Friday, December 31, 2010

Fighting Game Conveniences

Sometimes, when a new fighting game is under development, game developers will overlook some of the more modern and very useful conveniences. Not saying that it isn't important to put a tremendous amount of focus into the game itself. Whether it's keeping the game balanced, making it consistent, creating lots of depth, less depth, etc. However, it does help to have a few options available for those who do more than just play the games.

For instance, if you look at Guilty Gear Accent Core or even BlazBlue; it has one of the "MOST" in-depth training modes I've ever seen. Nearly every single training option is available to you. This ranges from computer actions, available resources, recording player actions, recovery, etc. KOF's training mode has it so you can record inputs, frame by frame. While not necessary, it allows the community to dissect the game even further, with a lot less hassle of having to program our own resources to do so. Even BlazBlue Continuum Shift has the option to change your control settings directly from the character select screen. This is amazing. Guilty Gear Accent Core has a tournament friendly pause menu. When you pause the game, you can change the control, with several of the most commonly used pre-set control settings in America and Japan. Also available from the pause menu is the ability to return to the character select screen.

Point is, there are a few things that developers could pay more attention to, besides the game itself. Here are just a few of the options that would help make fighting games much more successful.

1) Replay/Record option - Great for uploading videos, tutorial, combo videos, etc. Why wouldn't you have a replay save mode?

2) In-depth Training mode - Tools available from BlazBlue, KOF2K2um, and GGAC's training mode are useful. In both BBCS's and GGAC's training mode, almost damn near every single option is available to you. Opponent's recovery timing, recovery directions, displaying FRC inputs, and so on and so forth. Even the ability to reset character positions by pressing the select/back button. Great stuff! Better yet, VF4-Evo has an option to view inputs and animations by individual frames. Among other superior VF4Evo training mode options.

3) Useful pause menu - When you pause the game, options like: Character Select, Stage Select, Button Config, etc.

4) End of each match option - When a match has ended, provide options to return to main screen, character select screen, re-match, and other useful options are very welcome.

5) Button Config in Char-Select screen - Ala, BlazBlue Continuum Shift, this has proven very useful in tournies.

6) Netplay Lobby Support - If the game has netplay, this would be great. SNK isn't very good with lobby's when playing games like MOTW or KOF2K2um. But it helps to have something on par with the likes of SSFIV or BBCS. 

7) Online Spectator mode - If a game has netplay features, one of the more important ones is spectating. Some players just want to watch, so why not support this? Have an option to switch between active player/spectator. This would be wonderful.

8) Online Player Skip - SSFIV and BBCS have some sort of method of skipping players. Perhaps combine the elements of both, a time limit if opposing player is ready *AND* an option to skip your own turn.

9) Online Training Mode - Also a tool from BlazBlue Continuum Shift, this allows you to play in training mode while you await your next opponent in an online ranking match. This game has proven there's no excuse for not having something like this.

10) MvC2 / HDr Style Button mapping - It's just ever so convenient when you can map your controller/stick from just the tap of your buttons. The maps are LP, MP, FP, LK, MK, FK in that order. So when you're mapping LP, you tap the button you want it set to. Then it automatically moves to the next button map. This makes it quick and easy to map your buttons. This is also convenient for players that have sticks with no button labels on them, or for players having to use adapters/converters.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Teaching Fighting Games to newcomer

Many of the OGs, veterans, or just very adapting players in fighting games have learned, that it can be very difficult to inspire, encourage, or just plain 'n simply teach a newcomer to get better. Simple fact of the matter is this. If they don't have any motivation or interest in becoming a competitive player, then it's simply not going to happen, no matter how much effort you invest in it. However, I think I've come up with a very efficient training program and I'm using this process even now, as this blog is typed. As you cover these topics in order, make sure you're able to cover and show examples. It also helps to teach only what you *do* know and show examples of situations/combos that you're capable of executing. The student/teacher relationship becomes much more stable by doing this. Without further ado, my training regimen:

1) Movement - All the combos and mixups can't help you if you don't know how to make it move with you and your intentions. More than learning the basic fighting game fundamentals, movements is absolute the most basic and mandatory skill that any newcomer should learn first and foremost (Dashing, Backdashing, Walking, Jumping, Jumping in, Jumping Away, Air Dashing, etc). These are the most important mechanics of any fighting game.

2) Approaching - After learning how to move, learning to approach is the next skill that needs to be elaborated. I know many would categorize "approaching" under "movement", but I assure you, a newcomer wouldn't know the difference either. Knowing how to move around the arena isn't the same is knowing how to get in on the opponent. A clear understanding of what to look for and what to look "out" for, while getting closer to the opponent will make things much easier for both the student/teacher relationship in the long run. I promise.

3) Blocking, Runaway, Zoning & the Corner Walls - Whilst a lot is listed and it sounds like a lot to remember, keep in mind, you only want to teach the student only the basics to remembers so that it isn't overwhelming. Teach how to block, how to zone, what to expect in corner situations and then explain a few significances of each circumstance. More importantly, more than any of the listed defense oriented topics, blocking is the most important for a newcomer. Corner walls, Zoning, and Runaway  can be covered much more in-depth at higher levels when they are comfortable playing the game.

4) Basic Combos - At the end of the day, the players just want to play. So let them break the tedious lessons by playing some matches and applying some very basic combos and attack strings. This will probably be the most fun to anybody new coming to the competitive, besides winning of course. Which only brings me to mention, it can be very discouraging if you're intending to just play the game until your friend/student learns to get better. At the end of the day, he or she will just say you're cheating and want to play a game the can actually reach an accomplishment.

5) Making and Breaking Habits - Know some players that play enough of the game to spam a high priority move out of wake up? Well, teaching them to make a habit of this is a both a good and bad thing. Teaching him/her to break this habit is an even better thing. This way, whether they realize this or not, they will feel much more at home with learning new strats, tactics, and feel better about managing better habits. It'sare important to make sure they make a habit of certain moves, situations, etc so they can learn more about what they are doing much later in their learning career.

6) Game Mechanics - Whether you're talking about walk speeds, auto-corrected moves, blocking with a button, or blocking by pressing back, teach the players about the different ways the player can take advantage of the game's mechanics, and cover some of the things that higher level players look for to abuse & exploit the game mechanics.

7) Execution - One of the very last things that any player should work on; is execution.

8) Record and Critique -


Monday, December 20, 2010

KOF2K2um Angel & May Lee Tutorial - Work In Progress

Currently, I'm working on an in-depth video coverage of Angel & May Lee for King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match. The tutorial will be broken down into segments, explaining each segment in detail. Segments include, but are not limited to:

1) Normals / Command Normals
2) Specials
3) Supers / Max / Max 2
4) Crossups / Crossunders
5) Baits
6) Mixups
7) Combos

Deadline is subject to change, but expect video tutorial sometime during spring.