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Design ideas for a 2D arcade-like top-down space shooter game

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Hi ! :)


I'm currently developing a 2D arcade-like top-down space shooter game.


The basic rules are as follows:

  • In order to reach a new planet, player will have to collect coordinates on current planet.
  • To reach current planet, player will have to defeat its fleet (enemy defenses).

It should also be noted that:

  • There will be a boss at the end of each level.
  • There will be a checkpoint after each wave.

The player will have the ability to collect the following items:

  • Health after breaking health containers – health floats to the ship regardless of its position (animation)
  • Ammo after breaking ammo crates – player needs to get close to ammo in order to collect (magnet)
  • Credits after destroying enemies (including asteroids except explosive ones) – credits amount depends on enemy’s power/health
  • Crystal matter after breaking crystals – amount is random (with boundaries)

This is pretty regular and I'm looking for additional original ideas to make it more unique.

The game is intended as a smartphone game using touch controls.


If you have any suggestion, comment, or would like additional details, go ahead! :cool:

I could add more details to this description but I don't want it to be too boring. If something isn't clear, I'll be happy to answer your questions.

Edited by BlackThunder407

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Hmm, well, how about spaceship abilities? such as phasing from place to place, getting a shield/becoming invincible for a few seconds, damage boosts, and similar stuff?

Perhaps your current abilities will depend on the ship you're using or a powerup


Or, what could make your game unique is an incredibly heavy lore- or some minigame for finding the cords on the planet?


Anyway, good luck c;

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The crystal matter and credits, do they only serve as points, to allow people to work for a highscore? Or are you planning to add some kind of shop where players can upgrade their ships by spending credits and/or crystals?

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To me, it looks like you're digging yourself into the standard top-down 2D thinking pattern already by decisions about bosses, waves, and bonuses. From that position it's very hard to think freely about novel extensions or changes.


Let go of all that (it's easy to add afterwards in a more detailed design iteration), and think in much more general terms at first. Just random brainstorming, don't worry if it makes no sense at this stage (at least I wouldn't worry :) ).


You're flying towards ? For what purpose? How did you get an aircraft/space ship? What great technology does it have.

You need to traverse from planet to planet (why not straight through space?). How does your ship jump between them? How do planets look, what's life there? Are these friendly or hostile? Why do they object to you flying there? What powers do they have?


Make a small dream world that you can use as resource for inspiration for all the levels, and all the things that the player will encounter.

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The OP ideas can go into many different directions, for example:

  • Conquering your little corner of the galaxy as a lonely "hero" rather than as the typical empire of a 4X game. This requires pushing the envelope of fancy weapons and preposterous firepower (battles are one ship against organized war fleets), making the collection of ammo totally inappropriate and shops less thematically sound (who's going to sell you enough weapons to conquer a star system?) than directly scavenging and assimilating enemy hardware and resources. Needing clues about the location of objectives should be rare, and getting the clues should be simply the reward for winning a battle.
  • An interesting, complex quest of clues, enemies and interesting places. Small but tough battles, often just a boss, which should be one of the main challenges of the game (along with a RPG part). Having to collect ammo could be a valid tactical hardship among many others; boss battles are meant to be long. The heroic and not overpowered protagonist of such a game would be much more likely to have many friendly and interesting shops to buy from, but grinding and unwanted power creep would be a serious problem.
  • A fairly traditional shoot'em up, in which the plot is simply exposed in intermissions and clues about locating planets could be simple pickup items (miss them and you have to retry the level).

My main suggestion is going back at this unformed design after learning more about good shoot'em ups, their variety, and their design.

Suggested playing (series of similar games are marked with an asterisk):

1942*, Cho Ren Sha 68K, Dangun Feveron, Deathsmiles, Dodonpachi*, Espgaluda*, Fantasy Zone*, Galaga*, Genetos, Giga Wing*, Gradius/Parodius*, Ikaruga, Kamui*, Psyvariar*, Raiden*, Recca, R-Type*,Tyrian, U.N. Squadron

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