MakinGames are set to release their long awaited Raging Justice in a few days time, as such, we took some of their time beforehand to fire over a few questions.
Xt: For our readers, can you explain what Raging Justice is all about?
Raging Justice is a classic beat ‘em up game of epic proportions, dragging the savage charm of the genre kicking and screaming into the 21st century!
The city is in chaos! Crime and corruption is at an all-time high, with thugs wreaking havoc on every corner. It’s up to you to punch, kick and brawl your way through the deadly streets, to bring those punks to justice.
Xt: Having worked in the industry for a good while now, including working at Rare, how challenging has it been for just the four of you to craft this game?
Tough, it’s been one hell of a journey making the game, we come from a AAA background so wanted the level of polish to be what we’re used to shipping, but with such a small team working part-time around day jobs and family it’s taken a lot more effort and a lot more time!
Nic “Making a whole game without the support of a good sized team, or company with a shared-technology or R&D department has been challenging. We’ve each had to cover many more areas of development than we have previously had experience with. From a code point of view it’s only me, so any bugs, any problems, any new features to support, there’s just one person to implement it, no delegating tasks, no palming off the less exciting work to a junior. On the flipside, I can say I know how the game works, I know every aspect of the codebase as either I wrote it, or I’ve tweaked it, to make Raging Justice what it is today.”
Steve “What made working on Raging Justice so enjoyable was the complete control I had over the musical style and sound effects. No meetings, notes from Producers, or ‘sound like this’ musical directions. I’ve been lucky to work with the other ex-Rare developers on this game who all have one thing in common, and that is to leave each person to their own devices. A lot of trust is put in the art, coding, design, and audio, so that person can bring their own style and experience without watering it down. We often bounce ideas off of each other, and I’d send musical snippets of a track I was writing, or voice of a new character. I usually find that the first musical idea you have after seeing a piece of concept art or test level is the right one. Apart from that solo acoustic guitar track I wrote that magically kept on disappearing from the game each time I put it in. I took the hint.”
Jay “It’s been quite challenging because in most games companies as an artist you tend to specialise in one thing – character modelling, environments, animation, concept art etc. For Raging Justice I produced all the art myself and this meant working in areas I wasn’t very experienced in and learning new skills.”
Anna “I’m from an Industrial Product Design background so I’ve been able to use many of my skills in supporting the team. It’s still been a steep upward learning curve though; setting up a business, securing funding, getting onto console, planning exhibitions, designing merchandise, finding a publisher… Thankfully the team are so talented and experienced that you know they are going to make a fantastic game providing the pressure is taken off them to get on with what they do best!”
Xt: With a release date finally locked in place, how are you feeling?
Nic “Nervous, to be honest, releasing something like this is much more personal than any other game I’ve worked on. I’ve been involved in every aspect of it, so it’s much more ‘my’ game than anything I’ve ever worked on, this means I’m probably going to take any criticisms a bit too much to heart. I know, they always say ‘don’t read the comments’, but I can’t help it!”
Steve “Really excited and happy that it is coming out. This game started small, something I did in my spare time, and eventually grew to be something a lot bigger than we initially started out to make. I have promised myself a trip to a fabled all-you-can-eat Cheese Buffet that I’ve had my eye on for the last few months if the game does well. It’s in Bangkok, so please help my cheesy dreams.”
Jay “Excited, relieved, exhausted!”
Anna “So excited I can’t sleep! The feedback we’re getting so far has been amazing so I can’t wait for launch.”
Xt: We first met back in 2015 at EGX. Myself and Mark got some hands on time with Raging Justice back then and it seemed pretty impressive. How much has changed since then?
Back then it was a race against time to get Raging Justice finished and launched before our third child popped into the world. We were so close but didn’t quite make it in time so we spent a year really polishing and tweaking the gameplay, the hit boxes, the timings, just about every aspect of the game. I’m so glad we took a step back because it gave us time to reflect and produce a much more polished and rounded game. We teamed up with Team17 as our publisher and added features our fans had been asking for – a new game mode and a new character, adding a whole new dimension to the gameplay! You’ve got a new way to play through the story as the new kid, Ashley, and the new ‘brawl’ mode which is a pretty hardcore experience (One Life, Survive as far as you can).
Xt: Raging Justice appears to pull that classic much loved brawling formula into modern day gaming, was this always the intention?
We are huge fans of the 2d side-scrolling brawler, it was probably our favourite game style in the arcades of the 80s/90s, and we really wanted to embed that nostalgia into every aspect of the game, from the art style, sound and the co-op gameplay, to the characters and their attacks. Trying to tie in the classic gameplay with a modern, fresh, feel has been tough, but we took the approach of working from our memory of the classics, rather than analysing them too much… We wanted it to play how you remember them through the rose-tinted spectacles of a console gamer, with all the expectations that brings, rather than directly copying how they actually played.
Xt: Roughly how long do you anticipate the game will take to complete?
Our QA, who are now adept at the game, estimate that a full 100% takes about 8 hours, this is getting all the achievements, hitting all the challenges and beating all the levels to open up the alternate endings.
A single playthrough of the story can last about an hour or two, which fits perfectly into the way we expect the game to be played, it’s a guilty pleasure, a game you play in place of watching a ‘pop-corn movie’. In a single evening you can blast through the game with a friend and feel accomplished, no grinding, no need to drag it out over a few nights.
Xt: Let’s talk player count; will the game support online and/or local play?
For launch, we’ve focused on two-player couch co-op. We’ve always planned on adding online later, and this is still our hope, assuming we have enough demand!
Xt: In terms of difficulty, how tough have you made Raging Justice?
We decided early on that we’d have three difficulty levels, and this way we could cater to a wider audience. The ‘Wimp’ difficulty is for those who just want to play, to blast through the game and have fun. ‘Normal’ is a good challenge, one that will take a bit of practice to master, where you have to be on your guard as the enemies are a little smarter. ‘Tough’ is a challenge a No-holds-barred challenge. To complete ‘Tough’ takes a lot of practice, a lot of careful play and is for those who really want to test themselves to the max.
This ignores the BRAWL mode… there are no difficulty settings on ‘BRAWL’… just one life and up to nine waves of baddies or bosses to fight. This is where the wheat is separated from the chaff.
Oh, and you still find it too hard? Maybe try one of those cheat-codes you remember from ‘back in the day’…
Xt: The classics were renowned for being heavy on the replay value. Will there be much replay value in Raging Justice?
There are a few ways we’ve tackled replayability in Raging Justice. First up, make the game fun to play. A simple aim, but if the game is fun then you’ll want to play through again! We’ve made the controls responsive, added changes in pace and scattered fun elements throughout each level.
You’ve also got choices in how you approach the fights with arrest warrants sent out at the start of each level. Choose between playing by the book, dazing and arresting your foes to gain health or take the law into your own hands, arm yourself and deliver a devastating style of justice. With hordes of enemies surrounding you, will you be a good cop or a bad cop? How you play changes the rewards and ultimately the ending.
We have also added five challenges to each difficulty, and to each Stage. To get all 50 achievements you’ll have a lot of work to do!
Xt: We have seen the game grow over the last few years; new characters, neat extras and more recently a new playable character. What are your plans post launch?
Post launch plans start with a well earned holiday! We’ve worked our socks off to get here, and it’s about time we had a break! But seriously, we do plan on supporting Raging Justice for as long as we can, we’ve plenty of ideas (including the aforementioned online play), things like characters, new modes, tweaks to the gameplay and other little tidbits that we don’t want to spoil just yet. Suffice to say, if we can justify it, we’ll be on this game for a while longer.
Xt: How many modes will the game have at launch?
Two; Story Mode and Brawl Mode.
Xt: Do you hold hope for a sequel?
Oh yes, we’ve learned so much over the course of this game, and have so many ideas that we could take to make something that’s possibly even better than Raging Justice, building on the foundation of this game and taking it to a whole new level.
Xt: Do you have a favorite character and/or enemy?
Nic “For me it’s Rick Justice, he may be just a guy, but I love his cheesy action-cop style and weighty punches.”
Steve “The rat that lives under the trash can. It took me ages to voice his varied little squeaks. Also, you can kick him at an enemy and he’ll whizz through the air and knock them over. Favourite Boss is the Circus level Boss. He’s so sneaky with his ground slam moves and has a knife throwing evil shoulder mounted accomplice.”
Jay “I think my favourite character has to be Rick as he was the first finished character I made and is what kicked off this whole journey. For the enemies I like the trench coat guys – they have quite a lot of variety in their moves and abilities – counter punches, throwing dynamite, and they can grab you so you never quite know what they are going to do.”
Anna “I usually go for the big beefy guy in games because the women are usually fast but weak. In Raging Justice Nikki breaks the mould as she is well balanced as a character. With her military background she’s got some great moves and knows how to pack a punch! I loved her from the moment we met.”
Xt: What would you say sets Raging Justice apart from its classic peers?
The most obvious things are the unique art style, the fast responsive controls and extra depth and complexity of sound.
Jay Howse has taken art inspiration from games such as Killer Instinct and Donkey Kong Country. The pre-rendered style has a retro feel that fits a 2D game but works on a modern HD TV.
Nic Makin has pushed the genre with tight responsive controls and attention to detail that makes it feel just right for console.
Steve Burke has used the a diverse range of instruments and the latest technology to create a soundtrack and sound effects that use surround sound, putting you right in the action with every meaty punch and kick.
But further to that we’ve got new layers of gameplay like the arrest move, we’ve got challenges, we’ve got new modes, and we plan on supporting it with even more new content after launch. This isn’t a classic that’s a statue of a game, it’ll be an evolving game with new things added over time.
Xt: Team17 was an excellent choice to partner with given their experience and diverse portfolio. Was this an easy decision to come to?
We were lucky to have a choice of great publishers but Team17 were a perfect fit for us. They are a local company that we’d already heard were great to work with. They are all passionate gamers with in depth knowledge of the market and understood us, our game, and the challenges we faced straight away. It’s been great to be able to draw on their experience and support. Raging Justice is a better game for their input and they’ve taken a huge weight off our shoulders with the launch!
Xt: If you had to pick one boss from the game to take on in a real life fight, who would it be?
Nic “… I wouldn’t pick any… I’m too much of a wimp in real life… but if I did, probably the first boss, he is a bit slow so I’d just run away and hide!”
Steve “The Biker Boss. He could teach me how to ride a motorbike as penance for beating me up. Then I could sign up for the T.T. races on the Isle of Man.”
Jay “I’d pick the circus boss as he/they would be easy to confuse. Maybe you could play them off against each other”
Anna “I’d choose the bar brawl brothers. If I bought them a few pints they might pick a fight with each other instead, anyway with all that running back and forth they’d pass out eventually ;0P”
Xt: Do you have any words or advice for independent developers that are just starting out?
Nic “Don’t quit your day job until you can afford it! Also, don’t do what we did and take years to make your first game! Do some quick, small games, and grow from there! Go visit local dev-meet-up’s. Most cities will have a group of game developers or people studying game development. Find a group or start one, chat with peers, learn from each other.”
Steve “Lot of variations for the music, the more tracks and diverse the better. Come up with your own style and approach, don’t follow what has come before, so people will identify your music and sound effects style with each game you work on.”
Jay “Don’t give up – there have been a few points in the development of Raging Justice where I thought we might never finish it but we stuck with it and here we are!”
Anna “I was nervous about joining the game dev community but everyone has been so welcoming and helpful. It’s great to have been the newbie and now be in a position to pass on some advice to others, although the markets are changing so fast you never stop learning. My best advice is to be brave and network. Go local developer meetups. You are made to feel welcome no matter how shy you are or how little prior experience you’ve had. No amount of research will come close to what you pick up from chatting to other developers. Then once you’ve got a game together take it to shows. Start with the smaller cheap, or even free events so you can get feedback. You’ll get to know other developers in the same situation, as well as fans who will egg you on when progress is slow. It’s so important to have a support network around you because finishing a game isn’t easy!”
Xt: Thank you ever so much for your time. We wish you the best for launch. Before you go, do you have any last words that you would like to share with our readers?
May 8th. LET’S DO SOME JUSTICE!
Editor’s Note: Those of you that have been enjoying Xbox’s Games with Gold title Streets of Rage, and want something akin to that but much more modern, Raging Justice should certainly be on your radar. Check out the latest trailer at the head of this page to get a firsthand look.