Hello Spaera Fans,
Spaera updates have gone a little silent since the beginning of 2017. As mentioned in the New Year’s update, we’ve been experimenting with various system changes as we are still not completely satisfied with the current feel of the game. On top of tweaking game mechanics, we’ve also been busy cleaning out bugs and preparing the game for the full Steam launch.
Before summarizing what changes we are considering, we must first discuss the issues we are addressing. After shifting the whole game to a cascading combo and match-3 system last year, we’ve been in a constant struggle to balance the pacing of the game, along with defining clear advantages that players can achieve through skill.
The glaring problem to us was that it’s rather inconsistent to cleanly finish your opponent, unless you’re using a character such as Joseph or Rafael. Over the course of the year, we ended up adding a lot of game mechanics to try to fix this problem. Despite mitigating the issue, we didn’t like the direction the game took. Most of the time, winning in end game situations still felt more like the other player accidentally died rather than due to something you proactively did.
After some rethinking, experimenting, and analysis, we identified the main culprit of the problem. To retain the spirit of Spaera Beta 1, we tried to inherit many of Beta 1 mechanics, and unfortunately some didn’t fit quite well with our current system. Specifically, there was a mechanic such that when a player’s board was filled to the top, the player would survive as long as a clear was made. In Beta 1, this increased the chances of a comeback, but survival at the top was still difficult with an opponent applying pressure. This is problematic for Spaera’s current system because matching 3 to clear even when you are at the top of the board is common and trivial, degenerating the end of each match to an attrition of matching any 3 to survive since excess blocks will be cropped.
Panic time color blocks, green blocks being more rare, inherently difficult to use pieces, etc. were all design decisions to make it more difficult to survive near the end of each match. The problem is, death felt random. This has strayed from our idea of marrying fighting and puzzle games. Losing should occur because your opponent made a better move or you made a big mistake. Likewise, winning should be because you made less mistakes or made a critical move against your opponent. We want to bring the game back to these roots.
The most critical change that we have coming for Spaera moving towards a 1.0 release is this:
- If a player is at the top of the playing field and the next piece overflows in any way, the player has lost.
In other words, no blocks will be cropped even if a player makes a clear at the top. After clearing, if any cascaded block lands outside of the playing field, the match is over. This change has allowed us to roll back some of the more esoteric design decisions we made, which resulted in streamlining the basic game play and pace of Spaera.
As of now, we are revisiting changes and experimenting with things such as increasing or decreasing the number of colors, board dimensions, as well as having more shapes in pieces. Let us know your thoughts and any ideas you’d like us to try, and expect an update with these changes in the near future!