Designing a fun 2P co-op powerup system was a big challenge in Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. Pull up a chair and dig into the process with us in a new Gamasutra Deep Dive, complete with gifs (obviously!).
But why was a combo system more engaging than just adding more gem variety? I think it’s because we were engaging a player’s imagination — they would try to predict what certain combos would result in. If a Beam Turret resulted in a railgun weapon, and a Metal Turret resulted in a swinging space flail, what could a Beam-Metal turret be? Players would want to see if they were right, and fill in that space in their mental chart of upgrades.
Like any relationship, the key to succeeding with your spaceship in Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime comes with a healthy dose of communication. Sometimes it’s a simple, “How are you doing?” Sometimes it’s an, “Oh my god, what is that? Run!” Whatever the case–Always. Be. Communicating. But what’s that you say? You find that you and your partner have been “communicating” until your voice has gone hoarse, and yet it still feels like your spaceship is cracking at the seams? Luckily we’ve come up with a few hot tips to take your relation(space)ship to the next level.
1. Come fly with me
There are many self styled captains out there who never want to leave their comfy captain’s chair. Meanwhile their partner is being run ragged trying to cover 360 degrees of the ship by themselves. When things are heating up, make sure you jump up every now and then to stretch your legs and lend a hand. However, if you still insist on flying all the time, then it’s best to be smart about it. Use your mobility as an advantage by positioning the ship alongside terrain to prevent an attack from that angle. If you find yourselves out in open space and surrounded, try to find an escape route that puts all the attackers on one side of you, making them short work for a well placed Yamato Cannon burst.
2. Your overprotectiveness is your weakness
Like their piloting-obsessed partners, there are those players that cling to the Shield Station, desperately trying to stop every little bomb or bullet from hitting the ship. Meanwhile, more and more baddies keep accumulating. Because the shield deactivates whenever you move it, when surrounded it’s best to move the shield once to protect the ship from the biggest threats, then run to the other Turret Stations to thin out the enemy crowd. Many baddies shoot bombs or bullets that can be destroyed by your turret fire, so sometimes the best defence is a good offence.
3. You say Yamato, I say Ya-may-to
What’s that strange yellow object circling your ship? That, my friends, is the Yamato Cannon. Activate it by running to the yellow station and hitting the big button. Keep in mind the time it takes you to run across the ship to reach the button while the cannon circles into position, so you don’t overshoot your target. And don’t forget to upgrade this key station, as a well placed Metal or Power Gem can go a long way into boosting the effectiveness of the Yamato Cannon.
4. Space-pets are an astronaut’s best friend
When playing Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime 1-player, you have the choice to team up with an AI-controlled space-dog named Doppler or a space-cat named Kepler. Like working with any good partner, it’s best to play to their strengths. Because your furry friend is four-legged, they are able to run around the ship at a much quicker pace than you. So if a station needs attention, or an enemy needs a blast of Yamato fire, it’s often quickest to send your pet there first.
5. When in doubt, keep it casual
Finally, if you find yourself getting too hot and heavy with the forces of Anti-Love, you can always take some pressure off by switching to Casual difficulty. This mode boosts your health and brings the enemy count down a notch. You’ll still be kept on your toes though, so there’s no shame in Casual play!
IT’S HERE!!! Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is OUT NOW for Xbox One, PC, Mac and Linux. Thanks SO MUCH to everyone who helped us make it to this point, it’s been a long, long journey. It’s so exciting to think that our little game is out there floating around the universe now.
A final request!
If you dig the game, please like, share, retweet, review and galactically transmit this news across the universe. It’s only because of our fans that we ever made it this far.
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Making this game has been an incredible experience, and we can’t help but say thank you to the all the wonderful people who have helped us along the way. We wouldn’t be here without you. THANK YOU.
The Asteroid Base guys have talked about the inspirations and creation of Lovers at length, but I’d like to talk about the beginnings of the game from the audio perspective.
In 2012, I decided to take part in the Toronto Global Game Jam after being encouraged by a close audio friend. Audio people were in short supply, so I was responsible for developing the music and sound effects for an entire room of teams. In the end I composed music and designed sound for 5 games within the 48 hours of the jam. Lovers was the last game that I worked on, and I only had an hour or two to create and deliver. The first renditions of the opening and gameplay music were developed at this time, along with 8 sound effects.
Initially the gameplay music (now called “Launch Into Deep Space”) was just a one-minute loop. (In the final game, there are 19 pieces of music ranging from 4 to 6 minutes in length.) The genre of the music was completely out of my comfort zone–I had never composed happy spacey dance music before. Most of the time my compositions are kind of dark, so this was new to me. I started experimenting with different synthesizers and fell in love with Arturia‘s CS80 and Arp2600 plugins. These plugins are modeled off of the 1970s classics which have been featured in some popular science fiction films and shows such as Blade Runner and Doctor Who. I wanted the music to sound and feel vintage and not “chiptunes”, because a lot of games have been composing music in that timbre. The use of the vintage synthesizer rather than chip sounds gives it a 1970s science fiction feeling, which overall matches the design and inspiration of the game.
After the jam, Asteroid Base decided that they were going to continue to develop Lovers and I was excited to continue providing the sound design and music. The first thing I wanted to do was revise the music I had written at the jam. It was rushed at the time, so now I could go back and really sink my teeth into it. A lot of time was spent adjusting the performances, changing oscillator wave shapes and just generally messing around with settings until I found the sound I wanted. Before this project, I didn’t have much experience in using synthesizers for music. I had used them mostly to create sound effects and ambiences in animation television shows. At first I was slow at being able to compose exactly what I heard in my head, but that’s the fun of experimenting and learning. Throughout the composing of Lovers there were many creative mistakes that paid off.
There was one instance where I was using a chiptunes synthesizer and I was hoping to make it increasingly harsh so it would stick out of the mix more. I added a bit crusher to the process chain and instead of making the sound harsh, it actually calmed and smoothed it out. This worked better in the song than what I was expecting. So it stayed.
The original song from the game jam, “Launch Into Deep Space”, was extended to about two and half minutes before I moved on to composing the additional gameplay songs. During the development process we had decided that the music length didn’t need to be kept to a minimum, and I had free reign to make the songs as long as I wanted. With “Launch Into Deep Space” being rather short, I decided to try and extend it so that it wouldn’t be so repetitive and annoying to the player. I extended the song twice, and it ended up being close to 6 minutes long. While I was lengthening it, I wrote a great melody on the ARP2600 but I felt it didn’t particularly fit into that song. Ironically, the melody line cut from the first song became the main theme and inspiration for “Forever Space Love”, which is now the game’s ending song.
Holy moly you read it correctly, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime has a release date! SEPTEMBER 9! We know that some of you have been waiting years for this moment — believe you me, we’ve been waiting longer.
Pre-order Lovers now and save 10%!
While Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime will be available to play September 9, you can pre-order now for PC, Mac & Linux and save 10%. Pre-orders for Xbox One will start August 27.
Get the soundtrack!
Ryan Henwood, master composer, has assembled this intergalactic album of cosmic tunes from a distant dimension. Launching September 9, you can pre-order now and immediately get four bumpin’ tracks.
We can’t help but say thank you to the all the wonderful people who have helped us get to where we are today. THANK YOU!
We will have some big news coming this week, but first let’s talk about PAX Prime!
Come join us and play the unreleased Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime during PAX at booth 3017, on the 4th floor expo hall. Find us just south of The Behemoth, who, through their amazing Gold Egg Project have lovingly nestled our booth next to theirs and across from Supergiant Games.
Many have asked and we have finally listened. We will be selling a limited supply of t-shirts that we printed on super soft heather plum and heather black AA t-shirts. Many thanks to everyone on Twitter who helped us pick our design.
Microsoft’s Pre-PAX Open House
Thursday August 27, 5:00 – 9:00PM at Microsoft’s campus in Redmond – In addition to PAX, you will be able to play Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime and more than 50 other games at Microsoft’s Pre-PAX Open House.
Toy Temp and Friends Showcase
Friday August 28, 7:30PM – 12:30AM at 1927 3rd Avenue, Seattle – Our friends at Toy Temp are hosting an awesome party that will be celebrating some great upcoming games from Toronto devs, including Lovers. Get tickets!
EMP Museum And don’t forget that you can play an arcade build Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime any day of the week at the EMP Museum, which is being exhibited as a part of the beautifully designed Indie Game Revolution exhibition.
We’ve been fans of Justin’s work for a while, and we were thrilled to have him create some art for the game. Seeing another person’s take on this universe is tremendously exciting, both because Justin is great (seriously, I mean look at his tumblr and youtube), and also because we’ve been living exclusively in the world of gameplay graphics for so long. New art is like a breath of fresh air! Or fresh cosmic vacuum.
Anyway, things are happening, and there will be more exciting info coming soon!