A downloadable game
Shoot baddies and save babies all in glorious slowmotion.
What you do:
Shoot enemies to build slow-mo energy. The more energy you have the slower enemies and their bullets are. Beat levels by finishing the objective. Get upgrades between waves and if you're really lucky you'll find a baby to rescue.
WASD = Move
LMB = Shoot
RMB = Slow motion
R = Reload
E = Interact, Pick up weapons & Babies
Q = Throw Mine
Space = Boost (has initial i-frames)
Currently in development but feel free to play the current alpha.
- Alpha 3.00 released72 days ago
- Alpha 2.99 releasedNov 04, 2018
- New Alpha releasedSep 07, 2018
- Game ModesJun 23, 2018
- I've never been so happy to write a change logMar 30, 2018
- Alpha 2.5 out!Mar 02, 2018
Log in with itch.io to leave a comment.
Sorry for not seeing this earlier!
Thank you for playing and the video. I'm changing the inertia for the next build and going to work on colors and things to make things more readable.
Can you expand a bit on why slow-mo "isn't working"? I'm trying to figure out why people don't use that system as much as it's supposed to be used. Is it only because it's a "Panic button" or is it that the feature isnt fun?
Ah, well there are two different things going on here. One is the idea that the slo-mo isn't strictly necessary to play. The other is the fact that (as far as I could tell) there seemed to be a bug in the gameplay where during slo-mo there were no shots coming out of my gun. That seemed to be the case through the last half of my video, which is why I mentioned a few times that it wasn't working.
As to why people aren't using it as much, that's a bit tricky. I did try to articulate a bit about that in the video but I'm not as good at doing so vocally on the spot. :) As I mentioned, I'm not entirely sure whether it's "bad" that the game can be played more or less without using it. On the one hand there's the idea that if you don't "need" it it's superfluous and perhaps not meeting your design goals. On the other hand, forcing the players to "need" to use it could be less fun and potentially frustrating. At the least it may introduce some additional design challenges. It did seem to make things easier when you use it, so it is at least useful, which is definitely a good thing. And it's clear you added in some very fast elements in consideration of that.
So the next logical question I think is if there are ways you could encourage the player to use it more, which is an interesting design problem. I wouldn't really say it's not fun to use. There may be ways you could make it more fun though. I did mention the "panic button" concept which I think is a valid consideration. I'm not sure about others but I do tend to not like that sort of thing personally. And I think understanding that could lead to some ideas for different approaches.
I'm going to try playing it a bit more (in part because it's fun and in part because I find this issue interesting) and see if I can come up with some more specific thoughts/suggestions for you.
So some unrelated things I noticed while playing again:
- Collision with walls is a bit problematic; you bounce against them instead of coming to a rest. Are you using the built-in physics in Game Maker or whatever you're using? I'd definitely recommend writing your own movement code and not using physics. It's not hard and it gives you much more control to get everything behaving as you require.
- When you hit an enemy with a final shot that will kill them, there's a "hitstop" effect, but they seem to stay alive for a brief time afterwards. You can still hit them and sometimes you get a second "hitstop" effect. I think they can even still shoot at you during this time. This is confusing and a bit disorienting.
- The Sharpie guy is really broken. You mentioned that broken pathfinding is a known bug. His is real broken. In addition to that he doesn't seem to do any damage to you. Also I noticed while examining him that he seems to teleport when you point the cursor at him. I'm guessing that's intentional, but it's very disorienting and I didn't even know that was a thing until I started messing with him getting stuck in his pathfinding. I'm guessing that the teleportation is intended, but it's not communicated well. I would definitely consider making it more obvious what's going on. I understand that he's meant to encourage using the slo-mo but it just seems very spastic.
- Sometimes when I start a game the little bullet-shell-hitting-the-ground sound effect is delayed significantly compared to the visual for some reason.
- There apparently is a pickup that gives you extra bullets in your magazine? I had a hard time realizing that this was even happening. I don't know what the pickup looks like since I only picked it up accidentally, so it must blend in quite a bit. I think I only realized this was a thing because I was wondering why I couldn't reload after shooting a couple shots.
- The boss guy seems to have some projectiles that don't get slowed down by the slo-mo.
- When I die in the boss room and start a new game I spawn back in the boss room.
- There were times when I died but my health bar still showed some health. There was even one case where I could still shoot and reload after dying (although I couldn't aim). These may or may not be related.
- I believe I mentioned in the video that your movement is not normalized, so your diagonals move faster than cardinals. This also effects dodging-- diagonal dodges move further than cardinal ones, making them more effective.
- If I hold a direction, say left, and then press and release up, while still holding left, I'll start to move downward very slowly while I move to the left. Again, you should probably rewrite your movement code!
- The Rapid-P weapon, at first I thought it was terrible because it puts out so little damage and sustained damage is harder to manage in your game. But I didn't realize that it also refills your slo-mo meter insanely fast. It's a very weird combination. I think it might be more of a PITA than anything to try to play with it but it's interesting for sure.
Now for the topic at hand. This is going to be a some thinking out-loud.
It occurs to me that you could encourage players to use it more by making it more necessary, by making it more rewarding, or by reducing some of the barriers to using it. You've done some of these things to some extent. There are some very fast things which encourage the use of slo-mo. You've also given the player a lot of leeway by allowing them to use the slow-mo for free if they switch it off again soon enough (I didn't realize this at all during my first playthrough though). And there was at least one mechanism that added interest to the use of slo-mo in the fact that you could shoot grenades thrown by enemies and make them detonate prematurely (although I found this was very difficult to pull off). But, I think I've figured out the real issue why people are less interested in using it while I was experimenting with the Rapid-P playstyle.
What I find is that, although the slo-mo should technically make things a lot easier while engaged, it's effectively not really easier a lot of the time. That's because the alternative is strafing around everyone and using the dodge repeatedly. This seems effective and a lot easier to wrap your head around. The slow-mo offers the suggestion that you can take everything head-on and accurately avoid damage and take out enemies, but this isn't quite the case. Movement still isn't very tight, bullets are still dangerous, and visually everything's still a little too confusing. On top of that, if you're trying to manage the amount of slo-mo you have, that's actually quite complex in your game and that is a lot to think about/pay attention to in the brief and tense moments when you're activating the slo-mo.
I think the first steps to improving this are what you already mentioned you're going to work on: tightening up the movement and improving the visual clarity. Beyond that, I would suggest simplifying the slo-mo mechanics. I wouldn't worry about this too much as you can always change it later, so you could for instance just make it so it always slows the same amount (I would suggest the maximum to start (you could even tie this to a difficulty setting down the line)) and the amount of slo-mo just decays linearly from the moment you activate it. This would keep the player from needing to think much about it and try to keep an eye on the multiple meters involved while doing everything else. You might tweak the amount of slo-mo you get back from shooting enemies to be a bit higher.
And there's a big thing that I think is going to be important in making this game idea really work. Basically, just slowing everything down a little in general (outside of the slo-mo state). The idea behind this is thus: in the current game, while you're outside of the slo-mo state your only real option is to strafe and mash the dodge button every time it looks like anything is coming towards you. I suspect you made everything very fast to encourage using the slo-mo, but it ends up making the game very difficult to play or wrap your head around outside of slo-mo, EXCEPT for the fact that the dodge is so effective. So what happens is you're trying to transition between two completely different styles of play (spastic dodging and slo-mo) and that transition is difficult to make mentally. I would bet if you removed dodging altogether and then tried to balance the game around that the game would naturally work better with the slo-mo. But I'm NOT suggesting you do remove the dodge as it is fun. I am suggesting you slow things down (a little) here and there, and then nerf the dodge a bit to compensate. The goal will be to make the player able to approach the game a little closer to how they would during slo-mo outside of slo-mo, by feeling more aware and in-control, but still maintain enough tension that the player feels the need to use the slo-mo sometimes.
How and where to tweak things to slow them down you'll have to figure out. I wouldn't worry too much about the difficulty yet. Just focus on getting everything feeling good and the player feeling empowered and then you can make it harder after.
My final suggestion will be to consider making slo-mo more effective offensively. Right now it feels almost purely defensive. You do get full rate of fire during slo-mo, but it's the same as outside of slo-mo, so effectively you're only getting the defensive effect of slowed down bullets and enemies. Since the slo-mo is a time-limited resource, reloading ends up eating up/wasting a lot of slo-mo time. I would suggest chopping reload time down to at least half during slo-mo. And it would be nice in general to be able to dispatch enemies somewhat quicker while in slo-mo, since that plays well with the concept of having just a brief time and trying to make the most of it. You could do something like making shots do 20% more damage to enemies during slo-mo, although that does seem a bit brain-dead. It's not like a FPS where you can line up headshots; maybe you could incorporate weak points into enemies somehow that pop up during slo-mo but it might be a challenge to pull off with this kind of gameplay. Also maybe players don't want to think that much. I don't know. It's something to think about.
Sorry it's massive but I hope it's helpful. :D
I love you.
So much good stuff, I agree with a lot of things and some of the stuff made me rethink things. I'm going to try to touch on most things but even if i dont i'll take this with me. What makes me happy is that you're probably the first to figure out some of my design decisions, which shows that you actually played it.
Movement: I'm not using Game Maker, I use Clickteam fusion 2.5 (not that it matters, both are middleware engines lol) and the movement is custom so the bounce is programmed in there, it's a leftover from the design choice of keeping up the players speed. Originally the movement was way more floaty than it is now. I've minimized inertia a lot for the next build, I'm going to play around with the wall bounce and see how it feels. Going to rewrite this when I get time, hopefully solving things like diagonals being faster.
Hitpauses: The game currently pauses at player damage, critical hits and deaths. A buffer is going to be implemented so pauses only happen if there hasn't been one in the last 2 or 3 seconds. I might keep player pause permanent to keep damage communication clear.
Sharpie: I originally had an idea of him dodging if you aimed at him, but it was implemented so poorly, he just teleports away with no effects so it looks broken. I've remove this feature and also made sure he always damages you on attacks. I think you are the first one to actually figure out this was intentional.
Bullet in magazine: speaking of things that arent communicated... I have gears of war reloading in the game. If you reload, the reload bar will flash when it's half way through, if you hit R again it will give you 5 more bullets. Which is probably what you did by accident since I don't have any magazine upgrades right now.
Rapid P: I noticed in the video you said this was garbage haha but I think you figured out the point of it. It changes the gameplay completely. It forces you in close (Because of the short range), the insane rate of fire constantly refills your energy bar which lets you stay in baby mode. Honestly it's kind of the way I saw the game working in my head, but I'm also careful to not force this way of play onto the players. I really didn't imagine players staying away and taking potshots but I guess that's why people gravitate towards the sniper rifle.
Slowmo: good catch finding the little freebie period, a detail I put in there that people only notice if they play more than a round. Your idea of having one speed of slowmotion might be a good thing, I will have to think about it, it's quite a bit of a change from the original idea. In past builds you actually got a lot of energy back during slowmo but i actually made it small to add more challenge since it was possible to just stay in baby mode all the time.
I think you are on to something with the slowing everything down suggestion, maybe the floaty speedy player movement is too OP in its context. I'm going to try this out first before I start adding buffs during baby mode. The big pro I've always had is that your bullets dont get slowed down which allows you to deliver much higher amount of DPS than the enemies. Although I like the idea of cutting reloading.
The enemies bullets were significantly faster just one build ago, people still refused to use the slow motion haha.
In the video you also call the upgrades crap, they are mostly passive as you mentioned. I wonder if superficial upgrades that add things (drones, lasers etc) around the player are better?
For the next build I'm going to implement some of the above things, but also I'm going to nerf or maybe even remove the sniper rifle. It's not the main way I see this game being played. I'm going to try to make a weapon unlock system leaving Rapid P and Autorifle as the two unlocked ones, maybe it will force people to try new things. We'll see.
Great stuff my guy, hopefully you'll try the next build too!
I'm glad you found it helpful! I did spend a while thinking about this.
I do have some thoughts about your responses.
One downside of the "wall bounce" kind of movement is that you can't scoot around corners easily. This is better shown than said, but, basically if you're trying to move to the right and your character's bottom-right corner is just barely catching on the corner of some wall, you just collide and get "stuck," whereas with more typical movement you can code in the ability to have the game scoot you around corners a bit, which facilitates moving smoothly through the environment. I think the bounce might even make this more of a problem than usual.
I had no idea critical hits were a thing. Is it random? It seemed to almost always happen right before the enemy died. Honestly I don't like the idea of hitpause happening on crits (randomly) at all. I find it very disorienting and the fact that you're trying to communicate three completely different things with it means that when it happens you don't actually know what (or which) it means.
The Rapid-P, like I mentioned it is interesting conceptually, although I suspect it may be so far in the extremes right now that it's problematic. I think you should wait until after you've made other changes to look at it again but, well I'm sure all the weapons will need balancing passes anyways.
Regarding the freebie period on the slowmo, I like this idea and I think it's mechanically interesting. The problem I find with it is that, while messing about with it outside of combat it feels neat, within the context of gameplay it's harder to deal with. Consider that when you're hitting the slowmo, you're suddenly trying to carve tightly between bullets and pick off guys and doing that as quickly as possible within a very limited amount of time. So why not let the player put 100% of their focus towards doing those things rather than worrying about trying to time it just right to maximize the amount of slowmo retention? I did notice there are audio cues and everything. I just think it's a good idea that in practice turns out to be another thing for the player to worry about unnecessarily rather than something that makes life easier.
I would consider slowing the enemies/bullets a bit more before slowing the player (maybe do both but that's how I'd prioritize it in my mind anyways). I would definitely nerf the dodge, make it slower, more iframes, just more deliberate overall. Obviously you'll have to experiment to find out what's actually right but this would be my intuition to start with anyways.
I don't remember using the word "crap" but maybe I did. :D I do think upgrades could be more interesting in general. I probably haven't seen all of them. I noticed there is bouncing shots and exploding shots, which is kind of nice. The little floaty drone I just found distracting so I didn't like that. And the shield from what I remember just rotated around you on its own which means you can't rely on it and it's therefore almost random in a sense. I think shield mechanics can be great in more traditional shmups but here with the bullets moving so fast and everything it's rather different. You could consider experimenting with having the shield position locked to the opposite direction of your cursor so the player could actively manipulate it, but I'm not sure how that would pan out. The laser powerup was the kind of thing where I'm not sure if it could be nice to have or completely useless but I'm leaning more towards the latter. I think I had an interesting idea for powerups but I can't really remember it now. Maybe it was something to do with changing how the slowmo state effects things. I don't know haha. But there's lots of possibilities.
I completely understand how the sniper rifle isn't how you intended the game to play. But that's often how things go in game dev. What you see in your head before you build it doesn't end up being as fun as you thought it would, while something else that you weren't really going for ends up being quite fun. You're talking about removing the most fun weapon in your game. I would think very hard about this as the only real justification for doing so is if you're going to replace it with something even better (more fun). Of course stuff does need to be brought into balance eventually, but I would suggest you embrace every ounce of fun the sniper rifle offers, build around it, and make it a goal to bring every other weapon up to that level of fun (or remove them!). People will play with every weapon if they're all just as fun. And honestly, a bunch of broken and OP stuff that's fun is 100% better than a perfectly balanced game that's kind of meh to play. Focus on fun!
I still think you should have some kind of melee attack. What do you think about adding a "sub item" slot, where you could find items around stages that you could pick up and would give you some kind of utility but you could only carry one of them? You could have a dagger that lets you cut enemies by dodging into them, and then maybe you could put grenades and even a teleport item in there (I never used the grenades or teleport so I don't really even know if they're useful tbh). You could have like a cloaking device that keeps enemies from noticing you until you shoot. There's lots of possibilities. I do wish there were more items to find and pick up around the levels rather than just money and stuff.
One more thing (it's a lot I know, sorry!): I personally don't like dodge being on the shift key. My pinky got a little tired. I think space bar is more appropriate. Maybe my fingers are just out of practice but that's how I felt about it.
I will definitely play the next build!
Just a heads up, no clue why, but this build CRAWLS on my pc; here's some footage https://giant.gfycat.com/UnsteadyWeeDowitcher.webm
A previous demo i've played worked just fine