For each level I came up with an interesting setting that would provide plenty of challenges in it’s environment. Those settings were an asteroid field, a ship graveyard and a factory. These eventually evolved into Retrograde, an asteroid belt orbiting a planet, Boneyard, the aftermath of a great space battle and Forge, a long forgotten factory turned into a death trap.
Retrograde started off as an asteroid field surrounding a black hole with plenty of asteroids orbiting it and spinning ship wrecks. But that wasn’t possible with the type of body on the player so I changed the design to more static asteroids with comets shooting by and wrecks rotating. The background also had to change so I came up with 4 ideas, the skull from the title, the sun surrounded by a circular grid or a starry night. Those 3 didn’t seem to interest me enough so I decided to go with my fourth design which was the image of a planet surrounded by a belt of asteroids, I added a sun in the back as I thought it completed the image.
Boneyard started with the idea of a graveyard for space ships with spinning shipwrecks and malfunctioning thrusters. It’s stayed pretty much the same the entire time. For the background I came up with 6 ideas, a large shipwreck, a starry sky, a black hole in the distance, a field of small wrecked ships, a large ship processing ship wrecks or a large wrecked station in a field of wrecked ships. I went for the last one and it turned into the aftermath of a great battle.
The final background is of the Forge, with this one I played around with the ideas of cogs, steel girders and conveyor belts in the back. That’s exactly what the background turned out to be but I also had the idea of a massive kiln like device with rivers of lava flowing out of it. However I thought it might prove too much effort for my time frame and decided that my other idea looked better anyway. The colour scheme for this level is very different from the other levels as they’re set in space but this is set inside a large factory ship. I went for the colours of rust and copper as I felt they’d fit more in a long forgotten factory setting, but I did keep the blue outlines for some objects because I didn’t want to stray too far from the original theme.
The assets from my game follow the same theme of pink and blue colours with a blue outline with the exception of some of the Forge levels hazards, I wanted to keep the rust colour theme in that level.
The first assets I started on were Asteroids for my Retrograde level. They consist of a light blue grid over blocks of darker blue colours, the grid is shaped to look like a rock with sharp contours. I also combine shipwrecks with an asteroid to fit it in the Boneyard level.
The sprites of the space ships controlled by the player went through several stages of detail. The first stage was a tiny pixel based pattern, this one had no clear front as at that stage the player couldn’t rotate but could move anywhere on the X or Y axis. When I implemented the need to rotate the ship I created new sprites which were shaped more like space ships but are still a single block colour and very pixel based. The latest iteration provides way more details and matches the aesthetic I’m currently going for.
Next up are the various ships I’ve used for hazards in the Boneyard. The smaller ones are used simply as spinning obstacles to avoid or a ship being pumped back and forth by pistons, but the bigger ship was originally part of a feature that I’ve scrapped. That feature was the idea that there was a hidden button somewhere on the map and if you were to hit it there would be a massive disaster, making it very difficult to stay alive. On the Boneyard map the giant ship would fire up it’s engines and fire 3 large plumes of fire across the screen, if you were caught in it there would be instant death. On the Retrograde map the previous idea of a black hole in the middle of the screen would have it’s area of effect expand and get stronger.
What’s a space arena without space mines to blow up in your face if you get to close? Boring, that’s what! So Voila! They are a little blurry because the sprite is so small.
For the Forge I needed a more rusty aesthetic so out come the reddy brown colours and the gradients. Below is the conveyor belt, the cog and the piston.
In the forge I had always planned on having an incinerator hazard, a box that would fire up and get you killed if you went inside. The box fits with the aesthetic but the fire definitely stands out in that level, not sure that’s a bad thing though, it shows it’s dangerous.