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Read January 02, 2006, 12:26:59 AM #0
solidcube

Freeform Shooters and Replayability

Hi.

The thing I miss in shooters of old is that there was some degree of freedom involved in the gameplay.  In modern shooters-- especially SHMUPs-- you're on a track, driven forward.  There is very little strategy to the gameplay, only shooting, avoiding increasingly frenetic barrages of shots, etc.  The gameplay doesn't change from one session to another-- it's just the same.  "Skill" in a given game consists of memorizing patterns of enemies and the shot patterns of bosses.

With very little extra effort, you can write a game similar to a Gauntlet type game, offering tactics, freeform gameplay and replayability not seen on rail shooters.

The thing is this-- those games are great for the arcade owner because they reward compulsive quarter spending over the lunch hour of the Japanese sarariman.  But for home console play and computer play, I question the format.

Look at a game like Diablo II and the difficulty of programming such a thing, just for a single player game.  Not so much different from a polished, market-ready SHMUP I wouldn't think.  And compare the depth of play and the staying power: Diablo II was released in 00 and the servers are filled with players 6 years later.

I'm no virgin to SHMUPs.  I've finished Dodonpachi, Battle Bakraid, Bat Rider, Blazing Star, Batsugun, Dogyuun, Truxton...  you get the idea.

These are great games, and fun en masse at home with emulators where you have hundreds of games to choose from.  But I'd never pay a dime for any of 'em.  Even a game like Battlezone has more strategy than any of the games I listed-- the simple nature of the 2D map as opposed to the 1-dimensional rail is what makes the difference.

SHMUPs are from a different age, and the form was born because of the design constraints enforced by twig-primitive hardware and market realities of 1980s video arcades.

Times have changed.  Unless you're doing it just for love, maybe you gents should consider spending your programming efforts on a slightly different format.  Add monster generators, random maps and a sin/cosine lookup table.  Offer score rewards for risky gameplay.  The freeform-map  format is also much better suited to competitive net games.

Just my $.02, but that's what I'm doing...
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Read January 02, 2006, 02:50:58 PM #1
Olofson

Re: Freeform Shooters and Replayability

I think you have a point. I love the atmosphere and mindblowing artwork of some of those japaneze masterpieces, but these days, the gameplay isn't all that exciting, and replay value is limited at best.

How about some sort of crossbreed between Kobo Deluxe (similar to Bosconian) and a traditional vertical scroller?


//David
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Read January 02, 2006, 09:48:51 PM #2
solidcube

Re: Freeform Shooters and Replayability

Yeah, see, I was kind of thinking about Bosconian too for some reason.  It was a shooter, and had all the action of its contemporaries, but you could go wherever you wanted to. 

The engine I'm working on right now is going to turn into a sort of 'tank gauntlet' where you're trying to wipe out six or eight enemy generators in a maze, with powerups, increased numbers of enemies and enemies that have modular weapons so as to add even more variation.
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Read January 04, 2006, 02:30:25 PM #3
paladin

Re: Freeform Shooters and Replayability

in the case above, it seems a large play area would be logical... but how would you launch enemies in a situation like that?  would you want to always launch the enemies in front of the player no matter where the player was, or have the enemies situated ahead of time on the play area?


needs more particles...
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Read January 04, 2006, 03:00:30 PM #4
Bursar

Re: Freeform Shooters and Replayability

If it's like Gauntlet with tanks, then some kind of bunker/hanger/platform that the enemy tanks emerge from would probably be best. You can dot them around your level much like the enemy generators in Gauntlet.

You could even have a repair tank that trundled around fixing up the enemy spawn points after the player has destroyed them. But maybe only make it appear if the player is taking too long on one level (or you feel like giving the player a really hard time!).
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Read January 04, 2006, 10:47:16 PM #5
kemical

Re: Freeform Shooters and Replayability

..you listed ones you've completed, but have you completed them on only one credit, or even without ever dying at all?

there is no point to playing shooters if you are going to credit feed through the game and then be done with it.
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Read January 05, 2006, 07:06:23 AM #6
Nexic

Re: Freeform Shooters and Replayability

Quote
Look at a game like Diablo II and the difficulty of programming such a thing, just for a single player game.  Not so much different from a polished, market-ready SHMUP I wouldn't think.  And compare the depth of play and the staying power: Diablo II was released in 00 and the servers are filled with players 6 years later.

First off I would think something like Diablo II would take a hell of a lot more work than any shoot em up. Next, as an ex DII fanatic, I would say the main attraction is the player interaction, and the RPG format. ie. leveling up and getting more powerful. The Diablo II skill system is pretty good, with a ton of different character possibilities, and without that I doubt many people would play it.

But you do make a good point, it would be nice if we began to evolve our shooters in this direction. There are a lot of possibilities out there to be tried, but there aren't many who want to risk trying them.
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