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 Post subject: DOGFIGHT - 4p shmup by Katsu Entertainment
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2020 5:19 pm 


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Joined: 11 May 2020
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Location: Cary, North Carolina
Hello everybody! This is Tony from Katsu Entertainment. We've been working on a demo of our 4-player couch co-op game, DOGFIGHT, to show at the game conventions this year. Since they're all canceled we’re taking the con to you and making the demo available for download.

Please check it out here: https://www.katsugames.com/dogfight
We have versions for both PC and Mac.

The game is still early in development but we're really looking for your expert feedback on what we have so far. What do you think? Do you want to see the finished product?

(Sorry all these gifs show only one player - I'll get some multiplayer animations up shortly)
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 Post subject: Re: DOGFIGHT - 4p shmup by Katsu Entertainment
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2020 6:36 pm 


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Joined: 11 May 2020
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Location: Cary, North Carolina
Thought you'd all like to see the arcade pedestal we put together for DOGFIGHT, to give us that old-school flavor.
Really looking forward to seeing it in action once the conventions start up again.

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 Post subject: Re: DOGFIGHT - 4p shmup by Katsu Entertainment
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2020 8:25 pm 


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Joined: 03 Oct 2011
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Location: Southern Ontario
My only caution with making a multiplayer shmup is it's probably best to avoid any screen scrolling when you move. It can be a bit disorienting if the entire screen moves when either player is moving when playing a multiplayer shmup. Some of the better multiplayer shmups have absolutely no scrolling when the player moves perpendicular to the direction the screen is autoscrolling (Giga Wing 1 & 2 autoscroll upwards and do not have any left/right scrolling, Psikyo game also do not generally have left/right screen movement) and ones that do have screen movement when the player moves are aimed more at single player.

That's not to say having screen movement is fatal for multiplayer either, and successful multiplayer oriented shmups do have it such as Score Rush which has very slow, gentle screen movement as players move left/right, or games like Jamestown or Crisis Force, which are tailored towards a multiplayer experience with forgiving elements like respawning, shields, etc, but still have screen pushing when you move left/right (although in all three of those cases, they'd likely play even better without player movement scrolling).

It looks like in single player, the screen scrolls up and down very rapidly when the player is moving. I'd recommend something more like Progear where the entire playfield is zoomed out and visible at all times and does not move up or down. Alternatively, adjust the scrolling speed be adjusted to be much less fast in multiplayer? I can't tell how much it moves around in multiplayer though from the GIFs but I'm familiar with trying multiplayer in CAVE shmups with fairly aggressive screen pushing on movement and it's disorienting if you're both trying to move around a lot on the screen.
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 Post subject: Re: DOGFIGHT - 4p shmup by Katsu Entertainment
PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 4:19 pm 


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Scrolling can definitely work. There are a lot of vertical shmups that you may not even notice scroll to expose a larger horizontal field.

I think the trick is to scroll only when absolutely necessary, as in when the ship is very close to the edge of the screen.

This goes both ways, so if the screen already scrolled up because you went near the top, don't scroll down until the player is near the bottom. Otherwise you get this janky constant scroll effect.
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 Post subject: Re: DOGFIGHT - 4p shmup by Katsu Entertainment
PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 5:33 pm 


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casualcoder wrote:
Scrolling can definitely work. There are a lot of vertical shmups that you may not even notice scroll to expose a larger horizontal field.


I'm not talking about single player though; when it's a single player in a vertical shmup, horizontal screen scrolling isn't disorienting because it only happens when the player moves. However, this game is meant to be a 4 player shmup. It's touted as a main feature. Have you tried playing a vertical shmup such as Dodonpachi in multiplayer? It can be very disorienting when the other player starts moving left and right rapidly, causing the entire playfield to shift unexpectedly and forcing your eyes to adjust to your new screen positions as your friend moves around. This is why games with no screen push scrolling (most Psikyo games, Giga Wing, many NMK titles such as Rapid Hero) work well for multiplayer. I can't think of a single shmup tailored with multiplayer in mind that wouldn't have been improved by simply removing screen scrolling.

My recommendation is to try a game with screen push scrolling in multiplayer (basically anything by CAVE aside from Progear such as Donpachi, Dodonpachi, Espgaluda, or even something like Raiden Fighters which also has very rapid movement on several shot types) to see what I mean, then compare it to a game that has no screen push scrolling. It's much easier to stay focused on your own ship and where bullets are even when your friend is moving around if there's no screen scrolling when you move.

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I think the trick is to scroll only when absolutely necessary, as in when the ship is very close to the edge of the screen.


There's a few schools of thought on how to do this, but for singleplayer this method means you have to move really far to the side "push" the screen edge. It's generally considered an inferior way of doing it compared to how most shmups do it where the screen scrolls evenly as you move around the screen with the screen trying its best to keep the player "centered" with the screen's scrolling position when possible instead of only pushing the screen when near the edges. CAVE's games are generally the gold standard for how to do screen push scrolling, but they're also meant to be played in singleplayer, as evidenced by DDP and Progear locking you out of the loop in multiplayer even if both players fulfill the normal loop requirements.

For multiplayer, the ones that only push when very close to the screen edges reduces the problem somewhat, but can still start to get those disorienting movements of the entire screen when your friend moves around if both of you happen to be at opposite sides of the screen. With 4 players onscreen, there's a good likelihood of this happening at any given time.

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Another point is removing the up/down movement scrolling entirely here is it looks like it could be an easy fix to implement, at least as far as not affecting game balance. All of the footage makes it look like when the screen is scrolled up to the top, you can see the physical bottom of the playfield (look at the position of the subs/boat when at the top of the screen), so it looks like being able to scroll the screen down isn't actually exposing any new play area/dodgeable space per se. Hitbox size adjustments can also be made if you're worried about reducing the total size of the playable area due to removing screen scrolling.

I also notice that when the player moves up, they get hidden behind the interface. My recommendation is to do what Progear/Akai Katana/Rolling Gunner do and hide the elements (portrait, lives) when the player is near them or turn them transparent.
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 Post subject: Re: DOGFIGHT - 4p shmup by Katsu Entertainment
PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2020 12:26 am 


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Joined: 11 May 2020
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Thanks for the comments, we really appreciate them. Thunder Force IV was one of our design touchstones, so that's what influenced our up/down scroll initially. It's something we've already been discussing internally to keep/drop/change so it's helpful to get some outside thoughts on the feature.


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 Post subject: Re: DOGFIGHT - 4p shmup by Katsu Entertainment
PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2020 2:43 am 


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Location: Southern Ontario
I notice that all the GIFs you posted and footage I could locate of the game in motion seemed to be single player? I imagine the up/down wobble being disorienting might be more apparent with a GIF showing off an actual 4 player game.

If you dig Thunder Force, check out the fangame Vastynex. It's basically a love letter to Thunder Force, but it contains none of the up/down screen scrolling on movement, and still plays fabulously, showing it's not necessary per se even on a single player game. Gameplay video here.
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