Sirloin

I think most people who would stumble on this blog of mine would know of Sirlin and his theories/design ideas. Actually, I think you guys probably know all of it well enough to have already formulated your own opinions on the matter(s).

So, I don't really have a reason for posting this other than it's on my mind and this is my blog, so whatever. Sorry if you don't know all about it, but I don't feel like diggin up references either. But here's a quick example.

Simplifying Inputs. A major concept of his. The idea is that the game should be more about your mind and less about your body. As in, less emphasis on execution and the boundaries that are caused by execution ability or lack thereof. Thus; more emphasis on reasoning, planning, strategy, and other such mental skills.

For example, chess with no time limit per turn as apposed to chess with some imposed time limit per turn. Or something like mahjong as apposed to flash cards or RPS, where reaction and anticipation are key elements (respectively).

Personally, I think this would work if you were trying to build something that wasn't a fighting game. I mean, this isn't the same thing as trying to turn speed-chess into chess. I think this is trying to turn a fighting game into another type of game. And so I feel that trying to keep it as a fighting game just doesn't work.

Personally I'm not basing this opinion entirely on theory. Games like SFA3, CvS2, MvC2, SWR and other-such games all have a certain degree of simplified inputs, such as two-button activations in the former two games.

The thing about simplified inputs, for me, is that it's only good in theory and not in practice. It doesn't promote players to stop guessing at all. Rather, it actually promotes the opposite, and players are even more inclined to guess rather than think and evaluate. Whereas good players know not to guess at all, and so instead they hitconfirm.

For example, in SWR the supers are performed with a single button input that is entirely disassociated with any other input. The button for supers is designed to do one thing only, which is to perform a super. Thus, you can dash, attack, block, jump, or whatever you want while pushing the super button. And you know what happens as a result? People mash that button.

Of course, in theory; good players would know the opponent is planning to mash that button and so they bait/fish for it by staggering or other such baiting techniques. But do these players stop? No. No, I am afraid not. What's worse is that really good players are more inclined to do this too. The reason is because of the risk/reward balance involved with a lot of supers. They know that while they are defending there is a high probability that it will work, and even if it doesn't there is a high probability they will be safe, and if it does work they land a super. It's guessing, but it's educated guessing that's favorable.

Even in the situation where it is highly punishable, to them it's still a coin toss, wherein if they guess right they win and guess wrong they lose. But this isn't just a matter of SWR though. If people had a 1-button Shoryuken that moved backwards people would mash it during mixup situations or general favorable/unfavorable situations. But actually there should be no "if" in this statement. Because actually, they do. Say hello to IaMP Yuyuko 6B and basically everyone that plays Yuyuko.

Of course it really sucks when you know exactly what is coming, know what the response is, and not be able to do it because your execution is not fast enough. Every predictable action should have a counter-action for it, I've said so myself. But on the flipside it also sucks to get grabbed during a mixup/neutral situation by a command throw super that very well should be a very complicated motion to execute. And yeah, the command throw should be complicated for that very reason: If command throws are that simple to do (eg, 1 button) then the result is option selecting and mashing which dilutes the rushdown/mixup game into coin flips.

Unfortunately, simplified inputs do promote guessing and option selecting, even though it is supposed to promote the opposite. And unfortunately the entire player base that is exposed to simplified inputs can't really grasp the concepts of risk/reward and baiting-punishing, as been proven. And even if they grasp it, they are still inclined to disregard it. Which brings me to the next point.

Time Recall. Well, I'll pick the "worse" of two evils to start with in regards to time manipulation, because I feel it's highly contradictory and flawed.

Time reverse, not something I'm making up. Again, it's almost like Sirlin wants the game to be more like chess, except with undo. Perhaps though, more like wanting the players to actually know what they are doing thoroughly. And again, that's probably a great idea if you were building a game that wasn't a fighter.

But for fighters? Sorry, but no.

In theory the players would start recognizing situations and the best outcome for them. As in, they would understand what led up to a situation, and then also the result of each permutation for every action they could take thereafter. Thus, execution and reaction become irrelevant and all players start playing at a top level; the way the game "should be played".

As I see it, there's a couple problems though. First being the characters. You could only really ever play the character(s) with the best matchups (eg, the highest tiers) within the cast. Because if you make the game purely strategical then any sort of handicap caused from balance issues would automatically determine the outcome of most matches. Kind of like playing chess with a handicap of either pieces or movement options. Say hello to Ken versus Ken for eternity? No thanks.

The other issue is that reaction is now gone, so therefor every action is "predictable". Thus, the defender becomes superior, and both players defend.. forever! Say hello to Chun versus Chun turtling for eternity? No thanks.

Well, not really. Of course Sirlin would put limitations on the ability to recall time. But putting a limitation on it means players wouldn't be free with it's usage or be inclined to experimentation. In theory; with timestamping and recall/replay the game "should" become something like training wheels, teaching players the right thing to do at any given point in time. However, I really don't think that it would play out that way because most players don't actually consider every single action/counter available to them, let alone consider when and how to use such a thing. I also really don't think the majority of players today would actually prefer to learn that way.

Instead, I could see it becoming more of an offensive tool than a defensive one. Rather than helping players learn, I think it would actually turn people away due to good players taking advantage of it while new(b) players failing to take advantage of it.

Well, plus there's the matter of teaching players when to set the recall points. Even if the timereverse ability was awarded by getting hurt -- as in, given to the player that is losing -- I'm positive most players would only use it either defensively to try and avoid mixups or aggressively to try and bank on mixups, rather than forcing a favorable trap (a mindgame). And even if they did, so what? Who would ever use the ability mid-game for mind game purposes, to learn how to set up a trap in the first place? And if they did, you really think they could learn it so they could do it real-time? But, from what? If the inclination didn't already occur to them, I don't see how timeslow could teach it suddenly.

IMO, either you understand the concept of a mind game and know how to put your opponent in that kind of situation or you don't. And I don't think time reverse will actually help players get to the point of putting themselves and their opponent in the situation where they are guaranteed at least some kind of damage.

Honestly the whole thing reminds me a lot of what Viscant has lamented over when dealing with the fighting game community in the past. Even in simple text, they don't get it. And the only general conclusion I can come to is "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink". Sorry Sirlin, but even if you shove the water down their throat the players will just puke it up.

In the end, I feel time recall would only become a sort of wang stroker for those who really just want to feel "right", kind of like giving save points in RPGs or save states in emulators.

Time Slow is really not a new concept. Actually it's kind of cliche at this point. More-so cliche'd in cartoons, anime, manga, etc than fighting games, but it isn't exactly new to fighters either. Samurai Shodown springs to mind, and Sakuya too for that matter.

Is it a good one? Well, it's a fun(ny) one. But I don't really think you could consider it particularly educational for the same reasons I mentioned previously.

Actually, I think timeslow in a fighter would be even more problematic than timerecall. Problematic in the sense that it'd be used aggressively and doesn't teach anybody anything. Even when the ability is given to the losing player, such as in Samurai Shodown, it's used aggressively.

Yeah, another wang stroker. Admittedly though, I approve of timeslow being used as a form of self pleasure. I just don't think it amounts to any other than that.

I suppose it can be used as an educational tool, but only to those who are so inclined to learn that way in the first place. But, I've come to find that these players are the minority, and it would not be very useful/enjoyable to anyone else.

In closing, I'm torn. I want to be both right and wrong. To put it bluntly, I think it would be great if all of Sirlin's ideas came into being and worked out well, but then I probably wouldn't play any of them anyway. At least, I highly doubt that I would.

1 comment:

ST said...

It's good to hear other opinions on the idea of simplifying inputs. Fundamentally though, I think you're arguing something slightly different than what Sirlin is. I remember reading something, maybe on his forums, where he basically said that while inputs should be easy to do, the amount of time needed to perform the input also has to be taken into account, which seems to allay your problems. Presumably, that's why he changed the 360 and 720 movements in HD Remix to half-circle/half-circlex2 + opposite direction, which essentially take the same amount of time to pull off.