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In Order of Appearance:

  1. Health (small and big) – The original design for this did not exist in DX-Ball because the concept of ‘health’ did not exist in DX-Ball. Whenever the ball would hit the bottom of the screen, the player would simply lose 1 life. The game starts the player with 2 lives. Lose all of your lives, and it’s Game Over. The player could, however, find extra lives, but they were very rare. I decided to change this idea into a Health System instead of a lives system for a few reasons. First, in the original game, losing a life felt very punishing, especially since the player had no idea when the next one was coming. Unfortunately, due to the nature of RNG, some players may find several extra lives early on, while other players can play their hearts out without ever finding one. By giving the player health Boons, I was essentially giving them ‘partial’ extra lives. Another reason for the change was that, in later levels, I wanted new ways for the player to take damage. Things like lasers, fire, and certain curses could damage the player, adding another layer of challenge. Finally, since a Game Over would only reset the player’s current level (rather than start the game over from the beginning), it didn’t make sense to have lives. Lives would carry over from level to level in DX-Ball. Instead, I decided it would make more sense to reset the player’s health to 100% at the start of each level, and make sure each level was a bit more challenging than its DX-Ball relatives.

  2. Expand Paddle / Slow Ball – Expanding the paddle and slowing down the ball worked perfectly fine in DX-Ball, so I didn’t change too much about it. Since each level is a bit longer in Brek than it is in DX-Ball, I increased the number of incremental changes in both paddle size and ball speed.

  3. Detonate Bricks – This power-up works the same in Brek as it did in DX-Ball, except instead of destroying all of the explosive bricks at almost the same time, I added a delay between explosions to make the effect more theatrical. Furthermore, unlike the classic counterpart, this power-up will never drop if the level contains no explosive bricks!

  4. Fireball – This was one of my favorite abilities to use in DX-Ball, though it was a bit over-powered. In DX-Ball, Fireball would permanently make your ball explode on impact, instantly destroying all nearby bricks, regardless of their health. In Brek, I decided that the Fireball would do less damage than a direct ball impact, and would end after a certain number of hits.

  5. Make Explosives – This power-up was inspired by the “Multiply Explosives” power-up in DX-Ball. Originally, if there were any explosive bricks on the stage, it would create 1 additional explosive brick in all four compass directions. While extremely powerful on levels with existing explosive bricks, it was completely useless on levels without any. Between this and “Detonate,” a huge opportunity was missed in DX-Ball. In Brek, I decided instead to convert up to 5 bricks on the current stage to explosive bricks, randomly. This would then give utility back to the Detonate Boon as well.

  6. Laser – In DX-Ball, lasers were extremely over-powered because they effectively turned the game into Space Invaders, except the Invaders don’t move. Lasers were a permanent upgrade and were as powerful as the ball. To bring them down a notch in Brek, each laser only granted the player 25 shots. Additionally, each shot would fire 1 laser instead of 2, and would deal half the damage of the ball.

  7. Multi-Ball – Multi-Ball in DX-Ball worked perfectly fine with the only issue occurring when the power up was obtained. When the additional ball first spawns, its trajectory felt random and, sometimes, this would cause the player to immediately lose their new ball. I made sure that whenever an additional ball spawned, its trajectory was always up and away from the paddle, potentially giving the player a bit more time to react.

  8. Heavy Ball – Bricks in DX-Ball sometimes had ‘health,’ making them take more hits to take down. There were two power-ups used to combat this. The first was a ‘Thru-Ball’ upgrade that made your ball fly through bricks, instantly destroying them and not changing the ball’s trajectory in the process. The second was ‘Zap Bricks,’ which would reduce the health of all bricks in the level to 1. Both of these upgrades felt extremely powerful with no middle-ground alternative. Instead of making an alternative, I decided on a completely different Boon to fight the same problem. Thus, I added a Boon that would increase the damage of the ball by 1.

  9. Curse: Poison – DX Ball had red power-ups that would drop from time to time. These are what I ended up calling “Curses.” The most common curse was an insta-death. I used the same philosophy with this curse as I did with the extra lives. I didn’t want the player to take such a huge hit from a single item, so I decided to add a Poison Curse. This curse would deal damage to the player over time. If the player is able to acquire health while poisoned, the curse is removed.

  10. Curse: Shrink Paddle / Fast Ball – I used the same philosophy for these curses as I did with their Boon counterparts. I didn’t need to fix what wasn’t broken; I simply made these curses slightly less effective than their DX-Ball equivalents.

  11. Unused Upgrades – There were four upgrades from DX-Ball that were not implemented in Brek because their design didn’t make sense in Brek. The first was a level skip upgrade which was removed, of course, because I had no intention of allowing players to skip levels. The second upgrade was a magnetic paddle upgrade that would allow players to grab the ball with the paddle instead of bouncing it, giving them increased control. I felt like this upgrade slowed the fast-paced action of the game to a crawl, so I decided not to bother with adding it in. The third was ‘falling bricks.’ This was actually a great curse in DX-Ball, but because of the way some of the levels were designed in Brek I didn’t think it would work as well as it did in DX-Ball. The last upgrade was also a curse that would shrink your ball. I didn’t feel like a smaller ball really made the game any more challenging, so I didn’t bother implementing that curse either.

  12. Original Concepts – Surprisingly, all of my original concepts for pick-ups ended up being curses. The first was a slow paddle curse. For a short period of time the player’s paddle would move sluggishly. The second was a ‘Glitch’ curse, in which all of the bricks, as well as the player’s ball would disappear and reappear randomly; making it slightly more difficult to see the board. The final curse was a ‘Drunk Ball’ curse, which would cause the ball to unpredictably change directions. Sometimes this could be helpful, but usually it sends the ball into the abyss.

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