WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG?
A game geeks dream come true; the career opportunity of a lifetime; the ultimate in fan service; the promise of Hollywood and Silicon Valley synergy delivered! SFTM should have been all of these things.
Unfortunately, this was not to pass.
Ultimately SFTM was not a great product. It was neither commercially successful nor critically well received. It did not sell, and obviously players have no love for it.
Making games is difficult work. So much can go wrong. Each team member has their own ideas as to what will make for a great game.
A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION
I believe it was shortly after we returned from Australia and had just begun the real grunt work. There was a meeting at our offices between the project leads, I.T. management, management from Romstar/Gamestar, and project management of Capcom Japan. The Capcom JP guys began asking questions about the fighting engine. The issue of the combo system came up. One of our team members answered by describing SFTMs combo system to be as a MK2 style, “pop 'em up, juggle em” type system. While this alarmed me greatly during the meeting, I kept cool, not wanting to rock the boat with all of those important people in the room. I figured that perhaps our guy was just telling them something to keep them satisfied, as I did not understand how that type of game play fit into a Street Fighter game.
Though I did not believe it at the time, I came to realize later on that this proposal was not just lip service. That’s what we got: juggle combos.
Should I have spoken up? That meeting was probably not the best place to enter into a heated debate. Should I have argued against the excessive juggle combo system later? Probably, though I doubt it would have made much of a difference. Truth be told, things got pretty ugly towards the end of the project. Tensions were running high on the team. Many of the improvements I wanted to make were disregarded outright, largely because of personality conflicts, as far as I can tell. This was truly unfortunate as the game suffered as a result.
One example would be that of the throws. When they first went in, throws were not implemented in true Street Fighter fashion, but rather more akin to a Mortal Kombat style throw: All throws would launch the character the opposite direction from which you initiated the move. Naturally I commented that Street Fighter allows you to decide which way to throw, and we should remain true to that convention. A heated debate ensued and in the end I had to sit down and demonstrate throw mechanics on a Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo machine. Then, after remaining broken for weeks, throw directions were eventually implemented, though incorrectly; pushing right while throwing tosses the character to the left, and vice versa. There was no good reason for implementing throw directions backwards. I can only assume it was done out of spite. While the backwards throws may not have been the key reason SFTM did not succeed, this story illustrates one of the little things that could have easily been fixed to make the game just a little bit better.