Developer insight: Press Space

‘Press Space’ is a game whose title is indicative of my love for wordplay; not only is the space bar on a keyboard the way to start the game (thus rendering the game’s title an instruction), but the ever-regenerating playfield of smashable rocks forces a player to keep the pressure up on clearing the area. To press space.

Press SpaceAfter developing DOWN.LOAD over the course of three days, I had been subject to a friendly taunt from a Doom community friend that they could make such a game in three hours; despite my thinking DOWN.LOAD had been developed pretty quickly. And so, I decided the gauntlet had been thrown down: I had to see what game I could make in three hours.

Atari’s classic game, Asteroids was the base. A simple enough game, I thought that by stripping it down somewhat, I could make a clone game really quickly. And what to strip? Elements I personally thought Asteroids wouldn’t suffer without; so out went lives (like Happy Turd and DOWN.LOAD before it, this was a one-shot deal), and waves, and hyperspace, and the UFOs. Leaving an endless barrage of the titular Asteroids. This, I thought, would make a distracting game that should hopefully be achievable in the short time I’d been unofficially-set.

From the beginning, I wanted to try some kind of screen-feedback effects similar to those seen in games like Tempest X³I achieved this with a bottom layer of some translucency, set to a dark colour. To me, the quick-pacing I was aiming the game to have would be complemented by such effects to further emphasis the frenetic nature of gameplay as the screen filled with smaller rocks when the larger ones were destroyed.

The game was put together without a hitch, and I re-used some sounds for my in-development game SLaVE for the sound effects. The last thing was that name; I admit, ‘Press Space’ on the title screen was nothing more than an instruction to the player to be able to start the game, but I stuck with it when I realised it also served as a pun about how the game is best played.

High score of 9760

The game saw some minor popularity among friends on social networks, and some friendly competition with scores. Feature requests came in, notably greater movement speed and an autofire function. I added these (and descreased the period in which new rocks are added to the screen from 15 seconds to 13 seconds to compensate these changes) and the game is now in a form I feel genuinely proud of. Not bad for three hours and some tinkering.

You can play Press Space on itch.io.

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