Dragon Rage is a fast-paced shmup, with an emphesis on changing weapon based on the enemy you’re attacking. All three weapons have a unique special ability that recharges over time.

When we describe the game to people we refer to it as “Ikaruga but with a focus on offence”. This means that instead of changing elements to defend against different shots, you change elements to attack different enemies. Match the enemy’s element with your weapon!

The Team

  • Me (Level Designer)

  • Anton Pilmark (Level Designer)

  • Petter Gunnarsson (Graphical Artist)

  • Johannes Bengtsson (Graphical Artist)

  • Jonathan Persson (Graphical Artist)

  • Lukas Svensson (Programmer)

  • Hussein Taher (Programmer)

  • Christian de Orleans (Programmer)


  • Shoot 'em Up

  • Created in 8 weeks half-time

My Contributions

  • Level Design

  • Game Design

  • Helped write the story told throughout the game

  • Playtesting

Design Philosophy

When deciding what to do with this project, we knew one thing – we wanted to have some kind of gimmick. A lot of us wasn’t very interest in the genre, and didn’t see the fun in shooting lots of small enemies without any real threat from them. But we didn’t want to be different for the sake of being different. Therefore we looked at one of the all time greats; Ikaruga.

Before we had any tools to design with, we played a lot of shmups, to understand what actually made them good. What we discovered was that it was the rythm. It was almost like designing a music-game, but without the music.


Working in a level editor

This was the first time during the school projects that all the level designers used a level editor. Most of the other groups used a program called Tiled. But we had our own editor, made by one of our programmers, Hussein Taher. With it we placed splines that we could assign to different enemies to follow. After that all we had to do was playtest, playtest and playtest some more. That was basically what we did this whole project. Place some enemies and then playtest the level to see if they fit the tempo.

We worked very much as a team. We never had a level that was “owned” by one designer. We felt that we wanted to be open with each other, and always had them available for the other to design in. That way we could both put our insight into the levels, and they flowed with each other.

 Alpha / Beta / Gold

Designing the Elements

At first we wanted four elements in the game. One for each of the main buttons on a controller. We wanted to match the element’s colors to the Xbox-controllers buttons. We also wanted the different elements to feel unique.

Red for fire – Single target attack

Green for nature – Close ranged melee attack

Blue for ice – Shotgun spread attack

Yellow for lightning – Ray attack

We also wanted the different elements to take each other out, like fire beats nature for example. But it became increasingly difficult to come up with the logic for it to work. Fire should be able to take out ice and nature, but what would lightning take out? What could nature take out?

Because of that we scrapped that idea, and decided that we would match the elements instead. Ice takes out ice, and so on. It may not make complete sense, but it was what worked best after a lot of feedback and playtesting. We also decided to scrap the nature-element, which was supposed to be a close range-attack. It would’ve taken too much of time to balance it, because when we had it in it was always either too powerful or too weak. So the A-button on the controller became a standard confirmation-button.

Closing Thoughts

This is the game I am the most proud of, that I made during my first year at TGA. We worked through together and we really worked hard to make something truly special. Even though we were some people short we made something I still can look back on and be proud of.

If I got to do Dragon Rage today, I would’ve tried to make the gimmick of the elements taking each other out work. But we took the right decision for us, during that project.