posts tagged with: gamedev

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.

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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.)

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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!

Dev Log: Particle Polish

Dev Log: Particle Polish
I've just been hopping around on Sky Sisters revisiting some areas that needed a little bit more love. I wanted to make the upgrade diamonds a little bit more clear when the players touch one.

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The changes are super subtle but hopefully they get the message across a little bit more. I adjusted the screen flash and the particle burst when the orb touches the diamond, and I also added a flashing effect onto the diamond itself that gets more intense. I also shortened the overall time it takes for the whole effect to play out.

Dev Log: Loot Numbers

Dev Log: Loot Numbers
Whoops I forgot to post for like two weeks again. Why do I keep doing that! Oh well.

I'm quickly running out of things to do in Super Sky Sisters now as I try to polish every last bit that I can. I just keep letting my anxiety get the best of me and I refuse to release it because my brain is broken in weird ways. Anyway!

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I added some fancy numbers for when the player collects loot in the game. I figure since damage and healing has numbers then also collecting loot should also give some fancy numbers as well. I tried to make them look very different from the damage numbers so I went with a white fill and a gold outline.

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The numbers also get bigger the more you collect which can be pretty fun at times...

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Dev Log: Upgrade Queued

Dev Log: Upgrade Queued
One of the main pieces of feedback I recieved about Sky Sisters was something like "it would be nice if the players had a proactive goal instead of just reactive goals." Meaning that instead of just dodging things all the time it would be cool if the players could work toward some goal.

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Right now the idea is to have some sort of outline of a shape in the arena. The players can use the orb to trace that shape. Whenever a lap is completed the shape will change into something more complicated. Right now I have this tied to getting upgrades, which I'm still a little unsure of. The first time you complete a lap you unlock an upgrade. The second upgrade requires two laps, and every upgrade after that requires three laps. I have yet to try this out with two players though. I kind of like the upgrades always coming every 3 or so events, but it also seems like the most worthwhile reward that this shape tracing thing can give you.

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This might have to go through a lot of refinement as right now even I find it tough to find time to complete laps around this thing during all the madness of the gameplay. Having a proactive goal though also introduces the problem of cheesing certain events so I have to come up with ways to address that as well. Basically I don't want the optimal strategy to be to leave events running as long as possible to get more upgrades. We'll see how this turns out through play testing, and this might have to be something I possibly address or change after the first release of the game.

Dev Log: Enemy Shields

Dev Log: Enemy Shields
I keep mentioning ways to keep both players involved in the gameplay of Super Sky Sisters in my recent posts. Here's yet another way I've tried to address this issue!

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I've introduced the ability for enemies to spawn with shields that can be either red or blue. These shields operate in the same way that the Orb shield does just placed on enemies instead of the Orb. It's a pretty straight forward challenge: red shields can be destroyed by player 1 and blue shields by player 2. This means that situations will develop in the game where you are forced to switch who is doing the shooting at times.

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Another scenario that can arise as the game goes on is stacked enemy shields. Enemies can have more than one shield on them! So this makes switching who is doing the shooting even more important as now players will have to trade off multiple times in order to take down a single enemy.

So far I'm pretty happy how this change has effected the game, but I've yet to see it in an actual two player situation. I'm looking forward to my next play test opportunity as there's now a load of new things to test!

Dev Log: Demon Animations

Dev Log: Demon Animations
Things are progressing! I've just been forgetting to document it on my blogosphere. I have some catching up to do!

Last week I finally tackled the animations for the demon sisters.

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Luckily I made a base template for all the sky sister animations, so this process ended up being a lot less painful than I thought it would be. All together it only took me a solid day of work to get together all the animations for the demons, and the demons actually have less frames than the angels so that made it all the more easier.

The task list continues to shrink!