Hello! I’m Mo, founder of Vertex Pop, a tiny independent video game studio based in Toronto, Canada. And by tiny, I mean it’s just me.
To recap: We Are Doomed is a twin-stick shooter where you zap polygon baddies with an absurdly overpowered laserbeam. The laserbeam can be charged into a Superbeam, which goes all the way across the screen zapping everything it touches in short order. The game features a unique lo-fi aesthetic, with bold shapes, glitching geometry, and neon colors.
This time around, I’d like to talk about the game modes, and give you a behind-the-scenes look at the design considerations behind each of them.
Waves mode is a series of 30 waves that starts out pretty chill and quickly escalates into hyper-intense action. As the primary game mode, it’s the first thing players will see, so it needs to get to the point quickly and make a great first impression. This means no cutscenes, no overbearing tutorial, and lots of laserbeaming action.
Waves mode also introduces all the baddies along the way. As you progress, different combinations of baddies keep it fresh all the way through. Even though the general flow of each wave is fixed, there’s a randomization aspect that’ll keep you on your toes.
I want players to be able to chill and enjoy the game without being super stressed out. There’s a certain familiarity to each wave, which helps you get into the groove and zone out a little. There are also checkpoints every 10 waves.
For the Trophy hunters and high-score chasers, keep in mind that checkpoints start you out with a score of zero. So to rank well you’ll need to go from wave 1 to 30 at once. Of course, there’s a Trophy for doing that. And another one for running through the entire game without losing a life. Like I said, hyper-intense!
Endless mode throws an endless barrage of baddies at you, and asks the classic question: How many zones can you survive? Here’s where I hold nothing back. You’ll need everything you learned in Waves mode to do well here.
You might think that making an extra hard mode is a straight-forward “turn up all the dials” thing for a game developer, but it’s actually a huge responsibility! Making something difficult means that it has to be fair and well put together. If I’m going to ask for a lot from my players, I need to make sure I put in the hard work myself!
As I ramped up the difficulty in Endless mode, I re-examined every aspect of the game to find areas that felt unfair or could be improved upon. I endlessly (pun fully intended) tweaked the player movement, hit boxes, camera logic, and enemy AI, among other things.
The result is a game mode that’s challenging and fair, and the process of developing it made the game on the whole even better.
We Are Doomed is out today on PS4. Whether you want to chill out with the pretty colors, beat a friend’s high score, or even top the PSN leaderboards, I hope you’ll find something to love.