Kev Bayliss, a former Rare designer that worked on games like Donkey Kong Country and Killer Instinct, joins Playtonic Games to help develop Yooka-Laylee.
If the wildly successful Kickstarter campaign for Yooka-Laylee is any indication, gamers are ready for the return of the 3D platformer. As a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, there is a decent amount of hype behind Yooka-Laylee, and there is a lot of pressure on Playtonic Games to deliver a high-quality experience. Playtonic now has an even better chance of doing just that, however, as a former artist for Rare has been hired to work full-time on the game.
The artist in question is Kev Bayliss, who worked as a producer and character designer with Rare for a number of years. Bayliss is responsible for the character designs in some of Rare’s biggest games, including Battletoads and Killer Instinct. Bayliss also worked alongside Shigeru Miyamoto to create the modern design of Donkey Kong that was first shown in Donkey Kong Country and is still prominently used today.
Bayliss had this to say about being hired to work on Yooka-Laylee by Playtonic:
“For the past six months I’ve been travelling up and down the country to spend a couple of days a week with the team, but now I’m in the process of re-locating to work full-time at Playtonic. This year my wife and I are moving much nearer to where the studio is located, and it’ll take me 15 minutes to get into work, rather than two hours. So that means more graphics, and speedier development time!”
Before being hired full-time, Bayliss provided character sketches and designs for the company on a sporadic basis, such as the skeleton girl in the image above. It is unknown which characters in the game have been influenced by Bayliss, but it is possible that he helped to design characters such as Rextro Sixtyforus and the pants-wearing snake Trowzer. It seems unlikely that Bayliss had a hand in the designs of the title characters, however, unless he began work on it before the Kickstarter was even announced.
Bayliss should be a great asset to the Playtonic development team, considering his pedigree in the industry. His addition means Playtonic is now comprised almost entirely of former Rare developers, many from the Nintendo 64-era of the company, so hopefully Yooka-Laylee will be a worthy spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to see what Bayliss cooks up for the game moving forward. Perhaps he will tweak the designs of characters that have already been introduced, or maybe he will focus on creating new characters for the title. Whatever Bayliss contributes to the development of Yooka-Laylee, it will no doubt help the game’s development progress, giving it a better chance of meeting its October 2016 release goal.
Yooka-Laylee is scheduled to release in October of this year for PC, PlayStation 4, Wii U, and Xbox One.