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 Post subject: [Article] My Thoughts on Switch as Shmup Machine + Lite
PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 4:32 am 


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Hi there,

I wrote this article sort of in response to another article I read about the Switch as a shmup console. I'm sure some people will bristle at the title where I describe myself as a "Hardcore Shmup Player," but keep in mind the wider audience this article was written for (people on twitter and reddit mostly), who are really new to the genre. A lot of what I write about probably isn't news to the homies on the shmup forum, but I thought I'd share it here anyway.

Cheers!

--Mark

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http://electricunderground.io/a-hardcore-shmup-players-thoughts-on-the-nintendo-switch/
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 Post subject: Re: [Article] My Thoughts on Switch as Shmup Machine + Lite
PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:46 am 



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Here’s so feedback on this and some previous of your articles and podcasts at the same time, especially the subject of input lag.

First of all, I have to say that I usually enjoy reading and listening the stuff you do, so don’t think this too negative. I’m personally coming from casual / intermediate shmup player perspective who found the genre again on older age after experiencing it shortly as a small kid back in the eighties. When I get excited about something, I usually tend to find information about it as a much as I can.

Now for the feedback about this article and your previous one’s. If your goal is to spread the word about the genre and what makes the games great, you really need to be able to write articles which are more aimed to a new or casual players and tone down the hardcore player stuff in those articles. Really the best bet of getting people into the genre is to make the games advertised and available as widely as possible. Switch, like you have mentioned seems to good / best platform for reaching new audience for these games. Maybe someday, some of those people get more into the genre and become hardcore players. Unfortunately when I read you writing about Switch stuff specifically, I run into you directly talking about the input lag issues or at least mentioning it on some level and it always gives this negative vibe towards the platform. If you are player who primarily/only plays on Switch, it’s just a turn off to read articles, which bring that negative aspect up every time. Especially if the reader have been enjoying the games on the system and not really noticing any issues until reading about them.

So even when I’m curious about the input lag stuff myself, I don’t like that this aspect is brought up in every time as I really don’t believe it’s that much of a issue considering that most likely majority of the players on the system and play these games are more casual players. Outside the hardcore shmup community, the people who have played the games on Switch haven’t really noticed any problems with it.

“But for the people who will reply to this article and say that the lag doesn’t matter, it’s not a big deal, show me a second loop Gunbird clear where the bullets practically spawn faster than the game can receive your inputs. Also … my heart goes out to the poor bastard who takes me up on that challenge ;-D”



Outside the hardcore switch community, I don’t know anybody who has got to the second loop on these games with 1 credit (and I do know people, more casual players who play the games on switch). So question is, when the input lag starts to be a real problem and how much it’s also depending on the game (“does 1 frame make a difference, at what point input lag starts to matter” could be idea for future article).

When looking at your input lag database, Garegga on PS4 has that 4 frame input lag and people are making records with that version. Compared to the better Switch numbers, there is like 0-2 frame difference depending whether it’s handheld or docked. Now I’m here thinking, does it REALLY make that much of difference if people can do that well on 4 frame input lag in Garagga, does approx 16-32ms extra delay make really that much of a difference and if it does, at what level of performance it has some real impact. As a intermediate player at best, I don’t get this feeling I’m suddenly much better player when I go to our local arcade to play some PCB DoDonPachi and the like after playing home on my switch docked (or jump between Futari on 360 and docked switch Gunbird 2). So the impact of that extra lag what comes to doing well is not very significant for vast majority of us who are not yet really skilled in the games.

Btw. the challenge you suggested, that would work great together with an article about how much input lag matters if you would get some skilled in psikyo games to participate in such!

Also, I would like the you and the shmup community focus more on games and platforms, which are commercially available and especially available on the current generation of systems. Talking and promoting MAME, Retroarch and the like does not help getting people to buy the games which are available now and even encourages getting the games illegally. I know that using those because save states especially helps a lot if you want to optimise practicing, but as your some recent interviews have showed, people still can learn the games the old school way and it’s often good enough if the game would at least offer a stage select options.

“Also, I’m going to take this opportunity to give a hint to anyone in the mainstream who decides to review Esp.Ra.De when it comes to Switch. Be sure to look into the arrange mode and see what adjustments were made to minimise the ridiculous milking problem the arcade version has. This will be a big selling point of the port to hardcore players and I personally feel any review of the port that does not look into this concern is incomplete.”

Now, I can see your point if the review is written by hardcore player for hardcore players. For reviews in Eurogamer, Nintendo Life and such, I would find such details to bee way too much emphasis on minor details and missing the big picture what makes the game / release good or bad.

Then about the podcasts, viewer amounts of those or shows like stgweekly. I like and do enjoy them, but generally I find them just way too long and a huge time investment. I don’t have that much free time, so I have to choose whether I spend that time listening/watching these shows or actually playing games.

In generally, for such niche genre, it’s really promising to see great indie games getting released… in just part few years there been shooters Zero Ranger, Devil Engine, Pawarumi, Rival Megagun, Horizon Shift, Blue Revolver just to mention few coming out and more promising titles on the way. Ports of old greats (some good, some not that good) are being released all the time. Maybe the hardcore community hasn’t seen signs of increasing just yet, but I’m sure that change eventually if these releases find new audience. So let’s try to stay and keep it positive!


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 Post subject: Re: [Article] My Thoughts on Switch as Shmup Machine + Lite
PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:05 pm 


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Hi my dude,

I really do appreciate you taking the time to read my articles and leave this reply. I am going to try and explain my perspective here a little bit, but I do want you to know that I have taken your thoughts into consideration and am exploring some of these ideas.

So I think what might be helpful to understand is that, when I am creating content (so to say, I really don't have another term for what I do), about shmups, I'm always sort of stuck in this Catch-22 situation. The fanbase for the genre, overall, is very divided. I don't think this is news to anyone, but it does make what I do pretty challenging because it really becomes a situation where if I represent the view of one group of players, this view will alienate the other. There is no way around this without just being extremely general, which is not my style ha. I do my best to try and be fair and see the topics at hand on a wider perspective, but it really is impossible to present material that is uniformly appealing to the shmup audience. You are right in that most of my content, especially as of late, pushes forward the "hardcore" viewpoint (again, I'm not super happy with this word choice, but I can't think of any other term) at the cost of people coming into the genre. I do mean some of the things I say with a tongue-and-cheek tone, but sometimes that probably doesn't come across well and at the end of the day, what I am saying can be pretty raw.

I do think about how I am coming across to new readers and listeners more than people realize, but sometimes I also want to push people to reconsider certain subjects, even if it is off-putting. I really wish I could say that I have a solid game plan and all of that, but right now I'm just kind of going off instinct. I'll keep a close eye on how things play out and see if I need to make adjustments in the future, but right now I'm curious to see what the audience can take and where the lines are before most people think I'm just too outspoken.

I do see where you are coming from though and there is no denying that I have a fixation on the hardcore technical aspects of hardware and games. Topics like input lag, emulation accuracy, player-oriented features (like training modes and such), and scoring concerns are not something that the majority of players or readers care about or even want to read about, and yet these topics are absolutely critical to me to the point where, if I wrote an article about the Switch and did not mention its input lag issues, I would feel disingenuous. If one of my "hardcore" fans (again, just a placeholder term), read my article, bought a Switch, and then tried to 2-all Gunbird just to discover it has 6 frames of lag, I would feel guilty that I did not give them all the information because I didn't want to alienate a potentially larger audience. If there was someone else doing what I'm doing in the public sphere, I certainly would tone things down from time to time but, at the moment, I feel a sort of sense of duty to get this information out there.

With that being said, I also can see your perspective. I can imagine that you bought the Switch, enjoyed playing Gunbird on it, and then sat down and read an article that essentially says that the only reason you enjoy Gunbird on the Switch is because you're a scrub and don't know better, I can definitely see how my articles and opinions can rub people the wrong way. It's not that I'm trying to put people down or come off as a jerk when I bring these topics up, and I do understand that people don't play Gunbird strictly because they want to 2-all it (I don't think people who like the Switch ports are scrubs, btw, I'm just assuming that's the impression people are getting), but I feel that a player should be able to accomplish a clear without a bunch of hardware barriers if he wants. I don't fault the people who are enjoying Gunbird on the Switch, but also think about it this way: Let's say M2 decided to release a Psikyo collection on the Switch that included Gunbird with save states, with low input lag and replay support. In this case wouldn't it be a reviewer's job to point out that these differences exist and why the M2 port is what players should be buying. Sadly, there is no such alternative for Psikyo on the Switch at the moment, so I'm just left being a negative jerk, but I do hope that it is understood that my concerns about these sorts of things are genuine.

...I do like the idea about being nice though, so I'll look into doing a review of the Darius Cosmic Collection on the Switch and why it's the type of port that developers should be making.

As far as the difference between Garegga on PS4 versus Gunbird on Switch goes, I think the key difference here is that the arcade version of Garegga, from what I've heard from superplayers like Eaglet, has around 4 frames of lag natively. Garegga's PCB lag is a whole different can of worms, but as far as the PS4 port is concerned, its 4 frames of lag pretty much matches the lag of the original game design, so gameplay on the PS4 version is faithful to how it was programmed (for better or for worse, ha). However, in the case of Gunbird, the arcade board itself certainly does not have 6 frames of lag. I don't know the exact numbers because I do not own a Gunbird PCB, but based on the Saturn port and how Psikyo game's generally respond in emulators, I'd make an educated guess of about 2-3 frames. Gunbird's bullet speeds get absolutely insane to where, even though I have nearly 1-all'd the game in SA (1 bomb away), I've never gotten beyond stage 3 on the Switch port.

Sure it is certainly possible to make that happen through sheer memorization, but there are still sections where reaction time is going to be critical and Gunbird is hard and frustrating enough without the added lag belt.

Anyway, I'm hoping I'm making things more clear rather than more confusing. What my goal has been is to try and represent the "hardcore" shmup player's outlook on a wider scale than just our insulated forum and discord channels. It's funny because around here the hardcore players seem to run the show and be the prominent voices, which I know is off-putting for people coming into the genre. Outside these circles though, when you get into the larger conversation about shmups, there is no community presence or voice really, it's just people riffing on the genre a bit and then moving on. I doubt I'll make much of a dent in this trend, but it feels like the next step in my journey to at least try.

I actually have been talking to people about the type of content that I could make, in addition to my usual stuff, that could appeal to newer players. The most consistent bit of feedback I received was start making more short-form content that people can try out without having to commit a bunch of time, like you mentioned. I think this is a good idea and I'm happy to say that I think I have come up with a really fun idea that should be more widely appealing, but still not be lame or derivative.

Let me know what you think, sorry for the storm of words ha.

Cheers!

--Mark MSX
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 Post subject: Re: [Article] My Thoughts on Switch as Shmup Machine + Lite
PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:54 pm 



Joined: 20 May 2018
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I kinda still think that you and some others are making the input lag just a bit too big of an issue that it really is, but I might be wrong about this. My experiences with input lag on Switch shmups have been such, that if I start the game after playing some low input lag stuff on 360 or Zero Ranger on PC, yeah I notice it definitely, but my brains adjust to it quite quickly if it's not overly bad (Strikers 1945 2 definitely feels too sluggish, but others are manageable) and I don't notice it much at all after a while.

It's a interesting subject though, and I would be interested if you would dig deeper into the subject on general level (not from it's bad on Switch perspective ;)). I'm curious about how much it really puts you into disadvantage, how much it cut's from your reaction times when you have couple of frames worse input lag (how many frames on average a medium speed bullet takes to travel half a screen, how much "fast" one is something I don't have clear idea). If you get some skilled players to really try to adjust to switch version, can they do it and how well they would do in a game like Gunbird 2 or Dragon Blaze (two of my favorites from Psikyo). I would believe a really skilled player would be able to adjust quite a bit, just wouldn't reach the the same scores.

as I said, I'm more of a casual player, but I have got to last boss on Gunbird 1 with 1 credit on Switch (Gunbird 2, which is a lot harder I get to stage 5 boss). I do not feel, it's the input lag which is preventing my progress though, it's more the lack of any kind of practicing tools in those games, like stage selects. It's freaking slow to learn the later stages and bosses in that old school arcade way (after reading your interview with the japanese player, I guess they have had to learn games like that still not too long ago, which is encouraging in a way). Bad input lag might be a factor, but's it's really hard to say how much it is. I can't say I feel automatically so much better if I play a game with low input lag (it feels nicer though and more in control).

Oh and like you know all too well, memorising, having a planned route plays a huge factor in doing well in most shmups. How much does 2 frames worse input lag compared to those?

btw. I would be interested to hear about the input lag test results in Rolling Gunner, it feels super responsive to me on Switch.


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 Post subject: Re: [Article] My Thoughts on Switch as Shmup Machine + Lite
PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:08 am 


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There are way too many straight ports for the Switch to be a particularly good shmup machine.

There's no "casual" base to cater to. There are only two types of people: those who have zero interest in the genre, and those who have a variable interest in the genre. The latter is always going to be looking for any information on these games.

Input lag is not a "hardcore" concern. It's a big deal among all kinds of players, in many genres and among many platforms.

You're not even remotely a "casual" if you can get anywhere in Gunbird, let alone 1-7.

The "old school arcade way" is to watch other people play a given game, not to sit there by yourself and hammer away at the first few stages until you start crying over it. More people need to stream these games.

The hardcore/casual divide is completely made up. In the past there were only "people who didn't care for video games" and "people who liked video games". That hasn't actually changed, but many like to say it has. It's hurting gaming as a whole, and it's one of the reasons this genre got tossed underground and left to rot.

There is far too much basic knowledge about this genre that many simply don't know or take for granted. Very few can really be trusted as an authority on anything.
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 Post subject: Re: [Article] My Thoughts on Switch as Shmup Machine + Lite
PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:12 am 



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Is that how you have to play vertical games? I mean..really? :shock:

I'm sure with enough practice someone might become accustomed eventually but damn, couln't they think of a less ...twisted way ? :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: [Article] My Thoughts on Switch as Shmup Machine + Lite
PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:57 am 


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I know, you're already making concessions playing on those fiddly little controls and that tiny reflective screen. How far do they have to push you before you're like "Oh, balls to it, I'll just read a book and wait until I get home!"
It can't be good for you playing like that, you're asking for trouble.
I suppose I'm not the target market for the new model, I don't think the switch is good as a handheld, mines been docked for most of it's life and gathering dust as well, it has to be said.


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 Post subject: Re: [Article] My Thoughts on Switch as Shmup Machine + Lite
PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:42 am 


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I don't know how anyone in their right goddamn mind could say that the Switch Lite looks like an improvement over the original for shmups. You DO know that you can't detach the Joycons on the Lite, right? Meaning vertical games will have to either be played with the screen horizontally and be crunched down to a 3-inch image, or played with that absolutely absurd style you described in your article, with your arms all twisted around like a pretzel, which is the opposite of what someone should be doing when expecting to play a game for any amount of time more than 60 seconds.
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 Post subject: Re: [Article] My Thoughts on Switch as Shmup Machine + Lite
PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 2:36 pm 


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MachineAres 1CC wrote:
I don't know how anyone in their right goddamn mind could say that the Switch Lite looks like an improvement over the original for shmups. You DO know that you can't detach the Joycons on the Lite, right? Meaning vertical games will have to either be played with the screen horizontally and be crunched down to a 3-inch image, or played with that absolutely absurd style you described in your article, with your arms all twisted around like a pretzel, which is the opposite of what someone should be doing when expecting to play a game for any amount of time more than 60 seconds.

For handheld play it is. If you want to set it down on a surface and play then you're better off with a laptop or a bigger android tablet.


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 Post subject: Re: [Article] My Thoughts on Switch as Shmup Machine + Lite
PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:16 am 


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The 2018 is strong here...
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 Post subject: Re: [Article] My Thoughts on Switch as Shmup Machine + Lite
PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:21 pm 


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MachineAres 1CC wrote:
I don't know how anyone in their right goddamn mind could say that the Switch Lite looks like an improvement over the original for shmups. You DO know that you can't detach the Joycons on the Lite, right? Meaning vertical games will have to either be played with the screen horizontally and be crunched down to a 3-inch image, or played with that absolutely absurd style you described in your article, with your arms all twisted around like a pretzel, which is the opposite of what someone should be doing when expecting to play a game for any amount of time more than 60 seconds.


I played a lot of 1941 and Varth on the PSP Capcom Collections this way, and I didn't think it was a big deal. *shrugs*
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 Post subject: Re: [Article] My Thoughts on Switch as Shmup Machine + Lite
PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 7:04 pm 


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Regarding my crazy grip on the Switch, like FRO says if you are used to doing this from the PSP and Vita days, this isn't too crazy of a control method. However, since the Switch is pretty heavy, it's much harder to do than on something like a PSP. So, overall, I do not think the Switch Lite will be better for shmups generally, just that it might have the potential to be more convenient for players (like myself) who only use the Switch as a handheld. It's not released yet, so this is just speculation. The d-pad and form factor might be awful, I'll have to see when I get my hands on one.

I figured my use of the term "hardcore" would get under someone's skin, so I'll try my best to explain why I used that term. I agree that, yes, in a larger intellectual sense and all that there is no such thing as "hardcore," it's an abstraction. However, when I am writing to different audiences and the concerns of different groups of players, there are different sets of taste and concerns. For example, here are the forum, people generally are interested in topics like the input lag, emulation, homebrew, all that sort of thing. However, I also linked this article on r/switch and have talked to people who have a passing interest in the genre, but aren't really concerned that the Gunbird port has a bunch of input lag. For example, compare my comments about the Gunbird port to this Nintendo Life review:

http://www.nintendolife.com/reviews/switch-eshop/gunbird

Not to try and give Nintendo Life a hard time, but we are obviously looking the game from two completely different perspectives. The writer from NL is also valuing different aspects of the port than I do.

My use of the term "hardcore" is me trying to prepare the readers that I'm going to be approaching the console from a different perspective than Nintendo Life or those types of publications. A perspective that values how the games actually play over how convenient it is to buy them or whatever. I'm talking about stuff that is generally considered best left unmentioned by these most outlets (emulation, homebrew) or else risk pissing off big brother Nintendo, so I decided to use the term.
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 Post subject: Re: [Article] My Thoughts on Switch as Shmup Machine + Lite
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:31 am 


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Mark_MSX wrote:
Regarding my crazy grip on the Switch, like FRO says if you are used to doing this from the PSP and Vita days, this isn't too crazy of a control method. However, since the Switch is pretty heavy, it's much harder to do than on something like a PSP.


I played enough of the PSP this way to know what you're talking about, and this is exactly the problem, that Switch is 3-4 times heavier than most PSP and Vita models and also about twice as long as either of those, which makes a big difference in how comfortable this position is. Plus, the PSP and Vita didn't have very many good vert games on them besides Star Soldier PSP (or emulators, if you hacked the original PSP) or a few PS1 games.
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 Post subject: Re: [Article] My Thoughts on Switch as Shmup Machine + Lite
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:53 pm 


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I understand it is an odd way of playing the Switch vertically, so if most people prefer to use the Flipgrip, I can understand that. What I was getting at in the article is that, if you are using this grip and not the Flipgrip, then the Switch Lite could be promising because it'll be smaller and lighter, which will likely make this way of playing more comfortable. However, if that sounds like something you're not interested in, I can understand why you wouldn't be interested in the Switch Lite for shmups. When I get the Lite in my hands and try this out, I'll write a follow up about my impressions of the revised console. At this point, I can't say anything definitely. What I was getting at in the article was to communicate some potential ideas about using the Switch Lite for shmups, but nothing is set in stone.
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