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.