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the_dannobot

I love 2d fight games

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If I could, I would spend all day designing, playing, and talking about 2d fight games. I've been writing a simple 2d smash style fight game, and as a result of researching 2d fight games I'm currently obsessed with them. Here's why I like 2d fight games: -They are simple to learn. -They are really hard to master. For example, here's a page describing some techniques used in high-level Street Fighter 3d Strike play. -Players of 2d fight games are incredibly knowledgable about the games they play. -On the surface, 2d fight games look easy to implement, but under the hood they offer some unique and challenging design problems. So while the player community knows everything there is to know about 2d fighters, they are hard to talk to about design elements. For example, a discussion about "Chun-Li vs. Ken" can turn into a ten page frame-by-frame analysis of gameplay, but a question like "How do you make a good combo system" are largely ignored. There are exceptions to this rule, like I've been having an engaging discussion about input detection and pattern matching at shortuken.net. I like to sit around and bullshit about those unigue and challenging design problems, and I thought maybe this would be a good place to do it. So here's a few topics to start discussion: So how do you make a good combo system? How do you balance a character in a fighting game? Parries or alpha-counters? Super bars, tension gauges, and block meters: yes or no? What's the best music to listen to when playing 3rd Strike? Right now I'm going through an Incubus "Crow Left of the Murder" phase. I'm like an encyclopedia of 2d fighter knowledge, so ask me questions too. BTW, the Lounge makes fun of the Game Design forum because of your bizarre MMO fetish. This is your chance to talk about something else and prove them wrong. [Edited by - the_dannobot on January 30, 2007 12:17:07 PM]

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Original post by the_dannobot
If I could, I would spend all day designing, playing, and talking about 2d fight games. I've been writing a simple 2d smash style fight game, and as a result of researching 2d fight games I'm currently obsessed with them.


I never played many for a few reasons:

1) Most of my friends didn't
2) Most of my friends that did would kill me before I knew what was happening
3) The censored vs. uncensored issue turned me off of Mortal Kombat which, along with Street Fighter 2, was "the" 2D fighting game.

But, what little I've played recently (some version of Tekken a few years ago, some Smash Bros.) I've enjoyed and, I agree, they have some interesting design issues.

So that I don't have to keep repeating it, let me say this now and let it be understood for the rest of this post: My experience is limited, so please forgive my ignorance. [smile]

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So how do you make a good combo system?


We're talking combos like Hadouken in Street Fighter 2, yes? For me, second only to balance, is having a consistent "feel". Create a theme for each character and for the game as a whole and stick with it. If the moves are rhythmic on screen, make me follow a similar rhythm with my fingers. If I have to twist my fingers like a pretzel, have my character bend in ways I never thought possible. Are combos the primary means of attack, something to be used only in special circumstances, or slight variations on normal attacks?

I'm sure there's some sort of "rule of three" or "0, 1, or infinity" sort of rule here, too. If only one character relies on combos that may be ok if each character breaks style in its own way, but otherwise it's just a gimick.

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How do you balance a character in a fighting game?


I'm not sure I've ever seen too much technical discussion on balance, and I think that's because the only real way is to try it. What looks good on paper won't necessarily be good in game.

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Parries or alpha-counters?


What's an alpha-counter? [smile]

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Super bars, tension gauges, and block meters: yes or no?


Again, my ignorance is showing.

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What's the best music to listen to when playing 3rd Strike? Right now I'm going through an Incubus "Crow Left of the Murder" phase.


I don't play 3rd Strike, but I'm usually pretty variable. I'll go from Simon and Garfunkel to Korn to Aerosmith to Alison Kraus.

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Original post by Way Walker
We're talking combos like Hadouken in Street Fighter 2, yes?

No. Hadouken is the cry that accompanies the fireball generated from the palms of the Shotokan adepts - Ryu, Ken, Akuma, Sakura, etc. A "combo" (contraction of "combination") is a sequence of mixed attacks that a.) look cool, b.) deliver as many hits as possible, c.) inflict as much damage as possible. A simple 3-hit combo with Ryu/Ken is the drop-knee (↑ + med kick), forward knee (med kick up close) OR elbow (med punch), Dragon Punch (approx → ↓ → + punch).

The key to creating a good combo system is to provide a good range of "intermediate" attacks that stun the opponent, opening them up for further hits and not pushing them too far back. These attacks must also be quick, which is why the medium and light kick/punch buttons become so important. Heavy attacks are generally slow, and also push the opponent back, if they don't knock them off their feet, so it's not easy to create extended combos using them except as conclusions.

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Original post by the_dannobot
How do you balance a character in a fighting game?

A character can not be Fast and Strong. A character can not master both Aerial and Ground-based attacks. A character can not have an arsenal of both Ranged and Grapple attacks. In addition, powerful attacks must create a moment of vulnerability in their aftermath, so if the player mis-times their use he pays the penalty, and if the opponent avoids/blocks the attack, he can exploit the sudden inversion of advantage.

That's really the basis. On top of that, you typically have rock-paper-scissors type deals, and counters.

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Original post by the_dannobot
Parries or alpha-counters?

Both.

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Original post by Way Walker
What's an alpha-counter? [smile]

Alphas are special, super-duper attacks that normally can not be blocked. As the Street Fighter series continued to evolve (alphas were introduced in Street Fighter II Alpha), parries were introduced, where by precisely timing your inputs you could block each individual hit of an alpha sequence. The classic example is a video of a well-known Third Strike player, using Ryu, parrying Chun-Lis entire alpha and then unleashing his own alpha as part of a combo... in a tournament, with a room full of screaming people.

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Original post by the_dannobot
Super bars, tension gauges, and block meters: yes or no?

Make them optional, so matches can be configured with or without them. Sometimes I enjoy them, as they change they game's strategy.

Quote:
Original post by the_dannobot
What's the best music to listen to when playing 3rd Strike? Right now I'm going through an Incubus "Crow Left of the Murder" phase.

Personally, I still enjoy the game's stage music.

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Original post by the_dannobot
Parries or alpha-counters?

Both.

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Original post by Way Walker
What's an alpha-counter? [smile]

Alphas are special, super-duper attacks that normally can not be blocked.
Actually, I think it's special moves that come out extra-fast from a blocking animation. Sort of a combo-breaker.


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Quote:
Original post by the_dannobot
Super bars, tension gauges, and block meters: yes or no?

Make them optional, so matches can be configured with or without them. Sometimes I enjoy them, as they change they game's strategy.
Capcom vs. SNK (1, 2 and SVC Chaos) all have different types of super meters, and I find that a lot of fun. In fact, if you get the PS2 version, you can create your own "groove" and pick from various options like parries, counter-attacks, running vs. dashing, super jumps, short hops, etc.

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Original post by the_dannobot
What's the best music to listen to when playing 3rd Strike? Right now I'm going through an Incubus "Crow Left of the Murder" phase.

Personally, I still enjoy the game's stage music.
Seriously! Unless it's MvC2, in which case that doesn't suit the game content at all.

I love fighting games, but I actually like 3d fighters better than 2d. I think most 3d fighters are much closer to an actual real-life fight than 2d fighters. Mostly, I blame projectiles for this.

[Edited by - templewulf on January 31, 2007 8:40:40 AM]

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Yeah, an alpha-counter is a move that's done from block stun and has little or no startup frames. In essence, it's a combo breaker. So say Ryu is doing a hurricane kick, and you block the first hit, you could then alpha-counter and knock him out of the hurricane kick.

Since they would be an easy system to abuse, performing an alpha-counter carries the penalty of taking a portion of the super meter.

I didn't know you could do custom grooves in SNK Vs Capcom. I have SvC2:EO for the xbox, I'm going to have to look into that later. I usually play P or K groove because I like parries. I think they add an interesting risk/reward element to gameplay.

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Original post by the_dannobot
So how do you make a good combo system?

I'm not a fan of combo systems and would prefer simply not to have one.

Quote:
Parries or alpha-counters?

I'm also not a fan of alphas. That said, I prefer parries over alpha counters (and who says you can't have both?).

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Super bars, tension gauges, and block meters: yes or no?

Maybe, no, and no.


Note that I'm not a big fan of traditional 2D fighters (though I was really good at Street Fighter Alpha 3, back when I still had a copy), so my opinion probably isn't going to mean much if you want to appeal to people that do like those games.

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Original post by Oluseyi
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Original post by Way Walker
We're talking combos like Hadouken in Street Fighter 2, yes?

No. Hadouken is the cry that accompanies the fireball generated from the palms of the Shotokan adepts - Ryu, Ken, Akuma, Sakura, etc. A "combo" (contraction of "combination") is a sequence of mixed attacks that a.) look cool, b.) deliver as many hits as possible, c.) inflict as much damage as possible. A simple 3-hit combo with Ryu/Ken is the drop-knee (↑ + med kick), forward knee (med kick up close) OR elbow (med punch), Dragon Punch (approx → ↓ → + punch).


I see. Doesn't really change my response, though. Not considering balance issues, theming the moves intended for combos seems important, especially considering point (a). In fact, this "theming" seemed to affect the choice of characters I see people make far more than effectiveness (then again, most people I've played with or watched play aren't hardcore types).

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Excellent Gamasutra article that, while fairly general, has plenty of points that could be applied specifically to 2D fighting games: linky.

For me, 2D fight games do have some drawbacks. A player of medium experience will almost always defeat a player of no experience, making playing against friends a frustrating endeavour. (If this is not the case, it probably means the game can be won by button mashing, which is frustrating in a completely different way). I also find the single-player modes tend to be lacklustre at best, due to either totally predicable or unfairly hard enemy AI.

That said, I misspent most of my youth playing Street Fighter 2, so when a game gets it right, it can be a genuine sensation. I'd still rather play any of SF2 than any of the modern equivalents - Tekken, DOA, perhaps even Soul Calibur too though I did enjoy that series a lot; not because of any 2D vs. 3D purist snobbery, but because recent games are all about twitch responses, meaning whoever can execute the moves more quickly wins, rather than executing the right move in the right place. Also moves seem to be much more difficult to pull off now - what the hell happened to back, back, forward, punch? I'm playing a rock-hard super warrior, I shouldn't need to be a super-responsive gamepad whiz in order to perform the basic moves.

Edit - interesting, the [url] tag doesn't seem to work? Just paste http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20070123/chelaru_01.shtml into your browser instead.

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That article looks pretty good, I'm reading through it right now.

Yeah, this forum uses html instead of URL tags for links: clicky

edit: Okay, that was a really good article that gave me some ideas. I especially like the part about separating signals from attacks.

So, the guilty gear series of games have a concept called "roman cancel" which allows a player to drop out of the recovery phase after a special attack. What this is for it to chain together huge combos since there is no recovery time between attacks.

I think it would be cool if a game used the roman cancel idea, but it only worked on the startup of an attack, allowing like "special fakes". So for example, take the fireball. The acceptable defense for fireballs are block, parry, or jump over it. Say the game allows special fakes, so Ryu reaches way back and yells "Hadouken!"... but doesn't throw anything. If the other player read the "fireball" signal and planned to block or parry, they will be in a position to counter-attack the first player. However, if he tried to jump over the anticipated fireball to jump kick the first player, he is now wide open for the more-powerful shoryuken move.

If the first player always bluffs with a special fake, the second player will be able to read it and walk up and punch him while he's faking. The attacking player's best option in this case is to go with the first obvious option, and throw the fireball instead of faking out of it.

Hot damn, the more I think about it the more I like the idea of special fakes. Their totally going in my next game.

[Edited by - the_dannobot on January 30, 2007 6:31:43 PM]

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Quote:
Original post by SunTzu
For me, 2D fight games do have some drawbacks. A player of medium experience will almost always defeat a player of no experience, making playing against friends a frustrating endeavour. (If this is not the case, it probably means the game can be won by button mashing, which is frustrating in a completely different way). I also find the single-player modes tend to be lacklustre at best, due to either totally predicable or unfairly hard enemy AI.

This problem could be bypassed by adding an adjustable handicap for each player. I think most of the home versions of Street Fighter 2 had this option.

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