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Sparkhunt - Developer Interview


Sparkhunt hero art.

Oleksandr Zapisochnyi works in game development as a 3D Character Artist. He was

part of projects such as World Of Warcraft, Overwatch, Heroes of The Storm, Fortnite,

Darksiders Genesis, and Ruined King, and with such great experiences, now his

the goal is to develop his own projects.

(This interview was conducted on July 2023)


 

TFK - This is your first independent game, which is never an easy task. Why did you choose to do it all by yourself and not create a team?


OZ - So this is my first project that has gone this far. Finding a team and working with people is a responsible process that takes a lot of time, so I decided to invest all my resources in development for now. At this stage, I have a vision of the gameplay and want to reproduce it as accurately as possible.



TFK - Sparkhunt has been showing a lot of progress and fast, is this your only job? And how long have you been working on it?


OZ - I started work on Sparkhunt last spring, and it took more than 1 year at this moment. Also, I have a main job, and work on the game in my spare time.



TFK - The game has a very dark and somber look to it, what were your inspirations for the game’s atmosphere?


OZ - First of all, I am inspired by the works of Joe Madureira and the Darksiders universe, but I also take a lot from Mike Mignola's Hellboy, painters like Gerald Brom, Baldi Konijn and others. In general, the idea of ​​​​an alternative dark world first occurred to me when I was playing Vampire Masquerade Bloodlines. I wanted to create my own version, but I went further and transferred everything to the afterlife in order to free myself from the limits of reality. Here I can create any characters and locations without worrying that it may feel unnatural.

 

The main reference was Streets Of Rage 4,

but (...) I'm a big fan of Mortal Kombat and the God Of War series.


 

TFK - The combat in Spark Hunt is really something else. Very fast, and dynamic, with lots of fun throws and combo possibilities. What inspired you when designing the combat? Any favorite games?


OZ - The main reference was Streets Of Rage 4, but since I'm a big fan of Mortal Kombat and God Of War series, I wanted to transfer some of the mechanics, such as juggling, complex grabs, and wall bounces to the dimension of the classic 2.5d beat'em up game. I'm still working on the balance, but overall I'm satisfied with how the game feels.


Sparkhunt screenshot showing the main character grabbing an enemy
Grabing fools was never that fun!


TFK - The game is still in the early stages, but I believe you already have a soundtrack in mind. What are your plans for it?


OZ - Regarding music, this question is still open to me. Music is very important in such games, it adds the necessary mood and dynamics to the process. I already have one track for the main menu, which was written by Cloud Forest Studio, for which special thanks to the artist. But I'm still looking for a composer for the project.



TFK - Where did the name Spark Hunt come from? Is it related to the story? What can you tell us?


OZ - Yes, it is described in the game lore. In short, the events take place in the afterlife. The souls that have just arrived here, for a certain time full of energy of the living world, which is а very valuable resource in this place. Until these souls fade out, they will be called Sparks. Persons who hunt them are called Sparkhunters. Usually, their task is to meet a specific soul and deliver it to the customer. You take on the role of one of the sparkhunters and go in search of a very valuable soul.


TFK - You are using one of the most powerful engines in the world, Unreal 5, to create this game. Is there any advantage in using such a tool, or is it just something that you are used to?

OZ - Some time ago I chose Unreal Engine 4 for study, it seemed to me the most potential and user-friendly, compared to others. I started working on the project in UE4th, but switched to UE5, because I understand that the development will take several more years, and I would like to have an actual game engine at the time of release.


 

If there is an opportunity, I will definitely port the game to consoles of the current generation.


 


TFK - Will the game require a higher-end machine to play, or people with more modest gear will be able to enjoy it too? Are consoles in the plans?


OZ - Yes, the game engine is very heavy, but I try to monitor the performance as much as possible so that the game works comfortably on different PC configurations. At the moment it's hard for me to say the exact technical requirements, but I tested the game on the Steam deck and it runs quite smoothly there.

For now, the main platform is PC, but if there is an opportunity, I will definitely port the game to consoles of the current generation.



TFK - How big do you think the game will be? How many levels are planned so far?


OZ - I plan to make 10 stages for Story mode with several difficulty levels, a challenge mode, and 4 playable characters. In general, the game should take about 2 hours to complete the story. But the game will have a ranking system. The player needs to spend more time and skills to get the best result.


Sparkhunt screen shot showing Rose, one of the main characters facing the final boss of the demo.
This Rose has plenty of thornes.


TFK - We are living in a renaissance of the beat ‘em up genre with tons of games being announced and released every month, what do you think makes Spark Hunt stand out from the rest?


OZ - I think primarily visually, most projects pay tribute to the classics and have a pixel or simply 2D visual style. I want to modernize this aspect a bit. Also, I tried to make a combat system more complex and fun.

But in general, the game is inspired by classic representatives of the genre and I did not try to make something unique. My goal is to make a good product that I will want to play.




TFK - Is a playable demo in the plans? And the full release, when can we expect it?


OZ - Yes, first of all, my goal is to finish and release the demo on Steam. It will include 1 level and 2 two playable characters. Hope it will be done by the end of this year.  After that, I will start looking for funding to recruit a team and complete the development of a full game.



TFK - Where people can follow the project and do you have something to say to your fans?


OZ - When I started working on this project, I had no idea how many difficulties I would face, but at the same time, I did not expect that there would be so many interested people, their support inspires and motivates me. And I want to say thanks to all of them.

You can always find new project updates on my Twitter https://twitter.com/WhisperOfDAGON or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/sparkhunt


 

We'd like to thank Oleksandr once again for this interview. Don't forget to follow him!





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