Interview With David
Jared: Can you tell me a
little bit about how Sucker Punch got
David Stiner: Sucker Punch opened its doors in October
of 1997. Our focus from the beginning was an N64 title, and our first three
months were spent prototyping the engine used for Rocket. We demonstrated
that prototype to Nintendo in February 1998, which was when we were admitted
to the Authorized Developers Program.
Jared: Can you give me some
general information about your company (where you're located, # of employees,
DS: Sucker Punch is a 15 person company located
in Bellevue, WA. Just 5 minutes from NOA corporate
Jared: How did you come
up with the name "Sucker Punch"?
DS: We wanted a distinctive, catchy and fun name.
Sucker Punch had been kicked around as a code-name for one of our developers
projects a few years ago, and he suggested it. After double checking that
www.suckerpunch.com was still available, we we had our
Jared: If you have one,
what would you consider your "company
DS: Create original, high quality, character based
Jared: What was your motivation
in developing your first game for the Nintendo 64, instead of the Playstation
DS: PSX was out of the question immediately because
the CPU wasn't powerful enough to run our Fun Physics engine. The Dreamcast
wasn't a solid choice either because at that time nobody knew how well it
was going to do -- as compared to N64 which had already been out for some
||ROCKET: ROBOT ON
Jared: Can you give me a
general description of the gameplay in Rocket: Robot on
DS: It's a classic action-platform game in the tradition
of Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. We've mixed in a unique blend of vehicles
to ride in, like the hot-dog shaped "DuneDog", and a reasonable dose of problems
for the player to solve, becuase we didn't want to make a game which was
exclusively a button masher.
Jared: How long was Rocket:
Robot On Wheels in development?
DS: We started with a small team about 2 years ago.
The full team was staffed up around October of last year, and it took us
about a year longer to complete it.
Jared: Rocket is certainly
an unique game; what would you say some of the influences on the design team
DS: As you can surely tell from the gameplay, Mario
64 and Banjo-Kazooie, as well as other similar games like Croc, had influences.
We also talked a lot about games like Lemmings, Day of the Tentacle, and
Crash Bandicoot as titles which had elements we really
Jared: What part of the
game was the hardest to develop?
DS: Rocket himself was a big part of our work. Getting
his controls tight, getting all his moves in place, tuning things like the
freeze move. There's just a lot to do for the main guy -- and really you
can't afford to make any mistakes in
Jared: The physics engine
is universally regarded as being fantastic. How did you guys acheive this
level of control and immersion?
DS: Thanks! We are really pleased with how much
we were able to bring to the N64 with the current engine. Certainly the
engineering of the engine was a key part to making the game feel right. Secondary
to that was the Tractor Beam on Rocket -- which opened up a lot of opportunities
and at the same time made things simpler.
Jared: How many hours of
gameplay will the typical gamer find in Rocket: Robot on
DS: We expected about 30 hours of gameplay for an
average gamer, but our final round of beta testers found that number to be
enough to get to the FIRST ending, but not enough to get to the SECOND ending
Jared: Why should a platform
fan pick Rocket: Robot on Wheels over other big N64 platform games this holiday
season like Donkey Kong 64 and Rayman 2?
DS: Don't get me wrong -- we love Rayman 2 (another
Ubisoft property!) and expect DK64 to be good as well. But we think Rocket
offers the most NEW ideas -- building your own roller coaster, freezing your
way across a pool of water, a secret 'food fright' level full of monsters
and marshmallows, and a ton more surprises. All that with the Fun Physics
engine underneath -- you may find other platform games a bit
Jared: How were your relations
with Rocket publisher Ubi Soft? Will they be publishing future Sucker Punch
DS: We've enjoyed working with Ubisoft on Rocket.
We are in discussions with them about future titles right
Jared: Rocket: Robot on
Wheels is certainly a promising first game. What's next up for Sucker
DS: We're already hard at work on the designs and
the next generation of our engine... You can expect something special from
Jared: What are your thoughts
on the upcoming gaming systems (Dolphin, PS2, X-Box), as well as Sega's
DS: We are excited about all of these platforms--we
feel like we are in a great position to exploit the added graphics and CPU
power which these systems will offer. At present we don't have specific plans
on any particular system, but stay tuned.
Jared: Finally, what
platforms are you currently considering development for in the
DS: Sort of a repeat of above, we are excited about
all the next generation systems and expect to have narrowed our focus in
a few months!
We'd like to thank David
Stiner for his time. For more information on Rocket: Robot on
Wheels check out www.playrocket.com, and also check out NGF's