The power-ups are working. In most shoot-’em-ups you grab a power-up and it gives you a single new ability. In Blood Ship you get a randomized combination of power-ups (up to three at a time), delivered through a kind of gambling mechanism. It doesn’t make much thematic sense, but I think it’s fun as hell and makes the gameplay a lot more addictive.
I also dumbed down the blood laser. The “smart version” had a single pixel width and, when activated, it would replicate several instances of itself across the screen, one pixel at a time. Once the far end of the beam encountered an obstacle it would stop replicating itself and create an animated “impact” sprite wherever it stopped. During gameplay, this looked like a single beam growing across the play field until it hit something or went off the screen. It worked better than I thought it would, but it was too slow to create. When I sped it up, the animations got wonky.
Although it looked like shit it worked. I planned to fix it later, but yesterday I went back to an instantaneous laser beam (press the button and it appears immediately, from the nose of the ship to the far screen edge) which allows enemies to cross its path without breaking it. I thought I wanted a beam that could get broken by obstacles, which was a complicated (for me) effect that should have looked cool, but it was a little jarring in practice. Allowing a nearer enemy to block the beam’s path to farther enemies diluted the feeling of absurd power, thereby killing some of the fun. So the dumb effect works better for now.
Today I’m going to tackle the growing list of minor annoyances and tonight I’m going to work on new enemies and wave events… that’s the plan, anyway.