Gamespot’s Fighting Games Symposium by Maxwell McGee was recently updated with five more pages, each one dedicated to a new voice and a new set of opinions. Patrick Riley of Sega, community veteran James Chen, NetherRealms Studio’s Adam Urbano, iPlayWinner founder Neidel “Haunts” Crisan, and Tekken godfather Katsuhiro Harada all weigh in on a variety of issues, including the possible implosion of the genre due to over-saturation, how fighting games might or might not cater to beginners, and what needs to be done to evolve their development.
Like the first part, the second features opinions from a wide array of viewpoints, making for an interesting and enjoyable read. We’ve included excerpts from each section below, but you can read the whole thing over at Gamespot. The new additions begin on page five.
Do you believe the fighting genre is at risk of imploding?
I absolutely agree. One thing that makes it difficult to break out of the tried-and-true approach is that quality and new approaches are not always rewarded. Virtua Fighter 5 rated highly on Metacritic. The 360 version was also on the forefront of online play for console fighting games, and yet it was a sales disappointment.
Sega definitely has some responsibility, and we’re applying a lot of the lessons we learned to what we are doing with Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown, such as trying to engage the community more deeply and showcase the title at events.
Unfortunately, this type of experience tends to make companies more conservative with a brand and less willing to take risks. Particularly, coming from the standpoint in which our last outing was a sales disappointment, we were very aware of the need to grow the audience. Even up to a year before we started development on the title, we requested that the development team include a training mode–similar to the one in Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution–that took players through the fundamentals.
Most fighting games follow a cycle of training and then playing competitively. Can a fighting game break this cycle and still be considered a fighting game? What will it take to realize the fighting game equivalent of a Portal or Fallout 3?
That doesn’t need to happen. In fact, if you think about it, fighting games are the Portal of the genre. I see Street Fighter II as the refined form of beat-‘em-ups like Final Fight and such. And now that we’ve been able to develop so many deep fighting games with amazing levels of strategy, there’s no real need to go a completely different direction.
Don’t get me wrong: it would be great if fighting games can remain diverse. I wouldn’t mind some games trying to go away from life bars or trying more unconventional things. Virtual On, for example, was pretty much a first-person fighting game with mechs. I wouldn’t mind that sort of thing, but there’s no reason to move beyond the one-on-one competitive nature of a fighting game.
Why do fighting games need to evolve?
Much like with any genre, we run the risk of players finding our games to be stale, which not only would have an impact on the existing fan base, but would make it hard for us to capture new players. Call of Duty certainly shares the core mechanics that have been in place since Wolfenstein, but the overall package in terms of value and depth to the player has evolved to an amazing extent in the intervening decades. Fighting games, similarly, need to push the envelope with every release in terms of the overall package to ensure that players don’t view a given franchise, or even the entire genre, as stale.
We are lucky in that millions of players around the world have enjoyed the release of every fighting game we have put out, and we owe it to them to constantly provide innovative new experiences and valuable features instead of rehashing the same game with a few tweaks for release after release.
How important are nontraditional modes in fighting games, are they worth the time and resources spent on development, and what (if any) benefit do they bring fighting games and/or their community?
I don’t think they are that important, and at the end of the day they make the game feel bloated with unnecessary content. I think those same time and development resources should be focused on making better tutorial modes and more engaging story modes, which I think all players will appreciate.
That said, stand-alone games, such as Super Puzzle Fighter II: Turbo, that use characters from existing franchises I think are great. They let players who may not necessarily have an interest in fighting games at the time get more familiar with the characters. In the long run I think those same players will come around and give the actual fighting games a chance if they recognize the characters.
Why do people enjoy fighting games?
Why do people play chess? Why do people compete in matches? Why do people fight at all? These are the bases for all games. You can’t explain it in one word, but in the case of fighting games in particular, the process by which players learn how to control the character–and the sense of fulfillment they get the moment they first feel directly linked to their character and can start using strategies–is very similar to the process of learning and reaping the rewards of something in real life.
It’s just one situation where happiness and pain go hand in hand. Fighting games allow you to experience the real-life event that all humans go through in a virtual world. In this system, the responses happening inside your brain aren’t all that different from in real life.
When it comes to fighting games, aside from learning the controls, a lot of them require knowledge and experience. These kinds of games also require physical ability, like reflexes and mental prowess, to stay in control while under heat. There may be substantial gaps between players, but the fun and thrill that this process makes you feel is the highlight of the fighting game genre.
Source: Gamespot, tip via David M.