It’s never an easy job. Coming up with a name that is memorable, different enough to stand out, but still easy to say out loud is a difficult enough task on its own, but a name must be more than that. It must describe the game. It must somehow capture the essence of the game, as if to relate the experience in only a few words.
Am I doing it right?
So, my previously-Unnamed Space Game is now titled Hysteria Star. What’s in a title, though?
Hysteria Star is a game without ties to a persistent universe. Think of it like Mario. Yeah, there are some rules to that series. Eat mushrooms, stuff happens. Things have faces… Bowser flies off in a space-boat with Princess Peach’s castle and Mario can survive in the cold vacuum of space. There is no solid story, no specific “canon” to sweat over.
To that end, Hysteria Star has very little in the way of a story to tell. This is a game where you shoot and dodge, you fly through a variety of locations and run into all manner of obstacles along the way. There is no explanation for why you’re piloting a spaceship one playthrough and a flying ice cream truck the next. Just enjoy it. There’s no canon, there’s no abundance of made-up terms to describe every little thing, there’s no intricately woven tapestry of a narrative to guide you from level to level… it’s just pick up and play. Easy, Normal, Hard, pick your weapon, buy some upgrades and get on with it!
Hysteria, in a sense, describes the game in its very best state. When the lasers and bullets and explosions are flying all over the place and you’re frantically trying to avoid it all. When you come across an unexpected new set of obstacles that throw you for a loop, or a combination of mechanics you’ve run into before are thrown at you in a new way, that’s when Hysteria Star shines.
Star, as it so happens, is a giant ball of exploding junk that’s really bright. Neat! There are a lot of those here. It IS space, after all.
Actually, Star is a name that represents each ship playable in the game. The Stars are the hope of the galaxy, and they’re yours to control. They are also the first ships in the known universe to have the incredible technology called Credits. When one is destroyed in combat, another will fly in from seemingly nowhere to replace it, as long as the player has at least one Credit remaining.
I’m a genius, right?
The sketches above show three of the Stars playable in Hysteria Star. Initially, only a few will be available, and more will be unlocked as you progress. Each Star has its own main weapon and special ability, making them completely unique play experiences. Again with the naming thing, I haven’t nailed down the names of these just yet. From left to right:
A good all-around ship, medium speed and shields. Goals in life: being average.
Spread Shot: a straightforward and predictable laser gun, upgrades add more lasers to each shot, spreading further up and down to cover a wider area.
Energy Overload: Just because the ship is average doesn’t mean the special isn’t. This attack sends out a shockwave that destroys projectiles and damages enemy ships within a circular area, causing a chain reaction in each enemy hit that sends out another, similar shockwave. The effect gets smaller with each time it chains to a new target, but a well-placed Overload can clear a room.
A very unique ship which can dematerialize and move quickly, but suffers from a low shield.
Orbital Shot: Balls of plasma powered by magical Sin Waves, harder to predict than normal lasers but cover more area. Upgrades add more shots to each burst and small, invincible drone ships which spread around the Phantom Star in a sideways V formation.
Dissipation Field: This special makes the ship transparent for a few seconds, flying right through enemy bullets, ships and even walls without taking damage. Use this to break the game! Or to avoid getting demolished. While Dissipated, shots do half damage, but when the effect either wears off or is manually turned off, you get a few seconds of multiplied damage.
A very small, fast, very low shield ship. Despite its small size and 1-hit kills, this ship has some of the highest concentrated damage dealing capability in the game.
Gatling Shot: Starting out as a rather normal straightforward weapon like the Freedom Star’s weapon, upgrades quickly increase the rate of fire and the damage of each shot. Fully maxed out, this ship’s spray of bullets is a waterfall of pain.
Laser Gatling: This special turns the gatling bullets into piercing lasers for a short time. While active, the ship slows down and rapidly shoots lasers across the screen instantly. This special is unique in that the upgrades to the main weapon change the special’s rate of fire as well.
Going forward, it’s nice to have a name to reference. This development really has pushed the game toward a path of its own, a unique style. There’s a lot of work ahead of me but I think Hysteria Star will be a game worthy of that effort.