Welcome back to the Zombies in Space devlog. My name is Daniel Lautzenheiser and I am the sole developer on this project.
Before I jump into the topic of this devlog, I would like to announce that the Kickstarter pre-launch page for Zombies in Space is live. And I invite you to visit Zombies in Space by Arcbound Games — Kickstarter and follow the project, so you will be notified when the Kickstarter launches later this year!
January was tutorial month for me. I spent most of it crafting the first area the player will explore and the challenges the player will face that will teach them the game's mechanics. One of the biggest aspects of this was the boss battle near the end of the area.
I had already created my first boss for the game back in Novemeber, BUT after reviewing the story that boss made more sense later in the game, and not in the tutorial. So I set to work crafting a new boss fight. I had just added a new enemy to the game, the Spore Bulge, a fleshy mass that droppped little versions of itself to attack the player. Then as it often does, my mind wandered back to one of my biggest inspirations for the game, The Expanse novels and tv show. In particular my mind wandered, the opening scene of the show, where you see this large fleshy mass wrapped around a power core.
With my inspiration in hand I got to work on actually drawing the boss, which would end up looking like a larger version of the spore bulges I already made. I figured if the little ones dropped little enemies, the boss could drop bigger enemies or zombies. This fed right back into the sprite design, with parts of those zombies sticking out of the fleshy mass. After I got the sprite together, I jumped right into the boss' first ability, dropping those zombies right on the player's head. I made the little blobs spawn 3 at a time, and also had the fast crawler zombie spawn out of it.
One ability though is not enough for a boss, you need at least 2 or 3 to keep things exciting, so I decided if the enemy is sitting on the power core, it much be draining or feeding on that power. Why then couldn't it just redirect some of that energy outward towards the player. So I created an energy ball. The first iteration while cool looking was very hard to tell if it was actually going to hit you or not due to a lack of a defined edge. So I went back and added an outer shell.
I also went and added some phases to the boss (3 to start), and at each phase transition the boss would swing giant fleshy tentacles downward at the player, covering about half of the room.
This was all very nice and looked awesome, BUT it pushed the player into a particular play style that was very not good. Standing in the corner. To solve that I adjusted the energy balls to actually hit the corners with a new splash impact. And to make sure the player couldn't just stand in between the energy balls splash areas, I created a 2nd energy ball pattern targeting the in-between spaces and had the boss decide which pattern to use based on where the player was standing. I still needed to telegraph the patterns to the player, so I made one pattern use 3 balls and the other pattern use 2.
Then it was time to ramp of the fight. I added in a 4th phase (so 3 tentacle swipes during transitions), had energy balls occur more frequently and spawned more zombies as the phases went along. The end result was some rather challenging! I have died playtesting this boss probably 100 times already.
Thanks for watching this devlog. The game is nearing its alpha phase, hopefully to be startin early March. If you are interested in helping test out the game prior to the public demo, sign up via Arcbound-games.mailchimpsites.com