About making the execution more accessible

I’ve never understood why a lot of the big names In the fighting game scene, especially people like david sirlin, have always been against a fighting game demanding a steep execution learning curve. clearly these voices have resulted in affecting the philosophy of this franchise to a certain extent already.

I can be a bit objective when I say a fighting game is the only venue that requires the execution/timing/discipline of a guitar/instrument player and the competitive, reading into the opponents, strategical mind of a chess player. Its special because its the only medium which expects you to have a hybrid of both of these mentalities and thus cutting away from either of these would be hampering with the identity of what a fighting game is as a whole.

The people who are keen on removing the execution component to make the mind game/ strategy more accessible would be watering down the whole medium, since as a game with an emphasis on only strategies and mindgames it’ll be doing what games like chess and poker are already doing. so where’s the identity?

On different lines, Replacing a guitar with a guitar hero like contraption to get rid of the skill component and concentrate on creating/understanding music simply does not work. A guitar is not complicated for the sake of being complicated, the subtleties of how a string resonates has naturally expanded the horizons of what can be accomplished on it technically. Replacing the strings with buttons, while making it more accessible, will severely limit its potential as a musical instrument. It becomes more accessible to access nothing. similary whenever a developer has set out to make an accessible fighting game in the past by making execution easier and thus restricting the number of button presses to keep the emphasis on the “mind game”, he would’ve diminished a lot of the subtleties and nuances that otherwise would’ve made the mind game component complicated and cerebral without him realizing. so bottom line, not restricting the skill component only helps accentuate the meta game/strategy component - as proof, a game with a shallow skill component like dive kick or mortal combat x’s meta game can never be as deep as what something like virtua fighter has on offer.

Even if we’re going to hypothetically assume that its possible to make a fighting game with a lowered technical barrier and a rich meta game, it could NEVER provide same satisfaction of developing the discipline it takes to get past a technical barrier to start unravelling the layers of what the meta game has to offer on that plane.

Oh gawd! Not this thread again.

That said, what the people who make threads/complaints like these forget is that there are two facets of execution in fighting games. There’s the entry level execution, which is just pulling off special moves and stuff, and then there’s high-level execution, which is the stuff that is developed by the players in an emergent manner that becomes part of the game’s high level play.

When developers as well as thinkers like Sirlin, Mike Z, and Keits talk about lowering execution, they are talking about entry level execution. Because, as experience has shown, there’s little value in making the entry level requirements more complex or harder to do. For example, Mike Z once said that there’s no reason to use a half-circle motion when a quarter circle will do (unless you already have overlapping motions) - you don’t do one any significantly faster than the other so it doesn’t affect how the move is used, other than making the input harder. All you’re doing is making it harder for players to pick up a character.

Meanwhile, high-level execution is not affected by this, because high level execution isn’t something the developers can really control - because it’s the players who develop this. Yes, the developers can make tweaks to streamline certain things, especially if something advanced becomes a requirement for actually being able to play the character, but they can’t simply make every high-level thing easy. This is because most high-level things are really just a combination of 2 or more easier things done together in a sequence.

Basically, the entire point of making a game accessible and lower the entry level execution requirement is because, to quote from Mike’s blog.

Playing a guitar is not something you do against an opponent, unlike competitive gaming. Aside from playing with a band, where you have to take into account the fact that you’re cooperating with people, there’s not much more to it other than the technical part of guitars. Fighting games are so much more than that, and while some (like you) really enjoy doing the combos, others (like me) are more interested in getting the opponent to a position where a combo can be landed, than they are in actually doing a complicated sequence of button presses they have practiced in training mode.

While I’m generally not a fan of the combo system in SF4 and would like to see that part of the game more accessible, there’s one situation where I’d love to see execution become harder: reversals. Giving your opponent the ability to fuck up on defense and leave a blocking state at the wrong time would only strengthen offense, and would require the defending player to be razor-sharp to get out.

But overall? I think SF4 has one of the worst combo systems of any fighter I’ve played. The system emphasizes that you must learn fairly tight links (2 frames for most of the cast, quite a few of them needs 1-framers) in order to play the majority of the cast on a basic level, which places the barrier of entry rather high compared to most other fighting games. At the same time, once you’ve gotten over that initial hurdle, there’s just not a lot more to the system. You can learn FADC combos for extra damage, but the game doesn’t really reward execution all that much once you’ve gotten beyond that. In short, you have a system that punishes bad execution rather than rewarding good execution, which just feels silly.
In comparison, the most basic combos in games like SF3: 3rd Strike, KOF13 and even GGXrd are usually piss-easy and can be learned in the scope of ten minutes. If you’re starting out, that’s all you need to get a feel for the game. However, these games also have systems that reward you far beyond what SF4 does if your execution is really good. In other words, they do what SF4 doesn’t: they reward good execution rather than punishing bad execution. That’s examples of good combo systems.

What I, and many others, would like to see SFV do, is to lower the barrier of entry by making the most basic bread 'n butter-combos less centered around tight links, and at the same time give the more experienced players something to play with. The first thing has already happened, with both the high overall damage and the buffer window on normals, which means people don’t need to spend as much time in training mode before they’re allowed to actually learn how to play the game against an opponent. As for the second part, the game is currently both in development and fairly unexplored, so it’s not unlikely that we will see swag combos pop up.

Is Mortal Kombat X a highly complex game because some characters have fireball cancels (which are arguably harder to do than lots of stuff in SF) and some strict juggle links?

Personally, juggle links are 10x easier then some of the 1 framers in SF4. Oh and with that net code…

I prefer dexterity/anime based execution any ways. You don’t need one frame links for them to be complex and they are more creative since they require theory of combining elements of different attacks or movements on the stick. That’s why I’ve always liked characters like Ibuki and Viper and how execution works in anime games. You don’t have to find a needle in a haystack to execute, it’s more about actually creating execution with your hands.

SFV looks like it will probably end up where you’ll have your characters that are lower on execution barrier, and then those that will have interesting cancels and juggle setups that may make more time to implement. 3rd Strike generally had pretty easy bnbs for most of the cast, but in the end there were advanced things that you could find that added to the execution and gave you more for your buck if you wanted to use them. It keps the game interesting execution wise without it being forced on you like in SFIV.

People asking for hard execution in games are pretty high on my list of groups to genocide if I ever gain enough power lol…

“similary whenever a developer has set out to make an accessible fighting game in the past by making execution easier and thus restricting the number of button presses to keep the emphasis on the “mind game”, he would’ve diminished a lot of the subtleties and nuances that otherwise would’ve made the mind game component complicated and cerebral without him realizing”

How? There’s quite a leap of logic here.

Musical instrument players are constantly trying to find ways to make their instruments easier to play, actually. Brand new $3000 clarinets are bought because the keys on the bottom are arranged slightly differently or the bore size makes intonation on certain notes easier.

not that comparing fighting games to musical instruments makes that much sense anyway!