Eendhoorn Games is a one-man development studio. Martino Wullems from the Netherlands is the man behind the studio and he’s been working on a game called SpiritSphere, a title that’s best described as The Legend of Zelda meets Windjammers. The game recently landed on Steam’s Early Access for $4.99. Martino provided the One Angry Gamer staff with a preview key to play-test the game ahead of release and get in some impressions before it landed on Early Access.
It’s a single-player or local multiplayer game with a hard competitive edge and arcade-style gameplay similar to the likes of air-hockey. I managed to get in some questions with Martino about SpiritSphere and ask about the development of the game, why it was designed on a tablet, what the future holds and how the inspiration for a Legend of Zelda and Windjammers hybrid came about. You can check out the Q&A below.
One Angry Gamer: There’s obviously a lot of similarity between SpiritSphere and Windjammers… when did you first find out about Windjammers and what brought you to the decision to combine it with a game like the Legend of Zelda?
Martino: I participated in a gamejam called the GameboyJam (GBJAM) where the goal is to create a game based off gameboy limitations. My favourite game on the gameboy is link’s awakening, so I just had to make a top-down action-rpg haha.
I gave it my own twist and created a game where each dungeon room is it’s own mini-game. One of the mini-game is a pong-esque game where you have to hit a ball past a paddle. (you can see it over on this page).
A few days afterward I visited an arcade and played some air-hockey, the idea sparked to grab the mini-game from the GBJAM and shape it into an air-hockey type game.
I was never a fanatic windjammers player, but I remember seeing the game a lot in arcades when I was younger, the fast paced action attracted me.
OAG: How long has the game been in development?
Martino: The game has been in development for about 9 months now, I had to put down the project a few times to work on contract jobs to keep myself alive haha.
OAG: You mentioned previously that SpiritSphere was designed entirely on a tablet. How did that come about and why a tablet?
Martino: 3 years ago I started having some problems with my lower arm and my hand. Over time the problem has gotten worse and I was unable to use a mouse anymore. On a whim I bought a Windows Surface Pro Tablet PC and for whatever reason I can work on that with a bit less pain.
OAG: Did you find the necessary toolsets and design support when making the game on the tablet or did you have to wing some it by coming up with design mechanisms on your own?
Martino: For development I’m using Unity3D, which is a game engine that already has most required tools included. The engine is mainly 3D though, and I did have to create some of my own toolsets. I created a map-editor to build all the maps, and to work around the physics a bit, because the standard Unity3D physics are way too realistic for an arcade game like this.
OAG: You mentioned that the French Windjammers team helped come up with a new stage design. How did you get involved with them?
Martino: I got a retweet on twitter by a player in the windjammers community, and my friend Frank, who’s helping me out with the marketing and pr of SpiritSphere, thought it might be a good idea to get in touch. They were kind enough to give my my own space on their chatroom, and they’ve been really helpful with supplying feedback so far!
OAG: Right now there’s local multiplayer available in Spiritsphere but are there plans to include online multiplayer?
Martino: The game will very likely stay local multiplayer. I think online multiplayer would be possible, but it’s a lot of work and I would have to make some gameplay elements a bit slower to compensate for lag, which is not something I want to do. I also think the game is just a lot more fun on the couch with some friends.
OAG: The game seems like it could be ripe for dabbling in a story mode. Is it possible we might see a single-player mode with a story at some point in the future or will the game mostly focus on optimizing and perfecting the multiplayer?
Martino: I’m trying to stay true to the arcade nature of the game, and therefore decided on more of an arcade type singleplayer as opposed to a story mode. And yeah, the multiplayer is the main component of the game, so I want to put most of my resources into that mode.
There is some backstory in the game though! There is a reason why the characters are smashing around an orb, and why a spirit comes out at the end of a match. Every character has their own motivation to participate in the matches. It’s more of a background story though, it’s up for the players to speculate on what’s going on. A put a bit more info in the Steam Trading Cards, so you will have to unlock those if you want to know more haha.
OAG: It’s mentioned on the Steam Early Access page that some new characters are on the way. Are there any hints you can give the general public as to what they can expect from these characters?
Martino: One of the characters is shortly teased at the end of the early access trailer, it’s Lin’s (the green haired girl) sister! Right now all the characters are pretty agile, I want to see if I can make some slower, but more powerful characters work. The ball speeds up as the match progresses, and it becomes more difficult to block shots. I want to see what happens if I turn that around, a character that starts of difficult, but becomes better over time. It’s stuff like that I want to experiment with, and see if I can add some diversity in the playstyle amongst the characters.
OAG: So what’s your ultimate goal for Spiritsphere and what would you hope for gamers’ impressions to be when they finally play the finished product?
Martino: The goal of the game is to get people together, and just have some old fashioned fun. Playing some air-hockey in the arcade is accessible for everyone, and there are bound to be some competitive moments. This is also what I’m aiming for with SpiritSphere. If I made you scream because you just missed the ball or because the opponent made an epic trickshot, then my mission is complete.
(Huge thanks to Martino for answering the questions. You can learn more about SpiritSphere by heading to the Early Access page on Steam)