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 Post subject: Scoring System Advice
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 3:39 am 


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My team and I are working on a new shmup for android, it's in it's infancy right now and we're laying the foundations.

I love shmups, but I've always been god awful at them, just finishing a shmup is an achievement to me, so I figured I'd try and find a more hardcore community to pick brains of more expert players.

Anyway, the first major hurdle I'm looking into is a scoring system. Since our game is aimed for android, a large portion of our audience isn't going to be pros, so the game will probably be on the lower end of the difficulty scale, but I'd still like to appeal to the more badass players out there, so to me the solution is a good score system. I've looked at some games and I've seen stuff like ikaruga's chaining system and other simple systems like that.

So I'd appreciate any systems that you guys have seen that are
1) easy for new players to get into
2) offer a higher skill cap for veterans

Any games recommended as reference material would be appreciated.


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 Post subject: Re: Scoring System Advice
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 9:30 pm 


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Might want to throw this in Shmups Chat; you're asking for opinions from players, but not all of them visit the Development forum.

Keeping in mind that your platform is a phone (I'm assuming touchscreen-based, feel free to correct me), any system you create shouldn't require any kind of rapid button manipulation, like you would see in MushiFutari Maniac or Ketsui.

* My experience has been that chaining systems have the advantage of being easy to understand, but the drawback of being disproportionately punishing of screwups. The extent of that drawback depends on whether the chain reaches a "cap" in any way.

* Another kind of system that's usually easy to understand is the sort found in Crimzon Clover; you do some trick or perform a specific task to get a multiplier up, and you have until the multiplier expires to kill as many enemies as you can before it runs out and you need to perform the task again. Crimzon Clover has two of these systems in place at once; the lock-on multiplier and Break mode, both of which actually feed into each other and add considerable depth. So again, easy to understand, but with a high skill cap.

* Another easy-to-understand kind of system is the persistent counter that goes up over the course of a stage/the whole game (most Touhou games and MushiFutari Original; Crimzon Clover also has this with its Break rate).

* And of course, a lot of games have point items; they can drop from enemies, cancelled bullets, or whatever else appears in your game. Sometimes they autocollect, sometimes you need to go out of your way to steer towards them. If they autocollect, maybe they're worth less if they have to travel a long way to get to you. Maybe more point items drop if you destroy all of an enemy's turrets first. Maybe the items are where your chain system is (Yagawa medals, oooooohh). Maybe they're in freefall until you destroy a big enemy, at which point they THEN autocollect. Maybe they're worth more if you collect them at the top of the screen (Touhou, ooohhh).

Combine at least two of the above (but not all of them) and you'll have a scoring system.

You should probably have a good idea of what your scoring mechanics are and how they'll work before you do extensive work making stages, since stages are awesomest when they're designed with the scoring mechanics in mind.
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 Post subject: Re: Scoring System Advice
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 11:19 pm 


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Chaining system doesn't have to reset your whole multiplier, and in my opinion that's the best scoring system so far overall. Easy to understand and keep track of, hard to master.
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 Post subject: Re: Scoring System Advice
PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 2:07 am 


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What sort of scoring system you adopt for your game depends on what sort of behavior you want to encourage. Do you want the player to produce a smooth, unbroken flow like in Dodonpachi and other time-based chaining games? Maybe you want the player to utilize each weapon very carefully and pay attention not only to what they're hitting but also what they're not hitting, like in Radiant Silvergun. Maybe you want players to go as fast as they can and zip around the screen all the time like in Dangun Feveron. Maybe you want the player to let the screen fill up with bullets and cancel them at the last moment, like in Mushihimesama Futari. Maybe you want time for your bullet patterns to shine and you want players to seek out different ways of maneuvering through as many bullets as possible, like in the more graze-milk heavy Touhou games. Maybe you want players to get up-close and personal a lot, like in Dragon Blaze. Maybe you want your bosses to be taken down as quickly and efficiently as possible, like in Ikaruga, or maybe you want them to be taken down more meticulously with care taken to destroy each individual part like in Battle Garegga or Armed Police Batrider. Maybe you've got specific gameplay gimmicks, like Giga Wing and Mars Matrix's respective shield systems, the freeze mechanic in Touhou 12.8 (Fairy Wars), or break/double break mode and the lock-on system in Crimzon Clover, that you want to encourage players to use in big flashy ways. What will end up working for your game depends a lot on what other mechanics you have and how you want players to use them.

Some specific examples worth pondering, in addition to what others have already mentioned:
Dangun Feveron, Thunder Dragon 2, and various caravan and caravan-style games spawn more enemies the faster you kill them, so for maximum score you want to kill everything as quickly as possible to get more enemies. Some other games do this too, such as Mars Matrix and Dodonpachi Daioujou, but Dangun Feveron and TD2 emphasize speedkills a lot more. Dangun Feveron throws in item collecting to give the player more to manage (you have to balance dodging, speedkills, and collecting the items dropped by enemies), while TD2 has tons of secret medals to uncover which can give you points and bombs, the bombs being useful to get even faster kills.

Dariusburst's scoring is very simple and easy to grasp, but has enough depth to keep people occupied for a while trying to optimize their strategies. You've got a multiplier that goes up as you kill enemies and decreases if you get hit. Destroying all the enemies in a group will grant you an additional bonus. Using your special weapon (burst laser, bomb, spark burst depending on the ship you're using) grants an additional multiplier on top of the base multiplier, so for example a x5 would become a x20 and a x16 would become a x64. Scoring involves planning to use your special attack when the multiplier will earn you the most points, and timing your attacks to destroy enemies and boss parts with your special attacks rather than running out of energy before you get the kill.

Touhou Sangetsusei - Great Fairy Wars, AKA Touhou 12.8, has this neat system where scoring, survival, and spectacle (what looks and feels the coolest) all play into each other, and arguably in a more intuitive and approachable manner than the secrets, medal chaining, and rank systems in Yagawa games (Battle Garegga, Armed Police Batrider, Ibara, etc.), which achieve a comparable effect. The central mechanic of the game is the freezing system, which is a charge-up attack that freezes bullets, spreading in a sort of chain reaction. This can be used defensively to protect yourself from dense bullet formations (which is the most immediately obvious use of the mechanic), or offensively to damage enemies with the shattering ice. Scoring is largely based on getting freezes covering a large amount of the screen, which involves letting bullets spread out across the screen but still close enough to each other for the freeze to spread between bullets. This makes immediate intuitive sense - the more effectively you use the mechanic and the cooler (no pun intended) your freezes are, the more points you get.

But it goes further than that - freezes also grant you progress towards additional lives and progress towards additional bombs, so effective freezing helps you survive not just in the short run, but also helps you survive in the long run. This plays back into the scoring, as your end-game clear bonus is dependent on your life count, so you can intuitively see that better freezing will give you more points for the freeze and also a better end bonus, and players have a logical gateway into scoring by working towards improving their end bonus.

It doesn't end there, though, as it actually doesn't take much to reach the maximum life count of 10 extra lives. Here it becomes important to note that bombs freeze all bullets on the screen, including fireballs that are normally unfreezable. It also becomes important that dying grants you 25% towards your next bomb. High-level scorers can take advantage of this to commit suicide at certain times, giving them bombs that they can use to cash in to get otherwise unattainable big freezes, which grants them more points but also more progress towards lives that they can sacrifice for more bombs. All of this (and actually more) plays together in a system that immediately makes sense with the risk/reward of freezing, but offers a surprising amount of depth and optimizing both in planning routes and in executing them.
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 Post subject: Re: Scoring System Advice
PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 7:58 am 


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I like simple, intuitive systems, so I just like collecting medals before they drop off screen (like Mars Matrix or Battle Garegga) or speed killing enemies for extra enemy waves* or speed bonuses (Dangun Feveron).

*
Spoiler: show
Explanation if this isn't clear:

In Dangun Feveron, the player has enough fire power to kill enemies early with some finesse. If you do this, more enemies will show up to fill the void, so that there's no empty spots in the stage. By killing everything as fast as possible, more enemies show up, which are in turn worth additional points.
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 Post subject: Re: Scoring System Advice
PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:11 am 


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Giest118 wrote:
Might want to throw this in Shmups Chat; you're asking for opinions from players, but not all of them visit the Development forum.

Keeping in mind that your platform is a phone (I'm assuming touchscreen-based, feel free to correct me), any system you create shouldn't require any kind of rapid button manipulation, like you would see in MushiFutari Maniac or Ketsui.

* My experience has been that chaining systems have the advantage of being easy to understand, but the drawback of being disproportionately punishing of screwups. The extent of that drawback depends on whether the chain reaches a "cap" in any way.

* Another kind of system that's usually easy to understand is the sort found in Crimzon Clover; you do some trick or perform a specific task to get a multiplier up, and you have until the multiplier expires to kill as many enemies as you can before it runs out and you need to perform the task again. Crimzon Clover has two of these systems in place at once; the lock-on multiplier and Break mode, both of which actually feed into each other and add considerable depth. So again, easy to understand, but with a high skill cap.

* Another easy-to-understand kind of system is the persistent counter that goes up over the course of a stage/the whole game (most Touhou games and MushiFutari Original; Crimzon Clover also has this with its Break rate).

* And of course, a lot of games have point items; they can drop from enemies, cancelled bullets, or whatever else appears in your game. Sometimes they autocollect, sometimes you need to go out of your way to steer towards them. If they autocollect, maybe they're worth less if they have to travel a long way to get to you. Maybe more point items drop if you destroy all of an enemy's turrets first. Maybe the items are where your chain system is (Yagawa medals, oooooohh). Maybe they're in freefall until you destroy a big enemy, at which point they THEN autocollect. Maybe they're worth more if you collect them at the top of the screen (Touhou, ooohhh).

Combine at least two of the above (but not all of them) and you'll have a scoring system.

You should probably have a good idea of what your scoring mechanics are and how they'll work before you do extensive work making stages, since stages are awesomest when they're designed with the scoring mechanics in mind.


I definitely wanna get the mechanics downpat before I design the bulk of the levels, for that exact reason. I'm looking into a multiplier system that rises as you play, and when you use an invincibility mechanic it ticks down as you're invulnerable, allowing newbies to abuse the mechanic, while veterans will be attempting to minimise use of the invincibility, cancelled bullets are an interesting idea but I'm not sure how I can implement them into our current gameplay. Very informative though, thanks!

Shepardus wrote:
But it goes further than that - freezes also grant you progress towards additional lives and progress towards additional bombs, so effective freezing helps you survive not just in the short run, but also helps you survive in the long run. This plays back into the scoring, as your end-game clear bonus is dependent on your life count, so you can intuitively see that better freezing will give you more points for the freeze and also a better end bonus, and players have a logical gateway into scoring by working towards improving their end bonus.

It doesn't end there, though, as it actually doesn't take much to reach the maximum life count of 10 extra lives. Here it becomes important to note that bombs freeze all bullets on the screen, including fireballs that are normally unfreezable. It also becomes important that dying grants you 25% towards your next bomb. High-level scorers can take advantage of this to commit suicide at certain times, giving them bombs that they can use to cash in to get otherwise unattainable big freezes, which grants them more points but also more progress towards lives that they can sacrifice for more bombs. All of this (and actually more) plays together in a system that immediately makes sense with the risk/reward of freezing, but offers a surprising amount of depth and optimizing both in planning routes and in executing them.


I really like that idea of tactical suicides, I'm not sure how exactly I can work it in, but I'll keep it at the back of my mind while I play with stuff, hopefully I can get it in there in some way.



Our game features no bombs, yet, since we don't really have a way to implement them into a touch screen, but I have a few ideas I'm gonna try out to see if they're more viable than I think.


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 Post subject: Re: Scoring System Advice
PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:53 am 


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Empty wrote:
I definitely wanna get the mechanics downpat before I design the bulk of the levels, for that exact reason. I'm looking into a multiplier system that rises as you play, and when you use an invincibility mechanic it ticks down as you're invulnerable, allowing newbies to abuse the mechanic, while veterans will be attempting to minimise use of the invincibility, cancelled bullets are an interesting idea but I'm not sure how I can implement them into our current gameplay. Very informative though, thanks!


Snowballing from your idea about invincibility: think about a way to make it so that expert players CAN use it to score, but they need to use it strategically and with finesse. Perhaps they need to activate it while bullets or enemies are right next to them, and if they do, nearby enemies and bullets get heavily damaged or destroyed and turned into point items (in a sort of instantaneous burst, not a sustained field of damage). This would encourage aggressive play at a high level, but newbies could use the shield mechanic however they felt comfortable.

DoDonPachi Maximum I believe had bomb activation tied to simply pressing two fingers to the screen instead of just one. Maybe you could have something in your game activate the same way.
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 Post subject: Re: Scoring System Advice
PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:21 am 


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Giest118 wrote:
Snowballing from your idea about invincibility: think about a way to make it so that expert players CAN use it to score, but they need to use it strategically and with finesse.

Agreed, it's risky to make it so your core gameplay gimmick hurts scoring. I like to say that if the optimal use of a system is to not use it, it's as if it doesn't exist at all (at least to expert players who care about score). That can be okay in some cases but if that's one of the core distinguishing features of your game you probably want to encourage players to use it, not avoid it. Maybe you could take some inspiration from Espgaluda, where novice players can use the game's gimmick, "kakusei mode," to slow down bullets where the bullets get tough to dodge, but expert players use it at specific moments to get big bullet cancels (while in kakusei mode, destroying an enemy cancels all of its bullets into gold items).
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 Post subject: Re: Scoring System Advice
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2021 1:14 am 



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You could try this that I was desgining in my mind:

- Multiplier starts at 1, increases by .1 every 250 Mt items collected so turning it to a formula is (slightly) simple:
Code:
multiplier = 1 + (floor(collectedMt / 250) / 10)

...while it maxes out at 9.9 so it takes a total of 22,250 Mt items to max it out
- 3 to 17 Mt items spawn per killed enemy
- Pt items spawn alongside Mt items, and start out worth 150 points but increases by 10 for every 25 Pt items collected and maxes out at 9990
- 7 to 23 Pt items spawn per killed enemy

A example of the multiplier:
Code:
enemyValue: 2500
multiplier: 3.4
enemyScore: enemyValue * multiplier
enemyValue * multiplier = 2500 * 3.4 = 8500


Hope this is good enough :D
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