The History of Rogue Rocket Games

If you look around our sparkling new Rogue Rocket Games website you can see plenty of information about who makes up the company, what the previously developed games were, and what games we are currently working on, but for this blog post I'm going to be putting it all in one place. We already talked plenty about Nick Bruty and Richard Sun, so this isn't going to focus on the people, but it instead will be all about the games. Join me as we start all the way back in 2011...

Infected 

Infected is the second game released by Rogue Rocket Games and it is also for iOS and Android. This tower defense hybrid has you fighting off zombies in singleplayer or multiplayer, in a fairly fast paced and unique manner where your friends will show up in the game as civilians needing saving. In singleplayer you used cops, armored vehicles, and other lethal units to fight off zombies as you try to protect those civilians through a long campaign. 

The game also had a virus focused metagame where you can infect your friends via playing up to a 4 player synchronous multiplayer mode where you are simultaneously defending your city and sending infected attacks to the other players. It was quite ambitious at the time for a F2P mobile game and many of those features show how capable the studio is, even from the start. 

Gunpowder 

We talk about Gunpowder pretty often lately, but did you know it was originally released back in 2013? Back then it was a Microsoft exclusive for Windows 8 and that's where it stayed for a very long time, and only recently we were able to start pushing it onto other platforms like iOS and PC. However, if you are unfamiliar with Gunpowder it is a western themed puzzle game and the first premium title by Rogue Rocket Games, which means that it is not free to play and the base price unlocks the entirety of the game. It has fitting and fantastic western themed music as well as a story that is told through cartoon style panels, which are created by the original Earthworm Jim animator Mike Dietz. 

Gunpowder is all about blowing things up and doing it with style, speed and accuracy. You have to be strategic as you line the map with gunpowder and put down explosive barrels to deal with tricky junctions. Like all great puzzle games, the ideas and mechanics are introduced to you slowly and become increasingly difficult and complex as you get farther into the game. You play as Incendio, a Robin Hood-like character in the old west, who steals from the greedy robber baron Boss Grimshaw and gives back to the townspeople. At the moment Gunpowder is only available on iPad, but they are working hard to get it onto iPhone, Kindle and PC. You'll be hearing plenty more about it. 

First Wonder 

Now to Rogue Rocket Games' most recent and most talked about upcoming title, First Wonder. This upcoming spiritual sequel to Giants: Citizen Kabuto is heavily inspired by many of the great classics created at Planet Moon Studios, like MDK, and is going to have many elements that made Giants such a unique game, like the humor and mixture of different gameplay types. Many details are still being worked out First Wonder, but so far we have Monstro and the Cargonauts as primary characters or groups that inhabit this world.

There has been a lot of talk about this having multiplayer and singleplayer, but the details will be saved until a later date when everything starts to formulate around August. For now, just know that First Wonder is coming and with plenty of details that will be showing up as we release updates over the coming months! 

Rogue Rocket Casual 

You've probably seen the Rogue Rocket Casual section of the website and all of the following games belong in that category. These games are different from the previous three because their themes and features are all focused on casual gaming, which means short gameplay sessions and easy to jump into among other things. Here is a brief overview of each of those games and for this section we have: 

SushiChop

SushiChop is the first game that Rogue Rocket Games released out into the world to fend for itself and it is for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. This game is all about chopping, slicing and quick reflexes. It has several game modes, powers, upgrades to unlock and quite a lot that made it stand out from the pack. It has been received fairly well, with 4000 reviews for the iOS version alone and a 4 star average rating. 

Dead on Delivery

Every gamer has always had a dream of playing a game where you deliver pizzas around a zombie filled metropolitan area...no? Well, maybe that's just me, but Rogue Rocket Games' Dead on Delivery is all about those exact things.  It has you frantically running around an increasingly dangerous zombie filled environment while you collect the correct toppings for challenging pizza orders. Dead on Delivery is also free to play and still available on iOS and Android. 

Throne Together 

This pecuilar block-based puzzle game has you building a castle as you act as a medieval kingdom's architect. Throne Together has sixty-five levels of challenging gameplay that focuses on completing veyr specifics orders and making sure you don't build in a problematic way when it comes to physics. Iti s a free to play game and it is only available on Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

Jackpot Gems

Out of all of the games I've played from Rogue Rocket Games, which is just about all of them, Jackpot Gems is the one that I've probably played the most. It is a match-3 type of casino game with puzzle aspects thrown in and it is free to play for iOS, Windows Phone and Android. Jackpot Gems has a surprisingly large number of modes, like Lighting Mode and Mega Minute Match, and it just plays really well. 

That is it for the history of Rogue Rocket Games and everything they have released so far. The two current projects are Gunpowder, for PC and iOS, and First Wonder, which we've yet to determine platforms for but we are hoping to have it available on a variety of platforms. Check back later for more blogs post and news! 

From Past to Present - Richard Sun

Welcome to the last part of our blog post on the co-founders of Rogue Rocket Games' Richard Sun and Nick Bruty. Last week we focused on Nick Bruty's work with Giants: Citizen Kabuto and Earthworm Jim, and how in a way they lead to 1st Wonder. However, this week we are going to focus on Richard Sun and his work on two iconic LucasArts games: Stars Wars: Republic Commando and Escape from Monkey Island. 

 

Escape from Monkey Island (2000) 

The Monkey Island series was long and popular with five games in the series, the first of which releasing in 1990 and the last in 2009. The large majority of the series was developed by LucasArts, except for the very last one in 2009 with Telltale Games. They are all adventure games filled with self-deprecating humor, cultural jokes, and quite a few situations that allow the player to break the fourth wall if they push it. The whole series revolved around pirates, monkeys, and fictional islands in the Caribbean. 

Escape from Monkey Island (the fourth game in the series) gave you control of an unusual and inquisitive pirate named Guybrush Threepwood, the main protagonist of the series, and it was set on Melee Island. An island that constantly had a trademark sign (TM) next to it as a joke whenever it was mentioned in-game. That's just the type of game it was, the kind that makes fun of things like trademarks, adventure games stereotypes, pointless objectives and so many other aspects that create a very unique and hilarious adventure game, one that people still are asking for a sequel to. 

Richard Sun got some experience writing dialog with Escape from Monkey Island, but mainly he worked on gameplay related aspects, like making sure that everything actually worked when you tried to do anything in any given environment. Unlike every other game mentioned on these two blog posts, this one is very unavailable and hard to get a hold of if you want to play it. For whatever reason GOG.com has not yet gotten this game onto their service, but maybe we will see some kind of re-release for it someday. 

 

Star Wars: Republic Commando (2005) 

Ever since I started working at Rogue Rocket Games I've wanted to endlessly bother Richard Sun to talk to him about his time developing Star Wars: Republic Commando. It came out for PC and Xbox, and it was a game I loved because of the powerful AI, the focus on teamwork, the story and of course because it was one of the few great Star Wars games. It represented a unique time period in Star Wars, one that was rarely covered by any other games at the time, and it did in a very personal way. It took the singleplayer focus that Call of Duty started, Brother in Arms improved, and then gave it its own twist with you controlling a very specific character who commanded a small squad of intelligent Republic Commandos. 

I replayed Republic Commando a few years ago and it still holds up fairly well, and it is sad to see that few games have even attempted to do what they accomplished there. The AI was particularly impressive, because normally you'd just send your three commandos into specified positions using a cover system, but you could also basically tell them to move and react at their own discretion. How they reacted, fought enemies, and seemed alive made the game a great experience for that alone. The story revolved around you leading this squad against separatist forces around the time of the second Clone Wars movie (Attack of the Clones) and against General Grievous among many other iconic enemies of the Republic. 

But what about Richard Sun? Well, he mainly worked on the multiplayer portion of Republic Commando and that no longer works thanks to GameSpy being shut down in 2014. The rest of the game is still working and available for PC from a variety of digital distribution services, like Steam and GOG. Now that Disney has taken over Lucas Arts and Star Wars games are coming back in force there may be a chance for a Republic Commando sequel, but for now this excellent squad-based FPS is still worth checking out. 

After Richard Sun finished up Republic Commando he moved on over to Planet Moon and where he was very excited to work on great games like Giants: Citizen Kabuto, Armed and Dangerous, MDK and many others that the studio had previously created. He worked at that studio for five years before it was shut down and that led to him and Nick Bruty co-founding Rogue Rocket Games. He still dreams of making something like Planet Moon's classics and with 1st Wonder he is going to get his chance to make it a reality. 

From the Past to Present - Rogue Rocket's Nick Bruty and Richard Sun

Here at Rogue Rocket Games we have two co-founders: Nick Bruty and Richard Sun. They both have quite a past when it comes to developing and creating video games, and today I want to explore that a little. As Rogue Rocket's social media and community manager, I'm often throwing in some short and concise sentences about how experienced Nick Bruty and Rich Sun are, but I never get to actually explain why some of the games they made, or were involved with creating, are some of the greatest games I played when growing up as a young gamer. Working on these games undoubtedly made Nick and Rich into the leaders we have here today at Rogue Rocket Games. So, come explore these creations to see why they are unique, why people enjoyed them, and why it matters in relation to Nick's and Rich's experiences and skills. 

First let's chat about Nick Bruty. There are several big games that Nick was involved with, but this time the focus is on Earthworm Jim and of course Giants: Citizen Kabuto

 

Earthworm Jim (1994)

Originally the insane platformer that is Earthworm Jim came out on Sega Genesis in 1994, but it was eventually released to just about everything, like Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2010 and before that PC, SNES and many other platforms. It was one of the most deliciously frustrating games I played growing up, with a punishing difficulty that meant you would be repeating levels and learning how to beat bosses in the most efficient way possible, but what made it unique was the design, the humor and the fresh take on platforming. 

While other platformers at the time focused on medieval fantasy, demons, or colorful charming worlds - Earthworm Jim instead threw you into a world of trash piles, vicious dogs, alien environments and satirical situations that poked fun at popular platformers that came before it. The main plot of the game literally involved saving someone called Princess What's-Her-Name from enemies like Professor Monkey-For-A-Head and Slug-For-A-Butt. It was crude, it poked fun at so many things, and it was one of the best platforming experiences in its day. With Earthworm Jim, Nick Bruty worked mainly on the level design and art to create much of that absurd world. Bruty's old coworker, Doug TenNapel who voiced and created the character of Earthworm Jim, described Nick as being "the single greatest influence on making the Earthworm Jim game great. He's the game designer's designer." 

 

Giants: Citizen Kabuto (2000) 

We've probably talked about Giants: Citizen Kabuto the most at Rogue Rocket Games, especially since our current project 1st Wonder is meant to follow its legacy, but we've never really explained why it is worth creating a spiritual sequel to. Like Earthworm Jim, Giants: Citizen Kabuto has a fantastic sense of humor - but one largely based on a British sense humor. It has the type of humor that is filled with jokes and is constantly present without making itself a burden on the player. However, the writing, unique character design and humor is just a small part of why it was an amazingly different game than everything else out there. 

For me, as a gamer who loved strategy games, AI teammates and worlds that seemed to move on their own, Giants was something I couldn't put down. Sure, I didn't get a lot of the jokes as an obnoxious 14 year old when the game released in 2001 on PC, but I greatly appreciated the mechanics. Giants had you constantly switching between three races: Meccs, Sea Reapers and Kabuto. As one might guess, Kabuto is the large and terrible creature that is shown in the screenshot above, and you often controlled it throughout the game. However, you got to see each side separately and how they view the others as enemies. It was all culminated in the last few levels of the story that featured all three races battling on huge open maps, or in multiplayer that gave you the same atmosphere but with other players. 

Giants just had so much going on, and in a great way. For the most part it was a third person shooter, but you also had base building with the Meccs and it was one of the first games I saw that had a sense of survival attached to that as you scoured for resources to create a larger base, while the Sea Reapers and the Kabuto were constantly a threat. Each race wasn't equal to one another either, so it created a unique experience where everything was specifically not balanced in order to facilitate tactics, strategy and memorable situations. On top of the mechanics and humor, it was also one of the most  gorgeous games of its day and technologically impressive with huge open environments filled with moving AI. 

The multiplayer in Giants took all of those elements, and races, and threw them into the world as you fought to survive against the other races and players. The Kabuto scouring the environment for resources as it evolved, the Meccs with their numbers and their constantly growing base, and the Sea Reapers with their devastating weapons and quick speed. It was something that just did not exist anywhere else at the time. Like Total Biscuit said in his recent video on Giants: Citizen Kabuto, "This is the kind of ambition that frankly you don't see an awful lot anymore. A game like this wouldn't be made in 2014." He was right about that, a game like that wouldn't be made in 2014, but 2015 is another story. 

Check back later for a continuation on this post about Richard Sun's games. 
 

Gunpowder has been Greenlit

Gunpowder logo

Our western themed puzzle game Gunpowder, formerly only on iPad, has successfully gone through the Steam Greenlight process and was Greenlit today. After one week we had several thousand votes on the game with a majority of them indicating they would like to see the game on the Steam Store, so Valve has officially Greenlit the game today just as we moved into the top 50 Greenlight games category.

On top of the community at Steam backing us, we wanted to thank all of you, all of our fans, supporters and critics. Bringing a game from a mobile platform to Steam, and it getting approved, was a definite challenge since most mobile ports are not met with favorable impressions, but Gunpowder is unique among the pack because of the qualities of the game and Rogue Rocket Games fantastic community. 

As we go into the coming months, and as Gunpowder inevitably releases on Steam, we want to continue to grow and interact with you, the community. Games are our passion and we aim to show you that we offer something that is worth talking about, playing and experiencing. Thank you all, check out Gunpowder on Steam, and we'll be back with more news soon. 

Gunpowder: How We Brought a High Quality Premium Game to iPad (and Steam)

 (Or: Even if it seems nuts, just ask nicely -- sometimes you’ll get what you ask for!)

Gunpowder is a one of a kind physics-based puzzle game featuring colorful cartoon style artwork, a charming backstory and what we think is pretty clever game design that we aimed to have appeal to gamers of all ages. Gunpowder is easy to pick up, but offers ever-increasing challenges through thought-provoking brainteasers, constantly evolving physics-based gameplay elements and numerous environmental objects that offer new surprises.  With it out on iPad and Windows 8, and enjoying fantastic critical reviews, I wanted to reflect briefly on how the game got to where it is now, as it’s a bit of an unusual story that may provide some helpful perspective.

Genesis

People commonly ask a question similar to “How do you come up with new game ideas?”  I imagine that this is just as relevant a question to developers as to random interested parties.  It’s at least a much more interesting question than “Wow so you get to play games all day long for work?!”  Sigh.

Every team designs games differently, and with different goals in mind.  It’s a bit silly to think one teams’ method is going to work for many others, but many times it’s having just the right spark of inspiration that kicks everything off. Here’s what happened with us.

When we first started Rogue Rocket in 2011, Nick Bruty and I sat down and started brainstorming on what kinds of games would really work on mobile. We were working on pitching Infected, but we knew we also wanted to create more pure, simpler experiences.  So we got out a pen and paper, made some stupid jokes, and just started coming up with ideas.  Neither of us had experience building games for the mobile market, but we knew instinctively that the best mobile games are those that can be played with just one finger (easy to control) but still had a ton of gameplay depth (not easy to master).  Well... that or something with porn in it, but we decided that would be too easy and preferred the challenge of making a legitimately original and fun game.

Thus came about a pile of ideas; most of them were utter garbage.  Things like Oh No, ROADKILL! and Recess Riot, which would probably never see the light of day.  But a few gold nuggets bubbled their way up. The best of those were ones both Nick and I immediately grabbed onto -- ones that would cause us to easily spitball more ideas that we could laugh at.  One of those seemingly silly ideas became our first game, Sushichop.

As a warm up, what if we tried to improve on Fruit Ninja, except instead of fruit, they were fish? And when you chopped them, perfectly formed pieces of sashimi would shoot out in a ridiculous splash of gratuitous blood?!  

We laughed at the absurdity of it.  Who would make or want that? And then we made it, just to see if we could.  We did it in a month.  With two people.  Well, two and a half; our now long time cohort Loren joined us part way through its rapid development.  Among many other things, he contributed what to this day I feel like is an amazingly solid app icon.  But I digress.

During this time, Nick also came up with this neat idea that involved laying down lines of gunpowder with your finger and solving puzzles by igniting them.  Drawing branches of trails would make the lines burn outwards in different directions, just like you'd see in cartoons, and then there would be a gratifying explosion of powder kegs, complete with ridiculous chain reactions.

OMG, YES!”, I remember squealing, shifting uncomfortably in my seat from excitement, and trying not to be too annoying in the back area of an entirely unrelated company we were renting some desks from at the time.  “That sounds effing awesome! But ... it sounds like too much for our first outing, let’s pick something we can finish before Infected gets started.”  So we shelved it and went back to making fish explode.

Getting a game signed based on two pieces of paper with pretty pictures.

Fast forward to 2012:  We had a meeting with Microsoft at GDC.  We showed them some new game concepts that we had cooked up, thinking we knew what kinds of stuff they’d like to see. Concepts with really nice 3D art, explosions, etc.  We were met with a resounding “meh”.  

“Got anything a bit more, oh, I dunno, casual?”, they asked.  

Nick and I glanced at each other.  In that moment, I telepathically asked Nick through uncomfortably direct eye contact, “Gunpowder?”  And I swear I saw in his eyes, “Yeah.. do it”.  

Turns out, he was just thinking, “Oh well. Lunch?”  Luckily, I misread him and went for it anyways, bringing up a dusty old write up of Gunpowder on my laptop.  Immediately, our Microsoft contact lit up and asked us to write up some more details for her team to review.

Long story short, Microsoft green lit the thing based on two sheets of paper with a nice write up and some pretty pictures made by Nick, ultimately starting out life as a Windows 8 store exclusive shortly after its launch.  

Unfortunately, the premium app marketplace on Windows 8 didn’t materialize as we had collectively hoped. Eventually, Gunpowder was pulled by Microsoft along with several other quite good first party published games, despite never dropping out of the top 100 apps.

Through a very strong business relationship with Microsoft and their support,  we were granted the ability to bring Gunpowder to other platforms.  This constitutes the second time I was very pleasantly surprised.  I chalk this up to making an honest effort to being a great partner, not just a great game developer.

Thus Gunpowder gained new life in the form of an iOS version, which is now available.  We are super excited that we can share this game with a fresh audience, and we’re not going to stop there.  Soon (or maybe already depending on when you finally found and read this), we will be bringing it to Steam and other platforms.

At the time of this post, we just launched our Steam Greenlight campaign to make Gunpowder our first foray onto Steam.  It will be exciting to bring it to more players on different devices.  The game plays just as well (if not better) when clicking and dragging a mouse, so we hope our new players will enjoy it just as much!

Also: Read the full length post on Gamasutra, here!