Studio Evil is a game development studio placed in Bologna, Italy. They are the developers of Syder Arcade, a very appreciated 90s style sci-fi shoot'em up. When a studio like that meets with Sio, a very well known (at least in Italy) web cartoonist, Super Cane Magic Zero happens. The game is an hilarious action RPG inspired by Sio's characters and themes. The nonsense vibe of the game is the same that transpires in his strips and cartoons. The game has been recently greenlit
Marco Di Timoteo, creative director and co-founder of Studio Evil, with some help from Domiziana Suprani, assistant producer, answered some questions for us.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUbntiHB-sU] Youtubers and game developers are not two universes that overlap often. How did the collaboration with Sio (author of Scottecs) start?Everything started when we decided to get a booth at Lucca Comics & Games, an annual comic book and gaming convention. The coordinators of the event asked if we wanted to take part to a crowdfunding campaign organised by their partner Eppela. The idea was to present a new game and we started looking for something original to submit. We were going to a 'comics & games' event, so we thought it could be a cool idea to ask a comicbook artist to join us in this adventure. Sio was our first choice, as we always loved and followed his works. He accepted to collaborate with us and here we are!
We know for a fact that you guys don’t take yourself too seriously (just look at Syder Arcade’s trailer) and love to have fun with your projects. And Super Cane Magic Zero is of course a game that doesn’t take itself seriously. How was the experience of making this very particular kind of game to you?Having a chance to work on a game that aims to be hilariously insane is just thrilling. We are going to have a huge degree of freedom to experiment with new mechanics and solutions, and this promises tons of fun. But there are also other reasons for us to be so excited about this project! For example, this is our first “story driven” game. We are also getting inspired by our most beloved classic games, and this is another guarantee of the amount of passion we are putting in this work. At the same time, this project is very very serious, and not only because we are investigating an unexplored territory. We are working with a cartoonist we love and respect and we know that his fanbase expects nothing less than a perfect execution. So yeah, we are in a weird spot where we feel both terrified and super happy :)
Super Cane Magic Zero is the first game of its kind that you approach. As a studio, what were the hardest challenges you encountered in the development?Creating an interesting game world is at the same time very important and an hard challenge. Luckily for us, we’ve been working on a very powerful RPG engine and content editor during the last year, and we believe that current results are pretty encouraging. We started developing Super Cane Magic Zero a couple of months ago and only part of our team is involved, but we already made a lot of things. The map editor is working fine and dialogs system and basic combat mechanics are almost done. I think the next few months of constant creation will tell us if our tools are up to the task!
Super Cane Magic Zero is a very peculiar game and it’s hard to pinpoint it to a game genre. What are the things that make it stand out?The game is a mix of an adventure game, an RPG and an arcade. Mixes like this one usually are very bad at “standing out” (and selling too) but our plan is to make the result remarkably weird. We want Super Cane Magic Zero to be hilarious and whimsical, something that looks familiar but works in a completely different way. It takes elements to adventure games such as Zelda, but it adds combat mechanics similar to Bubble Bobble and gives a lot of relevance to the interaction with in-game character as it happens in Monkey Island. We want the gameplay to reflect the good kind of “WTF” effect present in Sio’s videos.
The game is mostly based on 3 core mechanics: picking up stuff, throwing stuff and believing stuff. How will they work exactly and what kind of gameplay variety we can expect from them?We are going to focus on simple rules that can be exploited to win the game. In this way, we plan to create a gameplay that is consistent with the wacky humour of Sio’s work.
As you say, our combat system consists almost entirely in throwing things. This could easily get boring, but the twist here is that you can basically pickup and throw EVERYTHING you find that is not nailed to the ground. And of course items can also have unique behaviours and effects. But the belief system is where things can get really awesome. You can completely change the rules of the game to overcome obstacles, find secrets, even adjust the difficulty of an area to your liking.
For example, let’s say you are fighting Dr. Malvagius at the royal bakery, and found a bunch of cakes. Normally, cakes are mediocre throwing weapons and this makes that area of the game difficult to conquer . However, if you find the Combat Diet Expert, he will tell you that sugar is super poisonous. If you choose to believe him, you cakes will become much more powerful and you will be able to use them to defeat enemies. Just remember you can’t eat them to regain health anymore. I just made this up to explain you the mechanic, but I actually like this mini-story, it think we just created a small chunk of the game (if Sio approves)!
You are approaching a much wider market than the one made by the fans of Sio’s work. Expecially now that your game has been greenlit on Steam. Do you think that people that are not familiar with Scottecs will be able to enjoy the game at the same extent of die hard fans?Bringing Sio’s work outside Italy is one of the main challenges of the project. This is also explains why we submitted the game to Steam Greenlight. Being Steam developers already, together with Sio’s popularity in Italy, we probably could have published the game on Steam directly. However, we needed some sort of proving ground to understand if everything worked as good as in Italian.
Of course a careful and inspired work when translating all the content will be a key factor here but, for what we have seen from our new Greenlight fans, it looks like Sio’s fast and furious cartoons definitely have an international appeal.
Are you planning to expand the game in the future? DLCs, expansion packs, something along those lines?Right now we are completely focused on making the core game. If it will be successful, and only once the game experience will be 100% satisfying for us, we will start to think about new content and how to distribute it.
However, we love the idea of a big huge expansion pack, just like in the ‘90s!
In your crowdfunding campaign, you aimed to a more than reasonable target for this kind of projects. Crowdfunding is usually not a very reliable way of gaining financial support outside of the US. Do you think that Sio’s popularity in Italy played a role in the success of the campaign? Also, what are your thoughts on the state of crowdfunding outside of the US?We never would have dreamed of starting a crowdfunding campaign only for the Italian audience without the tremendous popularity of Sio to support it. Our success was a very special circumstance, I doubt we could repeat it easily without the lucky combination we managed to put together for Super Cane Magic Zero.
I think crowdfuding is an incredible way of finding money for weird, disruptive or innovative projects, being in the US or elsewhere. Of course the “crowdfunding frenzy” we had all over the Internet last year is almost over, but I think it can still be a viable option in certain situations.
Working in a country like the US that is highly technological, with a huge community and “kickstarter enabled”, is a huge bonus. However, ultimately I think it’s the overall quality of the content and the people behind it that matters the most. After all, when you start a crowdfunding campaign you are basically asking money in exchange for promises.
Something you want to add or shout out to our readers?This is our first international interview about the project, and we are mighty excited to present our new game to you guys outside Italy. We started this game with the help of the community and we want to continue in the same way. If you are interested in what we are doing, get involved! We would love to hear your thoughts about Super Cane Magic ZERO, so get in touch with us on Steam Greenlight (or our Steam community as soon as we get to early access during the next few months)!
We thank the guys from Studio Evil for their time. If you want to know more about Super Cane Magic Zero, hit the Steam Greenlight page.
What do you think of this very unusual game? Let us know in the comments.