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So few indie/solo dev made traditional 2.5D fighting games, offering some thoughts to help. (Forums : Development Banter : So few indie/solo dev made traditional 2.5D fighting games, offering some thoughts to help.) Post Reply
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Jul 28 2018 Anchor

Hi there, just a 2 cents. (TL DR: Indie/Solodev created Duel Fighting games in the 2D/2.5D traditional sense it seems are not that many and I tried to zero in on why, offering some (more or less informed) personal insights that might help somehow as I am indie solo dev making one). Sorry for the typos.


Indie small team/Solo-made fighting games in the old (school) traditional sense (2.5D plane duel between two fighters like Street Fighter or MK or KI or Tekken) are not that many.AAA and mid-sized company-made fighting games are much more present. I tried to condense the factors/reasons so:

- Scope (difficulty of concretization with little resources, need fighting engine, AI creation, size of roster, 2D animation tediously hand drawn frames or 3D engine models, realistic details/textures/captivating backgrounds and lighting, animation (moves complexity/choregraphy), diversity of moves/characters/combos/uniqueness), modes (story, arcade, vs, net multiplayer), great inspiring music/strong SFXs, replayability by diversity of moves/martial arts/characters, inspiring game design in the choice of what the characters represent/look/their stories/how they fight - each uniquely different and not too many clones of each other in the roster (like Ruy and Ken and Akuma (and Evil Ryu and Violent Ken and Shin Akuma, or Scorpion/Sub0/Reptile, though 'twin' characters are nice to emphasize that particular character (and the clones are not clones per say and have unique different moves sets, despite having same skin outfit/different color/face and looking like an exact double model minus small cosmetic changes (reuse of same art asset/recycling..Ken fights differently from Ryu but looks his twin (with blonde hair and red karate suit instead) in SF2)

- Level of polish (amateur/hobbyist vs indie vs AAA polish, solo vs team, how long will you work on game without running out of funds (1 year? 5 years? Until yyou say it's finished enough?)

- Marketing (fighting games can remain obscure and hard to master because of their skill floor/the skills needed to be PRO-proficient and win in the duels/people associate fighting games with brand/legacy with huge franchises (SF/MK/Tekken), people are used to this quality and franchises thus expect fighting games to resemble that ultra quality polish - any new fighting game, especially indie ones, will inevitably be compared to the AAA Juggernauts of long ago or recent ones; because these AAA ones were the pionneers of different fighting games/styles (in other words, others are trying to emulate their core foundations/game designs to make a new successful fighting game). AAAs have the means/resources to pull an 'all-stops' 'non-stop' marketing campaign to make their game visible to every single eyeball on the planet.

- IP (brand/legacy/old franchise known by everybody - when you are indie and unknown, yourunknown new fighting game will look obscure like latin language, nobody played it and, unless you convince them your fighting game issomething new/original enough and with great (re)playabiity, people won't play it/buy it (when they can fall back on their preferred AAA fighting games in their huge games backlog (they have limited time and money to allocate - and there are a 1000 new games popping everyday (too many games for too little time or money (competition among games released is extremely fierce and does not forgive, especially not for a new sub-par game that will be classified as clone of another old clone of another old...). It seems IP and originality is what sets apart the game from the mass and allow it success - or, it's a Very Well executed game using an old game concept/design (in other words, original 'enough' to appeal the large mass accustomed to AAA franchises (artsy indie intellectual games may not appeal to the mass who just want a good old 2D duel fighting game full of action and thrills (casual/pro mainstream gamers)).

- eSports/Social aspect (fighting game communities have formed (and gone and reformed). Nowadays, there is Hype and buzz building aroung social gatherings/congregatings such as Capcom Pro Tour or EVO fighting games tournaments, either live or

online. Plus, peoole enjoy watching games as much as playing them - they stream video feed of Pro Players playing at tournaments; they Watch them play, instead of playing themselves. There is a certain 'eSports' kinship that develops between the viewer and the player - just like regular sports, say, boxing, you cheer for 'the team/your prefered pugilist' to win - viewing them do their thing.

Okay, this beginning to be long, but I will try to wrap-up, by deciphering certain games as case studies if you will.

To name a few:

AAA : Dragon Ball FighterZ, Tekken 7, Street Fighter V, MKXL, KI, KOF XIV

Indie to mid-size : Skullgirls, Omen of Sorrow, Punch Planet, Fight of Gods, Guilty Gears, Blazblue, GUTS

Solo Indie : Fantasy Strike, Kings of Kung Fu, Shaolin vs Wu-Tang, Tzompantli

Things I noticed were: Street Fighter V having a huge millions of sales and immense marketing funds, and being the oldest IP franchise, it had the largest and widest penetration around the world (using shoryken world rankings data), this cannot simply be because of IP franchise reconnaissance or worldwide marketing effort - MKX was much less penetrating in total number of countries (it was heavily represented in USA, while SFV was more represented in Japan and other Asian countries)).

This means that appeal was a large determinant: MKX is a 'western' representation of Asian martial arts and made in USA, it appealed to US market (Netherrealm US American company)

; while Street Fighter originates from Japan (Capcom Japan), it appealed to Japan and certain Asian countries. MKX is a strong US American rooted product, and is banned in Jp.

Street Fighter is much more 'global' because of its multiethnic/multicountriy representation in its roster (Ken USA, Ryu Japan, Honda Japan, Dee Jay Jamaica, Balrog USA, Dhalsim India, Chun Li China (woman), Cammy England, Menat Egypt, Rashid Arab, Zangief Russia, Blanka Brazil etc. IIt interperlates many cultures/identities. It's why I am not surprised to see it being played worldwide.

Tekken 7 also brand/legacy IP had strong penetration but still not as much as SFV. Dragon Ball Fighter Z too, Dragon Ball Z is established IP from Japan manga animation, it combined with an excellent fighting game is having deep penetration - much more than MKX because Dragon Ball is known worldwide - despite being a Japan manga appeal (non western anime) 'made for Japanese audience's love of their anime) manga (Japan IP).

Because games like Blazblue or Guilty Gear may not be as appealing to western culture (very Japan manga appeal/localization effect . Thankfully manga appeal is appealing to western audience. But, the inverse is less true (western fighting games like Killer Instinct don't do culturally as well in Japan vs anime fighting games there (sometimes I think that they think western fighting games are cheap knockoffs of their anime manga fighting games. Or, I sense a mirror) effect, the Asian countries may not be so keen on playing 'themselves' (they don't like outsiders 'representing them' with western eyes (stereotypes associated with martial arts and Asian people at large, they prefer to make Asian fighting games For western eyes than western eyes making them for Asian countries.. It is why they end up playing more their own games than foreign western games. Cultural barrier is definitely a challenge and contributor to why fighting games are adopted worldwide , or not. Especially, if they display a roster of human fighters that greatly resemble real people/ethinicities/cultures etc. There is a high chance the player will try to identify to his/her fighter character avatar. It's why women enjoy playing videogames with more strong women/female representation in the game itself. They identify. The multicultural approach as certain benefits of making everyone feel included (inclusion, no alien foreign exclusion effect).

Games like Skullgirls, Blazblue have pushed this, Skullgirls is full of Girls and this is its entire premise ''all female roster'. While Tzompantli shows Mexican Maya Inca culture fighting game. This demonstrates a strong will of fighting games to break out of normative 'norms and show new non-token content/art.

I could go on and on, but I will stop, and let indie devs ponder on how to make a great fighting game. Thanks for reading. Hope this helps in any way.

(Just a 2 cents.)

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