After much deliberation and play testing I put down what I think is the right balance for the game. I always wanted a structure to the game that I could repeat. In that sense I’ve always been attracted to repetition in games. Galaga was a fine example.
- Shoot the pack as it forms
- Shoot the pack in formation
- Shoot the diving aliens
- Sacrifice a ship for the chance to get it back with twice the firepower
- End level and shoot through bonus stages
There wasn’t a good deal wrong with this in its day. Power-ups were not really in place in the arcades at this point but the bonus of having a double powered player ship was certainly a high point of the game.
For IFM I wanted something similar so opted for the same level based structure where the aim was to shoot shoot shoot !
In addition I wanted the player to have to work towards something in much the same way as the Galaga challenge stages were somewhat easier with two ships. So I devised an end of level sequence where the player having cleared the screen of the “pack” aliens went on to secure the safe delivery of civilians (by bus) across the screen. The more alien gunk that was littered around the floor the harder it was for the bus to cross. Goal #1. Shoot the diving aliens to avoid littering the floor with gunk.
A boss would rise up and fly around the screen doing its best to destroy your bus full of civilians. So the clearer the path across the screen the better chance you have of accomplishing the task. Of course you have to bring the boss down as well !
So my structure is something like:
- Shoot the pack
- Obtain power ups for speed and missiles (missile power up gives you more missiles on screen at once)
- Destroy diving aliens to avoid alien gunk on the floor
- Ensure safe path across the screen for the civilian bus
- Bring down the boss
I may also include a challenge stage that sees the player overcoming a meteor shower where spinning rocks hurtle to the ground. Shooting the rocks yields a bonus or power-up.