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Sky Sisters Upgrades

Sky Sisters Upgrades
I think the last actual question to ponder in the world of Super Sky Sisters is the upgrade system. A long time ago when I demoed the game at an event in Denver I got some feedback that suggested that it would be more interesting or fun if the players had some sort of active goal to pursue. This came mostly in the form of maybe collecting something actively, or something along those lines. Basically the way that the game is played right now is that you are always just reacting to things and never just acting.

The strongest idea that came out of thinking on this for awhile was tying the upgrades to some sort of active goal that the players could pursue. I decided to go down the path of collecting things and put a small challenge in that involves the players guiding the orb along a predetermined path. When they completed a lap on the path they would earn an upgrade, and the path would then demand more of them for the next upgrade by either changing shape or adding more laps, and so on. At first this seemed like a good idea but lately I'm totally not sure.


The upgrades are things like +20% damage, or +10% special recharge, or +50% loot range. I think the upgrades are actually a lot of fun and when I added them to the game it seemed to really fit and complete some sort of puzzle that I was staring at for months. It almost seems like a hack since it seems like players in general are always going to respond well with some sort of +X% of something opportunity in a game, but it also gives the sense of progress and that is actually quite difficult in Sky Sisters since the entire game takes place in a single square arena.

So right now I'm at a crossroads. I like how the upgrades require the players to do something actively to earn them, but the more I look at it the more complex it seems. Adding this new idea of an upgrade path on top of everything else just seems like a giant mess, and the game is already messy and chaotic most of the time (especially at the higher difficulties.)


The more I think about it the more I want to remove this system entirely and make upgrades a thing you just earn halfway before a boss, and immediately after a boss. This is the super tough part of designing a game like this. It's not as obvious to me as say changing the layout of a level to teach a mechanic easier. It's a big system with a lot of moving parts and messing with one part changes all the others. When I watch people play the game it seems like they're already trying their hardest to just survive and go for a high score, so maybe I'm reading into this feedback a little bit in the wrong direction.

Back when I received this feedback it was at a point where the game was much slower paced, so maybe the player felt like they just wanted more going on and not so much down time. The idea is that during this "down time" the players can work toward some goal, but I'm not sure if this is the right way to accomplish that. Since PAX I made the game faster paced, and it worked out better than I thought.

Not sure what I'm going to do! I think I will probably remove this whole path tracking challenge to get upgrades. Or... as I've typed this out I thought maybe if there was something on the screen that the players could always shoot that might be fun... but ... now I'm already thinking of how that could go horribly wrong too. Oh well. Video games!
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