Skullgirls Salty Cupcakes w/ Maximilian

So I was watching the Salty Cupcakes stream and listened to the conversation between Mike Z and Maximillian talking about the good old days of gaming. My first impression is that these guys are total dinosaurs, the fact that I understood everything they were talking about made me feel old myself.

The first thing that I find interesting about Mike Z’s personality, is that there is no off switch on his game designer brain. I never heard a person dislike a game based purely of the how the developers implemented their hit stun deterioration mechanics. And not surprisingly, Mike loves games that are extremely technical (MvC2, GGXX, 3rd Strike). He’s good at most games, and even talked about how he was winning tournaments with Zangief in SF4, but he wasn’t enjoying it. Even though SF4 is clearly one of the most popular fighting games, Mike Z seems to dislike it solely due to it’s design.

However, I disagree his conclusion that today’s fighting games are more “dumbed down” is due to the fact that the developers are lazy or don’t play their own games. The truth is that even though I agree that the time of MvC2, GGXX, and 3rd Strike were the golden years of gaming, these games will never return. The problem with making a fighting engine extremely deep and technical is that incidentally it’s also much more difficult to play! The designers of GGXX themselves said that their game was too complex, which is why they designed Blazblue to be much more simplified version of GGXX, and I know a lot of GG players (all?) hate BB.

Basically, these badly designed new generation of fighting games with mechanics that arbitrarily restrict player skill sound horrible from a game design perspective, but they are also incredibly popular and profitable with newer players. Now Skullgirl’s design makes a lot more sense to me. It’s not really simply a niche doujin fighter with marvel mechanics, it’s literally a homage (revival?) to old school fighting games.

Wait you mean Max actually got on the stream? It took so long that I actually got tired and went to bed. And i stay up rather late. I went to bed at like 3:30am ET and he still wasnt on. Ive been to lazy to check the archive

okay I fixed the link so that it correctly links straight to the conversation between Max and Mike Z.

I wonder if Mike Z has ever considered having Molly as a assist type of character only as in you could pick her and she would be able to do all her cool dhc stuff but she woulnd’t come out to fight.

This would add the same sort of interesting mechanics without having to deal with any animations and then add her in one day if people wanted.

I don’t think that was the crux of his argument. I think that his main arguments were as follows:

  1. Fighting game developers don’t play their own games, so they can’t design game mechanics that intrinsically result in the gameplay they desire. Instead of elegant mechanics that naturally lead to their goals, they just arbitrarily limit.

  2. In SF4, specifically, the game emphasizes waiting for your opponent to do something and countering it. Game design where the best course of action is usually to do nothing is bad.

One thing that was really encouraging to me is that in his latest build he is trying out stricter IPS instead of adding undizzy to the mix. Personally, I feel that undizzy is just as inelegant as the arbitrary time limits in Blazblue that Mike said that he hates so much. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that all combo systems that impose limits based on keeping track of some number and then stopping the combo when the number is “TOO DAMN HIGH!” are essentially the same. They’re all just variants of “MAXIMUM DAMAGE” from Mortal Kombat 4. All of these systems are based on the same basic concept:

  1. Count the damage. Stop the combo when the damage is “TOO DAMN HIGH!”
  2. Count the frames. Stop the combo when the combo is “TOO DAMN LONG!”
  3. Count the hits. Stop the combo when the hits are “TOO DAMN MANY!”
  4. Count the stun. Stop the combo when the stun is “TOO DAMN HIGH!”

Among the above ideas, undizzy corresponds to number 4. A lot of people seem fine with this system but not the others, which blows my mind because I find it to be the most inelegant solution of all. Instead of basing the limit on things that already exist in the game, a completely new metric is invented for the sole purpose of having something to count. I guess people like it better because it theoretically doesn’t impose hard limits on anything directly visible to the player. The inelegance is “hidden” under the invisible metric.

Actually, now that I think about it, the concept of “hidden bad things” is sparking my interest. I might do a longer post on my blog about how players seem all too willing to accept imbalance as long as it’s hidden behind an execution barrier, arbitrary limits as long as they’re hidden behind invisible metrics, even an essentially tiny roster of playable characters as long as it’s hidden within an enormous character select screen full of chaff.

#1 sucks because, not only does it mean you always get similar damage off every touch, it doesn’t limit low-damage combos that just take forever.
#2 sucks because, based on your attack timing, combos can be different lengths. Imagine if Doom’s basic foot-stomp B&B was a different number of loops depending on how long it took you to hit-confirm and how fast you did the stomps. You could drop the combo and get punished just because you did the combo too slowly.

#3 and #4 (and also IPS) are 100% dependent on what moves you put in the combo, which intuitively makes sense. If the combo works once, it always works.

Pretty much any system that puts a limit on combo length is going to be somewhat arbitrary but some systems have unintentional consequences.

I disagree. These problems can be solved elegantly. Here’s a simpler example to illustrate my point in a more obvious way:

Create a ground chain system where the number of hits in each chain is limited and the damage is not too high.

Solution 1:
All normals can chain into each other. Keep track of how many normals have been chained in the combo as well as how much damage has been dealt. If either number goes above [MAX_NUM], the combo ends.

Solution 2:
Normals can only chain in magic series.

Solution 1 is simpler but more arbitrary. Solution 2 is more complex but also more elegant. IPS + Undizzy is essentially 1 + 2, creating a situation where the game is both complex and arbitrary.

^^ i disagree.

Any combo system that limits the players ability to combo after the first hit, is arbitrary.

Go go semantics…
But its true.

Arguing that this or that is less arbitrary is just opinion tossing. Some might like mikes pre patch ips, some might like mikes post patch ips, some might like 420 undizzy, some might like 320 undizzy.

Some might like a chain and not a link ips (like the one you suggested) some might like a timer that is always the same no matter the starter (such as myself)

Point being that they are all arbitrary even my timer has many ways it might be implemented that would turn off some and be acceptable to others:

5 sec combo timer…sf4 players might like this.

10 sec combo timer… Sg players might like this.

100 sec combo timers… Xvsf players might like this…

And yes i know that sf4 has many combos over 5 secs long… Im using it as an example… But if the sf4 one is bad then fine, soulcalibur 2 players might be fine with 5 sec long combos.

Point being that what you consider hamfisted,kluge,arbitrary might not be to someone else.

Personally id like the simplest system possible and i personally think that a timer that doesnt vary accomplishes that. You can still have damage scaling and you can still end the combos early for resets or better positions or whatever. But im not going to argue the point lets just get it into our heads that there is no best way, only ways that we personally like.

Definition of Arbitrary:

  • Based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.

IPS is a combo system. There is no random choice or personal whim here, just a rule that says “Don’t start chains with a button you already used in the combo”. IPS describes how combos can flow, and the limitation to combo length is a mere side-effect.

By contrast, undizzy/timer/max damage are not combo systems. They don’t describe how combos can flow. The limitation to the combo length is just an arbitrary threshold. There’s no specific rule system in place that sets the limits.

How is " your combo ends in 10 secs or less" less of a rule or more arbitrary than:

“Your combo ends when you press the wrong button twice, given that the stage of the combo is high enough”

And how is the second system easier to explain?

I also don’t see your dictionary definition as having merit in this context…rogs super ends his combo. But filias Gregor super doesn’t… Is that not arbitrary? One super ends a combo, another doesn’t… Isn’t that based off a devs whim or random choice within the balance and confines of said game?

I have no idea where you get that anything in sg isn’t a personal whim or random choice… The fact that mike has the ability to make the ips damn near whatever he wants proves that it is personal whim… Which makes it arbitrary. It isn’t arbitrary if it has to be that way.

I can’t walk out my house without opening a door of some kind or putting a hole in the wall… That isn’t arbitrary.

But like I said its semantics. I’m just trying to get YOU to understand that it is semantics, cause somehow you are convinced that there is some one true way like this is lotr ring controlling all others no matter what.

But this is fighting games and they are highly subjective.

In the first scenario “10” is just a value plucked from thin air. Why ten? Why not 10.5? Why not 9.5? Why not 30? There’s no rule or system that leads to the value. The second one not arbitrary because a rule is defined and the limit intrinsically stems from following the rule.

The second one is not easier to explain. Arbitrary solutions are always simple, precisely because they are arbitrary. There is no need to explain the process for coming up with “10 seconds”, because there is no such process.

Rog’s super doesn’t end his combo. The combo ends because he doesn’t have any way to hit the opponent before the hitstun ends. There is nothing in the game engine that prevents him from continuing the combo, if he had the tools needed to do so. Filia does have tools to continue combos after her super, and the fact that she has those tools and Rog does not is indeed arbitrary, but the arbitrary aspect stems from the character design and not the combo system.

If I wrote a script that assigned moves to characters in a fighting game based on a set of rules, then it wouldn’t be arbitrary anymore.

The IPS rules themselves are arbitrary, but the limits they impose on combos are not. The limits come from the IPS rules. In the case of the timer the limits are arbitrary, because they come from nowhere.

This is incorrect. I am not saying that there is only one correct way to design fighting games. I am saying that there games can impose arbitrary or non-arbitrary limits to combos. Non-arbitrary limits are the result of rules or systems, arbitrary ones are based on threshold values that someone came up with.

Yeah… Well seeing how I can’t copy paste on this thing… I’m not going to go in depth. But I will say that everything you list as being arbitrary and not… Are almost all arbitrary.

If you wrote a script based on whatever rules that assigned moves, yes the moves themselves wouldn’t be arbitrary within that system of rules… However the rules themselves certainly would be… Which is what we’ve been arguing this whole time… The rules, not the moves. Ips is a rule that governs how moves are used. It is arbitrary in what rules it chooses to be set and which it does not.

If I go to work and my boss has a policy that all the company employees have to wear blue uniforms, then that rule isn’t arbitrary for me.

But if my boss is the owner of the company and sets the policies, then the RULE is arbitrary for him… It could have been red uniforms or black ones or… Whatever.

Ips follows links, that’s its rule. It’s arbitrary. Why not allow the links 3 times passed stage 5 instead of the first time causing burst? Why does the ips count all buttons the same instead of counting them separately like pre patch? Cause the ips is arbitrary, that’s why. And absolutely zero amount of arguing will ever change that.

Yes, exactly. Limits based on rules are not arbitrary, even if the rules they are based on are.

Gimmicky fighters with low level execution have been profitable since the first Mortal Kombat.

You’re telling me there’s no random choice or personal whim in whether IPS starts watching/bursting on the first hit, on everything after the first hit, has multiple stages 1-2-3-4-5 which all behave differently, keeps Stage3 for three combo strings, etc? The very REASON that IPS changes are even a thing is because the stages and when which are used is completely arbitrary and Mike can change them on a whim.

You guys are forgetting the purpose of why fighting game designers are adding arbitrary limits to player skill in combos in the first place.

That’s because without any limitation, a player will literally KILL another player in ONE COMBO. For the sake of the game itself, players abilities have to be restricted so that the game doesn’t get ruined. Unless the game itself is designed to give all the characters access to ToD combos and/or infinites (MvC2, Skullgirls) these types of things are frowned upon by the community.

Another thing that’s frowned upon, mainly by tournament organizers, is fighting taking too long. SF x Tekken was really notorious for this. A best 2 out of 3 battle should take around 2minutes 30 seconds on average. But generally speaking, the quicker the better.

So the real goal for any combo system is to force the combo to end as quickly as possible, this will prevent infinites and TOD combos. But the combos have to be long enough so that fight itself will end around 2 minutes 30 seconds.

Who was the guy talking to Max before Mike got on stream with him? Because i went back and watched the stream on the archive and the whole time I had the impression that he BARELY knew what he was talking about in regards to SG. Especially once he said Double and Filia were the worst characters. It kinda sounded like the eightysixed promotion guy.

I haven’t watched the stream in a while but I think the person you were referring to was Megaman. I don’t know his relationship to the skullgirls development team, but he’s a frequent player on the Salty Cupcake streams and claims to place just under Mike Z at the Salty Cupcake tournaments.

If faster is always better, play VF. That was one hell of a blanket statement. Also, I shed tiny tears for the tournament organizers.

That’s MegamanDS. He’s willfully ignorant about the status of the game updates because he likes surprises.

Its annoying.