Steam Zero Lives - Platformer + Shoot 'Em Up hybrid with level editor




Hey, Silkworm here! Throwing up a devlog for my second major project "Zero Lives" (the first one being The Wizard and The Slug).

It started as a 48h jam project for Ludum Dare 45. The theme was "Start with nothing" so I made a platformer with a built in level editor. I picked it up again 3 months ago and I've been working on it and given it a proper name.

About the game
Zero Lives is a tight precision and puzzle platformer with shoot 'em up elements. You play as the number Zero who has to rescue Miss Undefined from the dastardly Kill Screen (the story is really not important). It comes with an easy to use level editor that uses the same building blocks for both platforming and shmup levels. I'd say the gameplay is a mix of Celeste + Super Meat Boy with a pinch of Gradius or similar space shooter.

Platforming + shmup gameplay




Level editor


I'll try to update this weekly. In the mean time check out the trailer and consider adding it to your wishlist on steam. :)

Demo will probably come eventually. If you're interested you can check out the Jam version here https://silkworm-sweatshop.itch.io/swn-ld45.

Links
Steam page
Twitter @silkworm_games
 
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Let's talk some main player mechanics.

Action number system
The most stand out one is what I call the action number system. The jam version was solely based around this and it can add a puzzle element to the gameplay. Basically as you start a level you can only move left or right. After touching a number you gain that many actions. Actions can be spent on either jumping or dashing. Your number decreases by using an action so if you touch a "2" you can jump twice, dash twice or any combination of the two. You don't have to be grounded to do an action and as long as you have actions to spend you can jump/dash in the air. The dash is 8 directional, Celeste style.

Limited actions/moves


Runner Mode
Touching the runner icon grants you legs. Runner mode is pretty standard platforming fare. You can jump as long as you're grounded and you get one air dash that has to be reset by landing again. You also gain the ability wall jump.

Standard platforming mechanics


Ship Mode
There are two different ways you play as a ship depending on if the level is an autoscroller (shoot em up) or a platform level. Autoscrolling levels plays like a standard space shooter with weapon upgrades (both horizontal and vertical scrolling is available). In a platform level you can touch the ship icon and freely control the ship (more like asteroids).

Shmup level


Free control
 
Let's talk moving platforms!

Moving platforms are a staple in platform games and sometimes you wonder why. I read a tweet once that read something like

People spend so much time implementing moving platforms into their games, all just to make their level design slightly worse.
Classic (boring) moving platforms
There is something in that to think about and not just add them because you're "supposed" to. They can easily slow down the pace and result in boring waiting time. I do have classic moving platforms in the game but I will probably use them sparingly.



Dash platforms

I learned from Celeste the importance of "player activation" as a way to mitigate this problem. Instead of constantly moving on their own, have a player action (in this case a dash) activate the platforms. The Dash Platforms from Celeste are my favorite example of this so of course I straight up stole it. The added momentum when you jump off is so much fun to play around with.



Step on platforms

Here is another example of player activation. Just step on.



I wishlisted it. Looks like a really fun game!
Thanks! :)
 
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