Slow-motion used to be a really cool thing in games. I think it started with Max Payne’s bullet time, riding the success of the effect as seen in The Matrix. It allowed you to react to split-second decisiony moments while the rest of the game world was none-the-wiser. And then everyone did it. Even multiplayer games. It’s come to the point where slow-motion in games is included alongside the standard set of “power-ups” and “unlockables”. What was once a selling point based on inclusion alone has become a bullet point on the back of a box no one reads anymore.
So on that note, Soundodger has slow-motion in it.
You can actually use the slow-motion ability as long and as often as you want. However, as you begin to use it, you’ll quickly realize that it shouldn’t be used very much, if at all. Where most games will give you small tastes of slow-motion to enhance the experience, Soundodger presents you with the cold truth that slow-motion isn’t that great.
The game is one part dodging, one part observation, and two parts patience. Determination is also a factor, but not required. When you use slow-motion, the speed of the game is reduced to 10%. Things move so slowly it can’t be considered dodging anymore. When things slow down, playing a level goes from excitement and promise to casual and doable. That’s not to say it’s a worthless and demeaning power. Oh no.
If there’s a tricky section that diminishes your confidence in execution, slow-motion is just the right training buddy to help you get through it. That’s exactly what it is – an assistant, not a replacement for your skills. And as you begin to understand the simplicity behind a complex section of a level, you will eventually wane yourself off of going slow, craving the high from unprotected hand-holdingless play.
Besides, you can only play through the game if you gain points in available levels, and you do not score points in slow-motion. That’s probably the biggest deterrent from its use. PRO TIP, though: it’s possible to use slow-motion and not get penalized in the points department. “How?” you ask? It’s all a matter of understanding how scoring works. You see, points are gained when a bullet successfully exits the arena at normal speed. This means you can get away with a little slow-motion here and there if there are no bullets about to exit the arena. Spiffy!
For those doing the math, you may think that using slow-motion on a 3-minute song would take 30 minutes to play. This is a fantastic assumption, but is also inaccurate. The game
may slow down to 10%, but the music
only slows down to 50%. Why the disparity in speeds? Gameplay at 50% speed is still too fast and I found 10% to be just wonderful. However, when the music was slowed to 10% it sounded like absolute garbage
. It was so far removed from “music” that I wouldn’t have trouble calling it plain ole noise. So I kept the game at 10% speed and brought the music back to 50%, which happens to reduce it by 2 octaves, keeping it a bit more pleasing to the ears than the rubbish granules of audio from before.
And then the mechanic designed itself.
Suddenly, bullets were being shot 5 times faster than before, relatively speaking. This increased firing rate flooded the arena with bullets, albeit slow ones. Upon termination of slow-motion, the player is presented with a wall of (now quickly-moving) impenetrable bullets – bullets that would not have been in that formation had slow-motion not been used.
At some point in designing the game, I needed a way to limit the player’s usage of the ability: a meter? a timer? a replenishable unit of use? No, no. In separating the speed of the game from the music, my meter created itself naturally through gameplay. It’s beautiful. It’s cruel. It’s the perfect way to make you not want to use it.
So on to the real question here: “Why did you even include slow-motion if you punish the player in multiple ways for using it?”
Simple: To show you how amazing you truly are, without needing any help.
You’ll do great.
You’ll dodge it all.
I believe in you.
Soundodger is coming soon.