posts tagged with: sky sisters

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: Upgrade Path Arts

Dev Log: Upgrade Path Arts
I'm home for the holidays so that gives me plenty of time to catch up on my missing blog posts for the month!

Here's something I updated in Sky Sisters a little while back:

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The assets for the "upgrade path" were a little lacking. Previously they were just some simple monocolored assets that had some minor effects. What I found though was that they were very hard to see against certain sky palettes. I tried some tricks like shifting the color of the asset around to make them stand out more, but I was having a hard time making them out. If I was having a hard time that meant that any players would have an even harder time, so out they went.

I opted for a more detailed asset that is trying to be more in line with how the upgrade diamonds look themselves. There are some minor issues with these but I don't see them changing much beyond this iteration.

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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State of my Brain

State of my Brain
Progress on things has been pretty weird lately. I've been all over the place with what I've been working on and how I've been spending my time. I'm struggling to find things to talk about on the ole blog so I figured I'd write up just a bunch of thoughts and feelings that are bouncing around my noggin.

Super Sky Sisters
I've been feeling like this game is "almost done" for the past year. It's always felt that I'm one bullet point away from finishing it, but each bullet point reveals two or three more that I then have to work on. It just doesn't seem like the game has enough stuff for it to be called "finished." That and I'm also struggling with a lot of anxiety about the game.

Honestly what I really want to do is just release it on itch.io and call it a day, but I feel like I'm missing possible opportunities to do way more with it. Steam, Humble, maybe actually trying to get any sort of press for it... but all of these things make me feel incredibly anxious. I would be perfectly happy just quietly releasing it on itch, but am I just screwing myself over by doing that? I mean I do have to make money on my work otherwise it becomes pretty difficult to eat, but right now the thought of putting Sky Sisters in front of a potentially huge audience makes me feel pretty uneasy and I'm not sure exactly why.

These feelings of weird social anxiety that somehow carries over to my work is probably the biggest reason I haven't hurried up and finished it. My anxiety and "introvertedness" just gets stronger and stronger all the time and I'm not sure how to fight it! Whoops this part isn't exactly about Sky Sisters anymore.

Dev Log: Sky Palettes

Dev Log: Sky Palettes
Back to chomping away at small tasks in Sky Sisters. One of the things I've been meaning to do is go back and make new palettes for the skies. When the players go through a portal that leads to more action the sky palette will undergo a big shift. This helps in showing the players that they're making some sort of progress, I think! Here are some of the new skies:

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I'm still using a shader to color the sky that uses a color look up table. I just load up a grayscale image of the game's background in Photoshop and then mess with a bunch of settings until I get a palette that I like. I then export a little strip of color that ends up being a 16 x 16 x 16 cube of color, and the game then uses that to colorize the sky in real time. I will never be able to make a game without shaders ever again.