Determining How Long Powerup Effects Should Last
Powerups, when overused can remove the challenge from a game, making it all too easy and, for many, no longer fun. So how do you decide how long or how often a powerup is active? In many instances it comes down to play-testing the game and deciding the right “feel” for how long a powerup should be active or how often it should spawn. In our space shooter game we randomize the spawn time of our next powerup and set the active time to 5 seconds arbitrarily as a starting point. we may find that the active time is too long or too short as we play test our game, and we can adjust from there.
Another option would be to limit the power up to a specific number of shots fired instead of a timer. This type of cooldown may work better with alternative powerups like special types of ammo. Time based cooldown systems work well for some powerups like the speed boost we will add in the future.
Today we took a quick look at some game design decisions that are informed by play-testing our game. There are many ways to fine tune the feel and timing of events in our game and maybe we’ll explore some more of them in the future. Tomorrow, we’re going to continue adding powerups to our game and take a look at creating modular powerup systems. If you enjoyed this article, or want to come along with me as I progress on my journey, follow me at gamedevchris.medium.com.