Comeback Mechanics

Do you believe that comeback mechanics have a place in fighting games or do you believe there’s an alternative in getting new players interested?

I don’t believe comeback mechanics help new players. I think that they just make the results of matches more inconsistent. Comeback mechanics (like ultras or Xfactor) are tricky enough to use that a first time player or even a low level player won’t be using them terribly well.

I think that what will get players into fighting games better is creating more interesting and fun tutorials that teach real skills players need in matches. Also these tutorials should let you fly through them as fast as possible, especially for the easier ones, because it’s boring and frustrating as fuck to have to go through the movement tutorial (literally how to press directions) and have to wait for it to register everything, then sit through a “COMPLETE!” message where your character does a pose at the end and have to hit next and get greeted by a loading screen.

Skullgirls did a lot in making its tutorials more fun by having the challenge of jumping over projectiles by peacock. Like ideally the tutorials stop seeming like tutorials and it becomes single player content that helps people get better at the multiplayer too. We need less random AI patterns and more of teaching people to solve canned setups that can be applied to multiplayer. Guilty Gear XX AC+ style mission modes might be cool too, like they have one mission where you can only win with an instant kill attack, and another where only combos over 2 hits do any damage, so people absolutely need to combo to win. Another where the player is prohibited from jumping.

One of Smash Bros strong points is having great single player content. Like Event mode, Adventure mode, Classic mode. Now it has enough brand momentum that they probably don’t need to do as well with those things anymore.

The lot of improvement to single player modes will be figuring out what the actual skills multiplayer tests and putting them into single player mode in a format that isn’t just rote and dull combo trials, but actually allows people to improvise and gives them positive feedback on things they do right (like imagine a mode where you have to defend against peacock projectile pressure in different ways, or AIs tuned to play with a certain style that’s beaten by playing with another style). The only thing you can’t really teach is reads, because it’s an abstract thing to read an opponent in the first place and computers are truly random, can’t be read. Playing against them and pretending like you’re reading them is a good practice though. PPMD of smash bros fame got good largely doing that (or so rumors go). You pretend like they’re actually a smart opponent and try to read what a smart opponent would do in that situation and cover it optimally.

The big hurdle is really getting people to see the game and go, “Oh, I can play this with my friends.” Most fighting games on a basic level don’t make sense to people just stepping into them. I honestly thought that button-mashers could win against mid/high level players before I got into it

With the Ultra Combos, some people believe that because they’re easily punishable, it doesn’t matter if you gain the most powerful moves in the SF4 by taking damage. Are the Ultra Combos fair or is there another layer of bullshit to this?

What it means is that the results will be less consistent really. Ultra combos don’t help the type of newbie player that might want to get into the game but is afraid, because ultra combos are hard to use and easily punishable. If you give someone a comeback factor, the good players will still be better at using it than beginner players. What this fucks up is mid to high level play because it means leads are less consistent. It means that when you’re ahead, there’s still this reversal of fortune thing they can pull off, by being closer to losing they’re also closer to winning. This means that close matches become more of a tossup. We play sets of 3, sets of 5, first to ten, because we don’t always perform consistently, but we can get a good read if we widen the sample size. Some games like rock paper scissors, since there’s so little to it, are really hard to be consistent in. Games with randomness involved are hard to be consistent in. Games with comeback factors are harder to be consistent in. Because in all of these there’s a really thin line between doing well and throwing it all away.

Ultra combos are a little less worrisome when you consider that you also gain ultra meter by absorbing attacks with focus. This is another good commentary on the matter.


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