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Read December 29, 2005, 12:49:26 AM #0
Matt McFarland

What makes a shmup addictive

I've been thinking this over for the last few days.. Trying to come up with key factors required to ensure the game is addictive!! 

Here's what I thought up.

1) It's easy at first - Get the player used to the controls, and how the game feels.

2) Rewards - Give the player rewards (even if they are just visuals) for doing things.

3) Secrets - Put some hidden things in the game that players discover on accident (another type of reward)

4) GUI - Make the game have a fancy GUI, they're just plain fun to use!!!

5) Eye Candy - Have lots of different looking levels and enemies, this makes you want to see what's next!!
« Last Edit: December 29, 2005, 01:01:07 AM by Matt McFarland »

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Read December 29, 2005, 02:56:18 AM #1
Olofson

Re: What makes a shmup addictive

Well, I'm not sure this applies to much extent to the "fixed attack waves" style of shmups, but I believe one of the factors that makes XKobo addictive enough that I decided to port and refurbish it is the element of simple strategy. Although the enemies in Kobo are really rather predictable (most of them are just trying to crash into your ship), going defensive or offensive at the right moment can make a big difference.

For example, if some base throws lots of "boomerang" ships at you (these fly off, making big circles around you, and then start closing in), you can either wait and hope you can escape the shrinking ring of (indestructable) bullets they'll form around you when they return - or you can fly off right away and hunt them down one by one.

Now, in a game with constant scrolling and fixed attack waves, there is obviously limited room for this kind of logic -  but even there, there are usually sweet spots from where it's a lot easier to take out certain attack waves.


//David
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Read January 01, 2006, 06:15:51 PM #2
postman

Re: What makes a shmup addictive

After thinking back to what I've been playing recently, here's some I can add to your list:

1) Crazy bullet patterns:  After playing tons of shmups, if I see a bullet pattern that stands out, it will draw me back into the game (syu-so-gyouku does this). Also I love the feeling right after dodging a well laid out bulletstorm, so a game that's crafted to force me to do this will also keep me playing.

2) Great scoring system / net ranking:  I love competing, so any shmup with a great score combo system that forces me to push a little harder will always see playtime (Gradius 5 - even though there was no combo system......Cavadius makes up for that though)

3) Creativity in any form: Make some really cool bosses, give me a new play system like R-Type or Ikaruga, or a new graphical style like the techno Thunderforce 5 final levels......these tricks always get me.

4) Challenge: Not "poorly developed game" type challenge, but honest "I didn't dodge well enough" challenge. Don't allow me to beat your game the first play through........


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Read January 02, 2006, 08:07:48 AM #3
TheColonial

Re: What makes a shmup addictive

2) Rewards - Give the player rewards (even if they are just visuals) for doing things.

I agree with giving rewards, but hurling arbitrary rewards at the player can have a detrimental effect IMHO.  One example were the "treasures" that you find at various points while playing Return to Castle Wolfenstein.  The point of them was....Huh? "You've found a treasure!"... well whooopdie dooo!!! Smiley I can't do anything with it! It's not something that's on screen and is ray-traced real-time for maximum realism Tongue so what do I care Smiley

I'm all for rewards, but actually make them feel like part of the game, or make the player feel like it's important for them to have them.  Otherwise they suck!

Matt, I'm sure this is the kind of reward you're talking about.. i just thought i'd throw this in  laugh1  Roll Eyes

Cheers
TC.


In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion.
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Read January 02, 2006, 03:41:50 PM #4
Olofson

Re: What makes a shmup addictive

One example were the "treasures" that you find at various points while playing Return to Castle Wolfenstein.  The point of them was....Huh? "You've found a treasure!"... well whooopdie dooo!!! Smiley I can't do anything with it! It's not something that's on screen and is ray-traced real-time for maximum realism Tongue so what do I care Smiley

Well, those RTCW treasures have one use, sort of: when you're about to leave the map, you can see if you found all of them. Sometimes, I just feel like trying to figure out new ways of playing a map, and then just finding a secret area is a sufficient reward. (The first time I find it, at least - then it's pretty much worthless.) That's a completely different style of playing, though (like speedrunning, trickjumping or whatever), and assuming that all players play like that all the time (or at all, in fact) is not going to result in great games.

Good old Doom had the same secret area idea (and most modern engine ports will tell you right away when you've found one) - but there, you'd actually find something useful in each of those areas, so you'd be more motivated to look for them when you were crawling around with blood all over your face, almost out of ammo. Knowing secret areas gave you an edge, and some even had exits to secret levels.

And, I love that feeling of a game having areas you aren't really supposed to be in. Sort of like circuit bending - and in fact, I find the Real Thing really interesting too. That is, getting to places that you actually aren't supposed to be in, doing stuff that the designers never intended. Of course, it's best when you can do it without using any cheats.


//David
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Read January 04, 2006, 01:10:45 PM #5
Matt McFarland

Re: What makes a shmup addictive

Yeah, but I think that giving players medals in their profile for beating levels at hard, etc would be fun.  Collecting the medals could show your profile online too against other players you're competing with.  It's like a score, I'ev always thought scores were pointless too.  Different thing is that with a score you can compare it to other people, just like medals.  I'm probably going to have medals in my game for different things, but I know that the medals themselves aren't going to be the reason people play. It'll be just something extra for those who like to collect things Smiley


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Read January 08, 2006, 05:11:51 PM #6
solidcube

Re: What makes a shmup addictive

Depth of strategy is what makes games interesting for me.  That's why I tend to get sick of a given shmup quickly.  But in games where there is strategy-- even on the level of Gauntlet-- that's what draws me in.  Memorizing attack waves leaves me pretty much cold.

The thing I like about manic shmups like Dodonpachi is the energy of them.  That and the graphical complexity and style.  But those things don't make the games addictive for me.

Bakraid was interesting because of the wide variety of ships and weapons, and the minigame of medal collection which makes the game a bit more complex-- but even that left me cold soon.  To be interested for any length of time in a game, I need it to be isometric with a two-dimensional scrolling map.  Sidescrollers don't do it.
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