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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 01/04/15 - Gameplay Demo!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:57 am 


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Yeah, it does, in a way, but in most cases you got it mixed up with smaller enemies at the same time or patterns alternating. It never feels boring.

Also it has the excuse of being 23 years old and pre-bullethell.


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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 01/04/15 - Gameplay Demo!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 10:43 am 


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ptoing wrote:
Not sure about the scoring mechanic. It seems to be a bit too all or nothing. If you go for score dying is not an option at all, so for a scoring run, if you die once you might as well restart the game. (I know that is something that applies to a lot of shmups, and I don't think it is overall great there either)


This is one of my concerns as well. While it feels very rewarding to actually reach the final(?) medal value, dying has a huge effect on the overall score. My score almost doubled when I managed to reach the third boss without dying vs an attempt, where I died during the third stage. The simple system has its charms and I assume it's somewhat intended so I'm not quite sure how to balance it out.

Overall the game has improved greatly in the last few months, especially the difficulty curve is much more manageable this time around.
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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 01/04/15 - Gameplay Demo!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:55 am 


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All fair points concerning popcorn use. Variety is the spice of life after all. The later stages we're working on have much more inclination towards larger and varied enemies and we'll need to bring some of that to the earlier stages without breaking difficulty pending final release.

ptoing, if you have any specific parts of the first three stages that come to mind with this let us know. Some step numbers as shown in bottom-right corner of screen would help in us pinpointing trouble spots for this and adjust things per-wave. I plan on trying to get some formation-based stuff going in for some popcorns as well which I hope will spice things up a bit.

For the scoring we try to keep it simple and tied to survival. Dying in itself should not be harming the score to the point of you being unable to get extends, but will hinder getting extremely large values early on if you blunder into a bullet.
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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 01/04/15 - Gameplay Demo!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 12:05 pm 


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OK, here are some more in depth crits of the current version. I played with the red ship, which feels like the default to me.
I did not use steps too much since they changed a lot depending on how long I took with bosses.

Code:
STAGE 1:

1840: Midboss
   For how easy he is to beat he takes too long.
   Either needs more difficult bullet patterns or
   just be a normal mid sized enemy with way less health.
   
~2500: Boats after popcorn rush after the Midboss
   3 times 2 boats that are super trivial.
   Also the interval between the sets is rather long.
   I don't feel the hangtime is warranted.
   For comparison, the boats that come after the 2 bigger enemies
   are a lot more interesting.

~4100: Grey popcorns ships
   They don't pose any threat. If they are just for a little score boost,
   I'd have them come on in bigger and fewer sets,
   make them more rushy.

~4600: Last enemy before WARNING (aside from powerup carriers)
   Feels a bit unmotivated.
   
~5000: 1st Boss
   Takes a bit long to show up after WARNING.
   
popcorn after 1st Boss
   The popcorn could shoot a bit.
   
Actual Boss
   He could use some more varied bullet patterns.
   It is mostly aimed stuff and what is not aimed is super easily avoided.
   Compare to other 1st Bosses in arcade bullethells and it should be obvious.

-------------------------

STAGE 2:

Popcorn sets after 1st Midboss
   Way too many sets of enemies that effectively do nothing.
   
2nd Midboss
   Super easy to avoid patterns, actually easier than the 1st Midboss of the stage.
   Esp. the 2nd pattern which can be avoided by just staying bottom center.
   
Popcorn sets after 2nd Midboos
   Same as 2 points above, just more extreme still.
   It would help a lot to make them come in more staggered and actually shoot a bit.
   Just holding down fire and moving in a figure of a lying 8 to collect all the medals
   is not very exciting if it goes on for this long.

Midsize enemies right after the popcorn
   Too much repetition again.
   Mixing it up a bit and having 2 types of enemies on screen at once would help.

Boss 2nd Form
   The first pattern is too simple I feel.
   If kept I would not repeat it as often as it currently is.
   At max 2 times before adding the additional shots.
   
Boss 3rd Form
   I know it is a hidden Form you only get if you 1CC up to here,
   but it feels like a bit of a silly ramp up, esp compared with what comes after,
   difficulty wise.

-------------------------

STAGE 3:

Start of rail part
   It takes a bit too long for enemies to show up.

Popcorn after the twin Midboss
   A bit too passive and easy to get past.
   A bit of a breather is OK after the midboss, but this feels too long to me.

Boss before Train
   Being a lot easier than the twin Midboss before makes it feel a bit weird.

Pause after Train rushes past
   Too long.

Train Boss
   I have to repeat the crit about the flashing I already made.
   This is just painful.
   About 2/5th of the Boss' life is gone before he starts shooting.
   His patterns are also easier than the twin Midboss.
   Simple tapdodging while staying mostly directly underneath him is enough.
   Maybe add some additional non aimed patterns.


Some more general things to maybe take into account:
  • Why is there a drop-ship at the start of every level?
  • The Boat enemies should have wakes, which would make the water feel more substantial.
  • Faster menus, esp the ship select menu takes ages to show up and be interactive.
  • Time after the Stage bosses are killed until intermission starts feels too long. Look at DDP games for example. You get a nice big explosion and fade to intermission screen very quick. Feels more satisfying.
  • The Tutorial like screen before every level is a bit grating, both visually as well as "Do I really need to see this before every level" This should be something left for the first time playing or maybe during an attract sequence (or have an option for tutorial on/off, and if on it shows you before the 1st level)
  • I feel the game would benefit a lot from more animation, everything is rather static ATM. Giving the bullets some animation (just blinking does not count) would make them more interesting and stand out more.
  • Animation on Bosses for transformations/parts. A good example of this is Cho Ren Sha Bosses 2, 3, 5, 6 and TLB
  • Nicer scanlines. Scanlines which just darken every other line don't look authentic, IMO. Also scanline brightness value.

This should be enough for now I think. I really think this game is a HUGE improvement over Zenodyne and it could be a nice little indie gem if polished more.


Last edited by ptoing on Sat Apr 04, 2015 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 01/04/15 - Gameplay Demo!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 1:00 pm 


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If it's not enabled by default you can switch it on via Options > Misc. Settings > Debug Display=ON. Should show the currently running FPS, memory usage, amount of instances active and a counter that starts at 0 in the beginning of every room and increments up. A similar variable is used for the stage controller timeline so a set of enemies at step=3000 for example I'd be able to spot in the code pretty fast.
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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 01/04/15 - Gameplay Demo!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 1:08 pm 


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Ah, I see. I did not use the steps too much, I hope that still works for you. Should be pretty easy to follow still.


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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 01/04/15 - Gameplay Demo!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:34 pm 


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ptoing wrote:
Some more general things to maybe take into account:
  • Why is there a drop-ship at the start of every level?
  • The Boat enemies should have wakes, which would make the water feel more substantial.
  • Faster menus, esp the ship select menu takes ages to show up and be interactive.
  • Time after the Stage bosses are killed until intermission starts feels too long. Look at DDP games for example. You get a nice big explosion and fade to intermission screen very quick. Feels more satisfying.
  • The Tutorial like screen before every level is a bit grating, both visually as well as "Do I really need to see this before every level" This should be something left for the first time playing or maybe during an attract sequence (or have an option for tutorial on/off, and if on it shows you before the 1st level)
  • I feel the game would benefit a lot from more animation, everything is rather static ATM. Giving the bullets some animation (just blinking does not count) would make them more interesting and stand out more.
  • Animation on Bosses for transformations/parts. A good example of this is Cho Ren Sha Bosses 2, 3, 5, 6 and TLB
  • Nicer scanlines. Scanlines which just darken every other line don't look authentic, IMO. Also scanline brightness value.

This should be enough for now I think. I really think this game is a HUGE improvement over Zenodyne and it could be a nice little indie gem if polished more.


Very good points, but keep in mind that the game is in an early state, and many of these things belong in a "bells and whistles" part of the development cycle, where the gameplay is good enough to add some flair, animations etc.
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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 01/04/15 - Gameplay Demo!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:37 pm 


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Yeah of course. That's why I listed it under general points.

Looking forward to how this will shape up.


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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 01/04/15 - Gameplay Demo!
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 9:54 am 


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Thanks for the precise feedback. Some of the points look like areas we've known about and are looking to fix (ie st2's second midboss and the flash effects) while others we'll look into once stage 7's done.

The tutorial screen occurrence is not final. In current non-demo builds it actually displays a bit of stage info instead but the images aren't quite finalised yet so the demo build shows the default image..... which happens to be the tutorial screen.

Scanlines I'll consider looking into closer to final release. We're considering porting forward to GM:Studio to allow for cross-platform compatibility and the Draw GUI event will more easily allow pixel-perfect scanlines for us, but GMS I feel is really wonky for other more critical areas (see my posts regarding the sandboxing if that's your cup of tea). Alpha values for it I can certainly do easily enough which will give up to full black lines or zilch but I can't do much for the realism. For instance stuff that can't be faked with pictures/images like MAME's HLSL will never happen.
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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 01/04/15 - Gameplay Demo!
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 12:43 pm 


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Yeah, I know that HLSL stuff wont work. I think normal scanlines that take every pixel into account should be no problem though. I played around with gamemaker a couple years back and got that working without too much problems.

And yeah, I would be surprised if GMS did not have some other problems.

BTW. One problem I sometimes get with pre-GMS stuff is that they run at like 1fps. I have no clue what causes it but it gets fixed by running as Admin.


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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 01/04/15 - Gameplay Demo!
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 2:54 pm 


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The problem isn't drawing the lines per se, it's old GM's own upscaling which is inherently bugged. If you run the game windowed 3x will give perfect lines but 2x will distort things for no apparent reason even though the value is exact. Running in fullscreen mode will of course upscale unevenly and as far as the game's concerned it still thinks its a 240x320 window, so the lines are distorted. Should we move to GMS though the new Draw GUI event takes into account the actual screen and not the game room, which would solve the problem easily without me resorting to rendering the entire game with a self-made surface.

Using surfaces under GM8.0 will get around that (as seen in stuff like Tetsuishi) also but right now it isn't going to be the priority. Last time I messed with it it was hell on performance too so I'm inclined against it.
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 Post subject: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 01/04/15 - Gameplay Demo!
PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2015 9:16 pm 


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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 01/04/15 - Gameplay Demo!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2015 11:13 pm 


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Just no-missed this bitch.

Image

I've got some comments/questions/whatnot:
* The Blue player ship has me kind of scratching my head. Normally when games give you a narrow shot, they give you a faster speed to compensate, so that with good sweeping movement you can still deal with enemies all over the screen... but the highest speed in this game goes to a ship that already has good screen coverage. I'm not convinced that its "piercing" property makes up for this either, since I haven't seen that many moments in this game where having a piercing shot will make a difference. To top that all off, it has the worst bomb stock out of every ship. So I'm not sure what the role of the Blue ship is.
* Is the game doing anything during the "how to play" screen? I ask because it would be nifty to have a way to skip that screen, when runs are getting fairly restart-heavy.
* What are the requirements for the stage 2 TLB? I figure it has to do with no-missing; is it a full no-miss run up to that point, or is it just no-miss stage 2, or... I ask because, depending on one's ability to no-miss the stage 2 TLB, it might actually be a better scoring strategy for them to suicide early on to avoid triggering it. In which case I would sort of suggest upping the reward for facing it; its patterns can easily kill a player twice, which will obliterate their score because they committed the heinous sin of doing really well until it showed up. :V
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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 01/04/15 - Gameplay Demo!
PostPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2015 12:16 pm 


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Quote:
* The Blue player ship has me kind of scratching my head. Normally when games give you a narrow shot, they give you a faster speed to compensate, so that with good sweeping movement you can still deal with enemies all over the screen... but the highest speed in this game goes to a ship that already has good screen coverage. I'm not convinced that its "piercing" property makes up for this either, since I haven't seen that many moments in this game where having a piercing shot will make a difference. To top that all off, it has the worst bomb stock out of every ship. So I'm not sure what the role of the Blue ship is.

It's quite powerful on top of being a piercing straight shot, and if memory serves me right the speed and bomb stock was kept low as a balancing measure but I think there's room for improvement. When Kaiser gets online next I'll see what he and the previous private testers have to say on this.

Quote:
* Is the game doing anything during the "how to play" screen? I ask because it would be nifty to have a way to skip that screen, when runs are getting fairly restart-heavy.

Loading music and switching rooms, which thanks to XeAudiere doesn't actually take that long. The additional delay is coded in, I'll add a button to skip it. It exists because the pre-stage dialog that isn't in public demos has readable text on it that would disappear too fast and Kaiser didn't think to change the delay times when doing this demo, resulting in the false illusion of the game becoming self-aware and thinking you have such a small memory that you forget the game's grand control scheme of three buttons and a stick every 5 seconds.

Quote:
* What are the requirements for the stage 2 TLB? I figure it has to do with no-missing; is it a full no-miss run up to that point, or is it just no-miss stage 2, or... I ask because, depending on one's ability to no-miss the stage 2 TLB, it might actually be a better scoring strategy for them to suicide early on to avoid triggering it. In which case I would sort of suggest upping the reward for facing it; its patterns can easily kill a player twice, which will obliterate their score because they committed the heinous sin of doing really well until it showed up. :V

I won't elaborate on the requirements but should be worth the extra bonus reaching and actually beating it. If not we have some adjustments to make. I've got some ideas for this......
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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 05/05/15 - Planned Launch Tal
PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2015 8:02 am 


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I believe it is time to post something that me and my team have been wanting to mention for a long time...

Zenohell is a commercial shmup, it's been decided to be one at the end of last year but we decided to wait until we were ready to say it. So we are putting extra effort in all areas (to our realistic extent since we are not perfect) to ensure that we deliver a quality product for your shmupping needs ;). It will launch in Late 2015 as mentioned earlier, so no delays here.

I cannot reveal the launch price as it's a matter of discussions with the distribution outlets, what I can tell you, is that the game will launch at least on itch.io, I've sent a mail to GOG yesterday and submitted the game, I will receive a response in 9 work days (hopefully it'll get there), i'll be sending mails to other distributions as well.

Steam Greenlight unfortunately will come last and definitely after the other releases, we plan to fund that with our own earned money from other distributions unless we decide to fund it on indiegogo (which we would let you know about).

Website link: http://jackdarx.itch.io/zenohell

Now onto the more development side of things, we've been working really hard to wrap up the entire content in the game and will work on it for a while, once we have that done, we'll start the final polishing and testing phase. We'll be polishing everything while also sending out beta builds to gain that final feedback and make that feedback a reality if possible. So the coming months will be very hot for us and hopefully for you, when the final beta tests start :)

Thank you for reading and definitely expect more activity in near future.

Few shots here (more on the site):
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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 05/05/15 - Planned Launch Tal
PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2015 11:02 am 


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Bad news, the game was denied from GOG, basically the reason is that they find the game too niche and it's not high budget enough so they believe their customers will not be satisfied with the product. Normally I would be okay with something like this, but then there's a certain other game on that service which I will not mention that is more hardcore than mine. So go figure, if you have money, you'll get in there.

Good news is, this doesn't mean the release is in danger, itch.io release is 100% guaranteed and setup incase for the launch. I may submit the game to playism and the humble store, however i'll wait until the game's 100% complete.

So I have to apologize that the game won't be out on GOG but, things happen.

As a reward for reading this, have some cab gameplay from emphatic! (has some bugs)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrB6P9w4IFM part 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_dPiRArl1M part 2
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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 05/05/15 - Planned Launch Tal
PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2015 12:03 pm 


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Kaiser wrote:
Normally I would be okay with something like this, but then there's a certain other game on that service which I will not mention that is more hardcore than mine. So go figure, if you have money, you'll get in there.


Pretty obvious you are talking about CC:WI. The thing is that Yotsubane worked his ass of making the original game, learning to program and doing all the art himself (and doing a pretty good job at it too, the game looks very consistent). Then he produced a CD release run himself which he sold to people through various means and then because that was successful it got picked up and made into a Nesica port and because of the decent success of that into a PC port later on, which now also is on GOG.

The game already has a decent fanbase, it was already an established brand in the shmup community before it went on GOG or even Steam for that matter. People knew about it.

The same can not be said about Zenohell. The amount of polish that is evident in CC is not visible in Zenohell (yet at least, does not mean you can not get there). And from that standpoint I ca not say I find it surprising that GOG would reject your game. They run a business after all.


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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell 10/05/15 - GOG Status Update and Cab Gameplay
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 1:15 am 


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GOG doesn't have a ton of shmups, yeah. Raiden 3 is probably only there because it's a good old game. CC and Astebreed probably because they are very high budget and professional looking (graphically, at least). I would not expect GOG to become a platform for shmups any time soon though.

Maybe consider Desura as well?
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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell 10/05/15 - GOG Status Update and Cab Gameplay
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 5:34 am 


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Squire Grooktook wrote:
GOG doesn't have a ton of shmups, yeah. Raiden 3 is probably only there because it's a good old game. CC and Astebreed probably because they are very high budget and professional looking (graphically, at least). I would not expect GOG to become a platform for shmups any time soon though.

Maybe consider Desura as well?
Desura's considered but at a later date due the amount of forms to be filled in (I'll just say you have to not only submit your game), Humble Store requires a complete product so that can wait.
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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell 15/05/15 - Developer Twitter
PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2015 5:08 am 


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I suppose this is worth a bump, so I set up a developer twitter for this game (and future titles coming from me or BP), you'll be getting more updates there although they will be not as major, i'll be also sharing thoughts on certain game design things, so go ahead and follow us: https://twitter.com/TeamGBSRFox
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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell 15/05/15 - Developer Twitter
PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2015 11:40 am 


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https://youtu.be/msCvD50FdQg

^ Catch some stage 3 gameplay!

Yes we are still alive, the game is slowly nearing it's completion as I speak, but perhaps I should go into more detail about what is going in points.

- The soundtrack will be complete and polished till August, it will be complete soon (Luckily some tracks are already polished to the intended level)
- Me and BPzeBanshee will look starting Monday (if nothing goes wrong) into implementing the stage practice mode, it is a highly requested feature by testers since the early days of development
- We are close to wrapping up the final pieces of content, as usual, I cannot reveal what those are.
- Samurai Fox (My artist assistant) got a full time job, so he cannot unfortunately help me polish the sprites, so I would say, don't expect too much polish on the visual front from me.
- A new option has appeared in video options, a toggle that lets you make medals translucent Crimzon Clover style, it is by default enabled.

So it seems so far that everything's going according to the plan, so chances are, I might be starting the final wave of beta tests at the end of July or beginning of August.
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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell 30/05/15 - ST3 Gameplay!
PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2015 8:24 am 


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More things going on that are worth mentioning I suppose

- The implementation of stage select has been successful, at first the player starts only with stage 1 unlocked, however the player unlocks more stages as he reaches them, the upside to this is that you unlock stages for all the 3 difficulties. Stage select however does not let you progress past the chosen stage, you cannot save scores in it. With that done, it's been put on the list of features on the itch.io page.

- However because stage select (which was a highly requested feature by testers) is in, we will be limiting the continues to 2, nope you won't be able to unlock more, that's all you get, for the skill gaps, use the stage select to work out the issues in your strategies.

- Me and BP (once again) will be looking into a way to implement a brightness slider, we've had reports of the game being too bright, so I suppose we can put in a slider, with current brightness being 100% and let the player decrease it to a reasonable amount max. It's for those who don't want to mess with the display settings.
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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell 29/06/15 - The end is in sight.
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2015 7:13 pm 


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Image

With this image, it's about time I explain what has been going on.

As mentioned by the new thread title, the game's nearing completion, all around. Everybody in the team can see the end in sight and it's motivating us to give us our best before we hit the finish line. Emphatic's close to finishing and polishing the soundtrack, I am nearly done coding the entire gameplay, BP's helping me step things up technically in certain regards, Fox is helping polish sprites when he has time, Rozyrg made a little nice contribution that I won't spoil.

Here's the more detailed version of what has been going on:

- Me and BP are working on implementing much better boss death sequences than what we already had, with it came the mechanic that replaced the no-miss/no-bomb bonus that personally wasn't adding to the game and felt like "OH HERE'S A NOTIFICATION THAT YOU DID SOMETHING MOVE ON", nah to dev/null with that crap.

- As the bosses die, there's a little counter above them, it's the number of medals that they will explode in, yes not bleed like before, explode. And you increase it by shooting! There's a certain per boss limit you hit before you can't get more out of them... however you can increase the value further by bombing! This is risk/reward taken to a new level in our game.

- All the ships will have constant amount of maximum bombs and the amount of starting bombs, the max everybody will be able to have is 5, everybody will start with 2 so that the new mechanic is balanced for all the ships.

There's more going on but I cannot reveal it yet however I want to talk about something else, the plans. So according to our lovely roadmap, the game will be content complete by the end of July and send out for testing, however... here's the thing...

While we will be collecting our final feedback, we will be unable to do stuff with it until we finish porting the game from GM8 to GM Studio, it was a tough decision on our part to sacrifice between 2 weeks to a full month of development for the port. So august's the port and feedback month. If you need a bunch of reasons we are porting this to GMS, here they are:

- Better compatilibity with modern OSes and hardware,
- Native Steam API support (will come in handy for the planned greenlight release post launch),
- Possibility of porting in the future post release,
- Being able to create my own base for future shmups in GMS, for both prototyping and real projects, so I don't have to port anymore.

After the porting's done, we will focus on the final feedback the testers will give us (hint: Anyone will be able to sign in for the closed beta once it kicks off, however certain conditions will be set), I must unfortunately say that not everything will make it in, we won't be able to do everything in time, we will however try our best to make it the best we can. You probably wonder "Why not delay the game some more?" and here is the detailed answer:

Here is the thing, we are all passionates inside the Grybanser Fox team, however we also have our own lives, this summer is the perfect and only chance to reasonably get the game done as we intended it from the get go, everybody's going to go their own ways by the time the Fall hits, so we cannot MISS this window of oppurtunity, we will finish the game while we are still together and active. It may be not easy for you dear reader but rest assured, we will put out a complete product that we intended to put out in first place, it's the extras that may not make it in, depending on how things go, but you are getting everything as it was set in the design document and way beyond.

I just, want to finish this game with others in the team while we are still together and on one track. Because this project will go to crap if we don't.
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Zenodyne R - My 2nd Steam Shmup


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 Post subject: Re: Zenohell (aka Zenodyne II) 05/05/15 - Planned Launch Tal
PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2015 8:07 pm 



Joined: 07 Jun 2006
Posts: 547
GOG is way more choosey than STEAM, also don't forget their original purpose was to distributed old PC games. They care less about releasing new made games.


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