INTERVIEW: Matt Godbolt on Red Dog

The first ever interview on, conducted waaaay back in 2003.


First of all , thanks for this great game, can you tell us what the overall feeling at the team 'that was left behind' of the game, is like?

M.G: I can only really speak for myself; I was very pleased with how Red Dog came out. I think it represented a really good combination of a driving game and a shoot-em-up, and was fun to play. However, I don't think it quite got the good press and coverage that it deserved -- everyone I know of who played it liked it, but most people never ever heard of it. Obviously I'm totally biased

S.F: What other projects did Argonaut have in development for Dreamcast? Alien Resurrection/System Shock 2? Why didn't those games saw a release?

M.G: Argonaut considered many titles on Dreamcast during the development of Red Dog; but nothing concrete ever started. Once it became obvious the Dreamcast was sadly on the way down, all the plans were shelved

S.F: Is Red Dog 2 or any sequel containing the Red Dog story/Image planned for sometime in the future? If not, why?

M.G: Currently; no. I think the lack of real commercial success means we're waiting for the right time, idea and platform to bring back Red Dog, if at all. I for one think it'd be great to update the whole idea for a new generation of players; but we'd have to be sure it was a real winner this time!

S.F: What elements were left out of the final release? I know of a jungle themed mission and 'stunt' bonuses. Did you leave anything out because it couldn't be achieved on DC hardware?

M.G: Originally the game had 30 smallish levels. Over time, as we crowbarred more and more into the DC, we dropped levels and amalgamated ideas together to get to the levels that eventually made it onto the finished product. Production pressures meant that some ideas never made it (Red Dog strapped onto the top of a train rushing through desert was one idea I remember), but the technical limitations of the Dreamcast were never the reason for leaving things out. In hindsight, I think we could have put more missions in; but the time we had was running out.

S.F: Was a 2P COOP mode planned to be included? (Splitscreen). Would it be possible on Dreamcast hardware without altering the amount of detail on the background etc?

M.G: Co-op was never really planned; as we've discovered on our current game, it's a massive hog of resources. On SWAT, the co-op levels are a whole new set of levels designed, built, textured, animated and tested separately to the main game. On Red Dog we'd have had to do the same thing; we'd never have had the time. The background detail would have had to be reduced (though not by too much), but mainly the number of enemies on-screen would have needed reducing.

S.F: Early Red Dog shots showed some differences in the way the tank's armour/weapon status bar looked; were there any difference in the mechanics back then? Or was it just altered to make it look a little better?

M.G: Red Dog evolved constantly as we tweaked the whole gameplay. I can't honestly remember exact details, but the whole in-game physics engine was always changing to make it 'feel' right. As I recall, Red Dog's physics was totally hacked to make it feel you hit jump ramps the gravity on the tank would be halved to make jumps more fun...and the 'centre of gravity' of the tank is actually about 3 metres underneath the tank! I think the shield was a relatively late addition, and I also think the strafing evolved too. Hopefully some of the other Red Dog team members will remember more!

S.F: Who was responsible for the excellent multiplayer section of the game? Did the same people that did the single player missions design the multiplayer maps?

M.G: I think the levels were split up between various designers and artists; I'd have to ask around who did what. Much of the design of the single player (if not all) was done by Sefton Hill. Something tells me a lot of multiplayer maps were designed by Mark Stephenson too...though I'm not 100% sure!

S.F: Were there any multiplayer maps/gameplay styles/weapons that were removed later on?

M.G: Not that I can remember -- we were always putting new ones in and not taking out hehe!

S.F: A while back I asked about the last Multiplayer map (V.R.B.F) and I was given the answer that the meaning of the name of this map was a secret. Whats the story behind this map and whats its like? (I've unlocked the map a few years ago now - S.F) Does it stand for Virtual reality Battle floor?

M.G: Now that's a tricky one! Virtual Reality Battle Field, I was an idea of one of the artists (either Jeff Vanelle or David Hego) to do a Tron-style level, and VRBF was the result.

S.F: What engine was used for Red Dog? Was this engine used in any earlier/other Argonaut releases?

M.G: The engine was custom written from scratch for the Dreamcast, and wasn't used on anything before or after Red Dog (more's the pity!). The tools we wrote for Red Dog eventually got used as the basis for some of the tools we use on SWAT, though they're been completely rewritten several times since!

S.F: Any interesting tidbits you could give to the readers? Were certain textures made from pictures of real-life places, a huge system crash where lots of game content was lost etc?

M.G: Nothing springs to mind (this seems soooo long ago now!) hopefully the others can chip in their stories, and maybe that'll jog my memory.

S.F: You have a message who have yet to play Red Dog or a message to the fans?

M.G: Thanks for keeping the memory of Red Dog alive -- it's so flattering that people remember it, and makes all the pain we went through creating the game worthwhile!!




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