I came up with the idea for this game while playing classic Gyruss. I wanted to do another fast action shooter (since not many are being released at the moment) and I wanted to ensure that it stayed true to the arcade genre. Playing Gyruss, Galaga, and my own Replicator gave me the idea for Swarm. Its based on my theory that addictive gameplay comes about through the action of “cleaning up” the screen. In this game the player gets two ways to “clean up” the screen. First of all, the player needs to destroy the swarm, which look very cluttered on the screen. There is satisfaction in cleaning them up. The player also gets to return the central matrix back to its original color (the swarm change it).
When I originally planned this game, the player’s ship was going to move around the outside of the screen, just like Gyruss. It looked quite good, but I had trouble getting the game difficulty pitched right. It was either too hard or too easy. There seemed no middle ground. I solved the problem by giving the player more movement freedom. The player can move anywhere on the screen. The only thing is that the player is always targetting the center of the screen, so the shots always head towards the matrix. I think its a good effect and provides a level of originality in the game.
This is a fast paced game, and the enemies move in fast scripted waves (very fast in later levels). To add emphasis to the speed I found a couple of nice fastpace tunes on the internet. I don’t know who sequenced them unfortunately. They fit the game very well.
I put together an effective flashing transition between the levels. During test playing I found that sometimes the flashing would match the timing of the snare buildups in the backing music. The effect was fantastic and having seen it I became determined to somehow use it. The problem was that it was impossible to guarantee that the flashing would start exactly when a drum roll was occuring. My first solution was to insert a sound effect of a snare build. It sounded and looked quite good, but I decided that I needed a more abstract sound effect for the transition. Luckily I found one in a classic arcade sound effect folder. It is an effect that is percussive, and by getting the script to switch it off and on when the flash starts, stops, and starts again, the effect is impressive. When it finishes I use a nice little electronic ‘veeb’ sound to complete the stage transition.