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Thread: Shmups New VS Old

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    Default Shmups New VS Old

    I've been playing alot of shmups lately. The 360 is now up there with the Saturn, PC Engine and the mega drive/Genesis as one of the great Shmup systems

    But what do you prefer the speedy fast modern shmups where it rains bullets or the classic sprite based shmups which are still hard dispite the face it's not raining bullets.

    I don't know I can't say I have a preference. I enjoy Star Soldier just as much as I enjoy anything Cave has put out. But at the same time
    Cave Shmups hurt so good.

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    I feel like bullet hell shooters have become a sad self parody to the point where they're just not fun anymore. I think "good" difficulty should be based on the premise of "could a person conceivably complete this task without knowing in advance what to expect?" And bullet hell shooters have essentially thrown that out the window with what is essentially a flashy exercise in rote memorization.

    It's not so much the raw concept of "bullet hell" that turns me off. I think that a shooter with the premise of a swarm of shit flying at you is great in concept. I just hate the implementation. And since most shooters today are the "fake difficulty" style, I much prefer the ones from the 16bit era and earlier.

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    The worst is Ibara Pink Sweets playing that was a chore. It was so brutally difficult it's not fun at all. Not like other cave Shmups that get it right like Do Don Pachi Resurrection and ESPgaluda. The key is knowing where your hitbox is.

    It's a tough call, a Good shmup needs good graphics, balanced challenge and an amazing OST.

    Darius always provided that.

    But I'm torn I LOVE Cave but Darius, Star Soldier, Parodius all great and how amazing was Battle Garegga?
    Last edited by Retrocade Fantasia; 05-25-2012 at 12:36 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyTheTiger View Post
    I feel like bullet hell shooters have become a sad self parody to the point where they're just not fun anymore. I think "good" difficulty should be based on the premise of "could a person conceivably complete this task without knowing in advance what to expect?" And bullet hell shooters have essentially thrown that out the window with what is essentially a flashy exercise in rote memorization.

    It's not so much the raw concept of "bullet hell" that turns me off. I think that a shooter with the premise of a swarm of shit flying at you is great in concept. I just hate the implementation. And since most shooters today are the "fake difficulty" style, I much prefer the ones from the 16bit era and earlier.
    I agree, completely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Retrocade Fantasia View Post
    The key is knowing where your hitbox is.
    Which I think is dumb and totally counterintuitive. I don't like the concept of "grazing" since it's more or less telling you "hey, see this thing that represents you? Well, it technically doesn't. This other invisible thing does." Imagine if they did this in a fighting game where fireballs passed right through a character's head.

    It's nonsensical and from what I can tell the only reason they do it in shooters is because somebody said "uh oh, if we put that many bullets then the game becomes unwinnable. So let's just shrink the hitbox." The legitimate solution is to make the hitbox match the ship and then design a competent game with proper difficulty around that.

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    But doesn't every shmup since the begining of time have a Hitbox?

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    I'm not particular fond of bullet hell shmups, so old shmups for me. I like shmups where the developers think about the design of the whole stage and incorporate that into the gameplay, rather than having nothing but empty space where enemies are haphazardly thrown on the screen so they can spew some elaborate pattern of bullets. And for vertical shmups, I seem to fall for games that have dual planes, so I have to worry about both ground and airborne enemies. Dragon Spirit and the TwinBee series are among my favorite shmups. Gate of Thunder is probably my favorite horizontal shmup.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Retrocade Fantasia View Post
    But doesn't every shmup since the begining of time have a Hitbox?
    Has a hitbox, sure. But the hitbox in size and shape should, within reason, represent the thing it's a hitbox for. Again, look at the hitboxes/hurtboxes for a fighting game and you'll see that, outside of specific moments of invulnerability during certain actions, they fairly accurately match the sprite on screen. To have a ship that's supposedly "you" but have the hitbox be an extremely tiny invisible square in the center of the sprite is just straight up arbitrary and silly. What the hell is the ship for, then? Why not just play a game of nothing but hitboxes flying around?



    Compared to...

    Last edited by TonyTheTiger; 05-25-2012 at 08:41 AM.

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    I don't know that I'd put the 360 up there with the other systems you listed. I don't see the shmups really pushing boundaries on that system in the way some did on Saturn and Dreamcast, but I do appreciate that the platform supports those games. Speaking of Dreamcast, I wish they'd release an HD version of Borderdown on 360.
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    Yeah I was gonna say, 360 definitely does not have a ton of shooters (at least not comparable to the systems you listed) and half of them are crap anyway. Cave just dumps out shooters for the sake of dumping out another damn shooter, dont get me wrong its my favorite genre but Cave has gone overboard with their cutesy anime crap shooters. Want a modern system with plenty of shooters? ps2.

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    Bullet Hell or danmaku shooters are essentially just another step in the evolution of the genre. Perhaps some people take issue with the fact there hasn't been something new or beyond this. Personally I'm not fond of bullet hell, but that's mainly due to the time required to put in and actually become competitive, otherwise they can still be fun and of course have plenty of challenge.

    I don't agree about shooters now (so bullet hell mainly from Cave) having rely solely on memory. Games like R-Type and Raiden which were released over 20 years ago both have emphasis on memorization as opposed to reflexes - moreso R-Type and IREM games to be sure. I cannot think of many or any shooting games from the last 26 years that truly give advantage to reflexes over memorization, perhaps Smash T.V., Total Carnage, etc..
    At the end of the day there's going to be a fine line between memorization and reflexes all the same, in games like Raiden, Fire Shark, and Truxton 2 the bullets can really speed up and regardless if you memorized when it's going to occur reaction time can definitely help as often the onslaught has little reprieve.

    As for hitboxes being mysterious and invisible...
    Pretty much no Cave game pardon the Shinobu Yagawa directed ones (such as Ibara and Pink Sweets and then again his games are considered manic not danmaku) have "hid" the hitbox from the player since Mushihimesama which was back in 2004. Since then there has been the player sprite and within that a smaller orb/area that typically glows or stands out as to identify the smaller hitbox.
    Akai Katana - (green orb centre of both ship and transformed character) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtWkcRCC3WM
    DoDonPachi Saidai Ou Jou - (purple orb) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_LINVT3_ec

    Even outside of Cave, which is limited you have games like Under Defeat and Strania by G-Rev and the hitbox there is generally the same size as the ship so not everyone has followed the trend of micro sized.

    If you're ape about this and would like to play a game with just hitboxes versus hitboxes I suggest noiz2sa: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hM42UidmZVE
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    Visible or not, I just don't understand the point of having the vulnerable area of the ship be significantly smaller than the ship itself. If you want such a small area to be "killable" then why not just make the ship that size?

    The reason it makes no sense is because the whole point of the sprite/hitbox relationship is to ensure what the player sees and what the game "sees" are essentially the same thing. That's why hitboxes are usually invisible anyway because the player should in general be able to trust the sprites without having to worry about what the game is using. In most genres when there is a discrepancy between the two, the game is usually said to have bad hit detection. Yet when shooters do the same thing it's considered a "feature" or just standard practice.

    It's just counterintuitive because it forces the player to not really pay attention to what they're seeing. All those bullets that look impassable? They technically are passable because the comparative size of your ship is irrelevant to whether or not you can fit through. All that matters is some tiny (visible or otherwise) object. Well, again, why is the ship's sprite so big, then? What purpose does it serve? How does it help me?

    Really, take the principles behind shooter hitboxes and apply them to another genre and it becomes readily apparent just how silly it is.





    Last edited by TonyTheTiger; 05-25-2012 at 10:53 AM.

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    I have an old game programming book at home that talks about all this and I seem to remember it using shooters as an example. I forget what it says though so I'll have to see if I can find it tonight.

    Fighting games, though, use multiple "hitboxes" to more or less enclose all the body parts. Still not pixel perfect but a lot better representation of the human shape than one big(or small) box. Modern 3D games do this as well. Instead of mesh perfect collisions, there will be invisible "collision meshes" that closely represent the objects but using far less polygons.
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    Yeah, no doubt they aren't perfect and shouldn't be expected to be. In fact, some forgiveness is often a good thing. It's just that in most genres there's at least an attempt to make the hitboxes abstractly represent the player's character. Many shooters seem to go out of their way to do the exact opposite.
    Last edited by TonyTheTiger; 05-25-2012 at 11:40 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Parodius Duh! View Post
    Yeah I was gonna say, 360 definitely does not have a ton of shooters (at least not comparable to the systems you listed) and half of them are crap anyway. Cave just dumps out shooters for the sake of dumping out another damn shooter, dont get me wrong its my favorite genre but Cave has gone overboard with their cutesy anime crap shooters. Want a modern system with plenty of shooters? ps2.
    Strongly disagree. Cave is only one very small part of the SHMUPS that have been released for the 360. While this list has a few that haven't been released yet or are Japan region locked, there are over 100 SHMUP games available on the 360 which is a ton if you think about it given that the genre is really a niche of a niche.

    http://www.gamefaqs.com/xbox360/list-83

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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyTheTiger View Post
    Yeah, no doubt they aren't perfect and shouldn't be expected to be. In fact, some forgiveness is often a good thing.
    Yeah, I'm pretty sure that the book said something along those lines, I just distinctly remember an image of a ship with a box drawn "around" it...and by around I mean mostly inside. The only other option is to extend past the edges but then players would get mad that they got hit when they didn't. I don;t know what the logic behind making them super small is though. And, I know it's not actually part of the discussion but 360degree shooters are bound to be worse. The ship is able to rotate but the hitbox doesn't. Then what does and doesn't count as a hit can change based on your angle.
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    I think the reason they make the hitboxes so small is to justify the extensive bullet patterns. Because if this:



    were the much more reasonable this:



    then they'd have to ease up on the shots and make the safe areas easier to see to accomodate the fact that now the majority of your ship has to avoid contact. But in this case "easier" isn't a bad thing because all it really means is that the player's spatial judgment is in line with what's happening on screen. The game can still be bitch hard for other reasons, just less silly ones.

    For me, my preference in a shooter is "kill everything in sight" with dodging a somewhat secondary concern. Most bullet hell shooters seem to make dodging the primary focus which just baffles me since it practically changes the genre into one of survival.

    My favorite shooters of all time are the likes of U.N. Squadron, Axelay, Abadox, Lifeforce, Legendary Wings, River Raid, etc. to give an idea of where I'm at.
    Last edited by TonyTheTiger; 05-25-2012 at 12:40 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyTheTiger View Post
    Visible or not, I just don't understand the point of having the vulnerable area of the ship be significantly smaller than the ship itself. If you want such a small area to be "killable" then why not just make the ship that size?

    Really, take the principles behind shooter hitboxes and apply them to another genre and it becomes readily apparent just how silly it is.
    Why does any large boss only have a few select areas that can accept damage instead of the whole boss being vulnerable? Why not just make the boss small to be harder to hit?

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    I wouldn't say that's quite the same concept. With a boss, the logic behind it is that the enemy is so strong and resilient that, even though you can land blows on any part of the body/machine/whatever, the effect would be so negligible that you need to target a weak point, its Achilles' heel. I don't think that level of thought or logic is going into the hitboxes of bullet hell shmups. I think it's just a result of developers trying to be as flashy as possible. They want to swarm the screen in bullets to make the player think "Oh shit, this is impossible to squeeze through!", but the developers don't want it to be literally impossible, even if it would be impossible going by visual appearances. So the player manages to squeeze through, and he/she feels all the more accomplished for doing so. It's all mind games in the end.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyTheTiger View Post
    It's obvious...That's the thickest part of the ship, thus the easiest to hit. The enemies bullets aren't accurate enough to hit the thinner parts so they always go either over or under the rest of the ship.
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    I'm not a huge Cave fan but they aren't the only game in town on 360, and honestly they've put out some damn good games on the platform too. Whether or not you like the size of the hitbox vs. the full sprite, Deathsmiles, Mushihimesama Futari, ESPgaluda 2, these are pretty damn good games.

    And honestly, claiming that shooters now are all memorization vs. before? I'm pretty sure the vast majority of the genre since, the mid 80s have wanted you to memorize the best way through a level. You can fly blind and try to bulldog through, or you can actually learn enemy layout, attack patterns, etc. it's really no different than it was before except that it looks more overwhelming. In actuality, it isn't. More bullets and a smaller hitbox effectively equal less bullets but larger hitbox (and usually more enemies flying around, too). The fighting game analogy is a silly one too, they are just straight out two different genres, and the instances where the hitbox doesn't match the sprite usually ends up with a broken character. Whereas you don't look at the ship from dodonpachi and say "oh, that ship is way too good, you can only hit the cockpit," because the game is built around that concept. And honestly, if you had a ship that matched the hitbox, you'd never be able to see yourself on screen.

    If you can honestly say that a person can sit down to R-Type, or Gradius, Life Force, or Rayforce, and plow through the game without knowing where things are in advance and the best way to go through a stage, then I will wonder who this super gamer is and when can I meet them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ubersaurus View Post
    The fighting game analogy is a silly one too, they are just straight out two different genres, and the instances where the hitbox doesn't match the sprite usually ends up with a broken character. Whereas you don't look at the ship from dodonpachi and say "oh, that ship is way too good, you can only hit the cockpit," because the game is built around that concept.
    Just because they design a game around a concept doesn't mean it's a good concept. It's silly to pretend that shooters are so special that they should be exempt from basic game logic like the relationship between apparent vs. actual vulnerability of the player character (which is grossly different from boss vulnerability, btw, since the player character is asked to make it through obstacles using spatial recognition and hand-eye coordination while boss vulnerability is simply a matter of attacking the right area once identified).

    Imagine this same concept at work in Mega Man.



    There's no difference there. Who other than the crazy kaizo hack people would remotely tolerate something like that? Yet this is the exact same principle behind many bullet hell shooters.

    Quote Originally Posted by ubersaurus View Post
    And honestly, claiming that shooters now are all memorization vs. before? I'm pretty sure the vast majority of the genre since, the mid 80s have wanted you to memorize the best way through a level.
    There's a difference, though. You're right that many old ones required memorization, too, although usually for reasons other than bullet patterns. R-Type was notorious for evil stage layout that often would just screw you over and things just jumping out at you without fair warning. I'm not saying that's any better. It's just as bad. But two wrongs don't make a right. Just because one game did something bad doesn't excuse another one doing a different bad thing. Regardless of whether or not bullet hell requires memorization, the sheer fact that the player has to think in terms of hitboxes rather than the relative size and shape of the sprites themselves is counterintuitive and violates some pretty basic principles people rely on when they play a game. Namely that the game isn't outright lying to them. And when a game says "you can fit through this even though it looks like you can't" that's the game lying to you. Many older shooters didn't do that. What you saw is what was legitimately the case.

    Quote Originally Posted by ubersaurus View Post
    More bullets and a smaller hitbox effectively equal less bullets but larger hitbox (and usually more enemies flying around, too).
    I don't think that's true. Because "more bullets and smaller hitbox" = counterintuitive when you're being asked to fly a size X ship through a hole half that size. A ship with a hitbox that roughly matches its size and holes that accommodate that size makes more sense. It's not a 1:1 comparison because of that.

    Quote Originally Posted by ubersaurus View Post
    And honestly, if you had a ship that matched the hitbox, you'd never be able to see yourself on screen.
    I don't understand this. Why would a larger vulnerable area (and obviously a game designed around the size/shape of the vulnerable area) result in an obstructed view?
    Last edited by TonyTheTiger; 05-25-2012 at 07:18 PM.

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    If you're using the same size hitbox Cave does now, then if you made the sprite that size it would be very easy to get lost in the stage. Larger ship = easier to keep track of yourself. From that basis alone it makes sense to have a larger sprite. As has been pointed out, Cave usually highlights part of the sprite anyway to show the hitbox space, which further says to me the rest of the sprite is a visual aid more than anything. It may seem odd that bullets are just whizzing by your character, but it's pretty odd you're not moving into 3d space too to avoid them, so I mean... the whole thing is pretty well set into specific game mechanics rather than any sort of logic.

    I also like how your examples all seem to be outside of the shooter genre anyway, which brings radically different gameplay. If Mega Man had that tiny hitbox it really wouldn't matter for one; he'd still get shot or rammed into just the same (how often has anything ever gotten close enough to you with you having enough time to get out of the way?) And I'd imagine if Capcom was doing that for spikes, they'd just make bigger spikes. Once again it's how the game is designed. If you just don't like games with a lot of bullets you can just not like games with a lot of bullets in them, you don't have to make some argument about hitboxes not matching the sprites. It kind of comes with the territory at that point. I'm not a big bullet hell fan either, but that's just because I prefer having more interesting enemy patterns than bullet patterns. Still have fun with them, though :P

    Basically what I was pointing out with R-Type et al. is that memorization is a part of the shooter genre, and has been for a considerable amount of time. Not liking that sort of thing practically condemns the whole genre save for the really early stuff and maybe Raiden. Early vertical shooters had that sort of memorization, anyway: Galaga challenge stages come to mind, or something like MUSHA. Or even isometric ones like Viewpoint or Zaxxon... horizontal ones obviously are much more infamous for it, but it was there in the other styles.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ubersaurus View Post
    If you're using the same size hitbox Cave does now, then if you made the sprite that size it would be very easy to get lost in the stage. Larger ship = easier to keep track of yourself. From that basis alone it makes sense to have a larger sprite.
    And you're absolutely right. The sprite should be of decent size. But, you know what? Then there should just be larger holes in the bullet patterns to accommodate the sprite. If they want to make the game a challenge then they should do it in a more sensible way than using mangled collision detection as a band-aid mechanic to justify their tiny, tiny safe zones.

    Quote Originally Posted by ubersaurus View Post
    As has been pointed out, Cave usually highlights part of the sprite anyway to show the hitbox space, which further says to me the rest of the sprite is a visual aid more than anything. It may seem odd that bullets are just whizzing by your character, but it's pretty odd you're not moving into 3d space too to avoid them, so I mean... the whole thing is pretty well set into specific game mechanics rather than any sort of logic.
    I don't know if highlighting the vulnerable area absolves them. Yeah, it does make it better. But it's basically an admission of guilt. It's like they're saying "yeah, we know this is stupid so we'll try to make it a bit less stupid." The fact that they felt they needed to show the vulnerable area (something they wouldn't have to do if the ship itself was the vulnerable area) tells me that they're aware that it's arbitrary and just a way for them to shrink the safe zones without having to make the ship minuscule. Well, from my perspective, if making suuuuper tiny safe zones requires doing one of two stupid things (stupidly tiny ship or arbitrarily small hitbox in a normal sized ship) then that tells me you shouldn't be designing your game in such a way that it requires choosing between the lesser of two evils.

    Quote Originally Posted by ubersaurus View Post
    I also like how your examples all seem to be outside of the shooter genre anyway, which brings radically different gameplay.
    The shooter genre is not magically exempt from proper game logic. And "visual representation of the player roughly equals the game's calculation of the player" is proper game logic. Otherwise the game is just screwing with you. The "gameplay" of navigating a ship through an obstacle course is fundamentally the same principle as navigating Mega Man through an obstacle course. Yet it's only shooters where the sprite that represents the player is a ludicrously different size/shape from what the game itself calculates it to be. I don't think saying "shooters are different" absolves them from basic spatial reasoning. Because they really aren't different.

    I realize people like bullet hell and that's fine. I just happen to think that it's possible to do bullet hell while also keeping the game intuitive (probably the #1 principle of game design). Games that don't use the ship's sprite as the measuring stick for the player's sense of space are not intuitive. People can still like them and learn to be good at them but it's kinda like unlearning everything you learned and then learning some alternate universe version of it in order to adapt. I admit I don't have the patience for that.
    Last edited by TonyTheTiger; 05-25-2012 at 07:44 PM.

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    I want to get the Touhou Project games, but I cant go to Japan, theres a torrent for them, but Im chicken and dont want a virus.

    I think theyre too influenced by the arcades quarter eating mentality, too many cheap deaths if yo udont know where to go, and a lot of the time there is no safe place to go if you want to keep hitting your mark. Depends on which title, but I really want a 360 now because of the bullet hell games they have which arent on the ps3.

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