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More improvements for the third demo

Super Space Galaxy is gearing up for its third playable demo, and somehow I’ve found that deadline a real incentive to pour a lot of improvements into the game. I was expecting last week’s post to be the only one, but now I have a whole new batch of improvements to share.

I noticed that it was sometimes hard to pick out your ship on the game’s map. It’s represented simply by a white pixel, and in a map that may well be sprinkled in yellow pixels, this didn’t stand out enough. This prompted me to add indicators on the edge of the map as well, to better help you find where you are. I’ve actually increased their width, too, from one pixel to three. Soon I’m sure I’ll take it for granted, even though it wasn’t there for years.

I’ve wrestled with the design of the Docks for much of the game’s development. My problem stems from the fact that Super Space Galaxy is meant to be a game about freedom, exploration and discovery. While it’s important that the player finds out how to enter a dock and sell their cargo or repair their ship, simply having an arrow pointing them to it would be against my design principles. As an alternative, I made the taxi ranks and docks in the city become visible on the map as you explore.

Something was bothering me about the design of the Demonic Cube and Mine Layer sidekick weapons. They were fun, but the fact that they could shoot projectiles behind you made them unbalanced. This meant it was possible to run away from enemies, and still chip away at them with either of these sidekicks. It’s always been my intention to make the angle your ship is facing important. That’s why I greatly reduced the angles they can lock on to enemies from.

Allan Zax, my musician, has proven himself invaluable again recently by playing an early release of the demo and giving me some feedback, prompting a few more improvements. From now on, if you get to the edge of the galaxy and try to keep going, it won’t use up any more fuel. This arguably makes less sense because your ship is still using its thrusters, but it feels fairer this way. Allan’s wife played the game too and apparently liked it so much she played for three hours!

Finally, I solved an issue that’s been an annoyance since the first demo. When players pick up a new sidekick or SuperWeapon, their old one was immediately replaced by the new one without warning, even if they turn out to prefer the old one. Hearing Allan object to this made me realize a solution. Now, when you pick up one of these items, your old powerup is abandoned as a pickup you can choose to collect again.

This is much like some of the newer Castlevania games, where picking up a new weapon ejects the old one out of your character rather than straight-up removing it. As such I’ve called these ‘Castlevania’d’ pickups in the programming.

I think making improvements like this only reinforces the fact that making a good game is about refining the same few ingredients over and over, rather than making a massive, but messy and incongruent game. You might start off with a basic, central idea like flying a ship around, but expanding on that means adding many other features like planets to explore, resources to collect, and so on. Once you have those, you have to refine those things further as well, fixing sub-features of features until you have an experience that just works.

The third demo is expected to be uploaded to Itchio and Steam in the next few weeks. In the meantime, you can always play the second demo that’s up there already so you can appreciate the difference!

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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