One of the most exciting trends as the fighting game scene matures is the growing number of players who choose to develop their own games.
EXPO FIGHTER is a free to play web browser fighting game pitting video game industry inspired characters against one another. EXPO FIGHTER is planned for launch June 1st 2013. We sat down with the game’s creator to talk about his experiences as an independent developer.
Why create a fighter?
I’m a 31 year old so I was at just about the perfect age to experience the fighting game explosion in the 90’s. I vividly remember seeing Champion Edition for the first time, calling guile Gully, throwbacks, tips and tricks mags the whole thing. Most of my gaming life had been dominated with fighters.
Around 2005 I started working in the Vancouver Film School game design department as a TA and around this time I started really getting interested in multiplayer design and specifically competitive communities. I had released an indie title “Once Upon a Time” which was a multiplayer game and it was the mind games that we began to develop while testing that game that I really fell in love with. I wanted to dive deeper into that world so I tried going deep into 3rd strike, mvc2, smash melee, whatever I could get people to play.
All this was eventually leading to creating my own fighter. The problem was I’ve had a long time fear of fighting game design and specifically balance (maybe it was from playing too much 3rd strike and marvel). I felt a fighter was something to be attempted later in my career after really honing my craft. I spent time working on other projects in other genres and never really thought about committing to a fighting game design.
I think it was 2008 that I started creating a 2d fighter prototype in Unity for a class I was instructing on game Tuning. I was able to put it together pretty quickly due to understanding how these games are supposed to be designed thanks to all the great information out there about hitbox interactions and frame data etc. I felt confident that I could take this basic shell and build on it to create something solid.
What are your goals for Expo Fighter, and where do you draw inspiration?
I don’t have any monetary aspirations for Expo-Fighter I really just want to be proud of it at the end of the day. I would like the game to have a balanced cast of characters without sacrificing differentiation. I would like it to play well and allow any fighting game player, no matter their play style, to have a chance to shine while playing.
I’ll be honest, most of my inspiration comes from frustrations with the design of SF4. I’m an old man in fighting game land and I like my old man games. So a lot of the decisions I’ve made in the design have come from elements I feel work, elements that almost worked, and avoiding element I feel didn?t work specifically from the street fighter series. I might alienate some newer players but I feel in the end it will be a better game.
I purposefully decided that I wouldn’t reinvent the wheel with this game design. I want to understand traditional fighters so I took a traditional approach. I find new game designers get wrapped up in a super key feature or gimmick but I wanted to focus on the lower level design that I think makes or breaks a fighter. That being said I think the fact that this game is a somewhat quality web browser title goes a long way to differentiating it. If you are watching the ECT stream in one tab and don’t feel like powering on the PS3/Xbox you can jump on to expo-fighter.com and practice some combos or play some matches. I hope the accessibility of it is a draw.
What were some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Deciding to create this project 100% on my own from the scripting to art to design was a huge challenge that I felt I needed to take on. I guess I am at a point in my life that I need to prove to myself that I can do this, that I have these skills.
Marketing and getting the name out there has always been the greatest challenge on any indie I’ve worked on. I always want to create; I can put effort in and see the result of that effort in the final product. Blogging and tweeting and emailing random people is such a time consuming drag that I have trouble committing time to it. But it is absolutely important for an indie to get the word out and get people talking or else all that hard work will be lost in the sea of games. There is nothing worse than a great game that isn’t played.
Expo Fighter runs in the PC browser. Has that made things more difficult for you?
Haha, #1 challenge with a web browser fighting game: The web player doesn’t allow GGPO to work with it!
I’ve had a ton of issues related to this being a PC based game and most of them due to networking. I can’t even test with my girlfriend due to the way her internet is set up. It has been a real struggle.
There are some great benefits though. I can find issues or make tuning changes and turn around a new build within the same day. No delays or certification issues like Mike and the boys have had to deal with on Skullgirls. Of course this puts more responsibility in my hands but I think I prefer it that way.
Any last thoughts?
I hope people give Expo-fighter a real shot and look past the comedy and parody to see that I am trying to create a solid fighter as well. I am working furiously on the game to create the best experience I can and I hope it shows in the end. I know we are reaching another saturation point with the shear amount of fighters out there and asking a player to commit time to yet another title is asking a lot but I am hoping the game is familiar enough that you will be able to get up to a competent level quickly. Please send me your feedback as well, I love discussing fighters and hearing peoples thoughts.
Try out the game on June 1st and I’ll see you guys at EVO!