This is a particularly interesting thread for me, for a number of reasons. First of all, I am a (former?) competitive fighting game player, but I've actually been playing bullet hell shmups longer than I've taken fighting games seriously.
My first shmup was Ketsui Death Label. I played, and played, and played, and played (with auto-bomb on pretty much the entire time). Years later, the announcement of the 360 version pretty much inspired me to get a Japanese Xbox 360 (somehow for $120), and the rest is history. DOJBL and Ketsui are probably my 2 favorite shmups of all time. I'll have to check my playtimes later, but I don't think I've ever gotten past stage 3 in either of them.
Now, I probably have around a dozen Xbox shmups. A fun night for me would be to play 1 or 2 credits on each of them in rotation. I've also never gotten past stage 3 or 4 on any of them.
The other reason why I thought this thread was interesting is because it seems to be following a pattern similar to the (reddit) community of another hobby I dabble in: building Gundam plastic model kits, or gunpla. When it comes to Gunpla, the reigning viewpoint can be summed up with a quote from the Gundam Build Fighters anime: "Gunpla is Freedom!" On the Gunpla subreddit, people frequently post questions about their struggles to snap together their kits, and pictures once they're done. Some people might even use a marker to fill in the panel lines, and even apply the included stickers and decals. A few will even go so far as to paint their kits, often with a custom paint scheme instead of following the manual's color guide.
But aside from the odd kitbash (incorporating parts from multiple kits in one), that's about as far as 99% of the community ever goes. People share pictures of their kits that they put little more than an afternoon's work into, and everyone else says "great job! it looks cool!" Very few people are trying to increase their skills at the hobby. No seam line removal, no parts modifications, no panel line scribing, no added detail with plastic sheets.
The Japanese community where Gunpla comes from is entirely different from that. The extra work I described is the norm. Even the manual says to do some of these things. Hobby magazines show amazing builds, then have features where the builders go "actually, this stuff is pretty easy. all you have to do is this:" followed by an illustrated breakdown of the techniques that were applied to the build.
A few weeks ago, a group of people put together a free, English-language online Gunpla magazine. The very first article in it is called Back to Basics, where the author talks about how some of the fundamental skills involved in building plastic models have been lost, using an example of a photo he saw online of a kit that was painted beautifully, but didn't have any of its seam lines removed. He was upset because this builder was "running before he could walk." I guess the shmup analogy would be playing for score before you're able to even 1-sissy a game.
People thought the magazine as a whole was great, but a lot of individuals took personal offense to the callout in that article. It kicked off a pretty heated debate/argument, between people who are ostensibly trying to improve their skills and people who just wanna build Gunpla. Which seems to be damn near the same thing that's happening here.
The thread ultimately settled down to this:
"Pfft, you're casuals. Snapfitting is the very first step on a long journey. You should at least try to improve your skills."
"Pfft, you're elitists. Snapfitting is awesome, and my kits look great. I'm an adult; I don't have that much time to spend on one kit. Gunpla is freedom."
Special World wrote:
I don't really think people were arguing that clears are an end goal, though. It's just more like... for some of us, a clear is such a massive achievement that we're not even going to look past it until we're at that point. Whereas more skilled players can achieve a clear in the first two days of playing a game, so that clear is basically the starting point for how they want to play the game.
Granted, there are certain games that I approach from a "clear it and it's done" perspective, like R-Type or Lords of Thunder. But that's not typically my mindset going into shooting games. Some just lend themselves to only a 1CC, while others have a larger depth available once that 1CC is achieved.
Emphasis added, but that's pretty much how I feel about it. I will bomb as hard as I can to get that first 1cc. How deeply I explore the game after that really depends on how I feel about the scoring system after I read up on it. Personally, I think the scoring system is kinda irrelevant until you can actually survive the whole game. And that alone is only "easy" for certain games, and even then, only if you have the sort of fundamentals that you can only build up after hours upon hours of playtime. Playing with Ketsui Bomb enabled for several months pretty much trained me not to use bombs. The only time I use them now is if I think I'm in an undodgeable situation, or if I'm on my last life. And it actually works pretty well; the only time I get hit by bullets is if I make some minor mistake, like not noticing a bullet or moving a few frames too long in one direction, even if I'm trying to dodge an otherwise difficult pattern.
I think it's important to note that people have hobbies for different reasons. Shmups are games that lend themselves very well to in-depth system exploration, but that isn't mandatory. Someone can get just as much enjoyment from credit feeding as another can from chasing 1ccs or world records. The same way the vast majority of people who bought Bayonetta played until they beat the game once on normal mode, then put it on the shelf or sold it. It took them 9 to 12 hours, max, assuming they didn't skip cutscenes.
Which is insane to me, as a person who put over 100 hours into the original game alone. Beating the game once means you never got to experience the true depth of the combat or scoring systems.
To each his own, you know?