While being between jobs, I had to do the adult thing and find a source of income. To supplement freelance work I’ve been doing, I setup a Patreon. Luckily for me, it seems the Patreon was necessary for only July and August. The premise of the Patreon was simple: I did a rough estimate of how much a day of work would cost and depending on how the Patreon did, I’d set aside that many days to play with game prototype ideas. I would then put together an article detailing the thought process and how the entire project went.
With July’s Patreon, I basically had around 4 days at my disposal to play with a project. The theme patrons voted for was “shoot em up where you can combine weapons”. Higher tier patrons added in some limitations, giving the entire game an aquatic theme. The idea of combining power-ups to get a new weapon is mostly inspired by Inside a Star-filled Sky, where the three power-ups you pick up would combine into one weapon for the next stage. I wanted to go a bit in a different route. Essentially, a ship would have 3 weapon slots and what the ship shot depended on the combination of everything equipped. To avoid the system conflicting with itself, I broke the three slots into three separate types: pattern, projectile, special.
Patterns dictated the pattern of the projectiles shot, and included standard shmup types like forward, back + forward, sides + forward, and so on. Projectile type determined damage, size and rate of fire of each individual projectile. Special was for special qualities, like chain shots, damage over time, homing, and so on. This meant that instead of having linear progression, each power-up had its advantages and drawbacks, so in turn each combination had its own. This was to avoid one of my least-liked shmup aspects – linear power progression. In most shmups, even if there were different types of weapons, you could keep upgrading them to create devastating weapons. However, if you died, you’d be back at square one, so dying late in a level would make it obscenely difficult. With this method, you could end up with a weapon you don’t like, but rarely with a weapon that’s too weak.
With the weapon aspect of the game defined, there was also the matter of the “ship” (or in this case, the pink whale). It’s nice to be able to manipulate aspects like health and speed, so I decided to use options for that (the little assistant ships that fly with you in other shmups). They would come in three varieties: health boost, speed boost and shooter. Health would let you survive an additional hit and, while not implemented, would probably function on an internal cooldown rather than being one-time. Speed boost is self-explanatory, while shooter would shoot the simplest type of projectiles, but would still increase your overall damage input. The player would be able to mix and match any combination of these three options to supplement their playstyle.
The prototype is pretty bare-bones, as I spent a lot of time trying to learn GameMaker (I’m not really proficient with it). The graphics used the ZX Spectrum palette to save time. You can find a prototype and more information on it by reading the associated Patreon post.
The prototype’s main goal was to see if this concept could be fun, and I feel there’s something there, but it would definitely need more time dedicated to it first. Maybe one day.