Grunty's Revenge - Early Beta
Here's another interesting release. This build is far from retail, early enough to get error (bleu screen) messages. We've got footage of Cliff Farm only (yet), but if you remember how the level was like then you'll probably spot quite some differences. Will update this page with screenshots and possibly more videos during the week.
Quote content originally posted by: Paul
Banjo Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge was the first game I worked on (professionally) after joining Rare late 2001. It had already been in development for about 8-9 months before that, using 2D tilemap collisions with 45/90 degree angles on all the walls (some footage of the old version is on the "very early Spaceworld" video footage), but when I joined, work had already started on the overhaul with 3D polygonal hits.
Most of the next year was spent working on Breegull Beach. Once a month, the lead designer & lead programmer would have a meeting with the managers, and would return with the same instructions: the managers wanted to see a 100% complete level. So we spent a lot of time trying to polish up the beach level's tasks, bosses, etc, making changes as requested, until we realised that the project was hardly moving anywhere. If the plan was to have 9-10 levels in the game, something had to change. And so the decision was made to start work on the rest of the levels, and try to get the skeleton of the game intact, with placeholder cutscenes & bosses where necessary. The size of the game was also reduced to 7 levels (including Spiral Mountain), after estimating how much space would be needed for all the maps.
And so work on the other levels began, with flat outlined graphics. Around this time, it became apparent that we were running into serious cartridge space problems. I remember spending almost 2 months editing the compound animated sprites, frame by frame, to reduce the number of smaller sprites that made them up.
Once the designers had the mock-up versions of the levels with the majority of the tasks playable, the artists began painting graphics over the line drawn shapes. Soon the cartridge was full, and more drastic decisions had to be made about cutting out content. There was also a lot of negative feedback about how awkward flying was, mainly due to 2 things: the camera's deceiving perspective, and some scenery collisions going right up to the sky on older maps before flying was implemented (so eg. you'd be flying and hit an invisible wall, because there was a tree below you). So another overhaul began, combining the last 2 levels into one, and removing the flying sections.
The removal of flying also helped with the number of sprite/background priority problems in the game. There were many places where Banjo would appear behind the scenery, because of which background layers the sprite's layer was set to appear between, depending on the ground below where Banjo's shadow fell.
From there, the pace of work picked up pretty quickly, and the game started coming together. A cutscene manager which had originally been written for simple tasks such as "show another location, make a jiggy appear, go back to Banjo" had evolved and was combined with the task system, to run "background cutscenes", trigger events when cutscene objects reached a certain position, show text boxes, wait for input, etc. Almost the entire quiz at the end of the game was based around this idea.
The last 2-3 months of the project dragged on (the game did not have a definite deadline / release date) as more and more petty issues were picked apart. Both the designers on the team were unfortunately told that they were being made redundant as soon as the project was finished, which didn't help team morale, or the dragging development time. Since Rare was known to take people's names out of the credits if they left before the end of a game, the designers managed to sneak their initials into the graphics in the top corners of a couple of the maps! (Nobody at Rare noticed this before the game was out, and somebody mentioned it on a forum.)
By the time the game was released, and the reviews started coming in, we had a good idea what to expect: quite favourable scores, it was a fairly decent and polished game (from the programming side, we felt the main character & enemies' behaviour was there, and that we'd replicated the general feel of the N64 game), but the game was too short - it ends just as you feel you've learnt all the moves and things are finally getting going. The plot could definitely have been less shallow, but there was never much of a script in the first place.
Considering teams at Rare were not allowed to interact with each other, we felt the code was pretty solid by the end of the game, and could've easily been applied to another title (something like Diablo or Gauntlet could've worked well on that engine), but the artists were already on other projects, the other programmer was then moved onto an Xbox team, and I was moved onto the other handheld team.
Looking back, BK:GR had its flaws, but to this day I still have a soft spot for the game, and I'm still as hopeful as every other Banjo fan for a TRUE sequel to the N64 games.