Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Dan Fornace, creator of Rivals of Aether writes:

After 8 years of working in fighting games, I’ve accepted the fact that no matter how “easy” you make your game, pros will absolutely demolish new players.

Well-known fighting game Youtuber Maximillian talks about the casual appeal of Guilty Gear -STRIVE- and expands a bit on the above:

I think there is definitely a serious learning curve when it comes to fighting games. They’re typically difficult for the uncommitted casual gamer to get into. There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be learned: inputs, commands, matchups, systems, etc. I mean, I’ve been playing FGs since Street Fighter II came out and I’m still pretty bad at them competitively, but I’m pretty sure I can crush most casuals who pick up a fighting game for the first time simply because I understand the lingua franca a bit - I know how throws work, what overheads and antiairs are etc.

If you’re a casual picking up a fighting game for the first time, all this stuff can get confusing. The simple matter of blocking attacks can be daunting: some attacks need to be blocked high, some blocked low, and how do you know which is which? You don’t, you kind of have to learn them along the way, so getting over the learning curve requires getting beat up a lot. There are some visual cues - sweeps look like sweeps so that’s easy to figure out, but not all of them do, and definitely not all overheads look like overheads (GGS has a universal overhead via standing dust, but most of the ones I’ve seen don’t look like overheads at all.)

Can you air block? Maybe, depends on the game. You can dash, unless you’re this character. I can just block all the attacks right? No, there’s throws and command grabs and unblockables, etc.

Not all fighting games play the same even. Like, I play mainly motion input games like Street Fighter and Guilty Gear, but whenever I try a game like Tekken, everything feels and plays differently and matches just flow differently so I don’t really understand it.

There’s always a whole lot to learn, and the best games have a lot of characters which increases the learning curve significantly. It’s like playing an RPG with a lot of character classes and enemies to study, but instead of getting all the abilities one at a time and encountering each enemy according to a difficulty track, everything is available all at once so it’s easy to get overwhelmed. And all the battles are in real-time and you have to make split-second decisions and react quickly and sometimes you blink and you’ve already taken a 100% death combo.

That being said, I think the items Max enumerated above would be helpful for casual adoption (which is necessary to birth more genre fans) - specifically making it easier to do cool, flashy stuff, and good matchmaking and netcode go a long way towards building an audience. GGS is certainly an example of that.

I usually try to review games when I’ve finished them, but that’s not really a thing with fighting games so I might as well use this space to write a quick review of Guilty Gear -STRIVE-.

I had been looking for a replacement for Street Fighter V which I’d been playing for a while but never really got very good at, languishing in the bronze ranks for most of its run. It had also gotten more and more difficult to even find matches, and I don’t really enjoy doing training/labwork to get better, so that was unacceptable. I happily purchased GGS on Steam when it was released June 11. (I think it’s actually been a while since I purchased a game full price on Steam at launch!)

Strive looks great, everything looks cool and flashy as mentioned above, which is amazing given my PC is 6 years old and I’m running on an RX570. It’s also easy to get into, and a lot of that is because of the the fantastic “tutorial” via the Missions Mode, which walks you through simple to advanced concepts so you can learn all the basics and the systems of the game. A friend rightly points out that it still doesn’t tell you when to use most of these tactics in a match, but it’s actually still a great improvement compared to other fighting games out there in terms of making it easier for new users to learn the system.

That being said (and despite Max claiming in the video above that Strive has been toned down to appeal to casuals), this is still a very complicated game, especially compared to something like Street Fighter V. Typical for the franchise, there’s a lot of movement options and systems to consider: dashes, back dashes, air dashes, jump cancels, high jumps, double jumps, recovery options, launchers, tension gauge, burst gauge, RISC, positive bonus, Roman cancel (FOUR DIFFERENT KINDS!!) and so on and so forth. I am not sure I would recommend it to casuals though it is VERY flashy.

It does look like there has been some simplification / standardization in terms of character movesets. Most characters now have a HCB->F+HS super, the dust button acts a standard button for throw, sweep, overhead and launcher attacks, etc. Combo damage is stronger, so you don’t need to be able to do super long combo strings to be able to do significant damage.

One thing I was disappointed with is that the game doesn’t have Instant Kills, which have been a staple of the series since the first game. They’re not very useful competitively, but when playing casually with friends on a single monitor it’s always been fun to try to pull them off (especially when you’re losing!) I hope they get added back at some point.

I’m still not particularly good at the game. In the video above, Max says everyone on ranked floor 5 and below is a casual, and I seem to be waffling between floors 5 and 6 constantly, so I’d say I’m mostly a casual who sometimes glimpses something more lol.

The importang thing of course is that I am having a bunch of fun. It’s quite easy to find matches, and the netcode is pretty good. I live in a third-world country still and even with fiber broadband online gaming can get spotty, but my network experience has been relatively good. I’ve only been playing Ky and Potemkin online, so I still have a bunch of characters to study and learn and such, but I expect to be playing this game for a good long time to come.

Anyway, here’s a video of me being Ky:

Related: Fighting games

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