The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Chicago developer talks Kickstarting new football video game


It appears the NFL is moving towards a delicate and fluffy league where contact is frowned upon and destructive hits get players slapped right in the wallet with fines bigger than many people’s yearly paycheck.

Enough is enough. It is time to flip the script and bring back the bone-crushing hits the sport has been missing.

Chicago based game developer Digital Dreams has brought this burden upon itself with the “Mutant Football League.”

This game is a rebranded version of the 1993 Sega Genesis classic “Mutant League Football,” which featured several mutant species facing off in a game of football where players either used skill or strategy to outplay and outscore their opponent.

Alternatively, they used brute force and killed so many opponents that they won by default. The game became so popular throughout the ’90s that it spawned its own toy line and even a T.V. series, yet a sequel failed to get released, until now.

“The reborn and modernized ‘Mutant Football League’ is a 7-on-7 arcade-style, fully 3D sports video game where creatures of all kinds take to the gridiron to battle it out in the most violent game ever played,” Project leader Michael Mendheim said in an email. “We’re keeping the spirit of the original alive — its sense of humor and outrageousness. However, in terms of play and graphics, it’s a whole new ball game.”

Mendheim and his team were even capable of bringing in performers from past sports video games.

“This is a next generation game with killer graphics and audio. We’ve got Tim Kitzrow from ‘NBA Jam’ doing all of our announcer voiceover work,” Mendheim said. “Tim is a super talented guy with a tremendous creative energy and MFL is a perfect place for him to unleash it.”

Things were not always so grand for the folks over at Digital Dreams. The game was originally put on Kickstarter in a campaign to reach $750,000. The campaign would end on Oct. 16, 2013 with just $141,821 pledged.

“The campaign failed for a number of different reasons, but the community rejected the idea we presented,” Mendheim said. “The community feedback was blunt and clear. They wanted a new MFL game which maintained the spirit of the original with high end graphics and plenty of gore.”

Though the team faced a few setbacks in the first years of production, the group was not deterred and pushed through with the project with raw determination and money out of their own pockets.

“We had a burning desire to make this game and not let our community down,” Mendheim said. “We hope the game will resonate with die-hard fans of the original game and a new generation of game players who have never even heard of ‘Mutant League Football.’”

Four years later, Digital Dreams has powered through and brought this game back from the brink of destruction. On Feb. 2, the game was launched on Kickstarter for a second time. This time the price goal was a much more manageable,

set at $60,000. Learning from their mistakes, the company knew it would still need to do something to convince its customers that it meant business, so they released a barely tested and incomplete version of the game as a sneak preview for all backers.

“Our company was running low on funds and we needed to do something to keep the doors open to finish this game. We made a really tough and ballsy call and that was to put the unfinished game out there into people’s hands, let them play it and see how fun it is,” Mendhiem said. “It was a risky move, but we were out of options. It was our Hail Mary play and one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my career, but it paid off for us. Of course, it could’ve just as easily blown up in our face and that would’ve been the end of that.”

This time around, the goal was met in just four days. With a manageable budget, Mendheim and his team are now working on new goals to keep both the funding and the game alive. As the Kickstarter campaign continues until March 6, Mendheim and Digital Dreams are taking this mutant football dream and turning it into a reality. This time they have a solid starting point and are eyeing a release for PC towards the end of 2017 and an early 2018 release for PS4 and X-Box One.

Mendheim had one more pitch to those unsure of his upcoming video games.

“If you like to compete, enjoy mayhem, and like to laugh and scream — this game is for you.”

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