Fighting Game built around creating and customizing your own characters?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Toaster, Jan 20, 2011.

  1. Toaster

    Toaster Member

    For a while I've been wondering how a fighting game could be made where the player creates their own character, chooses their move set, look, style, etc. and still have it be a decently balanced competitive game.

    The obvious problems come up when you have so much customization options that there's bound to be one combination of choices that leads to a broken load out, or too few viable loadouts when the game is meant to have a near endless number of fighters. And if every character is too similar each other to try to balance things out, then having so many customization options wouldn't have a point.

    The best compromise I can come up with is to have 'controlled' customization. Where instead of picking every single move and special move etc for your character, you choose from a set. Similar to how MMORPG City of Heroes does their character creation. In CoH, for example, you can create a blaster type hero made for shooting at long range. There's things like fire shooting, ice shooting, energy shooting etc. Different kinds of attacks that all play differently but fit into the character type. There are also "pool powers" that any class can use such as Fly or Teleport, but you can only have up to 4 pool powers out of however many there are right now.

    So to translate this to fighting games, you could pick a zoning type character, and give him different kinds of projectile special moves from different sets. Then a choice of normal fighting style, like using a sword or fists or claws or whatever for the normal moves. Then you could choose some special attributes like what kind of super meter he uses or one of several passive abilities like slowly regenerating health or super meter. Then of course you make them look pretty.

    Another way to think about it with something that exists is like creating a 3 man tag team in Marvel vs Capcom 2. In MvC, most teams are treated separately as a 'character' since even a change in one character in a team could change their entire playstyle. In this CoH-like custom fighter creation system, it would be similar to picking three characters in MvC.

    Since there would be thousands of possibilities for characters, there could be over a million different matchups, so it's not realistic to try to balance everything perfectly. Instead, it would be smarter to take the Guilty Gear approach and try to come up with "fail safe" systems to protect the balance. Things like push blocking, damage drop off, bursts, alpha counters, combo limits etc. would have to be implemented.

    I know some fighting games (I think Soul Calibur) has character creation tools like this but I don't know how flexible they are and how broken you can make the characters. And even then, no fighting game is built around custom characters like this.

    So yeah, all we would need a bunch of move sets, abilities, and an extensive character appearance customizer and some smart fighting mechanics and it could probably work.
  2. Seth

    Seth Active Member

    I have read about Guilty Gear from Sirlin, but not much besides that. Rather than using powerful defensive options, why not just have a perpetual comeback mechanism instead?

    If done right, it could lead to a self-balancing game, since the "best" character would give the opponent the most ammo.

    You could have a super meterish thing (I think of it like a Frenzy) that rises whenever you are attacked, relative to the damage taken, and unlocks a supermove or whatever. With this system done right, it would greatly reduce matchup imbalance, and prevent a "best" character from emerging.
  3. Toaster

    Toaster Member

    Yeah, self balancing is the only way to go. Perpetual Comeback should probably be implimented as well, but without things like special blocking, alpha counters, bursts and all those other defensive tools, any kind of nasty combo, such as infinites or close to 100%'s would dominate. Or any kind of infinite blockstring or otherwise very strong pressure would be too good. BlazBlue has a "guard bonus" deal where if you're blocking anything for about 4-5 seconds straight you automatically start instant blocking everything. Although that almost never comes up in a real BB match.

    Systems like these need to affect both defensive and offense, so things like SF4 Ultras or Tekken rage mode would probably be useful.
  4. Cauldrath

    Cauldrath Member

    Really, just put an infinite prevention system in like MvC3 is supposed to have with its decaying hit stun and GG has with its progressive gravity and the game can't wind up too broken. As long as two viable characters exist, you've at least got something of a game and you can just patch buffs onto everything else after the fact to buff them up to the level of the best ones.

    Perpetual comeback just sounds like Ultras in SF4, though. They make the game more exciting, but make it harder to accurately sort out the better player, which is kind of the point of playing competitively.

    Honestly, I think there's a market out there for a more casual fighting game that just isn't being properly tapped right now: customizable characters with new abilities being unlocked like Call of Duty, comeback mechanics like SF4, and online matchmaking that gives an illusion of progression and improvement while smoothing out the rough edges of your game balance (or lack thereof).
  5. Lofobal

    Lofobal Well-Known Member

    Fist of the North Star has a system to prevent infinites where gravity increases as the opponent gets comboed.
  6. Warskull

    Warskull Active Member

    For the traditional 1v1 fighter, I think the whole concept of create your own is inferior to what we have.

    Designed character can have much more specific and unique play styles. When you are designing characters, you can go completely batshit insane. You can build inescapable weaknesses into them. The second you change it to design your own character people will focus heavily on min/maxing their characters. Imbalances grow much more rapidly.

    Also, in a fighting games, seeing that your opponent is Ryu and knowing they have a Ryu moveset is a good thing. It will be much, much harder for players to learn match-ups with the ability to create your own character.

    On top of this, you are going to have a lack of visual design. The way a character looks and his moves look does a lot to help define him. It may not seem that important, but recognizable characters are a huge asset. Would SFIV have sold so well if it had no recognizable characters from previous games? Being able to play a favorite character can be a huge draw. When a fighting game first comes out you can't really know how solid the fighting system is.
  7. CWheezy

    CWheezy Well-Known Member


    I would really like custom fighter mode, except I would ban them from tournaments and ranked online mode, or have a separate online mode for them, or like a separate tournament.

    Who can create the best fighter and then win with them would be fun.

    Also i have desired a create a fighter mode forever, but I don't know of any english games that have it
  8. sage

    sage Well-Known Member

    I think he's saying "anti-infinite engine is harder than it sounds"
  9. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    It's actually very easy; a rule like "hitting with any one move for the third time in a combo makes the opponent invincible until they recover" flat-out prevents infinites. It's also horribly inelegant.
  10. sage

    sage Well-Known Member

    Fair enough. Anti-infinite engine that you would actually implement, is harder than it sounds.
  11. LoneKnight

    LoneKnight Well-Known Member

    It'd be interesting if you had to make sure yourself that you can't be infinite'd. Like, okay, you can have a character who has burst, alpha counters, pushblock and focus attacks, but no fireballs for you! Or you can have OVER 9000 projectiles, but then almost no defensive options (maybe aside from the mandatory burst)... on second thought this'd lead to some RPS matchups, but I guess that's kinda inevitable. The option to play a "balanced" character would still remain for anyone who prefers that.

    There's really a bunch of ways to make stuff infinite proof though. Incremetal gravity and pushback on hits, proration... and if you want to make it MMO style, then unlike "normal" fighters, patching OP stuff every month is expected anyway, so you can just patch out the moves that enable this stuff.

    Also, I kinda like the "MMO style" levelup move- unlocking idea. First, this means that you get to use each move for a period of time, so you'll be familiar with everything. Second, lets say you start with "Ryu". I'd like to see when a character reaches the point when he isn't "Ryu, BUT...".
  12. Jadiel

    Jadiel Member

    Isn't this just the Yomi CCG that Sirlin decided not to make?

    I can see a Yomi-esque game in which you build your own decks, which seems to fit the design brief proposed. I can't see why it would be any more difficult to balance than any other deck-building game (which also has millions of possible decks, and more possible matchups than there are atoms in the universe)
  13. Eji1700

    Eji1700 Well-Known Member

    Kinda tired, and have dedicated some thought to this one so forgive me if I ramble:

    The only fighting games that implement systems like you mention that i can personally think of would be SC III, Def Jam Fight for New York, and MK:Armageddon.

    SC III...really isn't even what you're suggesting in a lot of ways. Basically when you create a character you choose their moveset, you can pick any normal character, or you can choose a few custom character only styles(which are mostly unique, but generally based off of a stock characters novelist). Still not really custom character so much as secret character territory since the movesets are completely static modifications of normal ones.

    Def jam had 5 styles, and you picked 3. The order in which you picked them somewhat mattered, and of course what 3 you wound up with mattered. Technically you could also just use one style or two, but the game wasn't really developed with that in mind since it's usually drastically underpowered. Depending on what styles you chose changed what moves you had, what moves were better, and what ways you could win. Honestly for a game that was a sequel to a wrestling game with rappers it actually has a system that i think showed great potential if ever used with a different and more serious goal in mind. Sadly it was ditched in the sequel and turned into the trash I initially expect the original to be. In some ways this is similar to what you suggested with something like an MvC2 system.

    MK:A is a horrible game. It's Create feature is also insanely broken because you can choose every normal and every combo, and certain moves are just flat out better to the point of stupidity(oh and the engine itself is a broken mess). That said the one thing i thought they did ok was that each create a character had X special move slots(i want to say like 5), with 1 for each type. You got to pick one fireball, one combo move, one teleport, one rush, and one something else. I think this system, although terrible in armageddon, has some potential, especially if you allow more customization and movement alone archetypes for control.

    So a ryu like archetype would have the usual projectile, tatsu, shoryu choices, with various moves in those categories having different properties. Extrapolate and customize from there. Guile like, akuma, etc.

    Because really what it boils down too is picking playstyles, not moves. Zoner, rushdown, all rounder, grappler, etc and the various ways modifying and accomplishing these(zone with normals ala sim, or zone with projectiles ala guile). Everyone's going to try and make a top tier monster, but the goal really is to allow them to do so, but without just making something that does everything, or something that does one thing so well nothing else matters, or has to degenerate around it. You really don't want to see someone spend half the match zoning like guile, only for his opponent to finally get in, and see him pull amazing defensive options, and then transfer into akuma/gief level knockdown games.

    Random thought:
    there's actually a 2d fighter coming out which i can't remember the name of, but before each match you choose something like 2 out of 4 special moves and 1 out of 3 super moves before going into a match. I think the key to ever seeing customization in a competitive scene is going to start on this sort of level, since it's basically just an extension of SFIII/IV choose your super.
  14. 2000 IQ Killjoy Gamer link6616

    2000 IQ Killjoy Gamer link6616 Well-Known Member

    Then there is the dissidia style approach. Preset characters (classes) which you can tweak within themselves, opting to use certain moves, or equip certain abilities...

    Sadly, in most cases the characters are solved, with optimal builds for no equips, and kaos rulesets, free equipment not quite so solved, but free equipment is boring as hell very quickly
  15. GleamAxe

    GleamAxe Well-Known Member

    I haven't played a fighting game in over a decade (and never did so seriously), so take what I say with a grain of salt ... however ...

    I think a fairly obvious approach to a balanced, individually customizable fighting game is one in which you and your opponent(s) take turns drafting moves. (Drafting a move removes it from the pool of available moves.)

    It starts to get really interesting when more than two people are drafting at the same time. Imagine, for example, three or more people drafting from the same pool, all of whom will play a round robin against each other. The winner of the round/match/tournament is the player that posts the best aggregate score. Again, I know very little about fighting games, but I suspect such a system would create a completely different dynamic than what is seen in the popular fighting games today.

    Something like that could also easily be a bonus mode in an otherwise traditional fighting game. Call it "Chameleon Draft" or something similar.
  16. LoneKnight

    LoneKnight Well-Known Member

    Honestly, drafting to balance a game is kind of cheating. It also places (or may place) too much emphasis on the deck building part of the game (which is more or less memorization), as opposed to the actual playing part.

    I'll admit though, it would be quite different.
  17. Signia

    Signia Member

    It seems too difficult and strange to implement in a 2D fighter where moves are significantly different tools with complicated interactions... not being very clear here but it seems like this would be way easier to implement in a 3D fighter.

    The way the balance works in a 3D fighter for each move is very simple in comparison. Each move is strong in two of the qualities of speed, damage, range, hit/block effects, and defensive utility. Any move that is too strong in three of these is usually an overpowered move. The first three qualities are self explanatory, but hit/block effects refers to the frames on block, hit, and counter hit, pushback effects, as well as whether it knocks down or how high it launches. Defensive utility is the move's utility when at frame disadvantage, such as evades or parry frames.

    The thing is, most of these qualities are actually quantities that could be used to value each move for balance purposes. If players choose from a large list of moves with a limited number of points, each movelist will be balanced. Of course, some moves are simply stronger than others in certain areas and will cost more points, scaling exponentially in cost in relation to how strong the move is so spending too much on any one powerful move is costly.

    This introduces another balance mechanism whose effectiveness may be questionable. Not only is the player choosing which tools they have, but they also choose between individual move strength and number of options.
    However, a simple movelist consisting of a safe mid-damaging mid-ranged middle attack, a low with +frames on hit, and fast interrupting high attack with high overall stats may be much more powerful than a large set of weaker options. Or, maybe it wouldn't be too overpowered, as without a larger movelist, combos aren't possible, so in order to get real damage, more moves are needed. Enough to force the launcher to be punishable, the low slow, and the interrupter +0 on hit.

    Ideally, the spendable points should be limited so that they will not be able to make a "complete" character, one that has a powerful answer to everything. The beauty of matchups in 3D fighters is finding where the character is incomplete and exploiting their weaknesses. Unfortunately, players would have no idea what exactly what movelist they're up against and would have to figure them out as they play.

    In a good competitive environment, the maximum points should be rigid, but it would be interesting to have a story mode where the character gains points and learns new moves as they go. Alternatively, sell points for real money in online microtransactions and put the game on facebook with an advanced avatar system for players to identify with so that players who are desperate to kick their friends' asses will spend more money. Not as evil as Farmville but if you steal my idea please give me 10%.
  18. MajinSweet

    MajinSweet Well-Known Member

    Just going to add a little bit to how broken the MK:A character creation was. After messing around with it for probably say, 20 mins or so, I found something that pretty much broke the game. A normal attack called the "Axe Kick" was designed to be a combo ender. But in the character creation you could use it where ever. So my custom characters "bnb" combo was Axe Kick>Axe Kick>Axe Kick, preformed by mashing X. Had very good tracking, great range (Could hit from the very start of the round) did 34% damage, and actually left you at a small frame advantage on hit or block. When I first started using it online, it would catch most people off guard and just kill them instantly. They would try to attack after getting hit by it but would just get counter hit back by another Axe Kick combo. It only took a few days to see a bunch of people online doing the same thing.

    If you were to make a fighting game based on making a character creator, give each move/attack/super whatever a very narrow list of places it can be used.

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