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 Post subject: GD: Hitting the wall
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 3:10 am 


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Joined: 08 Jun 2011
Posts: 478
Location: Seattle
Hello folks. I'm here to discuss a very very serious issue! Hitting a wall.

I've been playing shmups on and off for a few years now. Once a week or so I'll put a few hours in on a game I enjoy. These days I pretty much only play Ketsui, the DDP series, Futari and sometimes Muchi Muchi Pork. Sometimes I play modern games like Dark Souls or old JRPGs, but that's basically all I play...

Anyway, I've noticed a trend. I'll play a game long enough to get a 1ALL or close to a 1ALL, but hit a wall. I do notice that my runs slowly improve, but I can't ever seem to figure out how superplay runs get the points they do. I've actually reviewed replays level by level. Sometimes I can get close to scoring well on a very small section (e.g. milking the first stage boss in Ketsui). I usually do this by breaking down very small sections so I can understand how it's done. However, there are other parts that just don't seem to make sense. Perhaps it's due to a lack of visual cues of where to be, how to move, and how to shoot (e.g. scoring from 1st stage Ketsui mid-boss to the boss). I'll play these parts upwards of 20 times in a row without even getting close to a known high scoring run.

So, what's the secret? I've heard some of you guys talk about dodging as if it's not something you actually do all of the time. When I play these games, I have a general route, but my runs always differ by a handful of pixels each route. So, with that said, I'm always dodging, but I'm familiar with the patterns in those areas so I'm better equipped to dodge them. I have a better understanding of what to expect from patterns when being in position a b or c (though this gets less predictable in later stages for me typically).

Sure, I understand that natural ability does come into play, but I was wondering if there were any tips to getting past the wall. Do you have strategies for improvement besides repeating levels until you play them better and watching superplays?


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Hitting the wall
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 3:23 am 


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post a replay


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Hitting the wall
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 3:40 am 


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Joined: 08 Jun 2011
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Location: Seattle
Cool. Probably won't be able to post one today but I'll figure out how that works with SDLMame (mac) and post a level. Would be cool to see how you guys can critique on how I'm failing to optimize.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Hitting the wall
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 3:49 am 


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just post any run, maybe even savestate runs of stages, preferably as a twitch vod or a video
also say what's your goal in the game


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Hitting the wall
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 2:03 pm 


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A lot of people seem to assume they "hit the wall" once they're past the initial tens of hours in which you get the basics of a game down and improve at a rapid pace. After that point you will have to practice more to improve, but it's far from being a wall. I'm pretty sure every player will keep improving for a very long time in this genre, even after hitting 4 digit hours of playtime.
20 Attempts on a difficult strat are simply not enough to learn it. practice it a few hundred times and your results will be different.
Aside from watching replays and understanding them, aswell as the game in general, which you already seem to be doing, the only secret to getting good is practice.
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 Post subject: Re: GD: Hitting the wall
PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 5:13 pm 


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Ok. So I wrote a bash script to automate the process of recording the gameplay and fixing the aspect ratio in mame. I'm on OSX so getting the recording was a little tricky. Got my first ever gameplay recording. Made some sketchy dodges, but this is right about where I land in my score each time I play. Can't figure out how to push it further than this.

My goal is to NMNB Ketsui stages 1-5. I'm allowing myself to bomb spam the boss with this first goal. I don't really have a score goal. I just don't want to ignore scoring because it's just not satisfying to play the game that way for me.

Anyway, here is the video. It's just stage 1-1: https://youtu.be/_G3-GqUsUcM


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Hitting the wall
PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 12:33 am 


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1) Don't use lock shot after the 2 buildings with the cannon in the first half of the stage, learn how to just point blank everything after that with shot for 5s so you get 650-700 counter before the midboss instead - you want a high counter for the midboss as a general rule, then just 5 lock everything up until the boss

2) on the midboss, you killed him too slowly and missed an enemy on the left due to it, when you hit the tanks on the right before killing the midboss you didn't do it fast enough and the midboss shot the next spread shot - you get the extra enemy on the left if you kill him maybe until past the 1st frame of the blue spread appearing which seems to be the breaking point
that one enemy is worth maybe 500k alone

3) never lock the power up carriers unless they're right before the boss, they're worth absolutely nothing and only waste your chips

the stage overall is just unoptimized in general if you care about that
post more stages, stage 1 is pretty hard to fuck up at a survival level in most games


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Hitting the wall
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 7:44 pm 


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Location: Northern Ireland
I hit a wall long before I'm anywhere near a 1CC!

I believe my main problems are (I think)

1 credit obsession. I don't like save states or practice modes - even though I can see how incredibly useful they are. I have used them and have found them beneficial - but I resist for reasons unknown. I also (of course!) hate continuing. I do it from time to time but I feel cheap. I don't feel I have earned the right to see later levels. While continuing can be useful the problem is it will floor the rank so you aren't really getting a true experience. (A good practice mode can provide that of course). This means I end up getting frustrated and bored playing the same 2-4 levels of a game (I usually hit a wall level 3 or 4) What happens then is I start to believe I will never get past a certain point and a mental block is created. Level 3 of Futari is a case in point. I can get past it quite often but it still has something over me - I just don't go into the 2nd half of that level with any confidence - then I start bombing too early or worse - too late!

Commitment - this is affected by my 1 credit obsession. But I find it too easy to be distracted by other games. I don't think I'm skilled enough to switch between games - it takes me a long time to build up muscle memory.

I believe success at STGs is more to do with having the right state of mind. For me 1CCs are enough - although I like playing early levels for score. The genre requires quite a bit of discipline and maybe that's what ultimately puts me off. Because of my lack of talent it starts to feel like work instead of play.


I adore STGs - that's the problem. The feeling I get when it clicks and you can beat up a level or when you are playing and surviving right at the limit of your skill is something no other genre can give me. But I'm cursed - my love of the genre is unmatched by my talent. Yikes!


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Hitting the wall
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 8:05 pm 


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tbh if you don't stress yourself so much about "goals that must be accomplished" (like 1CCing) and just play to get better at the game a little bit at a time you'll probably have a lot less problems.. Like 1 credit a day is something pretty much anyone can summon time for. Just see it a bit as a hobby project and be mindful (play in the now, don't care about future goals or past failures etc.) and you'll be racking in clears after a while. So long as you have an analytical mindset and see the situations in the game like tiny puzzles to solve.
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 Post subject: Re: GD: Hitting the wall
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 3:58 pm 


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Joined: 24 Jul 2009
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Location: Northern Ireland
That's it - I stress far too much about it instead of relaxing and having a good time. It really annoys me when I can't do as well as I did the last time. But I have to accept that this genre just doesn't work that way - especially with my skills and the amount of time I commit. I enjoy treating shooting games as navigation puzzles. The fact that they are so damn unforgiving is both the pleasure and the pain.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Hitting the wall
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2016 12:19 am 


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Joined: 08 Jun 2011
Posts: 478
Location: Seattle
I think I've pretty much given up on playing this game seriously. The last time I got to play was when I posted that video, so what, a month ago or so?

Either way, Ketsui is such a good game and I will continue the play shmups for pure enjoyment. Who knows, if I suddenly hit the lottery and have loads of time, perhaps I'll come back to these goals.


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Hitting the wall
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2016 1:44 am 


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Joined: 09 May 2014
Posts: 219
Location: South Florida
davyK wrote:
I hit a wall long before I'm anywhere near a 1CC!
1 credit obsession. I don't like save states or practice modes - even though I can see how incredibly useful they are. I have used them and have found them beneficial - but I resist for reasons unknown. I also (of course!) hate continuing. I do it from time to time but I feel cheap. I don't feel I have earned the right to see later levels. While continuing can be useful the problem is it will floor the rank so you aren't really getting a true experience. (A good practice mode can provide that of course). This means I end up getting frustrated and bored playing the same 2-4 levels of a game (I usually hit a wall level 3 or 4) What happens then is I start to believe I will never get past a certain point and a mental block is created. Level 3 of Futari is a case in point. I can get past it quite often but it still has something over me - I just don't go into the 2nd half of that level with any confidence - then I start bombing too early or worse - too late!


this used to be me

Eaglet wrote:
tbh if you don't stress yourself so much about "goals that must be accomplished" (like 1CCing) and just play to get better at the game a little bit at a time you'll probably have a lot less problems.. Like 1 credit a day is something pretty much anyone can summon time for. Just see it a bit as a hobby project and be mindful (play in the now, don't care about future goals or past failures etc.) and you'll be racking in clears after a while. So long as you have an analytical mindset and see the situations in the game like tiny puzzles to solve.


this was the solution


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Hitting the wall
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2016 1:46 pm 


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Joined: 24 Jul 2009
Posts: 228
Location: Northern Ireland
yeah. I reckon you are right. I am not an STG savant but I do have a certain amount of talent. I can usually pull off pretty precise moves and can react pretty well. However I have no consistency. I do believe it is a matter of state of mind. It is vital that enjoyment is the aim - not 1CCs or high scores.

I have found that on returning to a game after a break and not expecting to do well I more often than not have done pretty well - so lowering expectations is probably a key thing.

Consistent play is another - play every day if you can - even 1 or 2 credits. Being smart in planning your routes so that you minimise heroic reactions and navigations too (of course that's where high score risk taking starts to appear but at my age 1CCs are more than enough).


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 Post subject: Re: GD: Hitting the wall
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2016 11:37 am 


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Location: Denmarku
I'm definitely on the same page as davyK

When I pick up a game, I play it intensely working towards a goal. However, for truly challenging games, such as most shmups it is very rare for me to get close to my goals. Initially this goal would be the 1cc, but for games that really caught on to me, such as Cave's shooters, I end up focusing entirely on the scoring system and how to optimize my score - before I'm even able to finish the 4th stage. It's the same thing every time. In the end I end up being able to neither get a good score nor 1-all before getting distracted by the next game.

Recently I've been able to try focusing more on just playing for survival, and I feel that I should start picking up some of the more complex scoring games and just play them for that. The "1 credit a day" mantra is definitely something I should keep in mind.


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