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Read December 09, 2011, 07:02:26 AM #0
elroid

Newb seeking help before beginning

Hi, first of all I would like to apologize for my poor grammar in English... I am interested in developing shmup game, but I have fairly decent knowledge in programming a game as I only knew how to use Flash (AS2) and I am aware that Flash isn't very suitable for developing a shmup as it could not handle large amount of bullets in game... Hence I am seeking guidance for direction of where and how should I start.

1)What compiler/engine would be recommended to be used for developing a shmup game?
Is it better for me to create my own game engine so I could have full understand of all the functions and controls so it would be more benefit for me to reuse the assets if I were to continue to develop more shmup game?

2)Is it okay for me to develop a shmup game if my skills in playing it is poor?
Actually my confidence is a little weak because my skills are fairly poor as I haven't been able to clear most shmup games without relying on continues and bombs even in Normal difficulty. However, as a game designer a believe I understand what elements/mechanics make those games I have played fun and I have also watch many replays of different games in past years so I am at least confident for the knowledge I have for shmups.

3)For starters, do I have to consider the aspect of scoring system when I design the game?
So far, I had a rough idea for the game I'm planning but I have not considered how to implement the scoring system into the game as I think I would be satisfied if the game is completed and fully workable. However, I am also aware that scoring system means a big deal in a shmup game so I need advise on this too.

4)About assets
when I am prototyping the game, is it okay for me to leave out the art/graphic assets until I have completed the game? I could create the assets the bullet that are used in the game but other than that, stuffs such as background, character sprites are really difficult to do I am planning to leave it be and refine them later by requesting help from my friends or maybe learn to draw myself otherwise if the request failed.

I also managed to obtain the sound effect assets from some Japanese free music websites. However regarding the background music, is it okay for me to use the musics that are obtained from various sources such as albums, soundtrack of game/anime, etc. Although I dont plan to use the finished product for commercial purposes, I would like to host or put a download link in my blog so that my friends or anyone who visits it could play the game. Hence, I would also like to consult opinion about this too...

5)Recommend my some resources please?
I am still browsing through this Assistance forum to look for more information bookmarking tutorial and links that I think are useful. I just read this "C++ Startup Thread" and right now I am considering developing the game in C++. However, since I have not started so if there is any better suggestion I might change my decision. Anyway, it would be helpful if anyone could recommend me some resources so it would be easier for me to look for them Cheesy

I think that is all for the questions I currently, and I would be really thankful if you could help me out. Anyway, nice to meet you all!
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Read December 12, 2011, 01:05:31 AM #1
kdmiller3

Re: Newb seeking help before beginning

I'll try to answer a few of your questions:

1a) I'd recommend looking into something like GameMaker for prototyping so you can focus on making the game rather than making the program.

1b) If you're set on using C or C++, Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 Express is about as good as it gets when it comes to free.  (I'm a professional game developer and use Express at home since it's hard to justify spending $800 for a bunch of features I'll almost never need.)

1c) I'd look into SDL (C), SFML (C++), or Allegro (C) as far as game libraries go.  For higher-level level libraries/engines, you could try IndieLib, Angel Engine, Monocle, and so forth; I can't vouch for any of these since I haven't tried them myself.  Wikipedia has a big list of game engines that would be worth perusing to find one that meets your needs.

2a) That didn't stop me, so don't let it stop you.  Grin

2b) You seem to have a good handle on analyzing the core play mechanics, both hands-on and by watching expert players.  You'll want to start simple and add more complexity as your programming skills improve, especially as you learn the language.

3) Score is meaningless unless the game itself is fun, so focus on the flying-around-and-shooting part first until you're happy with that.  Then you can build up a scoring mechanism that rewards skillful play and encourages risk.  When it comes down to it, score basically adds a "metagame" that gives players a reason to keep coming back even after they've won.

4a) Solid-colored rectangles or geometric shapes on an empty background should be fine while prototyping gameplay, just enough to tell game objects apart.  Basically, don't put too much time or effort into it until the game has solidified.

4b) The same goes for sound effects.  You can use SFXR (or its AS3 port) to whip up some placeholder sounds even though they might not be appropriate for your final game.

4c) Using copyrighted music without permission would be a copyright violation even if you don't plan to make money from your game.  You'd most likely get away with it unless your game became popular enough for the copyright holder to notice, but it's still a violation.

5) I'll leave that to others.  Smiley
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Read December 12, 2011, 07:11:24 AM #2
elroid

Re: Newb seeking help before beginning

Thanks for replying! Really appreciate that you have taken your time to read my lengthy questions and answered many helpful advice! I have decided to use Game Maker to develop the game, would be thankful if anyone could give me some support and guidance when I encounter problems.

 I hope I can create something which everyone will enjoy.
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Read December 13, 2011, 05:58:32 PM #3
kdmiller3

Re: Newb seeking help before beginning

Glad I could help!  Smiley

(C++ is worth learning, though, so don't give up on it entirely.)
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Read December 13, 2011, 10:36:43 PM #4
elroid

Re: Newb seeking help before beginning

yeah, I agree on that. But when I think about it rationally, I am doing the game as my college project which only has 1 year time to spend. I'm considering to do so after I graduate though.

Currently I have a question regarding control scheme and would like to ask about opinion about it.

1)The control scheme I plan to make involves more buttons than most shmups I had ever played as mine has 6 buttons whereas most of the games I played uses around 2-5.

a)My plan is to use the button A,S,D to allow the user to switch into respective weapon mode. The initial design is only 2 buttons which only has Next or Previous mode but I think splitting each mode to individual button would be better.

b)Z,X,C are used for shoot,bomb and focus. However, I'm still lost in thinking up a design for focus mode. Is it okay if the focus mode to only allow the player to move at a slower speed without changing the attack pattern? Alternatively, I have thought of increasing the damage but in what ratio do I scale the damage? I tried to think of methods such as allow focus shot to have a benefit of increasing damage depending on the distance between the enemy. However I think there are still flaws for these methods but I'm not sure what are they though... Furthermore I still haven't started the programming and stuffs so the implementation might come to another aspect that needs to be considered...
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Read December 15, 2011, 04:40:43 PM #5
kdmiller3

Re: Newb seeking help before beginning

Player-controlled weapon selection is relatively rare in shmups but direct access should work better than sequential access given the number of weapons.  The difference will become even more pronounced if you add more weapons.  There's no reason you couldn't offer both control schemes as options, though.  (That would be analogous to PC first-person shooters which often let you select weapons directly with the number keys and switch to the previous and next weapon with Q and E or the mouse wheel.)

I've run across a few variations of focus/slow.  Some have it only affect movement speed so the player can precisely navigate the dense clouds of bullets typical of "bullet hell" shooters.  Some alter the player's shot pattern, but it's not a requirement.  Some combine it with the fire control so holding fire starts focus mode.  If you do choose to make focus-mode shots do more damage, I strongly suggest that you make them look different so it's obvious to the player.

As an example of the combined fire/focus mode, take a look at Donpachi/Dodonpachi.  Tapping fire shoots a burst of normal shots.  Holding fire slows the player ship and fires a concentrated energy beam well-suited for attacking boss ships--the very case you are most likely to want precise movement.

The main advice I can give here is to try different variations to see what works for your design.  Prototyping is all about fast iteration, and don't expect to get this right the first time.
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Read December 17, 2011, 07:47:01 PM #6
monoRAIL

Re: Newb seeking help before beginning

I use Torque2D for my games. If you just want to make 2D games it's a great way to get a head start as you don't have to worry about developing the engine. If you want to make 3D games take a look at Unity or UDK. There's a downside to using an engine - you're restricted to what the engine is capable of, and you have to use its pre-existing toolchain, but they can help you get your prototype up and running a lot quicker.

You can also buy a license with the complete C++ source code for Torque, so if it doesn't do what you want you can just modify it.
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