest of the day was taken up with an off-site meeting, which finally ended and got me back downtown that evening in time for a meet-up at the Figueroa Hotel again. I met up with Tyrone, Corbie, and a host of other good peeps, including Craig Harris of IGN fame. Craig and I first met many moons ago in the Nintendo 64 days. Where did we run into each other this year? Yeah, in front of the bathroom. Lovely locale. It was great to catch up and chat about his new game, Aliens: Colonial Marines. The night ended with the Corbster and me hanging out at the JW Marriott bar snacking on sliders and drinking beer. I ran into Nick Chester of Destructoid / Harmoix fame, and also saw Tommy and Shannon again!

E3 2012 was a great show. I wish I had more time to play more games, but I appreciate the fact that I got to see so many good people. E3 2013 can’t come quick enough. I wonder if it will even be in LA next year!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

E3 2012

Today is Saturday, June 2, 2012. It is 7:45am. I woke up about an hour ago. On Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 9:35am I will be on a flight to Los Angeles for the video-game industry’s largest event of the year: the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). I am excited.

E3 is a strange and awesome event that satisfies many senses. The size of the event, held at the LA Convention Center, is big! Taking up two large halls in the convention center, separated by a long concourse, you are guaranteed to get some exercise over the three days of the show.

Every major player in the video-game industry is present, in some form or another, whether it is with an overly-impressive booth or they’re walking around carrying their wares to share with anyone interested (that’s me). If you ever wanted to know where to go to find someone in the industry, this would be the place. But, without a scheduled meeting, it might be difficult to find them in the sea of thousands of industry folk.

I always find myself making a beeline for Nintendo’s booth each year. They usually have something new and exciting to show, and this year should be no different. With last year’s unveiling of the Wii-U, E3 2012 marks the moment the new console must impress. Now that Nintendo’s 3DS handheld has finally proved its value to the world, all eyes are on Nintendo’s home console.

Each year I schedule meetings with press and publishers. I meet with the press to show off our latest games, and I meet with publishers to forge partnerships in the hope of releasing new games. Very few decisions are made at E3 in terms of funding new ventures, so it becomes social up keeping more than anything else. However, as we head toward a more independent era with the dawn of digital distribution, it is interesting how that dynamic is changing – at least for us.

This year I will be showing off Bomb Monkey and ATV Wild Ride 3D on the 3DS. Bomb Monkey has been submitted to Nintendo for final approval, and will hopefully be released in June on Nintendo eShop (fingers crossed). ATV Wild Ride 3D is a few months away from completion. I hope to capture some video footage of people enjoying the multiplayer mode of Bomb Monkey at E3 for a trailer I’d like to release around the time of the games’ release. We’ll see how that goes. :)

My favorite part of E3 is seeing my friends and meeting new friends. To have an event centered on your favorite hobby, and to be able to geek out about it with like-minded friends for three days is not to be understated. It is a time to forget about the bills and all of the other worries of everyday life and share in the joy of video-games with pals. Consuming alcoholic beverages in the evenings while discussing the games of new and old at – what have become – familiar haunts in LA is something that never gets old.

By the end of Thursday, June 8, 2012 I will be tired; tired from walking, talking, and drinking far more than I do in my normal life. It will be a bittersweet moment filled with happiness for the chance to relax, and sadness with the realization that it is all to be over again. And then I’ll look forward to E3 2013!