Ambitious procedurally-generated PS4 space shoot ‘em up is going handheld too
We here at 17-BIT are ecstatic to announce we’ll be bringing the same seat-of-your-pants space shooting gameplay of Galak-Z to PS Vita, as well as PS4. Since each game of Galak-Z is a unique, randomly-generated adventure, you’ll be able to dive deep into a fresh experience anytime you have a free moment, no matter where you are.
Counting from one to infinity
As we designed Galak-Z, we realized a funny thing – we kept building onto one main level rather than adding new levels. Typically, we’d be building new levels left and right to express new gameplay concepts, but with Galak-Z, we were focused on how each new enemy, trap, plant, and weapon fit into the mix. So we kept mushing them together in one big level. It was glorious, and it was known as “the cave.”
Why did the same environment stay fun for so long? What really matters in Galak-Z is the interactions between all the moving parts. Combat with intelligent squads, getting attacked by a hostile environment, weighing the risks of a deadly magma pool versus the sheer style of knocking some hapless enemy into it… As long as we kept switching it around, it kept being interesting.
The endless fights helped us learn how the environment should work. In the same way that water erodes rock, seeking the path of least resistance, we bumped and nudged the curves of our walls until we started to understand what made a room feel real good to move around and fight in.
That hand-worn level became the guidebook for our level generator, which now helps to replicate the work we’d been using intuition and experimentation to craft. We have a library of rooms hand-designed to fly around in. The rooms are filled with potential spawn points for the traps and enemies. We do it by hand to guarantee the objects are placed in interesting and organic ways; you want that self-defense turret to have a good angle on any intruders, right? The rooms are then selected, randomized, and connected to form a dungeon. Launch out from your mothership, and you’ll find yourself entering a new and dangerous space cave on each mission.
We’ve been inspired along the way by many of the “new wave” roguelikes. In particular, we’d like to give a shout out to Spelunky and Don’t Starve.
Spelunky works so well as a handheld game, and we can’t put it down. Spelunky’s superpower is the extremely rich interactions between every last object in the game. When you’re collecting rocks to dislodge spiders to set off arrow traps, you’re pulling on a deep well of knowledge gained purely by watching the rules of the game grind against each other, and expressing it in a natural way. Every miserable, hilarious, catastrophic death doubles as a big chalkboard lesson in How The Game Works.
Spelunky is also great at giving satisfying play sessions of anywhere from three minutes to three hours. The union of the roguelike structure and the pick-up-and-play nature of a handheld resonated with us. It makes us even more excited to get Galak-Z on the go.
Don’t Starve’s survival aesthetic has had a big impact, too. We love the way it encourages you to set long-term goals for each play session – “I’ll work towards building my science station this game” – then distracts you with unexpected troubles. The progression, in which you learn more and more about the tech tree and find new pieces to add to your mix, has inspired our thinking about our own utility belt of abilities, upgrades, and power-ups for the Galak-Z fighter plane.
On the next episode…
We’re still building our ultimate space anime fantasy. We’ll keep the combat tight, the missions intense, and the villains dastardly. So, keep your engines hot as we push ever closer to our launch of Galak-Z for PS4 and PS Vita later this year. Until next time, Space Ace!