Thanks for trying! I'm glad it works ok.. :D
I think you have to choose a direction: Gauntlet, Saracen, Adventure, Rogue, ... and push the game in that direction. That will determine the features you focus on, and the level design.
Well, the core idea I want to keep is that this is more of a Sandbox. I want the player to be able to create the type of level (and game) that he wants. Whether that is pure action, puzzle or something in between.
Yeah but in a Sandbox the player has freedom to do pretty much anything in the game, and make their own goals, and/or can build things in the game. Providing a level editor doesn't make the game a sandbox, otherwise Duke Nukem3D, Doom, etc., would all be considered sandboxes.
At the moment it feels like you've got a bunch of simple mechanics (keys, doors, brickwalls, ...) and seem to be attempting to make a level that uses them. They have no limited connection to the enemies, apart from releasing them from their closed off compartments.
I thought that was how people made levels? Can you clarify what the alternative is you are suggesting? I'm not sure I quite understand what you mean here.
I'm not talking about levels, I'm talking about the process you are using to make the game.
An alternative would be to design a level on paper and then, from that, infer or design the primitives of the game. I'm not sure what you exactly did, but all I said was that it "felt" like a bunch of disconnected mechanics trying to be arranged into a level.
Moving and shooting with the same direction keys is too awkward. Those arena shooters usually have dual joysticks, or mouse-click to shoot, don't they? But if the game was more strategic, with fewer enemies that move slower, the current method may be fine.
Really? I thought one joystick and one fire button was the norm in a lot of the older games. Maybe that's the issue. Do you think people will see this as wrong because they are used to dual joysticks or mice?
Well in Saracen you only ever have one item, and the projectiles have a pre-specified direction. So, e.g., you pick up a left facing arrow, then pressing fire will shoot it in the left direction. This constraint actually led to some really great puzzles. Other games, like Wizard of Wor, iirc, shoot in the direction you are facing. Not sure about older C64 arena shooters.