A new studio has risen from the ashes and looks to take over the video game world. While you may not have heard of them yet, their upcoming game Spartan will go down in history as the first game to be released using Unreal Engine 4’s paper2d sprite-based system.
We recently sat down with Sinister Cyclops Game Studio Co-Founder William Antonakos to learn more about this new side-scroller set for release later this month.
Gaming Conviction: What inspired the art style?
William Antonakos: We wanted to create a colorful, vibrant world that kids and grownups alike would fall in love. Something totally different from the current trend of either hyper realistic models and environments or pixel art. An art style that no matter your background and ethnicity it would immediately feel familiar and would make you want to follow King Leo on his adventure in ancient Greece!
GC: Who is King Leo?
WA: Leonidas was the King-Warrior of the Greek City-State Sparta.
He played a vital role on the second Persian war where he led the allied Greek forces to a last stand at the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC) where he died fighting. There have been numerous mentions and films about his bravery throughout history, but the most recent and iconic is the Hollywood film “300” where you can see him (with a spay tanned six pack) do impossible slowmo acts of bravery with the help of a Scottish actor !
In our game some say King Leo is portrayed as short and fat, we say he is stocky and buff ! Others said that he rocks a mullet but none of them survived…!
GC: What are some of the levels we will experience while progressing through Spartan?
WA: Spartan has 4 distinctive worlds. Each world has its own set of traps, enemies and logic, and in order to conquer them all you will need to re adjust your play style for each and every one!
For example Mount Olympus strong winds will try to throw you off course but on the same time you can use them to your advantage in order to reach higher ground.
In the flaming pits of Hades huge masses of smoldering lava will try to stop you while enemies with lava molted scales can break through your defenses forcing you to be light on your feet!
Our levels are huge and non linear. You choose which path to follow and what set of traps or enemies to face at your own pace ,and you need to recover all the artifacts from within a level in order to open the portal and progress, resulting in a very unique and fresh platforming experience.
GC: What led to the decision to develop the game using Unreal Engine 4?
WA: When we first decided to start developing Spartan full time it was the time UE4 went live with a subscription plan. For the first time ever a tiny studio could afford that mighty powerhouse without having to pay upfront hundreds of thousands of dollars. But what really intrigued me was their newly created visual scripting language called “Blueprints” that gave us the opportunity to code faster, easier and more efficiently. We knew from the start that choosing UE4 to create a game like ours on an engine with almost zero support for 2d stuff would be really hard, but we like a good challenge and the end result paid off! The visual fidelity of Spartan and its smoothness wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for UE4.
GC: How does it feel knowing Spartan will be the first paper2d game to release on PS4 and Xbox One?
WA: As the man responsible for the technical part it is a huge personal victory that we even made it this far. On contrary with lets say UNITY that has a fully supported 2d module, and hundreds of released 2d games, UE4’S paper2d is an unfinished gem that caused us a lot of headaches. That along with the fact that we had almost no help from the community (because no one had created a 2d game with UE4) made Spartan a real challenge, but like our protagonist the tougher it gets ,the more stubborn we become. To sum it up we are very proud and hopefully we will inspire more people to start using paper2d and it awesome capabilities when they witness its potential.
GC: Will the PC version have Steam Controller support?
WA: Yes! 100% And it is the preferred way of playing Spartan
GC: How long is Spartan?
WA: We are not going to lie. Spartan is super challenging! We had people that took them over 35 hours to complete the game and we had others that took them 20+ (the really good ones) on their first playthrough. So it is safe to say that Spartan will keep you up at night!
GC: Are their any plans on trying to utilize the graphical capabilities of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X when Spartan is released on those systems?
WA: Spartan supports the PS4 Pro. We as Sinister Cyclops like to keep things simple and real. We tried extremely hard to provide the best graphics and the best framerate on the current gen platforms. The ones that 99% of people own. Going up is easy, the other way around is hard. So when the time comes we will work on them exclusively and use every bell and whistle they can offer. But until then our main focus is on current gen.
GC: What kinds of experiences have you learned through development?
WA: This is a really good question and a tough one to answer. We learned that ones and zeros cannot be reasoned with and in game development hard work actually pays off!
GC: What kind of emotions do you hope players experience while playing Spartan?
WA: We would love to make families .lovers and friends come together, share a couch and watch each other play while insulting one another on how much they suck! Like the good old days where people actually communicated with each other and videos games did not have a decapitation every 10 seconds!
GC: Where can our readers keep up with Spartan?
WA: Our site http://sinistercyclops.com/
Our twitter @SinisterCyclops