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    If you require rest, now is the time. That is, after all, what the bonfire is for.

    Darkmoon Knightess, Dark Souls

    Super Space Galaxy is a game about being an adventurer and exploring the unknown reaches of the galaxy on your own terms. I always wanted to give the game’s cities and waypoints a sense of being somewhere in particular. After all, if every part of the galaxy feels the same, what’s the point of going somewhere else?

    The bonfires in Dark Souls were a huge inspiration for me as I designed how the waypoints in the game were going to work. In Dark Souls, bonfires are a crucial element that lets you level up, restock your supplies, and keep your progress forward. The world of Dark Souls is also relatively open and has a similar structure to the galaxy-maps in my game.

    Travelling between bonfires was also important. For the first half of the game, you can’t teleport to other bonfires, and must travel from place to place on foot. I found that this makes your route more meaningful, as well as making any shortcuts you discover more impactful. Many gamers report the amazed feeling of unlocking a lift down to an old area, because its discovery made you re-write your mental map of Dark Souls‘ world.

    It helps to think of these things abstractly. As your character moves away from a waypoint of safety, they experience resistance. The longer the route, the more resistance it’s likely to offer. The more resistance, the more likely it is that your character will die, you’ll lose your progress, and have to go back to the original waypoint. Many survival horror games trade on the growing tension and release this simple dynamic can give you.

    When I was playing Super Mario Odyssey, I found myself thinking about how survival in an open environment worked. The environments in Odyssey are more open then the ones in Dark Souls, and wandering around aimlessly can occasionally get you killed. On the other hand, if you know what you’re looking for you can often make progress without much risk. Something like this can easily become a problem, where knowing the best route becomes far more important than mastering the mechanics of the game.

    Longer route, more resistance.
    A short, direct route gives less resistance.

    I find that having these gaming precedents, and understanding them, is invaluable. I take each mechanic in my games very seriously, and it’s important to me that they all serve a purpose. Understanding why waypoints and resistance were good in other games is a useful way to ensure that they’ll serve your game too, without needing to implement them first.

    In Super Space Galaxy, you spend Galactic Fuel as you travel. Run out and you must teleport back home. Since more fuel costs in-game currency, this incentivises you to visit planets you pass by and harvest resources from them. Once there, it’s possible you’ll be attacked by enemies and take damage. Fuel and damage therefore function as two, independent ways you can lose your progress.

    So far I’m finding this works the way I wanted. When I land on a planet, I feel like I’m in a particular situation with my fuel reserves, position on the galaxy-map, and ship health. Even if most the planets are essentially the same, they’re effectively given more variety from the situation you find them in. It also means that information will be a useful currency in its own right. If you know the best route, you’ll be able to save fuel and get directly to what you want.

    I’m quite happy with how it’s all come together if I say so myself! It almost feels like cheating to take the best parts of other games like Dark Souls, and integrate them into my own design.

    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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