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 Post subject: What do you look for in a shmup?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:27 pm 


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Joined: 30 Apr 2018
Posts: 4
Location: Brazil
So I've been wondering here. What do you guys look for in a shoot 'em up game?


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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a shmup?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 8:09 pm 


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Joined: 12 Dec 2013
Posts: 867
Location: France
I imagine there are as many answers as they are people, given that everybody has different tastes and desires, but there's what I like in shmups.

Well, first of all, a shmup lasts around 20-30 minutes and is very replayable, so you don't have to invest hours every time you want to play one, yet those games can last you a pretty long time in the long run if you find one you really like playing. The fact that those games have automatic scrolling and are relatively short also means that those 20-30 minutes will be spent actively engaging with the game, whereas looser genres can have boring, relaxing or slow-paced moments you only play once. The difference between a shmup and an RPG with saved progress for example is that in those games, you wouldn't want to redo a section you cleared, whereas here, replaying the same stages isn't a problem because those are inherently enjoyable and do not rely on discoveing new locales/game assets as much.

Shmups are very simple on a surface level, with basic elemental rules (shoot enemies and dodge bullets), easy-to-grasp controls and usually no need to read super long manuals with convoluted commands to get into one of them. That aspect makes it easy to try one and see if it clicks. And despite the simplicity, there is a lot of depth in those games because the mechanics are so simple and "pure" that you try to push them to their limits to see your scores increase, or simply reach the end of the game. There is something appealing about having a relatively limited toolset that works for the entire game and can be useful in different ways.

Speaking of the toolset, this is something that can make a shmup very fun to play. The way your weapons work and how they interact with the enemies can create some very fun interactions, so that's why you get some specific weapon styles that deviate from the regular shot, such as swords, lock-on lasers, AOE attacks, and so on. Despite the simple framework under which those games operate, there is a surprising amount of possible creativity in the weapon design, level-design, scoring system and other features. And due to the genre's lack of bloat, you will notice those differences from a game to another on a much deeper level than something like a AAA third person shooter for example.

And what kind of mechanics I like in a shmup are those that encourage speed-killing. It's fun destroying waves quickly to "unlock" new ones within the stages' time limit.
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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a shmup?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2018 3:30 am 


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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a shmup?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2018 3:59 am 


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A flow that I can get into without the game constantly trying to drag me out of it.
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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a shmup?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:09 pm 


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Joined: 02 Aug 2018
Posts: 10
Location: Sweden
Instant action. Arcade games was really made to be interesting from the first second and have minimal down time.
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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a shmup?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:03 am 



Joined: 06 Aug 2018
Posts: 2
Interaction between the level and the enemies. Like in R-type stuff is always opening, closing, changing shape, fitting inside or bursting out of other things, processing, burrowing, eating, flying through holes or squashing stuff. It makes it feel like you're in a world that has its own weird reasons to exist.

Sprite animation. You know, like making worm and snake bodies out of circles, or building whole skeleton rigs for human like figures, or IK stuff like the crane arms in Battle Garegga level 1. That stuff is very rarely done in today's "fake retro" sprite world but it has a distinctive look that still gets people raving.

Huge enemy counts. I dislike that modern shmups seem scared to use any more than tiny handfuls of enemies. I love it when popcorn enemies come in huge swarms, it makes it like the entire swarm itself is one enemy that you can see break apart piece by piece. I'm thinking of something like Cho Ren Sha 68k or the lesser known Yakouga series, with big columns and arcs flashing out at you. There's no hardware excuses anymore; if you can handle 500 bullets you can handle 500 enemies.

Bio-mechanical aliens, monsters, and gore. The crazy colorful sci-fi body horror look seems to have been 100% replaced with otaku-pandering anime child porn and I'm still bitter about it.

Weird secrets and tricks. Stuff like the flamingos or rank management in Garegga - the game isn't going to tell you; it wants you to realize it's there and learn it for yourself.

Multiple level orders and/or multiple level variations. This one requires a lot more design work but it's AWESOME once you do it. I'm talking about games where you can play the levels in different orders and difficulties depending on how you react to things, or stuff like R-Type Final where one stage can have a ton of different versions that you only see by replaying it and doing different things. I think the game that did the most work in this direction wasn't a shmup - it was Sonic CD, whose poor devs had to make a past, present, good and bad future versions for every single stage. If someone made a shmup with that level of time-traveling diversity I'd buy ten copies out of gratitude.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a shmup?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:29 am 



Joined: 19 Jan 2009
Posts: 645
Location: stuck at the continue prompt
  • Interesting weapon choices that affect tactics. In many games sticking to only one weapon is rewarded (see the classic design pattern of upgrading the weapon if you get a matching powerup and changing it without upgrade if you get a different powerup type) or weapons are substantially similar in actual use (often with a trivial adjustment of the extent of sweeping side to side and aiming at enemies) or an obvious optimal configuration is reached soon and maintained for the whole game.
    For example, the most interesting weapons in Tyrian are the optional side ships, with a range of choices including serious bombs, boosts to normal firepower to use at the right time, charge shots, continuous fire weapons that can be treated as an additional component of the main shot, and special purpose tools; the main weapons, with few exceptions, vary only in strength and power and money cost, and after the first loop one keeps the best ones and forgets about the rest (including the interesting specialized weapons that cannot compete with the brutal firepower of the top-tier bland choices).
    I look forward to playing Pawarumi as soon as I buy a PC; choosing situationally appropriate weapons on the fly should be interesting.
  • Different variants (of level layout, enemies, weapons, scoring...) and special modes, to combine familiarity and novelty when the game is replayed.
  • No pointless filler in levels. There should be a meaningful environment, with appropriate sizes and distances and density of enemies (the Raiden series does it well); even in the void of space the enemy fleet should operate in meaningful formations and attack waves.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a shmup?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:20 am 



Joined: 26 Feb 2016
Posts: 49
Location: Montréal, Canada
Look at Twin Cobra and inspire yourself like everybody has in the last 30 years.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a shmup?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:41 pm 



Joined: 15 Oct 2018
Posts: 3
I dislike shmups that depend too much on memorization. Dying just because you did not memorize the level is plain bad game design. That's why I tend more to the Bullet Hell shooters.

If I would develop a shmup I would focus on the following:

* Interesting weapon systems without making the core gameplay more complicated (examples: a semi auto aim system; weapons with different ranges, AOE cooldowns, effects on enemies, etc.; gravity weapon to pick up small enemies and throw them into others; placing mines and traps. Bad example: ikaruga)

* Refreshing level design: hardcore players always bring up the score system. For casuals like me who just want that 1cc the first stages become boring very quick. Solutions? Maybe some rng. Maybe mixing rogue-like elements. Maybe making the score-system acutally give you an advantage ingame (more than the extra credit) This is hard to fix.

* INTERESTING ENEMIES! this is the point I get the most confused. All shmups be like: just throw objects on the screen -> those objects might shoot -> objects might be destroyed -> object might throw powerups . No interaction between enemies. No dodging. No friendly fire. No AI whatsoever.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a shmup?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:16 pm 


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Joined: 13 Jan 2010
Posts: 141
Location: Aberdeen. Scotland
Short & sweet , non bullet hells & set in space.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a shmup?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:21 pm 



Joined: 08 Nov 2018
Posts: 8
Good explosions, good sound, diversity of challenges. Something that doesn't require me to aim too much. Something with replay value. I stray away from bullet hayle style. I'd much rather be killing than fitting between projectiles. I lean more toward the easier side of shmups. I'd rather have a brief 30+ minute joyride than a painful, murderous experience that either overstays its welcome or is too brutal for me to make it 10 minutes in on easy.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a shmup?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 8:30 pm 


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Joined: 03 Oct 2008
Posts: 12
    Low skill entry point. As a holdover from the '80s, I'm nearing 50 years old now. My twitch skills are not what they were, and no matter how good I get, I find that getting into zen takes more time too.

    Skill and memorization indications. Hint when it's a memorization section. Hint when it's about to be a dogfight. Let me know when the game is about to mix the two.

    Worldbuilding. Even though I as a player am about to be pointed and shot at something, give me a briefing every so often or a new snippet of plot. Starblade and Silpheed: The Lost Planet did this. Cutscenes hype me up and give me a breather when I need it.

    An iconic player craft. The craft is the star of the show. Dress it up well so I can imagine it as something I would want to see up close, pat on the fuselage and grin.

    A long ending. Shmups ignore this because the final rush at the end is usually its own reward. But honestly, if a shmup is truly epic, it should end that way in reward, showing the mark on the fictional world I just made.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a shmup?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:42 pm 


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Joined: 03 May 2015
Posts: 37
lots of shit on the screen
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