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Why I don’t like the ‘run’ button

More than anything, Super Space Galaxy is a game about movement. The controls for your ship are one of the first things I refined and I want to make flying around the Galaxy an inherently enjoyable experience.

Early on, the game didn’t yet have a system to generate maps and I was still experimenting with how that might work. Wanting to get around the mostly-empty maps as quickly as I could, I created a fast movement option known as ‘High Gear’. I must admit, High Gear feels fun to use, but it’s just too fast to use consistently. Even if I make some version of it available to players, it won’t be unlimited.

Another reason I’ve avoided any kind of extra ‘go fast’ button is my misgivings about the ‘run’ button in many games. Perhaps the most common way it’s done is to have a dedicated button to make your character run, which then uses up a stamina bar. This normally encourages you to run until you run low on stamina, then wait for it to recharge, then repeat. Similar to when looking at the map is too useful, this makes players spend a lot of their game-time watching the stamina bar go up and down.

Even though it’s one of my favourite games, Dark Souls was guilty of this. Once you know the game, you’re likely to want to run in most environments, but this means you’ll spend a lot of time watching the stamina bar shrink and regrow.

Elden Ring fixed this issue in a way I approve of by giving you infinite stamina outside of combat. In combat, your stamina is a meaningful resource, and choosing whether to attack, block or run with your stamina is part of the gameplay. Out of combat, however, waiting for your stamina to regenerate would only be a test of patience, so it becomes unlimited. This could be the best implementation of stamina-based running I’ve ever seen in a game.

Of course, an obvious way to get around these stamina-related issues entirely is simply not to have a limited pool of stamina in the first place. This can be less annoying but normally means that skilled players will play most of the game holding down the ‘run’ button all the time. Often there’s an option in the game’s menus to make running the default, but I find holding down a button to walk rather than run rather counter-intuitive. Ultimately, I think stamina-free running cheapens the ‘run’ button and puts the game in a state where it almost need not exist.

Considerations like these have all added up to why why Super Space Galaxy has no specific ‘run’ button for your ship. Just as I’d have trouble putting normal consumable items into the game, I don’t think I’d be happy with a normal implementation of a ‘run’ button either. As it happens the Shift key would be a good ‘run’ button and work well with the existing controls, but I’ve still decided not to use it. Instead, your ship is just fast the whole time!

Thanks for reading,

Kenneth Dunlop


Published by Kenneth Dunlop

Earth's Mightiest Game Designer. Making Super Space Galaxy. Previously made Super Space Slayer 2.

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