Thursday, September 8, 2016

Fighting Games and You.

I like fighting games.

I've been playing them for a long time.

I enjoy spending time on the couch challenging a good friend as we try to out fight one another.

Recently we got access to king of fighters XIV

We also rant and critique fighting games and it seemed like a good excuse to post this.

Here are my stipulations to assist in future fighting game design and  to explain what works and what doesn't:

1.     Couch co-op:  While multiplayer online can be fun, I honestly prefer to be in the same room as my opponent.
**JAY says:  We’re pretty old school that way.

2. kof's Controller Select:  While not a deal breaker, picking your characters in street fighter IV often required us to swap controllers.  King of Fighters still has the best select for controllers as you pick which side before you start the game.  All fighting games should have this.
**JAY says:  This is for couch co-op, when in SFIV playing vs. if you pushed start to soon you’d switch sides on the screen.  Strange, strange quirk.

3. A good random mode:  In my opinion, people who play a single character are essentially eating lucky charms and only eating the blue diamonds.  Part of the fun of fighting Games is rolling and having to fight with a character that you might not be familiar with.   However, this does mean...

4. All character's need to be balanced:  If any characters are broken, this will make point 3 really unfun.  
**JAY says:  Where SFV did get it right is re-balancing some weird quirks early on.  Good Job!  Each character feels pretty balanced.

5. Characters need personality.  part of the fun of fighting games is playing interesting characters.  While it isn't completely necessary. KOF XIII did it brilliantly by having not only custom final comments depending on whom was beat, but also included silly openers in the arcade mode that showed this interaction.  KOF XIV took this a step further by having comedy sketches with some of their characters when they interact.  I'd include both.  It should follow what I call "professional wrestling storytelling."  Namely setting up the reason for the fight to lay down better interaction and more emotional heft for the fight itself.

6. Online chaos mode: this is an extension of 3.  There should be a mode where you are tested, not on your skill with a single character, but on your ability to adapt to any character that is selected randomly.  Any bonuses obtained from normal tournament would be tripled.
**JAY says:  This is just probably us talking though 😊  However, out of all the chaotic and insane things MKX gave us, it didn’t really have this.

7. It should be easy to read:  A side effect of the improvement of screen is smaller and smaller text.  Make sure your game is easy to read, especially when it should contain move lists.
**JAY says:  WHY is HD mean your text is 2 point font, and even on the big 50’’ TV still blurry, small and neigh impossible to read without sticking your nose on the TV.  If the game is for the PC, I kind of understand this is something companies cheap out on changing.  But console only games have no excuse.  I miss 20 point bolded comic sans and sans serif from PS1.

What they shouldn't do is.

1.     make achievements controller dependent:  We tried the new Mortal Kombat and were immediately cheezed off by the need to unlock everything twice, unless we "payed to win."  Simply put, this is unacceptable.
**JAY says:  Way, way back during the ushering in of the new (now old) consoles, like PS3, I recall seeing an interview with some business reps saying that the era of the $100 game was just around the corner and that market would happily accept micro-transactions for virtually everything, including stuff that use to be standard features.  They totally called it.   Can’t find the original video, but here’s a newer one a lot of folks know about.  

2. Be too shiny?  Marvel vs Capcom 3 was one of the biggest disappointments involving fighting games, not only for the shabby game play, but also for the fact that the screen induced severe headaches in myself.  Other culprits include the Sony playstation game, Keep it toned down, and we'll play your game more.  
**JAY says: That would be Playstation All-Stars.   Both where trying too hard to be Smash Bros. which was a bit of lightning in the bottle.

3) Forget to make online stable:
**JAY says: OK after SFIV, MKX, DC: Injustice, KOFXIII, KOFXIV, and some other older figthers working just fine online, why does the SFV (the new pinnacle of tournament fighters, at least that’s how its selling itself) have such issues online?  I have frame dropoff, ghosting, input delays, screen jumping and just about anything else that makes it virtually impossible to play.  Testing my connection and ensuring everything was running smoothly didn’t fix the problem.

4) Forget the open architecture and stick with disk locks:
**JAY says: Yes I know many companies have started to limit on disk DLC locks after getting their knuckles wrapped a bit…though perhaps not hard enough.  But if your going to give us online unlocks they have to be meaningful and inexpensive.   Ensure you build your game to grow for at least 3-4 years without a full rebuy.  This really will make those seasons passes matter.

5) Make season passes that are as expensive as the game:
**JAY says:  This is for ALL GAMES, and not just fighting games.  But for fighting games, adding another $60 to $80 cnd for a 3 or 4 characters and some skins is NOT the same as getting entire new levels or kingdoms to play through in say a RPG.   So far, most have been smart is using micro-transactions so you don’t notice the build up.

6) Forget the new players:
**JAY says:  This does not mean you have to make the game easy mode.  But certain things need to be done to get new players into the property (which means more $$, duh).  There has to be happy balance of easy to use, but hard to master; its been essential for all good fighting games.  For online, make sure that rank matches make sense and are even as possible.  As for casual mode, well see Chaos mode above for a possible solution to a near perfect player walking over newbies in “causal” matches of horrid beat downs. 

What you as the consumer should do is…

1)    Wait:
**JAY says:  If you are buying a really established title that will most likely not be cycled off a server, wait 6 to 8 months for a price drop.  This is especially true of revamps or updates, and things with ridiculously priced season packs.  SFV is finally falling to around $45 cnd (from about $70) and with a reasonable season pass cost you can get virtually all the extra content…though some things you will either have to earn or pay for still….

2)    Limit:

**JAY says:  Yep, with not a lot of money to spend and too many things to get, I now limit myself to 2 triple A full priced games a year, max.  This means a lot of deserving, and probably good titles will be passed over, but that’s the way the market wants it.  So try to find the not so big players and support them first before the big serial titles.

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