Top-Down, Arcade SHMUP

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Top-Down, Arcade SHMUP

Post  pridethesaint on Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:25 pm

Perhaps some of you have seen the game Jamestown on the steam deals today. Well, it's a phenomenal hail back to the classic SHMUP formula which has all but died out in recent years. True shmups have a lot of replay value due to their difficulty, but give a lot of flexibility as far as art design is concerned. There have been futuristic SHMUPS, modern warfare SHMUPS, and even feudal Japan shmups.

I propose a shoot-um-up game featuring weapons based on biological defense mechanisms OR actual drugs. The game can have several levels based on different diseases or conditions, such as destroying a cancerous tumor or eradicating a flu virus from the blood stream. Top down shooting, of course, with simplified character and enemy designs. We can go as crazy as we want, but maybe we'd pursue sprite based graphics?

Thoughts?

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Re: Top-Down, Arcade SHMUP

Post  DoctorRheet on Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:53 pm

I dig this idea. I love the few shmups I've played, and when I was learning BASIC it was the first thing I tried, simply because it's easier to make than other genres. It would be great to do, we'd have time to polish and refine it from the time we saved coding. They're pretty basic games when you think about it, but that might just be because not many people have tried to change it.

A good shmup I remember doing something truly innovative was Ikaruga. In it, you had two different types of bullets coming at you, and you had to swap between two different types of shields (basically) that would reflect one and leave you to dodge the others. It was something new and fresh.

I love this idea, but what's something new we could bring to the genre?
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Re: Top-Down, Arcade SHMUP

Post  MitchRichardson on Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:08 pm

Well, my thoughts on sprite or non-sprite graphics for whatever idea we end up choosing would be that the decision is chosen by the artists. The bigger question is vector or bitmap based art, which should also be decided by the artists. Generally a mix of both is best, and each offer different visual aspects. Generally, bitmaps are less space (bit-wise) efficient but vector is more CPU intensive. Both function the same way collision detection wise in flash though so it makes no difference to programmers such as myself.

I also have already developed a small, and basic, SHMUP during a project in the degree I'm taking so I'm no stranger to the basic coding required. Rheet however makes a good point. While your idea is good it focuses on the visual style and and surrounding story of the game. We would need to think of some kind of innovative aspect to shake up the genre a bit. Ikaruga is a good example. Unfortunately I don't currently have an idea of how this could be done, but I'll think about it tonight and come back if I come up with something.
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Re: Top-Down, Arcade SHMUP

Post  jordan on Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:35 pm

Hey, just dropping in to add on to what Mitch was talking about with the vector vs bitmap thing. Really it all boils down to one thing: delivery. Are we planning on having this flash game embedded in a page or will it be packaged into an executable file which can be zipped so people can download the game from a website?

Mixing bitmaps and vectors is fine and all, depending on the art style. If the game is going to have more of a cartoony look it will work better mixing, but if it's going to be more detailed with a multitude of variations in textures then it might be better leaning toward bitmap for most things. Space-wise, vector is the way to go like Mitch said, but is more visually limiting. Taking a look at that Jamestown game I can guarantee that if the in-game backgrounds were vector images the game would be very sluggish (at least in flash). However, it's very obvious that everything in that game is bitmap.
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Re: Top-Down, Arcade SHMUP

Post  DoctorRheet on Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:48 am

Just going to post my thought process for thinking of a new shmup idea, maybe it'll spark something.
So what is a shmup? You move around, dodging bullets and firing at your enemies who move in a mostly set paths. Usually I find it a bit hypnotic to play. Is it possible for another genre to work when combined with a shmup? Shmups are generally controlled with four directional keys and a couple other keys for shooting and bombs. Could the mouse be incorporated into shmups? Maybe have it so you can rotate the ship toward the mouse and fire in the direction that it's pointing, but that's more than likely been thought of. What about creating barriers that float with you? Draw it with the move, enemy ships crash into it. Have it so that you can only create barriers close to the player, so you can't draw a barrier to the top of the screen. Nah. What about playing a shmup in reverse? Instead of being the one ship flying forward, it plays like an RTS and you have to command different types of ships. You'd have to make some decent AI, and something to make the one enemy die so easily. Multiple enemies across a larger screen than shmups generally have? Seems to deviate to far from the core idea of a shmup.

tl;dr shmups
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Re: Top-Down, Arcade SHMUP

Post  pridethesaint on Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:09 am

On the barrier drawing mechanic: it depends on how difficult it is to dodge bullets while handling the mouse. I had another idea incorporating the mouse, that the player's ship would rotate to the point the mouse was positioned at, so you could kill those pesky enemies that flew behind you or even easily target enemies on the screen without having to place them directly in front of your ship. In the end, however, I thought that it might be too difficult to use the mouse and the keyboard (or, in a perfect world, an arcade joystick) in harmony.

As for drawing your own path through a level, I rather like that idea. That's what I originally thought StarFox DS was going to play like and I was highly disappointing that was not the case. The cool thing about such a mechanic, in a 3D shooter, is that you could open up alternative bosses and levels by flying in a different path. I question how well it would work in a shmup, mostly because the action there comes less from dodging scenery or exploring, and more from the crazy amount of crap that the player has to deal with.

My one request is that if we do make a shmup, it has to be a Japanese-style bullet-hell one.

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Re: Top-Down, Arcade SHMUP

Post  jordan on Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:16 am

pridethesaint wrote:My one request is that if we do make a shmup, it has to be a Japanese-style bullet-hell one.

Well, looks like I definitely won't be playing the game I help make Razz
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Re: Top-Down, Arcade SHMUP

Post  DoctorRheet on Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:09 pm

When you say "shmup," I don't think of anything but a Japanese bullet-hell game. Even without a truly original idea, I think a shmup would be a great project. The core mechanic is simple, and it leaves tons of room for the artists and musicians to go crazy.
Also, procedurally generated music. Not sure how that fits within the context of a shmup, but it's something I'd like to see more of.
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Re: Top-Down, Arcade SHMUP

Post  pridethesaint on Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:12 pm

I've always toyed with the idea of a music-driven shmup. I know similar ideas have been done in the past, but nothing on the level of shooting to *create* music. Perhaps player interaction within the game could drive the music, directly control key elements (ie instruments), and create a unique, personal, soundtrack (that, ideally, still actually sounds like music). That alone would be gimmicky enough to carry whatever other aesthetic elements we wanted to use.

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Re: Top-Down, Arcade SHMUP

Post  DoctorRheet on Fri Jul 08, 2011 9:51 am

The problem with that is the rhythm. You won't always shoot the enemies right on the beat and it would sound horrible.
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Re: Top-Down, Arcade SHMUP

Post  pridethesaint on Fri Jul 08, 2011 10:04 am

Yes, that is the key hurdle that would need to be overcome.

Perhaps we're thinking to complex. Maybe instead of a crazy mechanic, we invent a new gimmick that can aid in the difficulty of the game. Customizable shots, perhaps? Temporary invisibility? Or how about the ability to switch between several "tracks" in a level, to both change up gameplay as well as dodge particularly heavy fire. It could be as simple and flying a layer lower or even drifting to a new part of the map.

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Re: Top-Down, Arcade SHMUP

Post  DoctorRheet on Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:06 pm

Agreed. One simple gimmick (as undignified as "gimmick" sounds) would be enough for the game to seem new and fresh. I can't think right now, but it needs to be simple.
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Biology Nerdgasm

Post  DrVick on Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:54 pm

pridethesaint wrote:

I propose a shoot-um-up game featuring weapons based on biological defense mechanisms OR actual drugs. The game can have several levels based on different diseases or conditions, such as destroying a cancerous tumor or eradicating a flu virus from the blood stream. Top down shooting, of course, with simplified character and enemy designs. We can go as crazy as we want, but maybe we'd pursue sprite based graphics?

Thoughts?

As someone who is studying Biology and specializing in Immunology, I can say there is A LOT of room in the subject of the mammalian immune system for a videogame.

(To summarize part of the innate immune system) Viruses infect cells to reproduce (hijack the cell's machinery to build new viruses) and infected cells are killed by Natural Killer (NK) Cells (which also locate and destroy tumorous cells). That could be a feature of the game, locating and destroying infected cells while fending off free viruses trying to inject their RNA or DNA inside of you.

There are also macrophages that "eat" bacteria and foreign particles through a process called phagocytosis, but more related to a "shoot-um-up" style, toxins can be released by defending cells to kill the foreign invaders. On the topic of gameplay, perhaps a shoot-um-up and strategy mix would make for a good pair with the topic. I'm thinking something akin to a 2-D Toy Soldiers. A player could select where they want to send some NK cells or inject some medicine.

Additionally, talking about medicine would be opening a vast new subject for the game, but a watered-down version of it could be implemented. For example, the misuse of antibiotics can cause selection for resistant strains of the bacteria. Always finish your antibiotic prescriptions!(!!!) How could this be implemented in the game? If antibiotics were a power-up or bonus, you could select where to inject it on the minimap, but with a tradeoff that any bacteria missed by your medicine strike will have a X% chance of turning into a more powerful version of themselves (pretty inaccurate, but it could be a cool feature).

I really love this idea. If anyone is interested I can dig up some more specific details and names of different types of cells. Obviously, if we do run with this it doesn't have to be entirely accurate (as fantasy as a boss battle featuring a "virus phage king" is, it still sounds awesome). But not too much will have to be made up from scratch, the immune system is quite remarkable.
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