Back in 1997 Stainless Games released the original Carmageddon, a game that caused a bit of a stir in the media due to its unique brand of automotive violence. Its hard to imagine in a world full of sandbox games, but Carmageddon was actually very original in the freedom it gave the player. It looks like a racing game and theoretically you can play it as such, but I think its pretty safe to say everyone who played it went for an alternative method — wasting every over competitor in the race.
Carmageddon was also a game full of humour and chaos. Cars are replete with blades, drills and spikes and are driven by colourful and eccentric characters. There are ridiculous power-ups which may help the player, or may leave them bouncing around the road uncontrollably. Rewards are given for ‘cunning stunts’, demolishing your competition and gibbing pedestrians in the most stylish fashion possible. It was a blast to play.
Its also a game that garnered itself something of a cult following and that fanbase proved to be crucial when Stainless games started up a successful kickstarter campaign for a new entry in the series earlier this year: Carmageddon Reincarnation. In the build-up to the new release, Stainless are also releasing a mobile version of the original.
We caught up with COO of Stainless Games Matt Edmunds at the recent Eurogamer Expo to talk kickstarter campaigns, free to play and hitting school children with pool cues.
Can you tell me how you ended up deciding to come back to Carmageddon and how that ended up in a kickstarter for the reboot.
Yeah, so its been quite a long journey, we did the first two Carmageddons back in the late 90s. We created it, it was our baby, we were basically left to our own devices by SCI, who were the publisher, but obviously back in the day the publishers paid for it, they kept all the IP. SCI, became Eidos, became Square Enix and kept hold of the IP. They decided they didn’t really want to do anything with it a couple of years ago and we got it off them. We’ve always loved the game basically and we’ve always had ideas about what else we could do with it, so we decided that we wanted to do a big new Carmegeddon. But if we wanted to fund it ourselves there had to be a combination of profits from other projects that we work on and other sorts of fund-raising avenues, such as the kickstarter campaign and also this iOS and Android version that we’re showing here at Eurogamer. All the profits from that are going to be ploughed straight into Carmegeddon Reincarnation.
I think you were one of the first people to do it after the big Doublefine one….
Yeah, I mean we’d actually considered it a few months before that, you know in the way you do, you consider all sorts of things but because no one else had done it, it was, you know, we just thought it was a bit of a risk. For a couple of reasons really. One, it could be a lot of hard work and distraction for no reward or it could be a sort of public failure if you like. So for those two reasons we didn’t. Then of course Doublefine came along and they did it. We had to jump through several hoops as a UK company to actually get on the kickstarter system and the Amazon payments system that kickstarter uses as well. We created an American subsidiary company, Stainless Games Inc and did it all through that basically. It was great and it was a very successful campaign.
Were you surprised how many people backed it?
Yeah, I mean, it was really successful for a couple of reasons to be honest. As well as raising the cash — it raised about one and a half times what we were after, which was obviously fantastic and allows us to make a bigger, better game — but also it allowed us to get out there and engage with our biggest fans. So we’ve got 16000 backers, pretty much all of whom are the most hardcore Carmageddon fans out there. We’ve had a real good dialogue with them during the campaign and since and there actually helping us out by evangelising about the game and the Apple version that we’ve got now and the Android version to come. You know, they help us as much as we help them, hopefully by giving them an awesome Carmageddon game next year.
I know you’ve had a lot of fan involvement in terms of discussion and I know you’ve done some reddits asking what the fans want. Can you give us some examples of their input that you’ve taken into account, maybe put into the game?
I can’t really go into detail about features of Reincarnation. We certainly altered out kickstarter campaign based on feedback that we got during the campaign. For instance, what platforms people might like to see. You know we wouldn’t be doing a Linux version if it weren’t for kickstarter. Obviously you have to take a view if its just a few people shouting loudest or if there’s a real demand for these things, we could sell three copies of the Linux version for all I know, but just the mere act of doing it, which is not too much extra work for us but it helps the campaign – it caused a blip in the kickstarter campaign, an upward blip, which is good. What else, the rewards from kickstarter that people wanted to see, a DRM free version we said we would bring out once the completed version is out as well.
I know I’ve seen a few people asking for some of the old levels to be included, is it difficult in that you’re trying to make something new but people who’ve played the original Carmaggeddon want to see some of that old stuff, so are you going to include some of that?
Yeah, there’s a lot of recognisable stuff in the new version definitely, yeah. Obviously you remember the original Carmageddon was all about humour as well as about the violence, which was all over the top — deliberately so — you know, giblets splashing everywhere type violence. Its funny, it wasn’t a running people over simulation. So there’ll be a lot more humour, a lot more new humour in the new game, lots more wacky power-ups. The big new thing in Reincarnation really will be that we’re going to release a lot of modding tools to the community as well, so people can create their own bits and pieces within the game. Whether they can create whole new levels or not we’re not sure yet but there’ll be a lot of stuff in there we will allow you to do.