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The Sky Below

The Sun at Night is hardly in our rear view mirror -- we’re going to be patching and supporting and porting the game for months to come. However, it’s time to start talking about what else we’re working on.

We’ve got a super secret project we’ll discuss tomorrow, but in the meantime, we want to raise the curtain on the second part of The Stray series called The Sky Below.

The Sky Below will start where The Sun at Night left off -- no spoilers here, no worries. What we will tell you is that The Sky Below is taking what worked really well with The Sun at Night and cranking those aspects up to 11. We’ll also be taking aspects of The Sun at Night that were less than unanimously applauded (hahaha) and tweaking them to better serve our players.

Tailored Gameplay

One of the things we really wanted to showcase in The Stray series is diversity in gameplay and being able to play the way you want to play. Are you a fan of methodical, measured approaches to battles? Maybe defensive tree skills are the right fit for you. Want to go in all-guns-blazing? Offensive skills are there for you. Want to circumvent barriers working against you? Utility skills are probably your go-to. You can mix and match these styles and that was one of the most interesting aspects of The Sun at Night.

In The Sky Below, you’ll take this to the next level with Laika’s Support Suits -- three distinct suits designed to amplify aspects of each playstyle. Each suit will come with a specific gun and passive ability boosts. This gives the player the opportunity to either boost their preferred method of playing or, by contrast, use a suit to boost aspects of a playstyle they haven’t built up through the skill tree.

This wrinkle gives each level a distinct feel depending on how you choose to build your Laika.

  • Laika Offense suit 1.jpg
  • Laika Defense suit 1.jpg
  • Laika Utility suit 1.jpg

Map Overhaul

One of the aspects of The Sun at Night that the design team really tried to nail was the sense of real spaces in this 2D world. We wanted buildings that could exist in reality and, in kind, we needed a map system that could display the kinds of environments that made sense to us.

This system worked in a very technical sense, but the system also created some confusion we didn’t intend. This go around, we’re creating interesting spaces without a reliance on this obsession we have creating “real” spaces. This way, our map system can remain a more straightforward 2D representation that’ll be much easier for players to follow.

Our universe is deep and dense, no reason to needlessly complicate the navigation process.

Smart Art

One of the universally-acclaimed aspects of The Sun at Night is its art. The direction, the animation, the environmental assets -- it’s all awesome. We’ll be layering more art this time around to create richer parallaxing and depth of field. We’ll also be shifting platform design to create a more tilted perspective. This is common in older 2D platformers and makes knowing what’s a platform and what isn’t much easier to discern.

In addition, we’ll be upping the amount of animation in the game. More NPCs, more background movement, etc. Just another way to make the world of Laika come to life.

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  • Launch Facility Exterior.jpg

Minor Fixes

We’re taking feedback from players and using it to create a more dynamic AI system for our enemies and bosses. By having more distinct enemies, we can make the tailored gameplay aspect of The Sky Below stand out even more than it already does.

In addition, we’ve received feedback from players about our save points and how infrequent they could be in parts of The Sun at Night. Not only are we working to patch this for The Sun at Night, but we’ll be making sure that The Sky Below has a more forgiving save system.

Target Platforms & Releases

The Sky Below, similarly to The Sun at Night, will target PC, Mac, Linux, and various consoles. We’re focusing on PS4, Vita, and Wii U at the moment. We are about 30% through the development cycle for The Sky Below -- we’re moving much faster this time around. At this pace, The Sky Below should launch around October 2014. We’ll keep you posted if that changes, of course.

One of the very best ways you can ensure the smooth sailing of The Sky Below’s development is to help out with The Sun at Night, one of the richest game universes I’ve ever had the privilege of experiencing. Vote for us on Steam Greenlight! Play the first part of The Stray’s journey via our website, Humble Store, or Gamers Gate.

We’ll be discussing more and more about The Sky Below in the coming weeks, so feel free to ask questions via Twitter, Facebook, or email.

Best,

John & The Minicore Crew