Massive: Reactor – More Zap for your Thwap!

Throughout the design stages of Massive: Reactor, I knew I wanted the player to go crazy on the drums. I wanted them to have to calculate how they want to deal with the asteroids in a way that made them feel like they were in control of the station, rather than just getting it to do things.

Consistent Drumming
I decided we should implement a system where activating one ability in a stream would scale the effectiveness of that ability in the game. This would mean the the player would benefit from committing to one ability at a time. This was originally designed to stop players from hitting both the laser and the recharge drums at the same time. I wanted there to be some level of resource management centered around the clever use of teh games abilities rather than just the player’s endurance.

For instance, if the laser is struck consecutively, it becomes more powerful and wider so that it could hit multiple asteroids, if they were close enough together, and would destroy them faster. This was to be implemented so that for each hit, the damage increased cumulatively and the cone of ray cast activation of the laser would spread, until another ability was activated or a certain amount of time went by between hits, which would reset these values.

In the case of the shield, it would become wider, covering more of the planet, allowing the player to neutralise multiple immediate threats at the expense of being able to recharge the power, or neutralise asteroids that are further away. It would however, reduce the need to move.

I wanted the Power to gain a culminating scaling increase tho the amount of power gained per hit.

All of this was to try and reward the player for drumming on one pad at a time and giving them meaningful choices in the way they dealt with the asteroids. It would also reinforce the intended play style of continuous drumming rather than irregular hitting. A hopeful behavioral response was that the player would begin drumming to the beat of the background music (though not ON the beat only of course).

At this post phase of the project, I have had time to evaluate some of the game structure of Reactor and feel that it needs to lean into its arcade style game play. A points system would dramatically increase the systems depth. Supposing the shield would stop an asteroid as it does, but awarded only half the amount of points as destroying an asteroid with the  laser does. This would introduce a level of consideration for the player and likely set a “most effective game play” strategy that players could follow. This would of course be written up online somewhere.

Big Badda Boom
Another feature that would have given extra agency and flavour to the game was the intended supernova function that was to act as a smart bomb. This was to be a charged ability that the player could employ when they chose to. This decision would have taken account of the likelihood of the planet taking damage against their ability to neutralize the threat, and at this later point, some sort of decision would have to be made about the way the option interacts with the points system.
The points would need to reflect the timing that the player decided to activate t and should be encouraging. This is a major ability that the player should strive to build up like the star power from Guitar Hero. This would make the player engage in a calculation of the reward that would come from activating the supernova at any given time. They will begin to try methods of maximising the benefit to them and their score.


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