April 3rd, 2003
"Ex-Crawfish Talks GBA"
Developer Crawfish is gone, but it lives on in Climax's new handheld team.
April 03, 2003 - Back in November 2002, one of the biggest and most popular
Game Boy Advance game developers, Crawfish Interactive, abruptly closed its
doors. The team was responsible for several games on the Game Boy Color and
Game Boy Advance, including Ecks vs. Sever and Street Fighter Alpha 3.
With one chapter closed, another has started at UK console development studio Climax, where the company has hired on key members of the Crawfish team to form Climax's own handheld game development division. We were given the opportunity to throw a few questions towards the new development team at Climax. Cameron Sheppard, ex-Crawfish head, now Climax's managing director, and Mike Merrin, Climax's creative director, sends back some answers to our inquiries.
IGNpocket: How many members are involved in Climax's new handheld division? How many from the existing Climax group that worked on games like Blades of Steel and the never-shipped GBC Gauntlet, and how many are ex-Crawfish folk?
Climax: 20 people in total, including nine former Crawfish. There was already an established team at Climax.
IGNpocket: What exactly happened with the demise of Crawfish? Why did the doors close, and what could have changed to keep it open?
Climax: From June thorough to November publisher interest was unsure on the GBA, ECTS saw an upturn in interest but for titles to start early in 2003. Crawfish had many titles finishing and a number of publishers not paying on time. These issues joined meant that the company couldn't continue quite long enough.
IGNpocket: What happened with the projects that were in the works at Crawfish during its closure? Superman for Infogrames, or the Bitmap Brothers games, for example?
Climax: Projects that are signed with a publisher and are their property (ie. Superman) revert back to the publisher and they are able to continue with the project with another developer or cancel the project all together. As part of a contractual obligation when a company closes, all source code, artwork etc. has to be returned to the publisher. With the case of the Bitmap titles these weren't signed with a publisher.
IGNpocket: It's been reported that Crawfish was responsible for the Game Boy Advance version of a Grand Theft Auto game. Can you comment on that project and tell us where it's at now?
Climax: As mentioned above any project that Crawfish was working on that is the property of a publisher would revert back to that Publisher for them to decide what they would like to do with it.
IGNpocket: With your experience with the rise and fall of a great GBA developer, what makes you believe that the handheld team at Climax can succeed where Crawfish failed?
Climax: The biggest difference is the support structure you have being part of a larger developer. Whereas Crawfish would go to developers with only a GBA version in mind, we now have the ability to push titles onto ALL formats and provide a greater service to publishers.
IGNpocket: What sort of projects are you looking to do at Climax?
Climax: All types, we have great experience with Platform games, Racing Games, Fighting Games, Adventure and sport.
IGNpocket: Does the Climax handheld team have an official team name?
Climax: Climax Handheld Games.
IGNpocket: Crawfish was known early on in the GBA world for doing technologies on the side demonstrating the capabilities of the system. Will those types of R&D projects still continue at Climax, or will everyone there be focused strictly on the games you're contracted to do?
Climax: We will have a small group working on new technology for the system and ensure that our current engines are the best that is possible. We have some very exciting technology that we're working on right now, which we should be able to reveal in the coming months...
IGNpocket: Will the handheld team at Climax be working on any original projects, or will the games you make be dictated by publisher's needs?
Climax: It would be great to work on original titles, and some of our games may be original but with other teams at Climax working on the home console versions. Who knows?
IGNpocket: When will gamers play the first game from the new handheld division? What kind of game will it be?
Climax: Very soon, but you'll have to wait for official announcements on these.
IGNpocket: What's the latest feeling towards the Game Boy Advance market for developers? What ways should change to make things better?
Climax: The interest has picked up both Publisher and Developer, many developers have fallen by the wayside because of the way the GBA software sales have performed and this needs to pick up with the SP, I think that it will be a survival of the fittest for many developers though.
IGNpocket: What's the current developer vibe like for the Nokia N-Gage? Do you think it will be a viable platform for developers to work on?
Climax: There is interest from some rather big players on the N-Gage. And there is a new development environment for people to get involved in. Whether it is viable will depend on Nokia's capability to convince the public that this isn't just a phone.
IGNpocket: What do you think about the Game Boy Advance SP?
Climax: Beautiful. As I understand it, it is selling better than most predicted, with analysts saying that it could sell more than even Nintendo are saying.... The big question is will people buy enough games, or are they still too expensive?
Interview by Craig Harris