Danmaku mechanics in first/third person shooters?


While there are some good shooters coming out lately, no one is really pushing to improve the genre with new ideas or concepts. Most games build on the shoulders of the previous ones, merely improving areas here and there.

What if you were to combine two genres of shooters which are distinctly different from each other?

What if you would combine some ideas from danmaku, or “bullet hell”, shooters into first person (or third person) shooters?

Danmaku for the unfamiliar

If you’re not familiar with the term, bullet hell shooters are basically top-down shooters – Similar to games like Tyrian or Raptor: Call of the Shadows, or even the venerable Space Invaders.

The main difference between “normal” top-down shooters and bullet hell shooters is that in bullet hell shooters there tends to be a crazy amount of stuff flying at you – Maybe not so surprising after hearing the genre’s name.

Some examples of the games in this genre are DonPachi series, some games in the Touhou series, Ikaruga, etc.

The game mechanics

Camping is fun
Static gameplay, aka camping

Typical first person shooters of today are in a semi-realistic style where you tend to get killed pretty easily. This leads to a slightly static gameplay and encourages the use of cover.

While this isn’t necessarily bad – and not even the case in all games (like Quake) – I think it would be refreshing to see some new ideas put into the genre.

I think it might be interesting to see a concept from bullet hell games in first person shooters to spice things up a little.

The mechanic I suggest copying is the bullet grazing modifier. I have no idea what the correct term for it, but the basic concept goes like this:

When you are very close to an enemy bullet, you get a bonus.

Typically this bonus is something like increasing your score modifier, giving your weapon more fire power or maybe filling a power-up bar.

This means that if you take the risk of possibly hitting an enemy bullet (and losing a life, as many danmaku have no concept of health), you are rewarded.

How bullet-grazing bonus would work in a 1st/3rd person shooter?

If we take the concept of getting a bonus when being close to getting hit, we could encourage a more active, faster gameplay.

If you are being fired upon by an enemy, you would have two choices: Either play in a more tactical way and use cover, or play like an action movie hero and duke it out in the clear.

  • If you seek cover, you are less likely to lose health (or die), but you will gain no other bonuses.
  • If you stay in the fire, you are more likely to take damage, but you could get a bonus such as improved speed, improved damage or improved accuracy.

I think a system where you would gain a bonus for not hiding would be interesting to see, as it could allow players who enjoy a more fast-paced gameplay keep playing like that, while still allowing the use of cover if wanted.

In closing

The best movie ever.

I think we could even go as far as say this would make shooters more like action movies – and as a fan of both first person shooters and classic action movies, this is something I’ve occasionally been wondering about.

So by providing a reward for risky run-and-gun gameplay, could the first person shooter genre be made more interesting? I believe so.

So what say you?

The images in this post were liberated from google images search.