I’ve been thinking about some design issues in ESA over the past few days, and due to reasons unknown it felt like a good idea to share these thoughts with the world, so here we go:
In ESA, the player’s tool of the trade is the laser gun. It shoots simple, teal lines in rapid succession, and later on can also charge up the gun to shoot a larger, more powerful teal line. I’m quite sure several of the GIFs I’ve posted show this in action (yay for animated screenshots!)
However, there’s one problem I’ve had with the laser gun since (almost) the beginning of the game. It’s boring. At first I blamed this on the fact that there was no rapidfire option; the player had to keep pressing the ‘shoot’ button to get more teal lines flying across the air. However, quite recently I did an exprimental overhaul of the control system, implementing said rapidfire and tweaking (and/or breaking) other control-related stuff. It turns out that the shooting feels even more boring this way; the bullets don’t feel very impactful in that you just hold down a button to shoot them, yet it’s a tad harder to perform some more precise shooting due to the player very easily accidentally shooting an extra two or three bullets.
So, after focusing on other things for some time, a possible solution struck me – the laser gun clearly needed something to make it less of a mindless “just hold the button” -action and more of a strategic one, and what was also needed was some extra oomph (as they say, I think) to make those bullets feel like they actually do something. What if the gun was changed from Your Generic Laser Weapon to a shortranged, almost melee-range Laser Burst Thing? At least it’d solve the problem of it being ‘too easy’ to use and spam; the short-rangedness (while not having to be that short) would require the player to think more. Also, the bullets (or bursts, whatever) could be more powerful, since it’d be somewhat harder to hit enemies (or at least the enemies would be able to get closer to the player before being in range). (Obviously some stuff would need to be reworked to support this change, but I think it might be worth it!)
Here’s a handy image to explain what I mean:
Option A. is what the game uses now, a rather fast, spammy laser gun, and option B. is what I have in mind currently, a shorter-range, less spammy but more powerful burst attack. The charged shot of the burst could still be as long-range as needed, since that’d only increase the feeling of “hey, this charged shot is actually more powerful!” To further increase the feeling of impact, I think I’ll (finally) implement some kind of a ‘flash’ for enemies that take damage, even though that might slightly break the 32-colour palette.
I’m not sure if I posted this to get feedback on the idea or just to talk about the design process out loud, but feel free to leave any feedback or stuff you feel might be (or not be) relevant.
EDIT: Looks like this: