What the hell is a MegaSphere? An interview with Anton Kudin
In concept, Steam Greenlight is a place for indie game developers to share their projects with the Steam community, who in turn vote for the submissions they want to see appear on the Steam store.
In practice, however, Steam Greenlight is often oversaturated with low-effort cash grabs, derivative clones, and amateurish apps.
Indie developer Anton Kudin isn't trying to imitate the success of others, nor is he struggling to create something entirely unique. "I’m just trying to make a game I’d love to play." That game is MegaSphere, an action-platformer set in a procedurally generated environment, and it looks like a game that I'd love to play as well.
Over the past weekend, I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Kudin about the game's mechanics, visual effects, and the trials of indie development.
Jesse Snider: First, tell me a little about yourself and your background as a developer.
Anton Kudin: Frankly, I’m just starting: transitioning from being a freelance designer (for years!) to an indie dev. I’m seeing a lot more interest in what I do as a game developer. I started with MegaSphere in the Fall of 2014, learning Unity and C# programming as I go. Had some experience with Flash programming before, so I know my way around motion design and programming, but not much in terms of real app development.
JS: If you had to describe the gameplay concept of MegaSphere in five words or less, what would those words be?
AK: Roleplaying adventure platformer–action in an open procedural world with some added major plot points! That’s a lot to take in, I understand, but that’s what it is :)
JS: Does MegaSphere have a story? If so, what can you tell us about it?
AK: Story is still in its draft stages, written by my friend Anton Outkine (@aienn). I got inspired by Tsutomu Nihei's Blame! and cyberpunk genre in general, thought it would be an interesting space to explore and build a game upon. Anton got excited and agreed to help me out with story and dialogs. Plot-wise, well, I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s a story of epic (galactic!) proportions: far future, humanity is driven to (almost) extinction, ancient gods became incomprehensibly cruel, and stars are going dark one by one, and you gotta help humanity to continue existing in this universe! We really want to have a very compelling plot here, so we try and work together to ensure that the player’s experience would be really really gripping.
JS: So... what the hell is a MegaSphere, exactly?
AK: You’ll have to play to find out!
JS: What games have inspired you the most as a developer? How has that influenced the design of MegaSphere?
AK: Biggest inspiration is watching developers share their gamemaking process on Twitter or blogs. Seeing new images and mechanics coming to life is what got me interested as a game dev in the first place! Making something fun for everyone to share, just out of nothing, never ceases to amaze me!
JS: MegaSphere has an impressively "updated" retro-feel thanks to visual effects like particles and dynamic lighting. Are these features difficult to implement?
AK: All these things are accessible to everyone for free, all built into Unity: physics, normal mapped textures, lights and particle systems. Just put a little thought into it and these will work wonders for your game. Also, I try and share some techniques on my MegaSphere tumblr — so yeah, it’s a very open and inclusive community that I’m happy to be a part of!
JS: What has been the most difficult thing about developing MegaSphere?
AK: Postponing alpha launch was a decision I really struggled with. I set a date/goal, but as I got closer to it I saw that product wasn’t up to snuff. I wanted to ship it, but yet I wanted it to be bug-free, and fun experience from start to finish. All the other stuff like programming and art and design can be figured out, in time.
JS: As a player, what is your favorite gun mode to use in MegaSphere?
AK: My favorite gun is Gyrotron. With some upgrades it can be a "Devourer of worlds”: disintegrate the world around you and bury the enemy beneath the ashes! Flaming Bear is also fun: inspired by Vlambeer’s Nuclear Throne it has a camera shake (obviously), crazy fire rate and huge bullets that tear any robot "servo from servo”. ;]
JS: Right now, MegaSphere is looking like a solid single-player experience. Do you have any plans to implement multiplayer in any capacity?
AK: Yes, focusing on great story, world and fun enemy ai is a priority right now. Maybe in the future, who knows? I certainly can see how a death match with crazy weapons and randomized environment can be fun!
JS: The "features" section of the official MegaSphere web page cites that the game contains a "secret feature." Can we have a hint?
AK: [Remains silent]
JS: Finally, when should we expect to play MegaSphere for ourselves?
AK: All my estimates were very off so far, so… hopefully, a free-to-play demo in a few weeks?
I'd like to thank Anton Kudin for taking the time to answer my questions. If you're interested in learning more, or recieving updates concerning the game's eventual release, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter on the official MegaSphere website.