As a 90’s inspired “boomer shooter” with retro graphics, Brutal John reminds me of games like Duke Nukem, Serious Sam, Doom, and Soldier of Fortune. Developed by ‘OldSchool Laws Interactive’ (a three-person indie team that’s mostly comprised of ex-3D Realms employees), the game has been in development since 2020 and is scheduled to be released later this year.
To find out a little bit more about Brutal John, I interviewed Aleksey Agir (Tech Artist, Programmer, Game Designer – OldSchool Laws Interactive), and also got to ask him as to what advice he would give to new and upcoming game developers. Enjoy!
I understand that OldSchool Laws is a 3 person development team that’s mainly comprised of ex 3D Realms employees. Given that the studio formed in 2012, what has the studio been up to since?
The studio was originally called Black Ice Team, and we worked on the shooter called Max The Revenger, based on the UDK Engine (UE3). Soon the shooter was cancelled and the team was disbanded. Then, for a long time we worked at 3D Realms on such games as: Rise of The Triad (2013), Bombshell, Rad Rodgers, Ion Fury, etc. In 2019 the full team reunited and work on Brutal John began.
How long has Brutal John been in development for, and what have been the biggest challenges that you’ve faced during this time? How have you overcome them?
Brutal John has been in development since the second half of 2020. Initially it was a little mock project to recreate Duke Nukem Forever (2001), but after 2 weeks we saw huge potential in the project and Brutal John became a serious and independent product. The biggest challenge we faced – this project is way too big in scale for such a small team, even for a very experienced team. It’s quite hard, but we will still deliver what we’ve planned, because we like the game ourselves, and the concept is crazy good.
Brutal John has been described by some people as the Duke Nukem that we deserve. Given that most of the development team were associated with 3D Realms, why do you think Duke Nukem Forever wasn’t that well received? What lessons have the team learnt from the game that will ensure that Brutal John doesn’t suffer the same fate?
Duke Nukem Forever was not accepted in the first place because of inflated expectations of players. People expected a breakthrough, revolutionary game, but didn’t get it. The release version still was a pretty good game, regardless of its flaws and outdated stuff. In developing Brutal John, we wanted to make a game that we would play ourselves. But obviously, our eyes get very washed out during the development and we often fail to notice the obvious problems. So we’ve put a demo version of the game on Steam, and by taking feedback from players, will try to update and constantly improve the game.
Given that each development team member of OldSchool Laws has over 12 years of gamedev experience, what are the most important lessons that you’ve learnt during your time in the industry, and what advice would you give to today’s up and coming game developers?
The main lesson we learned in 12 years of a game development is that you should definitely not make a big game project without experience with small projects, and also not try to please everyone. The most important thing is to do the work well.
Why do you think “boomer shooters” are seeing renewed interest in recent times? What is it about the FPS subgenre that appeals to people, especially when compared against more modern shooters?
It’s actually mostly about nostalgia, and some people just prefer the old look and gameplay. But we think that the interest in boomer shooters is already beginning to slow down, although we still want to bring fresh ideas to the trend.
Your goal is “to create most fun, and polished retro based games, in the best traditions of cult classic games”. With this in mind, what’s next for you? What does the future hold for OldSchool Laws, and what other retro based games would you consider working on after the release of Brutal John?
At the moment we are fully focused on the development of Brutal John and yet have no plans for future projects.