Burning Blue/Devlog 1 – Lasers and Fireballs

The level starts with a boss fight!?

So over the past couple weeks I’ve been working heavily on the opening section to the first level. The way I’m designing the levels is that each one begins with a boss fight in shmup style. These opening boss fights are basically where you’re attempting to cripple the back of the ship so they you can board it.

These boss fights aren’t meant to be super difficult but I am using them to set the expectations for the rest of the game. Here’s a shot of what the opening level currently looks like.

Dodging lasers in the opening level

Dodging lasers in the opening level

Shmup design, a fight against monotony

I’ve tried to design a couple shmups in the past and one of the challenges I’ve found with developing these kind of games is making the game not seem monotonous. It’s hard to avoid this because you’re really operating on such a basic gameplay level. I’ve spent some time observing classic shmups to analyze how they handle boss fights. I think I’ve got a formula for how to do it.

  • Boss should have at least 2-3 different attack phases
  • A center kill point should only be exposed after certain sub-parts have been destroyed
  • The player should be safe if they’re not directly taking on the boss
  • The player should be in apparent danger when attacking a weak spot
  • After a few tries, the player should be able to identify a safe attack pattern

With these principles in mind I think I’ve got a good base going for the opening level. I’m shooting for three phases in total. Here’s how they’re currently going to play out.

Phase 1

Only the engines are exposed during this phase. Every couple seconds the engines eject out flares that explode into 5-6 fireballs that the player has to avoid. This is the easiest phase to deal with.

Phase 2

The engines subside and two sets of laser cannons emerge from the ship. They send out an alternating barrage of shots. These shots explode at random distances so it’s not immediately clear how to safely deal with them. In between each set of lasers a glowing panel exposes itself, these panels must be destroyed to trigger the third phase.

Phase 3

The laser cannons and engines both begin firing if they haven’t been destroyed yet. In addition to that a large gun appears on the landing deck which fires a heavy bullet stream and possibly a couple missiles that home in on the player. Once this gun is destroyed the landing deck is clear and the opening level ends.

Putting it together

So far I’ve got Phase 1 and part of Phase 2 implemented. Below is a video what it looks like at the moment.

I like the idea that the player can avoid destroying the engines and laser cannons but ultimately this is going to put them in a bad position when get to Phase 3. I might make an addition to Phase 1. I’m thinking about possibly having the engines randomly eject a storm of fireballs after being destroyed. Check back in a couple weeks for further progress as I’m planning on having the opening level done soon.