Tameshi - Vertical Shmup

Little to report this week; other things have intruded on development time.

One thing of note is work has continued on the dreadnought type craft. These are large slow-moving enemies covered in little gun turrets that spit tons of bullets at you. These turrets can be shot off one at a time or the overall craft blasted repeatedly until it finally explodes. This was my first time working with nested game objects within collections so it took a minute to get a handle on that technical stuff. It’s all working nicely now and as ever, Defold offers an elegant solution to the challenge.

90% of the game structure is complete… content is maybe 25% complete so lots more to do on that.

Next week I’ll be looking at the intro for each stage, maybe launching the player craft from a mothership or similar. Usual shmup tropes.

I may also add a loadout screen before the launch sequence begins: let the player decide which power-up they want to use for that stage.

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  • Tameshi has be “re-scoped” in the last few days. I’ve removed a few things I didn’t like and added some smaller new things. Whilst I don’t like cutting stuff I’ve worked hard on, I do feel more positive about getting everything done in a timely manner now.

  • 90% of the graphical assets are complete, short of a final polish. I will not miss drawing spaceships - I think there must be over 50 different designs in all.

  • Magnetic coins have been added when destroying larger enemies. People like magnetic coins so they’re getting some. Right now they just give the player extra points. I’m still undecided about how to implement power-ups - whether to have a load-out screen, shop or something else. I’d like the player to have as much choice as possible without bothering them too much with different screens.

  • I’ve been looking at lots of other shmups and this leaves me with mixed feelings. On one hand there’s lots of cool ideas to draw inspiration from but also the ineveitable comparisons. There are some really great games out there I could never hope to match.

  • In the next week I hope to finish up all the graphical assets and get on with scripting all the different enemies. I’m wonder whether to have many individual scripts, one for each type, or one massive script which takes a bunch of parameters to do many things.

  • Btw. The Steam Store page is now live if you fancy wish-listing the game.

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You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. Tameshi looks great! Can you give an example of a shmup that you really like?

Adding a shop where the player is given a choice of what to upgrade might be hard to balance, but personally I like some kind shop or load-out screen because it allows me to buy upgrades that suit my needs:

  • If a player struggles with dodging bullets - buy stronger shields.
  • If a player struggles with precision on fast moving enemies - buy weapons with more spread.
  • And so on
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One of my favorite DOS games Raptor: Call of The Shadows is a SHMUP with a shop. It is for sure imbalanced lol. Mainly because you could earn enough cash to skip so many sub-par items and go right to better items without needing to do progression between. It was my first experience with that kind of shop gameplay back in the day.

Many games gear shops toward simply doing stat upgrades. I recommend not doing that, it’s boring. Instead look into what Raptor did, but try to solve it design problems. For example, it could be better to treat those other weapon unlocks as a kind of progression tree where you need to achieve various objectives with previous weapons before you can unlock later ones as options. That adds extra progression based meta achievements, and it can make people feel like they earned becoming more powerful. The same things can be done with utility items. Like shield goals could be to not be hit more than once in a mission to advance its progression to the next goal, another goal could be to use the shield as a weapon against damaged foes which no longer can damage the shield.

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I like this!

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So many to choose from! I think R-Type was the first game that got me interested in shmups back in the late 80’s.

Cho Ren Sha 68K is the main inspiration for Tameshi, and that’s quite an old game too. Bangai-O was a favourite on the Dreamcast - more bonkers stuff from Treasure.

Zero Ranger is one of my favourites of the current gen and there’s a new cool looking game called Z-Warp which has a style all of it’s own. Many more I could mention!

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Yeah, that’s a classic for sure! I used to play a lot of shmups on the Amiga, but most of those were horizontal and not vertical (Silkworm was a favourite since it had a nice co-op mode). Xenon 2 was a pretty nice vertical one though. And it had a shop:

image

One game I enjoyed but haven’t played that much is Ikaruga on the Gamecube. It has a great visual style.

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Tameshi continues to evolve, mostly for the better.

  • All base graphic assets are complete and roughly implemented into the game, with generic behaviour at least or better.

  • Ship upgrades have been divided into two sections: permanent and temporary. Permanent upgrades can be purchased from the shop and deployed when needed, provided the player has power-up tokens. Temporary bolt-on weapons appear as floating tokens which flash between the (currently 3) options.

  • As mentioned, there is a basic shop which appears at the end of each stage. The player can purchase add-on weapons with coins collected during gameplay. I elected to force the player to buy each one in turn as the interface is simpler and it prevents players saving up for the “best” weapon too early in the game. The other option was to have to ability to sell weapons to raise funds for betters ones but that was messy in the UI.

  • Co-op mode continues to make everything twice as complicated. The new shop, for example, has to cater for either 1 or 2 players, keep track of their upgrades, load/save that data etc. I do hope the mode is well-received after the amount of extra work that’s been needed.

  • I should finish up the shop this week and continue the grind of scripting dozens of different enemies next week. Overall the project feels ordered and neat so I hope things will be relatively straight forward from now on in.

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I’m currently working toward releasing a demo on Steam. This will be the first stage of Tameshi in a reasonably polished form and will showcase the main features of the game. And also:

  • Spent some time learning Blender to make some better graphics for storefronts. This has taken more time than expected and the results are not yet up to the level I would like.

  • Considering using Spine for animating larger enemies and bosses. Having looked over Dragonbones this morning, it doesn’t seem particularly complicated so that route may be worth the extra time needed.

  • A launch sequence has been added at the beginning of each stage, this helps ease the player into the ensuing chaos.

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Are you going to be participating in Steam Next Fest? I assume that’s what the demo is for. If not, you definitely should.

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Looking incredible!

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Being a spine animator I can tell you that using DragonBones with current release of Defold and Spine extension is going to be HELL. For one DragonBones puts everything into 1 skin, so you completely lose out on skinning which is half of the use of it. 2 it exports in a hacked way to a spine version that is VERY outdated and will give you callback errors. 3 we are using the spine RUNTIME anyways, so technically you are bound to the contract either way, regardless if you use spine to build it or export it from DragonBones. $69 for the essential spine should give you everything you need for the ship, I don’t see any need for Mesh transform or IK. If you want any input or help with spine just hit me up.

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Ah, that’s disappointing to hear. I remember some years ago reading on this forum about the issues of using Dragonbones. I kinda assumed they’d have fixed all that by now. Never mind, it’s far from an essential item on my list.

If you are using the newer versions of Defold with the external extension-spine it will cause more problems than it is worth. Versions before spine was moved to an extension will work as intended. If I had more time, I would make a DragonBones extensions the same way spine is done but I’m tied up as one of our projects has caught interest in the NFT Play to Earn realm.

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Currently testing the demo build of Tameshi.

If you’d like to help with the testing or just play the demo, Windows and macOS builds are here:

Constructive critisim and bug reports are most welcome!

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I really enjoyed the game!

  • Most of the time it was easy enough to pick out the enemy bullets in the mayhem and dodge them, but sometimes it became very frantic and a bit hard to see them.
    • How is a shoot em up to play if you are color blind and maybe have a harder time to pick out enemy bullets?
  • The power-ups were varied and fun. The one with bullets shooting in a spiral pattern was very colorful :slight_smile:
    • Some definitely felt more powerful than others?
  • I played the game the first few times without activating the secondary weapon and got beyond the first mini-boss without even using it, but I like the fact that I have something a bit more powerful to use when in trouble.
    • I’ve always enjoyed the concept of smart-bombs (blasting everything on screen) but I don’t think they are popular in more modern shoot’em ups.
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This is full on bullet hell! I agree with @britzl about that it’s sometimes TOO frantic, leading to situation where it’s virtually impossible to avoid the bullets. One thing that kept distracting me were the coins; they felt like homing missiles to me and I tried (unsuccessfully) to dodge them! Maybe they could fly to the hud instead, or the animation could be speeded up.

I have to admit I didn’t realise there was a secondary weapon at all, maybe because I was busy trying to stay alive!

It feels like a proper polished retro game, really cool that this is made in Defold!

Update: After having played it again, it feels a bit repetitive, probably because it’s the same (?) enemies each run. I’m wondering if a procedural level approach would help it feel more varied, to increase replayability?

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I vote against this. To me a shoot’em up is all about learning the enemies, their patterns and progressively getting better at the game.

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I forgot to say - that’s not a traditional approach! I remember battling the same levels over and over on some of the shoot 'em ups in the 90s. This feels a little too old-school nowadays to me, but I may well be a minority. :slight_smile:

Very cool demo, visually and audibly a very enjoyable experience. No multiplayer in the demo?
quick tests results:

Tested Version           |            Input
Windows Keyboard & Steam Controller

  • Game Controls

    • First thing I noticed was that Pause (esc) key was not working for both keyboard and steam controller. I’ve seen the current issue here ( https://github.com/defold/defold/issues/6566 ).

    • For the steam controller directional movement works and primary fire is applied to the “A” button but the secondary fire is not present with the controller input. Which for me brings up that specially with PC / Steam games, players will want customizable input and if multiplayer then for both players input devices.

    • Screen mode: I see that f 11 key changes screen modes from window-mode to fullscreen-mode and that is great. If possible I think a borderless screen-mode would be also ideal , specially for those wishing to stream your game.

    • Exiting the game: always good to have an exit in the main menu, imo players always need a way to exit a game at any notice even while playing the main game content. Not sure if there is an exit/menu while paused , I think it would be a good idea to have one.

  • Color Value & Contrast

    • I think you did a good job of using contrast to vary the player and enemies from the background and imo slight tweaks to the projectiles colors from both enemies and the player can be beneficial. Some of the projectiles from the enemies can be similar in hue to the players and keeping these a little more distinctive I think would be a good thing. I do like that the enemies projectiles are strobing making it easier to quickly identify them , this also is helpful for those who are color blind.
  • Highscore(s)

    • currently I see there is a highscore that is saved and consistent after playing and relaunching the game and updated when new highscore is achieved, nice. With multiplayer in mind I think a classic arcade style 3 initials leaderboard would be even better so when a player & friends get together they can gloat about who has the best highscore and who’s score needs to be beaten.

    • I think a clear highscore(s) in options would be nice as well.

That’s all I got for now.

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