ProtoGalaxy was designed heavily around making the Editor versatile so that users could design shooter games in a variety of styles. Classic features of shooters are present, such as scrolling obstacles and multiple weapon choices, as well as some more original features such as a gravity beam and puzzle solving. The behaviors presented in the official campaigns aren't necessarily the same behaviors that will be found in user-made campaigns.
Players control their ships with standard WASD movement and aim with the mouse. Movement and aim can be independant of scrolling direction.
The game does not differentiate between singleplayer and multiplayer, so any player can hop into any mission with a friend. Whether a campain adjusts to the number of players or not is up to the map makers. Each player has their own independant resources and can customize as they wish. Their customizations will still be there when they return to the same host at a later time.
Over the course of a mission, players will pick up money dropped from enemies. This can be spent in the Shop to buy new components and change around what is equipped. At the base of all equipment is the player's hull. It will have its own base stats (except for damage), and several empty slots of three possible sizes. Multiple hulls are available, each with their own areas of focus for equipment. Hulls usually have one slot each of Engine, Shield, and Battery. Engines can boost speed or agility, shields boost maximum health or base health regeneration, batteries boost maximum weapon energy or energy regeneration. Most hulls have many slots for weapons, and those slots can also be used instead for passive Artifact stat-boosting equipment. All equipment adds weight to the ship which can reduce a ship's speed.
All weapons fall into one of 7 categories that define their behavior. Most weapons cost battery to use, and cannot be used for a while if the battery is depleted. All shots enemies fire are classified the same as players' weapons and share the same properties, although are generally weaker.
- Turret: This is the basic bullet weapon, and the only weapon type that does not use battery. It can be fired infinitely, but the damage it does is pretty low. Turrets have more variations than other weapon families, but most larger versions just fire more bullets in an increased spread.
- Missile: Costs a high amount of battery to use, but does high damage and splash damage that can clear a cluster of enemies easily. The speed of the missiles are rather slow, but overall ease of use is high due to how quickly it can destroy enemies.
- Fireball: They bounce off of objects and will increase then decrease in size over their lifetime. The firing cost is low, and it won't kill your primary target too quickly, but the chances of it hitting other targets is pretty high. The fire-and-forget weapon of choice. Fireballs will block basic bullets.
- Laser: Lasers fire a steady beam that penetrates through targets. After initial activation cost, the laser continues to drain battery while it is held. It consumes battery somewhat rapidly and connot be used in excess, but is very powerful.
- Shock: An area-of-effect weapon than damages all enemies in a small radius around a player. While the initial activation cost is a bit high, continued cost is low. It is best used for prolonged periods of time rather than reactivating it often. Damage is good, but its short range puts players at risk.
- Wave: Fires a wide curved shot that steadily increases in size as it travels. When it hits an object, it splits and refracts off the target to potentially hit others. Its damage and cost are medium, and it is easy to use. Wave shots block lasers, cutting down their length.
- Nano: Not technically a weapon, but is used like one. Nano equipment when used creates a small circle that regenerates the health of everything in its area. This includes the user, allies, and enemies. Nano is regarded as standard equipment that would be put on most ships for survivability.
Physics and the gravity beamEdit
ProtoGalaxy features a full physics system where any object with inertia that collides into another object, inertia will be transferred to the target. That is, a player that runs into an enemy will bump the enemy out of their original path. Damage from collisions is also present, so high-speed impacts could be used to destroy enemies. This is turned into a weapon with the presence of the gravity beam. All hulls come with the gravity beam by default, it is not something equipped. Any free-roaming object can be grabbed by a player then moved around as desired. Thus a player could grab an asteroid to fling into an enemy, or grab an enemy to use as a shield. When an enemy is grabbed, they become susceptible to other enemies' attacks, and their own attacks will change color and start damaging enemies, effectively becoming the player's weapon while they live. Some projectiles can also be grabbed and flung, such as missiles and fireballs. How well an object is controlled by the gravity beam is influenced by the object's weight. A player can easily fling a small asteroid, but its damage won't be great. A large asteroid can be tugged and set into motion, and could potentially wipe out an entire wave of enemies, but shifting its direction won't be easy. Such a large object can even tug the player along with it. It is entirely possible for a player to go into battle with no weapons equipped, and fight well using only the gravity beam. The gravity beam is also an important part in a lot of the game's puzzles, such as dragging found keys to their proper locks.
While a player is playing campaigns released by Source Studio, they should keep in mind that they were created 100% with the game's Editor. Anything done there can be done by a player, plus plenty of other possibilities. The majority of designing a campaign lies in placing objects (which includes enemies) and working with triggers. Triggers are the method of programming in the Editor. They are simple phrases with variables a player can choose from a list, so players don't have to handle any actual programming languages. With the exception of winning and losing, a player can create a functional level without using triggers at all. However those and a few other basic functions are included by default so they wouldn't have to be worried about. Triggers in more advance usage can dramatically alter gameplay from its natural design as is demonstrated in the ProtoDefense game.