It’s all about the Lives

Next Jump is a reinterpretation of the shmup genre into a tactics game.
Two of the pillars of shmup genre (and how they were translated into a tactics game) were already adressed in previous posts about movement and score. Today, another important feature is going to be approached: lives  – or, in the case of Next Jump, the lack of lives.

Next Jump Eject 1.jpg

The Eject system.

The concept of “lives” is traditionally included in shmups, probably because they were born inside an arcade cabinet. In that sense, I have spent months thinking about ways to implement a “lives mechanic” (one of them involving creating a series of complex systems to “find pilots in the galaxy”). But I didn’t like any of the ideas I had: actually, I hated them.
One day I was re-listening a podcast I really love called “Roguelike Radio”, the episode was a discussion about FTL. At a certain point they say: “…in FTL you are the ship”. That’s when I had an idea: to implement an eject system.

In FTL, a game that also influenced Next Jump, you are (effectively) the Ship. You are not the captain or another crew member. You ARE the Ship. The game only reaches its end state when the ship explodes or all crew members die. You can feel like the captain of the ship, but this character resides inside your mind and not actually in the game. In Next Jump, on the other hand, you are not the Ship – instead, you are the pilot: your “reputation”, name, scrap… Everything is tied to your character. When the pilot dies, all is gone. So I thought: A classic thing on Sci-fi is everyone on a (dying) ship trying to escape, to eject. Why not do this in Next Jump?


That’s how the Eject system was born!
The ejection is possible (for a price) whether the hull of the ship is low and the pilot surrounded by shots or the player simply wants to change ships. When ejected, the player loses all Scrap contained in the current ship, the ship itself (that explodes) and its upgrades. After the ejection, the player is prompted with a “Rescue Call”: If there is a positive Scrap Bank balance (yes, the player have a bank account besides storing scrap on the ship itself), then it’s possible to ask for another Ship for 900 scraps. If the player doesn’t have 900 scraps, a new ship will still be received but the bank account goes to a negative balance and another ship can’t be requested until the debt is paid.

And that’s the Eject system.
Thanks for reading, I would love to answer any questions.