Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Open Letter to Fighting Game Developers

It has come to my attention that the fighting game genre, in general has been adopting some very bad mechanics, and character rosters that cater to the worst sorts of players. I firmly believe that fighting game developers have become so desperate for money that they are reaching out to the "CoD" community with fully exploitable features intact for the sole purpose of appeasing such gamer types. There's simply no other viable explanation. Take the latest release of "BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma", for example. The game is so broken in structure that it's damn near impossible to get into a fair fight. In the game the blocking, and recover mechanics are so severely limited, because of a special meter that it leaves you open to infinite attack strings with no way out. The character roster in BBCP is another thing that does the series a huge disservice. Most of the characters have exploitable projectiles, or have zoning attacks that make the "in & out" tomfoolery a piece of cake. Characters like "Izayoi", and "Arakune" who have the ability to phase in, and out of existence make landing combos, or hits a trying ordeal, especially when the gamer using them is playing a heavy keep away game.

On the other end of the spectrum you have characters like "Yuuki Terumi", "Jin Kisaragi", "Kokonoe", and "Platinum" who can immobilize you with certain projectiles while they follow up with grabs/throws, and dish out combo strings in order to keep you in an unavoidable loop of damage. Rinse, and repeat. To say that BBCP was a fair fighter would be a lie. The game most definitely caters to the 'CoD' community with it's over abundance of exploitable zoning, and projectile heavy characters. To make matters worse there are players out there with bootleg ISO copies of the game with mods in place that guarantees a win with each, and every match. If you don't believe me look it up.

Today while playing in the special Japanese BBCP lobby I encountered this gamer who got two perfect wins against me in a row. I know for certain I'm not that salty. I would at least have hit him once if it weren't for his infinite combos which I could not break free from. I know how BBCP works, and I have won several games online using Azrael. For those of you who don't know who Azrael is he's the only character without a barrage of projectiles, or zoning attacks. You have to get up close, and personal with Azrael if you want to do enough damage to win. The fact that I beat a tryhard "Yuuki Terumi" player with Azrael further proves that I'm not "Salty".

Aside from the latest BlazBlue, other fighters such as "Tekken Revolution', and the upcoming 'Ultra Street Fighter IV' have gone, and are going the same route. The unbalanced character rosters, exploits, and in-game mechanics cater to the same "CoD" community as BBCP. While I'm not going to go into great detail about them all you (as a developer) need to know is that there's a right, and wrong way to build a fighting game roster. This includes some Do's, and Don'ts. In 2D fighters such as Street Fighter, for example there are some things that can help to keep the roster balanced, and "CoD" community free. For one thing you do not put in more zoning characters than hand-to-hand fighters in your roster unless you want the scum of online to flock to your game. Secondly do not give a single character multiple projectile options, or unavoidable/spammable projectiles. Also avoid at all costs the long reach Dhalsim attacks unless you slow down the character like Dhalsim. All you BBCP 'Amane Nishiki' players know exactly what I'm talking about.

When it comes to 3D fighters there are also some in-game mechanic applications/features to avoid. First, and foremost projectiles should NOT be a part of any 3D fighter. Period. Having to dodge, and weave about limits reaction times, and causes projectile dodging to be a damn near impossibility. Case in point, "Tekken Revolution" (Devil Kazuya vs Anybody). Secondly do not include flying, teleporting, or Capoeira style fighters. It's not a fair fight unless every character in the roster can break dance, fly like MF'ing Superman, or zone the !@#$% out of opposing characters. A roster in any fighting game, whether it's 2D, or 3D should be balanced throughout. Either make all characters zoning/projectile heavy, or the opposite. Do not make 3/4 of the roster zoning, and the rest melee, or vice-versa. The roster should also collectively offer plenty ways to get in for a hit as well as a way to get out of striking distance without being unfairly punished for each individual character. None of this screen filling projectile BS, or brick wall defenses should be commonplace in a fighting game.

Thirdly, do not allow infinite combo loops, or exploitable attack strings to be a part of your game. If you find an instance of such in your fighter either patch the game, or nerf the !@#$% out of the character that is able to perform said infinite. In doing so it will make players turn from the easy exploits of the character in question, and will have them searching for another character to use. On top of that if they really like the character despite of the nerf then they'll be forced to learn to play legit. Playing legit is a winner for everyone involved in that it makes the players who fight fair, or who are looking for a fair fight want to return to the game. No one likes a game where winning is an impossibility, and where the only gamers playing it are the scum of online. Lastly, DO NOT ATTRACT THE ATTENTION OF THE CoD COMMUNITY!!! If you do you will forsake all that your game stood for as well as those who turned to it for a proper online fight. I don't care if the game gets you a few extra bucks by attracting CoD players, cause in the long run it will hurt your franchise more than it will benefit it. Your game will become synonymous with the worst of online gaming experiences, and players will avoid each new game released. I promise you this.

I think I'm gonna close this open letter on that note. If you are a fighting game developer, or even a fighting game enthusiast feel free to chime in with your comments. That is what this open letter is for anyways. I do have to warn you though. If you try to troll me, or spam this article your comment will never see the light of day. I do, after all monitor each, and every comment that comes in.

CoD Community (Definition): "Delinquent undisciplined children, and adults who hack, mod, exploit, and troll in games in order to make a name for themselves online. See 'Trolls', 'SuK', 'Whiteboy7thst' ..."

Your Last Samurai,
Brad C. (OtakuDante)

3 comments:

  1. I am someone who loves fighting games more than any other genre, even if I am not necessarily the best at it. However, I do think I am above average when compared to the normal crowd, at least online. I think the changes you are suggesting would make the majority of fighters boring and mundane.

    First of all, be it shooters or fighters, people are ALWAYS going to go with the easiest, most effective way to win (Usually). We can give a good hint of this in Soul Calibur V on Xbox 360 when I was playing. I played Alpha Patroklos, he is considered to be one of the top characters in the game but you hardly EVER see anyone using him because he takes time and dedication to master....but the other 2 characters, Natsu and Mitsurugi, were always present because of their ease of use. Hell, even in Call of Duty: Black Ops more people were running around with the AK-74u than the AK-47 due to its power and accuracy.

    Also, I feel like you are wrong about making the game either extremely zone heavy or extreme close-up, a game can do well with a mix of both; a player just has to learn how to play and adapt to whatever they are dealing with. I have some friends who play zoning characters and they complain that rushdown is too strong, but then I have some friends who play rushdown who say they cannot figure out how to get in on a zoning character, it depends on player skill, knowledge, and choices made. Look at Under Night In-Birth, that game hitbox's are crazy, but it works for it.

    Myself, I play whichever character I want. I tend to play female character and most of them do not have projecticles, like Cammy White and Makoto in Street Fighter and I have had my fair share of headaches with people like Dhalsim, Guile, and Deejay, but you have to learn to overcome them. Often times I find that a person who complains about a particular type of character or a person who complains about a certain strategy are those who cannot deal with it, or it is a natural counter to their own play style. You have to learn to adapt and change and make sure nothing is as broken as you realize. An example of this is present in how a lot of those Mitsurugi and Natsu players on SCV fought against me; they fell for a lot of easy mistakes I made because they were unfamiliar with my character, and I punished a lot of mistakes they probably thought were safe because nobody ever punished them for it...likewise they never used safe attacks.

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  2. Also, just so you know, Yuuki Terumi and Azrael are not bad characters, but Yuuki is actually ranked LOWER on the tier list than Azrael, so if you two were of similar skill you should be winning that match-up. Now, let us move to match-ups. Match-ups are how particular characters fair against other ones, some do better than others against certain people which is why they have "Counter Picks". Without counter picks and learning to deal with them there is no strategical value in learning new characters. An instance of this is in Super Smash Bros. Melee. I played Roy, and a natural counter to my choice is Marth since he can chain-throw Roy and outrange him easily...but because so many people picked Marth against me it became a match-up where only SERIOUSLY good Marths could beat me, leading people to start re-thinking their counter pick.

    I also think you should read this, it's old but good. http://www.rokthereaper.com/2011/10/respecting-different-play-styles-dont.html. I think it should open your mind about what you believe are "Cheap Tactics" and "Fair Game Play". As I know for a fact that, unless something completely DESTROYS the game (Such as the Quick Silver Marvel vs Capcom 3 glitch that makes the game unplayable http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzLILbNCZDk), then it doesn't matter. In fact LOADS of games uses glitches and exploits in official tournaments because they are game changing but not gamebreaking. Hell, without the infinites, no idea if Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes would have gotten so popular.

    Roll Cancel in Capcom vs SnK 2, DHC Glitch in Marvel vs Capcom 3, Viper Meterless FADC in Super Street Fighter IV as well as Wake-Up Ultra Unblockables, 1-Frame Jump in Guilty Gear, Infinites in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Wavedashing in SSBM, etc. etc. As long as they are not game breaking, they are often allowed, even in official tournaments. If something is entirely too bad, then they'll change it or patch it eventually, and if not, the community bans it.

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    Replies
    1. I hear you dude, I really do. Until you've played BBCP though in the online environment you will not be able to grasp what I'm talking about. And by online enviroment I mean against randoms in an online lobby. As far as Azrael vs Terumi goes Terumi almost always has the upper hand. Terumi is faster by a longshot, and Azrael is about as slow as Tager. On top of that Terumi has tons of zoning attacks while Azrael has to constantly get in close. I don't care what some fighting game forum says about the match-up, because I've experienced it first hand, and I'm not a bad Azrael player at all. I've had several wins with Azrael against higher ranked players.

      Apart from unfair match-ups you'll find that the recover mechanic does not work like it should most of the time within the online environment. No matter how quick you press that recover button after being hit it will not do what it's supposed to do. I'm not sure if it's the player hacking, or the netcode, but something is not right. The new defense meter also greatly limits your defenses more so than it did in any previous BlazBlue. Seeing as the meter is small, and that various defense features use it up you are left open to punishment more often than not.

      Another thing is that comparing BBCP to Street Fighter, and SCV makes absolutely no sense. The games are vastly different as the characters available in BBCP are mostly exploitable zoning characters. Some of these said characters even have moves that let them teleport, phase in & out, and even move like Dhalsim on speed (Amane Nishiki).

      Whether you want to believe it or not I do know what I'm talking about. I've played as many fighting games as you have, and have faired well in most. Street Fighter is still my favorite though as it is the most balanced out there today. Sadly it to has fallen victim to hackers, and lagswitchers in the online environments.

      Contrary to popular belief not all match-ups in fighting games are fair, or winnable. I don't care how good you are if there's lag in a match, exploits going on, or certain in-game mechanics failing you will be hard pressed to do any significant damage at all. Before you say my connection speed is the issue you'll be disappointed to know that my connection speed is fine. Usually four to five bars depending on the game's standards. In BBCP a majority of the gamers I went up against, and saw had "0" ping, or at most "3" ping. The netcode alone in BBCP is atrocious. Oddly enough though some "0" ping matches will play smoother than "3" ping matches. This again points to hacking, or lagswitching.

      In the end I'm no stranger to BlazBlue. I've owned, and played all of the games in the series, and BBCP by far is the worst build yet. The roster is majorly unbalanced, and the applied mechanics are not like they used to be. Btw, if you see players only using a handful of characters from a roster as they do in BBCP that points to an unbalanced roster. Just a little FYI. All I see when I play are mostly Jin Kisaragi, Bullet, Yuuki Terumi, Hazama, Tager, Carl, and Relius players. All characters who are highly exploitable, and capable of playing a heavy keep away game. Why aren't there any other Azrael players if he's better than Terumi? Why aren't there more Makoto, Rachel Alucard, Bang Shishigami, Ragna, Arakune ...? I'll tell you why. It's because everyone's flocking to the easy exploitable characters for a win.

      Going up against a friend online, and going up against random players from all over the globe are vastly different experiences. Not only that but playing locally in a tournament, and playing online against random players are also two vastly different experiences. You can take my word on it, or not, but the technical fighting game forums are geared mostly towards tournament play. Not playing against some random guy from across the globe via the game's online lobby.

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