I’m working on the turns system. There were a few challenges I saw with the game related to this.
First, it may frustrate the player if they make it too far without managing the turns they use correctly and they fail the playthrough at a later part of the game as a result of running out of turns. Without any feedback that tells the player they are managing their time correctly as they go, their efforts will seem futile. Plus, even if the player were to mismanage their turns very much early on, it would only affect them a long way down the playthrough.
Second, the stages themselves so far only have a goal of “get to the end” or “kill all the guys” or what have you. There is not yet a reason for Zuka to complete stages in the context of the story. So it becomes difficult to understand which stages you should be doing and when for the optimal experience.
Third, there is no death penalty at the moment.
So I decided to have Zuka start with a small number of turns, allowing her to earn more as certain stages are complete. If you mess up early, you will fail early. This is more conducive to allowing the player to learn how to play well. You can see this mechanic at work in a lot of racing games with time trial modes, where you are rewarded with extra time as you pass checkpoints.
This ties into the stage goals as well. The idea will be that in most levels, Zuka will be able to find a machine, that once destroyed, delays Miss Faraday’s conquest and gives you more turns to move on and complete the playthrough. The player will be able to see their remaining turns and have a better idea if they have time to explore or if they should hurry to the next turn-earning activity.
As for the death penalty, I would like to implement a “lives” system. You are allowed to perish as many times as you have lives with no penalty until they run out. If you run out of lives, you are carried back home on a stretcher and suffer a turn penalty. Your lives are then returned to a default value. Stages closer to Zuka’s home will punish death less in this case, since you spend fewer turns returning to those stages. This is why the overworld is designed the way it is, with later levels located farther from the start.
So there will then be four kinds of “currency” in the game to manage that are earned via different kinds of activities. I do enjoy a game of this kind that has lots of collectibles that aren’t just there to be collected, but actually do something.
Scrap is used to upgrade Zuka’s weapons and abilities and buy items. It’s earned by defeating enemies and finding treasure chests.
Chocolate upgrades Zuka’s health pool, with diminishing returns. It is earned by solving optional puzzles and tricky platforming segments in stages.
Lives give the player more chances to fail levels they are unfamiliar with, mitigating risk. They can be earned by defeating bosses or bought from an NPC for scrap.
Turns allow Zuka to explore more content and eventually complete the game. It is earned by any activity that sabotages Miss Faraday’s progress, which is the driving force of the narrative.
It is also my intention to surprise the player with other random one-time opportunities to earn or trade between these “currencies”.
The intention is for the overall game to involve a simple board-game level of strategy, randomness, and resource management.