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 Post subject: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2019 2:01 pm 


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GREETINGS! I HAVE COME HERE TO SHILL.
I recently released a game that might appeal to shmup/arcade fans here, you can get it for free here :

https://boghog.itch.io/redpulse

Screenshots :

Image Image
Image Image

Feedback's appreciated. If someone will get good scores, post them. I'll put them on the default scoreboard.


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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:33 pm 


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Someone on here mentioned this one recently and I gave it a shot; I'm generally not big on run-n-guns, but off the cuff I enjoyed it, the feeling of the controls is different from most such games I've played but allows for much more agility when it comes to bullet-dodging, so I've experienced considerably fewer "pressed jump a frame too early, too bad" deaths than I normally do.

One thing that I have had a bit of trouble with is jumping down through platforms while under pressure; I understand why the down-jump command requires some precision so you don't accidentally drop into a baddie you're aiming down at, but I've lost a lot of lives at the second-stage midboss because it took me too long to react and get out of his way. Maybe it's just me needing practice.
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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2019 8:07 am 


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BulletMagnet wrote:
Someone on here mentioned this one recently and I gave it a shot; I'm generally not big on run-n-guns, but off the cuff I enjoyed it, the feeling of the controls is different from most such games I've played but allows for much more agility when it comes to bullet-dodging, so I've experienced considerably fewer "pressed jump a frame too early, too bad" deaths than I normally do.

One thing that I have had a bit of trouble with is jumping down through platforms while under pressure; I understand why the down-jump command requires some precision so you don't accidentally drop into a baddie you're aiming down at, but I've lost a lot of lives at the second-stage midboss because it took me too long to react and get out of his way. Maybe it's just me needing practice.


Glad to hear that you enjoyed it despite not being a huge run 'n gun fan! I struggled trying to implement fall-through platforms seamlessly, so it's definitely not just you. Most of the solutions I came up with were either needlessly complicated/wasteful, like an extra button, or clunky/unintuitive, such as double tapping. In the end I just said fuck it and went with the standard implementation, because it has the benefit of familiarity if nothing else. Stage 2 mid-boss is the only boss that's designed around such vertical movement, so hopefully it won't be a problem overall.


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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 7:33 am 


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Credit fed through this on intense a few days ago. I'm not sure the danmaku/platformer hybrid really works, threading the needle between bullets is awkward when you've got gravity to contend with. I find Ghouls 'n Ghost's thin vertical line to be a more intuitive way to handle tiny hitboxes in a platformer. Maybe I just need more time to get used to it. I like the relatively flat difficulty curve. In a lot of arcade games by the time you're ready for the last stage, the first half is a joke. Here it feels like you could consistently no-miss the final boss and still have trouble in stage 3.

Since you can shoot diagonally with the green weapon, it feels off to me that you can't do that with the others. Boghog, are the default weapon drops your recommendations for what to use? I got the feeling that that was the case. Maybe they're intended for score since switching to something else would waste valuable time? I liked the way your weapon only powered down rather than being lost altogether when you lose a life. In a scrubby credit fed clear losing my weapon was still a big problem, but in serious 1CC play I bet it's pretty forgiving of little mistakes here and there. I notice that the booster stays active as long as you hold the button down, but it doesn't necessarily stop as soon as you release the button because there's a minimum distance. What was the reasoning behind that choice? Micro-boosts would allow for a higher performance ceiling.

Redline's biggest weakness for me is that the stages tend to be a bit forgettable. Nothing ever stood out as bad, it just felt like I was doing essentially the same thing throughout the entire game. The elevator section was the only part where I really felt things meaningfully changed up. I like that destroying one of a boss's parts just destroys that part and he can't shoot with it anymore. With 99% of action game bosses these days once you destroy a boss part or kill their minions or whatever, they become enraged and even more dangerous. It's fine to do that, but I liked revisiting the old way of doing things here. I don't Redline is a bad game at all, but I gotta be honest, I'd only recommend it to someone who had already played all of the run and gun genre's luminaries and was still hungry for more. Might be worth playing for score? From a single playthrough I got the impression that the scoring system is meant to be a major part of the game, but personally it's something I don't have much interest in.


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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:54 pm 


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Okay, playing this now currently.

Very smooth game so far, cute player character. I notice the default controls in the readme suck (jump on space is too weird with ZXC controls). Sadly, I notice V is perma mapped to pause but I can remap to use ZXC for Boost/Jump/Shoot with an alternate key like Numpad Insert on pinky to special.

Boosting feels off. You have to commit to a slight dash on the ground and can't cancel it immediately by pressing away like you can in Mega Man X or Moo Mesa, and if you jump during a dash you REALLY commit to it since you can't control your movement until the end of the jump. Or if you fall off a platform during a jump. Since there are land mines at certain spots, the inability to stop jump boosting and control your movement feels extremely unwieldy and dangerous for a game that sometimes requires pretty fine precision to jump dodge stuff. I'm not a fan of boosting in this game as it currently works and I'm going to actively avoid boosting whenever possible.

The lack of diagonal shooting on two specific weapons feels rather... I dunno, archaic? It feels like there's a better, more fun way to differentiate the weapons while balancing around an 8 way shot like a traditional run and gun. The weapons themselves feel pretty fun though and I don't think giving 8 way to the other weapons would break things significantly considering the green weapon is still decently strong and the only one to have a shield. The red weapon is a massive liability in stages due to its blind spots.

Would like some kind of max power indicator when you're actually maxed out, picking up while at max doesn't give a cue other than not changing the weapon.

You can't change sound levels when ingame.

When pressing diagonal down + jump you should jump down a ledge instead of jumping straight up.

Music and sound effects are great and I really like the graphics. The bosses so far feel pretty fun too!

It's a really good game, and you've got some solid core ideas with the special attacks, just needs a few tweaks to really become truly special I think. I can tell there's some great subtle mechanics at work that show knowledge of shmups, such as some enemies bullet cancelling, and I think a major overhaul of how boosting works would really improve things.

Current best is the elevator on level 4 on one credit. I really appreciate how when you pick a different weapon you still power up the weapon.

I notice the air quickfall tech (down + jump while in air, diagonal OK) isn't told in the tutorial - potential oversight? I discovered it by accident.
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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 1:54 am 


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Vanguard wrote:
Credit fed through this on intense a few days ago. I'm not sure the danmaku/platformer hybrid really works, threading the needle between bullets is awkward when you've got gravity to contend with. I find Ghouls 'n Ghost's thin vertical line to be a more intuitive way to handle tiny hitboxes in a platformer. Maybe I just need more time to get used to it. I like the relatively flat difficulty curve. In a lot of arcade games by the time you're ready for the last stage, the first half is a joke. Here it feels like you could consistently no-miss the final boss and still have trouble in stage 3.

Since you can shoot diagonally with the green weapon, it feels off to me that you can't do that with the others. Boghog, are the default weapon drops your recommendations for what to use? I got the feeling that that was the case. Maybe they're intended for score since switching to something else would waste valuable time? I liked the way your weapon only powered down rather than being lost altogether when you lose a life. In a scrubby credit fed clear losing my weapon was still a big problem, but in serious 1CC play I bet it's pretty forgiving of little mistakes here and there. I notice that the booster stays active as long as you hold the button down, but it doesn't necessarily stop as soon as you release the button because there's a minimum distance. What was the reasoning behind that choice? Micro-boosts would allow for a higher performance ceiling.

Redline's biggest weakness for me is that the stages tend to be a bit forgettable. Nothing ever stood out as bad, it just felt like I was doing essentially the same thing throughout the entire game. The elevator section was the only part where I really felt things meaningfully changed up. I like that destroying one of a boss's parts just destroys that part and he can't shoot with it anymore. With 99% of action game bosses these days once you destroy a boss part or kill their minions or whatever, they become enraged and even more dangerous. It's fine to do that, but I liked revisiting the old way of doing things here. I don't Redline is a bad game at all, but I gotta be honest, I'd only recommend it to someone who had already played all of the run and gun genre's luminaries and was still hungry for more. Might be worth playing for score? From a single playthrough I got the impression that the scoring system is meant to be a major part of the game, but personally it's something I don't have much interest in.


Thanks for the honest feedback!

There are some strong tensions between platforming and bullet hell patterns and mechanics for sure. The way I attempted to alleviate it is to focus primarily on macro-dodges and quick kills. The problem is that unlike autoscrolling shmups, manual scrollers lack the natural dynamics that incentivize quick kills because you can slowly scroll small groups on screen and safely kill them. You're right about the importance of scoring, it's what is meant to lead the player into that fast, macrododgy, quick killy playstyle since all that's required for good scores is going fast and killing everything.

The weapon drops are what I preferred using or balanced the sections around, so they are recommended but not optimal. The score multiplier freezes while a weapon item is on screen, so switching weapons doesn't steal any precious puntos.

The idea behind the green weapon is to have kind of a "scrubby" safe weapon that's very effective for casual playthroughs but becomes less useful when playing for score. In retrospect it's probably not the best idea since losing all those extra aiming directions feels like getting cheated. Giving the other weapons that ability would make green useless. I didn't want the boost to turn into a glorified sprint button, the rationale is a mix of trying to give it a feeling of inertia, and wanting to give it tradeoffs for when you incorporate it into your routes.

What would make the stages more memorable in your opinion? The tendency of run n guns to change up their gameplay styles or turn into straight up platformers has always been a big pet peeve of mine so I tried to avoid that, may have gone too far in the other direction and made them too indistinct. Glad you appreciated the boss parts destruction not making the fights harder and the more evenly distributed difficulty, both were very much deliberate!

BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
Okay, playing this now currently.

Very smooth game so far, cute player character. I notice the default controls in the readme suck (jump on space is too weird with ZXC controls). Sadly, I notice V is perma mapped to pause but I can remap to use ZXC for Boost/Jump/Shoot with an alternate key like Numpad Insert on pinky to special.

Boosting feels off. You have to commit to a slight dash on the ground and can't cancel it immediately by pressing away like you can in Mega Man X or Moo Mesa, and if you jump during a dash you REALLY commit to it since you can't control your movement until the end of the jump. Or if you fall off a platform during a jump. Since there are land mines at certain spots, the inability to stop jump boosting and control your movement feels extremely unwieldy and dangerous for a game that sometimes requires pretty fine precision to jump dodge stuff. I'm not a fan of boosting in this game as it currently works and I'm going to actively avoid boosting whenever possible.

The lack of diagonal shooting on two specific weapons feels rather... I dunno, archaic? It feels like there's a better, more fun way to differentiate the weapons while balancing around an 8 way shot like a traditional run and gun. The weapons themselves feel pretty fun though and I don't think giving 8 way to the other weapons would break things significantly considering the green weapon is still decently strong and the only one to have a shield. The red weapon is a massive liability in stages due to its blind spots.

Would like some kind of max power indicator when you're actually maxed out, picking up while at max doesn't give a cue other than not changing the weapon.

You can't change sound levels when ingame.

When pressing diagonal down + jump you should jump down a ledge instead of jumping straight up.

Music and sound effects are great and I really like the graphics. The bosses so far feel pretty fun too!

It's a really good game, and you've got some solid core ideas with the special attacks, just needs a few tweaks to really become truly special I think. I can tell there's some great subtle mechanics at work that show knowledge of shmups, such as some enemies bullet cancelling, and I think a major overhaul of how boosting works would really improve things.

Current best is the elevator on level 4 on one credit. I really appreciate how when you pick a different weapon you still power up the weapon.

I notice the air quickfall tech (down + jump while in air, diagonal OK) isn't told in the tutorial - potential oversight? I discovered it by accident.


Oh shit nice catch, didn't realize that V was hard coded as pause, will have to fix that asap and add the down-jump into the tutorial + max power indicator while I'm at it.

Is the slight commitment on the ground a major issue, or is it mainly the boost-jump commitment that's the deal breaker? Maybe gradual deceleration if you're not holding forward could do the trick, or at least alleviate the problem.

Noted the comments on diagonal shooting. I'll play around with it and see what I can do. I think you're right, the game isn't "methodical" enough to suffer much from 8 degrees of shooting freedom. I don't think diagonal down + jump letting you fall through platforms would be such a good idea though especially with diagonal aiming, since the game does have a fair share of enemies under platforms, and stage 3 boss.

Glad you're liking the game man, and even the graphics of all things!


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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 2:33 am 


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Still playing it on stream currently. It's fun. I feel the levels are different enough thematically to feel pretty unique. It's nice how new enemies also get slowly introduced more, though perhaps a bit more enemy variety from stage to stage in terms of designs would be nice. The bosses are a lot of fun. Made it to stage 5. I noticed a few other issues:

• I don't like how you can't quick turn left/right or up/down when using the green weapon. I wish it only sprayed when moving an input at a 90 degree angle to the last input. Not a dealbreaker though as this is how the Force+Laser weapon functions in Gunstar Heroes too, however, unlike Gunstar Heroes, letting go of shot does NOT reset the orb positions. If you shoot right, then let go of shoot and quickly turn left, you will NOT instantly shoot left. Even when not firing the orbs are repositioning and will "sweep" the shots instead. Makes it hard to really use green effectively.

When I discovered Red not only cancels bullets but gives a tiny invulnerability period, I found myself using nothing but Red. Blue's missiles are great, don't get me wrong, but it sucks on smaller enemies and the lack of a safety mechanic on its special is actually a major disadvantage.

• A quick dash will lower your hitbox if aiming forward or up, but aiming directly down (not diagonal) or dashing while ducking causes you to stand, making your hitbox higher when you dash. You aim down while sliding low properly if holding a diagonal.

Quote:
Is the slight commitment on the ground a major issue, or is it mainly the boost-jump commitment that's the deal breaker?


The slight commitment on the ground is manageable, but the massive full-on commitment in boost jumping makes it feel completely unusable for precision gameplay since you can so easily jump into a spray of bullets.

Actually, while I like the idea of the dash for sliding under some shots or quick repositioning, I'm not crazy about it in general as a "speed through the level thing". More skilled players will make better use of it I'm sure, but I'm having Sonic the Hedgehog syndrome where I slam into things if I try and dash through the level. The ground commitment's manageable but if you slip off a ledge or jump you're in full commitment mode and that scares me off from using it, because I keep forgetting it's not like Mega Man X where you are in full control during ground/air dashes and can cancel freely. Either way I think you'd end up with a better game with the player maintaining full control, especially given unlike a shmup that lets you dash (Monolith for instance) you're very limited in where you can move due to gravity and having to jump around shots.

Quote:
I'll play around with it and see what I can do. I think you're right, the game isn't "methodical" enough to suffer much from 8 degrees of shooting freedom


It would also get away from some weapon select forcing that happens at some of the more hectic spots, where the red weapon clearly isn't intended to be used. The stage 4 elevator requires a lot of special use to cancel the bullets if you went with red for the first wave, and in stage 5 the red weapon denies your ability to deal with the grenade throwers in a timely fashion, which blue can special down or green can sweep. If you're worried 8 way shooting will render the weapons less distinctly useful, I don't think that'll be the case, but you could make red a bit thinner and make green's bullets wider to make them still feel distinctly advantageous for different targets, even with 8 way shooting.
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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 7:00 am 


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Got the Intense 1CC (forgot to enter my initials, oops). Took a few attempts just credit feeding the final boss before I could go and do it for real in a full run. Still no idea how to dodge the sweeping gravity well attack (you can duck it apparently? not sure what the intended way to go about it is). Amazing last couple of battles, really great game. Gonna throw some cash your way, hoping to see more stuff from you.

I only ran into one major issue the entire time I played which is like, once out of 50-60 runs? Maybe more? I lost track. But I have no idea where the stage 1 boss or the bridge went here. ;w;
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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 8:16 am 


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Congrats on the 1cc! I caught a good bit of it while sorting through my 2+ year old spaghetti code to make boost-jumping feel smoother, had some real shit-your-pants moments there. The intended way to deal with the final boss' second to last pattern is to just boost left to right. But then there's this guy. Happy to see you having fun with the game, cleared it surprisingly quickly.

I'll be releasing a patch that fixes a lot of these little issues very soon. When it comes to 8 way shooting I'm still not sure, will have to sit on the idea for a while before committing. That softlock is baffling, I think I might have fixed it but I'm not quite sure since I've got no clue what happened and can't recreate it.

How do you feel about the weapon balance now that you have the 1cc? Seems like you ended up varying them up quite a decent bit. I did make sure that everything is very doable with the starter weapon, but I understand that a lot of the routes you're forced into can get quite awkward.


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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 1:51 pm 


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When I finally went for the clear I just cycled through weapons as I felt like it, I figured it might end up as a Youtube recording and wouldn't be as interesting to see Machine Gun used all day long. I actually was getting in the habit of learning everything with it, and yeah, I discovered you had balanced everything around a basic weapon. Even the elevator fights are not too bad when you know what targets to prioritize. The last elevator is just a matter of not moving and tap dodging to avoid stuff, and the grenade throwers are manageable when you anticipate them. I got quite decent at it by the end, so ignore what I said before about weapon forcing.

The clear is rather messy and I should probably go back and do it without dying all over the place.

I think I am OK with the weapons as they are. The lack of 8 way feels a touch archaic in stages but the bosses are balanced around it and being able to strafe upwards, so I get what you are after. The lack of invulnerability on the laser's special makes it the worst boss weapon in my opinion, but speedkills with the missile are pretty nice. If you did add 8 way shooting I'd make diagonals always move you to be simple, and if you had more instant stop/start control on dashes you could use quick taps of dash to strafe upwards still.

The lack of control on your dashes is the only major negative I have with the game in terms of design, especially air dashes, as in a game where precision tap dodges are needed to sneak through stuff it feels unusual for the air dash to have such a lack of control if you try to jump over a bullet with it.

Also, I assume you've seen this clear? It looks like your game's attracted some high-level players who've really put some time into it. This guy also has S-Rank clears of each stage uploaded.

And where can we get the soundtrack for this? It's really good.

edit: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA I JUST 1CC'D IT NO MISS

After several botched attempts and just rushing way too fast, I managed to pull off a no-miss clear. The final boss went spectacularly well and during the 2nd TLB phase I speedkilled it by staying in the middle and jumping + specialing which even with Machine Gun lasts long enough to dodge the gravity wells.

Also ran into that "softlock" bug again where the bridge simply ran out, might be due to me having boost jumped over the boss spawn, but walking left back from where the stage abruptly disappears then suddenly spawned the boss. Will try and find it and clip that bit.

REDPULSE - NO DEATH 1CC

I basically stick with the machine gun cause it's rad.

The music in the game is really great, and I love the parallaxing backgrounds. The background in the final stage is really cool and reminds me of the last level of Rayforce somehow.
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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 3:22 am 


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Hell yeah dude, congrats on the nomiss! Very impressive considering you've only been playing for 2 days, even I can rarely get it.

Alright so I uploaded the soundtrack to the itch page, and fixed the softlock bug, should all be good now!

I've seen that guy's videos when he uploaded them, he destroyed my game. Took him like a week to get a score very close to my pb with all S ranks and everything. Now if only I knew how to get rid of that nasty slowdown he experienced, I could fully enjoy the runs without feeling embarrassed.

The final elevator section is kind of a risk vs reward decision, the final door has a very lucrative milking spot that becomes much harder if you're using anything that's not the machine gun, but the elevator itself is harder if you stick with the red weapon. How'd you feel about the changed dash jumps? The goal is to preserve some sense of momentum while still giving enough control, I'm interested in hearing how it feels and if I should tweak some values to give a bit more control.

It reminds you of Rayforce for very good reason! I was watching the video of the final stage as reference while making that background, that bit of the game is one of the coolest parts of any shmup, something I wish I had the art skills to copy better.


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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 4:42 am 


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Thanks, it's not the hardest run 'n gun I think to just go for a 1CC because if you play it slower, you can manage everything pretty well or speedkill the dangerous stuff. It's not like some where hitboxes can be quite large or enemies very fast; here everything's quite reasonably manageable to learn if you're careful, but where the real challenge comes in is learning to play for score which changes how the game plays as you're constantly rushing through at a mad pace with the Vanquish style boosting. I really like the difficulty where it's at! It hits that sweet spot a lot of shmups do where the game is pretty approachable to learn for survival play but truly amps up the challenge when mastering the scoring system.

I appreciate the soundtrack download. Threw some cash your way for the game.

The boost jumping physics now feel great as far as controlling your horizontal movement while in the air. The new tweaking really improves it. I do notice:

• Boost jump in ver 1.1 no longer retains full forward speed while holding boost, you have to hold forward to jump as far (the difference is slight, but it's enough to make you fail the tutorial jump if not holding forward). Pressing the opposite direction in midair rapidly slows you down to a stop. You CANNOT quick drop out of a boost jump for some reason, and you don't immediately boost again once you hit the ground while holding boost.

In my opinion, it just needs a few more tweaks to be perfect. I'd make boost jumps function as follows:

• Jumping while boosting moves you at full speed regardless of whether or not you are holding a direction when you jump. You only change/slow your forward momentum if you press the opposite direction while in midair, rapidly slowing you down to a stop. You can quickdrop out of a boost jump to immediately reset/lose all forward momentum. Holding boost when you land immediately boosts you forward again as soon as you touch the ground.

The issue I noticed before where holding down and tapping boost does a standing boost, not a crouching boost during the first portion of the boost is not fixed in version 1.1, which can cause you to smack in you bullets you'd otherwise dodge by neutral/diagonal down boosting.

Only other thing I'd note is the tutorial on quick dropping has you smack through a barrier with it which gives the wrong impression that it can be used as an attack. I'd add a note in the tutorial about it being used to dodge/land more quickly. Players will probably quickly learn as I did that it's an evasion move and not an attack though if they try using it on enemies.
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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 9:28 am 


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Alright, I've put some time into this and have a proper 1CC. Would've been a one life clear if not for a mishap with trying to jump up while shooting down, but oh well. My fault not the game's fault. Anyway, this is better than I gave it credit for. I guess it's not surprising that an arcade-style game wouldn't show its worth while credit feeding. Now I can give better feedback. I'll even get the name right this time, believe it or not.

boghog wrote:
Thanks for the honest feedback!

There are some strong tensions between platforming and bullet hell patterns and mechanics for sure. The way I attempted to alleviate it is to focus primarily on macro-dodges and quick kills. The problem is that unlike autoscrolling shmups, manual scrollers lack the natural dynamics that incentivize quick kills because you can slowly scroll small groups on screen and safely kill them. You're right about the importance of scoring, it's what is meant to lead the player into that fast, macrododgy, quick killy playstyle since all that's required for good scores is going fast and killing everything.

The weapon drops are what I preferred using or balanced the sections around, so they are recommended but not optimal. The score multiplier freezes while a weapon item is on screen, so switching weapons doesn't steal any precious puntos.

The idea behind the green weapon is to have kind of a "scrubby" safe weapon that's very effective for casual playthroughs but becomes less useful when playing for score. In retrospect it's probably not the best idea since losing all those extra aiming directions feels like getting cheated. Giving the other weapons that ability would make green useless. I didn't want the boost to turn into a glorified sprint button, the rationale is a mix of trying to give it a feeling of inertia, and wanting to give it tradeoffs for when you incorporate it into your routes.

What would make the stages more memorable in your opinion? The tendency of run n guns to change up their gameplay styles or turn into straight up platformers has always been a big pet peeve of mine so I tried to avoid that, may have gone too far in the other direction and made them too indistinct. Glad you appreciated the boss parts destruction not making the fights harder and the more evenly distributed difficulty, both were very much deliberate!


Not surprised to hear that you'd already put thought into all that stuff. Even in my initial playthrough I got the impression that very little of what was in the game was an accident.

I've made peace with no microboosts, but I don't like the boost jump at all. Doing one by mistake is usually a death sentence. Makes me wary of any impromptu dashing at all. It'd help a lot to have a way to cancel the beginning of a boost jump into a normal jump or something like that. I'm sure it has a purpose in scoring, but as a humble survival player it's just a big old hazard.

After playing with the weapons a bit I think the green one is more fun than the others. I use it almost exclusively outside of bosses and midbosses. The blue laser is perfectly effective as a weapon, but its special can't stop bullets so I think it's far and away the worst choice for survival. The missile salvo would have to be an extremely brutal boss slayer to make up for how many mistakes the other two let you get away with. I also don't like using blue as much because manually aiming with green feels more interactive than spraying the room with blue. The red gun has the opposite problem from blue where it's a lot of effort to line it up with anything that isn't right in front. The extra damage is nice but normal enemies go down fast to anything. I imagine that red is intended to be the pro weapon, where you dash through everything and fire up and down at enemies as you pass by? Green is a little weak for bosses, so against them I switch to red. It's helpful that the music stops just before a boss fight, so I know when to switch even when I don't have the level memorized. Not sure what, if anything, should be changed.

As far as the stages being memorable, I think the two biggest problems are that enemies feel largely interchangeable and the terrain is generally uninteresting. Most enemies are on screen for about a second before they die. I don't give a lot of thought to their individual bullet patterns either. I know they're all different, but none are individually threatening enough for me to care about prioritizing specific threats. The enemies who stand out the most to me are those guys with 2 HP and get mercy invincibility after taking a hit. Their unique damage mechanics and the way they curl up into a ball to jump around make them feel like they're something like mass-produced versions of the protagonist. The way they move around a lot, and how they attack from above, both with a speadshot and with their own bodies, make them demand a lot more attention than normal enemies. I especially like the bit in stage 5 where a pair drop down next to you and you effortlessly punt both of them off of your elevator. I'd say the second best are the shield guys who throw bombs. Usually they're not a problem, but when you meet them in the areas where you need to hold your ground, their area denial presents a unique threat.

As far interesting terrain goes, I'd say NES Contra is a great example to look at. Stage 1 has a bunch of alternate paths with different obstacles and powerups depending on where you go. Stage 3 is entirely vertical. Stage 5 is relatively simple, designed to maximize the threat of the new turret gunners. 6 is mostly about the timed flamethrower traps, but despite using the same hazard so many times, it keeps the idea fresh by changing the context. Even if you don't want to make a trap-heavy game, it may be worth looking at the room designs and thinking about what would happen if you replaced the flamethrowers with enemies. The combat-heavy parts of the stage have three tiers of platforms, which can freely move up and down, which is advantageous for the player. Stage 7 is even more trap-heavy and likely isn't the thing you're looking for, but towards the end is a turret gunner waiting on top of a small ledge and you can only hurt him by moving up where he can hit you and it's a great example of using small variations in terrain to make a common enemy way more dangerous. In Redpulse, those two underground enemies at the start of stage 3 are somewhat similar. They're really minor enemies, but it's tricky to get at them, especially if you switched to red to kill the stage 2 boss. It's not an especially hard segment, but it's one that always makes me slow down a bit and take it seriously, which is what I like to see. Anyway, back to Contra. Stage 8 has a bunch of interesting terrain layouts, but I think it's kind of spoiled by the wall-mouth enemies being all you encounter. They're really easy as long as you take it slow, and they're a huge pain in high loops when they have a million health.

Scenery can also go a long way towards making a level more memorable. I think Redpulse looks good for what it is, it's clearly not a high budget production, but everything works. It's a bit lacking in variation, though, if you showed me a screenshot of any given stage I could tell you which stage it was, but likely not where in the stage. I have an easier time remembering what I'm supposed to do at different points in games if the background has a landmark I can reference. As a positive example, the idyllic garden and the ruined city do a lot to make Redpulse's final boss more memorable.

I didn't mention this before, but I appreciate the warning signs that let you know something dangerous is about to spawn. Though I think it'd be better to remove the ones from that early form of the final boss where he fires bullets up into the air and the crosshairs show where they're going to land. That attack is really easy, if the player had to keep track of the shots themselves they'd at least need to use up more mental CPU cycles watching the ground and the air at the same time.

I like that after finishing a stage you can't move but you can still change your posture, so you can mash the movement buttons to make your robot dance.

Also, what do you think of a hitbox display option? I imagine it would smooth out the initial learning curve on dodging bullet hell attacks in a platformer.

What's the reasoning behind the way powerups auto-collect only when you stop shooting for a moment? And why don't the ones from flying enemies do it? It's not a big problem I just don't get why.


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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 2:39 am 


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BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
Thanks, it's not the hardest run 'n gun I think to just go for a 1CC because if you play it slower, you can manage everything pretty well or speedkill the dangerous stuff. It's not like some where hitboxes can be quite large or enemies very fast; here everything's quite reasonably manageable to learn if you're careful, but where the real challenge comes in is learning to play for score which changes how the game plays as you're constantly rushing through at a mad pace with the Vanquish style boosting. I really like the difficulty where it's at! It hits that sweet spot a lot of shmups do where the game is pretty approachable to learn for survival play but truly amps up the challenge when mastering the scoring system.


It's actually surprising to me how reasonable the difficulty turned out to be, playtesting done by my "what's a 1cc?" friends gave me a very wrong idea about the game's difficulty, even made me tone down a lot of stuff. Though this is a good thing, I wanted it to be closer to Shock Troopers than Metal Slug 3 in overall 1cc difficulty, even if the type of difficulty is very different.

BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
I appreciate the soundtrack download. Threw some cash your way for the game.


Very much appreciated!

BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
In my opinion, it just needs a few more tweaks to be perfect. I'd make boost jumps function as follows:

• Jumping while boosting moves you at full speed regardless of whether or not you are holding a direction when you jump. You only change/slow your forward momentum if you press the opposite direction while in midair, rapidly slowing you down to a stop. You can quickdrop out of a boost jump to immediately reset/lose all forward momentum. Holding boost when you land immediately boosts you forward again as soon as you touch the ground.

The issue I noticed before where holding down and tapping boost does a standing boost, not a crouching boost during the first portion of the boost is not fixed in version 1.1, which can cause you to smack in you bullets you'd otherwise dodge by neutral/diagonal down boosting.


Implemented almost everything now, with the exception of the crouch boost. I don't particularly like how it functions atm but it had to be done for balancing purposes, otherwise the player can simply crouch-boost their way through a lot of the game, going under enemies while being safe from their shots. It's one of those inconvenient compromises like the input for falling through platforms overlapping with shooting down.

Vanguard wrote:
Alright, I've put some time into this and have a proper 1CC. Would've been a one life clear if not for a mishap with trying to jump up while shooting down, but oh well. My fault not the game's fault. Anyway, this is better than I gave it credit for. I guess it's not surprising that an arcade-style game wouldn't show its worth while credit feeding. Now I can give better feedback. I'll even get the name right this time, believe it or not.


Congrats on the 1cc! Really happy to hear that the game grew on you. Try it out the new update if/when you can, I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on the updated boost-jump mechanics and whether or not you're more inclined to boost around after those changes.

Vanguard wrote:
As far as the stages being memorable, I think the two biggest problems are that enemies feel largely interchangeable and the terrain is generally uninteresting. Most enemies are on screen for about a second before they die. I don't give a lot of thought to their individual bullet patterns either. I know they're all different, but none are individually threatening enough for me to care about prioritizing specific threats. The enemies who stand out the most to me are those guys with 2 HP and get mercy invincibility after taking a hit. Their unique damage mechanics and the way they curl up into a ball to jump around make them feel like they're something like mass-produced versions of the protagonist. The way they move around a lot, and how they attack from above, both with a speadshot and with their own bodies, make them demand a lot more attention than normal enemies. I especially like the bit in stage 5 where a pair drop down next to you and you effortlessly punt both of them off of your elevator. I'd say the second best are the shield guys who throw bombs. Usually they're not a problem, but when you meet them in the areas where you need to hold your ground, their area denial presents a unique threat.


The enemy homogeneity is something that's a sore spot for me, you're definitely right that few enemies that require unique strategies to take down or combine with the terrain in interesting ways, especially for survival play where you can afford to stand back and play it safe. It's partly the result of settling on a set of rules to make it feel more bullet hell shmup-like, such as giving everything low HP, giving everything small hitboxes and giving the player overwhelming firepower. It's actually interesting just how much of a difference the hitbox size makes in games like this, where in Contra a few bullets and minor changes in terrain could create very different situations by blocking off parts of the screen and forcing you to move, in Redpulse the equivalent requires huge bullet vomit, unreasonably large attack hitboxes, or delayed effects like flames. Both the grenade and 2 HP jumping enemies are late additions meant to address this exact problem. This and the terrain variety is something to take away for when I make another sidescrolling platformer inspired game.

Vanguard wrote:
Though I think it'd be better to remove the ones from that early form of the final boss where he fires bullets up into the air and the crosshairs show where they're going to land. That attack is really easy, if the player had to keep track of the shots themselves they'd at least need to use up more mental CPU cycles watching the ground and the air at the same time.


It was originally like that but because of how the grenade explosion bullets tended to overlap it was hard to effectively plan your jump timing and some nasty situations were possible. Maybe greater randomization of the place where the grenades land is a better alternative? That way attention is still required but everything's shown in advance. I'll see what I can do with that attack.

Vanguard wrote:
Also, what do you think of a hitbox display option? I imagine it would smooth out the initial learning curve on dodging bullet hell attacks in a platformer.


My problem with hitbox display is that once you enable it there's no reason to disable it. I like that element of approximating your dodges that comes with invisible hitboxes. And I played through the game with a hitbox that almost matched the sprite to make sure everything is very dodgeable visually. Maybe a good solution would be making the hitbox visible in the tutorial and adding some bullet dodging challenges into it.

Vanguard wrote:
What's the reasoning behind the way powerups auto-collect only when you stop shooting for a moment? And why don't the ones from flying enemies do it? It's not a big problem I just don't get why.


There's no real reason, it's just to give the player a reason to let go of the shoot button, and it feels cool to suck in the energy. It doesn't auto-collect from certain flying enemies because they appear in auto-scrolling parts of the game. The intention is to make the energy pick ups like medals or coins in shmups so there's more little things to do and optimize besides survival.


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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 2:53 am 


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boghog wrote:
Implemented almost everything now, with the exception of the crouch boost. I don't particularly like how it functions atm but it had to be done for balancing purposes, otherwise the player can simply crouch-boost their way through a lot of the game, going under enemies while being safe from their shots. It's one of those inconvenient compromises like the input for falling through platforms overlapping with shooting down.


Is that why down+boost specifically doesn't crouch boost you in the early part of the animation, unlike any other input? I mean, you can already crouch boost through a lot of stuff simply by neutral boosting and tapping repeatedly with half-decent timing on enemy shots. If you don't want the player to be able to slide under any shots at all for speed purposes, you can simply remove the ducking animation from the early part of the boost and have the boost always be standing. With the improvements to boosting in the air allowing you more control, there will be more reason to jump boost past stuff instead of crouch boosting under shots anyways as you have more control over landing. It just feels really unintuitive when ducking to lose your ducking state if you boost, but you duck while boosting if you don't duck as you initiate the boost. I just want whether you're standing when boosting or ducking to be more consistent I guess.

Personally I think making boosting always lower your hitbox wouldn't be bad either, and you just have to redesign the more basic enemies you want to fire a shot at low height designed to deny crouch boosts for enemies you don't want to be able to duck under. Like the basic soldiers, you can refine it and look at stuff like a wider "wave" style shot or double shot. Or if you don't want to spend forever rebalancing the game, something to look at in a sequel perhaps?
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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 3:06 am 


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BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
Is that why down+boost specifically doesn't crouch boost you in the early part of the animation, unlike any other input? I mean, you can already crouch boost through a lot of stuff simply by neutral boosting and tapping repeatedly with half-decent timing on enemy shots. If you don't want the player to be able to slide under any shots at all for speed purposes, you can simply remove the ducking animation from the early part of the boost and have the boost always be standing. With the improvements to boosting in the air allowing you more control, there will be more reason to jump boost past stuff instead of crouch boosting under shots anyways as you have more control over landing. It just feels really unintuitive when ducking to lose your ducking state if you boost, but you duck while boosting if you don't duck as you initiate the boost. I just want whether you're standing when boosting or ducking to be more consistent I guess.

Personally I think making boosting always lower your hitbox wouldn't be bad either, and you just have to redesign the more basic enemies you want to fire a shot at low height designed to deny crouch boosts for enemies you don't want to be able to duck under. Like the basic soldiers, you can refine it and look at stuff like a wider "wave" style shot or double shot. Or if you don't want to spend forever rebalancing the game, something to look at in a sequel perhaps?


You know, I was about to type out a whole thing about how the difference between crouch boost and spamming boost the latter having some frames where you're vulnerable which makes a difference but then I realized that it's also true for crouch boosting because of how boost recovery works now. So you win this one, I'll go fix it right now.

Perma-sliding is something I considered but at this point yeah it would require too much of the game to be redesigned, I'd maybe have to give enemies hitboxes so you can't touch them or something similar. I do want to make an updated version of the game with local co-op and other neat stuff eventually so I may add it there, right now it would require too much work and distract from other projects.

Edit : U P D A T E D


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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 1:06 am 


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Quote:
You know, I was about to type out a whole thing about how the difference between crouch boost and spamming boost the latter having some frames where you're vulnerable which makes a difference but then I realized that it's also true for crouch boosting because of how boost recovery works now. So you win this one, I'll go fix it right now.


And neutral sliding or forward sliding is still better than holding down + tapping slide because if you're gonna be doing that you want to be firing forward as much as possible anyways rather than firing downwards, which you could already do.

The update feels almost perfect. It's vastly improved and feels super controllable. Bravo.

The only nitpicks I have left are Boost -> Jump without pressing a direction has a teeny tiny speed drop compared to Boost -> Jump while holding forward. It makes the difference between making the jump in the tutorial or not (but the distance difference is pretty small). It's not a huge issue; the main reason I'd like Jump to go full distance without having to hold forward to do it (and only slow down when pushing backward) is so a boost jump moves you just as far forward potentially as when firing up or down during the jump. But if the changes to the jump physics make this difficult to adjust, it's not the end of the world either.

The only other issue I noticed is it's possible to get stuck in the Tutorial and experience a softlock where you have no way to exit except quitting the game. To trigger it, jump across the boost jump in the tutorial, then with the screen scrolled ahead, drop down to the left into that pit. You can't move left to get back up where you did the boost jump from, and you're stuck until you quit the game. A potential fix is making the blocks at the bottom vanish after you boost jump across, or don't be an idiot and walk back left to fall in there after. ;w;
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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 11:26 am 


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BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
And neutral sliding or forward sliding is still better than holding down + tapping slide because if you're gonna be doing that you want to be firing forward as much as possible anyways rather than firing downwards, which you could already do.

The update feels almost perfect. It's vastly improved and feels super controllable. Bravo.

The only nitpicks I have left are Boost -> Jump without pressing a direction has a teeny tiny speed drop compared to Boost -> Jump while holding forward. It makes the difference between making the jump in the tutorial or not (but the distance difference is pretty small). It's not a huge issue; the main reason I'd like Jump to go full distance without having to hold forward to do it (and only slow down when pushing backward) is so a boost jump moves you just as far forward potentially as when firing up or down during the jump. But if the changes to the jump physics make this difficult to adjust, it's not the end of the world either.

The only other issue I noticed is it's possible to get stuck in the Tutorial and experience a softlock where you have no way to exit except quitting the game. To trigger it, jump across the boost jump in the tutorial, then with the screen scrolled ahead, drop down to the left into that pit. You can't move left to get back up where you did the boost jump from, and you're stuck until you quit the game. A potential fix is making the blocks at the bottom vanish after you boost jump across, or don't be an idiot and walk back left to fall in there after. ;w;


<<<U p D A T e D>>>

Sorted both out now, also fixed an oversight where boosting off a ledge didn't give you air control and added the ability to move forward during boost jump, not just backwards. Fixed the tutorial in a very crude manner by just putting a wall behind you, but if it works it works. Anyway, thanks a lot for the feedback, actually got me to improve the game! Now that you helped me out, you better watch your back since I might just bother you about playtesting a demo of a top down shmup/beat 'em up hybrid, once I get some stuff finished and make it presentable. :twisted:


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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:35 pm 


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This game looks quite fun and polished. I would like to try it, and am sorry for being that guy : Switch version ?
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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2019 8:54 am 


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guigui wrote:
This game looks quite fun and polished. I would like to try it, and am sorry for being that guy : Switch version ?


Ideally I'd want to port it but realistically definitely not any time soon, don't have the system and can't afford it either.


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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2019 3:54 pm 


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Is it normal for the item that contains a ton of special weapon energy at the start of the game not be present in Mild difficulty? Running through Mild, just noticed that change.
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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2019 6:13 am 


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BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
Is it normal for the item that contains a ton of special weapon energy at the start of the game not be present in Mild difficulty? Running through Mild, just noticed that change.


Yeah, the special energy gain is increased by a lot on Mild so there was no need to give that initial boost to make sure the player can play around with the special attack


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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2019 2:02 pm 


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boghog wrote:
The weapon drops are what I preferred using or balanced the sections around, so they are recommended but not optimal. The score multiplier freezes while a weapon item is on screen, so switching weapons doesn't steal any precious puntos.


Doesn't this encourage avoiding the item once you're powered up so you can extend your free time as much as possible? Since you never travel from right to left it might be best to add another rule saying that the counter only stops if the weapon item is to the right of the player. You'd want to leave it working the way it is now for the elevator though.


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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2019 5:23 pm 


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Vanguard wrote:
Doesn't this encourage avoiding the item once you're powered up so you can extend your free time as much as possible? Since you never travel from right to left it might be best to add another rule saying that the counter only stops if the weapon item is to the right of the player. You'd want to leave it working the way it is now for the elevator though.


Technically yes, realistically though it's such a small bonus that it shouldn't prevent someone from changing to an appropriate weapon for any given section. So I don't mind it existing as a little trick for tiny optimizations, adds a nice extra use for weapon pick ups when you're full.


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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2019 9:08 pm 


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Two more minor bugs:

• When playing keyboard, whenever you quit the game the game changes the saved key mapping for Jump back to the spacebar. You have to go in and remap Jump anytime you reload the game.

• Quitting to the main menu when the low time limit alarm is sounding will CONSTANTLY PLAY IT in the main menu (I was sitting around chatting on a run I'd botched and listening to the stage music which is why I let the timer drop that low :P).
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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2019 10:08 pm 


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BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
Two more minor bugs:

• When playing keyboard, whenever you quit the game the game changes the saved key mapping for Jump back to the spacebar. You have to go in and remap Jump anytime you reload the game.

• Quitting to the main menu when the low time limit alarm is sounding will CONSTANTLY PLAY IT in the main menu (I was sitting around chatting on a run I'd botched and listening to the stage music which is why I let the timer drop that low :P).


Good catch again, UPDATED! No clue how I let those slip especially the jump rebind not saving.


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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2019 6:22 pm 


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I'm still playing this, trying to show off a half decent run where I blaze through stage 1, even if I have to play the rest carefully. I'm not happy with my previous deathless recording since there's like 3 or 4 spots with dropped frames from the stream where the video pauses briefly.

I would certainly be open to playtesting other stuff you have in the future.
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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Wed Dec 25, 2019 12:02 pm 


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BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
I'm still playing this, trying to show off a half decent run where I blaze through stage 1, even if I have to play the rest carefully. I'm not happy with my previous deathless recording since there's like 3 or 4 spots with dropped frames from the stream where the video pauses briefly.

I would certainly be open to playtesting other stuff you have in the future.


Good stuff dude, make sure to link it once you get a clean run. And excellent, I'll send you a PM once I've got a little demo/prototype ready.


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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Wed Dec 25, 2019 1:12 pm 


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Finally stopped smacking into bullets and upped my score by a million. It's still a good 2 million off from that superplayer but I'm happy with where I'm at with the game. I wimped out a bit on the Stage 5 milk at the end but I just wanted a good recording I could showcase where I don't die multiple times! Some close shaves here and there (the Stage 4 boss was a mess due to a significant screwup, nearly cost me the run), but it's a no-miss clear, and doesn't have the frame drops I had on prior recording:

https://youtu.be/qMy-rq84-jw
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 Post subject: Re: Redpulse - A run 'n gun/bullet hell hybrid
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2019 9:43 am 



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Playing since yesterday and got my 1CC today. Fun and controls great (as long as I avoid boost jumps).

boghog, is there a particular reason why you designed the game with multiple levels of shot power? Does the (almost immediate) build up to max power serve any purpose, or did you just follow shmup tradition? Same with powering down after a miss. I find the former harmless but pointless, and the latter to hurt the experience, a lot.
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