One thing I learnt from developing this game is that you’re never really done design the game. Some ideas are like puzzle pieces, you know it should be added to the game but it doesn’t really fit in your current design. Only by finishing the game more can you get a clear picture of where that piece truly fits in the game. About a year ago I wanted to have girls join you on your space combat mission to get affection point. This mechanic was there to strengthen the connection between the sim date and the bullet hell. It didn’t work out in the past because having the girl in the bullet hell section didn’t change the bullet hell only the sim date section, so it was kind of one-sided. At the same time, I was having a balancing problem with the combat system and player progression (rate of fire and firepower were the only 2 stats you need to Ace combat zones). To add-on top of all this, the actual date part of the game was boring. It was just the standard talk to girls and give them items to fill up a meter to 100%.
I think I fix this problem with the help from the Yakuza games. If you haven’t played the Yakuza games, play Yakuza 0 after you finish reading this blog. It came to me when playing their phone call mini-game. I needed to give the dates a mini-game to break up the conversation part of the game. So now every date location has a mini-game you can play to boost their affection greatly. Now the next problem is that date location only happens once, so how do you train the players to get good at these mini-games before the date.
screenshot of date: from Mac
The answer is you make them part of the upgrade system. So instead of paying fame to get a level of charm, you pay fame to play a mini-game and depending on how successful you are the more levels you can get from it. I have also increased the level cap to 50, so passing the mini-game (50% ) will get you +1-5 level and super success ( 75%) 5- 10 level. Also, the cost of the mini increase based on its level.
screenshot of poise skill challenge: from Mac
screenshot of con skill challenge: from Mac
So that solves the dating part and sorta solves combat balancing part, but something is still missing. So, I took the unlockable ships that you would get when you finish the game with one girl and gave the player the ability to buy them in the store. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if people would play the game a second time (most people don’t) and there is a lot of work put into these ships. So I wanted them to have a bigger role in the game. On top of that, I added stats to each ship so that they could play differently. The human ship gives you 2 more health, pirate give you +2 damage and slime increase the affection points given to the girls every time you destroy an enemy ship.
before the change: screenshot from Ipad
New character stat menu: screenshot from mac
Then I combine the idea of adding the girl to the bullet hell (mentioned above) and to the ship stats, along with the player stat giving the ship bonuses. So now I have a combat system that grows with the player, but has the flexibility to be played very different depending on which ship you use and girl you take out as your copilot.