Rise of the Kasai from San Diego-based Bottle Rocket is a stylized stealth/combat game that follows up the critically acclaimed The Mark of the Kri. The new game, launched this month, incorporates multiple characters, lushly animated narratives and AI-assisted, delightfully violent combat gameplay.
Jay Beard, President, BottleRocket Entertainment. Beard is also the writer, producer and lead designer on Rise of the Kasai.
What are you most excited about in terms of new elements in this game, whether they relate to narrative, visuals/graphics, player capability, etc.?
I'm excited about a number of things. From a game design standpoint, I think the AI character fighting alongside you will bring another dimension to the gameplay. From a narrative standpoint, it was fun to indulge ourselves in the telling of a decade-spanning story that covers two generations of Rakus. This game is more beautiful than The Mark of Kri, with greater variety in the environments, and the cinematics take a new direction for us-they're darker and more visually striking.
What are the basic facts about the development process; how many people contributed, how long the was the process?
On BottleRocket's end, there were a total of 23 people on the team: A design production team of three; an animation team of four; two character modelers; four engineers; three texture/concept guys; and a bunch of environment modelers.
Does the process start with a technical/platform challenge or mandate, or does the story come first-i.e., what drives the new facets of the game, the technical or the artistic challenges?
We begin with a gameplay genre and break it apart, pointing out what works and sucks about the games that have gone before us. Normally, that leads into game design and technical challenges; how do you improve on what has gone before, or how do you make something original? The story is something that we begin to work on the moment we begin the game, but we try to not let it dictate the gameplay too much. We find it best to leave the story loose for as long as possible, as chances are you will need to tweak it to explain some unforeseen gameplay element.
How closely do the programmers and designers work with the writers?
We are lucky enough to have an incredibly creative team regardless of specialist area, and we encourage everyone to be vocal and to get involved in the process. I personally find programmers to be the most pragmatic, and the first to spot "cheese" in a plot.