Yesterday I was refining my design for Endless Mode. It's a level within Firecracker Fight that's a perpetual onslaught, challenging you to survive as long as you can. This is in contrast to the finite 20 main levels where you can win, or lose and try again. Endless is more like a classic arcade game where you fight just to die with a better high score.
Though it's a single long level, it shouldn't and won't be plain and uniform like a bowl of mashed potatoes. There will be faster and slower bits, intense challenges and easy stretches, like, um, a plate of nachos. These are the distinct stages I'm working out now, the individual beans and jalapenos of the difficulty ramp.
After I gave numeric difficulty to each stage of the endless level, I drafted a concept for each one. It's a step toward the moment-to-moment details my team will need later, but for now it helps me visualize the variation and uncertainty facing the player as they progress.
It helps to remember that this type of level is meant to be played many times. As a player, you see first if you can handle it at all. Then you see if you can survive a minute. Then you make it to the end stage, and see how long you can keep going against maximum inhuman difficulty. These little descriptions aim to make an interesting landscape of choices the first time through, and a familiar place to traverse the hundredth. Something like this.
It goes on to stage 50. In case you're wondering, I filled in all the difficulty and duration numbers first, interpreting my sketch of the difficulty ramp (see yesterday.) Then I went back through and wrote those Description summaries.
I started to lose steam toward the end. How do you keep making things new and interesting? I knew how it would end, and there were some clear ways to lead up to the final truly endless cycle. But there was a gap at stage 48. I remembered some advice: do it wrong first, then go back and fix it. For fun instead of something like "Tank endurance with car lanes," I dropped in "Atomic UFOs strafe the field." Survive that!
It made me laugh, always one of my goals, and that gave me the inspiration to draw it all out and see what emerged. So I drew a little box with doodles of how each stage would unfold. I left #48 blank. The varieties of horizontal and vertical sequences gave me another variation to try, like this.
Those clusters of trucks and tanks will give the player something new to think about, and distinguish this penultimate phase from the ones around it.
With that, it's close enough. The real fine-tuning comes after I specify the number and timing of enemies. More on that later.
That's all for today! Stay in touch and remember to subscribe for more like this, and news of upcoming game launches.
Low Five news. Privacy guaranteed. Cancel any old day.