Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Side Saddle 2 Development Blog # 5

I'm not ready just yet to reveal any of the enemies for my boss battle shmup Side Saddle 2, but I am ready to give everyone who might be interested a glimpse at the HUD and some of the basic mechanics.

The little red fellow with the two dots extending out is the player's ship. The dots themselves are his bullets. Pressing the X key causes those bullets to extend outwards for nearly the length of the playing field and then, after roughly half a second, they retract back inwards. You can only fire out the sides-- there's no diagonal shooting as there was in the original Side Saddle. And while I've done away with the first game's ammo mechanic, you're still somewhat restricted as you only have the two extending/retracting dots-- no rapid-firing the enemy into submission.

Destroying the enemies-- or, to be more accurate, destroying parts of the enemy (boss battle shmup, remember?) will fill up the red bar in the upper right hand corner. When it's full, it begins flashing, indicating to the player that they can now place a tower-- the tower being that handsome little devil near the top. Those blue bullets are his-- the tower slowly fires bullets in each of the four directions. Since they provide the only means of controlling space vertically, getting as many towers on the screen as possible is key to winning.

You've likely noticed the five trophy slots beneath the logo. The first is for defeating the boss; the second, for getting a certain number of towers on the screen; the third, for destroying a certain number of enemy parts with one attack; the fourth is for completing the stage in a certain amount of time (timer has yet to be implemented-- I'm thinking upper-left corner); the fifth and final trophy is for beating the stage without dying.

The player has an unlimited number of lives-- as soon as you're hit by a bullet or an enemy, you'll respawn at the bottom of the screen. Being hit will cause the tower meter to empty itself, but other than that there is no penalty for being hit, no way to "lose" the level.

But the player's progress isn't tied to beating each level; it's tied to the trophies the player has earned. Say, for example, that the game opens with three boss enemies which the player can tackle in any order. Before the next two or three bosses are unlocked, the player must win five of the fifteen possible trophies. He could beat all three, pull off the time on one and the towers on another, or even "ace" one boss and ignore the other two if he so wishes. Trophies aren't extras; they're an integral part of the game.

The various trophies are all tied together in such a way that a good player can collect all five in the same play-through; pulling off more combos (trophy 3) results in a faster filling up of the tower meter, which means more towers (trophy 2), which means that you'll complete the stage faster (trophy 4). Recall that getting hit empties that tower meter; getting through the level unscathed (trophy 5) thus allows you to accomplish trophy 2, which, as illustrated above, ties into trophies 3 and 4. (Trophy 1, again, is just for beating the level.)

And now that I've got all that figured out, I think the rest of the game should start coming together a bit more smoothly...

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