Ahead of the Game

Michael Sullivan '14, James Wolff '14 and Louis Saporito '15 of Starfall Studios have launched their first project, Sneaky Ninja, on Kickstarter.

After graduating from NJIT with a B.S. in information technology, Michael Sullivan ’14 formed an independent game development company called Starfall Studios with fellow IT alums James Wolff ’14 and Louis Saporito ’15 serving as programmers. Recently approved as an official Wii U developer, the company launched Sneaky Ninja, its first project on Kickstarter.

Sneaky Ninja is a 2D stealth platformer, Sullivan explains, in which players can choose from among four playable, roly-poly characters with a unique ability that gears them toward different play styles.

“Think Mario with more ninjas, and Mark of the Ninja with more jumping,” Sullivan says. “Just like Mario, you can jump on your enemies’ heads to defeat them, but you’re also equipped with an arsenal of tools and magical powers to help you fight from the shadows or stay hidden in them!”

Marc Sequeira ‘02, coordinator of NJIT’s Game Development Program and university lecturer in the Information Technology Program in the College of Computing Sciences, remembers Sullivan, Wolff, and Saporito as three of the best game developers that the program has produced over the last 10-plus years. After graduating with his B.S. degree in 2002, Sequeira served as project manager for the NJ Information-Technology Opportunities for the Workforce, Education and Research (I-TOWER) grant at NJIT. He helped launch the university’s Game Development program as part of the IT degree program in 2003. 

“They are all extremely talented designers and Michael is also a gifted artist, making him the rarest kind of developer: the artist programmer,” said Sequeira. “There isn’t anything I’m aware of that he can’t do. All three were the kind of students who took every gaming-related class they could find until they had finished them all, and then transitioned to working on a number of project courses with myself and others. They also participated in our student organizations and events, especially our Global Game Jam event where they worked as a team on various games.”  

NJIT was named as one of the top 25 schools on The Princeton Review’s recently published list recognizing the best undergraduate schools to study video game design for 2014. The university was ranked 22nd on the list of 25 undergraduate schools in the nation offering the best programs in video game design. The university offers two degree programs where students can specialize in Game Design: the B.S. in Information Technology and the B.A. in Digital Design. Students interested in Game Design as an IT major should contact Marc Sequeira. Those interested in Game Design as a Digital Design major should contact Sasha Corchado.

Sneaky Ninja has been Greenlit on Steam. The team successfully raised more than $10,000 to fund the project. For more information, visit  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/starfallstudios/sneaky-ninja.

By Christina Crovetto