Rocket Riot developer Peter de Jong on wacky powerups, the coming of Stonepunk, and how cloud gaming is changing the face of multiplayer
Rotterdam-based Codeglue is the studio behind Rocket Riot, an 8-bit blast of candy-colored joy currently lighting up Hatch Beta, where it’s the only way to enjoy the game’s multiplayer features on mobile. We met with studio co-founder and director Peter de Jong to talk about the game’s development and journey to the Hatch platform, and how Hatch’s unique cloud gaming technology can change the way studios create multiplayer experiences.
When did you start Codeglue and what’s your background?
I founded Codeglue together with Maurice Sibrandi back in 2000. Maurice and I have been friends since pre-university and we shared the love for computer games and the Commodore Amiga. At university we both studied Technical Computer Science and graduated in 1995 creating the game engine for a game called Joe Guard for the long forgotten Philips CD-i player. The game never got released unfortunately, although later we developed Christmas Crisis and Christmas Country, two games based on the same technology. These first few games really kickstarted our love for game development so we decided to found our own game studio Codeglue and focus on the upcoming mobile games market in the early noughties.
Where did the idea for Rocket Riot come from?
Rocket Riot is an original idea from game designer Sander van der Vegte. His idea was to create an arcade style game, which was inspired by the gameplay from Soldat and have the visual style from a Breakout game. Initially the game was a simple 2D game because we were targeting mobile phones. Later when we had the opportunity to bring the game to Xbox 360, we changed from a 2D artstyle to a 3D art style. Rocket Riot has had many working titles. First it was called Blockbusters, later it was called Jetpack Junkies, but the junkies part sounded a bit negative, so we settled for Rocket Riot in the end.
There are a lot of hilarious and strange powerups in the game. What’s the most popular?
That must be the big rocket powerup. It is so rewarding to use it and destroy most of the level with one projectile. The big rocket powerup originated from a bug by the way. One of the programmers scaled the rocket wrong which resulted in it being way too big on screen. It was so hilarious and cool, that we decided to keep it in the game.
Rocket Riot has been through several iterations for different platforms since 2009. How would you describe the game’s journey?
Rocket Riot has had quite a journey and was released on plenty of platforms. It was first released on the Xbox 360 where the game had 80 missions in the single player campaign and many multiplayer modes. Later Rocket Riot was a release title on new Microsoft platforms like Windows Phone and Windows 8. It didn’t have the multiplayer modes due to technical restrictions, but we added a lot of DLC missions to make up for it. We also released a version on iOS and recently we released a Steam and Windows 10 version of the game.
What's different about Hatch as a platform for your game?
Hatch is a really cool concept and one that we are very excited about. It levels the playing field for mobile gamers as they don't have to worry about the specs of their device and instead lets them jump into games with their friends and just have fun. At its heart Rocket Riot is a multiplayer game and Hatch brings back that functionality to mobile!
Is the Hatch edition the first with online multiplayer for mobile?
Yes! It's also the very first Android version of the game! We've had a lot of people ask for an Android version so when the opportunity came about to create a version for Hatch we were very excited.
Do you see technology like Hatch's changing the way developers do multiplayer?
We think it can lead to some really creative designs for multiplayer games. Sharing controls with your friends and working together to overcome challenges can lead to some really cool scenarios. It's a bit like controlling a Starfleet ship and communicating with your crew during a battle.
Any projects in development you want to disclose?
We're currently working on a new game that is the spiritual successor to Rocket Riot called Antegods. It’s set in a universe with spacefaring Mayans in which we mix ancient culture and science fiction to create a unique style we’re calling Stonepunk. Players earn notoriety using their skills to outmaneuver and outgun their opponents in smooth, free-flowing arena battles. We built it from our love of Rocket Riot and a desire to add a lot more tactical depth. We hope anyone who enjoys Rocket Riot will enjoy Antegods just as much.
Sounds awesome, looking forward to it. What are you playing now? Any all-time favorites?
A personal favorite is Pokémon Go as I can’t stop playing it while on the move. I opened this question up to the team and these are some of the games we are all playing right now:
Player Unknowns Battle Grounds
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Joseph Knowles is Hatch's director of communications.