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 Post subject: DEMO | Existential Crisis 2: The Elite Unit
PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:08 am 


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Joined: 31 Aug 2019
Posts: 17
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Please ask any questions you have below!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! THE DEMO IS HERE!


DOWNLOAD THE DEMO HERE!


Existential Crisis 2 is a Horizontal shmup currently in development by Retrocade Media.
Insert exciting back of the box text to get you excited about my game

Screenshots!
Screenshots are of in development versions of the game. Everything is subject to change

Title Screen (With CRT Filter)
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Character Select on Normal difficulty
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Character Select on Explosive difficulty
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How To on Explosive difficulty
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Gameplay on Normal
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Gameplay on Explosive difficulty
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One of the many supers in action
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Features:

Choose from 6 unique characters and ships, as well as a group of secret characters to battle the Allis!

Each character has a unique super attack to obliterate enemies with!

4 different difficulty modes for every player:
    Easy - Like Normal except you can continue from anywhere.
    Normal - The recommended difficulty for beginners
    Hard - Extra patterns and functions added to enemies
    Explosive - For the true high score chaser, it's like hard with a lot more bullets to scrape

Several gameplay modes:
    Story!
    Arcade!
    Time Attack!
    Practice!

A 2 Player mode that has been described as:
"It's like playing as tails, you can let your little brother play and it's entirely inconsequential"
That's not entirely accurate but I thought the quote was funny!

Features a text synthesization announcer!

A myriad of cheat codes to modify the game with (Most of which disable high scores)

Full controller support with customizable controls and button prompts for each controller type!

Toggle Free Play! Try the CRT filter! Toggle Controller Vibration! Make the game even more pixelley, and more in the options menu!

Scoring:

While you're not holding down the shoot button you will receive a constant flow of points, which are multiplied by the point multiplier.
To build the point multiplier you kill enemies and scrape enemy bullets.
The point multiplier has no cap but is reset when you die.
The point multiplier will drain by 1/3 and reset the timer if you are hit.
The point multiplier will start draining if it has been 1.5 seconds since the last time you built it up.
While you are using your super you will stop receiving flow points however you can continue to build your multiplier.

A large portion of scoring includes end of level bonuses. You get a bonus for:
    Lives left at the end of the level
    Health left at the end of the level
    % of enemies killed
    No miss bonus
    Amount of bullets scraped
    Time bonus on a boss
    Bonus for saving the spacemen in each level

Story:

Unfinished. Please check back later for more.


Last edited by RetrocadeMedia on Wed Jan 01, 2020 9:28 pm, edited 15 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Existential Crisis 2: The Elite Unit
PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 4:04 pm 


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Joined: 04 Jan 2017
Posts: 192
While the screenshots are impressive, is there a way that you can make them smaller and more readable so it is forum friendly?

You can easily use a basic editor program to scale down the original size.


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 Post subject: Re: Existential Crisis 2: The Elite Unit
PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 4:30 pm 


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Joined: 31 Aug 2019
Posts: 17
Yea! I can do that tonight. I'll try to scale them to about 1/3 scale.


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 Post subject: Re: Existential Crisis 2: The Elite Unit | Horizontal Shmup
PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2019 8:24 pm 


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Joined: 31 Aug 2019
Posts: 17
Today I added in a couple of different options for the CRT effect, as well as optimizing it while it's not on! Heres a preview of each type!

Edit: Thank you to BB from the Shmups discord for pointing out a spelling error. This has since been corrected.

Image

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Existential Crisis 2: The Elite Unit | Horizontal Shmup
PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:50 pm 


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Joined: 31 Aug 2019
Posts: 17
New, Bonuses!
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 Post subject: Re: Existential Crisis 2: The Elite Unit | Horizontal Shmup
PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2019 3:51 am 


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Joined: 31 Aug 2019
Posts: 17
Today I worked on the new pause menu!
Everything works other than the Options portion, which I'll work on some other time. I would show a before and after image, however, the pause screen before was not very good and I don't want to be reminded of it.

In other news, I have added Extends!
You can get an extend at:
100,000
500,000
1,000,000
5,000,000

You can also now collect 1-ups in some levels! (One can even be seen at the bottom of the screenshot)
On top of adding 1-ups, there are now Bomb ups which will refill your bombs by 1!

All of that was added because a different feature was removed. At the end of each level, there used to be an option to grab a 1-up/health refill or a full bomb and power up fill. This was removed cause I didn't like it anymore, and there was no reason to choose the power fill as it was always better to go for an extra life.

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 Post subject: Re: Existential Crisis 2: The Elite Unit | Horizontal Shmup
PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2019 1:25 am 


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Joined: 31 Aug 2019
Posts: 17
Today I revamped the Winners Don't Use Drugs screen. Its been changed to say Illicit, with a new custom made font, and the JA logo has been updated using my good friend Manual Anti-Aliasing! I'm not totally satisfied with this yet, the more I look at it the more I see that I might change. But I'm mostly happy with it now, at least enough to show off!

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Progress has been slow going recently. My computer died, and I was just barely able to recover the contents of the hard drive. Luckily my game is just fine, and I've been making some progress on it. Unfortunately the computer I've been using to work on the game while my computer get's fixed is sort of a piece of crap, so it's slow going. The game seems to average around 19-34 frames per second on the first level, I guess thats what you get with $120 and 4GB of RAM.

Anyway, the newest addition has been all high scores now save! Through the power of learning how arrays work you can now save high scores in-between sessions. It's honestly pretty rudimentary stuff, but I've just never given the time of day to learning arrays. Now that I've wrapped my head around them, I'm excited to optimize some other data storage elements of the game!

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Other than that, Accessibility settings!

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There will be more in the future, but for now just these! Dark Back will darken the background, all the way to 100%, effectively turning backgrounds off (Which has no impact on performance, sorry). Toggle Fire does what it says in the screenshot, tap the button once to start firing, and again to stop. And Screen Shake just enables and disables screen shake!

Lastly, I've begun to work on an in-game manual. You can access it from the pause menu, or by pressing F1 during gameplay. Heres an example of the controls page:

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This will be layered over game play, hence the opacity of the black.


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 Post subject: Re: Existential Crisis 2: The Elite Unit | Horizontal Shmup
PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2020 7:01 pm 


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Joined: 31 Aug 2019
Posts: 17
​Happy new year everyone!

This new year I've decided that it's finally time to release the Existential Crisis 2 Demo! You can download it here:
DOWNLOAD THE DEMO HERE!

The demo contains the first 3 levels of the game, a Caravan mode, Practice mode, Cheat codes, Secret Characters, Placeholder music, and more!

Any feedback is appreciated!


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 Post subject: Re: DEMO | Existential Crisis 2: The Elite Unit
PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2020 6:41 pm 



Joined: 19 Jan 2009
Posts: 696
Location: stuck at the continue prompt
Nice demo! Some observations:

Technical details:
  • Over 660 MB download size? Games with nicer graphics, longer levels and more music fit in much less space.
    And indeed, most of it is a 537 MB attract mode video. Can't you replace it using the normal game engine (various levels with prerecorded inputs, other scenes, subtitles and other extras, existing music)?
  • Freely scaling the window, with correct letterboxing, is very nice; but there should be a way to prevent scaling it down to zero client height and minimum title bar width, as currently possible. Do you have a reference screen size that can serve as a reference for minimum size and for quantized scaling?
  • After setting sound volume to 0, I still heard music at the title screen. There might be some bug or inappropriate delay in loading options; playing sounds by default is particularly irritating.

Gameplay:
  • Low firepower. It would be acceptable in sparse oldschool games where successfully and efficiently killing enemies is the main challenge (e.g. hitting with every shot in Space Invaders), not in a more frantic bullet hell game in which obliterating enemies before they shoot too much is a basic survival strategy.
  • Dodging is too hard, because bullets are too fast and gaps are unusually small and random; your relatively fast bullets require proportionately large clear paths. I'd replace most of the random bullets with orderly streams and spreads, which would offer more discernible and manageable patterns.
  • Low weapon variety: few weapon upgrade levels, no player-controlled weapon modes except the limited use "super", and very simple weapons to begin with. At 2 buttons, you can certainly add one or two to control multiple weapons or to switch modes (for example, different drone behaviours).
  • Very low player ship mobility, both because it's just slow (see the megabeams of level 3 and the screen-sweeping movements of the final boss) and because there are too many bullets to dodge to move freely and immediately. Consider slowing down scrolling and enemy speed in general.
  • Several weapons have insufficient range due to the very low player ship mobility (it's common to be forced in the left part of the screen with enemies out of reach in the right and obstacles in the middle).
  • Level 3 has destructible obstacles that explode to reveal indestructible obstacles. Very unfair when you have to destroy them at point blank and at the last moment; you should redesign levels to ensure empty space behind the destructible blobs.

Graphics and design:
  • Unreasonably low resolution, with a dishonorable mention for the frankly ugly text of the character selection screen and the HUD. You could add a lot of valuable detail to sprites without losing the "retro" style.
  • Speaking of which, rotating blocky sprites is a bad idea: more noise (every bullet is different) and less "authenticity".
  • Heart-shaped bullets look too friendly. I initially assumed that they recharged the super attack.
  • Explosions and bullets hide obstacles. Obvious solution: very easy obstacles where there is intense shooting and modest enemy fire where there are obstacles.


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 Post subject: Re: DEMO | Existential Crisis 2: The Elite Unit
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:17 am 


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Joined: 31 Aug 2019
Posts: 17
Ixmucane2 wrote:
Technical details:
  • Over 660 MB download size? Games with nicer graphics, longer levels and more music fit in much less space.
    And indeed, most of it is a 537 MB attract mode video. Can't you replace it using the normal game engine (various levels with prerecorded inputs, other scenes, subtitles and other extras, existing music)?
  • Freely scaling the window, with correct letterboxing, is very nice; but there should be a way to prevent scaling it down to zero client height and minimum title bar width, as currently possible. Do you have a reference screen size that can serve as a reference for minimum size and for quantized scaling?
  • After setting sound volume to 0, I still heard music at the title screen. There might be some bug or inappropriate delay in loading options; playing sounds by default is particularly irritating.

A) Yes, the game is a bit large. I'm trying to find a solution to the attract mode video. I'm thinking removing gameplay and adding an in engine cutscene of some kind.
B) I can just force a minimum Width and Height for the window. Probably just the resolution, 256x144
C) Odd, I'm not sure what caused that. I'll look in to it. What do you mean that playing sounds by default is irritating?
Ixmucane2 wrote:
Gameplay:
  • Low firepower. It would be acceptable in sparse oldschool games where successfully and efficiently killing enemies is the main challenge (e.g. hitting with every shot in Space Invaders), not in a more frantic bullet hell game in which obliterating enemies before they shoot too much is a basic survival strategy.
  • Dodging is too hard, because bullets are too fast and gaps are unusually small and random; your relatively fast bullets require proportionately large clear paths. I'd replace most of the random bullets with orderly streams and spreads, which would offer more discernible and manageable patterns.
  • Low weapon variety: few weapon upgrade levels, no player-controlled weapon modes except the limited use "super", and very simple weapons to begin with. At 2 buttons, you can certainly add one or two to control multiple weapons or to switch modes (for example, different drone behaviours).
  • Very low player ship mobility, both because it's just slow (see the megabeams of level 3 and the screen-sweeping movements of the final boss) and because there are too many bullets to dodge to move freely and immediately. Consider slowing down scrolling and enemy speed in general.
  • Several weapons have insufficient range due to the very low player ship mobility (it's common to be forced in the left part of the screen with enemies out of reach in the right and obstacles in the middle).
  • Level 3 has destructible obstacles that explode to reveal indestructible obstacles. Very unfair when you have to destroy them at point blank and at the last moment; you should redesign levels to ensure empty space behind the destructible blobs.

A) Fair enough, I'll look in to fixing that. I think some of it has to do with some of the bullets feel rather than actually damage.
B) I need to make some adjustments to controls as well as bullet patterns to help with this.
C/D) The megabeams have issues. Actually scratch that, the entirety of level 3 has some serious level design issues.
Ixmucane2 wrote:
Graphics and design:
  • Unreasonably low resolution, with a dishonorable mention for the frankly ugly text of the character selection screen and the HUD. You could add a lot of valuable detail to sprites without losing the "retro" style.
  • Speaking of which, rotating blocky sprites is a bad idea: more noise (every bullet is different) and less "authenticity".
  • Heart-shaped bullets look too friendly. I initially assumed that they recharged the super attack.
  • Explosions and bullets hide obstacles. Obvious solution: very easy obstacles where there is intense shooting and modest enemy fire where there are obstacles.

A) The game is too far in to change the resolution, so I'll look in to changing the artwork. The character select screen uses a different font in the center than the rest of the game, and it's not particularly great.
B) I'll look in to that, however the rotation is baked in to the game, so I'm not sure how to remedy that. I'll figure it out. Although turning Smooth Movement off while Smooth Rotation is off does help that a little.
C) These stupid heart shaped bullets. I guess I'm the only one who doesn't see it. I'll try to change their shape to a triangle instead
D) Once again, better level design is key here. I might also try to move the layer explosions appear on, but I can't move bullets, they are the most important. Better level design for sure.

Thank you for the feedback, was there anything you particularly liked about the demo?


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 Post subject: Re: DEMO | Existential Crisis 2: The Elite Unit
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 3:24 pm 



Joined: 19 Jan 2009
Posts: 696
Location: stuck at the continue prompt
Playing sounds by default is annoying because people often want to hear something other than your game, like notification beeps or, as in my case, a long playlist of music.

I don't understand how development can be "too far in to change the resolution", since your 256 by 144 pixels are not the actual screen size, like on some very old console, but only a choice of aspect ratio (16:9) and a unit of measure for sprite positions.
On modern devices, a net screen size below 768 by 432 windowed is very unlikely and the detail level should probably be optimized for a 1920 by 1080 LCD monitor: you are going to scale up small sprites by a drastic factor in any case, so you can increase their original height and width without significant engine changes. Likewise, not rotating round bullets should be easier than rotating them.

Most of the designs of the sprites, ships and items are good, and the more technical and collateral aspects of the game are already almost polished; you only miss iterative experiments with better level design, weapon design, enemy design and game balance (speed, difficulty, scoring...).


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 Post subject: Re: DEMO | Existential Crisis 2: The Elite Unit
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 4:25 pm 


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Joined: 31 Aug 2019
Posts: 17
Well yes, people want to hear things other than the sound in my game, that's why the volume slider is there. (which apparently malfunctioned on your end, I am looking in to that)

The resolution thing isn't a technical limitation as much as a design one. Everything in the game has been designed around the 256x144 resolution, from the art, to menu's, to hud's, to boss fights and more. Changing that effectively means changing the entire game. There are way too many layouts in this game (quite a few of which don't appear in the demo) to change that this far in. This is why smooth rotation and movement is an option, it may not look as clean, however it gets rid of some of that visual noise caused by the low resolution.

I honestly agree with you, I wish the game was a little more zoomed out. However, this is a limitation I accidentally set myself when I began to work on this game a year ago, so unfortunately it has to stay.

As for the bullet rotation, (and pulling back the curtain a bit) I'm using Construct 2, and while possible to rotate the sprite separate from its movement angle with the bullet behavior (I do it all the time with the spinning bullets), it just requires a relatively quick overhaul of how that particular bullet works. I got to thinking about strategies to do it last night. It's low on the list of priorities, but eventually I'll get around to it.


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 Post subject: Re: DEMO | Existential Crisis 2: The Elite Unit
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:56 am 


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Joined: 31 Aug 2019
Posts: 17
I spent about a week addressing some of the most important feedback from the demo. This isn't a major update, but it fixes some big complaints, like:

    File Size! The game is no longer over 600mb! In fact, it's just about 50mb. The attract mode video was removed, and temporarily replaced with an in engine attract mode! However as I was exporting it I realised I had never actually programmed it... so enjoy 30 seconds of an un-reacting player ship!

    Control Deceleration sucks! There is no longer deceleration when slowing down. There wasn't much before, but it was there, even if slight. You can now stop on a dime!

    Character Select font is ugly! Well now its been switched to the standard font. The quotes were also changed for some characters, and Arnold's name was adjusted.

    Octo is overpowered! He still is, but a shot limit has been added to try and combat this. I'm not sure how well it works, but it was the best option that I could think of.

    Minor gameplay stuff and bugs! Some of which have been addressed, some of which haven't. The major bugs have been addressed, and some select gameplay complaints have been addressed as well.

That's all, download it and try it out!


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