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SPACE COLORS: Rethinking Early Development

SPACE COLORS is a shmup/rpg/roguelike that I'm making in my spare time, and since it's kind of a weird thing, I'm making the early development of the game as open as possible to a bunch of people before locking it down for alpha as I prepare for release.

Basically, I've always loved this Dreamcast game called Armada and I've wanted to make something like it since I played it. With the exception of SubSpace (and one other, more mining-focused game that I can't think of the name of), there hasn't really been a game like it since then. Armada was, basically, Diablo in space. You chose a faction, traveled around, killed things, leveled up, had your ship upgrade at certain levels, collected some simple items, and just did the same thing over and over again for as long as you could tolerate it. As it turns out, I was able to tolerate it for a very long time.

So, I've been toying around with the idea of making something like that for a long while. I started a project a while back that was basically going to be just that, except it was going to be set in some kind of weird version of the Civil War where each stage was a state during the United States' Civil War. And fought by space ships instead of, you know, people. The game was called Civility and it looked kind of like this:

For my side projects, I've never been much of a fan of traditionally-styled games. Civility has a pretty impressive amount of post effects to take some very simple textures and pixelize the hell out of them and then, of course, bloom the crap out of the scene for a nice glow.

I actually enjoyed working on the game, but it was primarily a lot of backend work and the playable game didn't actually end up being all that impressive. I could make a bunch of custom ships each with a variety of attachment slots and upgrade slots and each had a custom inventory and so on and so forth, but it just never really felt right.

So, I eventually abandoned the project. 



Which brings me to SPACE COLORS. Instead of building a complicated RPG with a lengthy progression, I decided I wanted to make a shmup/RPG/adventure/action/roguelike. ALL OF THOSE GENRES. And I wanted to make it the kind of game you could play one-handed, in portrait mode, on a mobile device, because those are the kinds of games I end up playing most frequently on my phone (surprisingly, the most recent Dragon Quest 8 iOS port did an admirable job of supporting this).

Venus Patrol's Space Cowboy Jam gave me a good reason to get started on this project, even though it's a project I intended to keep working on beyond that time frame.

I basically started with something simple: a ship moving and an explosion.

Just doing this went a long way to helping me decide on a style for the game, and from there, I spent a weekend (last weekend) just pounding away on features. And then, on Monday, I put the game on the web and posted the link in a few communities. Even though this is intended to be a mobile game, having players rely on just using the mouse (and the space bar to fire, though I have a different solution for that on mobile devices) gives me a pretty decent idea of how well the game will work on mobile.

The main goal for getting this game in its completely pre-alpha state was just to see whether or not it was fun for people without all of the additional features, random events, polish, and so on that I would eventually add for a proper release. I wanted to get feedback immediately on the absolute core mechanics, and this route has already proven invaluable for that.

I'm basically planning on keeping the game live and updated daily for the next couple of weeks while I work on some additional core functionality (and the multitude of bug fixes that come from rapid design and development), and then I'll take the game down and focus on getting from alpha to release. I'm very interested to see how well this open early development phase works out. 

You can try the game now at its home on (which I just learned about recently and am quite fond of):

If you play it and like it or hate it, feel free to leave a comment here or e-mail me at [email protected]

And, of course, a more recent screen shot:

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