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Hyperspace Dogfights
May 2, 2018 - Sleeper_Games

Hi Steam Flyers

After 18 months in development, HDog is finally approaching the 1.0 release on Steam. On the 14.05.2018 you'll be able to blast of into colorful missions full of explosions and weird jet loot.

Since the last Steam announcement we continued to add content to the game. Here's a quick recap:
(January) HDog Alpha 0.851: Radio Waves has been shipped. This update focused on wave goal variety and UI improvements.

Early in development I floated the idea of having a large pool of available goals for each wave, but then scratched that in favor of a more arcady design. In Strasbourg we discussed whether the player might feel lost at times if no clear purpose is given and I was encouraged to revisit the differentiated wave goals. In the process of implementing the goals I also added a more direct splash text framework to telegraph goals. In general I tried to move away from ui text to tell you about wave goal progress, instead many new goals work with symbols and bars exclusively.

So how does this look in game then? When starting a wave you now always get some splash-text in the close background, telling you your wave goal (I'm considering supporting this text with images to create proper splash screen for boss fights). Wave goals range from recon mission to various types of target elimination. You'll raid convoys, eliminate enemy aces or take down storage balloon. The previous “decimate enemy forces” wave goal is also still there, but way less prevalent, with survival waves being another spin on that. Wave objectives might till get extended further, with the UI moving away from plain text some more.

The update also featured many small tweaks and fixes. I tried to build more of a connection between the ui and player actions/reactions, by blowing up UI elements like the heart ui or the SRM counter whenever their values change. Your ship now constantly explodes while you are on your last half heart, simple thing but I'd probably never considered it if it wouldn't have been suggested directly at Strasbourg Fantastique. The player being jammed/interdicted became more relevant even in the early game with the recently added Naval Cruiser boss, so I revisited the UI connected to that. The game now tells you more clearly that your jet is interdicted and late game EMP enemies also cause custom UI effects now, causing your entire UI to reboot after EMP effects wear off. I'm still not entirely happy with the UI, other devs pointed out that some important stuff like health is too far away from the visual focus (your jet) and I agree, so I might still iterate more on this. Oh and your active now wiggles in anticipation when charged, that's important!

There are dozens of conceptual or half-designed items I still want to add. The game is in a state where this is really easy (unless their mechanics require something entirely new that is). Wiring a new weapon into the game takes can take less time than making the weapon sprites, but with all the testing and tuning that comes afterward it still always takes longer than expected still. So I try to not do this and save stuff for a post release content patch, but couldn't resist the temptation this time. The nine new guns make use of previously added status affects, so you got stuff that's really good at EMPing enemies or causing the damage-over-time cascade effect. One new late game melee option, the Halberd, can be used to pull escaping enemies towards your. There are also two guns that fire those nasty photon shots used by some late game enemies and bosses, allowing you to better deal with shields by simply piercing them. And there are a few bread-and butter kinetic guns.

(March) HDog Alpha 0.901: Vis Light has been shipped. This update focused on jet build choices and loot management.

The loot system has been re-organized, with chests now having color-coded tiers, each tier with its own loot pool. You'll need to hunt down those sweet red chests if you want access to the more broken weapons and items (looking at you, shot displacer). Chest quality increases the further you'll get into the game and how well you play also features into it (as in how many times you consecutively flawlessed a wave).

But the loot revision isn't all about limiting you, rather the contrary. The new zone store and choice chests actually give your more control over how your jet evolves throughout the game. Choice chests give you a choice of three items after you opened them (you can only pick up one). The zone store comes in the form of a store vessel. You'll have to hack and defend it during its own new wave type in order for it to become available for the remainder of the zone. The store ship will then come alongside during each hyperspace jump and you can access it's store chests there. Until the end of the zone, which will now destroy all remaining chests and pickups, as well as the store ship. Overall the whole loot management aspect of the game got funneled more into the intermission scene. For now I cut the possibility of opening chests during wave combat, since that didn't mix well with choice chests and store offers. But the intermission scene now allows for better chest interaction in return, enabling button controls to interact with items. If you use button controls you no longer need to switch to mouse each time you'll go into the intermission and if you you have mouse aiming enabled the intermission will use mouse controls too.

When testing the new stuff I also came across a whole lot of problems with the recently added wave objectives. So yeah, lots of bug-fixes, again. I also nerved zone two a whole lot, so it should feel less like a brick wall now. Zone three is where the game seriously tries to kill you, but you should be able to get to the second set of bosses more consistently now.
The final alpha content update (0.95, Full Spectrum) will give you multiple player jets to choose from and will start gating some content via an unlock system. After that its just bug fixing, testing and tuning till the release.

(April) HDog Alpha 0.96 has been shipped. This update added additional player jets to choose from and introduced persistent unlock progression.

After that we basically just deal with bug reports now and prepare for the final release. You can whishlist Hyperspace Dogfights here:

<3 <3 <3 Much Love! <3 <3 <3

December 11, 2017 - Sleeper_Games

Hi Steam Flyers

Just to keep you in the loop, here is what has been hapening with the latest alpha updates.

(August) HDog Alpha 0.7405 X-Ray has been shipped. This update focused on zone and enemy variety.

New Zones!
There are five new zone types for you to fight in. Only half the possible zones will appear in a particular run, so zone one to three now all randomize between two possible types. In the final game you'll need to unlock the alternate version of each zone, but in the current build all types can appear from the start. Zone three should still lead into endless play, now featuring zone three's enemy pool (hasn't been tested much). The new zones have some quirks of their own, but there is still more I want to do in terms of zone specific mechanics. Right now, the big gameplay differences in zones come from the different enemy types you'll encounter there.

New Enemies!
The game got 10 new enemy types and 10 new enemy attachments. Some of the hostiles are unique to certain zone types. Most additions appear in the mid and late game, but the alternate variant of zone one got it's own new ground enemies too. Alongside that, the overall difficulty and spawning behaviour of the game got an overhaul. Prevailing in Zone 2 should pose more of a challenge now and zone 3 can get pretty vicious. In general, late game enemies move more erratically, attack more relentlessly and fire more projectiles, or deny larger areas of the playing field with their attacks. As before, some of enemies are small one-component fodder, while others have individual parts that can be damaged and destroyed individually.

New Enemy Mechanics!
One goal for the update was to make the new enemies rather distinct and pose a unique thread each.
Some of the new mechanics are:
Cruise Missiles: Work a lot like homing missiles, but explode on miss in lager explosions . Also right now they can't be redirected like homing missiles.
Photon-based Weapons: Enemy lasers and photon shots will ignore your shield and always deal heart damage. Evade them at all cost!
Snipers: Engage at long range with heavily telegraphed attacks . In the late game they might start using photon based weapons.
Air-Mines: Effectively deny areas of the map while slowly dropping towards the ground. They work a lot like your mines.
Dangerous Death: Some hostiles or attachments explode on death or spawn projectiles.
Melee: One late game enemy will switch to melee attacks of you get to close.
Flares: One late game enemy will deploy flares if it is targeted with homing missiles. The flares work like your flares.

Optimization and minor fixes
Apart from the new content I also worked on fixing minor problems and I looked into optimizing certain areas of the game. Mines should be less taxing now, but I still have to consider improvements on homing shots and missiles. There are a few other bottle necks like the prop-avoidance behaviour of enemies. I'll look into that at some point.

(November) HDog Alpha 0.801 (Gamma-Ray) has been shipped, featuring new bosses, new music, new end-game content and a lot of small tunage

Oh no, that took four months. I got distracted presenting the Game at the Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival, but other than that the new bosses simply needed a long time to be designed, properly implemented, tested and tuned. During the process I started to grow more and more appreciative of the good old carrier boss. That one exists for almost a year now and had a lot of time for feedback to bleed into its design. The new bosses will need that time in the wild too in order to really settle in their place. The old bosses are now the boss pool for zone one and later zones get progressively smaller boss pools. Zone one has four possible bosses, zone two has three and so on.

Like a boss, you know like a real boss in a real videogame
That said I think the new bosses start out a step above the original three. They differ in a few ways:
- New bosses are less reliant on attachments. They still have parts you can shoot off in order to weaken their performance, but they all have some attacks that they can carry out regardless.
- They have attack phases they switch between. Some of the previous bosses already evolved during the fight, but the new ones will generally switch up their attack patterns a lot more and carry out more complex maneuvers. The final boss has ten different attacks for example.
- They use the level structure in new ways. You'll fight near the top clouds, alongside a vertical space tether or inside a larger enemy.
- The new bosses pressure you way more and in new ways. Some deny areas with mines, other force you into jumps with unblockable photon attacks or evade ettacks with their own jump capabilities.

And now it's time to beat the end game
The aforementioned final boss also comes with a new zone where it can hide in, the underground Command System. Right now it's populated with existing late game enemies but I want to flesh it out a bit more at some point.

A successfully failed venture
And last but not least, after over two years of meeting every other month or so (sitting around drinking and talking about synthesizers) the Hyperspace Soundtrack now finally nears completion. The new alpha build features six new themes used for specific zones and bosses. There are also placeholders for the title theme and the final boss theme. Four more tracks are still coming.

That is it for the last two alpha updates. The next alpha (Radio) will focus on wave goal variety and loot choices. If you want to track my progress you can check out the games public dev Trello:

June 15, 2017 - Sleeper_Games

HDog made it into the final batch of greenlit games! Thanks for all your support, this means the world to me! :) :) :) And with the Greenlight campaign concluded I can finally return to fully working on content for the game. Awesome!

Meanwhile, on Itch:
HDog Alpha 0.73 Ultraviolet is finally here! Sorry for taking this long, I had to invest a lot of time into setting up the greenlight campaign and presenting the game at AMAZE. I got some great feedback from both, which then directly lead to some of the changes and tweaks in this update. Apart from implementing feedback, the update mostly dealt with extending all item pools to a level that I deem somewhat close to what the final game should have.

I still haven't implemented all the items I want to add, but the majority is there now. This means you doubled the amount of actives passives, and weapons available to play with now. There are many more passives that “just” affect stats, but I also worked on a whole bunch that add complex behaviors or can completely change how the game is played. As before I put a large focus on synergies, trying to make everything affect everything. Some examples for the more complex passives:
- Sector Shield/Vertice Shield: Sector shield gives you a directional shield that gains hp and recharge rate in relation to your normal shield, but also lowers your normal shield. The shield circle also gets larger the more copies of the item you get. Vertice shield gives you a front facing shield that absorbs enemy shots and lets you fire them back when attacking. Together with sector shield you can control it's orientation.
- Ripjump: Gives your a melee attack on all jumps that has an inbuilt instant-kill chance. Synergieses with kill shot ammo and stuff that makes your jump faster, as well as with items that improve melee attacks. Together with Hopoonite Injector you can get damaging chain dashes.
- Turret Mount: Gives you the ability to target your weapons with the mouse, independently from your jets orientation. Recoil is applied in the direction you fire. Works with all weapons and with direct fire actives too.

Passives now also touch areas that where unexplored before. There are some that trigger if the player takes damage and there is a whole bunch that improve your actives in regards to charge behaviour.

Weapons also got a lot new additions, including many new melee options. Some favorites:
- Hardlight Maw: Strong melee attack with a long windup and a somewhat hard to control damage zone. Chews up gunships in a single hit.
- Homing Flechette: Lower fire rate than the original Flechette, but fires homing darts with larger sticky payloads.
- Frag Gun: Fires a high damage shot that bursts into smaller shots, emitted in a 40° cone with aditional speed.

The game is in a state where adding new weapons is fairly straight forward, in some cases making the weapon sprites took longer than actually implementing the weapon into the game. I can definitely see adding a few new addition now and then, even with smaller updates. I have a lot of shot and weapon properties at my disposal now, because of all the new actives. So new weapons can and will draw from a large variety of already implemented mechanics. Alongside the new weapons I also implemented the baseline for loot pools, so you won't find duplicates of weapons you already have anymore. The old and new passives are all designed in a way that makes having copies of them actually improve the effect, so getting the same passive multiple times will still remain a feature. The usefulnesses of this will become more apparent once the game has shops that give you some control over the gear you get.

In terms of actives there are a couple new addition too, most of which a geared towards player buffing/utility. You can drug yourself with alien glands or damaging stimpacks, you can jam enemies or teleport back to a previous location and you can call in orbital artillery support.

Some of the items make use of a couple new buffs and debuffs. Enemies can be EMPed, this locks their cooldowns and has some enemies fall out of the sky. Enemies can be jammed, which has them loose track of you and prevents them from attacking. Some actives and passives can enrage the player jet, giving you a large bonus to crit chance and boost ignition.

Probably the most noticeable addition here is that you can now reverse thrust to break/hover (default key is s). This can make you more maneuverable in mid air and it helps with staying off the ground when engaging low targets.
Due to popular demand I also added the options to toggle mouse aiming at any point during the game. This makes left and right act as strafe keys. The mouse aiming thing is still WIP, I'm not convinced whether it is really feasible, generally I prefer the existing controls but I leave it in to give you the option. Mouse aiming will also interfere with some item function, so yeah, WIP.
Breaking and strafing works a lot like boosting, but it gives you less acceleration than your regular forward boost. The r-thrust and strafe engine-fires are also affected by some engine related passives.

Quality of Life Tweaks
Again due to popular demand, you can now rebind the shoot and jump keys. Mouse 1 and 2 will always retain that function though (you'll need that for some items.)
Very large screens are also supported now. The largest resolution option is now "auto", which will have the game detect your screen size and adjust accordingly. (This won't work well on very small screens.) I haven't had a chance to test this extensively, please let me know if in case this causes problems correctly.
Getting hit now displays some screen glitching, giving some more feedback when you take shield damage.
And lastly I reworked the background visuals a bit to increase overall clarity. Clouds change appearance depending on background, this should make them stand out less. Background clouds and the nova are now slightly transparent, again to increase visual clarity. This also helps distinguishing background and foreground clouds, the later of which now have some items that interact with them.
That is it for HDog Ace Access Ultraviolet. I'll probably push some small update during the next days to fix stuff I've missed. As always I'm looking forward to your feedback. The next update (X-Ray) will focus on increasing enemy and zone variety. If you want to track my progress you can check out the game's public Dev Trello[].

May 24, 2017 - Sleeper_Games

Hi Steam Flyers

A big thanks to everyone who voted for Hyperspace Dogfights so far! The game now got a yes/no ratio in line with the top 50 on greenlight. If we continue to get votes we might have a chance to actually get greenlit before this whole place is shut down. Yay!

Also thanks for all the comments. Some of your input has already been implemented and I got some additional feedback while presenting at AMAZE Berlin, which was also super helpful. I'm now back at working on content for the upcoming alpha update (ultra violet). The current build features about 40 new passives, as well as over twenty new weapons. New active are also in the pipe and I worked on many quality of life tweaks, like the ability to break/hover, toggleable mouse aim and the option to rebind a secondary fire and jump key. Full dev log is coming once the update is ready. See ya!

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