The first area in Stage 5 was an attempt to do a more realistic feeling level. I mapped out huge areas of rooms, hallways, and elevator shafts that don't actually exist in the game, but I wanted to get a feel for how everything would connect together if it was a real place.
The extended map briefly appeared in one of the cutscenes. The Path Vela shows you is also not the actual path you end up taking.
The side scrolling area was the first big test in applying what I had learned so far making the game. I feel it worked out great, and this is one of my favorite areas in the game, and a nice big Contra homage. The bugs that popped up here were insanely annoying though. One part was attempting to spawn an enemy that didn't exist in the code, and would end up blocking other enemies from spawning.
The generator section is probably my favorite area in the entire game. The conveyor belts create an urgency to always keep moving, and when you run through the entire area without stopping it just feels great. The whole thing feels like a little Mega Man level to me.
The initial idea for the outer space area was actually a platforming area where you'd jump between some sort of scaffolding and falling off would be deadly. This general idea ended up getting transferred to the generator area, and the space area became the zero gravity part.
A very simple enemy, but remarkably effective at what they do, the wheels are one of my favorite enemies in the game. They guard platforms well in the cramped elevator areas, move erratically on conveyor belts, and toss out the occasional aimed shot to really keep the pressure on.
Originally these guys only fired on hard mode, but when adding in Challenge Mode, I made them shoot diagonally. Liking the change as a very small difficulty increase, I applied it to normal mode as well.
Although I intentionally put no flying enemies in the first area of the stage, when I got to the generator area I realized I really needed some. I didn't reuse the floaty flying enemies from before though, and instead made two very straight-forward and mechanical feeling enemies.
Around this time, I was playing a lot of Left 4 Dead, and a friend jokingly said that I should put a zombie enemy in the game. This ended up making me think of the boomer, and inspired the Boomer enemy in the game, an enemy you would rather avoid than kill... or at least that's how I thought it would work.
The way these enemies moving on the conveyor belts was a glitch at first, they were ignoring the movement for some reason. After I fixed it, I realized I liked it better before, and gave them a special exclusion on the basis that they were hovering over it.
Similarly, these enemies spend most of their time in the air, giving them a natural immunity to the conveyor belts. They're based off the big-eyes from Mega Man.
Initially this room only had a few soldiers just standing around in it, but that felt too simple, and looked weird having Avior and Vela spend the entire stage shooting at them. I created the dropship mini-boss to highlight the two big advantages of the machine gun, clearing out smaller enemies that are grouped together, and hitting large enemies multiple times for big damage. I actually had to make the machine gun do less damage to the dropship, each bullet was hitting 3 or 4 times, doing an insane amount of damage.
Once again, this is a boss that was put into the game simply since it felt like it had been a while without a boss. I quite literally reached this point in the stage, not having ANY ideas for one. I wanted to make something that would play off the two layer area the player was currently in, and eventually decided on the twin ships that would alternate their attacks. Since they fly, they aren't connected to the background in anyway (unlike the walker in stage 2) which allows the fight to be somewhat dynamic, you can kill either ship first, and you can alter their attack pattern by getting too close to them.
Too many of the bosses have totally flat arenas, and this boss was a direction reaction to that, by throwing in moving platforms out of nowhere to mix things up. Why I didn't go with a conveyor belt I have no idea...
This boss was going to be the one that gave you the machine gun upgrade, but that was before the zero gravity section was planned. Switching the player to the one gun that can't be used to move yourself around in that area would've been a terrible idea, so the upgrade was delayed one boss.
Oh Polmire, everyone's favorite boss! Funnily enough, this one was designed by a friend of mine. The original base idea:
Maybe a fight setup around the premise of having to knock a boss back into some kind of electric fence to shut down its defenses.
You get some shots in, it gets back up in full defense again till you can knock it back again.
Every time it takes a step, when it stops it briefly opens an eye you can shoot to knock it back.
Something along those lines, but knocking him back all the way is only half the battle!
he gets faster every time too, so with every time you shut the defense down and do damage and it gets back up and the cycle is faster.
Since this was originally going to be a scaffolding-ish platforming area, I placed the boss here in my notes, thinking you would shoot it off a platform instead of into an electric fence. Of course then I made it into a zero gravity area, but kept the boss anyways, so the gravity randomly comes back before the boss, oh well. I made the boss a very unusual white/beige color to try and highlight the bright red eye, so people would know to shoot it. The machine gun shots between phases were just thrown in an a weak justification for the boss giving you an upgrade, he wasn't going to have anything to do with it originally.
Octahedron's original colors. He was changed because while consistent with most of the other enemies in the stage, he wasn't supposed to be. Those were GPF bots, and this is a Mizar designed one. As for the boss itself, he was one of the most complicated and frustrating ones in the entire game. Eight different hit boxes, multiple life bars, guns that can be destroyed in any order, tons of code involved in how to proceed if any gun is destroyed, and even a few special cases where an attack will abort if a gun is destroyed in the middle of it. He's about 50 layers of headache, but I was happy with the result at least.
The Mizar encounter at the very end of the stage was redone once, the original didn't feel video gamey enough. I really wanted to trick the player into thinking she was a legitimate boss, and doing that meant keeping her attacks simple.
Stage 5 ends with Carina being captured, which isn't something I really wanted to do story wise, but it was needed to set up gameplay elements like losing her weapons and working together with Avior to escape.
In the initial rough plan where Carina didn't get captured, Stage 5 would've ended earlier, and Stage 6 would've opened with a shooter area instead, with the GPF leading a huge assault on the Hunters base. Could've worked, but I'm happy with how the stages worked out as they are now.
The zero gravity area was a huge landmine for annoying bugs. It was of utmost importance for people to not get stuck inside the spikes, so I had them not give you any invincibility time when hit, but beta testers still managed to get caught on them a few times, causing instant death, so that was removed. The spikes were also changed to only try and push you back once on initial impact. The spikes reverse your momentum, but if you got hit twice, the second hit would fling you back towards them, creating an impossible to escape loop.
The current code does have one big flaw. If you shoot on the same frame as you get hit, there may be no opposite direction to push you in, so you stay inside the spikes, and the game no longer keeps trying to push you out.
This led to a few exploits which I fixed asap.
But it is still possible to pass through non-critical spikes, if you're willing to take a lot of damage.