Sector 7 → Interview: Alessandro Marani
Interview: Alessandro Marani

Posted: May 09, 2004 |  Printable Version | Rating: 6.4 out of 10 (15 total votes)
Author: Wolfy | Back to Article Listing
Anyone remember the weird Italian site called Console Troopers? They were the guys making a 2D flash rendition of Halo called Halo: Blood Covenant. It has been a long time since anyone actually stopped by again to see how they were doing - their web site is now in plain English, and the game looks amazing! For the past two nights, Alessandro (whom I will call Andro throughout the interview) and I have been emailing each other - setting up this interview:

S7: Give us some background on yourself!
Andro: I am 27 and live in Forlì (near Bologna), Italy. I love: Cinema (thats movies in US), rock music (Korn, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam..etc), American/European comics and video games. I hate: Japanese comics and Italian music.

S7: How long have you been using flash, and why did you choose to utilize your skills to create a game such as Halo: Blood Covenant?
Andro: I started using Flash three years ago, and worked as a webdesigner. It is the only tool I know that can allow me to create video games easily. There was no choice: I simply had to do it with Flash! I am a cartoonist (not a programmer) and I had to learn everything in few weeks, maybe someone will realize that...

S7: How long have you been working on Halo: Blood Covenant?
Andro: Work on the game started 3 months ago. I never tried something like this before and I encountered a lot of problems and obstacles - many aspects of the demo will be changed and fixed but I think it' s not so bad right now. I really hope Halo fans won' t be disppointed by the final result of the game. Compared to the code, making the graphics was probably the easier of the few things I had to deal with and I think it is the best part of the game.

S7: Speaking of graphics, how much time has been spent creating custom images, animations, and other neat effects for this game?
Andro: Lots of time has gone into this, over one month of hard work. The animation frames for the enemies and the backgrounds did not take as much time, however. The most difficult thing was bringing the 2D Master Chief alive. I had to redisegn the sprite three times! (All the sprites are handmade pixel X pixel, hope you'll imagine the amount of time spent for their creation..)
Note: Sprites are animations used in flash. Pixels are the basic unit of mesure for graphics, smaller then a millimeter.

S7: Why did you choose to create this game on your own?
Andro: 1. My favorite 3d games are Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, and Halo. They all talk about Half Life, Doom, Unreal etc. but I think the best FPS is (and will remain..) Halo.
2. A German team started a 2D conversion of Half Life so I thought it was a good idea to do the same for Halo.

S7: Is it possible we will see this game featured elsewhere, such as an exclusive Halo Gameboy game?
Andro: As you can see from the screenshots, I designed the game using a small color palette to easily reconvert it for other platforms. I didn' t want the Halo 2D to look like a jerky flash game, so I managed to hide every Flash feature behind a classic 2D arcade graphic. Hope I've succeeded... And yes, GameBoy Advance would be great! We just have to wait and see what happens...

S7: You've certainly done a superb job in disguising its Flash underlayings, which brings me to this next question - Does the game feature a special game engine to make it play like it does?
Andro: No, I only used bitmaps without antialising. There are also black scanlines that give the final arcade touch.

S7: What other features distinguish this game from a normal Flash game?
Andro: The Coding. Coding is huge, I am already swearing/sweating on the keyboard over it.

S7: How many people are currently working on this game?
Andro: Me myself and no one else! My friend Stefano Fabbri helped me with the website, and Domenico Neziti design some bosses for levels. As for the rest of the game, I had to do everything by myself. In Italy video games are almost considered stupid games for the babies and it' s very difficult to find coders and designers.

S7: Will the game feature a set plot or storyline?
Andro: I am currently working on a short script for a comic that will explain the story and mission objectives throughout levels: cut scenes. They will be very short but intense!

S7: Does Halo: Blood Covenant feature its own music and sound effects?
Andro: The demo music was composed with a free tracker called Fruity Loops. A friend of mine is working on a main theme featuring original Super Nintendo sounds. I really want to recreate a 90's arcade video game feel with this, I think this would help. Sounds are all home-made except weapons: I use military movies (Black Hawk Down, Starship Troopers...) and modified sound libraries for that.

S7: When can we expect this game to be completed?
Andro: I am rewriting all of the code to optimize every single aspect of the game. That could take a lot of time and I hope someone will give me a hand. If everything goes fine, I really could make a great job in few months! But, I must be honest: I don' t have a precise date for the game to release.

S7: Thank you for your time! Do you have any words for young designers such as yourself?
Andro: I am tired, and I am working really hard. I hope Halo Fans will appreciate this game. I really appreciate your support and I would like to thank you and the other guys all around US and Europe.
S7: Thanks once again for stopping by! We hope to hear from you again!

Related links

Console Troopers
~By Wolfy
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