Target Locked (3 of 5)

This 5-part-series will highlight some of our development processes while creating our incremental shooter, Cosmotap.

We’ve got some preliminary numbers from the Design Groundwork ready, since we’re on an in-house engine, almost everything is up for grabs on how to execute. We had numbers in excel, the game scope doesn’t seem large enough to warrant a custom editor (we tried it, for 30minutes). The verdict was .csv files, a whole cosmos of .csv files. The only offline data we didn’t have in .csv was localization, and that’s due to an encoding issue. 

The moment our programmer started setting the scene I’ve already had a bunch of excel numbers at the ready:

On the scene
Excel files are for design purposes only (raw data), we used a .hta file we stole somewhere on the interwebs to export each worksheet into their respective .csv files to be read. This is the main process for designers to compile data. We have 3 main excel files:
  • Main Data & Curves – managing the spine of the game.

  • Scenes & Skills – managing the appearance (player, enemy, stages), skills.

  • Localization – Strings, lots of strings.

Each of these excel files have their own subset of worksheets, and these Excel files got pretty bloated by the end but it was still (sort of) manageable peaking at ~10mb. 


The Pipeline

So this is our data output pipeline, and as seen in the first screenshot, we had a very crude prototype working, we stole some crossbows from another project and glued them onto the stage, set up the camera and had Tap Blasters (tap-to-fire) working. What we’re looking for at this stage is proof of concept. We don’t have a game per se, however, we can answer some important questions:

  • Can we fit the combat and UI on a mobile screen?

  • Is it pleasant to look at? Imagine proper art assets?

  • Do we have enough room for improvements?

Next we tackled the weapons; we needed to make sure the game looked kick-ass. We want more pew pew pew.. we wanted the Itano Circus. Named after Ichiro Itano, the Itano Circus is a visual celebration of a barrage of missiles and trails. We had in mind then a Macross X  Raiden vibe so, naturally, we wanted to incorporate the Itano Circus into the game. 

We started laying out how we would accomplish this aesthetic. The missiles would need to undergo a performance ("Show") before actually flying towards the enemy. The Itano Circus actually runs couter-logic as the missles travel outwards (and sometimes backwards) before turning back towards the target. Chronologically the events that would unfold are as follows, with some of the variables we use to tweak it:

Anatomy of an Itano


Below are some examples of the variables at play.



Where the the missiles come from? center of player, top, front..etc.



How many missiles are there total


StartSpeed & StartSpeed2

On creation, all missiles are StartSpeed ~ StartSpeed2 (randomized) fast.



On creation missiles are slowed by this amount per second until EndSpeed



This is how slow the missile is at the end of the Show.



How fast does the projectile fly after the initial show?


AngleStart & AngleEnd

0 is down, 180 is up, the missiles’ starting vectors are evenly spread out between AngleStart~AngleEnd.



How many units do the missiles turn per second (where 180 is the desired end)



If the Player is 0 and Enemy is 100 (vertical distance), when do the missiles start homing to the enemy?



TurnAnglePerSecond for the homing phase.


With these variables, we had the tools to create a variety of skills to add to the players repretoire. This is crucial to our game since we wanted to add that slight depth to combat compared to other incremental games. Here are some examples of the customization we can achieve with this system.



There we have it! From one straight-forward system we can come up with a arsenal of skills for both the player and the enemy. All of our weapons systems from Lasers to Shields are actually all based on this same foundation, with minor tweaks of course. The only exception being Buffs, which warrants a system on its own. 

This long-winded post has been fun to make, and hope it has shed some light in the inner workings of CosmoTap. In the next installment we shall have a peek into the inner workings of Art, from concept to polish. Til' next time :) !