The coins in Hypership may seem at first glance to be just coins, but they are much more than that and ultimately add a lot more to the game than one may realize just looking at them. As a side note, this is a blog post I’ve wanted to write for close to a year after a post-GDC, post-bar discussion with a few fellow developers. Yes, I’m slow.
Most obviously coins are something you collect that adds points to your score. Besides just scoring points, there is a pleasant “ding” sound, particle effect, and on screen “+XXX” message displayed. Hypership 2 also adds a light up effect to the UI. Collecting coins makes the gamer feel good and because there are a lot of coins to collect, there is a lot of feel good to go around.
For every 100 coins you collect, you get a +1x point multiplier. This quickly makes each life more worthwhile because once you have a high multiplier and are racking up oodles of points, you don’t want to go back down to 1x. The faster you can collect coins, the quicker you can get the multiplier up and this also drives your desire to take chances to get coins you might otherwise let go.
In Hypership 2, I will be adding additional UI effects to make sure you’re aware each time you reach a new multiplier. This is a feel good moment for the player and they should be made aware. It’s something I wish was more visible in the original Hypership.
In Hypership 2, the lasers of the ship will also be upgraded as you collect more coins. Initially you start firing one laser at a time. Collecting more coins will give you double and then triple lasers (no current plans for quad lasers but hey, it’s still early). Just like the point multipliers, these upgrades make the player value their current life more. Additionally they make the game easier.
We make shapes and messages out of coins. A giant skull or the message “DIE” written in coins adds a little flavor to the game. Sometimes they’re a warning, often times they’re just something silly to make the player smile. I try to put memorable moments in my games and seeing “DIE DIE DIE” written in coins right before a cluster of fast moving space mines is something players will remember. This was something I accidentally stumbled across and didn’t realize how much it was liked until gamers started telling me they really enjoyed the various words spelled out within the levels.
Adding coins in a line also allows me to give some direction to where the player is traveling. Since I assume players will want to collect coins, I can create lines of coins that take players to certain areas of the screen, in a sense it puts the player on rails without them realizing it. I can be nice and help them navigate through a difficult area of blocks or I can be cruel and navigate them straight into an asteroid (I do more of the nice and slip in a few instances of cruel). This helps with level design because it makes it most likely players will hit the spots of the level I want them to hit and when I take players through a difficult area, it makes them feel more accomplished then they may otherwise be if they tried to go through blind and crashed and burned. You don't always have to be trying to kill the player, sometimes it's better to make them feel good at your game instead.
Higher Value Coins
Besides the standard +1 coin, there are +5 and +10 coins in Hypership. After seeing mostly gold coins, a shiny red or green coin is unique that stands out and gives the player a sense of “I must get that”. They score more, feel better about it, and are willing to take more risks to get them. It is more rewarding to go through a tough optional section and be rewarded with a green or red coin than it is a simple +1 gold coin.
Hypership 2 also adds three blue coins per level and it is displayed on the UI how many you have collected. Completing a level with all three rewards the player with a whole bunch of bonus points. Knowing where the blue coins are is very valuable and players will make it a point to try and collect all three of these each level.
Hopefully I’ve demonstrated that something as simple as a coin can add a lot more to the game than you’d realize at first glance. Using them in meaningful ways can be used to make your game more fun, affect the difficultly of your game, and make the whole trip a lot more interesting.