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 Post subject: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 4:21 pm 


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Joined: 28 Jun 2015
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Location: London, UK
Hi there :wink:

I'm Attilio, game director at Himeki Games, a game studio based in London.

Our first game, An Oath to the Stars, is a dramatic danmaku SHMUP inspired by Ikaruga, Dodonpachi and ProGear.

Image

Today we've published our Reveal trailer and created a Steam Greenlight page. It would be great if you could take a look and share your feedback, we've really put a lot of work and love on this :)

Here's the link: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/f ... =631521991

If you'd like to know more about the game and the development, we started a dev-blog at day-one. It's pretty cool to see how we got from zero to our trailer! Here's the link: http://himekigames.tumblr.com/

The game is currently about 70% into development, so any feedback to make it better would be highly appreciated!

If you like the game, please make sure to up-vote and spread the word, would mean a lot to us!

Cheers!
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Follow updates on our current project, Hoshi he no Chikai (An Oath to the stars) - http://www.himekigames.tumblr.com


Last edited by AttilioHimeki on Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 6:38 pm 


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I remember reading from this when it was just starting, glad to see its development has gone along nicely.

Some quick comments from the trailer: bullets tend to blend a bit too much with certain backgrounds, maybe you should increase the contrast between enemy bullets and backgrounds overall just to make patterns easier to read. Also it would be nice to see more bullet types with varying sizes.

The trailer leaves me guessing with enemy and pattern variety. All the popcorn and bigger enemies in the trailer tend to appear and move alike and almost all attacks have similar motifs, consisting from simple circles and spiral patterns. It looks passable but also very rigid. Same thing goes with UI and explosions/other effects, everything looks very clean, almost sterile. It could some energy, like small animations or subtle screen shake, something that makes things pop out more.
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 Post subject: Re: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 7:28 pm 


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Ebbo wrote:
I remember reading from this when it was just starting, glad to see its development has gone along nicely.

Some quick comments from the trailer: bullets tend to blend a bit too much with certain backgrounds, maybe you should increase the contrast between enemy bullets and backgrounds overall just to make patterns easier to read. Also it would be nice to see more bullet types with varying sizes.

The trailer leaves me guessing with enemy and pattern variety. All the popcorn and bigger enemies in the trailer tend to appear and move alike and almost all attacks have similar motifs, consisting from simple circles and spiral patterns. It looks passable but also very rigid. Same thing goes with UI and explosions/other effects, everything looks very clean, almost sterile. It could some energy, like small animations or subtle screen shake, something that makes things pop out more.


Hi, Thanks for your feedback and I'm glad you followed us!

We're currently about 70% into development, one area we're looking to improve is VFX, as we may use some variations of what we currently have, and we're looking for a VFX artist to help us on that.

The level we've shown in the trailer is a custom one made for this demo, that's why you don't see too many variations on the bullet patterns. We'll spend the coming months designing and polishing all stages and release another gameplay trailer later on.

Initially the UI had some nice art, but we felt it was drawing too much attention from the main game area. We wanted to keep it as clean as possible to avoid distraction from the gameplay. We'll reconsider it depending on feedback, so thanks for mentioning that!

Also, we've got a couple of comments about the contrast in other forums, so this is definitely an area where we'll work on to improve :)

I hope you enjoyed the game and the trailer, and will support us :wink:
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Follow updates on our current project, Hoshi he no Chikai (An Oath to the stars) - http://www.himekigames.tumblr.com


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 Post subject: Re: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2016 2:16 pm 


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Hey Attilio! Nice to see you here :wink:

In case somebody is wondering: Attilio and I know each other a little bit since a while and we already talked about each other's games occasionally...

1. As I told you already, I also agree that the backgrounds tend to blend with the bullets a little too much but I'm convinced that you'll address this issue.

2. The HUD clearly needs some love - everything else is so colorful and well-crafted that it makes the HUD almost look out of place (which is a waste in my opinion).

3. It's hard to tell if I misinterpret this but it seems that there's no indication how "powerful" the laser is, depending on how close you are to an enemy. I'm not saying that it's absolutely necessary but I think it would be nice for the player to roughly see (or even hear?) how much damage it is dealing.

4. I also think the VFX could be cranked up a little bit. It's cool how it is right now but I agree with Ebbo: It could use some more energy.

Obviously, I can't say anything about audio but I'm really curious how your game sounds :)

Apart from these aspects, I think your game is coming along nicely. I'm totally digging the character design (which could probably make a good decoration for the rather empty looking HUD, by the way) and I also like the overall style.

Keep up the good work and keep us posted about any news.

Have fun!
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 Post subject: Re: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Mon Feb 29, 2016 11:53 am 


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VDK_Chris wrote:
Hey Attilio! Nice to see you here :wink:

In case somebody is wondering: Attilio and I know each other a little bit since a while and we already talked about each other's games occasionally...

1. As I told you already, I also agree that the backgrounds tend to blend with the bullets a little too much but I'm convinced that you'll address this issue.

2. The HUD clearly needs some love - everything else is so colorful and well-crafted that it makes the HUD almost look out of place (which is a waste in my opinion).

3. It's hard to tell if I misinterpret this but it seems that there's no indication how "powerful" the laser is, depending on how close you are to an enemy. I'm not saying that it's absolutely necessary but I think it would be nice for the player to roughly see (or even hear?) how much damage it is dealing.

4. I also think the VFX could be cranked up a little bit. It's cool how it is right now but I agree with Ebbo: It could use some more energy.

Obviously, I can't say anything about audio but I'm really curious how your game sounds :)

Apart from these aspects, I think your game is coming along nicely. I'm totally digging the character design (which could probably make a good decoration for the rather empty looking HUD, by the way) and I also like the overall style.

Keep up the good work and keep us posted about any news.

Have fun!


Hey Chris, nice to see you here as well!

Thanks for your feedback, as mentioned before the contrast and UI keeps coming up in comments, so we'll definitely address that :wink:

Regarding the laser (and VFX in general), we're talking to a couple of VFX artists to improve on that aspect as well. I agree, the laser needs to show clearly how much damage you're dealing, and that it gets more powerful when you get closer. This is our core mechanic, so we'll definitely work to find a good solution.

if you're interested, we're also having a Reddit page and we've got a fair amount of questions about the game, here it is https://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/commen ... reenlight/
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Follow updates on our current project, Hoshi he no Chikai (An Oath to the stars) - http://www.himekigames.tumblr.com


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 Post subject: Re: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2016 9:06 am 


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Hi everyone!

We've just published a new batch of screenshots for the game. We've listened to all the feedback we've received during the campaign, and made some changes accordingly.

We've got a new, much cooler in-game UI, increased contract for the bullets and reduced DOF for the background.
We're also showing multiplayer mode for the first time :D

Hope you'll enjoy those, please send any feedback you may have! You can find them here: http://himekigames.tumblr.com/
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Follow updates on our current project, Hoshi he no Chikai (An Oath to the stars) - http://www.himekigames.tumblr.com


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 Post subject: Re: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 3:39 pm 


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We've just released a new trailer for the game. You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPBw_OJB-rg

I hope you'll enjoy what you see, please feel free to share feedback and opinions! :wink:
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 Post subject: Re: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 7:24 pm 


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The UI improvements look great, much more fitting than before. The background screen shake effect needs some fine tuning though. The way shaking just starts and ends immediately without any transition during the laser attack looks very jarring especially since the effect is very strong. I also find it a bit strange that while lasering causes shaking, none of the enemy explosions seem to have that effect.

I also think some boss attacks could use better telegraphs. For an example at the 0:40 the boss' bullets seem to just spawn out of thin air. Just a pet peeve of mine but I always appreciate it when the designers go for the extra mile of contextualizing bullet spawn points at least in some way whether it's turrets/magical circles/energy spheres etc.

Keep working on it!
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 Post subject: Re: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 10:28 pm 


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I like the game's look, but as has already been mentioned in the interest of bullet visibility you'll probably want to (at least include the option to) either mute the backgrounds a bit or make the bullets flashier.

Any chances of a demo/beta for this? If you're looking for more in-depth criticism, that's the best way to get it. :)
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 Post subject: Re: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:38 pm 


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Thanks for the feedback!

@Ebbo: Glad you liked the new UI. Good point on the screen shaking, I'll experiment a bit with some easing and possibly reduce it a bit.
Some bullet waves are still work-in-progress, so I'll keep your advice in mind.

@BulletMagnet: This was actually one of the point of the previous trailer, so we've worked on improving contrast, adding some shadows to the bullets etc. I'll see what else can be improved!

Yep, the next milestone for us is to release a demo and get some real feedback. Hopefully it will be ready by the end of the month, I'll keep you updated. Also, I'll start bringing it to indie meet-ups around London and the UK, so if you are around just give me a shout!
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 Post subject: Re: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 1:12 am 


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As promised, I've just finished and uploaded a game demo on itch.io!

You can check out the game page and download it from here: https://himekigames.itch.io/oath-to-the-stars

Please make sure to share your feedback, either here or by email at feedback@himekigames.com
We're at the final stage of development and looking to improve and polish the experience before the release, so every opinion helps :idea:
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 Post subject: Re: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:11 am 


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Enemies can become invincible.
I've had this happen 4 times. It seems to happen when I'm being cocky and getting in too close to the first popcorn enemies and then the big enemy that turns up just stays there forever and I have to restart.

https://gfycat.com/InferiorDirectGoose

I like it, it reminds me of space moth in that you can't be flying all around the screen like a tit, you have to lead bullets and do a little tap dance shuffle to sidestep them.

The end of level boss, I find the first attack pattern to be harder than all the others, when you're shooting the core, you have to keep stopping and lead the bullets to the sides more, if others agree, it might be an idea to put that last. The last one with the wavy bullets, it's a lot easier to find a safe spot and dodge them.


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 Post subject: Re: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:23 am 


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clippa wrote:
Enemies can become invincible.
I've had this happen 4 times. It seems to happen when I'm being cocky and getting in too close to the first popcorn enemies and then the big enemy that turns up just stays there forever and I have to restart.

https://gfycat.com/InferiorDirectGoose

I like it, it reminds me of space moth in that you can't be flying all around the screen like a tit, you have to lead bullets and do a little tap dance shuffle to sidestep them.

The end of level boss, I find the first attack pattern to be harder than all the others, when you're shooting the core, you have to keep stopping and lead the bullets to the sides more, if others agree, it might be an idea to put that last. The last one with the wavy bullets, it's a lot easier to find a safe spot and dodge them.


Hey!

Yep, that sounds like a bug, I'll fix it and upload a new version shortly, thanks!

Glad you liked the general feeling. Yeah, I had a similar feedback for the boss from other users, so I'll either swap them or make the first phase a bit easier :wink: Just for reference, what difficulty were you playing on?
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 Post subject: Re: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:28 am 


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 Post subject: Re: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:48 am 


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Menus could use some quality of life improvements. It feels strange you can only use start button as a confirm button and some options such as amount of lifes can be only cycled through by tapping the same button multiple times. Selecting difficulty has to be confirmed by another button press and at times it's hard to tell what option is being highlighted etc. Small gripes but ironing these things out can add that extra polish you guys are looking for.

Now for the actual gameplay itself. Don't want to sound too harsh but my initial impressions are kind of lukewarm. Everything seems serviceable at the face value and that's where it kinda ends as well. Enemies and patterns feel downright bland on a closer inspection, like it's lacking some serious punch. This isn't something I can really pinpoint and say "fix this and that", it's more to do with the overall flow of the stage design and the way enemies behave. I can tell you were inspired by Dodonpachi and the likes of it yet your game isn't quite capable of showcasing a keen understanding of what really made those games "go" from the very beginning. Take the player's laser weapon for an example. DDP has a very small, deliberate pause when you start holding down the shot button before the laser actually fires along with more focused movement and cool after-image effect, all of which lends this satisfying weight to the weapon. In Oath to the Stars laser fires instantly after pressing button and tapping the button repeatably combined with the background shaking effect gives it pretty janky feel. Lasering doesn't affect your movement speed which seems almost an oversight since it makes dodging some of the more dense patterns unwieldy.

Again, don't want to sound too much of a defeatist and I'm not saying these things can't be worked out - just that it might take some time and some hefty amount of elbow grease to get the game from okay to something special. The groundwork here is solid enough that it can be made.
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 Post subject: Re: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:05 pm 


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Ebbo wrote:
Menus could use some quality of life improvements. It feels strange you can only use start button as a confirm button and some options such as amount of lifes can be only cycled through by tapping the same button multiple times. Selecting difficulty has to be confirmed by another button press and at times it's hard to tell what option is being highlighted etc. Small gripes but ironing these things out can add that extra polish you guys are looking for.

Now for the actual gameplay itself. Don't want to sound too harsh but my initial impressions are kind of lukewarm. Everything seems serviceable at the face value and that's where it kinda ends as well. Enemies and patterns feel downright bland on a closer inspection, like it's lacking some serious punch. This isn't something I can really pinpoint and say "fix this and that", it's more to do with the overall flow of the stage design and the way enemies behave. I can tell you were inspired by Dodonpachi and the likes of it yet your game isn't quite capable of showcasing a keen understanding of what really made those games "go" from the very beginning. Take the player's laser weapon for an example. DDP has a very small, deliberate pause when you start holding down the shot button before the laser actually fires along with more focused movement and cool after-image effect, all of which lends this satisfying weight to the weapon. In Oath to the Stars laser fires instantly after pressing button and tapping the button repeatably combined with the background shaking effect gives it pretty janky feel. Lasering doesn't affect your movement speed which seems almost an oversight since it makes dodging some of the more dense patterns unwieldy.

Again, don't want to sound too much of a defeatist and I'm not saying these things can't be worked out - just that it might take some time and some hefty amount of elbow grease to get the game from okay to something special. The groundwork here is solid enough that it can be made.


Hey,

No problem, I appreciate honest feedback and that's exactly what I'm looking for with this demo :wink: I'm still working on it so there's plenty of time to implement improvements.

You're right, Dodonpachi was one of the main inspiration for the game, along with Ikaruga, but level design and balancing still need polishing and tuning, so it's good that you mentioned it.

I'll need to play DDP again to check the small delay before the laser, I'm not sure I remember that.
I was considering adding a slowdown effect while you're using the laser and at some point I actually had it in the game, but I'm still not sure about it as I didn't want to slow down the action, but I'm open for it so I'll keep experimenting.
Also interesting point about tapping the laser button, I'll experiment some ways to avoid that, thanks!

What did you think about the enemies variety? Do you feel there's too much repetition or there's a healthy amount of different enemies?
Also, what did you think about the boss?

Another thing I'd love to have feedback on is - the game doesn't have a super-power to clear the screen, as a deliberate choice. I never really liked them in other games as it feels a bit like cheating. It would be great to have some feedback on this.
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 Post subject: Re: An Oath to the Stars
PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:40 pm 


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AttilioHimeki wrote:
What did you think about the enemies variety? Do you feel there's too much repetition or there's a healthy amount of different enemies?
Also, what did you think about the boss?

Hmm, I think many of the smaller enemies felt too similar in their behavior (rushing towards player, shooting aimed bullets). Bigger enemies had more variety going on but the way they moved and were positioned in the screen made all the waves blend together. Ultimately the problem may not necessarily be related to variety, I feel it has more to do with the progression of the stage. Some enemies like the worms or laser shooting drones were hardly utilized in an interesting matter. For an example you could first introduce the worm enemies in a relatively safe manner and after that have more worms appear from both sides of the screen (obviously their patterns/behavior would require some tweaking but you get the idea).

I wasn't a big fan of the boss' gimmick since it prolonged the battle quite a bit. The patterns really started to overstay their welcome. Maybe the destructible parts could act as a way of milking the boss for some extra points but would also increase the intensity of the attacks for some risk-reward dynamic?

AttilioHimeki wrote:
Another thing I'd love to have feedback on is - the game doesn't have a super-power to clear the screen, as a deliberate choice. I never really liked them in other games as it feels a bit like cheating. It would be great to have some feedback on this.

I'm totally cool with this approach. That being said the laser seems like it's lacking something in this game. It doesn't feel particularly interesting "tool" since it just offers some extra damage when compared to regular shot.
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