Battletoads: Exclusive Interview with Paul Collins
We are happy to bring you an exclusive interview with Rare’s Designer, Paul Collins to talk about the new Battletoads.
Disclaimer – This interview was done and recorded on June 10th, 2019 at E3 2019.
Leonid Melikhov: Hey guys, welcome to Gaming Instincts and today we are going to be talking about Battletoads with…
Paul Collins: Paul Collins, I’m from Rare.
Leonid Melikhov: So Dlala is making the game right?
Paul Collins: Yeah we’re working with Dlala and they’re an absolutely fantastic studio. They’re brimming with different ideas for the game that captures the spirit of the original’s and making this an awesome next installment.
Leonid Melikhov: So how long has this game been in development for?
Paul Collins: Probably just over a year so far.
Leonid Melikhov: You guys are releasing this year?
Paul Collins: So we’re not talking about a release just yet. For E3 what we want is to be about, because there are so many awesome things that we can talk about with Battle Toads, we want to make E3 about showcasing the gameplay for the first time. How it’s as awesome as you remember it and making it great for the modern day. Also we’re just showcasing the artstyle as well. Last year, the trailer that was showed was more of a tease and for us now, we want to showcase the characters, the bright and vibrant artstyle.
Leonid Melikhov: Of course, and you guys are pretty confident in what they’ve been doing with the game and the franchise as well?
Paul Collins: We love them. As a Rare fanboy and Battletoads is also my favorite game, some of the ideas they come up with is just bringing a smile to my face.
Leonid Melikhov: Brings a smile to your face?
Paul Collins: One of the things that I really love too is that they’re doing what we’re doing. We’re doing it as a group, they’re doing such a fantastic job of putting in the essence of Battletoads, and with it being a sequel in mind, we wanted to do things differently. Do new things that you expect from a sequel.
Leonid Melikhov: So is this a sequel? If you’re talking about story? So it’s not a reboot?
Paul Collins: No, no reboots. We kind of want it to be the continuation so we’re playing with what the characters have been up to.
Leonid Melikhov: So what made you decide to be okay with Battletoads as opposed to maybe a 3D side-scroller?
Paul Collins: I think that there’s so many different ways where you could have approached it. I think with Dlala their pedigree is in 2d hand-drawn animation. So every single frame you see in the footage is hand-drawn. Each individual frame is perfectly made kind of like from the desk of someone from Walt Disney. They’ve got some fantastic artists and animators there. They kind-of really hark that nostalgia of like watching 90s cartoons. It’s also from a modern-day perspective that CalArts aesthetic is something that is very accessible, very open. A lot of people are interested in that.
Leonid Melikhov: So how was the feedback so far from the people that played it today?
Paul Collins: It’s been great! The screams and the cheers. So far for our demo, we’ve got the combat. So you get to experience the different characters, each of them have a style and class. Zitz is kind of the faster-paced character, Pimple is a slower hard-hitter, and after we got our take on Tunnel so it’s no longer a side-scrolling version. We’ve put the camera behind the toads so you have to kind of like work together to navigate the obstacles.
Leonid Melikhov: Do you think that people maybe preferred the side-scrolling part of the Tunnel instead of this?
Paul Collins: It’s fun. To me, it’s capturing the essence of what made those games great. If the genre was this frantic obstacle-feeling. Doing something that felt kind of new for that particular thing while capturing the essence. It just makes it feel different but also fresh but brings in new players while appealing to the old ones.
Leonid Melikhov: So from what I’ve played, I liked the artstyle for the most part in the 2d section. It was pretty consistent. However if I’m going to be honest with you when I played it today and got to the bike part. The characters look just the way they did in the combat section but for some reason in the background in the bike area, it was a little off. It just felt like either the shading compared to the main characters. It just looked off like it didn’t belong there.
Paul Collins: Do you mean the tunnels themselves?
Leonid Melikhov: Yes, it looked a little bit off to me now. It looked jarring along with some of the obstacles. Of course I’m not trying to be mean.
Paul Collins: Of course.
Leonid Melikhov: But I thought that if there was any improvement, they could change an art style, if you guys have the time, to tell the artists to change the shading or lighting of some parts.
Paul Collins: That’s some interesting feedback.
Leonid Melikhov: Because I actually did do a game back in the day in college when we had 3 months with a programming team with an art team. I’m not crazy good or anything.
Paul Collins: Neither am I.
Leonid Melikhov: That’s just how I wanted to get into the games. Then I realized that game dev is not really for me because of just the way things go in game dev. So I wanted to be a journalist but for my past learnings and education. I kind of have an eye for these things so what I did I did UV’s, I did some texturing and all of that stuff like putting textures on the model and the guns might be a different atrtstyle from the character. I’m sure everyone goes throught that. That’s a normal thing in gamedev big or small. So that’s the only thing that I’ve noticed.
Paul Collins: That’s great feedback yes.
Leonid Melikhov: So if you wanna bring that up to the team, just saying. Otherwise the 2d section of the game where you just see the animations and fighting. I think that looks glorious but the tunnel needs some work.
Paul Collins: That’s great, it’s nice to have good feedback. For the tunnels I do like when you break out into these huge open vistas and they work really well as like a nice rest spot, a nice breather from the moments of the obstacles.
Leonid Melikhov: Yes. If you want after this I’ll show you what I’m talking about if you’re interested.
Paul Collins: Yeah of course, I’m interested definitely.
Leonid Melikhov: Otherwise the levels are pretty good. My most fond memory of playing Battletoads when I was a child was playing with my sister and crying to beg her to play with me. So I just wanted her to keep playing with me. What was it, on the NES?
Paul Collins: It was the NES, it was on Mega Drive as well.
Leonid Melikhov: I think it was NES, but it was so long ago.
Paul Collins: So if it was 16-bit we had Battletoads in Battlemaniacs and we had an arcade version as well. It’s so awesome to be bringing this new one to the Xbox One.
Leonid Melikhov: Of course, the game was so hard. You were a kid back then and you’re trying to get past the level and it was fun just beating the levels. So I think that nostalgia is a really strong drug.
Paul Collins: For sure, and one of the things that’s really cool about this is that you get to bring in an extra friend this time too. So it’s a 3-player local couch co-op.
Leonid Melikhov: Any reason you didn’t want to do four? Is it because there isn’t enough for four players?
Paul Collins: Battletoads is only three characters so we can just put in three players.
Leonid Melikhov: And you have to balance the game around three players?
Paul Collins: What we do also have is drop-in drop-out but for us we wanted to make it an accessible game that you can play single-player. You have the ability to use the d-pad to switch between the different characters in so you can still experience the different toads together, but our Montra is effectively, its fun alone but it’s unforgettable together. We’re looking at every game that makes is good for three players.
Leonid Melikhov: Does the difficulty scale when there’s two or three people?
Paul Collins: So what we’re looking at, we’re kind of looking at it from a challenge perspective and we kind of tweaking certain things to make it feel right for one to three-player.
Leonid Melikhov: What would you like to say to Battletoads fans in general?
Paul Collins: Well, being a massive Battletoads fan myself, I’d love to say that I hope you like the new style, what we’re gonna be giving you, there’s so much awesome stuff there. We’re excited to talk about over the coming months about Battletoads and like I said as a Rare fan, a Battletoads fan. It has me pretty excited.
Leonid Melikhov: How long do you think the game is gonna be in terms of length?
Paul Collins: Again, that’s not really something that we wanna talk about just yet. From a game perspective, it’s gonna be everything that you remember and more for what you expect from a sequel.
Leonid Melikhov: Is this a game that you expect to update or make a sequel to eventually or is this more like a, “you guys have been asking for it, here it is, it’s a one-off?
Paul Collins: I’d say to let time well and we’ll wait for people to talk about it.
Leonid Melikhov: So obviously people have been begging for Battletoads. It’s happened. This question comes up every year and I’m going to ask you this question. You know exactly what I’m gonna ask.
Paul Collins: I’m just guessing which IP you’re gonna ask.
Leonid Melikhov: Oh which IP? If we could be here all day I could ask you about every single IP. Our friend who is a big Rare Nutcase like Jetforce Gemini, Perfect Dark, you got of course Bajo. What’s going up with Banjo.
Paul Collins: Today I’m here to talk about Battletoads so that’s what you’ll get out of me.
Leonid Melikhov: Yeah because I talked to someone a couple years back from Rare and your guys’ thing is that you’re not really doing anything with all of the IP’s as a studio, but you’re outsourcing it and you’re supervising it which is what you’re doing with Battletoads. Do you have a complete run on the development on this game?
Paul Collins: So I’m working full time on Battletoads with Dlala and the team is absolutely amazing they feel like a mini Rare in their own way.
Leonid Melikhov: Well what I’m trying to say that as a company at Rare you’re not all working on Battletoads, it’s more of like a side thing and you helping out a different studio. Because I remember that Rare told me that, “we are a new IP factory, that’s what we do at the core. We are not interested in reviving old IP’s. That’s what I’ve heard, you can go look back in my interviews and maybe I’m misquoting it.
Paul Collins: I think that right now, we got Battletoads, Sea of Thieves, it’s an exciting thing for Rare. So right now we got an amazing game out there called Sea of Thieves and we’re here to talk about Battletoads.
Leonid Melikhov: So this is more of a developer question. As a developer, are you guys interested in the new (Project Scarlett) hardware and what do you think is the most exciting thing for you, is it the new SSD where you’re getting rid of loadtimes. Because I know from a lot of people that they talk about the fact that they’re minimizing loadtimes so much, people can make new game design and make gameplay mechanics that are completely new because the technology wasn’t there before. So how is it for you as a game developer?
Paul Collins: I think it’s excellent, one of the things that I really like is what you’ve said there. There’s so many different things that the new console will potentially offer us and from a design perspective it’s about what can we do different. Maybe some people will take advantage of the loadtimes with specific parts of the hardware and for us, maybe we’ll dive deeper into it at a later date. What can we do that’s different creatively.
Leonid Melikhov: I’m sure you guys’ brains just fired off. Just cooking up some ideas and talking about it with your staff. I think someone told me the way that you guys work at Rare is, you come up with a prototype for the game and then you present it to the higher-ups. If the gameplay loop works, it’s good. Is that how things go?
Paul Collins: It depends on the situation on the game we’re making. It’s a bit hard,I wouldn’t want to say this is what we’re doing for the current game. I think it’s more about the opportunity, the right time and what we can do to allow that thing to become exciting for the people that want to showcase it.
Leonid Melikhov: But you always play around with different things.
Paul Collins: It’s more of in my eyes, it’d be prototyping so if I can use paper or card, even a whiteboard to illustrate potential designs and experiences. To me it would the fastest way to make it a reality.
Leonid Melikhov: I see awesome. What would you like to say about the upcoming next-generational console to be on the way.
Paul Collins: I’m incredibly excited. The Xbox briefing blew me away. I’m very fortunate to come out here, so far I’ve been looking at the briefings and I’m genuinely pumped to be a part of Xbox. We’re really putting the consumers first, Game Pass Ultimate is just such an amazing offering with the price that they’ve set it to. It’s just an exciting time to be a gamer.
Leonid Melikhov: All around for everybody. So how far in advance did you know about Scarlett as a developer, were you told?
Paul Collins: It’s not an area of my domain because I’m just here for Batletoads, Xbox could give you a good idea of it.
Leonid Melikhov: That’s fine well anything you like to say before we leave?
Paul Collins: Yeah It’s been great to meet you by the way.
Leonid Melikhov: Thank you very much.
For other announcement trailers seen during E3 2019, including Battletoads 2019, check out our coverage here.