I recently had a chance to sit down to do a short interview with Brian Provinciano of Vblank Entertainment. What I had intended to be a short interview that wouldn’t take up too much of his time turned out to be a great 30 minute conversation about his roots in the gaming industry, Retro City Rampage, and its predecessor, Grand Theftendo. Below you’ll find just a few of the highlights from our conversation. Special thanks to Brian for giving us such an in-depth interview. We’ve  posted the audio below. Give it a listen and see some of the highlights after the jump.



You’ve been working on Retro City Rampage for a long time, but you have your feet wet in a lot of other areas. Tell us a little bit about your background.

In the beginning I started out just doing software on the ‘net, free games and game creators. That lead to my job in the industry, so I was kind of an indie before the term was coined. My first job in games was at Digital Eclipse in 2004 where I started working on those TV joystick games; the ones that cluttered up living rooms before people stopped buying them. Back then it was like I was working on retro games, because that hardware was basically like a Sega Genesis.

I worked on a bunch of great Midway games like Mortal Kombat emulations and stuff, then I worked on Sonic Rivals 1 and 2 on PSP. Then I moved on; I did some contract work for a company on some Wii games, then went to Propaganda [Games] and worked on Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned. That was when I quit and decided to go full-time indie.

Are there any of the modern games that have an influence into what you’re putting into RCR?

I’ve taken a lot of enjoyment from modern games, such as the stealth element and cover system. That was a big thing for me. That really is what I like most about GTA4. … When I’m in those gunfights and I’m taking cover behind pillars or behind cars and everything – those to me are the favorite parts of GTA4 and I wanted to add that. A lot of retro games it’s “there are enemies on screen, they’re shooting at you and you shoot back” but if you start having to take cover and add more strategy to it and have to plan where you’re going and how you’re getting there it adds a lot of depth.

Can you tell us about the music in the game and who is composing it?

We’ve got three music guys – Virt, who pretty much everyone in the world knows. When people think of NES chiptunes they think of Virt. He’s the pioneer of that stuf. He’s worked in the industry on a helluva lot of games as well including Contra 4 on the DS, TMNT on the DS [and] he did Batman: The Brave and the Bold recently on the Wii and the DS. He’s really talented; he’s amazing and I’m lucky to have him.

The second guy is Leonard Paul who goes by Freaky DNA, and he’s been in the industry since the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo, so he’s quite experienced. He did a lot of stuff on the Commodore 64 and things like that. I worked with him on Sonic Rivals 2 at Backbone [Entertainment]. Then we hooked up again to work on Retro City Rampage. He was an instructor at the Vancouver Film School as well and now he’s started his own school. Videogameaudio.com is where you can find him.

Finally there’s Matt Creamer who goes by Norrin Radd. The most amazing thing about his story is that he was inspired by Virt, the pioneer of the NES chiptune. As a result he had written hours of this amazing chiptune music, almost as an homage to Virt. [It was] in the style of Virt, [and] in the same format as Virt. The freaky thing was he happened to be in Vacouver as well which is where [Leonard] and I are based. His music plugged right into the game; it fit perfectly. He’s since done a lot of original tracks. It was a match made in heaven.

Is there anyone else on your team?

Yes, the additional team member is Maxime Trépanier (www.maximetrepanier.com). He’s an artist based in Montreal. He’s a mutlti-skilled guy definitely fit for the indie life. He does pixel art, painting, Photoshop, 3D, 2D, and tattoos. He’d say “can I do a monster truck” and I’d say “Sure! Why not?” He threw it together and now we have a monster truck in the game. I was like “This is awesome, I gotta add a mission with this!” It’s nice that we have the freedom to do that.

Mr. Destructoid was announced as an alternate character. It looks like from the screenshot that he’s a hat, essentially?

Yeah, he’s a hat which you can buy from the store which gives you his costume, effectively. It gets unlocked after you beat the Mr. Destructoid mission in which you face off against a guy named Dr. Von Butnik – which could be inspired by a hedgehog hater of some kind…

Does he have any special powers when you put on his hat?

There’ll be a special ability, yeah.

You’ve got some other familiar faces coming soon as well?

Yes, I do; hopefully those will be announced soon. Fez had just announced that they just reached [the] code complete [milestone]. I’ll be there soon, I’m reaching content complete very soon. I’m finishing up the final levels, which are all the special guest star levels that I have to do. I should be able to announce them next month.

We’ve got four core cameos, Mr. Destructoid being one of them. Those guest stars will be playable characters but they’ll also have missions surrounding them. In addition there will be a few more smaller cameos of characters in the background.

Having that 80’s look are we going to see references to 80’s culture?

Absolutely. [Retro City Rampage] isn’t limited to games, it’s the whole NES era, really – the late 80’s and early 90’s. Some of the stuff I’m most proud of are playing off Saved By The Bell, The Fresh Prince, things like that.

Retro City Rampage will be coming to Xbox Live Arcade and WiiWare this summer. Additional information on the game can be found at retrocityrampage.com, and chiptune lovers can also download the game’s soundtrack for free via their music page. Here’s hoping we see RCR in the 2011 Summer of Arcade.