[Interviews] A One-on-One with Neil Barnden from Stainless Games

After re-acquiring the rights to their baby, Stainless Games have been working non-stop on the latest game in the violent vehicular-combat series, Carmageddon. We recently caught up with the co-founder of Stainless Games and official chemically-imbalanced nut, Neil ‘nobby’ Barnden for a little Q&A about the new game.

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John: Will you be looking at providing the Carmageddon modding community with any in-house editing tools like you did with PlayThing back in 1998?

Neil: This is absolutely what we intend to do. We’re planning to release a tailored version of our current editing tool, which is basically descended from Plaything, STool, etc. and is called Acolyte. It will allow the community to do exactly the same things that we use Acolyte to do, from preparing a car model for in-game use, to accessorising a level. We’re still discussing what functionality we might add as in-game editing, but whatever we end up doing will also be included in the final game.

John: Are you actively looking for publishers right now or do you want to get your baby up-and-running in case the publisher pulls another sales curve?

Neil: We aren’t desperately seeking a publisher – we’ve got a small team getting on with making the game, and we will continue to do that. If someone out there wants to fund the project, then we’ll always be happy to talk to them. Before things soured with SCi, we’d actually had a good relationship with them through the first two games – in that they were largely hands-off, and we got to make the games we wanted (within the constraints of time and budget). So it wasn’t all bad by any means.

John: Are you planning any of the over-the-top, gigantic vehicles like the Big Dump?

Neil: I don’t think it would be Carma without at least one – and Don Dumpster’s got to have something to make his comeback with a big bang!

John: What are your desired digital distribution platforms and why?

Neil: We currently see the game most probably going out via Steam, just because it’s there and we know it, and we know it works. It’s highly probable that we’d also release on XBLA and PSN too. The reason being simply that we already have a good deal of experience with releasing products via these delivery platforms.

John: Do the team at Stainless ever play any Carmageddon networked games around the office?

Neil: Yes, we’ve been playing regularly while designing Carma:R. We’ve played a lot of MP Carma 2, but the first game seems too finicky these days, and we’ve not had any luck getting any sessions going.

John: Which character, apart from Max Damage would you like to see make a return and why?

Neil: Ahh… The thing is, I’m very attached to all of the characters from the original game, because I had to invent them all, give them names and paint their little portraits. So I’d love to see them all come back! If I had to pick any out as favourites, then I’d probably say Wanda Lust and Otis P. Jivefunk – she’s very sexy and he’s obviously super-cool…

John: Do you have any ambitions to release an expansion pack of sorts, in a similar vein to the Splat Pack?

Neil: We do – and it could be that it’s in a very similar vein to the Splat Pack…

John: What band or genre of music would you like to get for the game’s soundtrack?

Neil: Hmm… Well, I really liked the instrumental Fear Factory tracks we got to use originally. But this is one of the most debatable, personal taste sensitive areas of the game, and I think that right now we’re tending to try and avoid tackling it in a positive way. I could actually see us ending up just letting the player set their own music playing in the background. It seems like it might be the most democratic option!

John: Would you consider continuing with the Carmageddon franchise if Reincarnation proves popular enough?

Neil: I’ve said for years that I’d very happily work solely on Carmageddon for the rest of my career! We absolutely intend to continue – the reason we paid out a hefty sum to purchase the IP rights back was because we want to re-establish the brand, and continue to make Carmageddon games on into our old age, at which point we can be ceremonially taken to a quiet road and run over while crossing it as the assembled witnesses cry, “he was in the war!”.

John: And because I know that Batwick is a Mac man, do you have any desires to release a Mac port of the game like you did with the previous titles?

Neil: Yep. Again, the Steam delivery service handily supports the Mac, and our Beelzebub engine tech ports to any platform. So it’s a no-brainer.

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A huge thanks goes out to Stainless Games for always working so closely with the Carmageddon community and for being great sports, even though they are a bunch of nutters.

I for one am looking forward to playing Reincarnation as soon as I can get my dirty little hands on a copy of the game.

Thanks for reading and good gaming.
~Razor.