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 Post subject: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc.
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:11 am 


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Hi folks,

I'm in the early stages of developing a Shoot 'em up using Unity and Playmaker, and before diving blindly into the main phase of development I thought it would probably be wise to do as much research as I can, which brings me here.

First of all a bit of background on myself and my game project. My first brush with game development was way back in the early 1980's when I created a handful of really horrible buggy games as a hobby using Basic. To be honest I'm no programmer and despite repeated attempts to teach myself various languages throughout the years I still royally suck at it. From 2000 onwards I started making maps and mods for a variety of PC games. In more recent years I've contributed artwork to a few commercial game projects the first of which didn't make it much further than the demo stage, the second was released and gained a small amount of attention and praise from the gaming press and the third project is currently in Early Access.

Despite my almost complete lack of programming ability it has always been a dream of mine to try and create my own game, a dream that until recently I thought was destined to go unrealised, however a couple of months back I chanced accross this series of tutorials on Youtube : https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYYCDVRRWC7c3KawqPYeOMUDHm6soOcNo

So I decided to give it one last shot and surprisingly enough (to me at least) I found it incredibly easy to start creating stuff and this has given me the confidence to try and create a fully fledged game.

I've always enjoyed shooting games right from the very beginning with Space Invaders, Asteroids and Defender, two of my favourite games from this early era were Xevious and Star Force and it's this style of game that I want to try and replicate with my own project. I also played quite a few shooters on the Sega Megadrive, standout titles for me were Hellfire, Gynoug, Gaiares and Thunderforce IV. I have to say at this point that I'm not really a fan of the bullet hell style of shooter, I just find them too hyperactive and not particularly asthetically pleasing - to me it just looks like someone vomited sprites all over the screen which I don't find all that attractive.

The title of my Project is Erebus, here's a couple of screenshots of an early version of the game to give you folks a rough idea of where I'm at so far:

Image

Image

Image

My main aim at the moment is just to craft a single level and get it as polished as possible, then to release it as a demo.

As you can no doubt tell from the screens I've still got a long way to go, I guess my main question at this stage is whether there would be much interest in this type of unashamedly old school shooter, or are people more interested in games with more bells, whistles and gimmicks these days ?

I see so many games all trying to do something unique or different or just plain weird I wonder there's any room for a more simplistic style of game without any really crazy or innovative features, maybe it's just me that craves a more old fashioned style of game.

anyway I'd love to hear your thoughts, opinions, questions, advice etc.

regards,

-mark
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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:55 pm 


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TheDogCatcher wrote:
I guess my main question at this stage is whether there would be much interest in this type of unashamedly old school shooter, or are people more interested in games with more bells, whistles and gimmicks these days ?

People here are still actively playing games released 3 decades ago, I don't know why you would worry about this. Shmups don't really deviate much from dodging and shooting.
Here's a neat thread from back then that you might want to read through. I think it's useful.


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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 9:59 pm 


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Pretty sure Mr. Stoic kind of games still have their appeal around here, though due to the long history of them + people still playing them, you'll probably have some stiff competition for people's interest. I hope you're ready to put 120% into the level and enemy design.
Might be a harder sell on Steam, though, if you're looking to get in on that market. Battle Crust is the most basic-type Steam shmup I can think of off the top of my head.

I guess aspect ratios are always going to be a point of contention, but I'll say that personally, I'm not too big a fan of widescreen + vertical scrolling. I find it difficult to keep track of the playing field like this, so it ends up feeling a bit messy to me. And, I would think that it'd be difficult to make challenging bullet patterns (or enemy formations) with so much space to the sides, if you're not going to be doing screen-filling bullet hell attacks.
Since you're using 3D graphics, perhaps you could try using the kind of perspective seen in Progear or Ironclad? Though, having never tried that myself, I don't know if that would end up with the feel of the controls changing as the ship moves towards and away from the camera (Raystorm kinda has this).

e: also, not sure how many games you've played outside of what you mentioned, but it never hurts to play more! There's quite a lot of recommendation threads lying around the forums, or you could also try starting a recommendation thread specifically for basic-styled shmups.


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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:21 am 


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Thanks for your replies folks. :)

Rue wrote:
People here are still actively playing games released 3 decades ago, I don't know why you would worry about this. Shmups don't really deviate much from dodging and shooting.
Here's a neat thread from back then that you might want to read through. I think it's useful.



Yeah now that I think about that was a bit silly of me really. I spent a bit of time researching current trends in the shmup genre mainly by browsing through the best sellers on Steam and as mentioned in the post below yours there aren't that many old school looking games on there which kind of got me worried, but on reflection that might even be a positive as it may help my game to stand out from the crowd.

Thanks for posting that link, it looks as though I've got a ton of reading to do, there's many years worth of topics I'm going to have to plough through on here.

Quote:
I guess aspect ratios are always going to be a point of contention, but I'll say that personally, I'm not too big a fan of widescreen + vertical scrolling. I find it difficult to keep track of the playing field like this, so it ends up feeling a bit messy to me. And, I would think that it'd be difficult to make challenging bullet patterns (or enemy formations) with so much space to the sides, if you're not going to be doing screen-filling bullet hell attacks.
Since you're using 3D graphics, perhaps you could try using the kind of perspective seen in Progear or Ironclad? Though, having never tried that myself, I don't know if that would end up with the feel of the controls changing as the ship moves towards and away from the camera (Raystorm kinda has this).


The aspect ratio thing is a concern for me, I'm currently thinking of adding side panels to narrow down the playable area to something more managable, maybe somewhere around a 4:3 aspect ratio would be more desirable. I have tried experimenting with camera angles to give the game more of a 3D feel but I'm not sure if it adds much and to be honest I think I prefer a more traditional top down view.

Quote:
e: also, not sure how many games you've played outside of what you mentioned, but it never hurts to play more! There's quite a lot of recommendation threads lying around the forums, or you could also try starting a recommendation thread specifically for basic-styled shmups.


I have played considerably more shooters than the ones I mentioned but the list would be quite long so I just stuck to a few of the more memorable ones. Most of the shmups I've played are pretty old though, I haven't really played many since moving over to PC gaming in 1998 except for the occaisional flirtation with things like MAME. I do need to play more though if I'm serious about this (and I am) so recommendations would be good, I'll have a hunt around the forums and see what I can dig up.


anyway thanks again for your comments, no doubt I'll be back soonish with more questions etc.
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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 1:50 pm 


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I've been making quite a bit of progress, so thought I'd post another screenie.

Image

as you can no doubt see I've added side panels to narrow down the playable area and a scoring system.

I've also added a few things not featured in the screenshot such as speed power ups and health powerups, which brings me to a question, now that I have speed-ups in the game should the player incur a speed penalty when they lose a life ?

also any thoughts on what the optimal length of a mission should be ?

bearing in mind that I plan to have around 7 missions in the game I was thinking that 5 minutes per missions sounds about right.
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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 9:46 pm 


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TheDogCatcher wrote:
now that I have speed-ups in the game should the player incur a speed penalty when they lose a life ?

I literally can not even think of a game with Speed pickups where you don't lose at least some of them when you die. I mean, so long as the base speed isn't like Gradius I doubt you'll hear too much complaining about it.

As for mission length... yanno, I've never actually payed much attention to this. All I can say is that missions tend to get longer over the course of the game, so 5 minutes might be good for a middle stage, but maybe a bit much for stage 1? The variety and pacing within the stages is more important, so that's hard to answer. It might be better to just go by gut instinct :P

e: about speed pick-ups: I'm going to assume you know this already, but on the off chance you don't, make sure to put a cap on the speed. There are some games that don't, and can get to the point where Speed pick-ups are avoided as intensely as bullets so that your speed doesn't become uncontrollable :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:18 pm 


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yeah speed pick ups are capped at 3 after that you just get bonus points for every one picked up, at one point I had it so that the ship was moving faster than the lasers it was firing and that just looked really bad. :P
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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 5:33 pm 


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I've been making quite a lot of progress over the last few days, here's a couple of screenshots
for your viewing pleasure :


Image

Image


With any luck I should have a playable demo of the first level available sometime
next week. :mrgreen:
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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:06 pm 


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how u gonna scroll the screen forward if the traffic light says stop?? :o


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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:51 pm 


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ha !!

I never even thought of that, I guess the pilot will get a fine for jumping a red light.

:P

I could get rid of the traffic lights, it's not like they do anything, I was just trying to make the side panels look a little more interesting.
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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:38 am 


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Ahoy there! Looking good so far :D

However, there was one thing that bugged me about the visuals you presented.

In the last screenshot, I noticed the enemy bullets are quite small and identical in shape to the player's bullets.
Smaller bullets are generally harder to see and less visually appealing than larger bullets.

If you do decide to enlarge them, keep the hitboxes small, so they'll be easier to see and won't make the game any harder.
Also, the player bullets look similar to the enemy bullets; this isn't as much of an issue but it will certainly look better if the player shots not recolored enemy
shots or vice versa.

I really like the player and enemy design, keep it up!
And good luck with development.
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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:04 am 


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Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it.

Making the enemy bullets look bigger is a great idea, I also need to tweak the visuals for the 3 way weapon as they look a bit off at the moment anyway, so I'll probably change the shape a bit aswell.
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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:11 pm 


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I'm considering reworking the player health system, at the moment player lives are represented by the circular meter around the player's ship, meaning that the player lives are limited to a maximum of four because the circle is divided into four segments.

I'm thinking of replacing this with a more traditional numerical display but still keeping a cap on the maximum number of player lives, this would also have the advantage of allowing me to introduce a rudimentary difficulty level system, so for instance :

Easy : player starts with 4 lives with a max number of 10.

Normal : player starts with 3 lives with a max number of 8.

Hard : player starts with 2 lives with a max number of 5.

Ridiculous : player starts with 1 life with a max number of 3.


any thoughts ?
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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 9:17 pm 


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I don't think that's a good way of implementing difficulty; here's my reasoning:

With a difficulty system that uses life caps and starting lives and such, the game on ridiculous is no more difficult than the game on easy.
It's just that you get punished worse if you get hit on ridiculous.

There's also not really a reason for the player to try the higher difficulties if the only difference is amount of lives.

Difficulty is much better implemented if the enemies shoot more bullets on higher difficulties, in my opinion.
Even if you do this, though, don't start the player with less lives. This will keep the game more fair and more fun.
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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:05 pm 


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Yeah, typically shmups change the enemy and attack patterns for difficulty modes, and leave lives to a separate dip switch setting.


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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:38 pm 


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ok good points,

I think I'll leave the game as is for the time being.

The way the game is set up at the moment I'd have to make duplicates of each level for each skill level in order to change the enemy waves and fire patterns and this seems to be a bit of a clunky way of doing things to me.

I'm thinking that it might be best to get a demo out and gather more feedback before making too may fundamental changes to how the game works.
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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:56 pm 


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Slightly earlier than expected here's the demo version of the first mission for Microsoft Windows, the download size is 31.2 mb :

LINK REMOVED project updated

Well to be precise there are 2 missions but the 2nd is just a clone of the 1st with a few minor changes, the game will loop endlessly until you lose all your lives (or get bored and quit :P ) .

To play the game simply extract the demo folder using 7zip and run the .exe contained within.

If the demo doesn't work for you for whatever reason please post your system specs along with a description of any problems you encounter, it's been tested on a few machines already with no apparent issues so hopefully all will be ok.

I've only ever run this game at 1920 x 1080 resolution and I suggest you do aswell if you can, although if you want to go bug hunting by all means try it at other resolutions but please post any issues you find here.

Controls are WASD or the Arrow Keys to move, Left Mouse or CTRL-left to fire, Escape to pause, you can also play using a control pad .

If you feel like posting feedback by all means post whatever you want but I'm particularly interested in the following :

Difficulty level ( please bear in mind this is the 1st level so it shouldn't be too taxing).

Balance of the weapons.

Performance ( if you encounter any issues please post your system specs).

Pace of the game.

and finally Presentation.


anyway I hope you enjoy my little offering and I look forward to reading your feedback.

regards,

-Mark
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Last edited by TheDogCatcher on Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:29 am 


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My laptop is a damn toaster (Pentium 2020M @2.4GHZ x 2 / 4GB RAM / Intel integrated Graphics/Sound :lol: ) and has never ran a Unity game (or really most 3D games) well, so I ended up playing this at, like, 320x240 (no, the menu text isn't readable at this level lol). "Graphics Quality" settings didn't make a difference here, nor have they ever made a difference for any other Unity game I've tried. I did also test the game a bit at the usual 1920x1080, as well, even if it wasn't really a playable framerate. So, anyways, feedback, without really knowing how "rushed/beta" this is or what all your future plans for this game are:

There's some immediately blatant problems:
o Even when you're not using a 16:9 ration, the sidebars are still there (though you can fly under them). At certain ratios the info on the sidebars isn't readable either. It also changes the title screen of the game to "Rebus" :P
o Bigger problem: THE ENEMIES CAN KEEP SHOOTING YOU FROM OFF SCREEN. The enemies that go off the left side specifically will fire off, like, 3 or 4 more volleys after they've left the screen! (This happens in 16:9 ratio as well, so I doubt it's a problem related to the sidebars)
o The sound effects were REALLY DAMN LOUD. I'm going to assume this doesn't happen on your rig, because I can't imagine anyone with ears hearing what I'm hearing and thinking "yeah, that's fine". You might also want to add something to the program where identical sound effects can't play on top of each other, at least not too quickly, as that can spike the volume.

A couple other problems/oddities:
o Bosses keep shooting during their death animation. I didn't test this, but is it possible to get hit by a bullet during the "Stage Clear" prompt? Cuz that would suck. Typically, bosses not only stop shooting after dying, but erase the existing bullets from the screen as well. Though I guess mid-bosses trying to take you down to the bitter end is ok, maybe even kinda cool?
o Those death animations are also a bit vague, since they're using the same explosions as your bullets.
o It took me a bit to notice the health bars above the bosses! Boss health bars are nice, but they're nicer when they occupy a permanent spot on, say, the top of the screen for this game's case.
o Feedback on getting hit is rather weak. I mean, the explosion can make it obvious most of the time, but a simple screen shake or instead showing the ship model shake some would be an improvement.
o The speed-up and health items are both purple? You definitely don't want different pick-ups sharing colors. I'm guessing one has an S written on it, but... that could mean Speed OR Shield... and generally you don't want to ask the player to distract themselves looking that closely at something if you can avoid it.

Difficulty Level / Pacing
Hard to judge this because of the offscreen attack cheese and performance issues, but otherwise I'd say from the miniboss onwards is about right for the kind of game it's trying to be, a bit on the lackadaisical side. The part before that where you just kinda spawned the same second-tier enemy type by itself in the same location two or three times is pretty :| , though.
That second tier enemy is pretty underwhelming. Maybe it should shoot a spread shot, and/or not leave after one shot?
The bosses were actually kinda of fun! Not sure how much of the difficulty was just because of my computer being ass, but it did seem to be reasonably simple and balanced for a first stage boss, without being something you kill in your sleep.
Main problem with the stage is that you only have two damn enemy types! :P Can't get much done with that!

Balance of the Weapons
The Green weapon definitely seemed better on the bosses, but the firing rate/bullet speed feels too low for regular enemies. A continuous beam might work better.
Red weapon is too similar in concept to Green weapon, I think. A bit better for regular enemies, but definitely a lot worse for the bosses.
Blue weapon seemed too weak to take down the second-tier enemies, even if you trained a stream on them the moment they come in. But, against the boss, where all three shots hit, the damage seemed decent. It might be worthwhile to make the bullets larger so they can hit popcorn enemies more easily.

Presentation
Well, hard to judge since I played it on Nintendo DS settings, but honestly, based on the screenshots, people's reaction to this game's graphics are going to be "My First Unity Project", which.... isn't wrong, technically. Hell, I'm pretty sure I've seen that popcorn enemy model before in some Unity tutorial I did a few years ago. Apologies if that's not the case.
I did seem like you were trying with the background. At least, I don't think it was the same island over and over again, but, hard to pay attention to these things while playing! The wrecked subs were a nice touch.
Though honestly, I think it's a bit early in the project for you to really worry about this.


Overall, for a first project, just speaking from a design-standpoint, this seems like a decent start. I've definitely played far worse! Take your time, though. No need to rush.


Oh, and about what was said earlier about difficulty settings: if you want to just have one base game where you can choose your health, that's honestly fine and dandy. Just make sure to call it "Health setting" or something, so nobody goes in thinking it's actually a truly different difficulty mode. And if you're planning on doing any kind of Achievement stuff, don't tie anything to the health setting.


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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:17 am 


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Wow, that's some really nice feedback there (even the negative stuff which is probably the most helpful), I'll try and address all of the pionts you've made.

I guess my biggest concern or at least the one that is likely to prove the most difficult to fix are the graphical issues on lower resolutions, could you possibly post a screenshot so that I can see what's going on there ? Failing that message me and I can send you my e-mail address so that you could maybe mail the some screens.

The sound volume is an annoying one, I've already reduced the volume several times and thought I had it about right, the sound effects are just some free ones I got from Freesound.org . Is it just the sound effects or is the music too loud aswell ?

I think I've already figured out a fix for the offscreen firing issue .

The bosses themselves won't fire their main weapon after death it's just that the turrets are independent child objects of the boss, I need to find a way to tell them the boss is dead and to stop shooting, or maybe even destroy them when the boss dies. I don't think they can hit you as when the boss falls to the ground the bullets should fly under the player ship but I haven't tested this.

I do need more variety in the explosions, it just wasn't really a very high priority for me at this stage.

I'll see what I can do about the boss health bar thing.

I really like the idea of making the player ship shake when hit, if I can do it for the bosses I should be able to figure out a way of doing it for the player aswell.

Good point about the speed and health powerups, that was just me being lazy really, I'm thinking that maybe I could put a red cross on the health powerup.

Difficulty/Pacing

I do need to change the weapon on the second tier enemy as at the moment it just uses the same laser as the bosses, I like the idea of a spread shot.

How many enemy types would you say is appropriate ? I was thinking of using entirely different enemy types for each stage and was trying to ration them a bit so that I don't run out of ideas by the later stages of the game.

Do you think I ought to try and squeeze in a few more enemy waves as there are some rather lengthy pauses inbetween ?

Weapon Balance

I was trying to make each weapon type highly situational so that as you've mentioned the Green weapon would be best against bosses. The Red weapon is more of an all rounder for dealling with second tier enemies but also good against smaller ones. The Blue weapon probably does need beefing up a bit and probably won't be included in the first mission of the final game ( I don't want to show off all the goodies on the first mission).

Is this a bad idea ? Should the weapons all be more rounded allowing the player to choose their favourite and stick with it throughout the entire game ?

Presentation

All the islands are made from terrain rather than using 3D meshes so each is unique.

All models and textures used in the game are originals made by myself (although the enemies are remixes of some models I made for a game called Void Destroyer - used with the devs permission, he's a really cool guy) no asset store stuff here. The terrain textures were downloaded from textures.com (formerly CG textures) with minimal alterations made by me.


I'm wondering if there are any optimisations I can make to improve performance for you in 1920 x 1080 resolution, I'll look into this as it really is in my interest to have the game compatable with as wide a range of systems as possible. The slowest system I've been able to test this on personally is a desktop with an AMD Phenom II X4, Geforce GTX 560ti, 6GB DDR 3.


anyway thanks again for your great feedback it's been hugely useful, I'll update the demo once I've made a bunch of fixes and changes, I've only been working on this for about 3 weeks so it is a bit rushed .

-mark
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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:54 pm 


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Quote:
I guess my biggest concern or at least the one that is likely to prove the most difficult to fix are the graphical issues on lower resolutions, could you possibly post a screenshot so that I can see what's going on there ?

It's technically a ratio issue and not a resolution issue. My monitors are normal - 1920x1080 for my tablet monitor, and 1600x900 for the laptop's built-in monitor. Other than the performance problems, the game looks and functions as intended if I set it to something like that. It's when using the resolution settings to choose something that's not 16:9 (which is what most of the smaller options are) that this happens, so I can't think of any reason why you shouldn't be able to test this for yourself.
1440x900, fullscreen || I left in the automatic pillar-boxing.
Spoiler: show
Image

1024x768, windowed | Title || I could do fullscreen, but it's the same as this with black pillar-boxing on the sides | The white border is just some of my desktop surrounding the window
Spoiler: show
Image

1024x768, windowed
Spoiler: show
Image

Unfortunately I'm really not a PC gamer, so I don't know what's normal to do here. I think what's usually done in a case like this is that the game has a distinct ratio menu option for either 16:9 (aka with sidebars) and 4:3 (without sidebars, put the score up in the top-left corner), and then the resolution options just pillar- or letter-box from there. So, if someone with a 4:3 monitor chooses 16:9 for some reason, they play the game as per the screenshots you've been posting, but letter-boxed to fit the screen.

- - -

Quote:
The sound volume is an annoying one, I've already reduced the volume several times and thought I had it about right, the sound effects are just some free ones I got from Freesound.org . Is it just the sound effects or is the music too loud aswell ?

The music is fine, and upon further inspection, the explosions seem fine as well. It's just, like I said, you have instances where the explosion sound effects are being played on top of each other, causing a phase-alignment amplification. So, your bullet hits an enemy - BOOM - and the enemy also dies from that shot - BOOM #2 - and if you're getting hit at the same time, well - BOOM #3 - for potentially near-3-times the normal volume (+ some sound "flanging"). You just need to disallow playing identical sfx on top of each other like that and/or go find a few more different explosion sounds to use (b/c if they're different, they won't amplify each other). Also typically player bullets hitting enemies won't use a full explosion effect
The sound effect for collecting pick-ups, though, is definitely way too loud.

- - -

Quote:
Good point about the speed and health powerups, that was just me being lazy really, I'm thinking that maybe I could put a red cross on the health powerup.

Might be better to just make one of them orange or something. Also, be careful with red crosses. :wink:

- - -

Quote:
Weapon Balance

I was trying to make each weapon type highly situational so that as you've mentioned the Green weapon would be best against bosses. The Red weapon is more of an all rounder for dealling with second tier enemies but also good against smaller ones. The Blue weapon probably does need beefing up a bit and probably won't be included in the first mission of the final game ( I don't want to show off all the goodies on the first mission).

Is this a bad idea ? Should the weapons all be more rounded allowing the player to choose their favourite and stick with it throughout the entire game ?

Hm... situational pick-ups is definitely how a lot of older games did things. Personally I can't say I like the idea of picking up a weapon and then finding out that it sucks, either for the upcoming section, or just in general. Granted, I think the weapons you have at the moment aren't so different from each other that this would happen to such a severe degree.
I get what you're going for with the Red and Green weapon, I just personally think that, as it is, they serve very similar purposes (ie they shoot forward and damage a single target), so one of them having at least one unique property could help. The immediate thing that comes to mind would be having the Green weapon pierce, so while it has no horizontal coverage, it can damage multiple enemies vertically. Of course, something like that might also just make it overshadow the Red weapon :mrgreen:

Something to consider is letting the player cycle the weapon drops for more choice on what they get, either by having them change over time, or changing whenever the player shoots them. Many games, such as Raiden, do this. Of course, games like R-Type obviously don't, but the weapon selection you have here is closer to Raiden's than R-Type's super-gimmicky sub-weapons.
You can still trickle in power-ups over the course of the game through either special unchanging drops or by checking the stage number. The latter is what Cotton 2: Magical Night Dreams does so that the powerful Light element weapon only appears in the later stages.
I'm by no means saying something like this is necessary, just pointing it out as an option.

Something else to point out is that usually power-ups come from designated enemies (either a unique type or a colored/flashing version of an existing one) rather than just appearing on screen.

- - -

Quote:
How many enemy types would you say is appropriate ? I was thinking of using entirely different enemy types for each stage and was trying to ration them a bit so that I don't run out of ideas by the later stages of the game.

This can change a lot between games. Like, I know Dragon Spirit's first stage has 10 (!) + the boss, and Akai Katana's first stage has more like 6-ish + miniboss and boss. But they also reuse some of those enemies for later stages. I guess something like 4 would be a bare minimum, but I think the real answer to your question here is to just hop on to YouTube and watch videos of a slew of games and see for yourself.
Unique enemies for every stage is something people praise precisely because it's hard to do, so accomplishing it by spreading your content thin won't do.
I wouldn't be too worried about running out of ideas for enemies, at least mechanically. I mean, enemies in oldschool shmups are often pretty simple in behavior, like "comes in, shoots, leaves" vs "comes in, shoots, kamikaze's you" vs "static turret that aims at you" etc. It's just all abstract shapes moving around and colliding, so even a minor difference like "shoots two bullets instead of one" can be enough to feel like a unique enemy type.
For this stage, something as simple as having some submarines in the water or some tanks/turrets on the islands could help, though... I guess that's military stuff and not "alien ship" stuff. Well, w/e, you get what I mean!

Quote:
Do you think I ought to try and squeeze in a few more enemy waves as there are some rather lengthy pauses inbetween ?

Hm, I do remember there being a few weird pauses, but I can't remember where. Generally, you'll want to use pauses for these three things:
1) A bit of "drama" leading up to a boss or some other major event in a stage
2) After dropping a power-up, so the player can safely collect it
3) To designate that the player is entering a distinct "sub-section" of a level, kinda like the different rooms in a Mega Man game. These don't have to noticeably long.

Something to think about is "bonus enemies", which are enemies that only appear if certain other ones (usually a whole wave) are killed quickly enough. They're most common in "caravan" or time-attack styled shooters. I think the Star Soldier series has examples of this. It's a way of keeping pace in case the player starts being able to take out waves too fast, without just continuously spawning and overwhelming less experienced players.

- - -

Quote:
I'm wondering if there are any optimisations I can make to improve performance for you in 1920 x 1080 resolution,

I would be surprised if there was. I'm not kidding when I say that this computer really can't handle most 3D games. Of course, it's also possible that it could and I just don't have some setting right because I'm computer-illiterate. :lol:

- - -

A final note: When I played this yesterday, I used an arcade stick, and the game controlled as expected. However, grabbing these screenshots using keyboard controls, I noticed you're still on Unity's default way of handling axis input on keys, causing the game to feel like it has momentum. Like, 99% of people who play shmups want digital control where button on = full-speed and button off = immediate stop. I know Unity has an option to change this. Somewhere in the Input options there should be something like an acceleration value for the axis, which when set to the right value (like, max or something) will cause a key press/release to be registered as an instantaneous 100%/0% on the axis respectively.


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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:46 am 


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again some great feedback . :mrgreen:


I've been busy trying to address as many issues as I can and should have an updated demo available soonish, my current plan is to keep on updating the demo until it's a polished as I can possibly make it before moving on to creating the rest of the levels.
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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:23 pm 


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I've uploaded an updated version of the demo, here's the link :

LINK REMOVED - project updated

Here's a list of changes from the changelog:

Quote:
Features:

- Player Ship now flashes during 1.5 second period of invulnerablitly after losing a life.

- Screen flashes red when the player loses a life.

- changed green weapon to piercing beam that travels through enemies and reduced weapon damage to compensate.

- changed red weapon to fire beams to the left and right aswell as forwards with the forward shot being slightly more powerful.

- Slightly increased blue weapon damage.

- doubled damage caused by the starting weapon.

- removed player health gauge and replaced it with a standard numerical display.

- removed player life cap.

- player ship starting speed and speed cap increased with bullet speed increased to compensate.

- added new type of explosion for when enemies are hit by bullets but are not killed.

- added option screen with volume sliders for explosion volume and global volume control.

- added Option to set the number of lives that the player starts with.

- added enemy transport ships for carrying powerups.

- added camera fade in at the start of a level and camera fade out at the end.

- added new weapon for type C enemies.

- added new type D enemy.

- added Credits page.


Fixes:

- small enemies firing while Offscreen fixed.

- Changed gravity setting for keyboard controls to eliminate momentum.

- Lowered Volume of pickup sound for powerups.

- removed ability to select non 16:9 aspect ratios.

- health pickup colour changed to orange.


Optimisation:

- reduced resolution of texture maps for terrain to 256 x 256 from 1024 x 1024.

- reduced Indirect Resolution of terrain lightmaps to 0.1 texels per unit from 0.5 texels per unit.

- reduced foliage texture resolution to 512 x 512 from 1024 x 1024.


I've also created a lite version of the demo for people with slower computers, link :

LINK REMOVED - project updated

in the Lite version I've included support for aspect ratios other than 16:9, removed the side panels and rearranged gui elements to better fit the screen.
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Last edited by TheDogCatcher on Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 1:40 am 


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Did you want the Lite version to be able to render outside of the play area, though, when playing wider than 4:3? It creates a bit of a problem if you can't see where the playfield's borders are, plus you can see the enemies deleting themselves as they fly off. But otherwise, I was able to run the Lite version at a higher resolution and have it still be playable, so that's nice.
Also, about HUD/GUI, and this might be the most absurdly petty nitpick to think of, but it just seems a bit odd to me that your current score is on the left, but your lives and speed are on the right.

edit: I was about to say that the keyboard controls were unchanged, but yeah you do stop faster now. However, the Sensitivity also needs to be raised so that you start faster. I'm not sure if you were wanting to completely remove momentum, but if you were, then I think the Gravity needs be raised some as well, as there still seems to be a small amount of slowing down to stop.

The sound effects seem a lot more balanced now, though the player dying is quite a lot louder than the other explosions. Also, I swear the pick-up sound for Life and Blue drops are louder than the others?
The Blue and Default weapons can cause a real ruckus when getting all the bullets on an enemy. It doesn't seem to be spiking the volume too bad, but it is causing a noticeable phasing effect. If you don't want to hassle with placing limits on how many of the same sound effect can be playing at once, you could also try randomizing the pitch some to reduce this effect.

If you die after killing the boss, it will still go to the "next" stage with 0 Life. If you get hit again after that you go to -1 Life and die normally -- though I was expecting to have entered some immortal Zombie state! :P

Quote:
at one point I had it so that the ship was moving faster than the lasers it was firing and that just looked really bad.

Yanno, I probably should've thought to mention this last time, but when you get your ship up to top speed, you are basically going near the same speed as the Green and Red weapons. I think those two could use a speed buff, mostly in the bullet speed area (the side shots of the Red weapon would definitely be a lot more useful if they went faster), but maybe a bit to the firing rate as well for a mild DPS buff. As it is, the only way I can kill the one type of enemy that now shoots a stream of bullets down is to line up with where it's going to spawn and move forward while shooting, creating a goofy clump of bullets for them to smash into when they come out. Though, spawn camping with the default weapon or getting close with the spread to hit with all 3 bullets is the only way I can kill them with those two weapons, so I think those guys might just have a bit too much health in general.

Also, I noticed with the last demo you had a pick-up to go back to the default weapon, for the sake of resetting the stage. Since you buffed its damage, are you going to be using that drop alongside the other weapons, now?


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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:56 am 


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the audio issue is a bit of a worry for me, I'm not sure how to fix this, there's a setting in the audio preferences to limit the number of sounds playing at once, the default is 32 but I'm not sure if altering this will have the desired effect, I'll need to look into this further.

I had encountered the zombie ship thing once before and thought I'd fixed it - obviously not, so now I've added a check to ensure the player has more than 0 lives before loading the next level.

Quote:
Also, I noticed with the last demo you had a pick-up to go back to the default weapon, for the sake of resetting the stage. Since you buffed its damage, are you going to be using that drop alongside the other weapons, now?


I'm not quite sure what to do with the default weapon, it seems a little redundant when compared to some of the others right now, I was thinking of maybe making it shoot behind the player aswell as forwards but I'm not sure how useful that would be at present.

I'm wondering whether to limit the aspect ration in the lite version to 4:3 it would certainly make things a lot simpler and I'm not sure if support for other aspect ratios is really all that neccessary anyway.

I had similar thoughts regarding the HUD layout I only put the life and speed displays where they are because there was a convenient space on the side panels, at some point I'll probably redesign the side panels and make the layout a bit more logical. Also I'm thinking of shifting everything to the top of the screen for the lite version.
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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:50 am 


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That audio setting is just for SFX in total, so that won't fix this particular problem. And thinking about it, my earlier suggestion of limiting the number of identical SFX wouldn't do much either unless that limit was 1, which I don't think you'd want to do unless you're going for that old-school "super-limited sound channels" sound. :lol:
Beyond my other suggestions of diversifying the sound effect pool and randomizing the pitch some for each call, I'm out of ideas for simple fixes.


And yeah, weapon balancing's quite the adventure, isn't it? Doesn't help that there's only so much you can do in the abstract. Beyond basic damage-vs-coverage kind of stuff, weapon utility depends a lot on the peculiarities of the enemy and stage design. Chances are you'll end up with give-and-take between tweaking the weapons and the stages/enemies to fit each other, rather than really being able to get it all right before actually starting the rest of the levels.
If it makes you feel any better, it seems the majority of games don't really get weapon balance right. :P Might be part of why pick-ups gave way to distinct characters or on-the-fly switching over the years - some of them may have just gave up trying to balance that shit.


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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 6:32 am 


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After asking for help on the playmaker forums I think I've fixed the audio issues, it certainly sounds a lot better to me anyhow. :mrgreen:

as for the starting weapon thing I think maybe I was on the right track before, it was more useful than the green weapon at the start of the mission so maybe I just need to "engineer" a few more situations like that.
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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:04 pm 


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Hey folks,

I've updated the Erebus demo once again, both the regular and lite versions have been updated, here's the links :

LINKS REMOVED - project updated


here's a list of changes to the latest versions :

Quote:
Features :

- slightly increased travel speed and fire rate of green weapon.

- increased travel speed of red weapon and slightly increased fire rate.

- reduced health of type C enemies from 70 to 60.

- player life counter now blinks when a life is lost.

- removed the explosions volume slider from the options screen.

- added replay and main menu buttons to game over screen.

- set game over message to flash.

- Changed font and colour of speed, lives, score and hiscore counters.

- made enemy bullets brighter and slightly larger.

- added new type E enemy.

- tweaked turret animation for type D enemies to make fire pattern more effective.

- added particle effects to speed powerup to make it look more distinctive.

- changed the first wave of type C enemies so that they don't all spawn in the middle of the screen.


Fixes :

- added check to ensure player still has more than 0 lives before loading next level.

- adjusted hit box of type D enemies to better fit the model.

- increased width of hitbox for the forward beam of the red weapon to better fit with the visual effect.

- lowered volume of pickup sound for life powerup.

- increased gravity for keyboard controls from 10 to 15.

- increased sensitivity for keyboard controls from 3 to 15.

- fixed an issue with enemy spawners which would sometimes cause them to skip the last enemy in the group.

- changes made to the way sound effects are played in an attempt to eliminate phasing.

- text replaced with TextMesh Pro text to improve clarity.

- fixed hitbox for type A enemies which was back to front.


Lite Version :

- limited lite version to 4:3 aspect ratio.

- removed side panels.

- rearranged gui elements to fit 4:3 aspect ratio.

- added text for score, lives, speed and hiscore.

- moved speed and life displays to top of the screen and added background.


for a full list of changes please refer to the changelog.txt file included in the archive.
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Last edited by TheDogCatcher on Mon Nov 20, 2017 9:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 2:06 am 


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The audio seems to be okay now.

The Red weapon does feel a bit better, but the Spread Shot is still beating out all the others in terms of DPS and reliability. You might have to give Red and Green another speed buff?

Maybe I didn't notice this with the other demos, but the mouse-over area for the buttons doesn't match their graphic/on-screen location. And the regions seem unequal in size. Like, the Exit option on the main menu seems a lot shorter than the others. This seems to affect both versions, regardless of resolution settings.

With the new huge swarm waves, since there's so many explosions going on from you hitting/killing them, sometimes their bullets can get harder to see. I'm not sure if this is because the explosions are being drawn over the bullets, or if it's just because you have orange bullets and orange explosions.
On a similar note, I forgot to mention this last time: It's not a big deal, but having the power-ups be drawn over the explosions would be nice. As it is, you have to wait for the smoke to clear before you can tell what came out of the enemy.

I'm getting a lot of lag spikes. Every once in a while, the frame rate just tanks for several seconds (like 5~10). This happened with the last demo as well, and I thought it was just my computer trolling me with some unknown background process, but I'm starting to think it might actually be the game b/c of how often it happens. No idea if this is something Unity's CPU-profiler would pick up.

I noticed you are able to turn and trigger one shot while the game is paused. This isn't breaking anything, since you don't move and the bullet is created but doesn't move forward, but it does mean that you have some game logic running while the game is paused, which could potentially be a problem depending on what else ends up slipping through the cracks.

This last point is entirely up to how old-school you want to be, but, maybe shrink the hitbox a little? At least so the the wings aren't part of it? I'm guessing at the moment it's just a simplified, shrink-wrapped mesh of the plane itself, right?


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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:06 am 


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thanks again for the quality feedback. :mrgreen:


Quote:
The Red weapon does feel a bit better, but the Spread Shot is still beating out all the others in terms of DPS and reliability. You might have to give Red and Green another speed buff?


rather than changing the speed I could just give those weapons a damage buff it seems that this way I'd have a little more control over how they perform, what do you think ?

Quote:
Maybe I didn't notice this with the other demos, but the mouse-over area for the buttons doesn't match their graphic/on-screen location. And the regions seem unequal in size. Like, the Exit option on the main menu seems a lot shorter than the others. This seems to affect both versions, regardless of resolution settings.


yeah that's a bug that I've fixed in the latest build, I'm not sure what happened there but it seemed to occur when I introduced the new text.

Quote:
With the new huge swarm waves, since there's so many explosions going on from you hitting/killing them, sometimes their bullets can get harder to see. I'm not sure if this is because the explosions are being drawn over the bullets, or if it's just because you have orange bullets and orange explosions.


I've noticed that sometimes the red/orange part of the enemy bullet doesn't render straight away with only the yellow core appearing initially, is this maybe what you're seeing ? I'm not sure why this would happen maybe there's a setting limiting the number of onscreen particles or something, I did increase the number of particles for the enemy bullets in the last release to make them stand out more.

Quote:
On a similar note, I forgot to mention this last time: It's not a big deal, but having the power-ups be drawn over the explosions would be nice. As it is, you have to wait for the smoke to clear before you can tell what came out of the enemy.


I've got an alternative fix for this in the current build, a voice that announces what powerup you just picked up, I think this is probably the most effective solution to the issue.

Quote:
I'm getting a lot of lag spikes. Every once in a while, the frame rate just tanks for several seconds (like 5~10). This happened with the last demo as well, and I thought it was just my computer trolling me with some unknown background process, but I'm starting to think it might actually be the game b/c of how often it happens. No idea if this is something Unity's CPU-profiler would pick up.


This is quite a worrying issue, I haven't noticed anything like this on any of my test systems but I'll do my best to try and figure out what is going on.

Quote:
I noticed you are able to turn and trigger one shot while the game is paused. This isn't breaking anything, since you don't move and the bullet is created but doesn't move forward, but it does mean that you have some game logic running while the game is paused, which could potentially be a problem depending on what else ends up slipping through the cracks.


This is because the game isn't actually paused, I just set the run speed of the game to 0 when it's "paused", I'll look and see there's an alternative solution but I'm not sure if it's too much of a big deal really.

Quote:
This last point is entirely up to how old-school you want to be, but, maybe shrink the hitbox a little? At least so the the wings aren't part of it? I'm guessing at the moment it's just a simplified, shrink-wrapped mesh of the plane itself, right?


the hitbox is actually just a simple box shape, I can certainly give it a tweak though if you feel it's a little too big.


anyway, thanks once more for the great feedback.

-mark
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 Post subject: Re: New shooter in early development, looking for advice etc
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 11:19 am 


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Quote:
rather than changing the speed I could just give those weapons a damage buff it seems that this way I'd have a little more control over how they perform, what do you think ?

Well, my reasoning for the bullet speed/rate increase is more about the ease of hitting smaller/moving enemies than the damage. Bullet travel speed + Damage buff might work about as well as speed + firing rate buff. The Green weapon might benefit from firing rate more than the Red, since it's so narrow that it can just go between the gaps of some of the formations.
Also, there's still the matter of being able to pile up Red or Green bullets when your speed is maxed out, if you care about that.

Quote:
I've noticed that sometimes the red/orange part of the enemy bullet doesn't render straight away with only the yellow core appearing initially, is this maybe what you're seeing ?

Yeah, that sounds like what was happening.

Quote:
I've got an alternative fix for this in the current build, a voice that announces what powerup you just picked up, I think this is probably the most effective solution to the issue.

I was talking about having to wait and see if it's a weapon pick-up that you may or may not want, so this wouldn't help with that at all.

Quote:
This is quite a worrying issue, I haven't noticed anything like this on any of my test systems but I'll do my best to try and figure out what is going on.

I really wish I could say what's the game, what's just my laptop being incredibly outdated, and what's just Unity living up to its reputation.


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