Tue, Apr 20th 2010, 10:16
It's starting to feel more like a game (both in my head and design doc). A rant-like overview:
There are currently 4 different terrain types. I've been fighting to come up with a few more,
but doing so and keeping them mechanically unique has been difficult. The "Metropolis" terrain
from the original is being retained, but adding something like "Forest" would be essentially
the same thing but with different shapes. Maybe I'm underestimating the value of visual variety,
but for now it's just easier to think in mechanical terms.
After much fiddling, I've gotten six competent ship designs that all offer a different playstyle
without breaking the others' (in theory). There are some dramatic disadvantages to trying to get
six different things to play nice together instead of just two. With the original
one side took damage, dealt "hits", and regenerated health; the other side took damage as "hits",
dealt points of damage, and could not regenerate. With a two-sided system, the player doesn't
question this; because the match-up is always the same it behaves consistently in every situation.
By adding more things to the mix, with different health "types", each ship would need to output
multiple damage "types" to match and the player is left getting inconsistent feedback about the
effectiveness of his character. This is fine in many game times, but in a simple (hopefully even
elegant) action game, this convoluted scheme makes the rules feel arbitrary or subject to change
at any time. So, health and damage have been made universally "hit-based" to keep things as simple
as possible (no more fractional damage). Also gone is regeneration, which should help to curb the
unkillable enemy effect. There are two ships that could be accused of exhibiting regeneration-like
behavior, but I think they stand as integral mechanics unique to the ships' design, so it's not
quite the same as hidden number voodoo.
Something else worth noting is that four of the six ships actually do "shoot bullets" by default.
This is a very hard thing to avoid in a shmup. Although the actual way in which they do it and
the effects they have are pretty non-standard, to help keep things interesting, three of these
get an upgrade that modify their behavior in a substantial way (the other one gets to remain as
a classic shmup ship). Hopefully, by retaining the some of the more familiar concepts early on,
the player will learn the quirky mechanics in a more comfortable environment before getting to
the more outlandish stuff.
Coming up next: it's time to clean up some odd bits in the design (mostly in the ship upgrades)
to get everything feeling right. Then, time permitting, it'll be time to get a crude prototype
together and see if this "different but complementary playstyles" thing is working as well as
I think it is (hint: it won't).