- Posted by Victor Malineau
- On December 6, 2017
I’m Victor and I serve as the game designer for Suns of Abell.
The purpose of our BLOG articles will be to share with you some of the stories behind the development of Suns of Abell. Let’s start!
I guess many of you are familiar with video games and how things can change direction from time to time. Every team starts with a plan, something they want to achieve. But between the moment the idea is conceived and its execution, things tend to change. For us, the gameplay progression (that is the way we send enemies at you, and how the level of difficulty increases as you advance in the game) changed significantly between our original idea and what we are currently polishing.
Being a small team, it is easy for us to share ideas and we agree on all the main design elements of the game together. When we started drafting concepts for Suns of Abell, we thought it would be interesting to create an infinite gameplay progression. This way, the game would become increasingly difficult until it reaches a state of super harsh survival. In practice, this means we would design the progression manually, making enemies stronger and smarter, wave after wave, until you would reach a final infinite wave where the challenge would be to survive against the best enemies and the hardest flight patterns until your eventual defeat.
Survival games have been around for pretty much as long as games have existed and the “challenge for the best score” is something that dates back to arcade. I myself have enjoyed that type of games more than once. On mobile, games like infinite runners have their own genre and I’ve had a great deal of fun with some of them.
But in a game like Suns of Abell, where the whole experience takes place on the same “stage”, this pattern simply didn’t click. The main progression was fun, until you reached the final wave and it would just drag along forever. Our goal was to create some instant satisfying experience in about 2 minutes of play. Of course we could have exponentially upgraded enemy stats but that would have felt unfair for players.
So as we were developing our system and played with it, we realized we needed to go in a different direction. We looked around for ideas and realized we could make something with a more consistent structure. We decided that Suns of Abell had to offer a randomized shoot them up experience, but with enough visible structure to stay interesting at all times.
While having a look at at other games which shared the same pattern of repeated experience with randomized encounter, Binding of Isaac caught my attention. I am personally a great admirer of the work of Edmund McMillen and I enjoyed Binding of Isaac’s great replayability for years. One of the things I liked the most was how the game would end each stage with a randomized boss. So with great admiration for Binding of Isaac, we created bosses to indicate a change in difficulty. There are currently 3 levels (three successive steps), with random bosses that you face in order to get to the next challenge and eventually reach the final boss. Unlike what we thought at the beginning, the game now has a proper “ending”.
With this new take on our own creation, I think we have managed to make our game a more meaningful experience. I am sure you’ll enjoy it while commuting or over a short coffee break.
Suns of Abell will be released on March 15th 2018!
Stay tuned as we share more insights on the game development in the weeks to come!