Daniel Parente: We usually say that the game was Mario meets Sonic meets Limbo meets Patapon. But we have also taken influences from Super Meat Boy, Donkey Kong, and other classical games.
With such a unique premise, when PSN Fans found ourselves faced with the opportunity to interview CEO of Enigma Studios, Daniel Parente, we just couldn’t say no. Alien Spidy is an action platformer that follows the classic premise of saving the damsel in distress. The twist is that you are exactly what you sound like, an alien spider, not only do you have to save your lady friend, but you must collect the parts of your broken spaceship on the way. The laden planet that they are on is earth, represented in a vibrant art form that seems to encompass curiosity, excitement and doom, all in one go.
PSN Fans: It seems that your team members all have a very diverse background, ranging from RTS’s to RPG’s, even a top-down 2D arcade-style shooter. How did these previous experiences contribute to shaping Alien Spidy?
Daniel Parente: It has given us the possibility to understand what a player really wants from a game, and to allow us to correctly shape gameplay to fit what we think that the game should be. We always try from [one] project to the other, to understand exactly what we have done wrong and how we can improve from the lessons learned in order to be able [to] develop better and better games.
PF: The story of a hero in search of his loved one is an iconic one, but why is the hero an alien spider who crash lands on earth to do so? Where did this rather different premise come from?
DP: The first concept of the game was to be homage to classical games; a return to the golden age of computers games where the games were fun and addictive [where] the stories [were] simple yet had a hook. We were very clear that we wanted to have the hero saving the princess in distress. But at that point, we knew that we needed to have a charismatic and interesting leading character or the game premise would fail. So after thinking a lot, we saw that Spiders were a character that had not been explored massively in any media (video games, motion pictures, etc…), and we were able to understand that its natural characteristics were able to provide us with interesting mechanics.
We took a look on how to make something that would be friendly and lovable, as spiders are always perceived as “disgusting creatures”. Well, looking at the elements of a spider that we could play with: big eyes, six legs, human expressions–the light hit us as strong as Spidy’s ship crashing into earth, the spider should be an alien spider, Alien Spidy.
PF: First wind of Alien Spidy being in development came several years ago, back in 2008. What kept you guys from releasing the game sooner and what kind of challenges have you had to face to get to this point? What changes/sacrifices have you made to the game since it was first made public?
DP: The first concept was different than what we have now; it was not supposed to be a multiplatform game. It was targeted to be slower and geared toward puzzle solving. While working with Spidy, we saw that something was missing, that we were not able to leverage on its charisma and abilities. It was as if something very important was missing and [we were] was not able to see it (although it had been always in front of our nose) until one day, one of the designers started to put in items for Spidy to pick up in regular patterns and paths, [then] we saw it. Spidy wanted to be dazzling fast and we were trying to make it slower than it should. We refocused the game development into that line of action, and the next thing we knew, is that we had a very fun and happy character jumping and dashing on the screen with crowds wanting to try it. Basically, we only got rid of a couple of mechanics based on slower puzzles.
PF: Fans of platformers love to gripe about that fine line between to easy, challenging and controller-breaking frustration. How do you plan on avoiding these same issues, while still appealing to the both the average gamer and the hardcore fans?
DP: We once read that a game should be easy to learn and hard to master. And we have tried to apply that rule to the overall game. Spidy is very easy to start playing with, and [people] were able to easily move forward. If you are blocked, [you] can teleport back to a close checkpoint, and [you] can move between levels without any problem. We have tested the game with kids (no kids or insects were harmed in the development of the game) and they understood the game in a quick fashion. But if you want to get all the orbs in the level, then you will have to play a lot since Spidy often needs as much momentum as possible to reach the corners of the levels. Hardcore players will have a very hard challenge because the number of possibilities to have scores is huge because it depends on scoring and on timing.
We feel that we have been able to obtain the effect from classic games of “just one more try” and before players know it, it is 3’clock in the morning.
PF: The world seems so bright and large, but still manages to keep a dark and sinister feel to it. Can we expect the soundtrack to reflect a similar tone?
DP: Certainly, we are very happy with the original soundtrack that we have able to have for the game, we have had the chance to work with one of the best composers in Hollywood, and the music is a vital part of the overall feel of the game.
Daniel also touched base on a few other things for us as well, letting us know that DLC and a sequel are not out of the question. When asked about the ‘antenna’ seen coming from Spidy in certain screenshots, he said “that was one of the things we had to be cut”. That we would have to wait “for a hopeful release of Alien Spidy“. Co-op will not be available at launch, but this does not mean it is out of the question, Daniel said that ”they can explore this idea after release”. So there you have it folks, everything covered from character design to what is coming in the future. Keep an eye out for this upcoming release and of course, watch for our review in the coming weeks.