Back in March, I went to the SXSW event and met some very nice developers. One of them was Rage Squid. I got to play their Early Access game Action Henk, a 2D platforming/speed running game that reminds me of a combination of Joe Danger and Speed Runners. It was one of the best games I played at the event, and it is easily one of the best examples of how to do Early Access right. I got a chance to talk to these talented individuals and ask them some questions!
Cam’s Eye View: Where did the inspiration for Action Henk come from?
Rage Squid: It started a few years ago, when RageSquid got offered to show off a game at a local event. We happily agreed, even though we didn't actually have anything ready. We've always loved skateboarding and that feeling of momentum, so decided to go with a completely physics-based platformer. The ensuing gamejam resulted in the very first prototype of Action Henk!
Cam’s Eye View: Was making Action Henk this fun combination of Joe Danger and Speed Runners the original plan, or did Action Henk start out as something else?
Rage Squid: We've definitely always had a love for games like that, especially Trials. However, most of the inspiration comes from spending a lot of time skateboarding, and getting a good feel for momentum and speed. We really wanted to get that feeling transferred over into the game.
Cam’s Eye View: What made RageSquid want to do a 3D game instead of something 2D, which is what a lot of indie developers do these days?
Rage Squid: It's something that sets us apart from a lot of indie developers for sure, 3D art has always come naturally to us. We're simply not as experienced at producing 2D art, so it seemed obvious to roll with this and see how far we could take things! Nowadays, it's gotten easier to create 3D games too, thanks to tools such as Unity, which we happily make use of.
Cam’s Eye View: Where did the toy theme come from?
Rage Squid: Our artist Gabrian always loved very colorful things, but also wanted to go for quite a realistic style. Since toys are both real and colorful, things moved quickly from there. One of the team members actually bought a giant crate of Action Men, kind of our version of GI Joe, and we decided to fill our office with all kinds of toys from our childhoods. It looked quite a bit like the Action Henk playroom, and I'm sure a lot of that put us in the right mood during hard work! (http://www.ragesquid.com/press/images/security.png)
Cam’s Eye View: Did you consider going to crowd funded sites like Kickstarter before making the game?
Rage Squid: We actually have quite a low burn rate at RageSquid, and have been able to make Action Henk with a small core team and part-time help from a lot of friends. Before making the game, we managed to save some money with work for hire, giving us about a year to get started on the game. I guess we never really needed to do crowdfunding!
Rage Squid: What we wanted to get from Early Access was feedback from people actively playing the game, and community input to really help our speedrunning aspect shine. It's been great for us to figure out the things that work and the things that don't, all while the game is actually getting played by super supportive people!
Cam’s Eye View: With Steam’s Early Access having a rather infamous reputation for overpriced unplayable/unfinished games, and developers acting like a bag of sour patch kids towards negative criticism, was there some concern about putting the product on Early Access? Were you concerned about Action Henk, which is, by the way, one of the best examples of doing Early Access right, getting overlooked with all the rest of the content that gets on Early Access?
Rage Squid: We mainly think it's important to communicate clearly with our community, and be super open about development! Once people understand what they can expect, things seem to kind of run themselves. Other than that, we wanted to make sure Action Henk had a solid core and lots of replayability. That way we could start with a game that's actually small and polished, instead of something huge and broken. That way you can always expand, but the core experience will be fun from the start!
Cam’s Eye View: Since you have put your game on Early Access, and you don’t need to pick any specific examples for this, what would you like to see change about Steam Greenlight and Steam Early Access?
Rage Squid: I just hope Early Access slowly builds up a bit of a better name, and people come to realize there are really some gems in there! Other than that, it seems like Valve are taking things in a good direction.
Cam’s Eye View: What kind of game or games would you personally like to see less of getting on Steam/Greenlight/Early Access?
Rage Squid: The big and broken ones. ;-)
Cam’s Eye View: Any other Early Access games are you excited about?
Rage Squid: There's quite a few, but some of our recent favorites would be Besiege, Kerbal Space Program, and Gang Beasts! Rage Squid: Kerbal Space Program is a load of fun to play, and even teaches you things about space and physics without you even realizing! We love Gang Beasts because it's just a completely ridiculous slapstick brawler that's almost guaranteed to give you hours of fun with friends, and Besiege mainly for its beautiful art style and letting you build anything you can dream up! Cam’s Eye View: Since Action Henk is almost complete, have you gotten contacted by any publishers that would like to put Action Henk onto home consoles? What kind of projects could we see next from you all? Rage Squid: The game definitely lends itself well to consoles, and we've developed most of it with that in mind! We'll hopefully have more news about this in the future!