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 Post subject: The Void Rains Upon Her Heart - fight bosses with love!
PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 9:24 am 



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 4
I've been developing a very strange bullet-hell shmup game for the past few months and I would like some feedback from you guys.

The game is called "The Void Rains Upon Her Heart" and you control the heart of an alien woman and fight boss battles that represent different anxieties and fears. The story and theme is very unusual for a bullet-hell game so I'm trying to figure out if there is really an audience for this thing.

Image

You can watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vulvrctoUDA

This game merges the gameplay of a bullet-hell with the randomness of a rogue-lite game. You fight through 10 random bosses in a row culminating with a final boss battle. Each defeated boss will give you a random power up item and they can drop up to three if you are lucky. The items are permanent upgrades for the rest of current playthrough, but if you die then you have to start over. There is also a Quickplay mode where you can fight any unlocked bosses with any unlocked power ups. It's sort of like a practice mode but there are also high score medals to earn.

I have an alpha demo available right now with 8 bosses, 40 items, and it allows for a full playthrough with a final boss at the end. Some bosses will repeat in a playthrough for now, but they level up as the game goes on and they change their attacks based on their level.

*This game contains scenes of mild nudity*
You can download the demo here: http://www.veyeralgames.com/

The scoring system is also pretty unique and I would like some feedback on it too. It's not explained very well in the game just yet so I'll explain it here:
  • Combo the boss health bar by doing constant damage to the boss. If you get hit or don't cause damage for over a second then you lose the combo and points are added.
  • Breaking certain parts of the boss will add score, but it is possible to kill the boss before all the parts are broken so you must aim carefully.
  • You get a 25% bonus to all points gained before getting hurt. After one hit, it is reduced to 10% then nothing after two hits.
I think this makes each boss battle like a puzzle where you figure out how to get the optimal score. Not every boss has breakable parts and not every boss can give a full bar combo.


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 Post subject: Re: The Void Rains Upon Her Heart - fight bosses with love!
PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 12:54 pm 


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(From watching the video rather than playing the demo)

I really like the visual design and theme! That said, I think the player ship and shot could use a little bit more flair, seems like a peashooter at this point.

I feel as if people here tend to hate health bars, and I mostly agree with that. If there's any way you can redesign the health bar into static chunks (as in Deathsmiles), with each bullet destroying a full chunk, I think that would more clear visually and more satisfying for shooter vets.

The upgrade system you have at the end of each boss looks nice and clean. Looks like it gives players some choice without burdening them with a whole bunch of downtime between gameplay. I really appreciate that.

Your scoring system sounds simple and solid. One thing people here seem to really love is destroyable boss parts, which you have. Since your scoring is so straightforward, I would focus on having a lot of destroyable parts, and having the bosses become (generally) angrier and more difficult with each optional part you destroy. That way score-chasers can go all out and challenge themselves while other players can work their way up to that point.

I like the concept of the game, and it looks pretty good so far. A little bit more polish and it'll be where it needs to be. Good job!
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 Post subject: Re: The Void Rains Upon Her Heart - fight bosses with love!
PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 1:31 pm 


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Posts: 27
Pretty unusual, looks cool!
There used to be a lot of weird shoot 'em ups with unusual themes back in the early 90s, hopefully there is still a niche market for this kind of work!
Nowadays shmups are much more monotonous in terms of thematic variety so maybe it will not be that hard to bring attention to your game.
Scoring system seems pretty straightforward and easy to understand, I will try to play the demo later today.

Greetings and good luck! :mrgreen:


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 Post subject: Re: The Void Rains Upon Her Heart - fight bosses with love!
PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 1:35 pm 


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Joined: 10 Sep 2009
Posts: 409
Location: Finland
Pretty promising stuff considering you made this in just a few months! Before anything else though: I immediately noticed the player ship's movement inertia and while it didn't feel too distracting at first it got kinda awkward once the tensity of patterns started to ramp up. As a rule of thumb inertia is a big no-no in shmups so I'd simply advice removing it completely for a better control.

So I managed to clear this after a few tries. Overall I had a pleasant experience yet the game didn't quite manage to keep me captivated the whole way through. While many of the elements feel very polished (especially presentation and music), as a whole they don't really form anything greater than the sum of their parts. Most of the patterns feel rather rudimentary and compounded with the large health pools the bosses begin to overstay their welcome very quickly.

I didn't find the rogue-lite elements that interesting either since most of them don't really affect the way you play, simply offering some passive bonuses. Few of them came off almost unbalanced, like Thorns which I managed to get after second boss - the boost in firepower felt quite drastic and the bosses started to go down much quicker. However I did like how some of them were locked behind extra goals, I think you should expand this idea. Some QoL improvements here would be nice: selecting each boss and scrolling through each reward separately gets a bit tiring so I'd appreciate if I could see at a glance what kind of rewards each boss has.

Yet if there is one thing that sort of let me down the most while playing, that would be the premise. There's a lot of potential here. The idea of boss battles representing different anxieties sounds downright brilliant but this theming doesn't really amount to much during gameplay. The bosses are way too uniform in their design to convey much, with similar visual motives and patterns and in the end the story feels almost completely detached from the rest of the game. Simply put the game didn't feel strange enough! You should go all out and really think how to represent your chosen themes through every single facet of your game.
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 Post subject: Re: The Void Rains Upon Her Heart - fight bosses with love!
PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 10:53 pm 



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 4
Thank you all for taking a look at my game!

Special World wrote:
I feel as if people here tend to hate health bars, and I mostly agree with that. If there's any way you can redesign the health bar into static chunks (as in Deathsmiles), with each bullet destroying a full chunk, I think that would more clear visually and more satisfying for shooter vets.


So here is where I should mention that there are 5 damage types and there is a resistance stat for each of them. There are upgrade items that buff certain resistances and different bullets do different amounts of damage. The general rule for my game is bigger bullets will do more damage and collision with the boss itself will do the most damage. This means that there is not an exact amount of times that you must get hit before dying. You also unlock the ability to see each bosses' attacks, weaknesses, and resistances. My hope with this is that people will strategize what boss to choose next based on the items they have collected so far.

Edit: after reading around here for a bit I realized that health bars are hated here because they tend to imply that there will be some unavoidable damage. That is not the case in this game at all. It is possible to clear any boss at any level with no damage taken.

Ebbo wrote:
Pretty promising stuff considering you made this in just a few months! Before anything else though: I immediately noticed the player ship's movement inertia and while it didn't feel too distracting at first it got kinda awkward once the tensity of patterns started to ramp up. As a rule of thumb inertia is a big no-no in shmups so I'd simply advice removing it completely for a better control.


Yep sounds good I will remove it. I'm not really sure why I had it in there in the first place. I just got so used to it I guess.

Ebbo wrote:
So I managed to clear this after a few tries. Overall I had a pleasant experience yet the game didn't quite manage to keep me captivated the whole way through. While many of the elements feel very polished (especially presentation and music), as a whole they don't really form anything greater than the sum of their parts. Most of the patterns feel rather rudimentary and compounded with the large health pools the bosses begin to overstay their welcome very quickly.


How high of level did the bosses get when you beat the game? I would like to know if the bosses felt more interesting toward the end. For reference, The highest difficulty level for bosses so far is level 10.

I designed the lower levels from 1 to 4 to be very welcoming to newer players. It is possible to keep the difficulty low by choosing the lowest level boss on every stage. You can also let the difficulty rise by choosing the higher level bosses. I was thinking of adding a "hard" mode where the bosses begin at a higher level right from the start.

Ebbo wrote:
I didn't find the rogue-lite elements that interesting either since most of them don't really affect the way you play, simply offering some passive bonuses. Few of them came off almost unbalanced, like Thorns which I managed to get after second boss - the boost in firepower felt quite drastic and the bosses started to go down much quicker. However I did like how some of them were locked behind extra goals, I think you should expand this idea. Some QoL improvements here would be nice: selecting each boss and scrolling through each reward separately gets a bit tiring so I'd appreciate if I could see at a glance what kind of rewards each boss has.


Fair point. A lot of the items are just passives and I'll be on the lookout for inspiration for more interesting power ups. I think all of the 1 star cards are just passives and a few 2 and 3 star cards have the more interesting upgrades. How many of the higher star cards did you get when playing?

I think the most interesting one I have so far is a 2 star card called "tiny wings." It gives you a short range burst of feather shots and it encourages you to get up close to the boss to deal high damage. So I'll definitely be adding more cards like this. Any suggestions are welcome.

Ebbo wrote:
Yet if there is one thing that sort of let me down the most while playing, that would be the premise. There's a lot of potential here. The idea of boss battles representing different anxieties sounds downright brilliant but this theming doesn't really amount to much during gameplay. The bosses are way too uniform in their design to convey much, with similar visual motives and patterns and in the end the story feels almost completely detached from the rest of the game. Simply put the game didn't feel strange enough! You should go all out and really think how to represent your chosen themes through every single facet of your game.


I really like that I'm being encouraged to go even stranger here! So here I assume you are referring to the veyeral bosses (pronounced Viral). I have well over 30 bosses planned for the full game, but right now 4 out of the 8 bosses are those black eyeball things called veyerals. I'm guessing this is what you mean by the bosses being too uniform? Hopefully just adding more of the other types of bosses will improve this. How did you feel about the other bosses especially Roundsaw and Syncron if you fought those?


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 Post subject: Re: The Void Rains Upon Her Heart - fight bosses with love!
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 7:27 am 


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Posts: 409
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Veyerals wrote:
I assume you are referring to the veyeral bosses (pronounced Viral). I have well over 30 bosses planned for the full game, but right now 4 out of the 8 bosses are those black eyeball things called veyerals. I'm guessing this is what you mean by the bosses being too uniform?

The Veyeral bosses seem to be the biggest culprit here. Besides the visuals most of them (the dividing one is a nice exception) act in very similar way with their movement and attack patterns. Roundsaw and Syncron were definitely notable highlights of the roster in terms of design but the remaining two sort of fall into the typical bullet-hell mold of a floating blob spewing bullets everywhere. My advice would be focusing on quality over quantity. Over 30 bosses sounds a lot but I'd much rather have even just half of that amount if each one of them were more distinctive. I think 7 rounds would suffice, with each having 2-3 unique bosses to choose from.

As for the challenge level, I don't really mind the game being easier as long it still remains engaging. The problem I spied with most of the bosses regardless of their difficulty level was that they hardly put any pressure on the player. Patterns might seem intimidating at first but very often I was just able to stay still or hardly move at all. Once again Roundsaw in particular was a nice suprise with its ram attack - this thing actually wants me dead! Patterns with more generous use of aimed threats should at least partially alleviate this problem.
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 Post subject: Re: The Void Rains Upon Her Heart - fight bosses with love!
PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 11:49 am 



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 4
Thanks for the advice! I'll take all of this into consideration as I develop the game. I'm glad I found this place, there is so much inspiration here!


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 Post subject: Re: The Void Rains Upon Her Heart - fight bosses with love!
PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 12:03 pm 



Joined: 22 May 2017
Posts: 1
I am not a core shmup player and I enjoy it. I adore the music and the difficulty, again, I am not a hard core player, I really cannot handle bullethells, so the difficulty is fine to me.
But it is true that most of the bosses do not supprise me with their attack patterns.
If you insist on the rogue-lite element then I suggest you to give up the ideas of boss levels, instead, you can classify them by mechanic difficulty with persist of patterns, and only easier bosses for early levels and harder bosses for later.


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 Post subject: Re: The Void Rains Upon Her Heart - fight bosses with love!
PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 11:41 pm 


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Posts: 27
Hello, I tried the demo and recorded my experience, in case it could be helpful to you. It is the very first time I opened the game.
I avoided reading anything on the website to see if I could understand the rules and systems just by playing. This time I was only playing for survival.
I spent that much time in the controller settings (always the first thing I check in every game) cause I was assuming that the charge button acted as select button as well, so when I changed it from Z to 0, I tried to select things with 0 and then when it failed I tried Z (instinctively) which got me out of the menu, my bad.

I liked the style and the visuals are cool, but I didn't find the gameplay particularly engaging or exciting, just my very humble opinion!
Ebbo wrote:
... Overall I had a pleasant experience yet the game didn't quite manage to keep me captivated the whole way through. While many of the elements feel very polished (especially presentation and music), as a whole they don't really form anything greater than the sum of their parts. Most of the patterns feel rather rudimentary and compounded with the large health pools the bosses begin to overstay their welcome very quickly...

I agree, and I think you can improve by following the advice given by others in this thread!

https://youtu.be/9ZnOFdzk2ao

Greetings and good luck, you got my yes vote on Greenlight!


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 Post subject: Re: The Void Rains Upon Her Heart - fight bosses with love!
PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2017 5:10 am 



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 4
Thanks for the video! I can tell there are a few mechanics that could be explained better and I intend to make a screen where you can see how your stats change with new items. I might also rebalance the early bosses somehow to make them go by a little faster. Hopefully all the bosses in the final game will be unique enough that it makes them feel more interesting, but I guess this game will just appeal more to those that like to collect everything since the game will have a Binding of Isaac-ish unlocking system.


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 Post subject: Re: The Void Rains Upon Her Heart - fight bosses with love!
PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2017 2:48 pm 


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Interesting concept! Not many games touch love theme, especially from inside.

Good luck


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