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Dev Diary #2 – The Asteroid Breaker

by on March 26, 2014

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Welcome to our second dev diary entry! Today we’ll reveal one of our first enemy types to you.

Since our game’s focus lies on a deep combat system, we gave a great deal of thought to the various enemy types we wanted to use. We wanted each one to have a signature style, behavior and impact on how the player moves through the world. One of the more distinctive ships in this regard is the Asteroid Breaker.

One of the major features of our game is the depth in combat and the use of multi-part enemies. The idea is for a ship to be composed of a number of different elements, with different properties. This way strengths and weaknesses could easily be defined and communicated to the player. The Asteroid Breaker takes this principle to the extreme by becoming the metaphorical heavy-weight boxer with a glass chin.

Stars of Icarus takes place in Sectors partially filled with dense asteroid fields. A large force intending to move through such a field would need ships to clear the way. The Asteroid Breakers fulfills this function, similar to the ice breakers of today.

Designwise, our enemies are categorized into various archetypes, taking inspiration from Mike Birkhead (God of War). The Asteroid Breaker is an enforcer, a type that teaches the player one of our game’s important mechanics: Even the strongest enemies have weak points. Additionally it represents a wonderful way to mix up the battlefield and change the pace of combat substantially.

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We had found a design we we’re very happy with, however, communicating the ships strengths and weaknesses remained quite a challenge. The idea was to add a used and battle-worn look to the bow, giving it a air of danger and telling the story of many a collision. It looked cool but the design wasn’t clear enough. The front end looked just as vulnerable as the back end and the ship’s ability to survive of high speed crashes with asteroids was questionable.

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After a lot of brainstorming, we tried adding a bright green shield to the bow. This worked even better than anticipated. The front end looked obviously untouchable and so the only vulnerable part left to target, was the stern.

The asteroid breaker did its job well, charging at the player ship as soon as it came into range. After colliding or rushing past it would turn and adjust its aim before charging straight back again. The problem was that this behavior gave you hardly any time to catch your breath which could be frustrating to players. Moreover targeting and hitting the enemy’s weak point in such a stressful situation proved exceedingly difficult, so a slight adjustment was made.

After finishing its charge, the asteroid breaker would grind to a halt. It would recharge, lingering over a few moment’s in the same position, before turning and charging once more. This time window added a tactical element  and made fighting it even more fun. A glowing core was added to the ingame model, signaling the ships current status and enabling the player to prepare accordingly. We also added a large lens-flare to the afterburner, giving it a more powerful look and feel.

The asteroid breaker is indicative of what we want to achieve with our game. We want to add exciting layers of depth to combat and let players acquire new skills and ability to learn and adapt to situations, but most of all we want them to have fun.

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The Asteroid Breaker recovering and charging at the player

 Collision2

Here we see the player sh… BAAAM! IN THE FACE!

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The player gets his revenge and blows the Asteroid Breaker to smithereens

You wanna have an omelette, you gotta break some asteroids! More Updates and Information will be coming soon, so stay tuned on Facebook and Twitter.

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From → Stars of Icarus

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