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Read October 04, 2011, 06:24:39 PM #0
DeadlyRedCube

Procyon (in development) could use a variety of advice

EDIT: I posted a link to the demo in my next post, so I thought I'd put it here, too: http://drilian.com/ProcyonDemo/


Hey there! First I should introduce myself (as this is my first post here):

I'm Josh Jersild, and I'm currently developing a game called Procyon. I've been at it for waaaay too long (the downside of also having a full-time coding job). All of the systems are done, it's now a matter of improving the gameplay.

Anyway, I found this site and I'd love some input on some of the challenges I've been having with the game. I have some specific questions as well, but general opinions/advice/etc are also totally fine.

The quick list:

  • This is more of an older-school shooter (i.e. decidedly not a bullet hell)
  • There are two main weapons: BULLETS (lower damage, lots of them!) and THE BEAM (higher damage, one-at-a-time)
  • Additionally, there's a POWERUP button, which activates a SHIELD (protects you from energy attacks, but not direct enemy collision) as well as triples your firepower
  • Then there's the super weapon (lightning attack), that you get for killing enemies
  • The difficulty levels are ideally (but not currently) to be balanced such that you will never need your shield in Easy, will start to use the shield more in the later Normal modes, and will need to be very good about activating it in Hard

Level 1: Hard Difficulty (though it's really not hard yet)
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/xRUbKIUZ4AE" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/xRUbKIUZ4AE</a>

Level 2: Normal Difficulty
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/O1z3C0umidw" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/O1z3C0umidw</a>

Level 3: Hard Difficulty (older graphics in video)
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/3tmjJ_TepCI" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/3tmjJ_TepCI</a>

Okay, that's a pretty good indication of at least what hard looks like (with a normal video in the middle).

Known issues:
  • All of the background art is temporary (especially level 2 and the end of level 3, where the glowing makes it hard to pick out enemies and bullets)
  • The score multiplier and the lightning meter charging are terribly telegraphed
  • Lots of missing sound effects (and probably some additional visual effects)...in fact, all sounds are currently temp crap that I made very quickly

Some questions I have:

How do people generally balance shmups between single/multiplayer? It seems that adding too many additional bullets (especially in a non-bullet-hell) adds extra difficulty for both players? It seems like it would need to be different than my rather heavy-handed difficulty level changes.

I have a limited palette for enemies (due to the nature of having chosen 3D and the expense of new designs), but I have a few more models that I could use...where should I focus my attentions to add more excitement to the game?

Are there ANY references for how to do networked shmup development? I had it running a while ago, but it was too limiting on the gameplay (my mechanism made aimed/homing bullets impossible), so I backed it all out. I'm still considering adding it back.

Hmm...I feel like I had more questions. Anyway, any feedback would be most welcome.

Thanks!

Josh
« Last Edit: October 05, 2011, 04:48:45 PM by DeadlyRedCube »

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Read October 04, 2011, 09:57:32 PM #1
lazerblade

Re: Procyon (in development) could use a variety of advice

Welcome to Shmup-Dev!

Gee, the game sure looks pretty. I'm pretty busy ATM, so I can't answer your questions just yet. A demo we could try would definitely help us give better feedback, but that your option.
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Read October 05, 2011, 06:15:50 AM #2
LorenzoGatti

Re: Procyon (in development) could use a variety of advice

How do people generally balance shmups between single/multiplayer? It seems that adding too many additional bullets (especially in a non-bullet-hell) adds extra difficulty for both players? It seems like it would need to be different than my rather heavy-handed difficulty level changes.
With two ships like the one in single player mode, you should increase (not necessarily double) the number and the hit points of enemies because two players have more or less twice the firepower; this, however, alters level design completely, since players can cover both sides of the screen rather than only one, align to take down a certain target very fast, cover the whole front of the screen with spread shots that, in single player mode, would let some enemy through, etc.
Dodging difficulty isn't mitigated by collaboration: a given bullet pattern is equally easy or impenetrable for any number of players. The only thing collaborating players can do to dodge bullets is shooting down enough enemies to clear a safe path.

A different approach is having players share a single ship (same raw firepower as single player mode) with complex controls (allowing players to use it more effectively).
For example, one player could pilot the ship and activate shields and bombs, while the other could move around a crosshair and shoot appropriate weapons at it (instead of shooting forward).
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Read October 05, 2011, 04:47:37 PM #3
DeadlyRedCube

Re: Procyon (in development) could use a variety of advice

With two ships like the one in single player mode, you should increase (not necessarily double) the number and the hit points of enemies because two players have more or less twice the firepower; this, however, alters level design completely, since players can cover both sides of the screen rather than only one, align to take down a certain target very fast, cover the whole front of the screen with spread shots that, in single player mode, would let some enemy through, etc.
Dodging difficulty isn't mitigated by collaboration: a given bullet pattern is equally easy or impenetrable for any number of players. The only thing collaborating players can do to dodge bullets is shooting down enough enemies to clear a safe path.

This sounds like a good place to start. I'll probably modify the enemy spawns as well to add extra enemies in 2P as well (though it seems that very few of these should be bullet-shooting enemies so as to not add a horrifying amount to the bullet patterns since, as you say, bullet patterns are effectively equal for both players).

Welcome to Shmup-Dev!

Gee, the game sure looks pretty. I'm pretty busy ATM, so I can't answer your questions just yet. A demo we could try would definitely help us give better feedback, but that your option.

Thanks for the welcome! This seems like a great site...I went through and read a whole slew of old "Assistance" board posts. I have more bookmarks than I did a day or so ago Smiley

Here's a link to a demo build - the first three stages of the game as they exist today.




There are almost assuredly bugs in it - I'm still in the process of stabilizing the PC version (as the game was originally targeted solely towards the Xbox 360, but I've decided that a PC release would  also be a good idea).

Some things to note:

  • The control remapping isn't complete yet - the help text will not change based on which keys are mapped
  • The one important control that the "tutorial" doesn't tell you is the lightning attack - for keyboard/mouse players, the default key is "TAB", and you can use it when the yellow meter is full.
  • Sorry about the background of level 2, it really makes the smaller enemies difficult to see
  • I have no idea what performance is like on a variety of machines. Hypothetically the game will run on any Shader Model 2.0 compatible GPU, but I can't imagine that all of them will perform well.
  • Local multiplayer is supported as long as you have at least one Xbox 360 controller to attach, but the levels are entirely not built/balanced for it, so it will be much easier than single player at the moment.

If you play the demo, I'd love feedback on anything in the game. Also, if you wouldn't mind, I'd love to know your system specs and whether or not you got good performance out of the game. It'll help me determine where the game needs to improve to run well on various systems.

Anyway, any advice/feedback would be welcome.
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Read October 06, 2011, 04:38:23 PM #4
Metarex Master

Re: Procyon (in development) could use a variety of advice

This is certainly a cool little game you have coming along. I liked the third boss a lot, for it doesn't just fight you directly, but it forms a ring around your ship's area, restricting movement and shooting lasers everywhere. Kinda reminds me of this one boss in Radiant Silvergun, but different.
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Read October 08, 2011, 06:17:42 AM #5
DeadlyRedCube

Re: Procyon (in development) could use a variety of advice

This is certainly a cool little game you have coming along. I liked the third boss a lot, for it doesn't just fight you directly, but it forms a ring around your ship's area, restricting movement and shooting lasers everywhere. Kinda reminds me of this one boss in Radiant Silvergun, but different.

Thanks Smiley That boss is probably my favorite (except perhaps the last boss which I don't have any video of quite yet).
Glad you think it looks nice. Hopefully it plays nice (it's hard, after a couple years, to have any sort of objective feel for the game anymore).

Thanks again!
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