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 Post subject: Re: Papilio [v0.9 Beta NOW AVAILABLE!]
PostPosted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 2:00 am 


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Good to be playing this one again. A couple quick thoughts:

- I seem to recall that my biggest issue with the game the last time around was visibility, and this remains the same: I tend to lose track of enemy attacks frequently, against both the background and my own firepower. Which is a bit tragic, since I really like the look of the game in terms of aesthetics, but I'd definitely look into at least giving the player more options in terms of perhaps making enemy bullets flashier, desaturating the backgrounds, etc. to make things easier to sort out on the fly.

- Perhaps it's just my playstyle, but the lower the movement speed I'm using the more gimped I feel; granted, there are plenty of bullets to weave through, but all the same I struggle to both collect gems before they scroll offscreen and position myself to attack enemies before they can unload too much (or get out of the way of certain non-weavable attacks) when on a slower configuration, especially if I find myself stuck with a weapon ill-suited to the area. Definitely get a larger sampling of opinions before acting on this, though.

- Might already be on your to-do list, but a bit more clarity in the tutorial as to the specifics of scoring might be warranted; off the cuff I have no idea how the "perfect" bonus works, nor is there any hint as to the "use bombs for score" thing you mentioned a few posts up, and I'm sure there's more than that at work too. Off to the side, apart from the requisite moment of invincibility, do you get anything for collecting a weapon powerup for the weapon you're already carrying? It feels like it ought to be worth at least a couple of gems or something.

- The hotfix addressed a bunch of the technical issues I experienced with the previous build, but I did experience one rather nasty bug: after finishing the second level and exiting the results screen, the game suddenly jumped to the spider boss of the third level, where I'd lost my last life the previous run; there was no music and no player character onscreen, the boss and his minions just kind of scurried around doing their thing. None of the buttons I pushed seemed to do anything, so I had to exit the application.

Still a lot of fun, though: I like the presentation and experimenting with the different weapons and branching paths. I know story isn't a priority (and shouldn't be), but I can't say I'm not a bit curious about the game's world and all the Hindu mythology references and such; I'm interested to know more about how everything came to fit together, even if said insight isn't included in the game. Keep up the good work, and glad to see you back in action.
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 Post subject: Re: Papilio [v0.9 Beta NOW AVAILABLE!]
PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2019 2:25 am 


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@BulletMagnet - Thanks for the feedback!

Re: visibility, I'm going to try and make a few adjustments to things. One issue I noticed on my end was the number of colorful explosions and excessively bright backgrounds that I made, so I'l try a universal color balancing/redrawing of enemy projectiles and BGs. Also BPzeBanshee said my enemy density was a bit too high...

Re: player speed, that's actually a tough thing for me to balance out but I'll experiment with increasing player speed slightly and shrinking the hitbox a tiny bit. Originally the intent was to give slower configurations higher firepower, but it seems to have backfired once I increased enemy count in later stages.

Re: Tutorial. Actually yes, I do plan on creating a demo section to make things easier to grasp, although it's going to take quite a while to put together. But for now I'll just update the in-game manual to contain the new scoring mechanics for quicker reference.

EDIT: I should remember to put this in the manual, but the "Perfect" bonus is awarded after completing a level with your point items at max capacity (500). This bonus increases exponentially with each level completed, but it won't be awarded if the player bombs too much and finishes a level with less than 500 point items (you can bomb for free if your shields are active though, which depletes the shields instead of the point items and grants a x3 multiplier bonus).

Re: Stage 3 boss area glitch. My bad, I enabled a persistence feature by accident which is causing Stage 3 to not revert to default values after exiting. Will fix soon and add the new manual entry as well.

Re: presentation. Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed this! There's a lot of stuff I want to add to flesh out the tale more without being intrusive on gameplay; I was actually inspired by the original Rocket Knight Adventures presenting its entire story without any dialogue using engine-based cutscenes, as well as Einhander's level-by-level account of the Selene invasion.

But suffice to say I focused more on worldbuilding in Papilio based on a) some real-life world events in the late oughties (probably a bit too sensitive to post here but it involves some rather grisly acts of violence in India), b) Tolkien's "On Faerie-Stories" and c) me seeing Thunder Force VI's lousy attempt at worldbuilding and thinking to myself "what a waste of a good opportunity. Also that traditional Mongol script is wack" which is why most of the bosses from stages 6-8 have Mongolian names instead of Hindi ones (the airships from stages 5-8 were relics from a war waged by ancient civilizations).
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 Post subject: Re: Papilio [v0.9 Beta NOW AVAILABLE!]
PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 11:39 am 


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Location: Frying over a jungle and saving the nature
Copypastarino from my bulk email and devlog published yesterday, but here's some patch notes for the current version of Papilio:

A quick update has been made to Papilio following some feedback and bug reports over the start of the weekend, which includes the following changes:

  • Fixed a major error occurring in Stage 3 due to the level having been mistakenly flagged as a Persistent Room during editing, which prevented it from resetting its values on exit
  • Fixed a fatal error when attempting to start a 2 Player game owing to a variable check oversight in the Player 2 object, which caused the game to crash
  • Fixed a minor error involving the screenshot numbering variable not being recognized and saved correctly on startup and upon exiting the game, causing it to revert to 0 and any future screenshots to overwrite earlier ones
  • Increased player character flight speed for all Wisp types
  • Updated the keyboard rebind algorithms to correctly detect invalid keys (currently, only F9 and Esc cannot be bound)
  • Updated the in-game manual to reflect the new scoring mechanics (see pages 7 and 12 of the manual accessible from the Title Screen for more info)

In addition, I have also updated the Free Demo to be compatible with machines running Windows 7, 8 and 10. The new demo also features the first 4 stages as well as Rank Off mode. Barring any emergency hotfixes, this will be the final version of the demo.
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 Post subject: Re: Papilio [v0.9 Beta NOW AVAILABLE, v0.4 Free Demo Update]
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:46 am 


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Location: Frying over a jungle and saving the nature
Hotfix (04/08/2019)

A quick update has been made to Papilio which includes the following changes:

  • Fixed a fatal error that caused the game to crash when destroying the Stage 4 boss' plant mound instead of its main body
  • Fixed a minor error regarding the Stage 2 boss death animation not displaying the correct sprite
  • Increased the damage and size of the Fire Wisp's red powerup bomb
  • Adjusted some backgrounds in Stages 1 and 3 to be less saturated. This is the first step in a series of graphical recalibrations for better visibility.
  • Fixed the Fire Wisp's Level 3 red powerup beam to stop bouncing off enemies and solid obstacles repeatedly

In addition, I have also updated the Free Demo to accommodate the above fixes.

COMING SOON:

  • Currently working on the True Last Boss. Players will only be able to access her by beating the game on any mode without continues.
  • Working on new music to replace the placeholders for stages 5, 6 and 8, as well as Survival Mode.
  • Working on the new EX Bosses for stages 3-8, as well as possible indicators for their triggers.
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--Papilio v0.9 Beta now on itch.io! (development thread)--
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 Post subject: Re: Papilio [v0.9 Beta NOW AVAILABLE, v0.4 Free Demo Update]
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:02 pm 


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Location: Frying over a jungle and saving the nature
Hotfix (04/19/2019)

A quick update has been made to Papilio which includes the following changes:

  • Removed an erroneous variable check that caused the game to crash when encountering the bosses of Stages 6 and 8 if the player has successfully unlocked and defeated the EX form of Stage 2's boss
  • Getting a Game Over, returning to the Title Screen from the Pause menu or finishing a game (whether in Training or any of the standard game modes) will now correctly reset the variables used for unlocking the secret EX boss forms
  • Collecting Weapon Switch pickups now grant +25 weapon power to make it easier to power up your shots
  • Removed smaller enemy explosion particles for better screen visibility

In addition, I have also updated the Free Demo to accommodate the above fixes.

Some real talk however: I've recently been mulling over making a huge change to the game's Rank/dynamic difficulty setting. To break it down, the current system works as follows:

  • Killing enemies, collecting gems and gaining extra lives increase Rank, with Extends giving the biggest Rank burst.
  • Bombing, getting hit (with force field active) and losing lives decrease Rank, with the latter giving the most reduction and dramatically reducing it even further if you're on your second-to-last life.
  • At Ranks 4-7, enemies will drop more point items than normal, with midbosses and endbosses dropping big point icons worth 5x the normal (green) ones. At Ranks 7-9, all enemies will drop big point icons.
  • However, most enemies will begin firing suicide bullets (semantics aside) at the player by Rank 7, not to mention gaining faster shots, bigger spreads and in some cases unblockable projectiles.

My original idea was to take Garegga/Batrider's infamous Rank system and try to make it more rewarding, but given some of the feedback I've received regarding the game's difficulty (screen visibility, enemy and bullet density, lack of player shot power, etc.) it seems all I've done is create a monster of a frustrating loop. I wanted something that would allow a player to intentionally make it challenging for more points and at the same time make it possible for them to dial it down a notch as needed so as to keep runs from going haywire.

One of my ideas was to lower the rank scaling (say, 1-5 instead of 0-9), readjust the rank gains and losses and rebalance the enemy aggression to make the difficulty actually feel dynamic as opposed to an inevitable descent into literal bullet hell like a Garegga run with mismanaged Rank inflation, but I was curious as to what other people thought about it?

EDIT: To clarify, the current iteration is highly similar to a Yagawa game in which it's easy to ramp up the dynamic difficulty by being careless, but very hard to reduce it to manageable levels without a lot of risks. Given how hard the game already is, it might not be ideal, and it somewhat goes against my original plan for the game's accessibility level.
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 Post subject: Re: Papilio [v0.9 Beta NOW AVAILABLE, v0.4 Free Demo Update]
PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2019 1:14 pm 


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Well, you have included a rankless mode or two for those who don't like messing with it, so there's that to consider. As far as retooling the existing system goes, at a glance the main way your system mimics Garegga's is that, while there are ways of lowering it, there's really not much of a practical way to stop it from increasing in the first place - just playing "normally" will raise it pretty quickly. In Garegga's case, this essentially encouraged a particular and counter-intuitive play style (don't hoard bombs/lives, don't max out your weapons early, don't shoot all the time, etc.) which is unique and engaging once you understand how it works, but requires players to 1) Want to play by such an unusual set of rules, and 2) Be able to stick with the game long enough to get used to its quirks.

If you want to give players the option to play more "normally" without being penalized, you might want to consider tying rank more closely to the scoring mechanics or some other "optional" feature of the game, like some of the later Cave titles do. Or, if you really want to cover all the bases, include two different "ranked" modes, one like I've just mentioned (the rank only goes up if you take deliberate actions to raise it and score higher) and another similar to what you have now (rank is always building and must be actively controlled just to survive), though I certainly wouldn't demand that kind of workload, especially considering how long you've been working on this, heh.

At some point I'm going to have to knuckle down and do a "weapon review" of all the different shot types (assuming you want one) - in the meantime, one suggestion I'll tack on is a bit more "documentation" as far as the branching stages and other "below the surface" features. Don't get me wrong, I rather like how it's not all spelled out for you from the get-go, but at the same time a few more hints as to what's out there might keep one's curiosity percolating. One small addition I'd like is specifying "stage 2-A" or some such indicator on the high score screen to better show where you've been, so you can at least have a few puzzle pieces to try to put together.

EDIT: Also got the following crash error on Stage 2:

Quote:
___________________________________________
############################################################################################
FATAL ERROR in
action number 1
of Step Eventen_f02_turret
for object char_papilio_final:

Variable <unknown_object>.<unknown variable>(100290, -2147483648) not set before reading it.
at gml_Object_char_papilio_final_Collision_309
############################################################################################
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
stack frame is
gml_Object_char_papilio_final_Collision_309 (line -1)
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 Post subject: Re: Papilio [v0.9 Beta NOW AVAILABLE, v0.4 Free Demo Update]
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:41 am 


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BulletMagnet wrote:
As far as retooling the existing system goes, at a glance the main way your system mimics Garegga's is that, while there are ways of lowering it, there's really not much of a practical way to stop it from increasing in the first place - just playing "normally" will raise it pretty quickly. In Garegga's case, this essentially encouraged a particular and counter-intuitive play style (don't hoard bombs/lives, don't max out your weapons early, don't shoot all the time, etc.) which is unique and engaging once you understand how it works, but requires players to 1) Want to play by such an unusual set of rules, and 2) Be able to stick with the game long enough to get used to its quirks.


All good points to be honest, although I feel the part in italics is the real rub. The current Rank system was originally an experiment to see if I can pull off a real time dynamic difficulty system that automatically increases in small amounts and it somehow stuck, but the original iteration was "balanced" only for the first four stages of the game--which were all that I had at the time of implementation. Now that I have all levels in barring the TLB, the ugly side began to show.

What you described re: the more recent Cave games was what I had in mind. I remember DFK Black Label having such a system for when you enter Hyper Mode, but I need to read up on the specifics. Since Papilio doesn't really have that right now, probably the closest I could implement is a system whereby sacrificing your force field to bomb would also increase enemy aggression on top of giving you a multiplier, increasing your fire rate and causing your shots to generate point items on hit, and bombing again or getting hit during this period would consume your gem stock (when bombing), remove the multiplier and return enemy aggression to normal levels.

BulletMagnet wrote:
At some point I'm going to have to knuckle down and do a "weapon review" of all the different shot types (assuming you want one)


Actually, it would be greatly appreciated, thank you. :D I'm currently toying with them and trying to see how each weapon could be made more competitive without resorting too much to nerfbats, but as of the current build my own personal verdict is as follows:

  • Most generally useful weapon: Red Wisp + Blue Powerup (homing shots/bomb, generally worth having given that enemies can come at you from all sides)
  • Second most useful weapon: Green Wisp + Blue Powerup (sawblade rings, they slow down on contact with enemies and continuously deal damage until the enemy is destroyed or they run out of durability. Moderately strong, can cover a wide area and can even bounce off solid surfaces. The bomb is also the longest lasting one in the entire game, albeit hard to use as it mirrors your character's movement)
  • Most overpowered weapon: Green Wisp + Green Powerup (floating mines--they absorb smaller bullets on contact, their explosions cancel out even most mid-sized bullets and the mines are stupidly strong when used to point blank)
  • Hardest weapon to use: Blue Wisp + Green Weapon (lightning shotgun--the lightning is strong and can destroy smaller bullets, but the weapon has a slow fire rate and needs to be fired semiauto at point blank to speed it up which makes it dangerous. The bomb, on the other hand, used to be able to one shot the first boss until I nerfed it. Might buff it again though)
  • Second hardest weapon to use: Red Wisp + Green Powerup (basically the napalm missiles from Viper Phase 1 except they orbit your character until they reach the maximum number of missiles allowable onscreen, at which they will all launch directly forward. The missiles themselves can destroy small bullets, and if fired semiauto they will launch forward one by one in a cone spread. Strong, but counter intuitive; the mechanics were taken from the Bubble Gun in Cave Story)

BulletMagnet wrote:
in the meantime, one suggestion I'll tack on is a bit more "documentation" as far as the branching stages and other "below the surface" features. Don't get me wrong, I rather like how it's not all spelled out for you from the get-go, but at the same time a few more hints as to what's out there might keep one's curiosity percolating. One small addition I'd like is specifying "stage 2-A" or some such indicator on the high score screen to better show where you've been, so you can at least have a few puzzle pieces to try to put together.


I've also been thinking of doing this, but given my limited space on the results screen it may take me quite a while to figure out how to put it together. As of the current version 5 out of 8 stages have branching paths (Stages 2-6), but only one has an alternate endboss (Stage 3).

Quote:
EDIT: Also got the following crash error on Stage 2:


Thanks for finding this. I put in a system to differentiate between enemies you can collide with and enemies you can ride safely, but some of the old enemy objects somehow eluded the change which is why the debug report displayed "unknown" variables being checked.

EDIT: some extra info
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