Michael Vansleve, Head of Armitage Games, is no stranger to developing, with 3 games already under his belt ranging from action RPGS, FPS survival to even a comical horror style.
Stepping up to creating his first commercial indie game, Bannerman, Michael has taken 2D skill-based combat and meshed it with a 16-bit nod to the Sega Megadrive/Genesis. Today we get a chance to sit down with Michael and discuss his experience developing Bannerman and the inspiration behind it!
SGR – Working as a 1-man team, how has developing Bannerman been for you? Is it easier to translate your ideas into the game by yourself or is it more challenging?
Michael – Going it alone can really be both a blessing and a curse! On one hand, it’s super easy to rapidly prototype new ideas and elements of the game’s overall design and direction. Can’t get “lost in translation” like it can with a bigger team. On the other hand, it is entirely possible to get bogged down in tiny little details.
Throughout the course of Bannerman’s development, I have learned to better prioritize my time and efforts and try to look at the bigger picture. Another challenging part of working as a 1-man team is the feeling of isolation. Without someone else to bounce ideas off it is easy for the design to stagnate. My partner; Hayley, has been instrumental in being someone I can talk to about the design of the game and problems I encounter in development.
SGR – Bannerman is a story about a man-at-arms that has lost everything during a battle and travels a war-torn countryside to recover his lord’s banner. What drove you to compliment this story with medieval action-adventure combat based on historical swordsmanship?
Michael – I am a huge medieval and ancient history nerd, and have long been fascinated with historical weapons and warfare.
Most representations in media of medieval combat are pretty far off the mark in terms of how the various weapons were used. Games that use medieval weapons in an appropriate way, especially 2D games, are few and far between so I wanted to make the sort of sword-fighting game that I would want to play.
SGR – What is going to make Bannerman competitive against other 2D action-adventure games? What are going to be some of the drawing influences within your game?
Michael – With the fluid animation, folk acoustic soundtrack, and gritty medieval setting, I believe Bannerman is targeting a different audience than the typical 2D action-adventure fare; especially when combined with the methodical and brutal combat system. Bannerman plays at a more deliberate pace than most action-adventures; think more Demon’s/Dark Souls and less Legend of Zelda.
The art is definitely inspired by Eric Chahi’s fantastic games. I have been a fan of rotoscoped animations since playing Flashback on the Sega Mega Drive when I was a kid. Gameplay-wise one of the big inspirations is the classic title Karateka with elements of Golden Axe, Prince of Persia and more modern titles; especially From Software’s latest series of 3D adventures.
SGR – What was your drive to utilize 16-bit graphics modeled after games on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis?
Michael – I think it comes down to the fact that I had a Mega Drive when I was growing up rather than a SNES! I have long been a fan of the grittier color palette that many Mega Drive games utilized and I feel the Mega Drive hasn’t had much love from indie developers – most seem to pay homage to the NES and SNES.
SGR – What different types of enemies and bosses can the player expect to encounter? Are the hidden treaties and learning different combat techniques ultimately worth the exploration?
Michael – Enemies run the gamut from peasant through archer, spearman to men-at-arms and noble lords. Bosses in Bannerman explore the interaction between different weapon types and the advantages and disadvantages of each. One of the more difficult bosses in the current build is a giant guardian that fights with a large shield and one handed spear. This is similar to what was historically used by many ancient cultures, and the superior reach and protection very much puts the single sword wielding player at a disadvantage.
Your main challenge is to get inside the reach of his spear and around his shield so you can effectively deal damage. Some bosses do have a more fantastical side to them and use some forms of magic and other abilities, but they all serve as a test of the player’s ability to learn and adapt to different situations and combat scenarios. The combat treatises are very much worth searching around for! Collecting them allows the player to select the fighting techniques that work best with their chosen play style. Playing through Bannerman without collecting any of the treatises is quite the challenge!
Bannerman is a 2D action/adventure game in development by Armitage Games set to release early 2017! Stay tuned for Super Game Review’s coverage on it when it launches! Below is the Steam Greenlight trailer for Bannerman, be sure to give it a thumbs up if you like it!