In July I had the pleasure of announcing that our game, Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken, was coming exclusively to PSN. We’ve gone and polished the heck out of it and will be shipping these fine feathered friends to you soon!
The game was in production for the PS3 for just over a year, but the Rocketbirds have been with me much longer. It started in the 80s with those anthropomorphic animal comics, such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Using only birds gave the stories a satirical edge I could play with.
It wasn’t until 2000, when I’d co-founded Ratloop Inc., and had decided to go back to complete my studies that I started to use the birds as a way to vent my creative energy.
I spent a week putting together a clip called “Pilot.” It had sneaky penguins infiltrating a chicken base on what looked like the North Pole. It got good attention at the time, so the simple formula stuck with me.
Eventually I spent a week at an art event called Trustus. Artists had seen and liked “Pilot,” that year a bunch of us created a movie (with Penguins and Chickens) during the week- it played non-stop, projected as background visuals to music the DJs were playing. Music plays an important part in Rocketbirds – I’d also met Herwig Maurer of New World Revolution that week, and he remembered the birds and let us use his awesome music for Rocketbirds!
The more mainstream my life became, the more these birds started pecking at my psyche. I had to make another game. In October 2009, we released “Rocketbirds: Revolution,” which was nominated for three awards at the 2010 Independent Games Festival: Excellence in Audio, Excellence in Visual Art and the Seumas McNally grand prize.
The protagonist, Hardboiled Chicken, is a mild-mannered, stone-cold Penguin killer. He’d always been a light grey colour, like a hard-boiled egg. He started out (D1) looking like the prototype Hardboiled Chicken (C1) with no real neck, stocky body and a single wattle. I tried going Earthworm Jim-like (D2), but I thought a chicken soldier needed a bandana to cover his comb. I also gave him two wattles and sideburns, and removed the bottom beak to simplify his talking animation. I saw Behind Enemy Lines, so hooked him up in a track suit – then a biker suit (D3). Something still wasn’t right. An executioner look (D4) did the trick for Hardboiled Chicken (D5).
I could never get the Penguins (E1 – E4) right until we were well into production of Rocketbirds: Revolution! These were soldiers of the evil Penguin empire, but when designing them (E5), they were more like soldiers in the wrong place at the wrong time. I wanted the Penguin’s black and white pattern to be black over the eyes, appearing bandit-like and disobedient.
For the game’s two-player couch co-op mode, we needed six more Budgie designs to form the “Dirty Half-Dozen.” I’d given this task to one of the level artists, Xinru, to create designs based on the original budgie protestor template. The design I liked (F3) prompted me to theme the others based on Vietnam War movies and TV shows (F4). Ang, our other level artist, painted the Dirty Half-Dozen (F5 / F6). One of the Budgies had a last-minute sex change and became Hilga.
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken will be coming to exclusively to PSN this October and we couldn’t be more excited!