By Jen Carman on September 15, 2014 at 6:10am
In May 2014, Chris Biancardi had homework to do. He was a student at Wake Technical Community College, and as his final project, he resurrected an idea he'd envisioned the year before, and so "Sledge" was officially born. Living in a world filled with treacherous rats bent on ending all of mouse-dom and huge, shadowy hawks who constantly threaten death from above, Sledge is a mouse who discovers that there is more to his island home than he thought.
After an intense fight with one of the hawks, Sledge sees past the walls of the settlement where he has lived his whole life. Severely injured, Sledge is found by his friend, Matty, a praying mantis who, using his engineering skills, rebuilds parts of his dying friend. We join the duo after Matty’s valiant efforts, and we meet Sledge as a clockwork-cyborg, his right hand replaced by a sledge-hammer, determined to make it the outside world.
"Sledge" takes the form of a third person, dungeon-crawl platformer. You get to explore the labyrinth of rooms and traps to find your way out into the mysterious world and …beyond? Who knows? Biancardi fills the roles of Lead Designer, Creative Director, and Producer at Bluewire Development, and he admitted that he has left the story a bit open-ended so that the developers could create sequels.
Player Theory: "Sledge" has a very interesting premise. Admittedly, the first thing that came into my head was "Mice and Mystics" meets "Fullmetal Alchemist." Was there anything in particular that inspired the idea?
Chris Biancardi: As inspiration, I wanted to go for a “Jak and Daxter” feel when it came to gameplay, but I wanted to have an art style that said steampunk “American Tail." It's funny that you mention "Fullmetal," because when talking to the character artist (Nick) about the design I had in mind, I mentioned "Fullmetal," and he went from there to get a the character we have today.
PT: The beta version that you were demoing at tiltExpo has enormous potential! If you don't mind, what are the plans to expand the game?
CB: We are currently talking to others about options to expand the game itself and eventually get this (or a game like this) onto Steam, Xbox, and/or PS4.
PT: Will Sledge be customizable with gear drops and stats? Or will the game be more of a straight story progression through his encounters?
CB: During the demo, you could see that Sledge had a cape on. There has been talk of him finding different kinds of cosmetic things in the game. For instance, if the player were to find a new armor piece or cape material, the player would be able to switch it out or buy it with the Gears they collect as they progress through the levels.
PT: Will we see Matty the engineer throughout the game?
CB: Yes. He will essentially be the brains of the two and Sledge will be the brawn.
PT: When we spoke at tiltExpo you mentioned that you work for Epic. What other projects have you been involved with?
CB: Some of our team, David Decker (character mechanics programmer), Nick Falco (character modeler/animator), Ben Hyder (technical artist, shader artist), and myself currently work at Epic Games, and we have decided to do this as a side project (with permission of course). As for other projects, we have talked about starting something, but for right now, we are just working with what we have and are focusing on where we are trying to take this.
PT: How long has the game been in development? Do you have any timeframe for release set for yourselves?
CB: The demo was took about two months to put together. We don’t currently have any news on a release date, but when we do, we will be posting updates.
PT: If our readers want to keep up with "Sledge" or any of your other projects, what is the best way they can do that? Are you planning on using any crowdfunding sites or getting on Steam Greenlight?
CB: Nothing like that so far, but they can always like our page on Facebook. We will post updates through there.
Sledge Facebook page