Diddy Kong Pilot
Updated November 5'Th: Download ROM Now in our Beta Section!
Today we've got quite an interesting one, it's Diddy Kong Pilot. I bought this cartridge from a fellow collector about 3-4 months ago, back then I didn't know it was unreleased nor much beta, I just wanted to obtain some items from Rare. I'm not sure how far it is in development though.
I decided to contact a couple of former employee's I know and hear what they could say about the development cycle of the game. The information is quite interesting as well.
I want to thank both Paul and Jens for sharing the information to go alongside this page. I will update this page throughout the week with screenshots, pictures of the cartridge, etc.
ROM Release: November 5Th
Quote content originally posted by: Jens
The original design brief was a mix between racing and adventure sections, a bit like pilot wings with the flying sections from diddy kong racing. A key feature was going to be the tilt control. You were meant to hold the GBA like a steering wheel, and management was quite keen on doing something like that FMV shooter Iridion 3D that was released on GBA.
We found quite early on that the concept was highly inappropriate for the hardware, and that the tilt control didn't work even remotely as well as management imagined.
It was originally going to use Mario characters as well as DKC characters. 2-3 month in we had a prototype, and while we on the team saw nothing but problems management always insisted that it was going well. Sigh.
Around the time of the Spaceworld version we got feedback from Nintendo which pretty much covered my concerns: Tilt is not working well, a racing game with planes is pointless if you don't have a 3D world, the GBA's LCD is not well suited in situations where the GBA is not held perfectly in line with a light source, etc. Instead of doing the sensible thing of cancelling the game, or allowing us to drop tilt and make a game more in line with the hardware capabilities we got scheduled to get it finished by October. To do that we still needed multiplayer, finish off racing and implement dozens of adventure levels that would all require individual programming. Additionally we had several people from management micro-managing us into different directions, disregarding any hardware or cartridge space limitations.
Around October the first designer and the artists were taken off the team. The artists were merged into the Sabrewulf and Grunty's Revenge teams, the designer was made redundant. The other programmer and me joined the team led by another designer, and we continued under his lead. All the adventure elements were dropped, and only the racing sections remained. Additionally we eventually removed the tilt control.
The designer was a lot more senior than the first designer, and was able to deflect a lot of the bullshit and micromanagement. We got most of the game implemented by about May-June the next year. Unfortunately this was when management started to spend most of their time on the sale of Rare to various publishers. Nintendo had a version of the game, but because of all the work involved with the sale of Rare, and with other projects they were involved with, we didn't get a response from them for a long time. They ultimately decided against publishing it.
Around the time when we had to sign new contracts with Microsoft I confronted Chris Stamper about the game and its future, and I was eventually allowed to start a new game (Battletoads GBA) while DKP was waiting for Nintendo's decision.
The designer left Rare around October that year, and shortly after that DKP was shelved. A few months later it was restarted by another team as Banjo Pilot, who went through a total rewrite and a voxel version until they finally took my last version and changed the sprites into Banjo. I hope that helps.
Quote content originally posted by: Paul
I did not work on the original Diddy Kong Pilot, but after Banjo Pilot (3D version) was cancelled we were given DKP to reskin. I think I put some comments on an earlier video, about how difficult it was to get it running again. Another youtube user (Jenserer) who put quite a few more comments than me, was 1 of the main programmers on the original version.
Development cycle-wise, we realised how difficult it would be to get the old project set up and building again, and figure out how it worked, and being our big headed selves, decided to rewrite it from scratch. We started on a flat mode7 prototype, then one of the programmers on the team (Rob Ware) was playing with a voxel demo so we decided to make the 3D version based on that.
5 months in, we had the game mostly playable - I was working on bosses and I think the last few weapons were being implemented. We estimated around 1 more month before it could go into QA. Then, out of the blue, we just got told to stop working on it, reskin the original project, and that they wanted it done in 1 month's time.
Not a chance - it took 1 month to just get it building & running again (with lots of help from Jens, who we had to keep pulling off Perfect Dark Zero to show us how to get things compiling, converting, etc). The game was pretty unstable, and we spent about 5 months changing the graphics and bugfixing. We couldn't get any music changed as the musicians were all busy on the Xbox 360 launch projects, so the game went out with DK style music in, I think there are even still monkey sounds in the "results screen" bgm.