Overview Overall goal & Meta-game: The meta-game will focus heavily on poking, spacing, and positioning. The goal of this game is to center around the core strategic elements of 2d fighting games, while evolving the genre at the same time. Ideally, there should be a skill cap that greatly separates the expert players from the beginner. An experienced player should be able to beat a beginner consistently, almost to the point where it would be 20-30 matches in a row. In a nutshell, the goal is to reward skill as much as possible through superior strategy. Evolving for the sake of evolving: 2d Fighting games have evolved greatly over the last two decades. Heck, just compare Street Fighter 2 World Warrior to the latest installment of the BlazBlue series. It is pretty easy to distinguish most major changes throughout 2d fighting games from the introduction of the super meter, block meter, chain comboing, air juggling, and even to infinite combos and parries. The one problem most fighting games have in common is that most of them evolved for sake of evolving. A good example of evolving for the sake of evolving would be the super meter. The super meter was introduced in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo. The super meter was originally put in the game so people could make amazing comebacks when they were low on health. The Super meter didn't solve any problems that were apparent in previous fighting games. At any given point during the match, every character was able to use all of their moves, despite the level of their health or position on the play field. The Super Meter did not fill any gaps regarding limitations on moves, so then the strategy of the game became “fill super meter, use super” for a lot of the characters. In later games such as Street Fighter Alpha 2 and Street Fighter 3 third strike, the element of meter management was introduced when players were given multiple ways to use super meter. With the exception of Alpha counters, all of these uses were primarily just geared toward dealing more damage. While the goal of fighting games is to deal damage and drain the opponent's life bar, this took away from the purity of the spacing and poking meta-game. Another problem that super combos brought was the concept that they were completely invincible at start up. This removed a lot of the poking and counter-poking strategy in fighting games when one could throw out a super, and regardless of what move the opponent was doing, the super combo overrides it and connects for huge damage and grants exceptionally good position. Overall, it seems most fighting games lack direction on what they want to accomplish in the means of strategy. If there is a direction in most games, it was never made clear. More often than not, competitive games are taken to a much higher level of play than the developer initially intended. This is very apparent in games like Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Starcraft. There are 50+ characters in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, but after 10+ years of play, less than 10 or so are viable in tournament play. Was this the result of of lack of direction or simply not understanding what was made? Solution: By having a basic idea of how the meta-game is intended, it makes it much easier to balance and tweak accordingly. This philosophy makes it much easier to avoid making changes for the sake of changes, or adding things for the same reason. Clunkiness: It can be ascertained that, in most games, part of the casual audience is drawn in by flashy super combos and moves. Street Fighter 4 took a very sloppy approach to solve this issue by rewarding players who were taking damage with a comeback mechanism known as “ultra combos” to compensate for lack of super combos being utilized due to the single super meter functioning to supply ex moves, focus cancels, AND super combos! None of these features solved any problems exhibited in previous games. The argument could be made that games should evolve, regardless. Meter management is a good idea. It allows one to incorporate powerful tools into their strategy at the cost of a resource. There seems to be endless potential to utilize this concept with. However, in most games, meter management often repackaged in various means of only dealing damage. In Street Fighter 4, all of your meter uses are geared toward dealing more damage or extending a combo in the form of FADC or ex moves, or making a move safe by canceling upon block. Two meters is unnecessary. More can be accomplished by having a multi-tiered meter where each individual use for the meter costs different degrees of tiers. Since the flashiness of super combos can be granted to moves that require a single tier or more, a second meter is not necessary. In this game, the problem will be solved by a single meter with 4 tiers that will be represented by bars within the meter. Best of both worlds: This game will appeal to both the person seeking a deeply strategic, offense-heavy fighting game as well as the person who likes watching flashy stuff happen. By making the tools that the player uses super meter for quite flashy, yet strategically effective, it guarantees flashy moves being executed for that crowd, while it offers a more strategic game for the hardcore player. Not every meter function has to deal damage. Meter management shouldn't be confined to only offense. Adding a new twist: Rather than filling an almighty super meter and dealing large damage, the goal of the meter in this game is to allow 4 individual tools for the player to use at the cost of meter. Some of these will be meant for dealing a little extra damage, and others for defensive purposes or other various methods. The super meter should ideally exist where the game can be played the same way with or without it. Because of this, the Super Meter should not become the focus of your strategy, or the primary center of your offense. The Super moves in this game will add a completely new twist on gameplay and strategy. Many Super moves will involve giving your character minor powerups such as temporarily increasing throw range, increasing the ammount of dizzy done by the next attack, or even increasing walking speed for a limited time. Combos Purpose of combos: If you were to strip combos down to their most basic point, you would easily come up to the conclusion that it is to do the most amount of damage possible in any given situation. For most situations in a lot of fighting games, this is true. In Street Fighter 2, landing a crossup with a lot of characters will result in huge damage that can quickly end a round in some situations. In Marvel vs. Capcom 2, landing a combo puts you in a favorable position to launch the opponent into the air and do another combo and chain that into a super. In more recent games, the introduction of damage scaling has made comboing less of a game-ending feature. However, when examining high level competitive play a bit closer in most fighting games, doing the most amount of damage isn't always the best decision. Things like resets and frame trapping are common things utilized by top players. A player may purposely drop a combo to throw an opponent who is still blocking. This adds strategy, depth, and flavor to fighting games. Unfortunately, there are several unnecessary things attached to combos. Disportionate punishment in the form of big damage that punishes a small mistake is a big flaw that many fighting games utilize. The concept of a completely invincible super connecting regardless of what move the opponent is doing is another example of this. Yet another example is landing a jab or short in Street Fighter 4 or Capcom vs. SNK 2 and chaining multiple jabs or shorts together, comboing into a special move and then chaining than into a Super or Ultra combo. In instances like this, the ideal strategy is to land quick, weak normal moves and chain into large damage. Mechanics like this do not add to depth or strategy, and neither do they add flavor to the game. Instead, they do the exact opposite and devolve the strategy to put less emphasis on spacing and positioning. In this fighting game, combos will benefit strategic play and punish mistakes proportionately. Strategy: In this game, there will be multiple means of utilizing combos and block strings for strategic purpose. Every character's bread and butter combo will not be the most favorable answer in every given situation. Combos should be a part of your strategy and not become your strategy. If landing a normal move (In a crouched state, for instance) is able to be chained into more moves that result in high damage, then the purpose of that normal ceases to have any function other than to create a segway into huge damage. An example of one dimensional combo gameplay would be mechanics in a game like Street Fighter 4. If Balrog has sufficient Ultra meter and lands a single low jab, he can string that into another low jab, a low short, a buffalo head-butt, then he can combo into ultra. This does two things for him: 1.) Doing very high damage 2.) Putting the opponent in the corner and giving Balrog superior position upon landing. Even without the ultra meter being full, Balrog can still chain the two jabs, short, and head-butt together All of this is accomplished from landing the weakest, quickest move in Balrog's moveset. So the strategy of your play then turns into landing a jab. In the fighting I'm designing, there will be no high damage reward for landing the quickest, weakest normal move in your moveset. In contrast to this, in my game, you will have multiple options on things to do with your quick normals. In Street Fighter 2, if Ryu lands a crouching short on a blocked opponent, he can do another short into a sweep and cancel into a fireball. This leaves Ryu in a neutral state where he doesn't have any options to immediately go for a high damaging combo or mixup. However, it puts him just far enough away where it allows him to keep up fireball pressure and maintain position. In my game, I would have most characters be able to do something similar to this for a few reasons. 1.) It deters doing bread and butter block strings or frame traps as the single best thing you can do 100% of the time. 2.) adds another option in addition to being able to bait out a reversal or go for a throw from a blocked normal 3.) still favors offense by putting the offensive player in a favorable position, but not a position that lets the player immediately follow up with an attempted cross up or ability to land a normal to combo into super. Landing a crouching light normal, however, will primarily function as a poke that will stop other pokes or attempted attacks. How far to turn up the damage? Bread and Butter combos will only be accomplished from jump ins or up close overheads or crouching medium punch or kick. This way, the opponent has to make a marginal mistake so the punishment is justified. Damage done by combos will be proportional to the level of mistake the opponent makes. For instance, a jump in should warrant a significantly damaging combo. Since the defending player fails to use an anti air move to defend himself properly, and thus sacrificing position to the person jumping in, the punishment will result in upwards to 30% - 40% of the opponent's health bar. Minor mistakes such as neutral jumping at the wrong time, blocking low on an overhead or blocking high on a crouching medium kick or medium punch will warrant much less damaging combos at 25% of health meter max. A neutral jump at the wrong time will not warrant damage beyond a singular kick or special move. By limiting combo attempts, this promotes strategic positioning and poking more so than your strategy becoming landing a quick normal and comboing for large damage and superior position. Juggling: Juggling is somewhat similar to combos in a lot of games. It's utilized as an artificial means of extending damage done in any given situation with little actual strategy behind it. A game such as Marvel vs. Capcom 2 has really, really powerful juggling techniques that result from comboing into a launcher and following up with an air combo and chaining into super. In such a game like Street Fighter 2, Ryu and Bison can land a jumping strong and proceed to juggle the opponent across the screen for high damage and good position, and in the case of Ryu, can actually combo into his super. While this adds flavor to the game, it puts too much emphasis on large damage from an air-to-air moves that give superior position as a result. In this game, the flavor added by juggles will be retained while adding strategic depth. There will be two types of juggling in my game; offensive and defensive. Defensive type of juggling will only be used to push the opponent back far. These will do decent damage, but will put the attacker in no favorable position upon landing. Defensive juggles will be accomplished by landing a specific air-to-air attack and following up with a special or normal, depending on type of juggle attack that will cause. This is good because it removes needless dexterity to accomplish a simple task, doesn't slow the momentum of the game with some needlessly long juggle, and doesn't allow the attacker to build meter between hits. There will be multiple ways to use defensive juggles. If a player gets into a situation where he lands a move on the ground that has juggle properties, and chooses to do a defensive juggle, the distance the opponent is knocked back will be shorter than if it is air-to-air. This is meant to be primarily used as a keep out method when attempting to hold a life lead and play defensively, but this will cost meter. Air-to-air defensive juggles will not cost meter and move the opponent further away, as the penalty warranted for the mistake being hit with an air-to-air juggle is greater than being hit from the ground. Offensive juggles will work similar to defensive juggles in the sense that a specific air-to-air attack must be landed that is followed up with a normal or special attack, however, differing between the two is the fact that offensive juggles will do significantly less damage, but reward the attacker with good positioning. Like defensive juggles, position will be determined on if they're done from the ground or air-to-air. Ground juggles will require meter to execute and will grant slightly better position than doing an air-to-air juggle. Why should ground juggles cost meter?: Air-to-air situations that result in juggling will not be as common as those from the ground. Air-to-air juggles are less of a factor in the game, so it's fitting that following up with a guaranteed move, depending on the situation, should be granted to the person who lands it. Since doing a move that can be combo'd into a juggle will be somewhat common, the use of meter is to prevent the juggle from being the best option 100% of the time. Super Meter Layout: In this game, the super meter will have 4 tiers and 4 ways to use it. The uses will be for breakers, Juggles, Throw escapes, and Super Moves. The super meter in this game is intended to give the player tools to incorporate into his strategy where not one use will be the 100% best choice at any given time, rather than the super becoming the strategic focus of the game or particular character matchup. Each tier will be represented by 4 bars in the meter. Breakers: These will work similar to Alpha counters in Street Fighter Alpha 2. Every character will have two breakers executed by a punch and a kick. Punch breakers will be used against high attacks and kicks against low attacks. Breakers will be triggered upon blocking a move and then executing the input. When a breaker is successfully executed, it shall knock the opponent back a distance. The purpose of breakers is to allow a powerful defensive option at the cost of meter. Each breaker will not execute in a similar manner as one of your attacks (As is the case in Street Fighter Alpha 2. Example: Akuma's alpha counter being a dragon punch). For example, if an opponent jumps at you with a normal attack and you block and execute a breaker it will not function the same way as your standard anti air special. Breakers will be able to be countered, so they will not be a 100% solution to anything. Breakers will do damage roughly around a character's heavy punch or kick. However, damage for each breaker will vary from character to character. Breakers will use 1.5 bars of meter. Juggles: Explained above. Juggling will use 1 bar of meter. Super Moves: Super moves will be moves/abilities/power ups that can only be used with super meter. Every character will have 4 super moves, one corresponding to each amount of meter bars used. A super move will be completely unique from the rest of the character's moveset. A few examples of super moves include having the amount of dizzy done by your next move increasing, gaining faster walk speed for a few seconds, increasing throw range temporarily, or doing unique special moves. Super moves are intended to give the player yet another tool to incorporate into his strategy and add more depth to the gameplay. Other potential ideas for super move include the following: • Large, slow moving projectiles utilized to control space • Long, high priority pokes • Brief powerups for various attributes (walk speed, dizzy counter, throw range). The possibilities seem endless. • Command throws • Completely unique moves from the rest of the character's arsenal of moves. Throw Escapes: Covered in throws section. Throw escapes will use one bar of meter. How to build meter?: Building meter will be done by executing special moves and attacks that successfully connect or are blocked by the opponent. Meter, however, can only be built within a specific proximity of the opponent. The total distance of the proximity will vary from character to character.. For instance, a grappler will generally be able to build meter further away than a character that specializes in zoning and controlling space. This accomplishes two things. 1.) It deters spamming special moves at far distances as a method of building meter. (A good example of this is in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo where Ryu builds meter by doing hurricane kicks in the corner, Ken repeating jab dragon punches at safe distances, Honda doing full screen handslap, ect.) 2.) it allows meta-game stay related to controlling space through superior positioning and spacing. How much meter is too much?: The ideal amount of super that should be built per round is a full meter. However, this could be subject to change with more testing. Ideally, the goal should be to build enough meter to effectively incorporate the super meter tools into your strategy, but not build so much meter so fast where the game turns into an endless succession of meter use. Offense vs. Defense Overview: Offense is going to be the main focus of the game. Offense-based games are fast-paced, interesting to play and watch, and generally do not consume much time per round or match. However, defense will be exceptionally viable. Anti-air moves will be able to punish a jump in attempts 100% of the time. For example, in Street Fighter 2, jumping on a standing Ryu should result in being hit by Dragon punch 100% of the time if executed correctly by the player. Attacks: Every character will have 6 normal attacks (3 kicks and 3 punches) that will change depending if they are standing, crouched, or jumping. The number of special moves each character has will differ from character to character. Each will have the ability to use 4 super moves, in addition to the other tools that will be utilized with super meter. All special moves will do chip damage unless chip properties are effected by a character's super move. Knockdowns: There will be no quick-recover mechanic or wake up rolling feature in this game. Since anti-air moves and general reversals will be really good defensive tools, being knocked down will not result in the offensive player perpetually being able to continually jump in and continue offense. However, this does not cover crossups or other methods of attacking that avoid reversal moves. There should be a moderate punishment for being knocked down, and that is sacrificing position and having the person on offense being put in a favorable position. Because of this, defense or offense isn't disportionately powerful in one direction or another. Game speed: This game will focus heavily on spacing and positioning. This means poking will be fast and effective, but not so fast that wiffed medium pokes and low fierce pokes cannot be punished. It should be expected that from certain ranges, a wiffed sweep should only go fast enough to where the opponent can walk up throw or punish with his own sweep. Walk speed will differ from character to character, but will be relatively fast to go with the overall fast gameplay speed. This also includes various super moves that will affect walk speed in positive ways. Throwing Overview: The general purpose of throwing in this game is to counter blocking. Throwing should be powerful and fast. However, like in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, there will be the option of being able to soften a throw. There will be two ways to soften throws. First way is to input your own throw input within 9 frames of being thrown. This will soften the throw for 20% of its damage. Second way will be to use meter to completely remove all damage done by the throw. This will also require the player to execute the soften within 9 frames of being thrown. The purpose of this is to make throwing powerful, but give the the person being thrown options to soften damage. Softening should be based on reaction and execution, thus the 9 frame window makes softening difficult, but not overly difficult. Throwing properties will be as followed (This is for normal throws, only and not for command throwing): • Throws will do 15% total health bar damage if unsoftened. • Softening a throw will require the player to do a throw input within 9 frames of being thrown. • Throws can be softened for 20% damage reduction without using meter. • Using meter to soften throws will result in the player being able to escape the throw with 0 damage done. • Throwing will be executed by pressing torward or away and a designated punch or kick button. • The throw animation itself from start to finish should be really, really fast. (Similar to Vega's Street Fighter 2 throw). Increasing throw time interferes with the flow of the game. Game Modes Variety: Since the multiplayer aspect is the main focus, there will be a good variety of options and modes available for players. They will be as followed. Ranked match: • Ranked and Custom matches will utilize double blind picking system. There will be no indication whatsoever of what character the opposing player is picking. This includes no sound effects of the opposition's character selection. • There will no ability to kick players once they join a ranked match. • High pings will be filtered out, so the lag factor will be decreased as much as possible. • Dropping/disconnecting from a ranked match will result in a loss for the person who drops/disconnects and a win for other player. Custom Match: • Default custom match lobby will be 4 player slots. There will be options to limit custom match slots to 2 or increase total number of slots to 8. • There will be an options menu available in the lobby that will let any player change their button configuration and will allow the host to add or subtract player slots and tweak any number of options. • Custom Match options will include the following • Option to play with or without Super Meter • Toggle number of rounds required to win a match • Number of slots available in the lobby • Number of private slots • Turn mic function on/off • Custom matches will display different icons and numbers on the game list so a person wanting to join will immediately know exactly what is available immediately upon looking. This makes it very easy to distinguish individual settings attached to the custom match lobby. • Available matches will be highlighted in yellow if Super Meter is disabled. • Number of slots available will be displayed directly to the left in an x/y fashion (eg: 2/6). • Directly next to slot numbers will be the number of rounds with a circle going around it. For example, the numbers 3, 5, or 7 will be circled indicating the number of rounds in a match. • Mic icon will be displayed to the far right. A line going through mic icon means mic feature is disabled. Tournament mode: • This will give the ability for players to make their own online/offline tournament brackets. • Online tournament mode will give the creator any number of bracket slots they desire to add, and players join accordingly. • Secondary offline mode will allow the any number of tournament bracket slots to be created, and any amount of custom names input. The purpose of this is to make tournament brackets quick and easy to manage in offline tournaments. Beta Test mode: This mode will differ completely from the normal game. This mode will include all potential changes/future additions to the game. This is intended for the players to have direct access to these projected ideas, and will be primarily used to accomplish two things. First thing this mode will accomplish is to get direct feedback from the players on their opinions on possible changes, and secondly, to use as a source for data gathering. This mode will be subject to change frequently. I believe this will be a good way of determining what balance Practice mode: • Functions as a standard training mode • Practice mode options will include the following • Hitbox display • Button input display • Numerical display of damage • Toggle infinite meter • Change button configuration • Change music/stage • Reset training mode by pressing start + select • Standard AI options (Block, not blocking, crouch, jump, stand, attack ect.) • Ability to record and playback moves and other attacks to set to the computer AI Tutorial mode: • Tutorial mode will cover specific circumstances in which various strategies will be implemented. It will break down various scenarios in which different tactics are used, and explain how and why they are used. The meta-game of spacing, positioning, and controlling space will be covered in an in-depth explanation. • Designed to give the beginner player an in-depth explanation of how to play the game. Needless Baggage Silly stuff: These are things that are commonly put into fighting games that are often needless, and in some cases, conflict with the better player winning 100% of the time. Many of these things are simple interface flaws that slow things down or have no purpose. Selecting character colors and costume: • Right way: Have the desired character color correspond with the button pressed. Each button represents a different color. Hold start when selecting character to switch to alternate costume. This greatly decreases the time spent in character selection so the match can commence faster. • Wrong way: Select character, select color and costume from a list, and then press another button to commence. Button configuration: • Right way: Have a list of the 6 normal attacks, and the players press buttons they wish to assign to those attacks accordingly. This takes a few seconds at most. • Wrong way: A list of buttons and the player must scroll through a list of actions to assign to each. This takes minutes to accomplish. Character introductions: A trend in new fighting games is to have each character say something to one another prior to the announcer saying “Round 1, fight”. This is useless and unnecessary, and these are always skipped. They serve no purpose to the actual fight, and even the most casual of players will always skip them after seeing them a few times. These don't even add flavor to the game for people to enjoy, as everybody wants to get to the match quicker. Post-match grading: Has anybody ever paid attention to this? This seems to just conflict with win quotes too much. Since the game only knows of winning and losing, the grading system feels out of place. Comeback systems: Comeback systems conflict greatly with the idea that a good player will beat a lesser skilled player 100% of the time. As said earlier, at no point in your strategy should your strategy become based around executing a high damage super combo or other form of comeback system. Besides, there isn't any situation in this game where you will be unable to use any of your moves at any given point based on how much health you have. Block meter (guard breaking): The idea of your guard being broken from blocking a lot is one of the most unnecessary additions to any fighting game. I suppose some developer, along some point, thought that blocking was simply too good, and turtling shouldn't be a viable strategy. Throwing and chip damage suffice plenty for punishing blocking. Turtling IS a viable strategy, and should not be double punished by taking chip damage from blocked special moves and become closer to having guard being broken for a free hit or combo.