Fan Works, Interviews

Retro Spotlight: SRB2Kart and the Kart Krew – Final!

We’re on the last leg of our interview with the Kart Krew, and this particular Spotlight is chock full of first looks at SRB2Kart v2! Hit the jump for the final round of questions and check out our exclusive look at the new tracks and features coming soon!

Thanks to all the tracks, there’s also a ton of music in this game! Some songs were obvious picks, like the Daytona USA theme for it’s respective stage. Was choosing songs difficult or did everything just fall into place?
Sryder: I feel like everything just fell into place eventually. Some songs we used for maps for ages but didn’t like a massive amount, so there was a push to find something new that we liked when we could.

Chromatian: Music is often what inspired the course for the level designer. If the music choice was ever really divisive others would pitch their own music suggestions and we would discuss if which would work best, but for the most part we like to respect a level designer’s original decision.
EzoRichards: For me, I typically just went with whatever music I thought sounded best. Sometimes it was difficult, yes, and occasionally I’d spend several minutes shifting through hundreds of my favorite songs trying to find the perfect one, only to change it even further down the line after finally picking one. And every now and then we’d have debates over what level should have what music (though these were relatively rare). One thing’s for sure though, it wasn’t always easy.

TehRealSalt: We specifically made it a rule to not pick “obvious” stuff for the original levels, except for specific isolated instances (mainly tracks based on levels from other games). This was to give Kart feeling unique without the need for a heavily-burdened music team, rather than rehash the same tunes that every Sonic fan’s heard at this point. This same rule was also applied to Top Down. If you either noticed one odd track that you recognized from an obscure game and got excited, or you were fooled into thinking that the soundtrack was all-original, then we did our job properly!
VelocitOni: Choosing music for pretty much anything is usually a bit of a struggle. Mappers usually have a pick in mind way ahead of time as a result of what gives them the inspiration to make something, more often than not the tune itself is what ends up shaping the map. An example of this being: Daytona Speedway’s entire revamp for this redone version of Kart was based around Blade (the mapper)’s idea of it being reminiscent of that game’s aesthetic. In fact, its original longstanding name was “Pipe Speedway Zone” prior to us starting our move on phasing out all the Mario references from the front-stage, with Luigi Circuit (MK64) to match as it’s theme. This makes it especially cruel when a mapper had a theme in their head the entire time, and it turns out to not be all that good from everyone else’s perspective when they make their big reveal, its kinda like their pride. So we came up with a pretty solid couple of rules we’ve had an easier time respecting more recently: “don’t use music picks from really popular sources, ironically, especially Sonic games. Not unless it’s absolutely that actual zone location” (this is for the sake of giving original maps more of their own identity), and “your music pick should be something you’d listen to voluntarily, it should be a banger”.

There’s also some stages that are original and made specifically for SRB2Kart. With those stages (and preexisting ones!) how was the decision made between whether new songs were created or previously established music filled the gap instead?
Sryder: In general, I believe new music was only created when the track author could make music for the track, we have a bit of a weakness for custom music currently unfortunately.
TehRealSalt: All totally up to the author of the map; typically, the musician who made the song for a map is also the designer for that track, so they just made a tune that fits what they had in their mind. The rest of us either decided on total obscure jams, or slotted in what inspired the level to be made or even what they listened to while making it.

VelocitOni: The usual agreement is that original songs are just fine, we have a few devs in here that can make their own compositions. It’s just laid out there though that just because a piece is original doesn’t mean it’s better or has more priority over something established, they’ll still be on the same playing field… we can’t imagine tossing Fluvial Beat Deposits out as the main Title Theme (we’ve even got good graces from Simon Stalenhag on that one) just because someone made a homebrew.

Recently, the 1.01 patch was released. Do you have some sort of priority for what gets fixed and what doesn’t? How does everyone’s roles factor into a patch vs. working on the overall game prior to release?
Sryder: The main priority currently is the major bug fixes in the game for maps and anything that won’t break our current replays. There’s a few miscellaneous things here or there, and anything that is fixed on the base SRB2 code is also getting pulled down. For the most part now, any mappers and coders are working on fixes, so development of new features is mostly stopped, hopefully to start again soon.
Chromatian: We try to kill exploits and game balance issues as quickly as possible. Visual bugs are usually a low priority unless it’s causing poor conveyance issues. Most of us have taken a break and slowed down our pace now that people have something to actually play, compared pre-release when we were moving almost non-stop.

TehRealSalt: Patches have a much smaller team, due to people feeling burnout after a huge release like that. v1.0.0 is the absolute most stressful release, for any game, because we know how much first impressions influence opinions. I’d say the biggest backbone for patch development is programmers and mappers; both have to comb through piles upon piles of reports to fix bugs & issues, as well as address any new gameplay changes needed. IIRC the lead up to release had around 6-8 people working on it, not including testers, while our early patches so far will get about half of that.
We usually take command over how we want to fix or address something. Bugs are usually a no-brainer, but we typically ignore a lot of gameplay suggestions and we instead look at the basic problem itself; “how would we change that”? Because there’ll be tons of voices telling us to do different things, sometimes people asking the opposite things from each other, sometimes people complaining about intentional design, etc… so instead we try to come up with our own solutions that keep our vision of the game in-tact. The report itself is more important to us than someone tryin’ to tell us how our game “should” be, y’know? 😛

A significant example of us changing something in a completely different way than what the vocal players wanted that happened in v1.0.2 was the Self-Propelled Bomb item that tracks 1st place: you can out-run this item for an entire race with a mountain of skill, but that frustrated a lot of people — people insisted that we make it always inevitably hit 1st, since that’s how the infamous Blue Shell is “supposed” to work. But to us, that completely defeats the point of the item! We wanted to add pressure to 1st place, not force a hit on them; it’s our design goal to have tricks to avoid every item in the game with as few exceptions as we can manage, and that would defy that. Instead, we made it so that the SPB drastically buffed 2nd place’s items, so that it became 2nd’s job to add even more pressure on 1st; this did the trick in our private tests. It lets skill continue to dictate the results of a race, but makes being in 2nd not nearly as hopeless feeling. We have yet to see how well our general player-base reacts to it, but we will always want to stick to our guns and avoid fixing things in ways that defeats the point!

And finally, the kind folks of the Kart Krew shared these gifs, showing off what else V2 has to offer!

We wanna thank the Kart Krew for taking the time to sit down with us, even if it took a bit longer than we anticipated! Remember, if you or someone you know has a project that you’d like to see feature on the Retro Spotlight, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook, or drop us a line on the forums!

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