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 Post subject: Shoot em up Metroidvania Style!! Demo Inside :)
PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:52 am 



Joined: 11 Mar 2017
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Hello! We just released the demo of a game on Square Enix Collective that we have been developing for a while, it's MetroidVania style but the difference is that this Metroidvania is a Shoot 'em up!
https://collective.square-enix.com/proj ... t-apolion/

We need players who like Metroidvania games, to get feedback: is the game easy? difficult? it's fun? What is boring in the game? What we are looking for is to improve the gameplay and improve the game as much as possible to make it fun.

The bases of the game are settled, I think the idea is fresh and the flow of the game is good, but I think the combat system (fighting versus enemies and all related) can be improved, maybe right now this is "the weak" point and we really need feedback and advice about this.

Here is the download link:
http://www.mediafire.com/file/mnxux77w1 ... Demo_V.rar

Thank you guys! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Shoot em up Metroidvania Style!! Demo Inside :)
PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 1:59 pm 


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Looks cool! Having more shmup/exploration crossover style games would be really neat. We only have a few in existence like The Guardian Legend/Guardic Gaiden and Hero Core. There's also Fort Apocalypse for the C64 which is very reminiscent in that it's a shmup where you explore a massive cavern at your own pace (no RPG elements though). Maybe it's supposed to feel a bit like WURM (which is a cool concept game but had serious execution issues)?

Will give it a whirl.
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 Post subject: Re: Shoot em up Metroidvania Style!! Demo Inside :)
PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:57 pm 


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Warning, massive post. I'd hide it in a spoiler tag but that makes all the text the same colour and I put some more URL links in there.

Okay, opened up the readme - the controls on a 360 pad look fine, but the default mappings on a keyboard are icky. Spacebar should not be mapped to the main shot button since on some older keyboards it interferes with controls (Left Shift, Z, X controls became a staple of keyboard shmups for a reason). You have everything remappable custom which is nice though, so that's not an issue.

Having switchable on-the-fly shot types for main and sub weapon is cool. My only complaint so far is with the charge shot - if you release the charge shot within a few frames of the bar filling and getting its yellow glow, it fails to shoot. You have to actually hold it about a second longer after the bar fills for it to successfully fire.

A minor nitpick - when you enter a new corridor or room, the entire corridor/room instantly shows on the automap. It's nicer to have each 'block' need to be revealed by touching it since it's more of a surprise when exploring and it helps you better keep track of where in larger rooms you've examined the walls already.

I wish the tutorial section were a totally separate part of the game, like a pilot training simulator. Then, when you actually enter the planet for the first time proper, you have a short period of time to actually explore on your own and come to grips with the game, using your massively outfitted ship without the tutorial's handholding (then losing all those goodies).

I'm not sure I'm crazy about the movement. The "Stop Movement" key for initiating autoscrolling works well, but having a separate button for direction change is less appealing. It feels a bit clunky - I'm more fond of games like Raiga: Strato Fighter or Deathsmiles where you can fire in any direction at will. However, since you have three shot buttons that won't work here. Have you experimented with a movement system where you can face backwards during autoscrolling? I think for what you have a movement system where when you're not holding shoot tapping left or right will instantly switch directions, and then whenever you hold shoot/sub/special weapon, you hold the direction you're facing? That way, you can scroll forward while facing/changing to either direction, and when you're stopped and press the movement button to restart scrolling, you can simply have the scrolling direction move in the direction you're currently facing. Under that kind of movement you just have to stop firing briefly, and tap left or right when you want to switch directions.

There's a TON of items to craft, but all of them seem to be tied to your ship's stats as opposed to making new weapons? At least that's what I assume, since none of them have detailed descriptions, and only list their respective stats.

There's some typos to address. For instance, when purchasing in the crafting screen it should be "acquired", not "adquired". A couple I noticed on the opening screens I saw too I'll have to go back to.

Okay, this right here is pretty annoying:

Image

In this vertical segment, you can shoot through these rocks to hit the turrets in the middle, but they act as obstacles for your ship and if you touch the glowy section you take damage. This is annoying and inconsistent with the side-view sections where you can figure out what sections are 'solid' environmental hazards by shooting at them. I'm aware now to pay attention in the vertical segments to environmental hazards I can shoot but not move through, but I can see this being an issue later on if there's tight spaces I need to squeeze through where I can't use my shots to determine if it's safe to move through or not. There is also a sidescrolling room where you can shoot through a solid wall, whereas other walls in the room block shots, which is really inconsistent design.

It's too early to determine if the RPG elements (healthbar, enemies that take increased damage as you level, etc) are well executed or not. RPG mechanics and shmups rarely mix well, as in the case early game here when the basic popcorn enemies take two hits to kill, so until you gain a level or two you won't be able to actually kill enemy waves effectively with your basic shot. There's a lot of stats in the screen and a lot of equipment slots, but without knowing what each does it's hard to know if they're meaningful, if they'd lead to the game being way too easy once you're vastly overpowered, etc.

For reference, in The Guardian Legend, shot damage is determined by item pickups so you can't level your way to victory - you will be at an appropriate power level throughout the game as long as you keep finding items before tackling bosses, and bosses have specific tweaks to ensure that they aren't killed too quickly even by the stronger weapons, like damage capping. There is also a levelling element thanks to the scoring as every so often you'll gain slightly more max health as you gain score, but its impact is minor (and you can crash the game by counterstopping it, but this won't happen unless you go out of your way to counterstop the game).

Made it to Apolion Magma's door. There's nothing visually different about the door aside from a message stating I have to find her "core" first to open it. So it's like a key, I guess? Again, I'm pointing to The Guardian Legend - in the game you will encounter various doors and portals. Some are locked and you have to puzzle out how to open them for yourself. In the case of doors that connect one area to the next, they're locked by a door that has a unique symbol on it. It's very obvious that these doors are different from normal ones simply from a visual standpoint, and it's easy for the player to figure out without an ingame prompt explanation that they need a key to open this locked door.

So far, the rooms don't feel distinct enough from one another in terms of the terrain layout or the enemies that appear. I almost wish the game was more like Metroid in that your ship simply hovers in place, and as you move you automatically scroll the screen at your own pace navigating around enemies that were positioned to move and appear more naturally. The scrolling feels rather slow and almost unnatural, especially when I'm simply lost and exploring (and having to go through the same room multiple times) so having the ability to go at my own pace depending on if I know where I am or not, or some kind of turbo function to zip through rooms similar to how you can run in Super Metroid would be a nice convenience. Also, if you switch directions like in front of a doorway and you're at the edge of the screen, sometimes an enemy will immediately appear and hit you as it comes onscreen. Bit of a nuisance.

Honestly, I think the autoscrolling as you're wandering is to the game's detriment. It works in The Guardian Legend because the vertical scrolling segments are all designed to be individual shmup levels played at a specific pace with enemy appearances well-thought out by the game designers. Here, the level design and enemy waves that appear aren't as well thought out in each corridor so the autoscrolling segments aren't all that engaging and I think that's where it needs to be rethought - instead of simply having long corridors where enemies occasionally pop out at what seems like random add more elements to make them feel more interesting and shmuplike. Lava flows that act as hazards, magma that shoots out, boulder hazards that appear, etc. Unless I am mistaken, basic enemy encounters in many rooms is randomized?

In the original Metroid for the NES, the enemies that appeared were not constantly antagonizing you - many felt like part of the natural landscape by simply wandering back and forth and weren't necessarily a direct, immediate threat. The platforming elements in the game meant there was always a constant, interesting threat or hazard. Even in rooms without enemies, you had lava to avoid, secret corridors to hunt for with bombs, and so on. More environmental hazards would be neat - the few special rooms with meteor storms/sandstorms are okay, but it'd be nice to see more unique, individual hazards throughout the areas and not just in a few locations. This room was kind of interesting, but there's a clipping bug where you can actually move through the spot where the two boulders touch (if you're willing to take collision damage). Only works going up, not down though.

The lack of an onscreen experience meter is unusual, given the space you have onscreen. I just kind of get levelups every so often it seems, but I don't really have an idea of how much exp each enemy gives without going into the status screen constantly. On the GBA Metroidvania games where screen space was limited this is understandable, but here an exp meter would be nice.

Music is way, way too 'epic' for something that is supposed to be about a human coming to colonize a planet. The music gives the feel of a kind of dramatic march to war to destroy the planet, and feels way too intense for the slow paced exploration of the game.

Spreadshot weapons do not register multiple hits on single targets. If you hit an enemy with a spreadfire weapon (the Trishot and whatever starting sub weapon you have, there seems to be nowhere in the menus you can look at weapon names??) and multiple bullets connect at once, the enemy only registers one hit. It limits the strategic options as far as pointblanking goes. I also find your main guns simply don't fire frequently enough, and don't travel fast enough to hit popcorn enemies in a timely fashion. Even early on, your main guns shouldn't feel too useless, but even when I'm levelled up enough that everything dies in one hit and I take negligible damage, my shots aren't firing enough to clear enemy waves nicely.

It'd be nice to be able to instantly teleport to a known teleport location. Hero Core offers this convenience in spite of the level design being much more tightly knit and interconnected (so far less backtracking is necessary), but maybe I'm spoiled? I ran into both a red door in the sand area, and a blue door in the ice area, and was annoyed about the sheer amount of backtracking in exploration. The ice segment's blades were way too easy, so I found it easier to simply suicide than to backtrack properly. The individual gameover screens for each area are a nice touch though. In Metroid, the platforming and map navigation is interesting enough that when backtracking it's not dull, and in The Guardian Legend your walking speed just zips through the exploration areas (considerably faster than the original Zelda even) but here the really slow autoscroll speed coupled with the bland enemy layouts makes it a chore to explore.

Stopped playing shortly after here. I wanted to at least see one boss fight but since the only boss room I located was locked, I spent the rest of the time running into multiple "The Power Source is On The Other Side!" and coloured doors before I decided to call it quits for the day. Usually the key for the boss room in this sort of game is found in the same are the boss is located in but I couldn't be sure - I thought I'd been pretty thorough with hunting for secret doors and with the sheer time it takes to backtrack in this game it wasn't encouraging to have to go hunting through everywhere I'd already been or keep exploring new places and hitting dead ends. I did find a couple more secret doors after this that gave a sub weapon and a slot item, but still no door keys or boss room 'core'. It was also annoying that while the map marked coloured doors, it didn't mark de-powered doors - there was no way for me at a glance to know what on the map were doorways I hadn't checked and what were doors whose power source was in a different room.

You have the good template for a game, but currently the shmupping and navigation are quite dull. The exploration isn't as interesting as your average Metroidvania platformer, and the shmup battles in corridors as you explore feel really sloppy instead of being solidly designed levels. Making a good shmup is very difficult and requires thoughtful enemy placement - simply throwing enemies onscreen at random rarely makes for good gameplay in a shmup. Even as I levelled up, I never felt like I was getting any more powerful because my normal shots still were too slow to kill waves of enemies in a timely fashion (either because they shot too slowly or because I reached a new area where waves of enemies now took two bullets instead of one to kill).

I think you could have a really good game if you changed how enemies appear and how you navigate - make all enemy encounters fixed, so you can design each room uniquely. I'm sure you've played Super Metroid, but I'd go through it again, see how each corridor feels like it was crafted and feels recognizably unique (without needing the map).

Pretend you were making a Metroid sequel, but instead of a platformer, your character floated and had no gravity. Imagine instead of running around, Samus floated. Instead of running, you had a dash button (like Fraxy) so you could boost your way through levels or go slowly at your own pace. Instead of lava pits, the planet had more actively hostile elements to avoid, ones you couldn't always simply shoot through. You can also experiment with seriously adjusting the weaponry - it doesn't have to be complex to be fun. Even a basic weapon system can be really engaging if it's designed around it (I strongly encourage you to play Hero Core for an example of how a peashooter type weapon can still feel really powerful in a skilled player's hands).
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 Post subject: Re: Shoot em up Metroidvania Style!! Demo Inside :)
PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:58 pm 


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Determined to at least fight one actual boss, I kept going. Deadended all the routes in the forest area and the ice caves, then hunted in the magma area again. That room where you have to chase those fairy monsters apparently is completely empty in the top left area - I discovered this out of desperation by clipping through the thin area to the left you're not supposed to be able to go through.

Found another path through the sand area that went back into the magma area. Dialogue! Is it the core? Nope, it's the charge shot. :| Now that it's not the tutorial, it seems to fire instantly if I release the charge exactly when the bar fills, weird.

Aaand I'm done. I made it a point to doodle all the areas I thought I checked. I have no idea where to go. There are no keys to any of those coloured doors, there's no way to open the boss room since I can't find the 'core'. The remaining three doors appear to locked from the other side. :?:
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 Post subject: Re: Shoot em up Metroidvania Style!! Demo Inside :)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:07 pm 



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Really REALLY thank you!! Your comments give me lots of ideas for fixing things like explore pacing, enemy fighting and interface enhancements.

Quote:
In this vertical segment, you can shoot through these rocks to hit the turrets in the middle, but they act as obstacles for your ship and if you touch the glowy section you take damage. This is annoying and inconsistent with the side-view sections where you can figure out what sections are 'solid' environmental hazards by shooting at them.

Argh!! This is so true... but I don't know how I can fix this, because I wanted those "turrets" to stay over the obstacles, but if your shoots impact in the obstacles then you will never hit the turrets... so the only solution I can see is that "platforms" in vertical sections where turrets are placed aren't considered obstacles (and doesnt hit the player) but then the "rocks" will be inconsistent with the horizontal section anyway... because rocks hit with the ship in Horizontal sections but will not hit the ship in vertical sections :-\ I don't really know how I can fix this issue. Will think hard about it!

Quote:
There is also a sidescrolling room where you can shoot through a solid wall, whereas other walls in the room block shots, which is really inconsistent design.

Wow!! This picture is certainly a bug, I will fix it asap so the shoots can go through that wall! :)

Quote:
There's a lot of stats in the screen and a lot of equipment slots, but without knowing what each does it's hard to know if they're meaningful,

Did you read the manual in the main menu? It explains each attribute, but maybe it doesn't explain it well? Please tell me about this because is important! Maybe I need to change the explanations.

Quote:
Unless I am mistaken, basic enemy encounters in many rooms is randomized?

Yes, I took that idea from "classic rpgs", enemy encounters are randomized, and they appears in "packs" as you advance to encounter them, like in the old Final Fantasy Games. Some rooms have random encounters, some others obstacles, other terrain hazards, others shielded enemies or big enemies, puzzles... My idea was to give a lot of variety to the game with many different situations in each room, but I think random encounters must be rethought!!

Quote:
I think you could have a really good game if you changed how enemies appear and how you navigate

This is exactly my thought, and thanks to you I got REALLY good ideas of how I can improve navigation and combat in the game. I will fix all those things in 2 months at maximum (I'm still getting feedback from other forums and subreddits) and then create a new demo version. I hope you can play it to give me your opinion again, and of course if you want when the game is launched I will give you a code so you can get a copy for free, because you help me really a lot here, I'm so happy :)

Quote:
I have no idea where to go.


Now that you have the Special charge, you can open blue doors. Magma core is in Forest (Florelia Domion) you must open the blue door that is North of Florelia Dominion with the Special Charge, and then exploring that area you must get Magmag core to fight her.


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 Post subject: Re: Shoot em up Metroidvania Style!! Demo Inside :)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 2:03 pm 


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Quote:
Argh!! This is so true... but I don't know how I can fix this, because I wanted those "turrets" to stay over the obstacles, but if your shoots impact in the obstacles then you will never hit the turrets...


Easy - just put the turrets on the outside of the obstacles. You can put them on both sides if you want, or only have them generate on one side according to how the player enters the corridor. There's several weapons in your arsenal that can go through walls, so the player can always use those if they want to hit turrets hiding on the other side. Even if the turrets are on the other side of a wall and are difficult to hit, that's not necessarily a bad thing - enemies can be interesting even if the player can't easily attack them directly and simply has to avoid them.

Quote:
Did you read the manual in the main menu?
I didn't see it in the readme, and I completely forgot to try checking out the Manual in the main menu. Any way to add the Manual to the ingame menu as well so it's accessible while you're playing?

Quote:
Yes, I took that idea from "classic rpgs", enemy encounters are randomized, and they appears in "packs" as you advance to encounter them, like in the old Final Fantasy Games.


The problem is that 'random' encounters are not random in the sense that the enemies appear at random. In the original Final Fantasy for the NES, there was a lot of thought put into what enemies appear where, and on which floor of the dungeon, and even for each individual encounter group. For instance, in the Marsh cave you have on one floor generic Shadow and Muck enemies who appear alone and are easily avoided since they don't inflict any dangerous ailments, you have Zombies and Ghouls who are dangerous but manageable with a White/Black magic user, and in a particularly unique encounter, you have 2-6 Bones and 1-2 Crawls that appear together. The Crawl only deals 1 damage per hit, but hits 8 times, and has an almost guaranteed chance of inflicting paralysis, so there's a risk in those fights - do you use up a valuable charge of FIR2 to safely escape, do you risk running, do you use a white mage to use their anti-undead magics and then deal with the Crawls another way, etc?

Later on you encounter brain-sucking Sorcerers who deal 1 damage but have an unresistable instant kill. And after that in one of the last areas, you can now encounter them with an enemy that boosts the number of attacks they can do, very effectively powering them up. The encounter tables for each area were very well planned and thought out.

The way they appear here in Planet Apolion feels like they're just thrown at you at bit too randomly, without as much thought as to how they swarm or pop in within each corridor. At least that's a bit how I felt. If each corridor could feel more distinct from one another, similar to how in Final Fantasy dungeons each floor has a unique encounter table for random battles, that'd go a long way to helping.

Quote:
Now that you have the Special charge, you can open blue doors.


.___.

Okay, so in Metroid (and Super Metroid), it's very easy to figure out how to open doors since your missiles correspond to the door colour. Missile items are red, super missiles are green, and power bombs are yellow. The doors they correspond to are very obvious, except perhaps for colourblind players. It's visually very intuitive when you encounter the doors what you're supposed to do. And I'm pretty sure if you shoot them with normal shots, there's a weird noise to cue you to the fact that you're hitting the door, but perhaps not with the right weapon. It's worth noting that there are some weapons that change your normal shot colour in Super Metroid from the default yellowish colour (Wave=reddish pink, Spazer = yellow, plasma = green, Ice = blue and overrides all others) but by that point the player has long since been taught naturally that their special weapons are for opening doors.

Compare that to here: literally all of your weapons are a shade of light blue/teal, at least by the time you get the special charge. I encountered every single colour door without the charge shot and none of them reacted to any of my bullets. There also wasn't a visual or auditory cue like a high pitched 'pink' sound to indicate my bullets were hitting/interacting with the door but they were the 'wrong' bullets.

I notice now that in the Manual under "Map and Minimap" it actually mentions the special shots being used to open doors (it also shows a literal picture of the door in the forest being shot with a charge shot ;__________; ), but it's still super unintuitive in-game. It either it needs to be spelled out when the charge shot is collected "HEY YOU CAN OPEN DOORS WITH THIS", or the doors need to react somehow when hit with a main or sub weapon to show your weapons interact with it, but it's not opening with the weapons you're using. The special charge is the exact same colour as all your other weapons you have at that point, so I would not have guessed that it reacts with blue doors in a special way.

My suggestion - alter the map in such a way that after you get the charge shot, the door locks behind you and you are forced to open it with a charge shot (and give the player charge items so they can easily refill the meter to use it). That way, without needing any text to explain it (which is much less interesting than showing the player via visual cues), they'll see that the charge shot is used to open doors, which is important to know since, like Metroid's missiles, it's the first item you use to open special doors. Then, players will be more inclined to experiment and be aware the next time they get a new special weapon to open doors.

And though I'm super embarrassed about having forgotten to ever check out the ingame manual, in my defense, the tutorial as well as much of the early game shows locked/unpowered doors being opened by those fairy monsters, and nothing in-game hints at the special charge shot being used for opening doors according to colour. Even if it is mentioned in the manual, you're going to have some players who may not be able to read English but will still want to play the game, so it's important to visually impart as much information to players as possible in a way that teaches them how the game works naturally.

Is there a way to unequip equipment in slots? It looks like you can change equipment, but I couldn't find a way to simply empty the slot if you wanted.
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 Post subject: Re: Shoot em up Metroidvania Style!! Demo Inside :)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 5:57 pm 



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Quote:
My suggestion - alter the map in such a way that after you get the charge shot, the door locks behind you and you are forced to open it with a charge shot


100% I'm going to do this!! In fact when you get the second special shoot, I do exactly that... so I don't know why I didn't put a blue door inside the room where you get the First Special shoot!!

Quote:
Is there a way to unequip equipment in slots? It looks like you can change equipment, but I couldn't find a way to simply empty the slot if you wanted.


Right now there is no way, but for the next demo version I plan to add a button to unequip slots.


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