Good pieces/articles on the design of a shooter?

It’s just struck me as I near the midpoint of coding my little shooter, that the finer points of shooter design are somewhat eluding me…

For instance, it seems like every “wave” in a shooter should have something new and different happen to the player. Like the initial waves should be training waves, and each wave you introduce something new and exciting for him to contend with.

But, doesn’t that by necessity make the first couple waves pretty boring? Or does it just mean that the later levels are REALLY insane?

And do you go for the old school “one hit and you’re dead” and have mutliple lives, or do you do hitpoints and 1 life… or both?

Any pieces of shooter design would be appreciated, as of course are any opinions from the QT3 Shooter Illuminati.

Clone Counter-Stike, only take things away from it, like all but three or fours maps. Then give it a name like “Tactical Force: Deadly Assault.” Spend twelve minutes coding the single player bot AI. At the last second, call it a budget game, scrap the expansions, and stop all support for the game. On second thought, package what you’ve coding for the expansion and sell it as a sequel. Let the fans make the patches.

shooter. not FPS.

Think Raiden, 1943, not Half Life.

Argh, what a waste! I’m sure I was just ripping off someone else’s work, however. I couldn’t have been the first to write that.

I have to learn to read.

The only reason I play scrolling shooters is to power up my gun to some gigantic retarded electrical ribbon of death that spams MIRVs with every hit or whatever. So… do that.

Would recommend “researching” recent games like Ikaruga (available Dreamcast, Game Cube), Gradius V, R-Type Final. Older, harder to find games include Radiant Silvergun (Saturn, good luck finding), any of the Raiden games, possibly Square Soft’s Einhander (Playstation).

Depends on what kind of game is being made…casual game fans may or may not enjoy insane difficulty. Decision may have to be made to make the game easy enough for the housewife set, or demanding for the serious shooter fans (or at least, put in difficulty levels). Just two cents here.

Also check out M.U.S.H.A.

One of the keys is to have a good power up cycle where you start to feel like a bad ass but it doesn’t become too easy because of it. Also you shouldn’t be totally crippled if you die and lose your powerups. A tough thing to pull off. Ikaruga has no powerups and pulls it off, but it’s harder to do IMO.

Depends on your audience and subgenre. Unless you find some sort of uber shooter bible somewhere, I’d say your best bet is to go through the review archive at and pick out some ideas. There’s enough variety in the genre that I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules.