At first, I had a difficult time deciding on the final mechanics for Joint Strike. The initial plan proposed for the game was too ambitious for the time remaining in the project. Also, the initial plan I felt had departed a bit too far from the legacy of the franchise. The 1940s series had many incarnations over the past years, and with each version new ideas were introduced and old ideas were tossed away or modified in some new way. I reviewed videos and played each of the previous versions:
– 1943: The Battle of Midway
– 1941: Counter Attack
– 19XX: The War Against Destiny
– 1944: The Loop Master
Each had its own personality, but it wasn’t until I played 1941 that I felt I knew what Joint Strike would become. 1941 had the pacing and the flavor of most of the series, but also had the visual and gameplay variety we needed for our game. I had decided Joint Strike was to be sort of a love letter to the series. It was to have familiarity with all the former version, but remain different enough it could stand on its own within the 1942 legacy. I then took elements from 1943, 1941, 1944, and 19XX that would be utilized in the final product.
I did want to add one thing that was new to the series to make it different from the rest, the Range Multiplier. In previous games of the 1940s series, it was exciting and risky to sit your plane right below a target and unload all your weaponry into it. I wanted to encourage and reward this behavior. The Range Multiplier accomplished this goal. The closer you are to a plane when you destroy it the higher the multiplier applied to your score. So, if a plane is destroyed half a screen away you may get your score increased by 2x, however if you are right next to the plane the multiplier is 16x. With this system I hope we would see players taking risks to get higher scores and would get just enough small variations in score to make leaderboards super competitive.
This lead me to create a prototype in about 16-20 hours which proved out the concepts.