Q&A: Rag Doll Kung Fu <i>sifu</i> Mark Healey

Ex-Lionhead veteran talks about the development process--and reveals a little about his new top-secret PlayStation 3 project.

Mark Healey decided to develop Rag Doll Kung Fu as a side project while working at Lionhead Studios. However, it turned into a cult hit when it was picked up by Valve's Steam online distribution service as its first third-party product.

Healey in a Rag Dog Kung Fu cutscene.

Healey talked to visitors at Nottingham's GameCity event last week about the creative process behind the cult hit game, which started life as "wanting to make a silly kung-fu film with some of my mates."

The budget kung-fu film was made in Healey's back garden, and then he used selected parts of the project as cutscenes in the game. "There was no script; we were just filming and mucking around," joked Healey. "The movie was the real kick-start for the game. We had about £50 [around $95] to buy some props--I wore a bald cap, we bought some ninja hats, some plastic swords, nunchuks, and a blow-up doll who was our stunt man. I think 20 mates were meant to come and make this thing--four turned up. We totally made it up as we went along and had a great laugh."

RDKF's original design concept was to make a fighting game that used the mouse as a controller. The idea evolved into a rag-doll character game while Healey was working on a physics problem using some ropes and made the decision to make the game characters out of the ropes.

Healey kept a variety of notebooks in which he worked through ideas, bugs, and processes during development of the game, and he said: "The team size was always, well, me. And it grew to a massive three people by the end of it, which was because I roped in a few friends to help... You don't need 300 people to make a game. You can have a small team with a lot of passion... Basically, a lot of the time in RDKF it was just me sitting at my kitchen table in my underwear."

As to whether or not there will be a sequel, Healey admitted to not being excited by the idea. He said: "I don't like sequels... It's not that I'm turning my back on it--I just want to take it to the next level. I'm really proud of RDKF, but it's a simple, basic game, and the ideas we have are much more ambitious."

After the success of RDKF, Healey left Lionhead to cofound Media Molecule and is now working on a top-secret, big-budget PlayStation 3 game project for Sony. He admits that it was a big jump to move from a one-person project to a "triple-A monster." "Oh, yeah. It's a completely different kettle of fish," said Healy. "I'm very used to working with huge teams, but it's been the first time to deal directly with a publisher. It's kind of scary but exciting at the same time."

As to details of the game, Healey was cagey, but he did throw one interesting snippet out there. "It's quite a novel control mechanism, not a mouse but..." he said, implying the game would use the PS3's motion-sensing Sixaxis controller.

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21 comments
cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

Interesting point, Omali. Looks like this "developer" doesn't keep its promises..

Omali
Omali

"Mark Healey is a really nice guy" Garbage. Mark Healey left Rag Doll Kung Fu with false promises. As a fan of RDKF, i'd like to know where our world editor (which was promised back when the game came out) and athletics in multiplayer (also promised at game launch) are (both are in the game with "coming soon"), and why Mark has lovingly said nothing about either of them since game launch. Edit: I hope Mark doesn't have plans to make a sequel, especially considering he hasn't finished the first one yet. Nice to know he's spending the profits on RDKF to fund a secret project instead of finishing what he started.

thefjk
thefjk

Nice, off to YouTube!

blackIceJoe
blackIceJoe

Its nice to see at least some one does not want to make a sequel. I like when game designers like to make new games. Well its good to see more people using the Sixaxis part of the controller. I hope to hear more about that game soon. I think this would also be cool if you could download Rag Doll Kung Fu onto the PS3 seeing as it can use a mouse it could work and be one of the download games you could buy.

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

It would definately make a lot more sense to make something like this on the Wii. It has much lower production costs and has a great deal more motion sensitive possibilities. Healey definately sounds like a silly, fun loving guy so i'm not quite sure why he chose PS3 over Wii. After all, which console has greater potential for fun.

DesRed
DesRed

This guy's brilliant. To be able to make a good game, Rag-Doll Kung Fu, with just three people and himself, that is something. Wonder how he will be able to pull off a big project for the PS3 but nonetheless, good luck, Mark Healey.

Elite_Bushido
Elite_Bushido

this game is a **** to play on the PC and is boring

general_bison
general_bison

I thought that said SuFi :p.... Bacon and Eggs!

QualityJeverage
QualityJeverage

While innovative, I have to say I really didn't like Rag Doll Kung Fu. The controls were just too demanding. The game was almost painful on the hand. Still, I know this guy's got a good mind, so I'm looking forward to see what he comes up with.

Mr_Saturn26
Mr_Saturn26

wonder what kind of game he got for us.

KamaKase
KamaKase

Mark Healey is a really nice guy. If any of you know of "The Room", it's the same people who did that that helped on RDKF....and who left to create Media Molecule.

neoand12
neoand12

"triple A-monster" Lets hope it don't Flop like Killzone, its hard to win the triple A-monster title from gamers. let us be the judge of that.

tr00pa_26
tr00pa_26

all your answers will be found at ps3

alaindc
alaindc

innovative on pc...and boring as hell with all the mouse mouvment require to charge our move, it was a pain litterally to play. another "great" game on ps3

kyosukeugc
kyosukeugc

It'll be a hacking game in which users with a PS3 hack into XBL o_O!! I never played RDKF personally, heard some people liked it, other hated it.. Hopefully whatever he's making now will be kick ass though, especially if it's got a nice pocketbook behind it!

oboewan9999
oboewan9999

...the Sixaxis? First comment dance!