Game

“Yes, we did go to the zoo and observe the gorillas”: The making of Donkey Kong Country

The origins of all games, especially early in development, always start with conceptual drawings, sketches and ink. So, when Nintendo approached Rare and asked him to make a game “with better graphics than Aladdin,” you could argue that they effectively asked Rare to beat Walt Disney. It’s like trying to arm wrestle with Hulk Hogan.

“We were experimenting with 3D technology in very early forms before Donkey Kong Country (DKC) even started, but it was difficult to translate the ambitious method into a real game situation,” recalls lead designer Gregg Mayles.

“At the time, software companies outside of Japan produced graphics that were better than those made in Japan. Nintendo came and demonstrated the proprietary graphics system that became ACM. [Advanced Computer Modelling]. As a result, I was asked to make a game with a character named Donkey Kong.”

monkey

donkey kong country

retro gamer

Donkey Kong Country has been praised for its great looks. Donkey and Diddy’s characters looked solid, fresh and innovative as a result of their new 3D game design process. “The use of 3D modeling was a foreign word to us (and the industry) at the time. Once the character is modeled in 3D, you can view the character from any angle, render 3D animation frames, and then convert it to a 2D image. The animation was extremely labor intensive and required great artistic skill to get the angles and lighting right. This new method of calculation allowed us to create animations faster and at a higher level with a realistic look we had never seen before,” Gregg recalls.

donkey kong country

“The steps are carefully arranged to allow the player to get past the obstacles on ‘first try’ (i.e. if there is a wobbly rope, when it appears on screen, the rope will swing towards you and you can jump immediately). Levels like Barrel Cannon Canyon Seeing a skilled player in the game is perhaps the best example of this. If you get it all right all the time, you can pass the level efficiently and impressively.”

Rare had to make sure the dazzling duo was set in a properly impressive world. With the exception of a few ladders and girders, the Donkey Kong world hasn’t been explored in detail, so Rare had a chance to make an important mark in the series. It puts the new Donkey Kong starring to the edge, bringing a lot of new beans and even blurry ones.

“Originally we wanted to include DK Junior as Donkey’s assistant.” says Gregg. “Diddy Kong is an updated version of Junior, but Nintendo thought the characters were too different and wanted Junior to appear in their original form or have the new characters renamed. We believe that the new characters fit perfectly into the updated Donkey Kong universe. So we kept our character and gave it a different name. We carried a sheet of paper with possible names scrambled up. Some like Diet DK, DK Lite and Tichy Kong were very bad. We had Dinky Kong. I chose Didi, but after receiving legal advice, I decided to choose Didi,” he said.

donkey kong country

Donkey Kong Country is famous for introducing a friend system to the gameplay. This feature will continue to be tweaked by Rare throughout the series. Gregg explains how the unique labeling system came about. “The second character was initially conceived as an ‘extra hit’. If a player has both characters and the lead character is hit, the second character can go on and the player won’t die,” Gregg says.

“Energy bars can be ruled out because we made an early decision to keep the screen as clean as possible. It had to be visual. Based on Mario’s Big Mario Returns to Little Mario system, we thought a second character could take over this feature, look visually great, and give players the feeling they’re not alone in the game. As we continue to develop the game and its sequel, the second character has become an integral part of the game, not just an extra hit.”

nonsense

donkey kong country

Ironically, Rare’s handling of the series reflected the wall of doubt Donkey Kong faced from its American distributor in 1981, and faced similar concerns when the team traveled to Kyoto to introduce the game to the original creators. “We had a memorable visit to Nintendo’s headquarters in Japan. Even though it was my first visit to what many people consider to be the mecca of video games, it was surprisingly calm at the time,” says Gregg.

“We were there to show the people who made the original characters for the early versions of the game. It’s the first time a lot of people at Nintendo have seen the game, and our radical approach to the graphics wasn’t very good at first.” Mr. Yokoi [Game Boy creator] It looked too three-dimensional.” Miyamoto realized and approved what we had done much sooner. Using their unparalleled experience, Miyamoto and his staff gave us suggestions on how to smooth out some rough edges. And DK suggested that it would look good with a handshake gesture. I thought this would be cool too, so I started recording even though the deadline was a few weeks away.”

donkey kong country

Greg Mays

DK Country was launched at a time of industry upheaval. The noise created by the huge visual leap that 32-bit games made could easily drown me. Luckily, the release of DK Country turned out to be spooky. With over 8 million copies sold, the game became one of the best-selling 16-bit games of all time. Gregg remembers when the game first came out.

“The conference was made until the last DKC was announced,” he says. “People were expecting something big, but they thought it would be the N64. The game looked really cool and I could hear people around me saying that Project Reality (the development name for the N64) looked great. Then, when the news of the SNES game was announced, there was a moment of dazed silence before everyone applauded. I think I drank a few celebratory beers at the Nintendo party that followed.”

When we ask Gregg how he reacts when people actually say they like Donkey Kong Country more than Miyamoto’s Super Mario World, he says he’s honored, but quickly jumps into Mario’s defense. “I think the playstyle is very different. “Super Mario World” is most appreciated for its grandeur, complex, and slow pace, while “Donkey Kong Country” is flashy, daring, and plays better at its fast pace,” he explains. “To be honest, Mario is better. I’d say it’s a game. My personal opinion is that DKC2 was a better game than DKC. That’s because we tried to incorporate more of the subtleties that make Mario so appealing, while maintaining our aspiration for fast and fun gameplay.”


This feature first appeared in . retro gamer magazine. If you need more cool features like the one you just read, don’t forget to subscribe to the print or digital edition. my favorite magazine.


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“Yes, we did go to the zoo and observe the gorillas”: The making of Donkey Kong Country

The genesis of any game, particularly in the early days of its development, always begins with conceptual drawings, sketches and inks. So when Nintendo approached Rare and asked it to create a game that would have ‘better graphics than Aladdin’ you could argue that it was effectively asking Rare to outdraw Walt Disney. That’s like trying to beat Hulk Hogan in an arm wrestle. 
“We were experimenting with a very early form of 3D technology before Donkey Kong Country (DKC) began, but actually trying to implement an ambitious method into a real game situation was difficult,” recalls lead designer Gregg Mayles. 
“At the time, software houses outside Japan were producing graphics that were considered superior to those produced inside Japan. Nintendo visited us and we demonstrated a proprietary graphics system that we were toying with, which became ACM [Advanced Computer Modelling]. As a result they asked us to do a game using the Donkey Kong character.” 
Going ape

Donkey Kong Country was praised for its stunning looks. The characters of Donkey and Diddy looked solid, crisp and innovative – a result of the new process of 3D game design. “The use of 3D modelling was an alien concept to us (and the industry) at the time. Once the character was modelled in 3D we could view it at any angle and render 0out the frames of 3D animation that were then converted to 2D images. Previously, animation was extremely labour-intensive and required great artistic skill to get the angles and lighting correct. This new computer assisted method enabled us to produce animation quicker, to a higher standard and with a previously unseen realistic look,” recalls Gregg. 

“The stages were painstakingly arranged so that the player could ‘go first time’ past obstacles (ie if there was a swinging rope then when it came on screen it was swinging towards you so you could jump onto it straight away). Watching a skilled player in full flow on levels such as Barrel Cannon Canyon is probably the best example of this. If you time everything correctly, you can get through the level efficiently and impressively.” 
Rare needed to ensure that its dazzling duo would be framed inside a suitably striking world. As the Donkey Kong universe – save for a few ladders and girders – hadn’t really been explored in any great detail, Rare had the chance to leave a significant mark on the series. It introduced a number of new Kong’s into the game and even smudged things up by supplanting a brand new Donkey Kong into the lead role. 
“We initially wanted to include DK Junior as Donkey’s sidekick,” says Gregg. “Diddy Kong was our update of Junior, but Nintendo felt that the character was too different and either wanted Junior to be included in his original look or the name of our new character to be changed. We felt that our new character perfectly suited the updated universe of Donkey Kong so we kept our character and gave him a different name. We had a sheet of paper that we passed around where potential names were scribbled down. Some were hilariously bad: Diet DK, DK Lite and Titchy Kong. We settled on Dinky Kong, but after legal advice decided to change it to Diddy.” 

Donkey Kong Country is renowned for introducing a buddy system into its gameplay, a feature that Rare would continue to tweak throughout the series. Gregg explains how the unique tagging system came about. “The second character was initially designed as an ‘extra hit’. If the player had both characters and the leading one was hit, the second one could continue and the player would not die,” says Gregg. 
“An early decision was made to keep the screen as clutter free as possible, so that ruled out an energy bar. It had to be visual. Basing it on Mario’s ‘big Mario returns to little Mario’ system we thought a second character could perform this function, look visually impressive and give the player a feeling that they were not alone in the game. As we developed the game and its sequels further, the second character became more of an integral part of the games rather than just being an extra hit.” 
Monkey business

Ironically, mirroring the wall of doubt that Donkey Kong faced from its American distributors back in 1981, Rare’s treatment of the series was met with similar misgivings, when the team travelled to Kyoto to unveil the game to it’s original creators. “We made a memorable visit to Nintendo’s HQ in Japan. I was surprisingly calm at the time, despite it being my first visit to what many would class as the Mecca of video games,” says Gregg. 
“We were there to demo an early version of the game to the people that created the original character. It was the first time many of the people at Nintendo had seen the game, and our radical approach with the graphics didn’t initially go down too well. Mr Yokoi [Game Boy creator] remarked that ‘It looked too 3D’. Miyamoto was much quicker to appreciate what we had done and gave his approval. Mr Miyamoto and his staff used their unparalleled experience to give us some input on how we could smooth out a few rough edges and suggested that DK would look good with a hand-slap move. We thought this would be cool too, so even though we were only a few weeks away from the deadline we included it.” 

Gregg Mayles

DK Country was released during a period of shift in the industry. It could have easily been drowned out by the noise made by the gigantic visual leap that 32-bit gaming had made. Thankfully, DK Country’s release proved to be just as seismic. Selling over 8 million copies, it became one of the biggest-selling 16 bit games of all time. Gregg remembers the first time they showcased the game. 
“The conference built up to DKC’s announcement at the very end,” he says. “People were expecting something big, but they thought it was going to be about the N64. The game looked spectacular and I heard people around me saying that Project Reality (N64’s development name) looked great. Then when it was announced it was a SNES game, there was a moment’s stunned silence before everyone started clapping (apart from me, who was wondering how we were going to finish it on time). I think I had a few celebratory beers during the Nintendo party that followed.”
When asking Gregg how he reacts when people tell them that they actually prefer Donkey Kong Country to Miyamoto’s Super Mario World, he says he feels honoured but is quick to jump to Mario’s defence. “I think the style of play is very different; Super Mario World was sublime and intricate, best appreciated at a slower speed, whereas Donkey Kong Country was extravagant and brash, better played at a faster rate,” he explains. “If I was honest though, I would say Mario is the better game. My personal opinion is that DKC2 was a better game than DKC as we tried to incorporate more of the intricacies that made Mario so compelling but at the same time retaining our desire for fast, fun gameplay.”
This feature first appeared in Retro Gamer magazine. For more excellent features, like the one you’ve just read, don’t forget to subscribe to the print or digital edition at MyFavouriteMagazines.  

#zoo #observe #gorillas #making #Donkey #Kong #Country

“Yes, we did go to the zoo and observe the gorillas”: The making of Donkey Kong Country

The genesis of any game, particularly in the early days of its development, always begins with conceptual drawings, sketches and inks. So when Nintendo approached Rare and asked it to create a game that would have ‘better graphics than Aladdin’ you could argue that it was effectively asking Rare to outdraw Walt Disney. That’s like trying to beat Hulk Hogan in an arm wrestle. 
“We were experimenting with a very early form of 3D technology before Donkey Kong Country (DKC) began, but actually trying to implement an ambitious method into a real game situation was difficult,” recalls lead designer Gregg Mayles. 
“At the time, software houses outside Japan were producing graphics that were considered superior to those produced inside Japan. Nintendo visited us and we demonstrated a proprietary graphics system that we were toying with, which became ACM [Advanced Computer Modelling]. As a result they asked us to do a game using the Donkey Kong character.” 
Going ape

Donkey Kong Country was praised for its stunning looks. The characters of Donkey and Diddy looked solid, crisp and innovative – a result of the new process of 3D game design. “The use of 3D modelling was an alien concept to us (and the industry) at the time. Once the character was modelled in 3D we could view it at any angle and render 0out the frames of 3D animation that were then converted to 2D images. Previously, animation was extremely labour-intensive and required great artistic skill to get the angles and lighting correct. This new computer assisted method enabled us to produce animation quicker, to a higher standard and with a previously unseen realistic look,” recalls Gregg. 

“The stages were painstakingly arranged so that the player could ‘go first time’ past obstacles (ie if there was a swinging rope then when it came on screen it was swinging towards you so you could jump onto it straight away). Watching a skilled player in full flow on levels such as Barrel Cannon Canyon is probably the best example of this. If you time everything correctly, you can get through the level efficiently and impressively.” 
Rare needed to ensure that its dazzling duo would be framed inside a suitably striking world. As the Donkey Kong universe – save for a few ladders and girders – hadn’t really been explored in any great detail, Rare had the chance to leave a significant mark on the series. It introduced a number of new Kong’s into the game and even smudged things up by supplanting a brand new Donkey Kong into the lead role. 
“We initially wanted to include DK Junior as Donkey’s sidekick,” says Gregg. “Diddy Kong was our update of Junior, but Nintendo felt that the character was too different and either wanted Junior to be included in his original look or the name of our new character to be changed. We felt that our new character perfectly suited the updated universe of Donkey Kong so we kept our character and gave him a different name. We had a sheet of paper that we passed around where potential names were scribbled down. Some were hilariously bad: Diet DK, DK Lite and Titchy Kong. We settled on Dinky Kong, but after legal advice decided to change it to Diddy.” 

Donkey Kong Country is renowned for introducing a buddy system into its gameplay, a feature that Rare would continue to tweak throughout the series. Gregg explains how the unique tagging system came about. “The second character was initially designed as an ‘extra hit’. If the player had both characters and the leading one was hit, the second one could continue and the player would not die,” says Gregg. 
“An early decision was made to keep the screen as clutter free as possible, so that ruled out an energy bar. It had to be visual. Basing it on Mario’s ‘big Mario returns to little Mario’ system we thought a second character could perform this function, look visually impressive and give the player a feeling that they were not alone in the game. As we developed the game and its sequels further, the second character became more of an integral part of the games rather than just being an extra hit.” 
Monkey business

Ironically, mirroring the wall of doubt that Donkey Kong faced from its American distributors back in 1981, Rare’s treatment of the series was met with similar misgivings, when the team travelled to Kyoto to unveil the game to it’s original creators. “We made a memorable visit to Nintendo’s HQ in Japan. I was surprisingly calm at the time, despite it being my first visit to what many would class as the Mecca of video games,” says Gregg. 
“We were there to demo an early version of the game to the people that created the original character. It was the first time many of the people at Nintendo had seen the game, and our radical approach with the graphics didn’t initially go down too well. Mr Yokoi [Game Boy creator] remarked that ‘It looked too 3D’. Miyamoto was much quicker to appreciate what we had done and gave his approval. Mr Miyamoto and his staff used their unparalleled experience to give us some input on how we could smooth out a few rough edges and suggested that DK would look good with a hand-slap move. We thought this would be cool too, so even though we were only a few weeks away from the deadline we included it.” 

Gregg Mayles

DK Country was released during a period of shift in the industry. It could have easily been drowned out by the noise made by the gigantic visual leap that 32-bit gaming had made. Thankfully, DK Country’s release proved to be just as seismic. Selling over 8 million copies, it became one of the biggest-selling 16 bit games of all time. Gregg remembers the first time they showcased the game. 
“The conference built up to DKC’s announcement at the very end,” he says. “People were expecting something big, but they thought it was going to be about the N64. The game looked spectacular and I heard people around me saying that Project Reality (N64’s development name) looked great. Then when it was announced it was a SNES game, there was a moment’s stunned silence before everyone started clapping (apart from me, who was wondering how we were going to finish it on time). I think I had a few celebratory beers during the Nintendo party that followed.”
When asking Gregg how he reacts when people tell them that they actually prefer Donkey Kong Country to Miyamoto’s Super Mario World, he says he feels honoured but is quick to jump to Mario’s defence. “I think the style of play is very different; Super Mario World was sublime and intricate, best appreciated at a slower speed, whereas Donkey Kong Country was extravagant and brash, better played at a faster rate,” he explains. “If I was honest though, I would say Mario is the better game. My personal opinion is that DKC2 was a better game than DKC as we tried to incorporate more of the intricacies that made Mario so compelling but at the same time retaining our desire for fast, fun gameplay.”
This feature first appeared in Retro Gamer magazine. For more excellent features, like the one you’ve just read, don’t forget to subscribe to the print or digital edition at MyFavouriteMagazines.  

#zoo #observe #gorillas #making #Donkey #Kong #Country


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