How to make your game appealing to players? (fighting game dev. discussion)

Recently I’ve been helping an artist/animator friend of mine plan, brainstorm and prepare for development of a homebrew/doujin fighting game with a small team.

It’s a pretty fun and stimulating exercise even though I have very little hand in the actual development of the game. At the moment the project is still in the fumbling stages but so far everybody is having fun and the concepts seem to be taking form at the very least.

When it’s done we plan to release it on Xbox live and if it does well enough, try to get a proper port for PC and possibly arcade if it ever gets popular enough.

However, this brings up the topic I’d like to discuss in this thread. What makes a new, unknown fighting game appealing to players, despite typical stuff like production quality, balance and gameplay?

We don’t want our game to be aimed at casual players. We’re developing it with tourney play in mind, and with competitive standards. Of course this is ambitious for a first project but it is something to strive for. However, completely shunning casual players is pretty much marketing suicide these days. There must be a way to get just the right balance between casual and hardcore.

Then considering the visuals…they aren’t exactly your typical street fighter fair. Think a cross between Monster, Xenosaga and Blazblue, with a heavy emphasis on anthropomorphism, mecha and Chinese mythology. There isn’t a single human character in the roster, only living machines who have an animal theme and all characters have very unique playing styles compared to each other and rather alien technology-heavy attacks. It’s very sci-fantasy yet ‘cute’ anime enough to most likely repel some people.

My major worry is…Considering that a lot of people seem to dislike unorthodox character/visual styles in fighting games, how do we get the game to be respected yet at the same time maintain everything that makes it unique in it’s character design and visual style?

Our development focus is gameplay and animation. It’s being made with HD sprites that are slightly smaller than BB. The characters are very detailed and are set up to have plenty of personality and very creative, lively movesets and our animator loves his job and works with great detail and lots of frames. It’s a new-school fighter with an emphasis on combos and blockstrings and we are taking lots of inspiration from Arksys’s games and also popular doujins like Melty Blood.

It’s sad to think so, but even with all the effort that comes with making a doujin, if you’re not a big company like Capcom there’s a very low chance that the game will really be respected. It’s realistic to believe that this isn’t going to end up anything more than a niche fighter, but while we’re still in the development phases, I at least want to start thinking about ways we can make the game appeal to a larger audience when we get around to marketing, in spite of it’s theme and visual style.

So what do you guys think? How does one go about making an anime/new school fighter cool? Blazblue did surprisingly well at marketing itself, Melty Blood is now doing quite well in Japan in it’s current installment, and Arcana Heart enjoys some popularity despite being a Loli fighter. In the end does it all come down to solid gameplay and production values? Or is familiarity also a major factor?

I’d like to hear some opinions on the matter from actual fighting game players.

Maybe not too much on-topic, but… develop a fighting game is maybe the most difficult thing that you can make on the videogame industry… even more difficult than next-gen 3D shit mostly because you make just a little mistake on the gameplay and NO ONE will play it anymore, so good luck with that.

make master chief a playable character

It’s also one of the more personally rewarding ones though in terms of building up a community around the game if it’s successful, which is a gamble.

And Fighters generally take less resources to develop than other genres. We tried making an RPG at first, and that was just too much.

Fighting games can also be patched, especially little doujin projects like this. There have been plenty of relatively successful doujin fighters which are talked about from time to time, so I’m being optimistic. We’re going to also have it playtested to hell and back before we even consider a release.

sadly, that would probably guarantee more sales, despite being horribly out of place and tacky. Besides, they already pulled that trick in Dead or Alive.

You don’t need to make a good fighter. You don’t need good engine mechanics, decent balance, memorable characters or even common sense.

The only thing you need to appeal to mainstream these days is a decent graphics engine, easy-ass gameplay and most of all: TOP TIER MARKETING.

I don’t care how bad a game is, if you advertise it and hype it up everyone will buy it.

Granted you need selling points if you’re going to have something flashy to market! XD

Well given how much of a perfectionalist our animator is, I will assume it will at least look nice. The biggest issue for the time being in the graphics department though is working out how we’re going to handle the special fx, since we want lots of glowy IaMP style effects on the energy moves. A good particle engine is going to be needed to be built at some point.

I know I certainly find nice glowy effects in fighitng games to be quite attractive. I think that’s one of the reasons Chaos Code is looking so nice.

looks at game library at gamestop site

Pure truth :rofl::wasted::rofl:

I think casuals would enjoy a single player that went beyond fighting games and loaned stuff from other genres.
Some “visual novel” kind of elements have been loaned in GG/BB I believe, with the dialogs and all. But I don’t think that’s enough.

I’m thinking like a platformer with the fighting characters, were you meet simple enemies and the other fighters are bosses of the levels.
Or an RPG with fighting game battles (kinda like Tales I guess).
Or a SRPG type mode, were you move your characters on a grid, but instead of simply choosing a move and inflicting X damage on the enemies, you get X seconds of fighing game against those close to you every turn.

Well, something along these lines.

That was an idea we were toying with actually. Since we originally wanted the game to be an RPG, the story was lost in transition to a fighting game.

Perhaps if we ever managed the time, we could attempt a fighter/rpg hybrid story mode where you travel around the world map in typical RPG style, but the battles with randomg grunt enemies are actually matches vs boss style dummy opponents which require certain tactics to beat. And during your enemy’s ‘turn’ your character is barred from using attacks and can only move around and avoid, then when it’s yoru character’s turn, you’re free to attack and combo or whatever. EXP could be used to level up and unlock special moves or other such things.

Though that means we’d have to add more sprites and stuff. Given that Xbl games have a size limit, we pretty much just have to stick to a fighter for now.

Worth considering for the ‘full’ version though!

I think Red Earth/Warzard is good reference for what boss battles could be like.
Got anything new to show, graphics wise, from your game?

Probably hyping up the mecha an chinese mythology and trying to play down the anthromorphism a little would be a good start, you get your game labeled as furry bait sales are probably going to go down.

Perhaps have a simplified control mode which does not require diagonals (think FUC on the psp) since most 360 players probably won’t have sticks and the d-pad sucks. (you can always get rid this for pc or arcades and it would help with the initial drawing in of the mainstream)

Also good netcode and lobbys would go a LONG way since not everyone has a local scene and it is a new IP so you wouldn’t have an immediate one.

If you do get a release try to actively talk about the game on sites like SRK,Dustloop and Gamefaqs and link to your site. (have a site)

Possibly release some videos and stuff of the game when you get it working but are awaiting the ok from XBLA if you are allowed to.

eh, you need something to appeal to the masses, usually it’s stupid shit that works. But if you’re going to make something that the hardcore group wants to play, youre not going to have goodluck with stupid shit. Its hard to appeal to both… I cant think of something at this point.

Oh another thing I forgot to mention is that it may be a good idea for you to get in touch with the people working at ninjabee for more advice, the forums aren’t too active but the devs post there regularly and they have been known to give advice to people wanting to get into game making.

(Not to mention they obviously have contacts with Microsoft since they have 4 games out (with dlc as well) and a 5th one in production for xbla as well top of their pc games and Wii game)


Good luck anyway

All you need to attract more casual players is good single player like Soul Calibur’s mission mode and lots of unlockables.

I support this statement.

In addition, I would suggest you consider having a meaty tutorial and training/drill modes ( similar to VF4e). Something to introduce, and then explain the features and general systems of the game. It would give players new to this sort (high mobility/ faster pace ) of fighting game some legs to stand on. Also it’s a lot more handy than the typical XBLA option-menu-manual.

Your game should have at least 1 masked ninja with mystical powers.
Also I suggest doing a good mythology research, because there are too much mystical creatures with legends about them, to allow plain furry stuff (plain fox, plain wolf, plain cat) to exist in game. Well if you mentioned reliance on mythology anyway. I am more acquainted with japanese mythology which is more widely used in fighting games today. Only Boon & Tobias more or less rely on chinese mythology.

I am going to go out there and say based on the concept art I saw before that at the moment you have no chance at mainstream appeal. Your game may still be excellent and great, I will give it a try myself if I have the opportunity (I don’t have an xbox), but something most people will look at and say “oh god furries” is not something that will have mainstream appeal. Because that’s the reaction that everyone has when they see that.

You’re not going to hit that mainstream teenage to mid 30s market with your style. You would be better off targeting a younger age group, otherwise your game would fall into a very small niche. I don’t think there is anything wrong at targeting kids with a fighting game, hell I’ve actually contemplated making a fighting game for kids to get the the next halo generation into the genre!

“Furries” or not, I just don’t think the adult market is really into animals/animal robots as main characters. We had to endure way too many Disney movies in primary school!

Make a game with random game heroes in it.

Marcus Fenix v Master Chief.
Snake v Sam Fisher

People would love it.

EDIT: woops, guess its already out. Its called smash bros.

That’s the main problem with the game indrustry these days.

Note most of the hyped up games range from mediocre to crap? Note that the good, innovative games that have spirit and thought put into them are mostly overlooked?

Yeah, that’s how it goes.

I wasn’t being sarcastic when I made my earlier post; seriously just overhype something and give it good advertising. Give it a gimmick and make it look cool so people will be like, “wow, I want to do that”. Give it the proverbial casualfag-icing on-the-cake with easy gameplay, controls and depth. Enjoy the money. :wonder:

There you go.