A few tidbits. First, I'm going to borrow a laptop. So I might actually be able to get some work done on my game, at least on the plane rides, if my concentration holds.
Second, I wanted to talk a little about the visualization in the game.
I wanted to take advantage of everything I've learned about how the eye and mind perceive things. Primarily to enhance the ability of the player to track and react to patterns - I want players to be REALLY GOOD at my game, not in terms of beating it, but in terms of keeping up with an absurd number of bullets.
One of the problems I ran in to early on was pattern mishmash. For example, I found that when I had two types of enemies which pump out bullets, it's easy to lose track of all those bullets. Using the patterns I have, it's easy to keep track of - and, if possible, dodge - even DOZENS of bullets simultaneously... IF they belong to a single pattern. They move in a very natural-feeling way that can be predicted. No random sprays here.
But when two of these patterns overlap, even if each is much less complex, it interferes with my tracking ability and I die as the bullets suddenly become an unpredictable mishmash.
I solved this by color-coding the patterns. Homing patterns use red bullets and impersonal patterns use yellow bullets. I make sure to only have one type of homing threat at any given time, and I'll probably have to limit the number of impersonal threats as I gain more of them. At the moment it's just miners and spinners, who don't really interfere with each other's patterns. I'll probably change the mines to actually be some neat sprite instead of a yellow bullet, anyway.
This actually solved the problem! Now I can track two or three complex patterns, since they exist on different 'bandwidths'. I'm thinking about giving the bad guys a few other colors of bullets to allow advanced players to try to deal with four or five different patterns, but I want to keep most of the remaining colors for the good guys. Blue and green are 'good guy' colors. Yellow and red are 'bad guy' colors. And, you know, I don't think orange should count as a color. Maybe I can use PINK!
I could probably do something by using very unique bullet images - for example, flickering lights or spinning, alternating colors. Or lightning, or something. I'll have to look into it.