Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Shootering - Ho ho!

I got a lot of good responses to my earlier post. Darius - you're still posting on Haloscan. Can you tell me how, so I can make it impossible?

Darius: Ikaruga I'm familiar with. It's half fun, half really irritating. At the moment, I'm not looking to make something that complex. I'm trying to keep the game dynamic 'pure' - one play action. If I went the Ikaruga route, I would have to nix guns and use pure shield-swapping.

textual harassment: Wow! rRootage is the most interesting shooter I've seen in a while! I am now going to discuss it with myself. Feel free to chime in, everyone.

First, I'm not sure what the quality of the programming is in rRootage, but I get some pretty pathetic slowdown at high bullet counts, and it doesn't give me back memory when I quit. That, however, is not a game design thing, just an irritating technical thing.

But there are a lot of interesting choices they made. I don't know whether they INTENDED to make these choices or not. I'll contrast and compare my ideas with theirs.

For example, they made the decision to have one big boss instead of waves of enemy followed by a boss. This isn't a bad decision, but it is an important one. That means that dodging is dying. If you aren't shooting, you're not advancing. One of the features of most shmups is that you can just WAIT until the enemies leave the screen, to deal with the next wave. In fact, many shmups have timers on the boss, so you can just wait them out, too.

I like this feature and plan on keeping it. The power of this feature is that it is a built in level of 'slack'. In rRootage, once you start to get overwhelmed, you either STAY overwhelmed or DIE. In a game where enemies are transient, if you get overwhelmed you know that if you can just ride out this wave, you'll be able to break into the 'clear' and take on the next.

Also, the transient enemies allow you to put in a clear feeling of progression by simply making the next wave a bit harder, or of a different enemy. There are moments of silence between waves of waves, and there are moments of fevered pitches. Generally, boss fights have no such 'sine wave' of tension, which is necessary for extended play.

Another thing rRootage did - perhaps by simple necessity of manpower - is that they didn't have any kind of gun progression. Again, for a short game, it's not necessary to receive power-ups. For a longer game, it's the cheapest way I can think of to allow for significant PAC manipulation. Every new gun radically changes the game's dynamic and gives the game a feeling of progression and accomplishment.

The last major difference I can think of is that rRootage and I are taking dramatically different approaches to filling the screen with bullets.

rRootage's primary method of allowing the player to dodge is by making the screen VERY LARGE. Your ship is TWO PIXELS WIDE. This means you can see the bullets coming from a 'long ways out' and are small enough to dodge into unlikely holes. Then they fire so many bullets that the game becomes, essentially, a terrain-navigation game.

But almost all of their bullets are of the same type: a stream from a particular location at the top of the screen. These radial attacks are certainly nothing to shrug about, but they turn the whole game into a flat, bizarrely noneuclidean version of Tempest. All of your dodging orbits around the single, multi-noded enemy.

My method is unlike rRootage's in that I DON'T have an excessively high grain and I DON'T rely wholly on radial assaults. This produces a very different feel.

But rRootage is very fun! It's just not a game which has a whole lot of staying power because of the lack of variation in the pattern.

Essentially, it boils down to this: rRootage is like my game, but my game has Pattern Adaptation Control systems to extend and control play.

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