The Evolution of a Genre (long thread is long)

Foreword (had to add this recently to explain the context of the following content, people dont check the tags)
The following article is basically me, listing my thoughts on stuff. As such, take it with a grain of salt. All this crap came from my head. I have played each of the games I mention in the first paragraph, as well as Tekken. I have NOT played MVC3, which is mentioned later. Everything I wrote about these games has been opinion, so dont feel offended by it, rather try and convince me otherwise if you feel your favorite game has been misrepresented. I also only brought to light the aspects in the game that i felt were done very well, or deserve merit. This does not make a game good. I just think the ideas are. At the the bottom i have added a few appendixes (and if the replies are any to go by, there will be more appendixes to come). These explain some of my views. I have also amended various other parts in the article… its getting even longer.

My point
Since the dawn of time men have been kicking each other?s asses. It?s what we do. Therefore, since the advent of video games, we have been continuing that grand tradition in digital form. The only problem is that the genre has not really changed much since then. Note that I refer here to the entire Fighting Game genre, and no particular game. I will, however, use quite a few series as reference. These include, in no relevant order, Street Fighter, King of Fighters, Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, Dead or Alive, Marvel vs Capcom and a very special mention to Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm and DBZ Budokai Tenkaichi 3 and 4.
Now, my problem with fighting games is that the battle structure is still exactly the same. The basic components of a fight are attacking, defending and movement. Up to this point attacking has received the most attention, which is understandable when considering development limitations. The ?Game? has evolved though, and today we need some change.

What is new?
Now, when I say that the genre has yet to fully evolve, I don?t mean that the genre is still in a primal state. Over the years many changes have been made and today we are left with quite a few gems, most notably (in terms of pure innovation) BlazBlue and Guilty Gear, Dead or Alive (hate it or love it), Marvel vs Capcom and Naruto UNS. These games have all brought something new to the table and, regardless of public reception, deserve praise. Dead or Alive has a special place in my heart as it is the first game (IMO) to have successfully implemented counter-attacks into a fighting game. This should have been a HUGE step for the genre as a whole, seeing as it added a whole new element to the defence component, but only DOA fans seemed to appreciate the idea. Other games, both before and after DOA, have had counter-attacks (the earliest I can think of is the King of Fighters series) and most of the newer games include some sort of counter-ability. These are usually done while guarding so they do, in essence add depth to the guarding system. And although none of them will ever be able to compete with what DOA has accomplished (in terms of innovation), it IS a step in the right direction.
Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, DBZ and Naruto UNS have progressed, in leaps and bounds, the final component of battle. Movement. Good motion is also the main reason I like the King of Fighters series so much. Being able to run, do long jumps and evade rolls may not seem like too big a whoop, but it opened up a whole new world of strategy for skilled players (like I assume myself to be) to explore. Guilty Gear and BlazBlue had wonderful movement options allowing long and high jumps, double-jumps, aerial dashing and blocking, jump cancels, dashing and most notably a free-form combo system. Naruto and DBZ received special mention on this same topic, even though they are in a different category of fighting games, being that battle is done in three dimensions. The movement system in Naruto UNS is very fluid, albeit severely underused (actually its overshadowed by the noob-friendly attacks). DBZ Budokai had by far the best example of free-form motion in any fighting game I have seen. Your character could fly in any direction, dash anywhere and super-dash as well. You could even jump, pointless as that may seem. DBZ also went one further with this, allowing you to attack while doing the above mentioned coolness. There were various attacks for all your various dashes and even the useless jump had its own, unique attack? that?s pretty detailed. That is where Naruto UNS missed a few opportunities, their dashes are very restrictive, but they are still useful. Another game that may need honourable mention here would be Dissidia (have not played so idk lol).

Looking to the Future
You may have noticed that throughout the article I have neglected the mention of Marvel vs Capcom. That is because (once again IMO) it is the game which exhibits the future of fighting games the best.
Firstly, the attacking component has been done very well. The combo system is fairly easy to use, leaves enough room for quite a lot of innovation AND is fun. Stacked onto this the Hyper moves are all pretty well done, with lots of variation in type, range and effect. A further step is the addition of the tag team component, opening up lots of options for strategy as well as more combos. This gives the player quite a lot to work with. Strategies can be developed using certain combinations of characters, or you could just choose your favourite bad-asses and kick up a storm, MVC leaves this up to you.
Secondly, the motion system is quite well developed. Characters (most of them) can run forward as well as back-step. You have access to a wide range of aerial manoeuvres, some of which are combo-related, most of which are free-form.
The final component, defence, has always been the most neglected (save for DOA) and it does not fare any better in MVC. There are slight innovations implemented in MVC, the advancing guard in MVC3 being one of them (loved MVC1, never got to play MVC2). What could have been useful would be the emergency evade implemented in the King of Fighters series, where you could cancel your guard by roll-evading backwards or forwards (granted invincibility, negated block damage you would have taken, cost half a power gauge if I remember correctly). Small touches like these can make a huge difference to a skilled player who wants to improve above and beyond what the noob-spammers could ever be capable of.

What all this eventually boils down to is simple. If we can get people to accept the structure of games like MVC, Guilty Gear and Blazblue (to name only a few) as a norm, then things like aerial-dashing and free-form combos will stop being innovative. This means that developers will HAVE to think up newer, fresher and ultimately BETTER ways of keeping us, the fans, entertained. A lot of games may not need these changes, but the genre does need CHANGE. Viewed in this light I am sure that most of you can agree (in part or completely) with my vision. Things need to change… 'nuff said.

The final bits
Ok, in the entire article there was NO mention of either Tekken or Mortal combat. This is a personal preference thing, and if you are a fan of either of those two games read the next paragraph and NOTHING else!

Tekken is a great game, it has such a wide variety of characters and fighting styles. Mortal combat is the ish! Best kills ever, I love that game! Do NOT read the next paragraph.

Lol, the above was a lie. Now, my opinions on both of those games are based on my personal experiences with both. I HAVE played the games so I DO know what I am talking about. Tekken IS a great game, no arguments there. And I suppose most of my dislike of Tekken stems from the fact that it is more popular than both Dead or Alive and Virtua Fighter. This has lead some people (idiots, fools, fudgeballs, wat?evs) to believe that Tekken is ?better? than those games. It is not, it is different.That is all.

Appendix a: My views on Tekken and Street Fighter
I got a crapload of flack about this so here are my views. I have a lot of respect for both these games, even though I do not like playing them. These two games are imo the core of their respective sub-genres (2D and 3D fighters). They are the pioneers that paved the way for every other title to reach this platform and they deserve all the fame they have. But I must stress the point that this article is about innovation in fighting games, not on the stable aspects that currently define the genre. That is why I have put the above-mentioned games in the spotlight, they each exhibit certain traits that have CHANGED the way we play. These changes are not always welcomed, but they are needed. We need to keep making mistakes so we can learn how to truly improve the genre.
On the point of DOA vs Virtua Fighter vs Tekken… I removed that whole sentence as it just invites trouble. Im a DOA fan and that has influenced me a lot, to the detriment of this article. I am sorry for this.

Appendix b: Pacing
The above article handles concepts used in games such as MVC3 (most notably) that are very fast paced. It has been brought to my attention that many people prefer a more technical approach to Fighters. A great example of this would be SF4, as far as I can tell. I think another section to discuss Tech Fighters is in order, so gimme some feedback and I will try to incorporate one in here, or just start a different thread about that topic alltogether. Alternatively, if some of you who are more knowledgeable on this topic started a Thread on the topic then that would be better all-in-all

Latest update - Added Appendix b

You lost me at SF being crap and DoA being the best game ever. The rest of it is okay tho… You don’t seem to understand WHY SF has the pacing it has.

Counters are cool an all… but DoA’s ( And UNS’s evade system ) RUIN those games.

Why no mention of Arcana Hearts, Melty, SSBM/SSBB o.O

lol i actually anticipated that exact response. This is actually a much longer article i am writing and it is still under construction. The above post just covers my general thoughts. I happen to think that SF is one of the most well paced games ever made. No jokes. It is also one of the few noob-proof games out there since skill is the only thing that will grant you a win. On the DOA thing, I DID say it had a special place in MY heart (im allowed to have a favourite lol) and the counter system does not ruin the game, it makes it what it is (you just dont like what it is). On the Naruto thing… yeah, pretty much, which is why I only drew attention to the movements, ninja-dashing and such. I hope this clears things up for anybody else who thinks I am banging on their game (except for MK)

@ Shiningnegro
Those games all fall into the same mould (good for those games, not so good for the genre) I have played, and do love Melty Blood and Arcana Hearts, but they fall into more or less the same mould as Guilty Gear and Blazblue, so I just used the more popular games as reference… sorry
Also… Shiki Tohno FTW!!!

Nominated for article.

What am i being nominated for trololol? My opinions? if they offend you I can edit the post to say something like “My views on Tekken are completely neutral, as I do not wish to offend any Tekken ****” I never said Tekken was bad, merely that another game was faster paced. It would be the same as saying cheetas run faster than goats, doesn’t mean goats are any less important

DoA better than VF and Tekken in depth and pacing? I hope you’re trolling…

I’m not sure that you’ve ever actually played SF. But, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you have, and that you just don’t get it. The movement/pacing is was defines it. Not every game has to have triple jumps and airdashes to make it deep and good; there is a place for both styles. It’s like writing an article about the evolution of strategy games, and making a statement like “The Warhammer tabletop game is a much better strategy game than Chess and Go because it adds so many more elements and therefore deeper strategy; I will never be able to forgive Go for its lack of complexity, all you do is put pieces on a plain board!”

though the original op express a few things that don’t support his intention. I must agree with majority what he’s expressing. Fighting game genre definitely stuck in the offense and muenever base and yet barly touch defense. And games that do are quickly shun.

good spacing and poking and zoning is as much “defense” as it is “offense”.

Man has always faced off against each other, one way or another, through battle.

it comes down to the saying “…I’m better than You…”

Music is beautiful, because it is something that has complete structure, yet you can be totally creative. And it feels …REWARDING…doing something difficult but at the same time being creative about it.

FIGHTING GAMES provide both of these feelings. That is why fighter gamers are more true gamers than any other genre…every little detail counts.

And in Battle (Tourney) you truly must enter the others mind, its truly a battle of ego and wits, personality and psychology. You can truly meet a person by playing them in a fighting game (if they are competitive).

Hope I just summarized your article.

Defensive options are limited in fighters for a reason - most players don’t want to sit and turtle all day. Adding more button pressing to turtling isn’t going to change that.

These would be counterproductive and would actually limit the movement in the game. One of the most important things in MvC is the ability to cancel a dash into a regular normal attack. This means, that for characters who have this property, they can dash in and start a BnB combo pretty easily almost as if they were just standing/walking in. As for a baseball slide, this would negate one important technique in these games, that is wave-dashing, wherein you cancel out your dash by pressing down, before dashing again. Wave dashing is usually faster than normal dashing and also means that you can attack even if your character cannot cancel their dash with normals.

Lots of valid points made guyz, exactly what i was looking for. I have amended the above post to include some more information as to the point of the article as well as the reasons for my train of thought. Its right at the top so read that part again please. Other amendments have also been made. Finally, if you have any constructive ideas that could improve this article, or any criticisms about the article, or if you think I dont have my facts straight, feel free to let me know and i will try my best to fix the errors. I would like to complete this article and submit it somewhere some important industry people might see it, just as a means of getting the idea across… many of you may feel opposed to my ideas but at the end of it all I really do want our genre to get to that “next” level

@ Nybb
When I played SF4 for the first time the 1st thing i did was try to run (i could not lol). This was a big turn-off for me. I tried the combo system and did not like that either. I fought a few battles and they turned out to be quite fun for that time, but I always felt restricted by the battle system, instead of empowered by it… so yeah, I just dont get it lol. The game does not need double jumps and infinite combos, I just wanted to be able to run… thats all. Still, every aspect of a game invites strategy, and i was able to “think” my way through a lot of fights (strategy is born from restrictions just as much as from freedom). Also, i cant remember saying that the pacing is bad (see my first reply) just that it felt slow to me. Still, I need to make this article as inoffensive as possible so I rewrote that part. Sorry about the initial misunderstanding.
@ keo-bas
Im working on that, I would like the article to be as unbiased as possible. I want to use it to open a few eyes, unfortunately some people feel im an idiot so… I guess all i can do is keep working on this for now
@ tataki
Spacing and zoning is strategy. It was not included it the game’s mechanics. My point is to get some innovation into the other building blocks of fighting games in general. This would give rise to different strategies
@ dinoz
nope… that dont summarize a damn thing lol, i actually dont get WHAT you said at all. Seemed to be about the essence of a fight (and music… no idea why) but my article is not about that
@ Narcowski
Good innovations in the defense department could eventually do away with turtling all-together, im not saying make more ways to block, im saying make better ways to block (or at the very least, different ways)… get me now?
@ d3v
I have not played MVC3 unfortunately, and have also removed that part as such ideas require insight into MVC3 that I currently dont have. Sorry about that. The ideas were just things that popped into my head at random. I do THINK that the movement in games could be improved with options only available during jumps/dashes/blah blah blah. Unfortunately i happen to KNOW that these changes may just bog down already great games with meaningless actions that dont add to the experience. Once again my point is on innovation

IMO, running isn’t necessary in Street Fighter (and I’m sure more than a few folks think that dashing is already too much). SF has always been more about being strong in the fundamentals of the genre: spacing, footsies, controlling space, etc. Every inch of ground gained in the game is meaningful and could spell the difference between winning and losing a match. Running (outside of command runs) IMO run counter to that.

Yes these are one methods but i mean mechanics that are designated from defensive nature situation. I think it can be agreed that offensive play been highly developed due to system mechanics allowing it to be so. There are even mechanics designs made to make offense easier. So practicing for the other side seem plausible and worth doing

Turtle is only one form of defense,there are many different way it can be explore but they are barly fleshed out because they rarely get mechanics to develop on . Some people don’t like being turtle just as much as some whom don’t like being rushed. But is limiting one over another really doing anybody a favor? It?s barely been practice for the reverse side but who like limits any way?

People always dread dealing with the earlier describe dilemmas. Certain games try to make this bearable by making some adjustment or adding things. I favor this notion but this practice has been skewed as of late to simply weaken other aspect or overpower another.

Player development can benefit in being place in situation like these, but they need to be given a chance to do so, yet certain game chooses to not let this be possible depending on their design I personally think it?s a poor practice and hindering the development of player community as a whole.

Turtle is only one form of defense, there many way to explore it but they are barley fleshed out, adding mechanics that can work for them into learning the nature of defense.

I don’t remember characters being able to freely fly or jump in Budokai.

@ Running Wild
Budokai Tenkaichi, I think 3 and 4 had this, I had both so I cant remember which one exactly. Original post amended, thanks
@ Keo-bas
You seem to get where im going with this thread. On the subject of turtling, I never really got why anybody complains about turtling… it is a viable strategy. Wait for your opponent to mess up and go for the kill, simple. Good players know that they will have to adapt as they play, so turtling never phases them. Bad players… not so much. If an opponent turtles then just stick VERY close to them, wait for opportunities to grab, hit low when they are standing, use jump attacks (or command attacks that hit from high to low) when they crouch… no defense is perfect so just adapt