Something I’ve been worrying about for a long time when developing The Turtle Who Had Wings was the potential for the game to become monotonous after a while. While I had things like the game’s fast-paced nature, the 6 playable characters and the variety in enemy types, plus one level has its own exclusive hazard, but that’s not necessarily going to be enough to support a game of even this length when you factor in that the character progression is merely raw stats, and is rather slow to max out and see huge stat changes, so there’s little in the way of character progression.
That said, the addition of dodging really changed the flow of the game for the better, so it’s pretty much a guarantee that adding good mechanics will make the game nice and varied. That said, that could easily backfire based on what the mechanics are. Consider Mugen Souls, where the game had a large amount of extraneous mechanics that served as a major detriment.
It’s also worth noting that mechanics that add variety are built oppressively won’t necessarily be helpful either. I was recently playing Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia, and the way skills work in that game are annoying. Your vanguards only seem to occasionally have access to their skills with no real pattern to when, and the non-healing ones cost health to use. Your reyvateil (basically a defenseless mage) can freely use spells, but can only use each spell a certain amount of times before they recharge through winning fights or resting at an inn or save point. The end result from how those were implemented made me rarely use them, even when it would be to my advantage. Certainly one of the few things improved in the third game.
The thing is that The Turtle Who Had Wings is already oppressive enough with its mechanics without adding more things that draw from your limited resources. As the head developer, I find the game reasonably difficult, which means it must be insanely hard to most players. So perhaps the new mechanics should be free in terms of resources? Taking the game’s difficulty into account, that thought forms a rather obvious path to go on. Power-ups.
Fair enough, given the type of game this is and the lack of collectibles. But what can I do to make them interesting? Healing power-ups aside, all I can think of are temporary stat-boosters and Mario-style invincibility. Perhaps also one that doubles money gained and one that halves all stamina costs. Maybe one for a free Combination attack (basically a nuke), too. One that nullifies knockback would also be nice.
All good ideas for power-ups, but I can’t help but feel something’s missing, and I mean aside from those ideas being rather mundane. Hmm… Oh, of course, the delivery method for those power-ups. There are a few ways it could go. I could have them randomly spawn over time like in Smash Bros., I could make them stationary and perhaps hidden like in Sonic or Mario, or I could have them appear as random enemy drops.
Now, I’m against randomly spawning them because there’s already more than enough of a random element in the levels from how the enemies are (to an extent) randomly selected, but with the difficulty kept at a consistent level. There’s varying things up and then there’s doing it to the point that the game may as well be an action roguelike, and I’d rather not make this an action roguelike.
To me, the most sensical option would be having the health and stamina restoration as random enemy drops, while the others are strategically placed or hidden throughout the levels. Would certainly help with the level design, that’s for sure, since I’m still having trouble thinking of interesting designs.
Well, those are just some thoughts. Speak up if you have an interesting power-up idea! They shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to implement each, really.