Rectify Gaming

Exclusive interview with Rare’s Studio Head Craig Duncan

Posted on June 23, 2015 by Tyler Nienburg

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Special Guest RCG Podcast


Rectify Gaming has gotten the opportunity to interview Rare’s Studio Head, Craig Duncan. Rare have announced ‘Rare Replay‘ and ‘Sea of Thieves‘ at E3 2015.  We ask him questions about the past, present, future and more of Rare. We hope you enjoy!


1. MikeXBO: 30 years, 30 games, 30 bucks and 10k gamerscore. Now, that’s a big and epic collection right there. How long has the Rare team been working on Rare Replay?


It certainly is… the origin of the collection was last year when knew 2015 was Rare’s 30th Birthday so we were talking about how to celebrate that and what was the right way to celebrate our unrivalled heritage. We had a few ideas from interviews, open press event, BIG party, commemorative book, documentary and then we got REALLY excited about creating a multi-generational game collection. Once we locked on that idea of taking games from Rare’s origin right through to our X360 titles in one collection we knew we had something special, it was then about the team adding the Rare magic, love and passion to that collection to make it a huge offering to fans and exceptional value – the $30’s came out in our first pitch internally and the 30:30:30 message EVERYONE loved – our goal was to celebrate the collection with everyone and let everyone experience the Rare story and we wanted the price to encourage that.


2. MikeXBO: In your opinion, was it easy to develop so many games for a next generation console like the Xbox One?


Xbox One is an exceptional platform to develop on and as a 1st party studio we work closely with the wider Xbox team to feedback and help it continue to evolve as a developer platform – Rare Replay had some specific challenges due to the age and source code of some of the game archives’ but we have wicked smart engineers that embrace those challenges. Things like adding save games to older games or achievements was fun and then features like the snapshots (game by game challenges with bespoke objectives) or the ability to rewind if a hard bit of one of the older games catches you out (games were harder back then!)


3. MikeXBO: What would be the resolution and frames per second rate of the Rare Replay games?


It actually varies game to game as we have taken a different approach to get each game in the collection represented the way you remember them, something like the original Xbox Grabbed by the Ghoulies we remastered completely into 1080p and 60fps as the games cartoon art style worked well (cutscenes are still in 4:3 as the original), the Xbox 360 games are in their native resolutions and framerates as they are already HD, the older titles we made the call to put them in an arcade style themed windowed mode to retain the authenticity, we also added a CRT filter that accurately reproduced the scan lines and pixel bleed screens gave back then which you can toggle on and off – We did whatever made the most sense to keep the quality high and the nostalgia present.


4. MikeXBO: At this point I’m sure there are loads of Xbox One hard drives already full so.. Could you tell us about the complete game size?


We aren’t quite done yet but I know we are working hard to get it onto one disk as there is lots of game content and over an hour of developer video making of commentaries and origin stories (which are awesome!).


5. MikeXBO: Would Rare keep supporting the game after launch? (DLCs, free content updates or even more gamerscore?


We haven’t specific plans in this area but we’ll keep an eye on the reaction we get and see – the team are planning to take a well-earned break at the end of the project.


6. MikeXBO: Will the game be available worldwide at launch?


Yes – Game worldwide launch is 4th August


7. Michael Boccher: When can we expect a remake of some of those titles in replay, say RC PRO AM and Battletoads for Xbox One similar to how K.I. was done?


Interview questions are limited to Rare Replay, sorry not a chance of me leaking any future, potential maybe projects J – what I would say is Rare’s development philosophy is to create surprising and delightful games that players will love, this means its less about a remake and more about we would need feel that we could take a genre or IP further, do something different and push boundaries with a specific game – We will do this with Sea of Thieves which is why it’s the right next game from Rare, I actually believe we have done this with Rare Replay – there is no collection like this!


8. Michael Boccher: What game are you most excited about upcoming for Rare?


I feel really good about our E3 story this year (I’m just coming down from the experience) and its almost unheard of when a studio like Rare really celebrates its heritage in a fun way as well as announcing Sea of Thieves as a new IP… What we showed of Sea of Thieves at the briefing was in-game and it’s as much fun to play as it looks – we are really excited for Sea of Thieves


9. Michael Boccher: Hololens had an impressive showing with their Minecraft demonstration at E3, does Rare have any hololens projects upcoming?


Hololens is super impressive and we are big fans of it at Rare – but nothing in the works at the moment as we have been busy with Rare Replay and Sea of Thieves



10. MikeXBO and Michael Boccher: Ok, putting you on the spot here. What’s your favorite Rare game of all time?


That is hard, my earliest is Battletoads, I remember playing it as a Teenager and being drawn into the difficulty and challenge of it as well as the fun of the characters. What also impressed me was how many different games it seemed to be, Beat-em up / platformer / racer – I’m also a fan of our Banjo and Viva Piñata franchises (sorry that’s 6 games J).


11. Michael Boccher: What are you most proud of about Rare?


This year and what we announced at E3, I couldn’t be prouder to be running the studio at this time… almost a year ago we said next year at E3, celebrate our 30th with our collection and announce a New IP… the fact we executed that plan perfectly AND re-invigorated the Logo (which fused the history and future), launched a new website for the studio and Sea of Thieves. This year was only possible due to the amazing team and culture we have as well as the world class support from the Xbox team – I feel privileged every day to lead the team at Rare.


12. Michael Boccher:  Rare has a tendency to be viewed as a “Kinect only” company when the reality is you make many games and happen to be one of few who makes Kinect games as well. Microsoft has announced they have new Kinect titles in the works from you as well. What can you tell us about them?. If nothing specific  is allowed, we understand but can you provide a general idea?


I think it’s hard to view Rare as one thing, it depends how wide a view you take – if you take the 30 year view it’s impossible to put Rare in a specific genre box – Rare did with Kinect over the last few years what Rare has done with whatever it has done, it challenged convention and innovated as well as trying to add its own fun favour to the games. I’m not sure what other titles are in the works outside of Rare – Rare has Rare Replay and Sea of Thieves to keep us busy at the moment.


13. Tyboy: Can we expect something on Windows 10 with Rare Replay?


We haven’t really thought about it, our focus was Xbox One and hitting summer this year and showing up big – at E3 I had several people ask me for a Windows 10 version but we haven’t any current plans.


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Tyler ‘Tyboy’ Nienburg released Rectify Gaming back on December 17th, 2013. Feel free to contact the head of Rectify at