Alien Shooter was one of our favourite PC titles growing up so it’s a pleasure to be able to introduce Sigma Team’s founder Michael Murashov (thanks to Jordan Freeman @ ZOOM Platform).
Michael, great to have you here at Arcade Attack! Seems crazy to think of Alien Shooter as retro but it was released 14 years ago! Can you tell us a bit about how Sigma Team started and what inspired you to start designing video games in the first place?
I am a professional civil engineer and before video games became my lifework I couldn’t even imagine I will ever work in this sphere. It happened accidentally that my office was near small company making video games being distributed through the Internet. That time it was called Shareware games. Short time after I got acquainted with my neighbours I got so captivated that I left engineering and started as a producer in that small company. A couple years after I met several guys who were into video games as much as me (that time they were also working in the company making games) and we decided to found our own company called Sigma Team.
Would you ever have been tempted to develop games on the Atari Jaguar? Were you ever tempted to develop for the home consoles?
Don’t forget I am from Russia and that time we haven’t even heard of Atari consoles. The first console in Russia was Dendy – Chinese clone of Nintendo. As you see there was no way to develop games for consoles. My first gaming experience I got on ZX Spectrum. I had a whole cupboard full of audio cassettes for that computer at home…
We loved the original Alien Shooter, but it got mixed reviews at the time. How did you find working on that project and what were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome?
Frankly speaking, to start the company’s existence we needed a simple game (in terms of working hours) and at the same time unusual in terms of setting and gameplay. That’s how Alien Shooter appeared. We didn’t have any substantial difficulties with the development because all the participants were already a bit acquainted with the process. The difficulties started after we were done. We had no publisher and no marketing funds so I had to take it by my own. I haven’t missed any gaming conference discussing CD retail possibilities with every country separately. I used to have long negotiations with online portals for digital distribution of our game and, you are absolutely right, the game got mixed reviews and it wasn’t a bomb right after release so there was a big job made before we started getting profit.
Are you at Sigma Team all big Aliens and Predator fans
As for me, I do like all the parts of “The Alien”, especially with Sigourney Weaver. 😊
The isometric style used at the time (2003) had started to go out of fashion for more first-person games. Alien Shooter (we think) would have worked great in first-person. Why did you go isometric?
No doubts, first-person shooters have more fans but more competitors as well. I think even now we are not ready to create first-person shooter that will successfully compete with big companies. Moreover, first-person shooters are much more labour-intensive starting from programming up to graphics so for the moment we are not financially ready for it.
The sequel – Reloaded, was much better received (we’re not surprised, it blew us away), what did you focus on to make the sequel better?
It’s simple, we wanted to make the second part better than the first one taking into account all the parameters (on both gamers and our opinion) so we were just focused on that…
The later games are much more strategy-based like Command & Conquer. What inspired the switch to this type of game?
To tell the truth, we just wanted to try something new. Except for shooters I’ve been always fond of the Tower Defence genre.
Alien Shooter TD and Alien Hallway 2 have both been well received on Steam. What do you think the secret to your success is?
Honestly, I don’t think that these games are indications of great success. These projects are more intermediate I would say, they are just leading us further to the goal. You can find my address to the gamers here:
The fact that people like our games and are not negative towards them is connected with our main rule – we are making games we are interested to play ourselves… 😊
There have been a lot of strong indie games coming from Russia dev teams of late, what makes the game scene so special over there?
I think it’s love for gaming, same as all over the world. Russia is a big country so the number of developers must be big as well…
Where to now for Sigma Team? What have you got in the pipeline?
It’s not a secret, we are working on Alien Shooter 2 mobile now. You can read about it on our pages in social networks. I want to make happy those who have already played this game. It will be totally new game in Alien Shooter 2 world. We totally revised the RPG component, gameplay, added tons of new content including monsters, weapons, gadgets, etc. There will also be full multiplayer in the game.
Probably after release on mobile platforms we will create a renewed version of AS2 for PC and consoles.
If you could go for a drink with any video game character, who would you choose and why?
I’ve never thought about it but if I had to imagine any game character as my drinking companion I guess Nathan Drake from Uncharted might be a good one.
Same as Nathan, I like to travel, to climb the mountains, I like weapons and martial arts 😊
You guys would be a great fit! Thanks for your time Michael and we wish you and Sigma Team all the best with your future releases!
Thank you, Dylan!