Disclaimer: This interview contains some strong language. Anyone who is offended by such content is advised against reading this interview.
What was the developmental process like early on with Conker’s Bad Fur Day during when the game was supposed to be either Twelve Tales or Conker 64?
I was only doing art at that point, and the direction the game was taking design-wise was not something I could influence. We were essentially trying to make a Mario 64 type platformer. It was…. Fractious.
How did you initially feel after being moved up to the project’s leader by the Stampers?
They knew it was what I wanted so they gave me a chance. Seemed to work out, although I think I was expected to fail.
What was it like working with Robin Beanland?
Yeah, okay. We don’t really get along 😉 Nah, he’s always been a talented bastard, unlike me who’s been winging it for years…. I think we get on workwise because we understand what we both want versus the limitations of the medium. It’s important to temper your expectations and ambitions with what’s actually possible. Plus we both like lager and vindaloos. Although age has finally caught up with me on both counts there.
What was the feeling across the team following the game’s showcasing at E3 1998?
Was that the BFD first showing? I remember the TT one being a fucking disaster. The BFD one was as good as it got. Great stand by Nintendo, free beer, most of the team was there too so it was a decent crowd. And no interview pools, which I really hate… There’s nothing like a bunch of bored games journos asking tedious questions for 12 hours straight to break your soul.
What was the revised pitch to Nintendo like when the intention changed to make the more mature game it turned out to be?
I don’t know. I pitched it to Tim and Chris, not Nintendo. I didn’t work for Nintendo; I worked for Rare, but I’m sure some discussions were had. To be honest, if T+C were happy with what we were doing then Nintendo would have been too. Rare was the golden goose at that point don’t forget, and it gave us a good deal of leverage.
What was the feeling across the development team when the project was finally finished after the long development cycle the game had?
We went home for some sleep. Then I went to Edinburgh for the New Year and got completely smashed. I also bought a sword which I then had to carry around all night. There’s a great restaurant on the Royal Mile called The Witchery, it’s basically like something out of Harry Potter. The maitre’de rather than scowl at me and my sword she kindly took it and hung it in the coatroom citing an old rule of no swords in the dining area. (I think she might have been joshing me )
How rewarding was it to see the game garnish as much critical acclaim as it did?
Validation. And relief. I wish we’d have launched in Japan too… I think they’d have liked a pissing, drunk, cute squirrel.
How did the voice for Conker come about?
It was the first voice I did. No process, just came out fully formed on day one…. One of those things I guess, The lisp was to add a curtness that belied the character but apart from that it was spontaneous.
Were there any other references to popular culture that were planned to be included in the game, but never made it, apart from the Pokemon reference?
There were a few levels that got cut, but that was for the sake of time rather than censorship. Pokemon is the only really notable one. There are a few easter eggs though… more than a few. Oh, wait there were two scenes cut from L&R for, reasons. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.
What was the feeling about experiencing the game’s ending for the first time, as it provides such a stark contrast to the comedy perpetuated throughout most of the rest of the game?
I had that ending in mind right from the very start. If we were going to subvert the genre then let’s go for it. I don’t think I agree with the premise of the game being a comedy in a light sense. The game is DARK all the way through, and the laughs tend to stem from the misery and bad luck of others and the unintentional actions of the protagonist. I make it clear right in the very first shot of his eyes on the throne that this won’t end well for Conker.
What would you change about the game if you had the opportunity?
I’ve thought about this a lot. Maybe pare things back a bit to get a lower rating (which actually wouldn’t be as much as you think) or maybe not… It is what it is. I do regret not doing the fake outtakes after the credits, I had that planned quite early on when we’d started experimenting with 4th wall-breaking stuff in the game. Just not enough time, sadly.
How satisfying an experience has it been seeing Conker’s Bad Fur Day being updated for new audiences in the form of both Live and Reloaded and Rare Replay?
Yeah, it gave me a chance to make a PVP combat game which is a difficult thing to get right.. I also added a narrative thread through it as an experiment to a further idea (Getting’ Medievil). I think it worked quite well… They shut the servers ages ago though….. Rare Replay I had nothing to do with… It’s a thing I guess. Sold well, so says a lot about there being plenty of old-school Rare fans still out there spending money.
As it’s one of the most outlandish stories I’ve heard in all of gaming I have to ask; whose idea was it to come up with the Conker’s Bad Fur Day condoms campaign?
Not me. It’s a bit tacky, literally 😉
What new Gameplay elements were planned for inclusion in Conker’s Other Bad Fur Day?
More of the same really…. Who can say? That’s the kind of detail you get to when at the coal face and we didn’t get that far.
Early concept art has since been released on the Internet of the Conker sequel, but what other new types of locations and characters were planned to be included?
About half the game was completely new areas and the other half was updated and evolved areas from the original. The structure was pretty much the same, hub world, then smaller story worlds…. Familiar, extended with a fine blend of old and new.
Have you further developed the idea of a sequel since leaving Rare?
Nah of course not. No point.
If Rare ever called you back to develop the sequel to Conker, would you do it?
Depends on what I’m asked to do. If it’s just to read someone else’s lines then nope. If they want me to write and direct it, then maybe, but it would be a lot of work and cost a lot of money for something so niche. Who can say.. MS has got deep pockets. Risk wise it makes a lot more sense to make BK3 and they haven’t done that either, so go figure.