Friday, June 10, 2011

Capcom community and its aversion to updates

Many competitive games ranging from Star Craft to even Virtua Fighter get updates all the time and with a community that welcomes these with open arms. The exception seems to be the Capcom community. Street Fighter inherently has not and is that a good thing or a bad thing for the community? Lets take a look as to why the community is not open to them like others.

Arcade Culture
Street Fighter II: World Warrior was released in 1991 to a bunch of teenagers that were competitive enough to spend a quarter at a time trying to be the best in their arcades. Capcom actually patched World Warrior at least 3 times that I know of – mostly fixing bugs with a slight hint of balance tweaks. Remember this was for the arcade so there was no real advertising of this or what the tweaks were – let alone getting arcade operators to install them. These updates required swapping out the entire board! And remember at this time World Warrior was everywhere - no donut shop owner is going to swap out a JAMMA board so that the game crashes less often.

The most important thing to remember though is that this was a brand new genre of game being explored for the first time by not only the developers but the community as well. Just because Guile was really good and only person got to pick him at a time, didn’t mean there was anything ‘wrong’ with the game. Just pick Dhalsim.

The main people attracted to Street Fighter were teenage boys that were full of testosterone and welcomed all kinds of challenges. Be it a certain number of wins, beating the people from the rival mall that had come to challenge them or beating people with only one button.

If you look back at where the first real Internet discussions started regarding Street Fighter – Alt.Games.SF2, you will find example after example of people yelling at one another. Including heated arguments with Tom Cannon, Seth Killian and even myself.

Patches or Sequels?
On top of the machismo that exists within the Street Fighter culture, Capcom actually gave us patches…or sequels. Depending on how you look at it:

1991 introduced World Warrior with 8 playable characters.
1992 introduced Champion Edition with balance tweaks and 4 extra playable characters.
1992 (late) introduced Hyper Fighting with balance tweaks.
1993 introduced Super Street Fighter 2 again with balance tweaks and 4 extra playable characters.
1994 introduced Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo with balance tweaks, new mechanics and more playable characters.
As you can see Capcom was giving us balance tweaks (aka patches) but also packaging it along with new playable characters and lots of other small things.

This also lead to franchise fatigue as people got tired of playing the same game every year and competition was heating up from Killer Insinct, Mortal Kombat, Virtua Fighter, Tekken, etc.

I’m not even going to go into the detailed nuances of the differences between the Japanese and American releases and how the console versions are based on the Japanese versions and the differences that can be found there. Suffice it to say, Capcom has actually patched Street Fighter 2 a lot, whether or not people think about it. Let us not forget Remix Edition.

Alpha Series
Alpha series is where things actually start to get a little more interesting. The fighting game community embraced patches/sequels such as CE and HF. SSF2 killed the franchise where I lived and in a lot of other places as well.

Capcom took a small break and tried to bring old players back and make the game more accessible to new players with the Alpha series. While not as big of an impact as previous games, Alpha 1 had its share of success.

And like Capcom had previously done, they quickly released a sequel – Alpha 2. This game however reignited the spark and the community began to grow again. Depending on who you ask, there is a lot of ‘cheap’ stuff in Alpha 2. From Chun Li to Custom Combos themselves or even Alpha Counters. Capcom actually tried to patch this game and released it as Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold.

Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold arguably had some good changes along with a few new characters but was immediately dismissed by the fighting game community. People were too set into their ways by the time it came out and offered nothing new and or exciting to players. Alpha 2 Gold was a complete failure.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 was soon released and again sparked the fighting game community and it began to grow as well. There was even the now infamous exhibition with Japan vs. America. There are a few versions of Alpha 3 that I know of – fixing an infinite with Guy for example, but that’s about it – just bug fixes.

Capcom did release a ‘patched’ version of Alpha 3 though – known as Alpha 3 Upper and again was immediately dismissed by the fighting game community.

The Capcom community gravitates towards their game and figuring it out. It seems that when Capcom tries to tinker with it, it has been met with hostility.

Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike
I’m going to quickly talk about the SF3 series as the history echoes what has happened so far. Sequel after sequel but then Capcom did patch 3rd strike. Capcom decided to ‘fix’ 3rd Strike by removing Urien and Oro’s unblockables. Once again, this was met with hostility and tournament players refused to play this version.

Capcom VS SNK 2
If there is any game that Capcom turned its back on – it was CvS2. And this may not have been a bad thing. A glitch, commonly known as Roll Cancel, was found early in the lifespan of CvS2 where every special move could be done and the player was invincible! No meter was required, simply executing the special move command as you normally would combined with a little bit of finger kung-fu to make it invincible.

Now for some, this ruined the game completely. A lot of people refused to play the game with this glitch. But for some, including myself – this glitch actually led the game to be more playable.

Prior to Roll Cancel being found, the tournaments were dominated by a small selection of characters. Now that the weaker characters had access to invincible moves – it leveled the playing field. Granted as the years went on, a top tier was solidified but it definitely expanded the lifespan of this game far beyond what Capcom had intended.

There was a console version that removed this glitch and once again, the Capcom community turned its back on it.

Street Fighter 4
Before we dive into SF4 we need to take a look at where we have been and how we got here. Capcom was making arcade fighting games for competitive people for the most part. Not only that but when a new version did come out, there was no release notes or anything. People had to figure changes out on their own and one of the reasons why things were met with such hostility is because people thought, ‘well if they changed this one thing…what else did they break?’ type of mentality. Or a lot of it was misunderstood such as, ‘The arcade Wolverine and Cyclops both have easy infinites, but the home version only Wolverine does’ for Xmen vs. Street Fighter.

By the time SF4 finally came out, not only had Capcom taken a long break but the competitive gaming scene had changed drastically with everything from Quake to Call of Duty or even World of Warcraft.

SF4 came out during the era where people expected patches and games were easily to do so. People were quick to complain about Sagat in the arcade and while he did receive some slight changes in the home version, he is still a strong character.

This is where things get interesting and I feel this is actually where Capcom excels at making popular games. They don’t go for balanced games, they strive for playability. Not only that – but by not going for balanced gameplay, they actually appeal to 2 key personalities.

First is the personality that sees an overpowered character like Sagat and says to themselves, ‘I’m going to be the best in the world with this cheap character’. Think Tokido or even Mago.

The second and equally as important personality is the one goes, ‘Fuck that…I’m going to do everything I can to NEVER play that cheap character and beat everyone who plays that way’. Think Clockw0rk or Daigo.

By appealing to these 2 drastically different personalities – they not only get the extremes, but the middle ground personalities as well.

And just for the record, Street Fighter series as a whole has been really well balanced and Vanilla Sagat may be the weakest top tier character in the history of Street Fighter. WW Guile, CE Bison, HF Ryu, etc were all much better.

Sales and Spectacle Matter
So another piece of the whole puzzle is that at the end of the day, Capcom needs to sell units and have their games displayed in exciting ways so that people want to play them and their sequels. There is nothing inherently wrong with companies wanting to make money.

One of the key ways Capcom goes about doing this is making Ryu Strong. People naturally gravitate towards picking Ryu either in the arcade or at home and if he sucks, people are not going to have fun. Now I’m not saying they intentionally make Ryu the best or anything but there is a reason why Ryu is competitive in almost every version.

Capcom isn’t alone in this – look at Virtua Fighter or even Tekken for what characters are consistently the best in their games.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Dogface Show Ep 1, Part 1

I promise I won't keep doing this. But I just wanted to update now that we have the first segment of the first episode up. Hopefully everyone finds it as fun as we had making it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Dogface Show

This is what I have been working on for a while now. So if you are wondering why I never update my blog anymore, it's because I have been hella busy with The Dogface Show.

So what is the Dogface Show? Dogface aka Victor Ratliff has been a friend of mine for a long time now. We met playing Street Fighter and we did a podcast not too long for another friend of ours, Ryan Gutierrez aka gootecks.

I believe Maj was the one who had the original idea - but the idea is that Vic has such a great onscreen personality that we should put together a show of some kind. I came on board as executive producer - recruiting James Chen to edit and even Yanbing to do the logo.

Here is the first trailer that we put together to highlight what the show is about:

Our first guests are Ryan Gutierrez and Mike Ross and focuses not just on Street Fighter but the culture of Street Fighter - hanging out, having a good time while also talking strategies and stuff.

It's our first attempt and we'll continue to iron out the bugs. If all goes well we should have our first segment live next week. Hope everyone enjoys it!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

First You Runa, Then you Stopa!

I don't know what it is - but I loves me some Street Fighter songs. Last year Turbo2k5 made me smile nonstop with Gigaton Punch and now Lil Shoto has been bringing the heat with this sick El Fuerto song:

El Fuerto

He also did a great Chun Li one also.

He even did a great Blanka one.

I really hope this guy does the whole cast.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Evo2k dates and lineup for this year

Evo this year will be July 17th - 19th, 2009 this year. Will still be held in Vegas, but will be at The Rio.

The Games:

* Street Fighter 4
* Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix
* Soul Calibur 4
* Marvel vs. Capcom 2
* Guilty Gear XX, Accent Core
* SF3, Third Strike, 2v2 team tournament

As usual, we will hold exhibition events on Friday and Saturday night.

* Tatsunoko vs. Capcom Invitational Finals
* Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix 5 on 5 Regional Team Tournament

The TvC event will actually be the final 8 players of a 64 man invitational tournament that we will run before hand. The TvC finals will run just like any other Evo finals.

If you have any questions feel free to head over to or

Monday, January 26, 2009

Combat Systems

A little over 5 years ago, me and Eric Williams were bored at Border's and discussing the various systems found in fighting games. Specifically Capcom 2D games. We generated a long list of what each game brought to the table for the first time. I was having a problem at work trying to remember how certain games handled things when I stumbled across this. I figured I would post it up, in case anyone else finds it helpful. This is by no means all inclusive or perhaps even accurate. More or less a brain dump we had one evening.

Unfortunately I don't have time to screen cap or vid cap what all of these things are and if you don't follow the Capcom fighting game scene I'm not sure how helpful this will be since there is a lot of jargon but if you have any questions I'll do my best to answer.

Street Fighter 2: World Warrior
Special Moves
Kara Cancel
Negative Edge
Breakable Objects
Bonus Stages
Cross ups
Air Throw
Block Damage

Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition
Button Charging for special moves
Vega's Wall Climb
Get up Animations
Same Player vs. Same Player

Street Fighter 2: Hyper Fighting
Joystick Controllable Movement Specials
Air Special Moves
True Reversals with Specials
Air 2in1's

Super Street Fighter 2
Dizzy particle right away
Text Messages (Combo Meter)
Rekka Ken
DJ's Uppercut Punch
Projectile Absorption

Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo
Throw Techs
1st game with playable hidden character(?)
Character Variants (old vs. new)
Controllable Limbs
Weapon Loss and Pickups
New Joystick Motions - Fei Long, Cammy
Throw Whiffs

Street Fighter Alpha 1
Chain Combos
Alpha Counter
3 Part Super Meter
2 on 1 (Ryu/Ken vs. Bison)
Command Roll
Friends Super
Hit Throw
Rekka Ken Options (Guy)
Character Intros
Rival Fights
Mini Launchers (Rose's Scarf)
Fireball Reflect
Air Block
Block When Landing (Trip Guard)
Auto Block

Street Fighter Alpha 2
Tech Rolls
Custom Combos
Combo-able Alpha Counter (Rose)
Stance Changes
Poison Super
Timed Button Input Specials (Gen's Kick)
2 Hit Air Jumping move (Gen)
Super Jump
Fake Special Moves

Street Fighter Alpha 3
Counter Hits
Air Techs
Every Move Has Potential To Juggle
2 Button Throws
Can Combo After Throw
Guard Crush Meter
Blue Blocking
Damage Reduction
Command Counters (Karin)
Crouch Cancelling
Can Be Thrown While In Block/Hit Stun
OTG Command Grabs
System Variants (X vs. A vs. V)
Command Dash

Capcom Vs. SNK
Prolonging getting up Animation
Command Charging of Meter (S Groove)
Immobilizing Supers (Iori)
Infinite Low Life Supers
Mash Inputs to change animation (Yamazaki)
Bird Interaction (Nakoruru)

Capcom Vs. SNK2
Level 2 Cancels
Low Jump
Just Defend
Command Activate Meter (N Groove)
Counter Roll
Roll Cancelling
Helper (Chang)
Auto Guard

Street Fighter 3 (all of them)
Special Into Super
Parry / Red Parry
Universal Overhead
Variable Supers / Meters
Dizzy Meter
Unblockable supers (Denjin)
EX Specials
Kara Throw

Marvel Series (all of them)
Super Jump
Double Jump / Triple Jump
Flying Screen
Air Combos
Air Dashing
Back/Forward Dashing
Combo Into Throw (Air and Ground)
Super Armor
Vertical Scrolling Stages
Team Supers
Shuma - Super/Eyeballs/Time Gem
Normal Move Projectiles
No Continue If Hit
Block Damage
Status Upgrades
Stealing Of Moves

Darkstalkers (All of them)
9 Supers
Dark Force
No Update On Rounds

2D Misc
Lying Down
Command Dodge
Weapon Clash
Slow Down
Anti Chip Damage
Jump Cancelling
Roman Cancel

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


So I got sick of how everything was looking and decided to update tonight. Not 100% sure this is the final look either, but I like it better than how it was. So we'll see. In the interim, I'll be re-arranging some stuff and re-organizing some stuff. Let me know if you like it!

Was in Madison all of last week working on Wolverine. You may have seen the last issue of EGM ever with it on the cover. The Raven guys have been a blast to work with. Gustavo, who I worked with on God of War 1 is on the game and has been doing a fantastic job. I can't wait for everyone to see some more footage, let alone get their hands on it. I'm sure there will be some exciting things in the months to come.

Have you guys had a chance to play Prince Of Persia yet? I hope so because my next post will probably be about that game; as I think it very well is my personal Game Of The Year. I'll spoil the hell out of it next time I update.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Talking with your animators

Eric Williams wrote up a great blog post about animations, talking with animators, etc. You should definitely go check it out.

Click here to read what I'm babbling about.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Kitchen Sink Brush (Gold Tooth)

I don't know why - but I kind of like this. Definitely not worth $100 though.

Found via BetterLivingThroughDesign

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Double Damage is not your friend

So I meet a lot of designers these days – from seasoned designers who have shipped more games than me to designers whose first game is the one I’m working on them with. One thing that they all have in common, they all suggest giving Double Damage as a mode, attribute, attack, etc for the player or an enemy, boss, etc.

Double Damage – the concept of an attack doing twice the damage compared to normal. For Example – if an attack does 5 points, then with this ‘AWESOME!’ attribute – the attack does 10 points!! Note: Double Damage always comes with 2 exclamation points, that’s how double it is.

So why bother writing up something about this? Well I for one think that it’s a terrible idea 90% of the time. I’ll go into details about that here in a minute, but the main reason why I hate it is because it’s very ‘designery’ solution. It deals with knowing how the details work and playing around with the numbers. It’s not something that is easily understood nor appreciated by the player.

Double Damage is almost always the first thing thought of when a power up is activated, a mode is turned on, etc. Let’s break down a little bit as to why I hate it so much.

Why Double Damage Is Bad
In most games these days – enemies don’t have health bars. Because enemies don’t have health bars, the player really doesn’t know how much damage they are doing with their base attacks. Because they don’t know how much damage their base attacks are doing, how in the world are they ever going to know they are doing Double Damage?

Let’s break it down by math a little. Let’s say an enemy has 35 points of health. Each attack from the player does 5 points, so it takes 7 attacks to kill one enemy. We now double that to 10 – so now it’s 4 hits to kill the enemy. Is that really all that noticeable to the player?

Using the same math example from above – what usually happens is that the player gets surrounded by a group of guys. No one is remembering how many hits they have dished out so far. Let’s be honest – most people are just mashing on buttons and don’t notice that 1 guy died faster than normal out of a big group.

The other down side to Double Damage is when meeting new enemies for the first time. The player has no idea how much health they have or how much damage the attack’s from this new enemy does.

When Double Damage Is Good
Like I said before, I hate it 90% of the time. So what is the 10% of the time I like it?

I think it makes a shitty power-up on its own. I do like it when it gets coupled with something else. Such as adding effects to the weapon and now the enemies explode when killed. Something that is more obvious to the player that something ‘cool’ is happening.

Obviously in situations where the player does know information – such as how much damage their attacks do or how much health the enemy has. This usually works out well in RPG’s since this information gets conveyed more often than in modern day action / adventure games.

Double Damage can be a good thing but it needs to be used properly. Don’t treat it as something ‘cool’ that the player can have and that’s it. If you are going to use it – then really use it. We used it a lot in God of War – but never as a sole attribute. We bundled it along with 900 other things that the player could appreciate: Fire Particles, Super Armor, whole new set of animations, blah blah.