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 Post subject: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2021 8:13 pm 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
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About:
Hello, I am a solo developer and I have been working on this game for about 1.5 years at this point.
My philosophy from the beginning is that to make a quality game, it takes time. I could spend 6 months on a game. It would be half-baked and really not worth anyone's time and attention. I plan on working on this game as long as it takes to make a quality entry in the genre.

Biggest inspirations are probably Raiden and DoDonPachi.

Started working on this as more of a standard retro gamer - having a blast learning the finer details of shmup design thru making this game.
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Last edited by bk_figames on Fri Jun 25, 2021 12:37 am, edited 10 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2021 9:20 pm 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Wonder if anyone has any feedback around the player hitbox size. I've seen a lot of shmups that has a hitbox that is incredibly small. As a player I find it hard to determine where the hitbox actually is (which ultimately has an impact on my reactions)

Currently I have it configured like this:
Image

Wonder if there are any particular philosophies around this. My general approach is "smaller than the actual sprite" and I definitely don't think I should make it bigger than what it is now.
I've spent an inordinate amount of time on this game thus far and I don't want to spend on that time and it's a bad shmup.
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2021 1:18 am 



Joined: 03 Mar 2020
Posts: 150
Going by the second gif the hitbox is probably fine. It's not just about hitbox size though, the pattern design and the ratio of player vs bullet speed are also defining factors in whether a game is "fair" or not (and people have widely differing preferences, sometimes contradictory ones). Depending on how these things are balanced the game will end up emphasizing this or that - flailing versus memo, micro- versus macromovement - and whether that adds up in a way you're happy with should be the main concern.

It would be good to hear where your design influences are coming from so we know what kind of game you're going for.

Glowing/pulsing bullets can be hard to precisely read especially alongside obscuring explosions, screenshake etc so you might want to use different visuals for any intense micro sections. Because the enemies you've shown are similar in color and design they're in danger of blending in with the (huge) debris, the background and each other, and this already seems to be happening in gif #3. Some games have a background luminosity setting for this reason (good to do this with screenshake as well). Of course this is all going off low-res images so it probably looks completely different at full size.


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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2021 6:25 am 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Thank for the response :)
Firstly, the visuals and not being too distracting is a concern of mine. I've actually made many of these things configurable already. Keep in mind that everything I'm showing now is still relatively early. It's been 1 year in development but I imagine it will take a least another year until I'm ready to launch. The screenshake on some of the enemies definitely needs to be toned down. It's something I've implemented quite some time ago and have yet to circle back to cleaning up. I'll take note of the luminosity setting - thinking I can probably just put a semitransparent sheet over the whole background layer and the setting will dial up and down the opacity of said sheet.

Here's an example of the gameplay with the screenshake, debris, and bloom (which gives it that glow) turned off
Image


The gifs are obviously hard to read compared to full screen. As for the game itself, I'll be honest, I'm not an expert shmup player - as I stated in my intro - I'm garden variety indie/retro player and I want to make a shmup for players like myself because I'd pick up something like Gradius and it was just absolutely punishing. What I'll end up making I'm sure won't be a respectable challenge to an experienced player, but that being said - I don't want to disrespect the genre.

Game itself is
-Vertical obviously - why, because I like it better :) To me it just plays better - maybe the narrowed screen space is less for your eyes to keep track of. I find that horis are just a little more mentally taxing - it feels more choresome.
-Checkpoints. From my experience with game, I tend to really feel motivated to keep trying if the there's a checkpoint system (as opposed to just being able to credit munch thru stuff). I'd notice I'd spend way more time on an inferior shmup with checkpoints than a superior one without.
-Hitpoints. Mostly driven from using checkpoints. Being 1-hit kill and have the game reset from the checkpoint might mean you spend more time waiting for a respawn vs playing. Been a challenge on finding out what is the right amount of hitpoints to give. In the GIFs I have it currently set to 5, but that might be too much - might bring it in to 3 or even 2, ala ghost 'n goblins

There's more to it - but in terms of hitboxes and whatnot, this is what is relevant.
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2021 5:40 pm 



Joined: 03 Mar 2020
Posts: 150
Right, that looks a lot more comprehensible to me.

What I was getting at with the previous post is more like... the player's move speed is reasonable but not fast enough to run rings around the bullets, and the shot is extremely narrow. There are many aimed bullets and simple fixed patterns. Based on this I assume the game's going to involve a lot of wide movements around the screen to bring the laser to bear on enemies with superior range. So something like enemies that move down the screen aggressively and threaten to attack from low angles could exaggerate that aspect, because the player won't have the coverage to deal with them all by standing still.

I could be totally wrong on these impressions, or the game could change utterly (good thing about shmup development is that once you've got the assets you can justify doing whatever you want with them), but these are the kind of things that should be informing how the rest of the game is set up. If you're making a game emphasizing the fundamentals then you need to decide those fundamentals and actively play to their strengths. There are a million indie shmups out there which are just random assortments of things the developer thought were cool and I don't see many of them gaining traction. That's why I asked about influences. It's nothing to do with credibility (I have none of that myself), it's to do with if the design is coherent.

Hitpoints + checkpoints isn't too different from the instant respawn + back to checkpoint on using a continue seen in several other games. It can be a good balance between being forgiving and encouraging the player to learn.


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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2021 6:53 pm 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
It's hard to pinpoint one game that I'm using an inspiration. I will say that the gun controls are influenced by DonPachi. One press fires 3 shots, hold for the beam. That being said, not trying to just clone DonPachi.

The gameplay, and this I don't think is necessarily unique, is about determining the best order to deal with enemies. It's like a puzzle. That's the reason for the checkpoints, didn't solve the puzzle correctly? Try again. For instance, the second gameplay gif in my first post with the boss - you can see there's an order in which he needs to be picked apart. The boss has a second phase once he drops below a certain amount of hit points. If you left the destructible turrets, it would likely be unbeatable. Levels play in a similar fashion and enemies are designed with a specific function in mind. Don't think this is unique to shmups and it's hard to pinpoint a specific inspiration other than a lifetime of playing games like this.

All the below is just on paper now and might not be in the game at all
-Thinking about implementing new weapons/weapon upgrades that are unlocked permanently. These would be locked by achieving merits on a given level. For instance, completing a level without dying or not taking damage or killing over a certain threshold of enemies, or defeating the boss under a certain amount of time. These could be spent to unlock upgrades that would help in future levels. The thought process is that this is philosophically the same as collecting powerups and not dying and proceeding to the next level as your mastery is rewarded with better tools later. I think this approach might be more "modern". I'm very cautious with all this as I don't want to introduce mechanics that just break the game or conflict with the core experience.
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:37 pm 


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I like the aesthetic, the enemies and especially the boss death explosion looks great. Something that appears to be missing is feedback from shooting the enemies, I don't think they flash? It's most noticeable shooting the boss, that feedback is important to let the player know they are dealing damage.
Upload a high quality video or demo and you might get some better feedback. Also come join the Shmups discord #gamedev channel if you want some real constructive criticism :)


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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2021 12:16 am 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Thanks! I actually have code that is currently commented out that will do a white flash. I have small explosions that get triggered off at different damage percentages that give that feedback. For smaller enemies it works fine but for bosses it does seem to lack any visual impact when I hit the player and I might enable that feature again.
Thanks, just joined the discord - didn't know there was one.
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2021 11:12 pm 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Been spending the past few days working on a massive sprite for level 1.
Actual sprite is 2000x3000 pixels. Took quite some time to finish
Image



Some gameplay footage
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKdXSs8i-Zc
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 1:20 am 



Joined: 27 Mar 2020
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Location: Campinas, Brazil
Okay! I'm hypedinside for the game's release date! Maybe expand the scoring system to be more than just kill stuff and it'll be less like a piece of shit for me to play for score and that's all I have to give in terms of feedback to you.
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 6:07 am 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Thanks glad to hear!
It's gonna be a minute yet - I'm a solo developer and I've been working on this game for about a year to this point. It will probably take another year to really make it shine.
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 11:22 pm 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Last day I spent redesigning the player sprite and adjusting the starting bullet pattern.
Reasons for the sprite redesign were to A. make it a little bigger and change the color to something that doesn't blend into the scenery too much. Reason for this is to make it easier for the players eye to track. Also, I thought I could design something cooler.

The bullet type changed that basically transforms the bullet into a rectangle and the guns are further out from the base - this gives the player a wider hit area so smaller enemies aren't as tricky to hit.

New player sprite:
Image


New Sprite in Action
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2021 4:00 am 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Been working on the interface for the past few days. Here's a quick snapshot
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Last edited by bk_figames on Mon Mar 01, 2021 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2021 11:29 am 


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There's a big difference between vertical and horizontal for creating sprites that I didn't realize until I started making games. Vertical is easier because is always mirrored. On horizontal shmups most sprites are not symmetrical and the ship animations has to be different to going up/down.
And here you are making a vertical shmup not mirrored. Can't decide if you are a hero or just a crazy person. :lol:

Great spritework. I'll definetely keep an eye on this. Well done.
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2021 3:02 pm 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Thank you so much! although I'll say I'm neither a hero or a crazy person and the way I'm drawing sprites is not new. Sure you could draw them from the aspect of straight down, and some older ones do that but that is not always the most interesting nor does it show off the most characteristics of the ships you are trying to draw. Imagine the player set just behind everything and not straight above it.

The perspective is not unlike a jrpg.

I will say that being a solo developer, I do limit the animations I put in, as I am sure you know, are very time consuming.
Have to make sure I get everything else done, not just the art :)
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 8:45 pm 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Spent the last week or so working on better gamepad support. Not much to show in a screenshot for that but the entire game and all the menu systems are playable with a gamepad.

Been working on the level victory sequence last couple days
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Follow on twitter: https://twitter.com/stellarfury
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2021 5:11 am 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Spent the last couple days incorporating a second player ship into the game. The art asset is itself is actually from a previously canceled project.  I decided to start working giving these ships some more character by coming up with some information on their origin. I play to have many ships (much unlockable in the game) and I decided that I'd employ a few different styles and each style would be a different maker.

Here's the ship selection sequence in action:
Image


Had fun cranking out some company logos. It's all just for flavor but I think it gives the game some extra character.
Image
Going for a sports car vibe on the second one. Thought it would be cool if the history was that the company made racing and luxury ships before "the war"
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Wed Mar 17, 2021 5:22 pm 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Been working on some new ship designs. Trying to implement more designs that encourage more risk taking.
This new ship focuses on using enemy bullets. It has two attacks, one that uses the grazing mechanic to built the power level, another that can absorb bullets and expel them as a charge attack:

The Delta Mekane DM-G60 "Vindicator"
Image

Image


This other one has a stronger focus on using the shot limits by getting close to the targets to deal more damage:

The Terragalactica TG-SL350 "Viking"
Image

Image


Please follow on twitter
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 9:32 pm 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
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Location: Portland, OR, USA
Been working on a number of things since my last update. Mostly fine tuning and tightening up the gameplay
Spent a fair bit of time working on the clouds for level one, the current implementation felt too cheap and sloppy (because it was). Clouds still aren't perfect, but an improvement over the previous version. Clouds were deceptively difficult.
Image


Cloud pattern:
Image

Also shown in the gif, I narrowed the field of play - which feels a bit restrictive but many shmups do this and there is good reason for it. I found that panning back and forth too far felt sluggish and unfun, having a narrower field of play keeps the action feeling tight and hectic. Also, keeping it like this will make it easier to do screen orientation (i.e. TATE). Many shmup players play vertical shmups with a screen oriented at a 90 degree angle.

Also adding the score popup. I still need to flesh out the scoring system quite a bit, what is there is currently pretty static (i.e. just a point value per kill)

Another thing that I worked on was implementing options for the ship and some additional firemodes. Looking at the first player ship - the Tempest, I had it where you press the key for a simple bolt fire (fires a burst of bolts to avoid too much mashing). Holding the fire key activated the beam which deals more focused DPS at the cost of speed. I also had a speed toggle implemented which will slow the move speed while held down (to be used for micro dodging). Thought it was a waste to have it just do that - so this key also trains the options fire for more focused DPS.

Image


The idea is to give the player the most options available to alter their DPS as needed, this creates a dynamic play experience where players make strategic decisions as opposed to just blindly holding down the fire key.


Also worked on the background art for the sea and ground. The original intention was to make this take place at night - felt like that didn't really come across - new version I think does a better job at this:
Image

Also worked on implementing elite enemy versions to add a little more variety in the enemies. Also many of the enemy designs in level 1 have gone thru another iteration. I felt like it was important that popcorn enemies to not remain on the screen too long. I originally had them stick around and it made the flow of the game feel sluggish. Having them come in and remain for a relatively short period of time I think improves the overall game flow - also prevents the screen from getting too messy and cluttered with smaller enemies that haven't been dealt with.
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2021 3:54 am 



Joined: 16 Jan 2021
Posts: 15
The light effects are attractive.


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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2021 8:27 pm 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Been working on a number of things - mostly content and new enemies.
Worked on some more enemies for my mars inspired level
Image

Also updated the dust effects based on feedback I got here and other places that it wasn't working
Image

Got a little tired of working on the same style enemies - so I started working on a different concept - but of a distraction but I needed to break up the routine

Image



Lately have been revising old content - generally upping the dosage across the board
Image

Image

Image
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2021 8:28 pm 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Ark wrote:
The light effects are attractive.


Thanks - I've actually removed some of the bloom from the bullets to increase bullet visibility - also the bloom on the beam was rendering over bullets - which is bad so I had to strip that out too.

The effects on the engines can stay though!
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2021 2:46 pm 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
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Location: Portland, OR, USA
Working on a new boss - decided no shmup would be complete without an enemy that attacks you with its engines.
This drove me finally implementing a melee weapon class. I probably could have done something with my projectile weapon class but this felt more appropriate. Has hitboxes that change over the lifetime of the event
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2021 2:37 am 


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Visually I love it.


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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2021 4:23 pm 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Hey,

Been working on a few things these past few weeks. I've been aggressively trying to get everything done for a playable alpha demo (including 4 levels)
Worked on some of the configuration options I had planned. I enabled options that allows you change the bullet colors and can be done per level.
I've also added granular options to disable/enable specific background elements.
Image

Image



Last week or so I've been working on some new content and refining other levels.
Added a few new enemies. Going to go for over 100 unique enemies. These push the current number near 70
Image

Image

Image

Image


Been incorporating the space station graphics I did quite some time ago into Level 2. Some of these graphics are from all the way back to 2018.

Image


Added a collidable wall section:
Image


New Miniboss for level 2:
Image


Some teeth clenching sections:
Image
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2021 4:23 pm 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
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Location: Portland, OR, USA
hechelion wrote:
Visually I love it.



Thank You :)
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2021 10:16 pm 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
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Location: Portland, OR, USA
Hey Everyone,
We've released a demo of Stellar Fury - we'd love for people to give it a shot and give us feedback
https://figamesllc.itch.io/stellar-fury
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2021 8:22 am 



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Remapped controls don't work properly on the menus/ship selection. Hitting "apply" in fullscreen makes the game go to windowed until I enable and disable the windowed setting again. The game doesn't save some settings on quit, such as the background options.

The descriptions on the subweapons involve way too much text. A visual preview of what each one does would be helpful.

Currently the game falls squarely into the "tons of shit EVERYWHERE" school of stage design. There's so much constantly going on with these seemingly random arrangements of enemies and patterns that there's no room to appreciate any part of it. After several runs on hard I still have no clue as to whether my native spastic gorilla playstyle is what the game wants out of me or if I'm playing it wrong. That doesn't mean it's not fun, just that I don't know what it's trying to do.

I hate, hate, hate the tap/hold/focus/unfocus 4-way shot/movement the ships have. Especially since I'm also using a missile button. Frustratingly clunky for a game paced like this. Don't give me Silvergun/Hellsinker-level controls in a game about flailing around chaotically blasting stuff. It works in those games because they're well-defined and choreographed. It doesn't help that the Tempest is the only ship with working autofire (I'm guessing this is a bug). On my first couple of plays I didn't realize it still had the DDP laser - autofire button and the shot changing on focus confused me into thinking you'd got rid of it - and these 2 stages at least are totally playable without it. I actually got less interested when I found the laser button, started dealing with 4 speeds and way too much firepower.

The missile alpha strike thing is cool but I really want some kind of indication on how much they're reloaded.

Attempting to fire missiles when none are ready resets the reload time. Most obvious with torpedoes, just tap the button and they'll stop coming out.

Disappointed that Dragonfly's options don't lock direction upon focus.

Hitboxes seem fine. I appreciate the Cave syndrome on the really fast pink needles, it's one of the few situations where that kind of thing is actually appropriate.

Monospacing the font on the scoreboard would help with legibility.

Don't take any of this too much to heart. You've already made something pretty idiosyncratic, I'll respect you more for continuing to take it in the direction you want instead of watering it down.

Edit: Forgot something. The shield after respawning doesn't protect from collisions. It's a bit jarring when I'm trying to get back into position and need to remember to not fly over the stuff stacked up on the screen.
Another bug: Going through the menus too fast can skip bomb selection (leaving you with a broken fake bomb), stop the music from loading and even null out the whole stage.


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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2021 3:53 pm 



Joined: 11 Feb 2021
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Hey - thanks for testing and giving feedback! You found some bugs that haven't been uncovered to this point - so that's good.

The game is definitely designed to be pretty manic/hectic. The patterns are designed intentionally to feel a bit messy and organic. Going for the Toaplan/Early CAVE mid 90s shmup. I understand some people might prefer a different style - but you can't please everyone :).

Control remapping shouldn't change UI. UI uses a seperate action map that is not assignable. This is by design as it will prevent players from inadvertently making the UI non functional. I.e. they could remove key maps and then not be able to move around the menu. Did you have issues with the UI controls and that's why you went into remapping?

Not sure what you mean by the "4 way shot" - if you're referring to the Dragonfly, I actually didn't mean to include that ship in as it is very unfinished. Funny you should mention the missiles being on a seperate key - the first release of the demo it was the same as primary as I did not want it to have too many keys to deal with, but given the hectic nature the alpha strike function has limited use because it's very hard to not fire. I like the missile alpha strike - but I'm wondering exactly how to implement it given the overall game design - maybe make it way more powerful if you can pull it off? Or I could keep it as a seperate action but default mapped to the same primary key - so players who are able to handle more key presses have additional strategic options available to them.

The game was designed initially that you'd tap for a burst, hold for a focus - and you spend most of your time in focus. I added autofire in the last update, but really, flying around with autofire only I don't think is an effective way to play the game. This game currently has a "double focus" which if you hold the focus key and hold fire. Might just simply it into standard autofire and hold focus for focus fire - but that's pretty standard, want to see if there is a better way to implement this same idea before I scrap it and do the more traditional thing.
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 Post subject: Re: Stellar Fury - A Classic Shoot 'Em Up
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2021 1:09 am 



Joined: 24 Jun 2021
Posts: 15
I also found some of the things already posted above.
Autofire doesn't work, and changing resolution kicked me out to window mode.
Also are enemy bullet supposed to dissapear when the enemy is destroyed?


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