Features & News
Interview: John Nielson @ J. Kenworthy Entertainment
September 7, 2010, Author: Ray Willmott
Cloning Clyde was a sleeper hit on XBLA and has now been added to the classics range as a result. The makers of the game, J Kenworthy Entertainment certainly seem to have found their footing in the industry by making Arcade Games and seem to want to continue this tradition having now released Ancients of Ooga on XBLA. Ooga will remind players of several classic games all rolled into one and has already done well for itself on the XBLA Marketplace. I managed to get some time with John Nielson, the founder of J.Kenworthy Entertainment who has spearheaded both of these projects, to ask him some questions about his product line-up, his future plans and just where the name of ‘J.Kenworthy Entertainment’ came from. Read on to find out…
Q. Thanks for taking the time to do this. What’s your name, your role and involvement with the company and what have you been working on most recently?
“My name is John Nielson, founder of J. Kenworthy Entertainment and creator of Cloning Clyde and Ancients of Ooga. Most recently I’ve been working on the newly released XBLA title Ancients Of Ooga.”
Q. Why did you decide on the name JKE? Its quite different from other names out there. It has a real professional flair to it.
“It’s a long story, but in a nutshell, I wanted to create a brand that people would eventually associate with quality, creativity and consistency in creating fun games. We still have a ways to go to achieve this, but having created Cloning Clyde and Ancients of Ooga is a great start.”
Q.When working on Ancients of Ooga, was it you or Ninjabee who came up with the original concept or was it a collaborative effort?
“J. Kenworthy Entertainment came up with the original concept of Ancients of Ooga. Ninjabee was there to publish and support it throughout.”
Q.How did you come to work with Ninjabee?
“NinjaBee’s founder, Steve Taylor, and I have been friends for over a decade. When we first heard about the opportunity of developing for the Xbox Live Arcade, we both immediately saw the potential and jumped right aboard. Working with NinjaBee on original games has been an incredibly awesome experience.”
Q. Now that Ancients of Ooga has been released, would you consider working with them again in the future?
“Working with Ninjabee again would be incredible. Only time will tell.”
Q. Are there any other companies out there you’ve approached to work with for previous or future titles?
“So far, we’ve been able to do everything self-funded with only the help of Microsoft and NinjaBee, so there hasn’t really been a need to approach other companies.”
Q. Tell us, in your own way, what Ancients of Ooga is all about and where the idea came from for its concept?
“Ancients of Ooga is an adventure where as a great spirit you are summoned to help a primeval race of creatures called Ooganis.
The Oogani tribes ignored their chiefs, ate too many narcotic slugs and were enslaved by the big bad Boolis. As the Great Spirit, you will possess the bodies of Ooganis that are willing to join in a revolt to earn back their freedom.
Along the way, you will meet, befriend, and finally acquire seven unique Oogani tribes, uncover their lost ancient powers, revive their chiefs and mount a rebellion against the tyrannical Boolis.
The concept came about after we finished Cloning Clyde. We knew we wanted to make another game although for variety’s sake, not a direct sequel. We were drawn to the idea of creating a primitive tribal civilization. After toying a few ideas including virtual cannibalism, we eventually came up with Ancients Of Ooga.”
Q. The game kind of reminded me of Blizzard’s Lost Vikings upon initial impression. What games would you say helped to influence the development of AOO and why?
“The Lost Vikings was definitely one of the games that influenced Ooga. There have actually been several games that Ancients of Ooga have been based off of. Obviously Cloning Clyde had a very large influence towards Ooga. The Oddworld Series, specifically Abe’s Oddysee and Abe’s Exodus, Jak and Daxter, Psychonauts, and Lemmings are other games that I think have significantly influenced Ooga as well.”
Q. You keep a focus on local multiplayer in this game in an age where most games are played online with friends. How important do you feel it is to maintain the two controllers, one xbox style of gaming?
“Personally, I love to play games with my family and friends, so a gaming that supports local co-op is always a draw when I’m looking for games. I think local co-op fits nicely with the switching from character to character type of game mechanic supported in both Ancients of Ooga and Cloning Clyde.”
Q. Do you foresee digital distribution continuing to be a primary way to release your games? Would you consider a special edition of your products being shipped to retail like Rockstar have done with Episodes from Liberty City?
“There are some really great things about digital distribution, and it’s only getting more and more popular. If we can continue to have a slots provided from Microsoft on their ever growing XBLA, I’d love to continue to develop for it. As far as a disk, it is definitely something we’ve considered. Again, time will tell.”
Q. Have you got any forthcoming projects on the way or are you taking a break for a bit now that Ooga is out there? If so, can you tell us anything about what to expect next?
“J Kenworthy is currently in preproduction in our next title. As always, expect something incredibly unique, original, and action-packed!”
Thanks so much for your time and we at This Is My Joystick wish you all the best with Ancients of Ooga and all of your future endeavours.