Design Foundation (2 of 5)

This 5-part-series will highlight some of our development processes while creating our incremental shooter, Cosmotap.
So the stage was set and our mission was established for Cosmotap, it’s time to start off with the design. One particular section from Extra Credits stuck with me throughout development. Although focusing on “Waiting Games” or more Idle Games, as I mentioned in the previous post, I personally categorize this under the broader genre of Incremental games. Here’s the little keeper:
"And here is the key to designing these games. They walk a razor thin line between building us up to a peak of anticipation, and revealing newness to us too rarely to keep our interest. If you’re thinking of designing one of these games, this is the part you have to build with the most care."
Progression and pacing is paramount! This meant that the spine of the metrics had to be easily adjustable and tuned at will. There’s no doubt that our game will borrow heavily from existing incremental games, most notably, Tap Titans. I felt they handled early-mid game pacing fairly well (<500 Stages), and throughout this duration as a player I was kept interested in whatever boss, progress wall, skill or artifact was lying around the oh-so-elusive corner. The saw-tooth growth of enemy health was also an interesting mini-loop within the main loop of progress->wall->prestige.
With this goal in mind, the base exponential curve for baseHP and players’ baseBlasterDPS was born. Desmos is my go-to site for playing around with curves and formulas, a friend had recommended the site to me a while back and it’s stuck ever since. The below two curves were the original setup, and heavily influenced by Tap Titans. These were later tweaked, and piecewised with other monstrosities.
Base HP & Blaster DPS
Most of them started out in Desmos, and ended up in the raw data and curves Excel file (more on this later). Generally it’s nice to get essential curves ready before programming gets involved, or rip curves off previous projects to use as placeholder. Having a solid numerical foundation to play test early builds really helps. Below are some examples of the other curves that were laid out during this time:
Apart from progression and pacing, we set out to add a layer of choice for players. This meant customizable passive skills and weapons load-outs and movement (AI). The original goal for the core loop looked like this:
Core Loop
This loop graph was actually part of the original project proposal; it mostly still applies with some jargon/name changes. We’ll be delving into the design-programming pipeline and share how we ended up with some of our current systems.