I moved to a new URL! Check it out!

posts tagged with: sky sisters

Dev Log: Remaining Stuffs

Dev Log: Remaining Stuffs
October is passing me by way faster than I thought! I think this month has proven to me that I'm temporarily out of juice for Sky Sisters. I put a lot of energy into the game toward the end of the summer, and then there was PAX, and then there was the post PAX rush of new features I wanted to put into the game.

Now sitting here in front of my visual studio window I find that I'm totally out of energy. There are some things left to work on still, but I'm not feeling that kick of inspiration to finish them. I know that I have to continue to work on things no matter what I'm feeling, but I also don't want my total lack of energy to show in certain parts of the work.

For now the remaining tasks are pretty simple except for more polish and bug fixing. I need to be doing sound effects which I might tackle if I'm feeling up for it, but I'm not exactly an audio designer and I'm not sure if my chippy sounding effects are really keeping up with the high res art of the game. It's easy to get away with low fidelity sound when the graphics match, but when it comes to high res art it just sounds a little off.

I also need to figure out how I'm releasing this thing! I have maybe a few options in the form of publishers if I wanted to go that route, but I'm still feeling pretty anxious about it. I know that Sky Sisters is a pretty weird game, so I'm not exactly expecting it to sell any sort of crazy amount of copies. I've had fun working on it though and that's enough for me for now.

I suppose this post was just meant as a small vent, and also as I wrote this I'm trying to figure out what exactly it is I want to work on next. I think I might dig back into the secret final boss of the game and see if there's any way I can spruce it up.

If all else fails I'll dip into another project for awhile as that usually makes me feel better, but right now the only side project I have that's worth working on is the new version of Otter that will use FNA instead of SFML. We'll see how that turns out!

I'm just constantly reminded that creating stuff is super dang difficult.

Dev Log: Progress Markers

Dev Log: Progress Markers
One of the things I realized when watching people play Sky Sisters is that people need some sort of indicator for how far they've gone in the game, and what's coming up ahead. Most of the time play sessions went well enough, but I wanted to more clearly indicate the pacing of the game.

Image


I decided to change the pacing of how often boss fights happen. Before it was kind of an arbitrary and slightly random method. It would count how many "event bags" the player went through and then spawn a boss every so often based on how many completed bags there were. This ended up in varied pacing as to when a boss would arrive, and I didn't like how sometimes a boss would show up at 2 minutes and other times maybe 4 minutes. I changed it to be a strict "when the players complete X events, queue up a boss fight," and this seems to be working out better.

Image


This little progress bar indicates how far along the players are until the next boss fight. It is hard to tell sometimes if knowing exactly when a looming threat is coming is good or not, but I think in this case it can be a good tension builder. The players can also know if they just survive for a little bit longer they can defeat the boss and take the exit portal.

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.

Image


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.

Image


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!

Image


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.

Image


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: Bullet Reflectors

Dev Log: Bullet Reflectors
One of the quick ideas I dropped into Super Sky Sisters after PAX was two big ole glass looking reflector orbs in the arena.

Image


I'm still trying to solve the issue of one player being "left out" of certain events in the game. Boss fights are the worst offenders of this still, but I think this is going to help fix that issue a little bit. Again my ideal scenario is that players make the conscious effort to switch out who is attacking, but usually that ends up not happening. With these reflector things on the edge of the arena the players can then try to line up with the boss in a way that lets both players attack at the same time. I'm excited to see if this actually makes any difference in my next play test.

Dev Log: Progression Progress

Dev Log: Progression Progress
One of the big ideas I had from PAX was changing out the unlockable system in Super Sky Sisters to something a little bit more straight forward. Before PAX the system would unlock things like special abilities and game modes based on achieving certain goals. Like beating the second boss would unlock something, or passing 100 game events would unlock another thing. Although I thought this idea was cool, I decided to scrap it to go for something way more obvious.

I want the points in Sky Sisters to feel like they're contributing to some sort of larger goal, so the new progression system uses the player's total score to unlock new stuff. I even made this fancy new menu screen that shows how far the players are getting.

Image


I'm still trying to figure out how many points will be needed to get every level. For me right now it seems pretty well balanced but that usually means it's going to be way too difficult for the average player. I don't want unlocking things to take 50 hours of gameplay, but I do want the player to strive to improve their average score per session to unlock stuff faster.

For a long time I had no unlockables in Sky Sisters -- everything was available from the start, but over the past year I got a lot of feedback that suggested I should have some sort of unlocking system for two main reasons: One is that limiting the options of new players can be good for guiding them into the game, and the other is that players do really want that feeling of accomplishment of unlocking stuff even if it does feel like arbitrarily gating content. I am worried about the leaderboards feeling unfair to new players since they wont have all the options of long time players, but hopefully it wont take too long to unlock the same options.