Started as a private project, Rag Doll Kung Fu received a lot of attention as an old school beat'em up that made the most fun use of rag doll physics. We walked to programmer Mark Healey about his source of inspirations and future ambitions.
4Players: RDKF does not only have a very different gameplay system than any other Beat'Em Up, it has a totally different look. Where do you get your inspiration from?
MH: Well, the gameplay side of it was inspired by a little demo I played ages ago, I think it's called Stair Dismount, where you get to push a rag doll down some stairs. I played with that for ages.
With the graphics, I liked the idea of using sprites, which are often thought of as old school technology – the thing is, graphics hardware has moved on since the days
when most games used this is there main engine method – blurring for example, is easy – I wanted was to achieve a nice depth of field effect, and have a nice "soft” feel to the whole thing – I really hate the way most 3d polygon engines have all these hard edges, it makes everything look like cardboard to me. I liked the kind of dreamy effect I achieved.
|Creative Rag Doll Gameplay: You are not restricted to a limited set of moves but can make your character perform nonsense tricks.|
4Players: Why the mouse control? Why not using the classical Gamepad system?
MH: Well, if I had gone for a more traditional gamepad system, it wouldn't be Rag Doll Kung Fu, it would be like any other fighting game!
The thing I really like about the game is that you can "act" – remember, you aren't limited to fighting, people can be creative with the character.
4Players: Have you been surprised by the grade of attention your game received?
MH: Well, yes, totally! This whole thing started as me and some Friends making a silly film one weekend, in the park behind my house – I just thought it would be funny to make a quick game to go with it. Of course, it didn't turn out to be that quick, making a whole game is quite a task, but somehow I stuck at it.4Players: How is the distribution via Steam working out for you?
MH: I think it was the best thing that could have happened to be honest, thanks to Valve, my game reached a far bigger audience than I ever expected. And now it's being boxed, and sold in real shops, something I definitely didn't expect.
4Players: As far as we know you taught yourself coding just for this game. How difficult was that for you?
MH: Well, that's not strictly true – I taught myself to code a long time ago, when I was at school – I had a Commodore 64 - and I loved that machine more than any since. My first game was released by Codemasters, on cassette. It was called KGB super spy, and wasn't very good, but it was a foot in the door. After that I stuck to the graphics side of things, but have always coded a little bit here and there, just for fun really. I did however teach my self C++ for Rag Doll Kung Fu.
4Players: What went totally wrong in the development? What are you going to do definitely different the next time?
MH: Well, there lots of little things that I would do differently now, just from the experience of coding a decent size project,
I've had my wrists slapped by real programmers for duplicating code too much, but I suppose the biggest thing was deciding to put multiplayer in, very late in the dev process – retro fitting network code needs special ninja like characters, luckily, I have friends that are just that!
|Mark's friends served as role models for ninja like multiplayer charakters.|
4Players: Can we expect more solo-projects of yours in the future?
MH: Well, not in the foreseeable future – I'm working closely with some friends now, as a proper team, the next game is much more ambitious than Rag Doll Kung Fu – and requires more hands on board to make it!
4Players: What was more fun: developing the game or shooting silly videos?
MH: Well, shooting the videos was much quicker, and we really had a laugh, but there where some moments when coding the game, that really made me laugh, such as the first time one of my AI characters walked across the screen, quickly ate lot's of mushrooms, and was sick everywhere. That's a tough question.
4Players: Is there any chance that we get to see RDKF on other platforms as well? Wouldn't the Nintendo DS be a perfect platform?
MH: Well, I won't rule it out – I don't really have the time to pursue this kind of thing at the moment, but Nintendo did approach me, and I'm keen to keep that door open – I have a lot of respect for them.