Crash Bandicoot – Interviews “R” us

These are answers (of mine) to a series of interview questions from Russian game site  www.crashbandicoot.ru. They’re a major Russian Crash fan site, hence the bad pun in my title. If you happen to speak Russian, they’ve it here.

The questions are in bold, and my answers in normal.

Crash Bandicoot (series)

Image via Wikipedia

_

There was the soundtrack of Komodo Bros. boss on the CB1 CD. Does it mean you planned to bring this boss to the first game? What the fight was like and why have you dropped this idea?

Time. We ran out of time, plus we already had six bosses. They ended up in Crash 2. The Crash 1 battle plan was about 30% larger than the game we shipped – which was plenty big enough – as we planned too much. Everything extra ended up in Crash 2. But we didn’t actually make it during the Crash 1 development, we realized before then that there was too much in the plan and shelved it for later. It takes much less time to write on paper, “cool snow level where crash can slide around on the ice” than it does to design, model, and program said level.

Why the cut levels from CB1 beta like Cavern, Cliff and Waterfall haven’t reached its finish point in the final version of the game? According to the video they were well developed.

These were two early levels. The Cliff and Waterfall are the same level (jungle1). The cave was (cave2). These were the first two levels we built in Spring 1995, and they just didn’t work. The designs were too open, showing too many polygons and not channeling the player well enough for proper gameplay. If the space was so big that Crash could just walk around the enemies it wasn’t very fun.

There is the screenshot on crashmania where you can see the fruit similiar to pineapple instead of wumpa. Is it right and was it planned to add different fruits to the game?

Originally (for over a year in development) we had an elaborate fruit currency for pickups. Different fruit were worth different “points.” The only problem with this was that we only had so much texture memory and so each fruit got very little, and didn’t look that great. We eventually decided to spent all that memory on one fruit (the Wumpa fruit) and make it look really good. We rendered it out rotating and stored all the angles. Doing the fruit in actual 3D wasn’t feasible because fruit are round (hence lots of polygons) and we wanted to have many of them on screen.

What the bosses’ heads of Pinstripe, Koala Kong and Papu were for in the bonus rounds in the early version of the game?

We experimented with different “bonus head” currencies. I can’t remember which. In the end Tawna, Cortex, and Brio won out.

What the famous platform with plants from the level Air Crash (CB2) was for? Lots of players used to think it could take you to some secret place however there was the published video where Crash stayed on the platform and nothing happened.

That is just a video of some uncompleted area in some unfinished version of the game (say for a tradeshow). It was under construction and was never intended to be seen. Under construction levels can display any kind of whacky behavior.

The returning characters of Crash Tag Team Rac...

Image via Wikipedia

Why Nitros Oxide wasn’t brought to playable characters in CTR?

We only had room for so many, and the consensus (particularly of the Japanese) was that the cute characters were better choices (like the polar bear cub).

Is it true that there was a secret character called Hippo in the beta of CTR? Why weren’t all the characters from original trilogy included? It’d been nice to see Koala Kong and Nitrus Brio there.

Time and space. Each character was a lot of work and took up a lot of memory. I don’t remember the hippo though.

Why did you choose Mutato Muzika as the music composer to the all games of Crash Bandicoot?

We auditioned a number of composers to give us sample music for the game. Theirs was the coolest. And we were in a hurry J. But it worked out great!

Why CB1 takes all space on CD while CB takes only 1/3 of disk space? It’d be nice to see CB2 on mini-CD.

There is a huge fake file on the CB1 CD (the data.wad) which the game doesn’t care about. The file is full of random numbers and it was there to fill out the disk. The reason for this was twofold. First of all, the outside of the CD is faster, so by putting the useless file on the inside the game would be pushed to the outside. Second, we thought that pirates would be irritated by and less likely to download a 650meg game than a 150meg game. Less pirate copies is a good thing when you make games for a living.

Why have you deleted your official site of Crash Bandicoot on http://www.naughtydog.com? I’d like to read 20 questions and answers for Crash Bandicoot one more time.

I don’t control or influence www.naughtydog.com in any way, and haven’t since 2004.

What do you think about the bug which allows player to take the red gem in CB2 in an alternative way, not through the secret warproom?

I don’t 🙂 But it’s just a bug. In 1996 it would have pissed me off (mildly), now I shrug and smile.

Why do Brio and Cortex quarrel so that Brio looks for the way of destroying Cortex Spaceship in CB2?

Brio turned out to be surprisingly sympathetic (because Cortex picks on him) so we thought it would be amusing to develop that a bit. The Crash series, however, is not exactly The English Patient in terms of character depth.

It is very interesting what was planned to develop and what plans of that came true in CB2 and CB3?

For Crash 1 we had this huge three-part Island and all sorts of ideas for different areas and levels. Crash 2 was to a large extent those that didn’t make it in the first game plus lots of extra cool ideas we had. There was more time for new mechanics like the surf board, zero-G, sliding on the ice, etc. For Crash 3 we needed something a bit different and came up with the time travel idea (mine!). But truth is that we all loved that idea, and both Jason and I adore time travel. My second novel is about time travel! So the idea naturally led to putting in favorite times and places as levels for Crash 3.

Have you ever regretted of selling the rights of Crash Bandicoot franchise to another company? If there was a chance would you like to return on developing this franchise?

It made sense at the time, but I love Crash. Of all my creations it’s still my favorite and it’s sad to see him drop to his current lows. As Jason puts it, like discovering that your sweet High School girlfriend is now a street walker in Atlantic City.

_

Why did you call your company just “Naughty Dog”?

We liked dogs. Plus Jason was always drawing these cool cartoon characters (in the mid 80s) and one of them was “The Naughty Dog” a studly 80s shades wearing dog who always got the chicks. So he became the mascot and source of the name.

Why Crash Bandicoot and Jak franchises are so similiar? I mean it includes the way of games (1, 2, 3 and racing). The first game of Jak is very similiar to CB1, the attack of Jak is like Crash’s one, we are destroying the crates and so more. Dammit, you can also see the Plant from CB1 in the beginning of the game?

The same people made them. Sometimes you like your own ideas 🙂 Certainly there is plenty new stuff in Jak.

Why have you developed Action-Adventure but not the platformer on PS3 as it lacks of them? I have read your Making of Crash Bandicoot series where you have said Naughty Dog was always looking for the opportunity ways, don’t you think the nice platformer could worth it?

I myself didn’t really do much PS3 development. I left Naughty Dog when Uncharted 1 was in its infancy. But market wise there seemed to be less support for pure platforming. It was seen as old fashioned.

_

What are you interested in besides the video games?

Lots of stuff. Look at my blog http:all-things-andy-gavin.com.  Food, history, travel, writing, fiction of all sorts, technology. I’m very much a fantasy geek in the broad sense of the word.

What is your favorite game?

World of Warcraft. Even though I “quit” (again) after six years. Told you I’m a fantasy geek.

According to Facebook you like classic music. What are your favorite compositions?

I like a lot of music. In pure classical everything from Mozart to Stravinsky. But I listen to a wide variety of things, from weird folk music to industrial techno.

Have you ever been to Russia or the countries of post-Soviet Union. If yes did you like them? If no then are you going to visit them some time?

The closest I’ve been is Budapest and Prague. I’d love to visit many places in the former USSR. St. Petersburg is high on my list because I have a palace and museum fetish and I must see the baroque palaces there. Jason’s been to Moscow too – and I’d love to go there myself.

How do you think if Crash Bandicoot is relevant nowadays?

Current (or recent) Crash games are not relevant, but the character is. The response I get from my blog proves this. People still love the character, his world, and the games. I’m sure if they got an opportunity to play good Crash games in an updated format — millions would.

Any wishes to the users of Bandicoot Internet Zone?

I’d like to thank all the fans. It’s always been so gratifying how much people enjoyed visiting and playing our whacky cartoon universe. We brought it to life because it was just this super silly place that we thought would be a fun to inhabit (even if virtually), and it’s so great that millions and millions of players agreed and had a blast there!

_

The index of all Crash posts is here.

The Making Crash series: [12345678910, 11]

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47 comments on “Crash Bandicoot – Interviews “R” us

  1. […] Crash Bandicoot – Interviews “R” us […]

  2. I would buy a good next-gen Crash game in a second.
    Really miss platformers, which is why I loved LittleBigPlanet soo much!
    Love your blog Andy!

  3. Oh well if you didn’t know Andy you can still find the 20 questions of the old Crash Naughtydog site by following this web Archive. 🙂

    http://web.archive.org/web/20080605010750/www.naughtydog.com/crash/index.html

  4. Daniel says:

    http://www.crashmania.net/?rss=29052011
    Found this a while ago.
    Seems interesting…. what are your thoughts?

  5. Randeep says:

    Love these posts. But enough about Crash, we need a behind the scenes look at creating Jak! Covering everything from the new tech to the new world you built!

    Also, thanks for the advice for the iPad 2. I can’t put it down, it’s fantastic! Reading PDF’s snd surfing the internet is a pleasure on it. Also, loving a Game of Thrones. Keep on rocking this blog!

  6. […] Making Crash series: [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, […]

  7. Matteo Mazzarini says:

    Mr Gavin,
    do You like Beatles? 😀

    • agavin says:

      Yeah, but I can’t say I LOVE them. For me they are just one of many very good bands. I’m not really that into pre-psychedelic rock, so I prefer the later stuff, and that’s kinda borderline.

  8. AMBOO says:

    Hi andy

    what do you think of Crunch as a character, Is that a character you wold of created as there were way more bad guys than good, in the Crash series, or would you just have left it as Crash and Coco as the good guys.

    • agavin says:

      Crunch doesn’t look like an NDI Crash Character. He’s also kind of derivative of serval others. Who knows what we would have done, but certainly not exactly that.

  9. AMBOO says:

    Andy

    I heard somewhere that when both you’re and Jason’s contract ended with Sony they let you go, is that true, and why did you both quit at the same time. Did your relationship with Sony end on a sour note?

    I am asking as I want to know if it would be possible for you to go back, just in case the current presidents quit, would that be down to Sony?

    Was it got to do with that DICE presentation that Jason did? I just can’t get my head around why both of you needed to quit at the same time, surely one of you could have taken a break whilst the other headed the company.

    Can you please answer all of my points.

  10. AMBOO says:

    Would it be completely impossible for you and jason to work on Crash series again?

    If a head of Activision approaches you both, would that be possible and would you do it and why hasnt that happened?

    Can you both not offer your services to Activision, as you do know people there?

    If I was head of Activision I would would hire you both and Mark cerny for the next Crash bandicoot game. It makes sense to hire people who orignally made the franchise, that would be the moral thing for Activision to do, But this is Activision were talking about and them and moral dont go together.

    • agavin says:

      The long and short of this is that Jason and I aren’t really employees. I’ve never written a resume, never been hired, never really worked for someone else etc. I’ve started companies. Funded them, run them, hired people myself, sold them and then continued to run them. The closest to being an employee I’ve come are too stints as executive after selling Naughty Dog and Flektor.
      The system in place at larger companies like Activision or EA isn’t really suited to “hiring” guys like us. They can’t pay enough (without upsetting their normal hires) and are not beurocratically suited to dealing with more maverick types. So they rarely try. That doesn’t mean it’s totally impossible or that we can’t work with them in some independent capacity, it just makes it outside their normal way of doing business.
      And big corporations are all about the normal way of doing business.

  11. Gabriele says:

    Oh a new Andy and Jason Crash game would be my favourite game of all time!
    Only a little question: Why in the CTR question there is a picture of the characters from Crash Tag Team Racing? A little mistake? 😛

  12. Gabriele says:

    Maybe you can use this : http://www.spriters-resource.com/psx_ps2/ctr/charicons.png
    The Crash Tag Team Racing models are really different from the original ones.

  13. Max says:

    Question:
    Do you still have beta of Crash games? And can you give it for examination?

  14. FlyingDutchman says:

    I would like to thank all Naughty Dog employees for making these excellent, excellent games. Turning Crash Bandicoot on for the first time was an amazing experience for me since it was my first true 3D game. Although it did kind of spoil me in the graphics department!

    The only thing that used to disappoint me was that Crash Bandicoot 2 and 3 were too easy, though in hindsight it was probably the fact that I had accumulated years of video game experience by then. And of course the fact that the first Crash Bandicoot was something that had never been done before.

    Regardless, I loved all of them and I still hope for a new iteration.

  15. Question for you Andy if you were still making crash games these days would of you of still kept lab assistants as enemies in levels along with new ones. You know the ones I mean though’s funny tall ones doing different tricks.

    hope this photo works 🙂

  16. Douglas Pereira de Paiva says:

    Hi Andy, My name’s Douglas Paiva, I’m 19 Years old and I’m from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I can’t Believe that I’m talking to the Director of Crash Bandicoot, My favorite game ever!!! It was the First game I played on PS1, when I was 7 Years old, At a Friend’s house! When I saw and played the game for the first Time, I asked my parents a Playstation only because of it! I got one on December, 1999, Because here in Brazil, Things are more expensive and games and consoles were used to be avaiable much later than USA. I sent an email to Naughty Dog asking about the game 1 year ago, but anyone answered. I didn’t know you left Naught Dog…. Well, but it’s awesome I have the opportunity to ask you! Why did Naughty Dog stop to develop Crash? In your hands, the game used to be the best, but another companies, especially the last one, are changing the real sense of the game… They changed the design of the masks uka-uka and aku- aku without a motive, changed the design and moves of Crash, It has now tatoos and it punchs and kicks, The villans are like idiots and not bad anymore! Nothing to do with the center idea of the Game. The stories since Crash tag team racing and Crash of the Titans are being ridiculous… I only consider “Naughty Dog Crash Bandicoot games” as the real ones and the perfect trilogy, as the racing game too! I liked ps2 Crash games too but since Crash of the Titans arrived, nothing to comment ¬¬… Your Crash Bandicoot games are the best and will be forever! Thanks for the best PS1 games I ever had, and sorry for my intermediate English! Thank you!

    • agavin says:

      Thank you so much for being a fan and I love that you enjoy the games!

      If you read through the comments on the main six to seven “Crash Bandicoot posts I have several times gone into detail about why we moved on from Crash. Still, it was a tough decision and I miss the little orange bugger. He’s certainly my favorite creation (we’ll, I include Dr Cortex in there — muhaha)!

  17. Andrea says:

    Hi Andy, I have a question about the Jak and Daxter’s franchise: why did you decide to make the second (and the other sequels) game darker and different from the first one? I’m not saying that I didn’t like them, since I’ve never tried Jak2/3 or X, but it’s just because last year I tried the first game and I LOVED it: the night-day cycle was an amazing idea, there were a lot of references from the Crash Bandicoot games and the environments were awesome, especially the Sentinel Beach and The Lost Precursor City! And also, I liked what you wrote on the European’s cover: “From the creators of Crash Bandicoot!”

    But…I don’t know if I’ll try the other Jak games: like I said, they look much different from the first one…

    • agavin says:

      When (eventually) I get around to blogging on those. I’ll go into it in deal. But in short, GTA3 was the hot game at the same time as Jak 1, and we weren’t selling AS well as we hoped (only like 3-4 million copies instead of 8+ 🙂 ) So we thought that dark and more freeform was the shit. There was a big shift away from cartoony games at that point. Eventually there was a backlash to the hardcore too, but it’s all trends.

  18. Let’s hope the next crash game will be even better like the first crash games and Twinsanity.

    As I’m always thinking of your first 4 crash games and what was and wasn’t essential so that we keep the current developer on track about what can change in a crash game. 🙂

  19. […] programming 10. Tools for the game 11. Teaching an old dog, new bits 12. A practical example 13. Russian fan interview 14. Old 20 questions 15. […]

  20. Thomas says:

    Crash’s New Lows?
    What are your opinions on the post Naughty Dog Crash games?

    • agavin says:

      If you look through the comments on the “making crash” posts you can find my answers to that question.

    • agavin says:

      Yes. It’s in my Video Game post. I was the lead programmer and co-director.

      • Thomas says:

        Oh wow, actually talking to a person behind the Crash Bandicoot Naughty Dog games. I’ve always been a fan of Crash Bandicoot for a long time now. Crash Bandicoot is awesome.
        I have a problem though. I know people think Crash has gone down hill, but I guess I’m a “embrace the series as a whole” fan. I liked a bunch of post-Naughty Dog games for a while. Except you (one of the people behind the original Crash games) yourself have been saying stuff like “sad seeing Crash at his new lows” and “if people got a chance to play good games in an updated format” and the often used “It’s like seeing X(nice thing) become a Y(worse thing)” and it’s quite awkward for me. I know you don’t hate some stuff (I looked through the comments) but it’s like I officially can’t like post Naughty Dog stuff if some of the original crew might be “haters”.

    • agavin says:

      I don’t mind if you guys like the post Naughty Dog stuff. I haven’t checked any out in detail since Twinsanity. It’s a little hard to look at other’s people’s take on your creation. And what I’ve seen doesn’t seem to totally get what we were about with Crash, or have anywhere near the level of technical sophistication, but if fans enjoy them — great! I’m sure they have their moments 🙂 I did actually get a kick (in a twisted weird way) out of lines like “but blondes do have more fun” (a cortex line from Twinsanity).

  21. damian says:

    I have a question about the game’s music, whoses decision was to make the music in the second game less serius and more cartoonish? I’m not hating on the second game’s music, i’m just wondering who decided that the music should be diffrent.

  22. damian says:

    Oh, ok, i was always wondering that, thanks!

    And another question if you don’t mind; if you kept the rights to crash, would you ever have went back and explained some unanswered questions between 1 and 2 (ex: why is coco so smart, when was she created, how crash learned his new moves…etc). Or would you have remade the first game and expand it after cortex got defeated.

  23. Victor says:

    Why did you leave Naughty Dog? Or even better: how did you start it? I mean, how do you start making games?

  24. Karifean says:

    Just some thoughts from a fan.
    Crash Bandicoot 2 was the first video game I ever played, and as such, it is one of my favourites, I like it even better than Warped (which is also an amazing game) and I think it is one of the best 3D platforming games of all time. I followed the series up to Twinsanity, but both Traveller’s Tales’ games (while being enjoyable games) just weren’t as good as CB2 and 3. The challenge and difficulty of Crash Bandicoot 2 is perfect, it is so satisfying to finally get the gem on ‘Cold Hard Crash’ after hours of trying. Crash Bandicoot 3 also had good balance, but I found myself missing the enthusiasm to go for the platinum relic in the flying stages I hated so much. As for Wrath of Cortex… it failed at being a challenging game. It just lacked replay value and I REALLY didn’t want to return to those water levels for gems or relics (while in Warped, I did). As for Twinsanity, the different gems gave good challenges, and though it was a terribly flawed game and ignored some of the rules of previous installments (since when do Aku Akus fail to protect from Nitro crates?) it has diversity and is challenging. My main problem was navigation. I found myself redoing a whole part of the game just because I didn’t know you could now suddenly enter Cortex’ Lab by just hopping on a platform. I never owned the original Crash Bandicoot, but now I downloaded it from PSN and I found myself missing some of the features of CB2 and 3, like being able to save at any point, not just after a bonus game. It was more difficult and I often died because I couldn’t predict where I would land after a jump. After reading through the making of Crash Bandicoot though, I feel compelled to go back and give it another try.
    With all that being said, I find Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back the perfect Crash game up till now. Sure, it lacks great features like the relics and the bazooka of awesomeness, but it is kept simple and to get all the secrets, you have to be both creative (hmmm, maybe I can try opening no crates at all throughout the level?) and a professional player. Warped was just a bit lacking in this department.
    If there is ever another Crash game that can live up to the standards of Cortex Strikes Back, I would be glad to play it. However, I feel that Naughty Dog was the only company capable of creating really great Crash games. So if you guys ever want to create another Crash game to fill us all with a nostalgic feeling, I would love it.

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