What makes a casual game competitively popular? Why did Smash blow up?


Almost front-page worthy.


The wall of text just felt relevant with the recent collapse of the URC. The URC was both the ultimate realization of what the Smash Community first started to do in 2004 to form a true fighting game community and what, ultimately, was really wrong with the competitive Smash community in general- a very small selection of Tournament Organizers getting together to try and dictate to everyone else how the game has to be played if you want your Smash tournament to be taken seriously. Which isn’t a problem if it’s a very broad and obvious set of decisions- such a thing happens with virtually every fighting game anymore- but started grossly overstepping on the specifics of the ruleset to the point where even some of Smash’s ‘major’ tournaments started ignoring it.

While Smash is a little different in respects to other fighting games in terms of needing some ground rules set, it should always be at the final say of the Tournament Operator what the final ruleset is, and more importantly, that those who are ‘in charge’ should not actively work against Tournament Operators who choose to use to follow different rulesets, especially ones that restrict less things instead of more. More tournaments are always better for a community then less, and as long as the ruleset in question is not making the game completely unrecognizable from itself (especially if it’s not restrictions, but the lack thereof that is the dissent from the given norm.) then at the very least it should be allowed to co-exist in peace and succeed or fail based entirely on the merits of player interest in that ruleset. The leadership of the Smash community has been guilty of attacking it’s own base as far back as mid-2005, bullying any tournament operator who was not using the extremely restricted stage list propose to help the game be taken seriously, and with the end of the URC and the Unity Ruleset returning to being a recommendation instead of a ‘requirement’ for recognition by Smashboards, maybe we’re finally moving towards the time where the Smash community may become more accepting of the one thing anything needs to accept for anyone *else *to accept it- itself.


What’s the “URC”?


URC stands for Unity Ruleset Committee. Essentially, it’s a good old boys’ club of Brawl TOs who all decided they’re going to make a ruleset that they’ll all utilize in their tournaments, and only TOs that use that ruleset are eligible for inclusion in the URC. On it’s own, there’s not much wrong with that. It allows a player to go to any Unity tournament with full knowledge of what he’s getting into. It got problematic when SWF instated the rule that only Unity tournaments could be stickied, and receive the publicity that a sticky brings.




Meh, more than time that thing disbanded. Elitism is ftl.


Yeah, all in all it was a pretty ugly state of affairs. I’m all for starting up smash leagues for the competition they usually engender, but Smash’s identity is formed from the bottom up. No one should be able to just say they’re legitimate unless the community as a whole agrees that they are.


It would have been better for things to be more… democratic? Market driven?

Every tournament is free to choose its own ruleset, and discuss their reasons publicly, and then over time we’ll see which tournaments are more fun/popular/respected, what players ask for when tournaments are being planned, and presumably (as long as people can put their stubborness aside - a tall order to be sure), some sort of standard (or a handful of competing standards) will be arrived at.

I assume the current state of the smash community is like this?


Melee has more or less reached that point. The MBR, which is a group of TOs and (more importantly) players who perform well, has a recommended ruleset, which is not so capitalistic. But it certainly helps that if you utilize the recommended ruleset, you have a high likelihood that several high level players will attend if they have the means, because they had a hand in its creation. It also helps that the recommended ruleset is largely agreed upon by the community in general.

Brawl is kinda like that, but figuring out what to do about Metaknight is making it really hard for anything cohesive to happen in the community.


Metaknight is an easy issue if you compare his role to other banned characters in other games.

Is is very good? Yes. Is he the best character in the game? Very much so.

Is he anywhere near unbeatable? No. He has one or two fights that are considered even and a lot of matchups with the upper tiers that are judged only marginally advantaged to MK. He probably lacks a solidly disadvantaged matchup, but he’s not a dominant force to the degree that if you don’t pick him, you will lose to him unless you are far more skilled then your opponent. So the SSF2T Akuma angle is out.

Is he the most centralizing character in the metagame? (aka the Pokemon-style ban argument that for some reason people love to throw around on Smashboards despite it being borderline troll logic when applied directly to a fighting game.) …this one is tougher (due a lot to the weirdness of applying it to a 1v1 fighting game with a competitive roster probably around 20ish instead of a 3v3/6v6 battle RPG with even the ranks of competitive characters leveling in at around 60+), and a lot of problems with Brawl have been emphasized and exaggerated by Meta Knight. Planking. Scrooging. Sharking. Evasive stalling, off the stage stalling… other characters can do that stuff, but MK can as well, and is among the best at it while still being one of the strongest characters in a straight-up fight as well. A lot of the ‘tactical bans’ that Brawl has had come out during it’s life are due either directly or theoretically to Meta Knight. The question must be asked- would a lot of these strategies be still problematic without Meta Knight? The community at large seems to think yes (AKA, ledge grab limits and delay of game rules would still exist without Meta Knight) and if that’s the case, then he’s not centralizing in this aspect- these tactics would still be restricted/banned/competitively restrictive with Meta Knight or without him and are more issues about design elements of Brawl itself or design elements present in multiple characters. So, the question moves on to character matchups? Does the presence of Meta Knight greatly limit the competitive variety of the character roster by holding down a significant portion of the cast by himself?

Honestly? No.

There are not a lot of characters who are ‘viable except for Meta Knight.’- not having an awful Meta Knight matchup is important, but all taking Meta Knight out of the metagame does is make the game a little easier for everyone else- a lot of the characters who had a really bad time with MK have a really bad time with multiple members of the top tier. Ike won’t suddenly rise in position without Meta Knight- he still has problems with the Olimar and Dedede too. Shiek still has some pretty bad matchups with Ice Climbers and Pikachu. ROB’s still got a brick wall named Falco in his way. Pit still lacks anything better then an even matchup against anyone in the top three tiers- losing his marginally-worse MK matchup is not going to catapult him up any positions. The sole exception, IIRC, is Peach, and a solid character having competitive problems due to a single awful matchup is not a new thing for Brawl (just talk to any Donkey Kong or Fox main about King Dedede or Pikachu, respectively) All removing Meta Knight from the game really does is make the top tier of the game one character smaller without a whole lot of new faces suddenly becoming viable.

His best analog out there is probably vanilla SF4 Sagat- a dominant force who lacked any bad matchups and had a lot of advantages, but was still very much in the realm of possible to deal with. IMO, that’s not ban-worthy, since banning him adds little to the game while removing an entire character from it.


I have to interject here. This is actually a point that is still hotly debated, and if the number of players in the community who wanted to ban Metaknight as of the last poll on the topic is any indicator, the majority of the community seems to disagree with you.

The issue is really that it’s not a plurality. Whether MK is banned or not, effectively half the community is up in arms about it.

Usually when the topic comes up, I ask people why they don’t just play Melee.


Because that would require them to have execution and tech skill, of course.


Hence the no items, no final smash, no Metaknight that I got from TVTropes.


That’s why they unbanned him


Strictly speaking, he’s not unbanned. In a way, it’s hard to really argue that he ever was banned, since there really hasn’t been an MK banned national or international tournament ever, that I’m aware of. It’s really easy to look at the URC’s ban and say that MK was officially banned as an outside observer, but that really doesn’t do justice to the politics and discourse behind the smash community’s ruleset creation.

Case in point, the URC’s ruleset is still copypasta’d in several tournament ruleset. Many tournaments still ban MK. While the URC was operational, many tournaments did not ban Metaknight, and the Brawl Back Room’s recommended ruleset did not, in fact, recommend a Metaknight ban. The only thing that’s changed is that SWF is no longer arbitrarily encouraging one ruleset over another.


I don’t understand this, but maybe that’s just because of the quote you took having nothing to do with what you said (what you quoted was about how removing Meta Knight would not, at this point, get many of the ‘tactical ban’ rules like Ledge Grab Limits removed from many tournament rulesets due to other characters besides Meta Knight being able to abuse planking, off-the-stage stalling, etc) and frankly it makes me curious anyways why you would think an online poll, left open to anyone who can register a Smashboards account, would be a good indicator of a character needing a ban instead of, say, tournament results (which point towards Meta Knight being a dominant but hardly unbeatable character) or Meta Knight forcing the game to be played a particular way- like Hilde in SC4 forcing everyone to play super-defensive on any stage capable of ring-outs because one fluke touch and that’s the round.

I get that people are tired of dealing with Meta Knight in competitive play. He’s been the dominant force in the game ever since people stopped pointing fingers at Dedede and his chain grab, and has not let go for nearly three years now. He’s won more tournaments then anyone else, he is a difficult matchup for anyone without a way to deal with him air-to-air, and it seems like every time he’s about to get caught by someone else, some new tech or tactic for Meta Knight shows up and re-establishes his place at the top of Brawl’s tier list. He’s an amazing character with countless advantages and only a couple drawbacks. He’s not just a strong character in a fight, but he is also exceedingly good at playing the game really ‘lame’- creating stall wars and abusing a lead to force the other player to possibly throw the match to catch back up. But banning a character is extremely bad for the competitive life for the game unless it’s absolutely necessary for a number of factors- something that is done only if the character in question is rendering the game unplayable, greatly unbalances the game in a fashion in that any given matchup is entirely dictated by the presence of that character regardless of the opposing character, or is otherwise greatly limiting competitive play due to their presence. to the point where the game suffers. And Meta Knight, for all his power, hasn’t killed Brawl yet. Not even close.


Actually, that’s interesting. The theme of the thread is, “how do games not particularly intended for competitive play, end up being played competitively?” so far the answers have been that the gameplay itself might have some hidden depth, and also just a function of massive popularity.

But what about the reverse of that? “When a game is really popular anyways, just how bad does it have to get before people give up on it?” So, obviously metaknight hasnt killed Smash.

I wonder if allowing Gouki/Akuma in ST would have killed SF2 competitively?


In my experience, people who want MK banned are also convinced LGLs would not be necessary if MK were banned. Considering their whole argument is that MK’s planking is broken and other characters’ planking is not, it definitely follows. In addition, the poll didn’t just have a simple ratio of numbers, everyone’s vote was also publicly viewable, and the division in the community was very clearly there at all levels of play, according to the poll. Several high level players feel MK ought to be banned, and they are convinced his is the only planking that warrants an LGL. This is the salient part of the information I was bringing up.

Of course, most people who were high level Brawl players at the time have started gravitating back towards Melee, from what I can tell.


MK is not Vanilla Sagat, he’s fucking o. sagat.


Better ban Eddie, he wins too much.