[Interview by EWJ]
Unseen 64 was given the great opportunity to talk to Nick Bruty President and Co-Founder of Planetmoon Studios. This article will be focusing on his time spent with Shiny Entertainment working on Earthworm Jim 1 and 2. It’s important to note that the visual concepts he’s referring to in the first sentence are these two cut levels:
Nick Talks about the Earthwom Jim 1&2 Development:
They were mainly just visual concepts that myself and Steve Crow would play around with, also Mark Lorenzen joined us for Jim 2. They were easy to drop in our engine and run around but we didn’t spend any time working on mechanics that didn’t end up in the game. There simply wasn’t any time to do much else. We founded Shiny and made EWJ from scratch in about 8 months although you might want to check with DP on the exact time as my memory is blurry. But you lose a lot of time just learning how to set up an office.
Luckily DP’s engine was very robust having being used many games before. This meant it was quick and easy to set up traditional action platform levels so we could spend a little time trying to do new things and push the 16bit platforms. Still it was all very seat of our pants stuff, which was why it was so much fun to work on and that is what comes through in the game.
We didn’t have to answer to anyone but ourselves, probably because of the success of Aladdin. This could have been a recipe for disaster but it was a great talented team with a lot of experience so while we did go crazy it was always within a certain discipline.
Creatively I wish we had given ourselves a break between Jim 1 & 2. I felt pretty spent at the time but there was a push to keep the momentum going. In my opinion this resulted in a weaker, less focused game.
I felt we were forcing it to happen and it didn’t feel so fresh to me. Not sure how the other guys feel about it but if we had a 6 month break between the 2 games it would have given us a chance to reflect and think about where we wanted to take Jim next.
Instead it was a rush and by the end of it I didn’t want to see Jim in quite a while. I went in about the most opposite direction I could go with MDK.
One of these days I’d love to have the original team get together and make the sequel it really deserves. Feels like unfinished business. Maybe another 10 years from now.
Nick Bruty Q&A:
U64: Were there any complete levels that had to be cut from the game due to space issues?
Nick: In fact it was the opposite. Sega offered a last minute deal if we included an extra level for the Genesis. So I took one of my concepts and quickly mapped a level out of it, Intestinal Distress. This was pretty much done over night and I remember Mike Dietz waking me up from under my desk at around 6am with a cup of hot tea and a sympathetic look. Somehow it all came together though
U64: I’ve always thought that this levels concept looked really cool. Was this level ever in a playable form?
Nick: Yes that’s a cool concept piece, I think it was Doug’s. It wasn’t made into a level. We had a lot of different concepts that we played around with but none that were taken to full and then cut.
Huge thanks to Nick Bruty for his contribution, you can keep up with his latest work at planetmoon.com
[Interview by EWJ]
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