We recently had an opportunity to speak with the one and only Brian Colin of Game Refuge, creator of such classic titles as Rampage, Arch Rivals, and General Chaos to name but a few. At the time we spoke the Kickstarter Campaign for General Chaos 2 was in its closing days, and things weren’t looking good from a funding standpoint. Of the $125,000 goal, about $15,000 had been donated. While it must have been frustrating to see such an experienced and reliable team get financially outpaced by less experienced developers, Brian was cordial enough to step back and look at what went well, what went wrong, and what’s in store for the future of General Chaos.
While this interview was originally intended to run in the final days of the General Chaos 2 campaign, outside factors led to that not happening., so keep that in mind when you’re reading it. We considered modifying to to reflect it being posted after the fact, but maintaining the phrasing in which it was submitted helps to give it a unique perspective on where Brian was in the closing days of the campaign.
When you’re done reading take a look at our recent retrospective, Growing Up With Brian Colin, where Greg shares some life experiences and lessons as learned through the looking glass of Brian’s biggest hits.
Cliqist : I still have my original General Chaos game. Why should I be excited about a sequel?
Brian Colin : I wouldn’t presume to tell you why you should be excited, but I can tell you why we’re excited. For over 20 years, we’ve been dreaming of all of the things we would have loved to put in this game but couldn’t – due to size, space, and technological limitations.
This is a Re-Invention; not a sequel or a re-skinned re-hash. We’re rebuilding the game from the ground up; taking the best of the original and adding everything we’ve always wanted to do; tossed in another twenty-two years of technological advancements and design experience and added more than dozen experienced programmers, artists and designers into the mix!
The result is a project that, from a design standpoint, has the potential for more FUN than anything I’ve ever conceived designed & developed to date! …and I’ve created literally dozens of successful titles in the course of my 30 year career; including games like RAMPAGE, XENOPHOBE, ARCH RIVALS, PIGSKIN, and of course, the original GENERAL CHAOS.
Cliqist :One criticism of Kickstarter campaigns is that people treat them like pre-orders and feel a bit betrayed when the game doesn’t happen, like what we saw recently with Clang. Why shouldn’t we just wait until the game comes out, and let someone else give money?
Brian Colin :The trouble with Kickstarter is: they don’t voir dire their projects, so anyone can say anything or claim anything and never bother to deliver. There is no recourse other than “let the buyer beware”.
The irony is: Game Refuge has a reputation within the industry as one of the few development companies who consistently delivers on time and on budget…. so it irks me if we’re not being backed because others aren’t living up to their promises.
I never make promises I can’t keep. I’ve been making games for over 30 years; Game Refuge has been making games for over 20 years.
Obviously, you can wait for someone else to fund it. We’ll get it done eventually, though it could take several more years if we have to keep doing it in our spare time… But if you want to see it DONE nine months from now, BACK IT. …and tell everyone you know to do the same.
Cliqist : What inspired the move to make General Chaos 2 now, and not last year when everyone was seemingly throwing money at all Kickstarter projects?
Brian Colin :We’d considered revisiting the IP a number of times over the years, but I always wanted the game to have the ability to add & utilize Touchscreen controls, so I never felt the time was quite right from a technological standpoint. Plus we’re usually pretty busy here with our various Clients’ projects.
But earlier this summer I started looking ahead at possible future projects for the fall, and I realized that now that Touchscreen controls are finally becoming a universal part of standard gaming technology, we could finally “do justice” to the remake without compromising our grand vision.
Frankly, Kickstarter was an afterthought. We normally only take on a new project when a Client approaches us; the crowd-funding model seemed, in theory at least, an opportunity for our Players to become our Client.
Cliqist : Is there anything about the crowd funding process that’s caught you by surprise?
Brian Colin :Absolutely!
I’m embarrassed to say that I had no idea that people were “…throwing money at all Kickstarter projects” last year… Or that a number of recent, high-profile Kickstarter campaigns had failed to deliver on their promises and as a result, many of today’s backers are starting to feel “betrayed”. Instead, I took the crowd-funding model at face value.
General Chaos fans have always been the extremely vocal about asking for a remake; I felt guardedly optimistic that their enthusiasm was indicative of the crowd-funding community as a whole. …And once we got everything down on paper, we felt that a number of people would jump at an opportunity to back this project. After all:
1) There are some people out there who really liked the frantic, fast-paced original and almost certainly share our dream of playing a louder, funnier, version before failing eyesight and arthritis robs them of the last of their hand-to-eye coordination.
2) There are some people out there who really liked my other “hit” games and want to be part of whatever the next one might be…
3) There are some people out there who recognize this project’s potential for an incredibly Fun New Game from an established, reputable, proven design group.
The current numbers, however, suggest that I may have overestimated how many people is “some people”…
Was I being naïve…? Probably. When it comes to new projects, “The Game” is the only thing I’m ever really focused on. In hindsight, I think this may be an argument that I should try expand my horizons beyond The Game to include little things like the world around me.
Ah, well… it ain’t over yet. Backers may be extremely cautious these days, but discerning, intelligent game players and critics with superb taste in games keep sending folks our way…
We’ve been endorsed by game media writers, critics everywhere; including The Indoor Kids, Kotaku, Joystiq.com, SEGA Nerds, Cliqist, Techstify, Fruitless Pursuits, No Quarter, Sega Addicts, Complex Magazine and many more.
Cliqist : Not to be morbid, but what if it doesn’t work out?
Brian Colin :As noted above, we’ll get it done somehow. The team is way too jazzed to abandon this.
Cliqist : Assuming the game is funded, do you have any longer term plans for the game or franchise?
Brian Colin :Not really. If we get funded, the game will be everything we want it to be. Maybe ask me again in another 20 years or so…
Generally speaking, I don’t give a lot of thought to re-doing games unless someone asks for them; I have too many new concepts simmering in my imagination that I’d rather tackle first.
…Having said that, I’ve been sitting on the next, dramatically different, 3D incarnation of RAMPAGE for about 15 years now. We designed it at Midway Home Entertainment’s request, but they felt it was too ambitious at the time. I don’t own the rights, though, so unless Warner Brothers taps us on the shoulder and asks us to tackle the project, it’s not likely to happen.
Cliqist : Is crowd funding just a fad, or is it here to stay?
Brian Colin :I’m probably the wrong guy to ask, but I love the crowd-funding model in theory… The idea of players working directly with indie developers is just too cool to give up on.
Cliqist : If General Chaos had to create a Haiku, what would it be?
Brian Colin :
Chaos Grunts Advance
Battlefields strewn with Wounded
Thinking: “War is Fun”
Cliqist : Any final words you’d like to leave everyone with?
Brian Colin : Game Design is my passion; if you do it right, it’s both a tremendous amount of fun and a tremendous amount of hard work. But for me, the very best part of making games is all about making people laugh.
So thanks to all the hardcore Chaos fans out there for sharing your great stories and memories with us over the past few weeks; it’s been an extremely gratifying, yet completely unexpected, side effect of this campaign!
…And a special thanks also to Greg & Cliqist for your interest in our Kickstarter project, and for sharing your many funny & poignant arcade anecdotes with me as well.
Thanks to Brian for all of his time. If you would like to get notifications on the current General Chaos 2 development, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the words “General Chaos Lives” in the Subject line.