Procrastinated a response since I knew it needed to be lengthy, thank you all for the comments though. Remember that talking to an amateur dev / (wannabe nerd) about their game always triggers a release of endorphin's in their brain.
Also fixed some visual bugs in title screen, tightened up timing, and added a transition to the current debug/testing room. I think it looks a bit better now.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUh81KfJ12Q
Fun fact: the transition of the particles/fireflies outliving the title screen was originally a bug/oversight. But it looked MYSTICAL AS FUCK YO so I straightened it out and polished it into an actual intentional effect.
where bullets aren't immediately cancelled, but they get pushed back
Yeah, Akashicverse has a beam weapon similar to that as well, gradually reversing the motion of bullets. It's something else I considered as well.
I've reached a point where I think the soultion needs to be an "outside the box" innovation from my usual thinking, rather than a simple refinement of the ranges/speeds/hitboxes, so I'm basically just trying everything and trying to be as experimental and playful
as I can. Gunning on that eureka moment (what I usually do when I'm stuck).
For the sort of fast-paced gameplay you're going for, I think slowing down bullets in an aura would be a very bad thing to do. It would cause the bullets to cluster together around you
But the thing is that this is during judgment/hyper mode, and the dynamic between shooting and dodging changes during its brief activation period.
The two themes of the game are "speed" and "destruction", and judgment is when destruction comes into its own: with attacks that slow your movement but have cancel properties and fill the screen with precisely aimed but all consuming fiery annihilation.
The emphasis on macro dodging and normally fast movement actually works well with that so far: creates a lot of tension to keep yourself slowed down in front of shit trying to cancel in time (I'm actually really happy with how Judgment 1 aka guwange 'ALTER' turned out, I'll probably post a video of both in enemy overload debug room when I'm done with em both).
The thing I dislike the most about Eschatos is that even with the shield I can't dash through bullets as confidently as I would like, because I have to check whether the bullets have been erased yet.
Funny thing is, the original playstyle of Flame Thrower was kinda similar to this in conception:
You basically activate Judgment (2nd version, since that's the flame thrower one), at which point you're usually at the bottom of the screen. You got a speed boost while not using the flame, but move slowly when using it. The challenge is to dash forward and kill all the enemies at point blank range before time runs out, using the flame sporadically to slow down the incoming bullets and read a path through them in order to get close enough.
Due to a lot of reasons though, including how iffy this actually played out in most circumstances, I had to rework the idea. Working on a new dynamic for the flame thrower. I'm hoping I can keep a semblance of the original manic vision within a more balanced and consistent framework.
been playing a lot of Raiden Fighters and finding the charge shots a letdown too for similar reasons - you have to stop shooting to fire, which can make you vulnerable during the charge time.
The other thing that makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable with them in Raiden Fighters is that I never feel really clear whether they do more damage or not, and when I should be using charge or rapid for dps.
Then again I don't understand how scoring works in those games so I'm probably playing all wrong ^_^
Ps: Deliberately vulnerable charge periods can work for a tactical game. I think R-Type is the crowning jewel of this. My game charge time is extremely short, more just an input method of performing melee (akin to holding for laser in Cave, input time is hold for 20 frames before release) and adding some rhythm to play. There's no vulnerability to it, you continue to fire while holding the button down until its fully charged.
I wonder how a special shot would work tied to a fixed Giga Wing esque timer? More reliable recharge than say having to build it up by shooting enemies like in Gunbird/Strikers, with maybe a fraction of invulnerability time (less than DFK hypering) but also inherently tied to score so it has either a survival or scoring purpse? Like, instead of a reflect shield, it's the flamethrower, and using it generates special medals or something? By giving it a brief period of invulnerability it can be used at long range for safety, or can be used up close where it's riskier but actually useful for scoring/damage (maybe score earned tied to how close you flame things?).
Ah yeah, the Judgment mechanic in general is evolved from pretty much this idea.
At first it started out very similar to what you said: A recharging special weapon that would be better for survival if used defensively,
One of the biggest inspirations was eXceed 2nd-Vampire Rex. A nice little spin on Ikaruga where doing risky maneuvers to absorb clumps of bullets
gives you more bombs, and spending them instantly to speed kill bosses (leaving yourself open to difficult patterns) instead of holding onto them for safety gives you a lot of score.
Given the mechanics and general playstyle here though, it was too hard to constantly provide genuine risk/reward opportunities on a weapon that was by definition more powerful than your default shot and
that offered additional defensive benefits. As a result, it ended up evolving into Judgment: a hyper mode that grants you a bonus and greater destruction if you use its unique weaponry to kill all enemies currently on screen before time runs out.