MY FIGHT MONEY

With Street Fighter V patch 1.04 came the removal of the concept of Zenny and the full opening of content in the in-game store. With more content in place and a better idea of the in-game currency-to-real-money equivalents, the Capcom DLC plan is a lot more obvious now.

If I were to ask you which fighting game has been the most egregious with pricing DLC content, you’d probably come back to me and say “Dead or Alive 5: Last Round,” which up until today is exactly the same answer I would give myself. They have a lot of DLC and collecting it all costs a lot of money.

If you thought that was crazy, though? Buckle up.

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Let’s just get down to numbers and what you get for the money. We’ll assume:

  • You didn’t go with the Core Fighters stuff but instead bought the full game. And you bought it at release for $40.
  • You aren’t buying any DLC on sale.
  • You want everything you can get.
  • You are buying bundles whenever you can (we’ll talk about the SFV season pass later) because I don’t have the time to track all this DLC down individually.

Also, almost all costumes are available separately for $2. (Some of the packs, specifically ones that were pre-order DLC, are only available in sets.)

There are 35 characters in the base game.

Here’s the breakdown:

Add everything up:

  • Game is $40.
  • All DLC together is $531.
  • If you buy everything, you get 633 costumes and 1 character.
  • Purchasing in packs, this comes out to less than $1 a costume.

SFV

OK; pay attention, friends.

Assumptions:

  • You bought the season pass (which you should; it’s a 50% savings on the DLC characters + battle costumes).
  • You are paying full price – no sales.
  • You are not using Fight Money to buy anything. (Right now, there is a limited supply of it, especially if you don’t want to grind Survival.)
  • You want everything because maybe you are creating a setup for a tournament and you want people to be that extra bit happy.
  • You are assuming the end-of-2016 character count, which is going to be 22.

Note that other than the Season Pass, none of the content is available in bundles or packs. It’s all a la carte.

We’ll group the content together to make it easier to figure out.

  • Street Fighter V: $60
  • SFV 2016 Season Pass: $30
    • 6 characters.
    • 6 Battle Costumes.
    • 1 stage. (Guile)
  • Story Mode costumes: $44 ($2 each)
    • 22 costumes.
  • Battle Costumes: $64 ($4 each)
    • 16 costumes. (assumes you did not pre-order and get the one included for doing so but you do have the six from the Season Pass)
  • Summer Costumes: $4 ($4 each)
    • 1 costume. (so far – Karin; data mining has shown at least four more are coming)
  • Stages: $12 ($4 each)
    • 3 additional stages (assumes you have Guile stage from Season Pass)
  • Stage Variations: $6 ($2 each)
    • 3 stage recolors

Data mining has also shown at least one more series of costumes is on the way.

Add everything up:

  • Game is $60.
  • All DLC together is $160.
  • If you buy everything available, you get 6 characters, 45 costumes, 3 stages, and 3 stage recolors.
  • The average cost per costume is closer to $3 (and should edge closer to $4 over time because only Story costumes are $2).

To give you an idea, if we assume the game will have four sets of premium costumes for just the 22 characters we have now, you’d be looking at $350+ worth of DLC – and that’s before more characters show up. And it’s certain more characters are coming. And they might end up charging for colors 3-10. (We should have been more careful when we said we’d pay to unlock those.)

I might go into the Fight Money economics at some point just for fun; we’ll see. But this is a good picture of the DLC situation for SFV as it stands right now, and it stands to be expensive.

Prelude to Combo Breaker

The road started yesterday morning, very early. We tossed the kids in the car and started on our way.

The weather was pretty crazy a good chunk of the drive up to the Chicago area, including this rather impressive-looking cloud formation:

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Before arriving at Pheasant Run for the 4 p.m. check-in, we decided to do a bit of a tour with the family to visit various locations from our college years—where we met and then got married, so a bit special to us.

After taking them around the Concordia University area, we met my in-laws for dinner and enjoyed some family food while we waited to take off for the venue.

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The floor wasn’t open yet (it opens up at noon today), and I had to be up for the volunteer orientation at 10 p.m., so we took the time to enjoy the resort and have some fun. So far’ it’s been a great stay and everyone is having a good time.

I got a good peek at the show floor, which is seriously impressive and I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing.

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If you are interested in following along while I see what I’m capable of this weekend and just play some games, meet some people, and have a good time, here’s my schedule and links to the brackets (with links to streams if my pool times are scheduled for stream). I’m also judging some brackets to give back to the community.

PLAY – Mystery Game: A1 – 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Friday
http://combobreaker.challonge.com/2016_myst_a1
(http://www.twitch.tv/teamsp00ky)

PLAY – Tekken 7: B1 – 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. Friday
http://combobreaker.challonge.com/2016_t7_b1
(http://www.twitch.tv/tekken)

ADMIN – Street Fighter V: E2 – 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Saturday
http://combobreaker.challonge.com/2016_sfv_e2
(http://www.twitch.tv/bgcallisto)

PLAY – Killer Instinct: F1 – 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday
http://combobreaker.challonge.com/2016_ki_f1

PLAY – Street Fighter V: G4 – 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday
http://combobreaker.challonge.com/2016_sfv_g4
(http://www.twitch.tv/bgcallisto)

ADMIN – Tekken Ball: H1 – 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday
http://combobreaker.challonge.com/2016_tball_h1

PLAY – Tekken Ball: I2 – 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday
http://combobreaker.challonge.com/2016_tball_i2
(http://www.twitch.tv/tekken)

The floor is almost open – time to get playing. Here’s hoping to no 0-2!

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STLBarWars 4/11

I’ll write more about STLBarWarz in a future post as I talk about my road to fighting game growth, but some thoughts about tonight’s outing, which was my third trip to the St. Louis FGC (bi-)weekly:

After some work the last two weeks and my session last week where I learned that I’m functionally horrible at the game, I’d hoped that I’d get a first round match-up where I could try to get some work in, maybe win a round or two, and see if I could push into another round.

Well…

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German Luger is a name that I knew even before I started trying to engage with the StL scene, and I’d watched his Vega play in SFIV. I knew I was in for a match I was probably not prepared for both because:

  • I hadn’t played against German Luger before, and
  • I don’t see too many Vega players online, so the tendencies aren’t in my brain very well yet.

This match was also on stream, and I’ll try to grab a highlight of that once it’s up on YouTube and critique my own performance. I have already taken a look at the video and I can see quite a bit I did poorly. I did not control any space at all in the first game and was pretty soundly roughed up.

For the second game, I had more success with pushing into my opponent’s space, but I did poorly on some of my reactions (I dropped at least three possible combo opportunities, and failed to connect some cr.MK > MK tatsu combos). A lot of this was just nerves, which is something I’ll need to work on as I try to play more in-person matches.

I also made the mistake of not paying attention to my opponent’s V-gauge, and one round that I lost was due to my getting whiff punished by a Claw V-Trigger. I use st.HK to try to control a lot of space as Ken, and I completely forgot that a single whiff would mean I’d die to V-Trigger followed by Critical Art.

Such is life.

This sent me to losers, where for once I did not lose to the same player:

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First, I want to point out that I won my first game ever at the weekly, which I’m taking as a sign of growth and really all I wanted out of the night.

Second, I would have taken the set if I’d played more calmly. The first game was mine, with decent space control and some good interrupts. (Omi was playing as Karin.) The second game I bombed because I got too excited and got a touch too aggressive. And the third game was just me making all the wrong guesses pretty much everywhere.

This match was not on stream, but I feel like it was among my better efforts to date. I’m slowly learning to play the person on the other side and not the matchup specifically.

Scrub

This is the start of a journey.

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First Sight

I’m 11, and my favorite thing to do when traveling with my family is to find the local arcade. I’ll play anything you put in front of me, but I love games where you work as a team, so I’m searching for games that have two sets of controls.

There’s a new-ish game in the arcade, and it’s bright and colorful. Someone’s standing at it and playing; it looks like a beat-em-up, like Final Fight or Double Dragon. Punches and kicks happen. It looks and sounds amazing.

I walk up to the machine and ask if I can play with him. He nods or something and I put in my quarter and hit 2P start.

I recall being very surprised when the game pitted us against each other and I suffered greatly at the hands of a weird green manimal-thing named Blanka. I walked away from the machine, disappointed at the meager time my quarter granted.

The impact Street Fighter II left was real.

Later, the Pizza Hut out by my house kept a Champion Edition cab forever. Other cabs would come and go, but that one—that one was always there. We’d sit down and order our pizza; I’d ask my dad for some quarters and play against the AI because we always got to the restaurant early to get in our order before the dinner rush and no one else was there.

I always picked Vega because the wall dive was cool.

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Arcade Rats

Kevin was a kid at my school who knew a lot more about video games than I did. He was almost always better than I was at them, too. I’d stay at his place Friday night through into Saturday, and we’d play anything and everything we could get our hands on.

We’d also take regular trips to the Red Baron in Taylor, Michigan.

I looked it up recently; the Red Baron has been gone for years. It was the ugliest thing you’d seen: an arcade stuck inside a building constructed to look like a giant barn. It had armed security and operators who hated it when you got salty and slapped a machine.

We were there the first week Mortal Kombat came out, and I remember the insane crowds around the cabinets. It was bloody, it had real people in it, it was janky—it was fresh and new. We’d go back there only occasionally as it wasn’t a short drive and we didn’t have our own cars, but I played a lot of Mortal Kombat, MKII, and even vanilla MK3 there before I ended up moving away.

The arcade in my new city didn’t have any good fighting games.

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Scrub-Zero

I recall a specific day at the Red Baron where I had untold riches to spend on the day’s games: twenty dollars’ worth of quarters. Kevin and I had played a lot of Mortal Kombat II over a period of months.

I never won.

That day was going to be different. I changed my twenty dollar bill for a pocketful of quarters. Stepping up to the machine, we started the challenge. I was convinced that if I just tried enough times, if I dropped enough coin in the machine, if I tried the right characters and did the right specials, sooner or later I’d end up with a victory.

I dropped every quarter into that machine right in a row and lost every match.

It was only recently that I recalled this and finally understood why.

I was a scrub.

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Ultra

I bought Street Fighter IV like a lot of other people, even played through the single player here and there.

Around AE and Ultra, things changed. I started stream monstering a lot more. I made some friends via various internet channels who also loved fighting games—we watched matches and talked about them, and even played here and there. I started learning more about the game.

I read sites and tutorials. I learned what footsies were, and what it meant to make an attack meaty or keep an opponent guessing with pressure. Understanding combos, positioning, and execution were new to me, but I made an effort to see the game underneath the game I had thought I was playing.

I picked up a “main” for the first time, and started playing onilne. My play became more frequent. I bought a stick. I learned to react to things, and I had a money Ultra I could execute with good reliability. My win rate was maybe 10%, but it was slowly getting better.

I thought it was pretty rad that I was a C- Sakura player by the time Street Fighter V released.

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Deconstruction

I bought in to Street Fighter V hard.

At the beginning of 2016 I told myself that I’d stop messing around with buying a bunch of games I never play and instead focus more of my time on getting better at something I had loved for decades.

I’ve been spending at least an hour a day playing Street Fighter since launch. Some days, it’s more, some days not at all, but it’s been consistent. I win a bit less than half my matches in ranked, which is only good enough to get you into the Bronze tiers.

I wanted to learn more and get better. Maybe prove myself. So I went to the local for the first time ever a couple of times last month.

I lost every match I had both times 0-2.

I went to Wizard World and entered the SFV tournament there.

I went 0-2.

I decided I needed help and asked for some assistance with my game from the local community. The response wasn’t stellar, and I got kind of salty about it. Even with my grumpiness, I did find someone in the local scene who offered to play me a bit and evaluate my game. I figured I wasn’t that bad – I had some problems with strategy, but my basic reactions were OK.

I got demolished.

And then came the evaluation:

“You suck. You’re not good at much. Your reaction timing is bad. Your AA is bad. Your neutral is nonexistent. I haven’t seen you combo yet, but I assume you can do those. You’re like a human training dummy.”

I used to think that the instant you realized you were a scrub and you wanted to learn, you weren’t anymore.

Now I’m pretty sure I’m still just a scrub. Deep down, I’m still that kid who just keeps dropping quarters into the machine, hoping that maybe this time he’ll get the upper hand.

It’s pretty disheartening.

Combo Breaker

Knowing that I don’t know very much and that I don’t understand the neutral game is something I’m trying to incorporate into my play. I was always looking at it and trying to figure out why I didn’t win, but I thought it was the adages you still hear: you jump too much, you press too many buttons, you press buttons at the wrong time.

When I started trying to play more seriously, I realized that I was always backing into the corner. I don’t know how to approach an opponent. I don’t know what moves to use to get in and I don’t know how to make an opponent respect me enough for me to even start getting in anything more than random strikes.

I am still not sure how I am going to learn this. I am fairly certain I don’t really understand how to use training mode, even though I’m in it a lot of the time. I’m not going to stop trying, and I’m not going to stop playing.

I’ll be streaming and writing about my journey out of the basement of fighting games, and I hope you’ll join me. I stream on Twitch as Backlogathon and you can follow my Twitter here if you want to know when I’ve posted. I’ll try to do what I can to keep up with what I’m doing with regular videos and updates on how things are going. I’ll try to analyze my play better and figure out what I’m doing wrong.

Combo Breaker is coming up in less than two months in the Chicago area. It will be my first time attending a fighting game major. I don’t plan on wasting the opportunity.

I’ve dropped the money to register. I have a room reservation. I’m going. I’m not going to get out of my pools for sure, but you know what?

I’d like to not go 0-2.

First Attack Teaches the Street Fighter V Basics

I haven’t even watched this yet, but I’m going to recommend it just because I know it’s going to be so, so good:

This is a playlist in which James Chen takes you through the basics of the theory behind fighting games. If you think you want to play Street Fighter V (or any fighting game for that matter) you should watch this. If you have ever watched a fighting game tournament and wondered what was going on a lot of the time, you should watch this. If you have a passing interest in game design and want to learn what makes these games tick, you should watch this.

And hey, look—a WordPress-based site. :)

How to Use Tech Videos

Viscant with another great post about Street Fighter V on Brokentier:

In the old days your only way of getting new tech was having access to top players. In the old days we also had to walk 10 miles to the arcade. Up hill. In the snow. Both ways. But seriously one of the main reasons I was good at games then was because I grew up in Southern California and was driving distance away from multiple top arcades including Southern Hills Golfland, probably the best fighting game arcade in the whole US. The process of getting tech in those days was just being able to play against guys like Alex Valle, Mike Watson and James Chen and leeching off of them. There really was no shortcut to improving your game in those days; if you didn’t have access to good arcades and good players, improving on your own was near impossible. Even if you were creative enough and resourceful enough to come up with ideas on your own, you couldn’t come up with ideas for every character or get matchup practice by yourself.

In the modern era though, access to good tech is much more equal. If anything we have the opposite problem now. Instead of the average person having no access to good tech, now the problem is having tech everywhere. How do we find the most important tech? How do we prioritize what to work on first? How do we make sure we don’t miss out on anything important?

SFV is coming into the scene in a different world, where the playerbase is much larger and the communication between players is much more frequent and open. This is moreso even than Street Fighter IV. New tech is being found left and right and it’s only the first couple of weeks.

If you are new to the fighting game scene, you don’t know how awesome you have it right now. :)

If you are like me, you are seeing a ton of videos pop up on YouTube explaining how to do very specific things in the game. It can be hard to balance out what to learn and how to apply it. If you want to know more about the best ways to handle this information, check out the full article and follow those basic rules. They’re pretty great.

Street Fighter V Breaks Evo Record

This is pretty crazy. As Mike Willams posted on USGamer:

Last year for Evo 2015, Ultra Street Fighter IV hit 2,227 registrants, so this puts Street Fighter V somewhere above that number. The community must feel pretty good about Street Fighter V in order for the game to beat Ultra’s numbers in only a few days.

I think this is less about the community’s feelings regarding Street Fighter V and more:

  • Ultra Street Fighter IV isn’t being offered as a main game at Evo.
  • Street Fighter V is definitely going to be the prime time highlight game for finals. Everybody wants a shot.
  • A new main entry in the series means that the competition field is going to be slightly leveled. People who have been playing for a long time will still be good, but there’s always a few new faces who rise to the top with each new game release.
  • The fighting game community is on the rise—for every game—and events are only going to get bigger.

I’m bummed that I can’t afford Evo this year; it would have been fun. (Though it’s probably best to wait until year two of the finals being in an arena so they can figure it out.)

I still have a room booked for Combo Breaker, though, which I expect will be just as huge when it happens later this spring. I hope I’ll be able to afford to make the trip after the office renovation expenses popped up—it promises to be a fun time.

Killer Instinct Season 3 Stage Lighting

I meant to publish something linking to this post on the KI site the other day when the post went up. I can’t ignore this; it looks too rad.

We are excited to be adding several new elements to KI Season 3 that we believe really improve the overall experience, and I’m going to be speaking to the ‘Art side’ of things today.

In terms of visuals, we are adding new graphics technology; reflection tech for the stages; re-introducing screen space color adjustments that work with gameplay; adding an all-new dynamic lighting system that provides greater realism and interaction for the characters and stages. Not only will Season 3 feature this new lighting, but we’ve gone back and re-lit everything for Season 1 and 2 as well. We can’t wait for our fans to see the enhancements of KI’s visuals!

KI S1 had a “deep black” look that many fans really loved, and we’ve gone back to it (with a ton of upgrades!), so you’ll see deeper darks and more “mood” throughout all the stages.

It’s a huge difference just in screenshots. From this:

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to this:

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Killer Instinct is kind of the little fighting game that could; it does a good number of things super-well that other fighters haven’t so far, and it has a dev team behind it that’s committed to making progress on a number of fronts.

The changes they have announced for Season 3 are pretty big changes and I’m looking forward to seeing what the competitive scene looks like in another couple of months.

Let’s Talk About Street Fighter V’s Survival Mode

In Street Fighter IV, you earned costume colors for each character on the roster simply by playing matches. Once you played a certain number of matches, you would unlock a new color and then you could select that color at any time. It was easy, it was unobtrusive (other than the notices that you had unlocked stuff), and it was quick. You got all of the colors for your main character almost immediately.

Street Fighter V doesn’t work that way. I doubt you have missed out on this, but:

  • Colors 1 and 2 are unlocked from the start for every character and costume you have.
  • Color 3 is unlocked by beating Survival mode on Easy (10 opponents, maybe 10 minutes).
  • Colors 4, 5, and 6 are unlocked by beating Survival mode on Normal (30 opponents, about 20 minutes or so).
  • Colors 7, 8, 9, and 10 are unlocked by beating Survival mode on Hard (50 opponents, about 30 to 40 minutes).

There is a higher level of difficulty, but it doesn’t grant a color; it gives you some XP, some Fight Money, and a title that AFAIK is universal (not per-character).

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Here are the surface annoyances with this method (I’m going to talk about the horrid design of this mode and unlock method in a bit):

  • Unlocks are per-character. If you want to unlock all the colors, you’d better plan on spending at least 20 hours in this mode.
  • Unlocks are also per-costume. If you have one of the pre-order costumes, you don’t get the colors for it unless you go through the mode again with the same character.
  • If you get all the way to fight 30 in Normal and lose, you get nothing for your time. No Fight Money, no EXP, nothing.
  • If you are disconnected from the (fairly erratic) online servers at any time during the Survival mode run, you can no longer unlock the costume in that run and you have to start over.
  • If you complete Hard, you don’t unlock the colors from Easy and Normal. You have to play through the mode three times with each character/costume combination.
  • The difficulty spikes heavily towards the end of the mode. You spend the majority of the time fighting brain-dead AI and then the last few fights going up against what can be a sometimes godlike and prescient AI that will murder you with no warning.
  • There is currently no existing or announced way to unlock the colors other than going through Survival. You can’t even (sigh) pay to unlock them.

That seems like a pretty good list of stupid, right?

We are just getting started.

It’s annoying enough already, because this is a mode that most people probably wouldn’t have touched at all if the colors weren’t gated behind it. Survival mode (with the exception of gimmick modes like Tekken Force) is always the most garbage single-player mode in every fighting game in existence. And it’s a tragedy of design that this mode is what holds people back from costume customization in the latest Street Fighter installment.

LET’S TALK ABOUT WHY, SHALL WE?

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(Whatever, that’s not from Survival, but it is from the match where I broke into Bronze tier this afternoon, so roll with it. I’m a Ken player now, apparently.)

(Also we will chat about the stupid “favorite character” and Ranked play thing later.)

Anayway, back to Survival mode and why it’s bad design.

Survival Mode Teaches Bad Technique

After three tries, I cleared Normal with Ken tonight and unlocked three more colors. The first two runs I did, I would do pretty well all the way up to about fight 26, when the CPU decides it’s going to do things like string more than one hit together and actually use EX moves (or any special, for that matter).

29 is against Necalli and can be pretty brutal, because that’s the fight where the CPU decides it will start trying to counter things sometimes.

30 is Bison and he will try to rip off some pretty brutal 30-40% combos when given the chance. Every time I would try to play against him straight, nothing would work. Every throw I would attempt would be teched. Every good strike I thought I could get in—and previously worked against other opponents—would get countered or even crush countered.

So how did I finally win the mode?

I spammed medium Shoryuken.

Over and over and over and over and over again. I played Flowchart Ken, but DUMBER.

I would spam SRK until it hit, then forward dash to push the CPU as far as possible, then spam SRK on wakeup, then dash the CPU into the corner, then just spam SRK forever until dizzy, combo, KO.

Survival mode doesn’t teach anyone one of the most important aspects of any fighting game: adaptation. Because the AI largely doesn’t put up a fight and even then can often get crushed with special move spam, players who go through the gauntlet are not learning anything.

They are just grinding.

It’s not effective, and it’s not fun. At least in SFIV, when you were trying to earn costumes, if you chose to grind it out with dummy opponents in Versus mode, that was your choice. But you could also grind it out by playing against other humans, which would teach you infinitely better than survival mode.

Survival Mode Teaches Bad Tactical Decisions

At the end of each (one round, mind you) fight in Survival mode, you get a results screen that shows you the time it took for you to win the round as well as the number of points you have earned:

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The number of points is determined by your character’s remaining vitality at the end of the round. A perfect round scores 15,000 points and the scale appears to be linear.

The points are used to purchase “Battle Supplements,” for the next match, which are like upgrades for your character that change the following match. You can choose either none of them or one of them. They expire at the end of the next stage, and you cannot stack them in any way.

In addition, your health and critical gauges persist from one stage to another. (V-gauge does not.) You can “bank” meter for the next stage if you want, and any damage you take during a stage carries over to the next. Because of this, you are incentivized to spend your score on refilling your health meter to try and make it through the next stage (if you need it).

Problems abound here. Check it:

  • Managing critical meter becomes significantly different because you are essentially storing it from one-round match to one-round match, which is fundamentally different from conserving or spending it between rounds in a standard match, which is important to learn.
  • The only way you can fill the one resource that directly controls your chances of making it to the next round is by not losing any of it. This generally leads to whipping through the early stages as cheesily as possible (see previous section) and banking your score so you have it to spend later in the progression.
  • When you play this way, you hardly ever build V-gauge and thus don’t learn properly how to manage it because you are spending all your time avoiding damage, which is bad because…

Vitality is a resource in fighting games. It is designed to be “spent” during a match to gain advantage in some cases.

Because your health carries over from stage to stage, you are actively discouraged from thinking of it as a resource during any given round. This is counter-productive to teaching players how they should be approaching Street Fighter and fighting games in general and when they decide to attend a tournament or hop into ranked matches it is just going to discourage them.

Instead, as I mentioned, you are rewarded for staying as close to a perfect victory as possible, so you will have enough points to spend on refilling your vitality between stages towards the end of the progression—and those spends can get expensive. Which leads us to the last big problem here…

Survival Mode Introduces RNG to a Game That Shouldn’t Have Any

Let’s take a look at that screenshot from the last section again, shall we?

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Nice store, there. Too bad that if I had taken a lot of damage, I would not have been able to refill it because I can’t afford the health recovery upgrade. But let’s take a look at the same post-stage screen from later in the progression:

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Notice anything?

The available upgrades are different. They change from stage to stage, and the change appears to be completely random. You might get a 6,000 point tiny health bonus, or the monster 25,000 point full bonus, which is not really much more health recovery than the 15,000 point one.

This means that you can’t reliably budget from round to round, because you don’t ever know how many points you will need to get the boost you want. On top of this, it leads to some pretty tragic moments. How many people have run into this going into the final rounds of a Survival run?

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For the one round where I probably really need it, the only available health upgrade is the smallest one available. I had a run yesterday where only the Low health refill came up three stages in a row.

This kind of design is nothing more than annoying and frustrating for someone who just wants their character to have a signature color. It’s forcing people to play a mode that purposefully ignores several key principles of playing fighting games instead of organically putting those unlocks behind play time or any one of a number of ways you could release them over time to reward people for playing the game.

Because the Story mode that shipped with Street Fighter V only takes maybe an hour or two to clear for all 16 characters, this moving color unlocks—and especially the fact that they are per-costume and time-consuming—smells of padding the single-player content available at launch, but in all the wrong ways.

Casual players are not going to grind out a mode where if they fail at the very end after 15 to 30 minutes of investment, they get nothing.

More dedicated players are going to grind out the colors they want only grudgingly and hate the designers for the privilege.

Both groups are probably much more likely to end up paying real money for the unlocks—which might just be the intention behind this in the first place. (And would be shameful if so.)

So What Would Have Been Better?

Find ways to get people to play, but play the way they want. Put it behind matches played, like Street Fighter IV did. Put it behind the apparently meaningless character or player levels that Street Fighter V already has, but do it in a more intelligent way like Killer Instinct has, where you get new colors, titles, and icons just by using characters and playing well, earning XP.

(Not the first thing KI has done really, really well. Should talk about that more later.)

From a design standpoint, I understand that you want people to play your game often and for a long time. If you want to gate content behind play, that’s fine. Just do it in a way that rewards players for playing the way they want to play, not hoops they need to jump through because you say so—and especially not in a mode that actively teaches bad tendencies for the real way your game is meant to be played.

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See you online.

New to Street Fighter? Read This.

Patrick Miller:

Through fighting games, I learned how to work hard and push myself past the point of “Man, I suck at this, this is no fun,” and I hope that you have a similarly impactful experience. And I want you to know that everyone goes through that I-suck-at-this-it’s-no-fun phase, and it’s the main thing that stops people from continuing to play and really get good. So, let’s talk about a few strategies for dealing with it.

This was exactly what it felt like when I started playing more seriously a few months ago. I would have whole days where I would play dozens of matches and get blown up every time.

It still happens. I have to come to terms on a daily basis with the fact that I have a whole ton of things to learn yet when it comes to Street Fighter—and I have to learn with reflexes that aren’t as sharp as they used to be.

Among the best advice in there, at least for someone like me:

Personally, I’ve never been good at learning a skillset if I don’t feel like I have a strong understanding of how the things I’m practicing day-to-day map towards long-term goals and the big-picture view of Getting Good at Fighting Games. It’s not enough for me to learn a new combo or setup; I need to learn why this combo or setup makes me a better player.

This is the kind of thing that a good teacher usually has; in fighting games, we have to be our own teachers. In order to make the most of our training time, we need to get good at breaking down these games not just in terms of frames and inputs but in terms of concepts like gameplans and footsies and controlling space.

I recommend reading the whole thing.