It gives me pleasure to announce our latest interview with Senile Team.
Senile Team was born in 2003 with the creation of Beats of Rage. Originally intended as nothing more than a fun little private project, Beats of Rage soon became a very popular game which was ported to many platforms. Following this success, the team began to work on the ambitious Age of the Beast project. However, this project was temporarily interrupted to complete Rush Rush Rally Racing, which was released for Dreamcast in 2009 and received positive reviews. A WiiWare version was also released in 2012
A huge thanks to the big chief at Senile Team, Roel van Mastbergen for taking part in this interview.
Can you talk us through how you got into making games and how Senile was born?
Long before our team was formed, we had already tasted some of the joys of game development. I think we probably owe one of our first experiences with game design to a 1989 board game called HeroQuest. In HeroQuest, players explored a dungeon. Doors, furniture and enemy characters were placed on the board as players advanced, according to a map whose contents were known only to the game master. It was a lot of fun, but it was even more fun to design and play our own quests.
Some years later a classmate introduced me to the Basic programming language. I enjoyed it, and immediately set out to make an ASCII-based game similar to Arkanoid. It wasn't very good of course, but I was hooked quickly proceeded to learn C and try to make more games.
The next big milestone was due to Duke Nukem 3D and Quake. These games were not only terrific, but also editable: users could build their own levels, change the graphics, and with some programming knowledge even change the game logic. Which - obviously - we did. A lot.
Meanwhile, my brothers and I had been playing a lot of SEGA games. One of our unanimous favourites was of course Streets of Rage. Sadly it didn't seem likely that SEGA would ever grace the series with a fourth episode. So one day I suggested to my brothers that waiting for a sequel could take forever, so why don't we make our own version with "borrowed" graphics from King of Fighters. They agreed, and several months later, Beats of Rage was born - and with it, Senile Team.
Rush Rush Rally looks amazing, and sadly its hard to get hold of these days.. Any decisions on a re-release?
Thank you! You are not the first to request a re-release, but as proud as we are of Rush Rush Rally Racing, we're also tired of working on it. We can neither deny nor confirm a re-release, but in any case it won't happen very soon as we will be focusing on other projects first.
We do have some good news for you, though! A box is on their way to the GOAT Store (www.goatstore.com) as we speak. And in that box are the last few sealed copies of Rush Rush Rally Racing!
Following on from that what about a follow up game with different tracks and so on?
Maybe, some day... But we don't have anything like that planned at this time.
What was the decision on supporting Dreamcast games?
That wasn't really a decision, but we sort of rolled into it. Not long after we released Beats of Rage and its source code, we received an email from Neill Corlett stating that he had ported our game to the PS2 and he was busy porting it to Dreamcast as well. Contrary to our expectations, it took him just one or two days to finish that port as well. Unbelievably fast! Anyway, Neill's Dreamcast code and of course his expert advice provided us with a good insight into the Dreamcast, and because the DC version of BOR was the most popular by far, the Dreamcast was the logical target platform for our next game.
Beats of Rage has take the community by storm, was you shocked and are you shocked at how this game took off and all the developments following on from its release?
Yes, very much so. BoR was originally intended as a fun little private project. When we put it online, we didn't know if anyone would be interested in it at all. But we soon found out, as our webserver became unreachable from an onslaught of visitors. It took us completely by surprise!
Likewise, we had no idea the source code would be used to port BoR to so many platforms.
Age of the Beast looks fantastic from the few screenshots i have seen, can you share some more screens please and what's the timeline like on this game?
Each time a question like this pops up, I do feel the urge to reveal more screens, I really do, but I know now that I shouldn't. When we revealed information and screenshots at the start of the project, that was a mistake. It raised more questions than it answered. Also, with every detail we revealed, we lost some flexibility. Once a feature has been made "official", it becomes more difficult to realise and accept that it may have to be changed or removed. So, prematurely releasing information has only harmed this project.
Meanwhile we've come to the point where we've had to re-think the entire design, so you can safely forget those old screenshots. The final product will be quite different anyway.
As for the timeline, we just don't know. It depends on many uncertain factors.
What was the inspiration behind Age of the Beast?
We've looked at a very broad range of games (not just beat 'em ups) for inspiration, but the most notable ones are Streets of Rage, King of Fighters, Golden Axe and Guardian Heroes. Contrary to Beats of Rage, though, we're not just mixing them together this time. With Age of the Beast, we're building a world of our own.
What ideas are in the Pipeline? Any other systems you may do games for?
I can't give you details of what ideas are in there, but I can tell you there are many, they are mostly 2D, and some of them are being developed in co-operation with other developers, e.g. HotPengu (http://hotpengu.in/).
We are looking into PS Vita and PS4, since it seems Sony is very indie-friendly these days.
I read somewhere you helped Duranik test drive the awesome Sturmwind, is this correct and if so how did that come about?
That is correct. As a fellow Dreamcast developer, we had already had some contact with Duranik. When we heard they were looking for people to help with beta testing, we simply volunteered. It was fun to do and it's nice to have contributed to such a monumental game.
How was your experience releasing a game for the Wii store?
Not good.. While it must be said that the people we've had contact with at Nintendo were very friendly and helpful, the process of developing and publishing a Wii title was plagued by bureaucracy. Also, by the time Rush Rush Rally Racing was released on WiiWare, the Wii was arguably more dead than the Dreamcast. Despite positive reviews, it ended up being a very costly mistake.
What's behind the name Senile Team? Why not a sequel named "Peas of Mash"?
The first time we used the name "Senile" was years earlier, while creating a mailing list. It was just one of many random words typed in order to find a name that was still available. But random or not, it stuck, and since then we've used it for various things.
When the time came to name our development team, "Senile Team" was the obvious choice for us, and for once it actually seemed to make sense, too. Our "senility" is now a reference to the fact that we make old-school games.
About the "Peas of Mash" question... I'm sorry, but I don't get it. Is it related to button mashers? Because while I can't deny the entertainment value of at least some button mashers, I don't think that's the kind of games our team makes. Or are you just trying to confuse me? Because if you are, you succeeded!
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