1st Wonder

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.