It’s all about the movement

Movement is crucial in shmups. Planning the steps to be taken according to the position of enemies and their shots is one of the most important and difficult things to master this kind of game. As shmups happen in real time, the difficulty comes from managing all the information regarding shots and their movement patterns.

Next Jump is a reinterpretation of the shmup genre. As such, its movement mechanics had to be very carefully thought and tested. Because it is a turn-based game, rather than a classical real time shmup, the players have plenty of time to observe and decide their next move. Therefore, if the movement mechanics doesn’t work, nothing else does.

Thousands of things went through my head during the development of the game – almost all of them demanded a superhuman programming ability which I don’t have. For that reason, I did what I always do in these cases: I turned my eyes to the classics.
In this case, Checkers (or english draughts) and Chess.

Checkers is an interesting case study because it’s a game where movement and attack are combined in the same action. Better than this: you can form “combos” using these “attacks” (best known as “multiple jumps”). Such simplicity inspired the main mechanics of movement and action of the game:


Situations like this “naturally emerge” in the game.

In NEXT JUMP the ship has some attributes, among them the Batteries, which are the ship’s energy reserve. This means that each action the player does will cost energy, in a similar way to the classic “action points” of turn-based games. Thus, both movement and attacks cost energy, and when the energy reserve ends, the player’s turn also ends. But that’s not where the inspiration from Checkers came from.

In the above GIF, we can see that an enemy, when destroyed, releases two things: Scrap (“money”, the rotating space dust) and Energy (the blue ball). By picking up these “energy balls”, the ship recovers at least part of its energy reserve, enabling movement combos. Now add to this equation the following: The number of turns that the Ship has inside a “jump” is limited to three. This makes each move very valuable, specially in a game where “score” and “scrap” are so central to the gameplay loop.


Okay, the basic movement mechanic is this. But there was something else missing: an “incentive” to make the player think about movement during the attacks. That is where I introduced the concept of “recoil”:
Most weapons, including the basic ones of each ship, have a “forward recoil” or a “backward recoil”. This means that every attack is ALSO a movement. To illustrate, as seen in the GIF above, when the Balista shoots, it also moves backwards. These two mechanics, added to the procedural “Shmup Boards” generator, makes the movement itself a series of interesting decisions. In addition, they also guide the rest of the design, such as different enemies (and their movement / attack patterns), Ship types (there are four) and the environments of the Boards (Solar Wind, Nebula, Meteors… to name a few).

I hope you have enjoyed this approach of design. In the future I will talk about the board generation and combat mechanics. I would also be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you!

Introducing: “NEXT JUMP: Shmup Tactics”

Since last years #StencylJAM15, that I won third place with “The Next Jump”, I have been working on a follow up to that game: NEXT JUMP: Shmup Tactics.

Warning: post with heavy gifs! :]


Despite following the same premise as the former JAM game, I took into account all the criticisms and compliments made to that game and rethought several of its systems and basic mechanics: As a consequence the game is much more dynamic, fast and focused on carrying the main features of Shmups for a Tactical and Strategic gameplay.


In addition, all enemies have been revised and new ones have been added (more than fifty in total). New mechanics and behaviors were introduced to then and all art was redone.


The interface has been completely revised and rethought to not only work better but also be more beautiful.

A lore was created around the hunt of the player to the mother ship. (more details on that later!)

There are up to four ships to choose from, one from each race in this universe (Elves, Humans, Dwarves and Orcs).

Here is the  (current) official description of the game:

NEXT JUMP: Shmup Tactics is what would happen if the pillars of the “Shmup” genre were translated into a “Tactics and Strategy (with a bit of a puzzle in between)” game.

  • Be a pilot of the Bastards Federation:
    A group formed by the Dwarves, Elves, Humans and Orcs who used to live in peace, sharing their love for all Beverages. One day their galaxy is visited by the vicious Dragons who fool everyone and steal all the alcohol stock of the UNIVERSE!
  • Your mission: JUMP! Chase the Dragons and stop them from running away with all that is most sacred to the Bastards by jumping from sector to sector, facing hordes of enemies in turn based battles!
  • Each Sector is a Board! Each given “jump” represents a new combat board generated procedurally, simulating combat situations only seen in Shmups!
  • Not only inspired by the classic Shmups and Bullet Hells, it’s also influenced by tactical games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Jeanne d’Arc.
  • Equip and Upgrade your ship with different weapons and accessories that change the combat dynamics!

It’s going to be released in early 2017 to PC (Linux, MAC and Windows. On Itch and Steam through greenlight). You can follow the game development here and some other places (including my Twitter):