Who are you and what do you do?
We are a two-man indie studio from Brazil called BEHEMUTT. I’m Ed Freitas, the other half of the team is Douglas Oliveira, we’re both programmers. When we started the studio idea we were talking with some artists at the time but things were not working out. Instead of quitting or waiting for somebody I decided to learn basic concepts of art and focus on a really simple art style, so on Mana Spark I’m currently the game designer/artist and Douglas the programmer. We knew each other a while back and worked together on three different jobs and this one is the forth.
What is “Mana Spark”?
Mana Spark is a top-down rogue-like with bow and arrow action, focused on strategic combat, and on a special artificial intelligence that makes enemies not only smart but makes them collaborate to attack and trap you. Our elevator pitch is on the tip of the tongue!
I really enjoyed the demo! What features are you looking to add to the final release?
I’m glad you did! We want to put back a mechanic that we had for a while where the player could acquire their own traps and set them on the map so enemies would fall on them, bringing more possibilities to the combat.
Something that has being highly requested is the possibility to unlock different characters, that’s also on our plans. We’ll also add a lot of secrets and details along the game that tell the whole story behind the game for those interested.
I like only having one attack, which is then modified through upgrade purchases. What was the inspiration behind that design?
In Mana Spark the human race is the weakest one, being massacred and enslaved. That’s because it is the only one that don’t have the power of Mana, used to cast every type of magic. Therefore our hero needed to reflect that underdog feeling. The upgrade mechanic is inspired by other modern rogue-like titles like The Binding of Isaac and Risk of Rain.
With a lot of the games in the Rogue-like and “Dark Souls” genre, how do you think Mana Spark will stick out?
One of our highlights is our artificial intelligence that manages the behavior of the enemies. Mixed with that we have a skill based and unforgiving combat, the procedural generation of the levels and the different item purchases every time you play. We think that results in a great game! Our challenge now is presenting that to the public in order to have as many people interested as possible. It’s going to be hard!
In the past I heard a lot of unpleasant things about making 2D games in Unity, and I know that’s something which the company has been aggressively tackling in recent updates. Why did you choose Unity for Mana Spark?
With the last updates of Unity the 2D support is now huge. I don’t think that is a problem anymore. With it’s tremendous capacity of porting the game to most of the modern platforms and it’s large community, it was not a hard decision to stick with Unity.
Over the years there has been a lot of talk in the industry about how indie game developers have been required to ask for less money than they need on Kickstarter due to big games, such as Shenmue 3 and Koji Igarashi’s Bloodstained, promising to create games with unrealistic budgets (such as $6 million for Shenmue 3, when the original cost over six times that amount). Do you think gamers have unreasonable ideas about how much a game costs to make and do you think this impacts a lot of indie developers when trying to get crowd funding for their game?
I think the public value perception is closely linked with how much money the game will be capable to make. If the value perception starts too low we have a lot of types of games that would just not be able to exist. Regarding crowdfunding, I believe campaigns with unrealistic budgets harms other campaigns because players will be able to easily compare and miss judge campaigns like Shenmue 3 with the ones that decided to go for a more realistic budget. Let’s hope it doesn’t lead to another race to the bottom.
What are your thoughts on the indie-apocalypse? What advice would you give to other indie developers getting started?
In my opinion the weird market was the one that we were witnessing four year ago, when every game that jumped on Steam would automatically sell a lot. I think now things starting to stabilize.
My advice to other fellow indies is don’t go blindly with your first idea. Publicly test it a lot. Make a complete analysis of the market and of your target audience. Put on paper how much is your team going to spend and how much money do you need to make. Compare it with games that are similar to yours on the store and see if what you want is something that can be done. Ryan Clark, the creator of Crypt of the NecroDancer, has a really great streaming on Twitch about it. He invites an indie studio and make that kind of analysis on their game. It goes live every Friday and is called Clark Tank.
What is your favourite game?
My favorite game of all time is Diablo. I remember waking up 2 am after my parents went to bed just to keep playing. The MMORPG Tibia was really popular in Brazil a long time ago and also has a big place in my heart.