In this day and age, there may be nary a recreation that does not end with a post-credits tease to tee up a sequel or spin-off. There may be all the time a tantalisingly free thread or Easter Egg hidden within the DLC hinting at an extra instalment. It might be an excessively daring circulation, even though, to call your sequel and without delay reference it in a recreation that hadn’t even launched but.
Uncommon’s three-D platformer Banjo-Kazooie used to be arguably the primary credible challenger to sq. as much as seminal Nintendo 64 release recreation Tremendous Mario 64. With huge, vibrant three-D worlds to discover, a solid of loveable characters and a splash of British naughtiness in its humour, it changed into a quick favorite with lovers. It additionally completed with perhaps the most efficient sequel bait in online game historical past, with the titular endure and chook taking a well-earned ruin on the seashore after their journey prior to shifty shaman Mumbo Jumbo displays up with a suite of animated polaroid footage appearing innaccessible spaces you ‘overlooked’ with secrets and techniques which might be used within the subsequent recreation.
The crew should were assured in what they’d, however used to be Banjo-Tooie—the bold follow-up which introduced in North The us on 20th November 2000—in fact at the playing cards prior to the primary recreation even launched? “Sure it used to be,” confirms Gregg Mayles, clothier on each platforms, “however most effective as a reputation and us in need of to incorporate the ‘Prevent n’ Swop’ pieces that shaped a hyperlink between the 2 video games. What Tooie would in truth be had no longer been considered at that time!”
“There used to be a good response to what we confirmed publicly,” says head programmer Chris Sutherland, one in every of a number of Banjo veterans that might pass directly to discovered Playtonic Video games and recapture the Banjo spirit within the Yooka-Laylee sequence. “There have been a number of concepts that by no means made it into the primary recreation, so it looked like the practical factor to do to transport onto a sequel. One of the vital crew originated from DKC video games so in many ways it reflected how we might rolled immediately onto DKC2 from DKC1… I assume it additionally places Banjo-Kazooie right into a shortlist of “video games that (effectively) introduced the identify in their sequel within the recreation”!”
The moody 2nd act
From the very starting, Banjo-Tooie feels darker—a bit extra unhealthy, rather less forgiving—than the former recreation. It is nonetheless very a lot a fairytale romp however from the off Tooie leans into Brothers Grimm-style darkness. Bottles (bespectacled, move-teaching mole and stalwart buddy to the protagonists) meets his loss of life by the hands of Gruntilda within the advent cutscene, and mere moments after making the pleasant Jinjo King’s acquaintence, he is reworked right into a shambling zombie by means of the vengeful witch.
“It used to be planned,” Mayles says of the vintage ‘darker 2nd act’ way. “We didn’t wish to do the similar factor once more as the primary recreation and we would have liked to marvel avid gamers. I don’t suppose someone would have anticipated us to kill off probably the most major supporting characters and I will consider us guffawing after we plotted Bottles’ downfall. There have been some beautiful darkish and mature components to the tone that we attempted to stability out with our sense of humour, I feel my favorite used to be when Bottles’ circle of relatives used to be asking about him and Banjo needed to fake he didn’t know the mole used to be not more.”
Bottles’ angelic spirit lingers the place he fell out of doors Banjo’s space in Spiral Mountain, and a devilish adjust ego used to be supposed to go back within the canned Bottles’ Revenge mode which might have allowed a 2nd participant to take keep an eye on of NPCs.
“I assume we had been seeing how a lot amusing we may have with the characters and worlds,” says Steve Mayles, head artist and brother of Gregg. “While you’re creating a sequel there’s a herbal development of items I feel, you wish to have to push the envelope a little extra. Bottles were given what used to be coming to him anyway, he used to be beautiful anxious in Banjo-Kazooie!”
That relatively grimmer tone influenced the musical route. “I feel I simply felt that it used to be a darker recreation,” composer Grant Kirkhope tells us. “The degrees had been indubitably much less jolly then the primary recreation. In truth I used to be just about left to my very own gadgets by means of this time, I feel Gregg Mayles had in spite of everything grown to accept as true with me …. ha!” Having established himself in Uncommon’s luminary solid of composers, Kirkhope used to be more-or-less left to his personal gadgets at the sequel. “I don’t suppose I needed to make any adjustments to the track on Tooie, the ones items had been all my first concepts.”
Design tasks on Tooie had been shared between Mayles and Steve Malpass, freshly-promoted in his first design position. “I began in QA as maximum wannabe designers did at Uncommon again then, so Gregg used to be coaching me up at the activity,” he tells us. “[Gregg’s] earlier assistant clothier had left the crew to go up DK64 and he wanted a substitute.”
Any other large recreation that got here alongside whilst we had been making it used to be Steel Equipment Cast, which we beloved. Video games simply gave the look to be rising up a little.
The sequel’s bleaker tone and expanded ambitions had been influenced by means of developments and titles of the day. “Tooie used to be supposed to be extra of an journey and no more of a platform recreation than Banjo-Kazooie,” Malpass explains. “There used to be a want to make the environments really feel interconnected and a part of some better international, therefore why you’ll most effective succeed in positive spaces in a single degree by means of getting access to them from some other. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time got here out on the finish of 1998, whilst Tooie used to be nonetheless in early construction, which most effective subsidized up that concept.”
“So with that further degree design complexity additionally got here a relatively extra grown-up tale, even supposing it used to be nonetheless supposed to be humorous and enchantment to every age. The route used to be all all the way down to Gregg however I indisputably consider agreeing it used to be find out how to pass. Any other large recreation that got here alongside whilst we had been making it used to be Steel Equipment Cast, which we beloved. Video games simply gave the look to be rising up a little.”
Setting out to design
With two designers on the helm and concepts left over from the former recreation, there wasn’t a large number of pre-production. Tooie used to be extra of a ‘get caught in’ undertaking, particularly for Malpass who used to be studying at the activity.
“First of all we had been bobbing up with concepts for duties, puzzles, degree options, and so forth. That stuff all the time got here first, with the worlds designed to house them, by no means the opposite direction round. Gregg had numerous stuff for the primary few worlds left over from Banjo-Kazooie so he did the extent design for the ones. Then he confirmed me the way it used to be performed and I were given thinking about that, so the design of the worlds in the second one part of Tooie used to be extra of a joint effort. Degree design looked like a little of a gloomy artwork to start with so it felt like an actual success when my stuff made it into the sport. Even though I discovered it tough initially, with numerous laws to remember. It used to be all performed on paper as maps and sketches again then, adopted by means of numerous iteration with the surroundings artists. You couldn’t simply temporarily construct a ‘gray field’ degree like you’ll in Solidarity or Unreal now.”
Even though fashionable titles and consoles are way more advanced, progressed equipment make the duty of making a online game a lot more user-friendly in this day and age. Again within the overdue ’90s, designers at Uncommon had been the usage of the N64’s controller itself—one in every of console gaming’s maximum ‘Marmite’ of pad designs—to interface with the editor.
having to create one thing like a digital camera spline with an N64 pad after which tweak it to make the motion really feel life like used to be rather a chore
“We shared the setup paintings the usage of the clunky in-game editor (with an N64 pad!) to position collectable pieces like track notes, invisible volumes (triggers for characters, cameras, and so forth.) and such,” explains Malpass. “Fashion designer equipment had been in most cases a ache to make use of as a result of there have been no established equipment for us as there are actually. All of the equipment for Banjo had been written by means of a programmer at the crew, with scant regard for usability as their time used to be higher spent at the recreation itself. So having to create one thing like a digital camera spline with an N64 pad after which tweak it to make the motion really feel life like (e.g., the Saucer of Peril experience) used to be rather a chore, as such issues are a lot more straightforward with a keyboard and mouse. Just about the entirety that concerned the usage of that editor used to be a faff, in reality.”
Because the veteran of the pair, Mayles had the general say on design components. “Nearly the entirety went via Gregg, so in the long run he determined what ended up within the recreation, which used to be nice for consistency. However he used to be all the time particularly reasonable at choosing what he idea used to be perfect for the sport, irrespective of who got here up with it. There used to be most effective the 2 folks as designers on all of the recreation, so the paintings used to be very various and I discovered an enormous quantity in a slightly couple of minutes, as you’ll believe. It used to be daunting, as a result of there used to be so much to be informed, but it surely used to be additionally amusing and slightly enjoyable, as I recall.”
The flip of the millennium used to be a in particular fertile time for the Twycross-based studio, and Uncommon had a bevy of high quality platformers on its books. Donkey Kong 64 introduced in November 1999, Tooie launched a 12 months later in North The us (despite the fact that it would not arrive on Eu shores till the next 12 months) and Conker’s Dangerous Fur Day introduced only a handful of months after that. That is loads of vibrant three-D platforming from the similar corporate at the similar console in a slightly quick area of time.
“Having a look again it kind of feels an totally peculiar factor to do… it indisputably wouldn’t occur in this day and age!” says Gavin Value. “I will believe there used to be a good bit of shock among some groups about transport titles shut to one another – I used to be in QA so no longer in reality uncovered to what each and every groups opinion at the topic is also… I feel it more than likely brought about extra competition issues than advantages within the long-run unfortunately.”
At the moment three-D platformers had been so well-liked I don’t believe we had been excited about having a couple of examples of the style so long as they prominent themselves from each and every different by some means.
Uncommon’s follow of isolating groups throughout its notorious ‘barns’ naturally created some festival. “I am not in reality certain we considered that on the time,” recollects lead surroundings artist Steven Hurst. “In the ones days each and every crew labored in relative isolation and competed towards each and every different to expand the ‘perfect’ video games – a wholesome competition in case you like. I do consider in truth that we modified BK to be extra of a ‘right kind’ three-D recreation (very similar to Mario 64) after seeing the paintings that the Conker crew had been doing. Up till that time BK used to be extra comparable to a three-D recreation taking part in in a 2D aircraft with a hard and fast digital camera. Converting to an absolutely three-D recreation gave us extra gameplay alternatives. At the moment three-D platformers had been so well-liked I don’t believe we had been excited about having a couple of examples of the style so long as they prominent themselves from each and every different by some means.”
Secrecy across the tasks inevitably generated rumour and gossip across the studio. “Grant [Kirkhope] used to be all the time a perfect supply of gossip,” recollects Malpass, “because the musicians tended to be concerned with a couple of tasks. However Gregg, being any individual [joint studio head] Tim Stamper more than likely relied on maximum, were given to play and comments at the different video games periodically, so he knew most commonly what the opposite groups had been as much as.”
“Uncommon used to be famously secretive,” Steve Mayles remembers, “and that incorporated different video games being made within the corporate. Many of us at the crew wouldn’t have observed a lot (if the rest) of DK64 and Conker. With Banjo Kazooie, we’d created a recreation that gave the look to be universally well-liked, so there used to be no reason why to suppose the sequel wouldn’t be gained simply as properly, irrespective of what different video games had been being launched. Additionally, I feel Banjo-Tooie had a unique sufficient id when seen towards different Uncommon platformers.”
Uncommon used to be famously secretive, and that incorporated different video games being made within the corporate. Many of us at the crew wouldn’t have observed a lot (if the rest) of DK64 and Conker
The groups had been clearly mindful of this confluence of high quality three-D platforming and made tweaks to present them other flavours. ‘Twelve Stories: Conker 64’ and its bushy-tailed protagonist had been famously restyled into the foul-mouthed squirrel we all know and love who ended up having a Dangerous Fur Day.
“I consider being acutely aware of the brand new route and that their humour used to be very in-your-face and ‘mature’, in comparison to Banjo’s, which is extra refined and weighted down with innuendo,” says Malpass. “The gameplay of Conker used to be very other too, depending closely on film references and set-pieces, so it appeared sufficient of its personal factor. DK64 used to be being lead by means of George Andreas, who used to be Gregg’s no. 2 on Banjo-Kazooie, so Gregg used to be a lot more thinking about overseeing the design of that. A few of our artists had been serving to out on it from our development too, so we were given to look bits and items and had been properly conscious there have been issues in not unusual.”
General, Uncommon’s segregated way produced some spectacular effects. “You on occasion get to look some other crew’s recreation,” remembers senior artist Ed Bryan. “It used to be all the time amusing to look what the others had been as much as. I feel we labored on the concept the video games had been other sufficient, with their very own mascots and their very own roughly genre, that avid gamers would wish to play they all. Inside the crew it used to be all the time great to look different stuff because it helped to focal point what you had been doing; you’ll see how others have approached artwork issues, design issues, that form of factor. It assists in keeping you for your feet!”
Steve Malpass concurs. “It simply created a little of pleasant competition and motivated us to take a look at and make our recreation as excellent as lets. There will have been issues upper up concerning the similarities however they had been one of the vital types of issues Uncommon used to be famend for, so I don’t consider any nice panic about it.”