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 Post subject: Vulture Strike, develpment and updates
PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:54 am 


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Joined: 22 Aug 2016
Posts: 26
Hello.

We have been developing a horizontal shoot 'em up with time travel mechanics for some time now, it is called Vulture Strike.
Image

You traverse through 2 parallel timelines and can switch from one to the other with a button, a bit similar to how you switch polarities in Ikaruga.

You can watch the second trailer here:
https://youtu.be/kjFe1IRAews

We recently released a new version of the demo (v.0.92) that is available for Windows, macOS and Linux through Steam:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/635590/Vulture_Strike/

Some of the main characteristics of the game:
- Strictly horizontal 2.5D: there are no perspective changes, it is always from left to right.
- No player health bar, 1 hit KO.
- Precise controls, no inertia when moving the ship.
- Uses 2 buttons: fire and Wormhole. Depending on the "Vision mode" you choose, you might use a third button to expand the Vision if you chose "Normal vision mode", this third button doesn't do anything if you chose "Vision always expanded".
- 3 difficulty settings.
- Completely configurable controls, works with keyboard, gamepad, arcade sticks, both analog or digital directions can be selected for movement. Mouse controls are not supported.
- 5 language settings for all in-game texts: English, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Russian and Spanish.
- Risk-reward based scoring system.
- Standard shot and 2 powered up shot modes that are activated when the Frenzy gauge is filled.
- Online leaderboards (not in the demo).
- 5 levels (only 2 in the demo).
- Graphic configuration options.
- 16/9 fixed ratio.
- Events in game tied to frames. If your computer struggles when rendering the game and the framerate drops, the game will be slowed down, no frames will be skipped.
- Visions color can be changed by the player to make them more or less visible and more pleasing to the eye.
- Unlimited use of the Wormhole mechanic, which allows for infinite different ways to approach the levels and seemingly unlimited potential to optimize runs for high scores.

Some patterns:
Spoiler: show
Image


Detailed manual, here you can read about the scoring system in detail:
http://vulturestrike.com/manual/

I will use this thread to post minor updates and go into more detail about certain aspects of the game.
Greetings.


Last edited by Cristian_CL on Thu Jun 15, 2017 3:40 am, edited 8 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Vulture Strike
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:16 pm 


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Joined: 22 Aug 2016
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About player hit-box visibility and player shot origin:

One thing we recently updated is the player hit-box graphic, we made it uglier but more visible under certain circumstances:
Spoiler: show
Image


It obviously looks uglier now, but changes needed to be made, now the borders are darker so it generates greater contrast when Frenzy and Apocalypse modes are activated. As seen in the "Before" screenshot, we had made the mistake of having colors that were similar to the colors of Frenzy/ Apocalypse visual effects, which made the hit-box very hard to see. This was never a problem before we implemented the visual effects for Frenzy/ Apocalypse and it was an oversight on our part to not make this change immediately after the implementation of said visual effects. For now, we have decided to not add a muzzle visual effect for the standard shot to keep the hit-box perfectly visible. It is something we will keep tweaking though.
Spoiler: show
Image


All of that would have not been a problem at all if we made the player bullets/ lasers come from a different place, the actual cannon barrel for example, but there are several reasons why we decided to make player bullets and lasers come straight from the hit-box:
Spoiler: show
Image


Games of this kind demand the player to pay attention to different places of the screen and to follow different events with the eyes, which usually forces them to rapidly switch their attention from one point of the screen to another. This is specially true in faster-paced games where you often concentrate on a certain event while paying attention to secondary events with your peripheral vision [games in which you move your ship and your aiming reticle independently are even more demanding in this regard, such as Sin & Punishment]. In order to make the experience more pleasing and less stressful, some games offer a little help to allow the player to know where certain events are taking place without needing to actually switch their attention from where they are already looking. A good example is Strania. In that game, 2 long yellow lines (1 vertical, 1 horizontal) meet exactly at the center of the player hit-box, which allows the user to quickly confirm the exact position of their ship without actually needing to directly look at it.
Spoiler: show
Image


In our case, we didn't want to to that far, but we made the standard shot very fast, both in its speed to travel across the screen and its frequency, and we made it come straight out of the hit-box; by doing all that, we help the player confirm the vertical position of the hit-box (the part of the ship that actually matters) just by looking at the place they are shooting at.
At some point during development, we tried to make things that seemed to "make more sense", like having the shot come from another place instead of the hitbox; then we ran into different issues even if it looked better. For example, by leaving a gap between the player hit-box and the point of origin of your own bullets, there was a chance for very small enemy ship colliders to be placed right there in that gap, which might have resulted in very annoying situations in which you are completely cornered by an enemy ship but can't destroy it. This was a very rare and specific situation, but during exhaustive testing we actually ran into said situation in which some enemies, when positioned and rotated in very specific ways, had some part of their colliders placed right between the player hit-box and the place of origin of the player bullets.
At the end, it was the best decision to have player bullets come from the hit-box even if some players have questioned this and said it looks weird. Function over form.


Last edited by Cristian_CL on Thu Jun 15, 2017 3:37 am, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Vulture Strike, develpment and updates
PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 7:00 am 


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Today we released an updated version of our demo (v.0.91).
http://vulturestrike.com/downloads/

Upgrades include:

1 - Player hit-box has been made more visible, as described in detail in my earlier post.
2 - Damage feedback has been improved: we added a more visible visual effect when you damage enemies. This is an aspect that was criticized by players who tried v.0.9 and it has been noticeably improved. Also, explosions in general have been made more flashy, which changes a bit the "feel" of the game.
Spoiler: show
Image

3 - The destroyed version of the environment from the first level has been re-worked to appear more devastated than before; however, lighting has been tweaked in both scenes to minimize the contrast between them. This was done because, when practicing level 1 for high scores and opening many consecutive Wormholes, the rapid change in the lighting and overall brightness of the screen was exhausting for the eyes, which might cause stress on the players. So, the scenes themselves are much more different from each other now in terms of detail and geometry but the colors/ lighting were tweaked to generate less contrast. Function over form, again.
Spoiler: show
Image

4 - Player ship has been made very slightly smaller. It is now a tiny bit easier to dodge bullet clusters.


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 Post subject: Re: Vulture Strike, develpment and updates
PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 9:30 am 


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Good job on addressing all the player feedback, among other things I think the dimension switching looks a lot more professional now.
For the player shot origin, there is one more thing you can do, which is to leave the beam firing from the front of the ship instead of the center and add extra shot collision independent of the main beam just for taking care of enemies trying to sneak in, this extra collision can be either invisible or like in the Dodonpachi series there can be a laser aura effect around the ship in addition to the laser, which is still away from the hitbox.


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 Post subject: Re: Vulture Strike, develpment and updates
PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 10:10 am 


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ciox wrote:
Good job on addressing all the player feedback, among other things I think the dimension switching looks a lot more professional now.
For the player shot origin, there is one more thing you can do, which is to leave the beam firing from the front of the ship instead of the center and add extra shot collision independent of the main beam just for taking care of enemies trying to sneak in, this extra collision can be either invisible or like in the Dodonpachi series there can be a laser aura effect around the ship in addition to the laser, which is still away from the hitbox.


Thank you ciox for taking the time to check out the game again and provide feedback.
Yeah, that would definitely work. We would have to be very careful about this extra effect that is not the laser and make it very clear that it also damages enemies; otherwise it could create confusion when enemies "touch" the player ship but die before killing the player "for no apparent reason".
We will keep tweaking and trying different things.
Thank you again and have a good day.

Edit: Vulture Strike has just been Greenlit.


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 Post subject: Re: Vulture Strike, develpment and updates
PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 3:49 am 


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Joined: 14 Sep 2014
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Hi Cristian!

Just played your game while recording the screen and commenting my feelings. Check out clicking the image below

Image
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 Post subject: Re: Vulture Strike, develpment and updates
PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 7:57 am 


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Hey Sergio, that's awesome, thank you very much, it is extremely useful for us to see your gameplay.
It's a pity that you got less than ideal framerates, it is very likely because you were recording.
It seems that some things about the game are still somewhat confusing when you play for the first time! We will try to make the menus more intuitive, and by the way, the Xbox controller works fine, it can be set up in the settings, it's just that the keyboard is selected by default.

Thank you very much again Sergio.


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 Post subject: Re: Vulture Strike, develpment and updates
PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 2:02 pm 


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Cristian_CL wrote:
the Xbox controller works fine, it can be set up in the settings, it's just that the keyboard is selected by default.

Thank you very much again Sergio.


In most games that support keyboard game controllers, players don't have to make special configurations for popular controllers like xbox controller, and there is always a default usable configuration for generic controllers.
That's a standard you should meet.

On the recording the screen seems small, but when I was playing, it was full screen covering all the screen. There might be some conflict that is causing that, and that will affect whenever real youtubers (unlike me) will play your game and publish gameplay videos;
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 Post subject: Re: Vulture Strike, develpment and updates
PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 3:24 pm 


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Joined: 22 Aug 2016
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Thank you very much for your feedback.
Maybe we should make that keyboard and gamepad can work at the same time like in many shmup PC ports, instead of having to choose one or the other in the settings. That could be troublesome however if we decide to implement local multiplayer in the future. :roll:
The screen size issue might be that the screen capture software was set to capture at 1080p resolution but the game was being rendered at 720p.

Greetings and thank you for taking the time again!


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 Post subject: Re: Vulture Strike, develpment and updates
PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 5:03 pm 


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Cristian_CL wrote:
It's a pity that you got less than ideal framerates, it is very likely because you were recording.


You can make the game framerate indepedent. If it's running at 60fps, or 30 fps, or 15 fps, the speed that the bullets travel should not slow down. It's a technical aspect that in Unity is fixed using Physics2D or Time.deltaTime to move objects.
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 Post subject: Re: Vulture Strike, develpment and updates
PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 4:06 am 


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Good morning.

Today we launched the Steam page for the game:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/635590/Vulture_Strike/

There you can download the newest version of the demo (0.92). For now it is only available through Steam; it is much more convenient now cause we can release further updates there without requiring the players to download the entire thing again.

There are several improvements from the last version:
- Most enemies now have muzzle flash effects when they shoot. This was needed to help players re-direct their sight to where bullets are coming from. The effect is just flashy enough to help players see which enemies are shooting and in which direction; hopefully not so much that it becomes distracting.
- Different spark effects have had their colors changed to make them more differentiable: player bullets, which are blue, now generate blue sparks and flashes when they hit enemies; however, sparks coming from exploding enemies are still orange, and muzzle effects from enemies are orange/ white-ish. Player bullets on-hit sparks had to be made blue to clearly differentiate them from enemy bullets or muzzle effects; before this change, these effects sometimes looked like enemy fire on peripheral vision because they were of similar colors to enemy fire.
- Many balance tweaks to the levels themselves, trying to reduce dead air to the minimum; also, level 1 on very hard has been made harder than before, it was too extremely easy compared to what comes next in the very hard difficulty.
- Slightly improved lighting and environments: now the destroyed version of stage 3 looks more devastated than before and more different from the not-destroyed version (similar to the change made before on stage 1).
- Added an option in the graphic settings to enable real-time shadows for the environments; still constant 60FPS at 1080 with all settings maxed on the recommended hardware.

Those are the main improvements on the new demo.
As for the full game, we just implemented online leaderboards and are working fine so far, but we are still discussing the rules to upload scores: should we reset player scores to 0 after they hit Retry (equivalent of using a credit) or just let them keep the score but disable their option to upload the score?

We also released a new trailer in which some of the changes mentioned can be seen:
https://youtu.be/kjFe1IRAews

Greetings, have a nice day and good luck everyone in your developments!

Edit: almost forgot! If any experienced shmup player reading this is interested in being a tester for the full version of the game, please contact me, you will be modestly compensated through paypal just like all the earlier testers. Just need to have a PC which at least meets the minimum hardware requirements and describe your experience in the genre (which games 1CC, etc.) in a mail or private message. E-mail:
Spoiler: show
cristian@vulturestrike.com


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 Post subject: Re: Vulture Strike, develpment and updates
PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 3:11 pm 



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 13
Great log, i really enjoyed reading it. I actually figured out how lazy i am to log all the changes. I had the graphics guy change some enemy bullet colors and muzzle flashes/reflections yesterday but i didn't really think that would be interesting to anyone. It is to me and other devs of course, but i don't know how much the average Joe cares about that stuff.

I'll check out the demo and give you my two cents, i'm sure it will be useful!
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 Post subject: Re: Vulture Strike, develpment and updates
PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 3:35 pm 


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Thank you, looking forward to your feedback!
To be honest I don't think much of the stuff I have written here is interesting at all to the average player, but this is the development forum after all :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Vulture Strike, develpment and updates
PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 6:38 am 



Joined: 19 May 2017
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Hi, i played the demo yesterday, here are my thoughts.

I see the game is made in Ikaruga style, 3d scrolling background (which is nicely polished) and 3d enemies which also look cool. The things i don't like in that type of games (which is purely subjective since that style has its audience) is the following:

- Small number of different enemies
- Small number of different types of bullets
- No screen shake on explosions, generally lack of oomph on destroying the enemies
- Except the energy bar, boss shows nothing that it is hit

As i said, those are purely subjective and they don't really matter since they are all a characteristic of that shmup subtype.

What i like:

- Wormhole mechanic is great, unique and interesting, i was really having fun with it. I guess you had a lot of work with it since you actually need to make two levels for one
- Gameplay is challenging in just the right amount and way
- Great bullet patterns

TLDR

Not really my cup of tea, but great in its own subgenre!
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 Post subject: Re: Vulture Strike, develpment and updates
PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 2:57 pm 


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I thank you sincerely for this thoughtful feedback and for taking the time to check the demo!

I think we have to improve the damage feedback still, specially on the bosses.
I personally find camera shake annoying, but yeah, I think we have to make explosions stand out more!
Criticism about small variety of bullets and enemies is genuine too; sadly, there is not much we can do about the ships because of the budget, but we will try to add more bullet art variety.

Thank you again and good luck in your development!!


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 Post subject: Re: Vulture Strike, develpment and updates
PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 9:51 am 



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Cristian_CL wrote:
I thank you sincerely for this thoughtful feedback and for taking the time to check the demo!

I think we have to improve the damage feedback still, specially on the bosses.
I personally find camera shake annoying, but yeah, I think we have to make explosions stand out more!
Criticism about small variety of bullets and enemies is genuine too; sadly, there is not much we can do about the ships because of the budget, but we will try to add more bullet art variety.

Thank you again and good luck in your development!!


I think just a regular white flashing would be fine for bosses, don't need much. Screen shakes don't really fit into this type of shmup, but yeah, some explosion variety would be cool, if nothing, a few variations and some random exposion rotation works wonders :)

I'll be playing it some more and leave some more feedback when i find the time, it's fun and challenging, that's most important!
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 Post subject: Re: Vulture Strike, develpment and updates
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:11 pm 


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Thank you Fat Pug Studio for your valuable feedback!

Today we updated the Steam demo (to 0.93).
- We fixed a minor bug that very few people experienced related to the fade-in transition when beginning levels.
- Minor balance tweaks to level 3.
- Changed the look of the Wormhole effect. We completely removed that animated effect we had before which was weird, and instead put a more clean visual effect that actually "covers" the "border" between the timelines.

Image
Image

Luckily someone reported that weird fade-in bug because it never happened before to anyone in the team or to any of the testers!
At the end we decided to allow players to upload scores after retrying levels but reseting their score to 0 when they retry; instead of allowing them to keep the score but disable their ability to upload scores after retrying. I think it is more intuitive that way.

We will have to improve the explosions I think and the overall "flashiness" of the game, the game doesn't look very exciting and most complaints are related to that.

Thank you everyone who has seen the game or has read this thread! I hope you have a good day.

Spoiler: show
Image


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