More Insight into MS and Rare - Retro Gamer Issue 122 Interview with Phil Tossell

IOnEI Falcon

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So anyone who is interested in Rare should definitely pick up/download this issue. It contains an excellent interview with Phil Tossell who was a former programmer at Rare behind DKR, SFA, Kameo and Kinect Sports.

Some interesting parts I will quote but like I said it is worth the buy to read everything! You can buy it for £4.99 here or download the app and get it there: https://www.imagineshop.co.uk/index.php/catalog/product/view/id/2642/s/retro-gamer-issue-122/?utm_source=Retro%20Gamer&utm_medium=button&utm_campaign=Product-Widget

He spent several months working on a an early version of Crackdown 2 and has a particular affection for Black Widow, an aborted first-person shooter featuring a spider mech and an ingenious "jump-and-gun" mechanic.
Coding also commenced on a sequel to Kameo. "We wanted to age it up a bit," Phil explains. "The monsters were more grown-up and, for Kameo, we lost the googly eyes and now she could morph into an eagle. We wanted this epic feeling of looking down as she flew over this huge world.
Kameo 2 was given the go-ahead and was looking very promising when, after a further three months in production, it was abruptly shelved. The reason? Microsoft decided to focus all of Rare's attention to its great waving hope, the Kinect.
"I think we were handed a poisoned chalice, " he says, wearily. "We were being asked to make the games we'd always made for an audience that didn't want those sort of games. The reason we did Black Widow, Crackdown and aged up Kameo was because we were trying to bridge that gap but Microsoft wouldn't let us.
I would have really liked to have seen a Crackdown by Rare. And Black Widow sounds awesome to me as well! Do you guys think the more grown-up Kameo would have done better? Right about now I am missing a game on the Xbox that has the original Kameo's art style but would have loved what they were doing with it anyway.

A link to a previous thread showcasing tons of games from Rare that never got green lit by MS: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=707691

Everyone should also check out Phil's new game Tengami:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jpgtduncCY
 

Tripon

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Man, it seems like MS bought Rare just because Nintendo owned it at one time, and couldn't figure out why they did it.
 

Salex_

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Kameo 2 was given the go-ahead and was looking very promising when, after a further three months in production, it was abruptly shelved. The reason? Microsoft decided to focus all of Rare's attention to its great waving hope, the Kinect.
"We were being asked to make the games we'd always made for an audience that didn't want those sort of games. The reason we did Black Widow, Crackdown and aged up Kameo was because we were trying to bridge that gap but Microsoft wouldn't let us.
Sounds like they were on a leash. I feel sorry for them :(
 

MCD

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Don Mattrick was really harsh on Rare but looking at Kinect sales data along with Kinect Sports...yeah, they have done good to survive...for now.
 

SwiftDeath

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That's disappointing but pretty much what I thought

A crackdown by Rare would've been awesome I'm sure
 

Rich!

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maybe when ms leaves the industry they can sell back Rare to where it belongs...
And where would that be? In the trash?

RARE today is not the Rareware of long ago. I grew up with Battletoads, Donkey Kong Country 2, Goldeneye, Banjo Kazooie and Blast Corps. That Rare is gone.

All that exists now is a hollow shell, automated to pump out games that have barely an ounce of the soul that the classic 90s titles exhibited.
 

bryanee

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I've wanted two sequels during this generation, one is Shenmue 3 and the other is Kameo 2. So feck off to MS for cancelling one of those.
 

Black Mantis

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The Crackdown 2 and Kameo 2 cancellations hurt me the most, but as Crackdown was teased at the X1 reveal and Phil Spencer's hints, it looks like they may have resurrected it.

I can see Rare getting back to their former glories, now that Phil Spencer is in charge of overseeing them. Although I reckon they've actually been pretty good on the 360, VP, Kameo, B&J: N&B and KS being all good games in my eyes.
 

Maxrunner

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And where would that be? In the trash?

RARE today is not the Rareware of long ago. I grew up with Battletoads, Donkey Kong Country 2, Goldeneye, Banjo Kazooie and Blast Corps. That Rare is gone.

All that exists now is a hollow shell, automated to pump out games that have barely an ounce of the soul that the classic 90s titles exhibited.
well at least make an attempt to use the studio.i can guarantee you that big n would do that. heck they even outsourced the ki ip...ridiculous
 

MCD

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well at least make an attempt to use the studio.i can guarantee you that big n would do that. heck they even outsourced the ki ip...ridiculous
Fighting games are different. You can outsource them and still get great results as long as there are brilliant people in charge along with a decent budget.
 

harSon

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They probably would have had all of the creative freedom in the world if they had actually developed games that sold. A lot of their failures have to do with Rare's traditional target audience and the Xbox's target audience not jiving, but Rare should have accounted for that and adjusted accordingly. At the end of the day video games are a business, and Kinect Sports sold a hell of a lot more than Viva Pinata, Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, etc. so it's kind of a no brainer for Microsoft, regardless of how heartbreaking it is for long time Rare fans.
 

Monty Mole

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But Phil Spencer said they're not forcing Rare to make Kinect games.
They're not now. I can imagine things were likely very different under dictator Don Mattrick. Hopefully now things can get back to normal again.

To be fair, Kameo 2 would have sold like shit, and unfortunately Kinect is the only reason Rare still exists.
 

Sydle

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I say let them try again. I'd like to see Kameo 2 and a Rare-made Crackdown 3, but I'm more interested in bringing back Banjo, Perfect Dark, or a new IP.
 

MCD

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How is that exclusive to fighting games?
It isn't. I was about to edit that lol.

What I'm saying is, fighting games, especially a dead IP like KI can fare better outsourced versus giving it to the original talent who may or may not be there anymore nor there is any guarantee they can do it better than we have now.
 

Aquamarine

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But Phil Spencer said they're not forcing Rare to make Kinect games.
They're not "forcing" Rare to make Kinect games, but they could threaten to close the studio, reorganize staff, cut studio funding, refuse certification and licensing, etc. if Rare doesn't adhere to Microsoft's "strong suggestions on where they saw the future of Rare."

It's one of those "do what you want, but don't double-cross me or else" situations.
 
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man Kameo was one of my favorite xbox games of all time, I loved every thing about it...foolish of them to abruptly stop it like that but they can easily rectify that with Xbox one...hopefully.
 

bleachrude

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They probably would have had all of the creative freedom in the world if they had actually developed games that sold. A lot of their failures have to do with Rare's traditional target audience and the Xbox's target audience not jiving, but Rare should have accounted for that and adjusted accordingly. At the end of the day video games are a business, and Kinect Sports sold a hell of a lot more than Viva Pinata, Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, etc. so it's kind of a no brainer for Microsoft, regardless of how heartbreaking it is for long time Rare fans.
THIS

I know it's fun to give MS shit but how many chances do you give a company when its products don't sell?
 

Slamtastic

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It isn't. I was about to edit that lol.

What I'm saying is, fighting games, especially a dead IP like KI can fare better outsourced versus giving it to the original talent who may or may not be there anymore nor there is any guarantee they can do it better than we have now.
Any genre could benefit in this scenario though. Why does KI work better for outsourcing than Banjo or Jet Force Gemini, etc?
 

Marleyman

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They probably would have had all of the creative freedom in the world if they had actually developed games that sold. A lot of their failures have to do with Rare's traditional target audience and the Xbox's target audience not jiving, but Rare should have accounted for that and adjusted accordingly. At the end of the day video games are a business, and Kinect Sports sold a hell of a lot more than Viva Pinata, Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, etc. so it's kind of a no brainer for Microsoft, regardless of how heartbreaking it is for long time Rare fans.
Great post.
 

IOnEI Falcon

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They probably would have had all of the creative freedom in the world if they had actually developed games that sold. A lot of their failures have to do with Rare's traditional target audience and the Xbox's target audience not jiving, but Rare should have accounted for that and adjusted accordingly. At the end of the day video games are a business, and Kinect Sports sold a hell of a lot more than Viva Pinata, Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, etc. so it's kind of a no brainer for Microsoft, regardless of how heartbreaking it is for long time Rare fans.
That is exactly what Phil said they were doing. Crackdown 2, Black Widow and a grown-up, non-googly eyed Kameo.
 

MCD

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Any genre could benefit in this scenario though. Why does KI work better for outsourcing than Banjo or Jet Force Gemini, etc?
Like I said, original devs may not be there anymore besides Ken Lobb. Meanwhile Double Helix got guys who worked on SFII, Skullgirls among other fighting games.
 

Yagharek

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Rare needs to become an independent studio. Creatively they are talented but they're always hamstrung by Microsofts design by committee nonsense.
 

Conor 419

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THIS

I know it's fun to give MS shit but how many chances do you give a company when its products don't sell?
Perfect Dark did pretty well by launch standards, to be perfectly honest.

It's not like Kameo, VP & BK (which came later) were targetted at the same audience. Rare DID move to change (evidenced by this thread), then Microsoft canned it.
 

Marcel

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And where would that be? In the trash?

RARE today is not the Rareware of long ago. I grew up with Battletoads, Donkey Kong Country 2, Goldeneye, Banjo Kazooie and Blast Corps. That Rare is gone.

All that exists now is a hollow shell, automated to pump out games that have barely an ounce of the soul that the classic 90s titles exhibited.
And we're done.
 

Doffen

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Perfect Dark did pretty well by launch standards, to be perfectly honest.

It's not like Kameo, VP & BK (which came later) were targetted at the same audience. Rare DID move to change (evidenced by this thread), then Microsoft canned it.
Perfect Dark Zero had an extremely short life. No excuse.
 

harSon

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That is exactly what Phil said they were doing. Crackdown 2, Black Widow and a grown-up, non-googly eyed Kameo.
It sucks that the rug was pulled from under them while they were trying to reform, but they shit the bed for years prior to that. They made Grabbed by the Ghoulies, Conker: Live and Reloaded, Kameo, Perfect Dark Zero, Viva Pinata, Viva Pinata: Trouble In Paradise and Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Granted, some of those games were pretty good, but none of them really caught on with consumers. As I said, it sucks for long time Rare fans, but Microsoft has steered Rare into profitability. Maybe they'll one day earn the right to hands off creative freedom, but from 2002-2010, they sure as hell earned the right to lose it.
 

walltowall

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They probably would have had all of the creative freedom in the world if they had actually developed games that sold. A lot of their failures have to do with Rare's traditional target audience and the Xbox's target audience not jiving, but Rare should have accounted for that and adjusted accordingly. At the end of the day video games are a business, and Kinect Sports sold a hell of a lot more than Viva Pinata, Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, etc. so it's kind of a no brainer for Microsoft, regardless of how heartbreaking it is for long time Rare fans.
Yeah it's crazy though. Long time Rare fans didn't buy Rare games. New Rare fans bought a ton!

I'm not too upset though, Rare was there when I was a kid with Battletoads, and they're there for my kids with Kinect sports. I have a blast being able to tell them the about Rare's history. I can't say that about too many other devs.
 

Borman

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It sucks that the rug was pulled from under them while they were trying to reform, but they shit the bed for years prior to that. They made Grabbed by the Ghoulies, Conker: Live and Reloaded, Kameo, Perfect Dark Zero, Viva Pinata, Viva Pinata: Trouble In Paradise and Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Granted, some of those games were pretty good, but none of them really caught on with consumers. As I said, it sucks for long time Rare fans, but Microsoft has steered Rare into profitability. Maybe they'll one day earn the right to hands off creative freedom, but from 2002-2010, they sure as hell earned the right to lose it.
Part of the failure was due to Microsoft though. Ghoulies was almost certainly first a Gamecube game, so that was a mess. Conker was a remake, so whatever. Kameo was moved from the Gamecube to the Xbox and was essentially complete but was delayed by a year for the 360, Viva Pinata and Banjo all started life on the original Xbox (see my other post), and Perfect Dark was moved from GC to Xbox to the 360, and on the Xbox it was fairly far along.

So you're talking about a bunch of projects that were stretched out for an additional year or more with little benefit.
 

GoofsterStud

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Didn't the article say Microsoft wanted games that didn't cater towards the audience.

It sounds like Rares wanted to make games that'd appeal to the Xbox audience, but Microsoft was trying to use Rare to steal Nintendo's audience...

Once that backfired... Rares started changing design to appeal to the audience and making appropriate games for the audience..

Microsoft than decided they'd make Kinect games.

That backfired.