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Old 14 August 2019, 20:34   #71

Photon's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Eksjö / Sweden
Posts: 4,766
Originally Posted by zero View Post
It looks visually impressive, and the player enjoys having a huge amount of firepower at their disposal, and feels skillful at avoiding a screen full of bullets and enemies.

Really hardware was the limiting factor until the late 90s, when we started to see real "bullet hell" games. There are interviews with the developers if you are interested, but basically they had known for a long time that players wanted more moving objects, more animation and excitement, and were really just seeing how far they could take it.

It also gives designers more options. With only a few small enemies and bullets on screen they have to find other ways to make the game hard, like having narrow tunnels or really fast movement. Stuff that feels cheap and unfair.

True, but Gradius is on a 16 bit system (actually an 8 bit CPU and 16 bit VDP) and has many, many objects on screen. It has lots of hardware sprites of course. It's interesting because the limitation is not the number of sprites it can display like on the Amiga where the blitter is not nearly as capable, but rather the CPU's ability to run the game logic. Hence the need for a very high performance hit detection system.

That's why I mentioned it, it's a great example of this technique.

I agree, we just disagree on the definition of "competent". For me it depends on the game; Pacman would be less fun if it were pixel-perfect.
Pacman would not be less fun if you collided when you collided. What kind of nonsense is this?

Competent simply means not missing collisions that you have decided should be checked (or are explicitly expected, like falling onto a solid surface and stopping). Glitched shortcuts or falling through the ground are examples of game designs where collision was an afterthought (at least if they can be achieved without specifically grinding for niche exploits like speedrunners do).

Bullet hell is basic and represents a lack of innovation, not innovation. All games including basic ones got hardware upgrades. (And failed or succeeded in exciting the player.)

Gradius has nowhere near 100 collidables on screen either. The fact that collision works with flickering sprites at all (is flicker also OK in a game, according to you?) is probably the reason why all enemy collidables move so slowly in it. Yes, you can distribute collision detection over frames if you adjust the speed according to the speed calculation at the bottom. (But the hand-eye coordination loop will be broken; they will happen a few frames later, where as a timely detection would have let you make decisions.)

Difficulty levels are implemented in arcade action games by skilled programmers writing perfect AI (which is easy) and then degrading it to human levels - in an interesting and/or semi-realistic way (this is the hard part).

What would make a shooter more fun than "let's add moar bullets" is designing interesting enemies.

I'm sure they could have made a BH shooter performant enough without the dedicated collision hardware and still keep the cheap, slow CPU (c) - provided the collision detection was hacky enough, of course.

But the question is: Would anyone have played such a game and not hated its guts?

Unfair, you say. A collision that you check for but miss because you don't care is the definition of unfair, and frustrated gamers worldwide agree (the reason being that they can adjust nothing in their gameplay to combat it).

Last edited by Photon; 14 August 2019 at 20:44.
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