Playtonic, which is made up of ex-developers from British game developer Rare, has shown off the first in-engine shots of Project Ukulele – a spiritual successor to classic N64 platformer Banjo-Kazooie.
As well as the luscious new shots – which you can see below – the team revealed that they will be taking to Kickstarter in order to raise the funds needed to finish the game, which Gavin Price confirmed was decided upon after the incredibly enthusiastic response following its official reveal. “We honestly weren’t expecting as big a reaction as we got,” Price said during a talk at EGX Rezzed over the weekend. “We’ve had tons and tons of emails – a massive fan response. But it’s good – we want that pressure, we’re really happy with that reception.
He continued: “Up until a few weeks ago [Kickstarter] wasn’t really on our radar, but since we’ve had such a massive response from people – we’re thinking that the game has to become a lot bigger, a lot broader, we want to do a lot more with it now to make people happy.”
Not being an official sequel, the game itself isn’t set to include the classic titular duo from the first game; but the 3D platformer will use the names of its two lead stars as the official title for the game. But they’re keeping both the stars and their names under wraps for the time being. “We’re still sending stupid ideas to each other, and thinking about how much to push the fact that this is a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie,” Price said, when asked about potential names. “We’re coming up with different puns… we’ll get there in the end.
“Apparently the name Halo 5 is taken.”
Designed and developed by old members of the Banjo-Kazooie team, Project Ukulele is set to be somewhere between the size of the original game and its sequel, Banjo-Tooie. The two new animal stars are also set to take better advantage of their abilities, with adventures in much less linear worlds that don’t force players through a specific path. Collectables called pagies will expand, grow levels, or even collect new ones in order to let players decide upon their own route.
“If we needed, we could make the game with a few hundred thousand pounds, but if we can go beyond that we will scale up the game and add features as fans want from us. We could do the game comfortably on £400,000, but if we had more to spend we could, for example, hire a proper QA team rather than beta testing it. And as for ourselves,” Price added, “we’re not taking the best wages in our career right now – we’ve all come down in wages and we’re in a tiny office – it’s cold in the morning and too hot in the afternoon with all the computers on. But it’s kind of how we like it – it’s reminiscent of the early days at Rare in the barn there, in this place that was never supposed to be a development studio but was just a building next to a farmhouse.”
Playtonic is set to start the Kickstarter campaign in May, with the lead-up spent garnering opinions from fans regarding what potential backers would like to see as rewards and extra features for the developers to work on. Playtonic is even interested in exploring the potential for developing Amiibo figurines which would have the ability to work with Nintendo’s NFC technology.
“We’re almost starting a pre-Kickstarter Kickstarter campaign,” Price continued. “We don’t want to force tiers and stretch goals on fans, we’d love to hear if people would like to voice characters, if people want to have early access to the game, perhaps – and this is just a pipe dream – if we can have a boxed N64 copy of the game to really play off the game’s nostalgic feel. So it’s about finding out what people want from us from the Kickstarter campaign and then creating it with that in mind.
“And out of about 500 emails we receive every week, probably about 499 of them are shouting Wii U! Wii U! As a games fan, I’ve been a Nintendo fanboy since the NES days. Most of are fans are Nintendo fans as well. So while we can’t confirm what platforms we will be on – some of that is beyond our control – but we are developing on Unity and we don’t want to leave anyone out. And we’d try to ship simultaneously to make the biggest splash possible when the game comes out.”
In terms of what we know about the game itself already, the answer is: not a lot. The screenshots pretty much tell us everything, in which the version shown at Rezzed this weekend showed a lizard hiding under a plant. Is this one of the game’s main characters? Playtonic have said that revealing the characters at this stage would reveal too much about the gameplay, so probably not. But we suppose that something is better than nothing.
You can view the entirety of Playtonic’s developer session at Rezzed, and the first in-engine screenshots of Project Ukulele, below.