The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posts Tagged ‘Fightin’ Games’

Posted by Matt on July 31, 2011

Hey, that gender diversity in comics topic is still pretty hot right now, isn’t it? Better hop on the train while the hoppin’s good.

In short, hiring writers and artists of diverse gender, race, sexuality, and background is not simply that old affirmative action canard. It’s a about getting a wide variety of styles into the mix that could then appeal to a wide variety of people. Plus, it opens up the hiring prospects quite a bit, so not only are you not just getting white guys to make everything, but you’re also not getting THE SAME white guys to make everything. This isn’t some draconian feel-good rainbow concept; this is intelligent business for anyone in a creative industry, one that doesn’t plan on stagnating any time soon.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like that includes the biggest names in the comics industry right now.

Of course, I also buy into the counterargument that while there are quite a few female talents in comics (and there really are), there might not be as many female talents in comics who want to play in some big corporation’s multimillion dollar sandbox, where there every idea will be absorbed and exploited for profit by others, with the only credit they get being a ‘Created by’ sidebar on Wikipedia. It’s not like creator’s rights at the big comics companies hasn’t been in the news lately. Same goes for the black creators, or the gay creators, and all the others. So there’s that to consider, as well.

It’s one of those things in comics. A lot of people, myself included, would like to see Marvel and DC improve their publishing outfit, and that includes hiring more and better talent. However, we also have to recognize that the work-for-hire scenario they offer is pretty rotten, so unless someone is either (a) absolutely in love with Marvel/DC’s universes and characters and doesn’t care about the downside of working for them, (b) like Warren Ellis and Joe Casey, who take on books for mainstream publishers solely as a self-imposed creative challenge, or (c) really like money (but not a substantial amount of money, albeit probably more than the average independent will get on their own), why should we expect said people to WANT to work for them? There’s a hell of a lot more avenues to get your work out there now, so really, why bother? It’s not like being a Spider-Man writer or artist or inker or colorist will be much of an status upgrade; it’s going from a niche to a slightly larger niche.


On a related note, here’s another observation culled from an addiction to trolling comment sections.

One of the frequent wrong ideas perpetrated by the masses in the world of fanservice-based fighting games (yes, I’ve seen it used for every. single. one.) is to lay the blame for the lack of diversity in gender/race (not sexual orientation, though. Gamers aren’t demanding proper homosexual representation. What a shock) on the developers of the game. Basically, if the game doesn’t meet some arbitrary quota of female characters, it’s a sausage fest. I mean, it’s clearly just the individual commentators trying to find the game’s character picks guilty of some social injustice so they can justify their whining about whatever characters THEY wanted not getting in, but let’s address another reason why it doesn’t hold up.

You see, the people behind games like Marvel vs Capcom 3, or Super Smash Bros. or Street Fighter x Tekken, are limited in their material. They set out to make a game that uses previously established characters, and like all fighting game developers, try to make the cast as diverse gameplay-wise as possible. Basically, they want to make the game interesting and fun, but can only use other people’s creations. So, that’s what they do: out of those creations, they choose the bunch that would include the greatest variety of gameplay styles, factoring in aesthetics and fanbases as well. This means that, unless they think it fills a particularly important gameplay or aesthetic niche, they will not consider that character’s gender or race or whatever, because that becomes secondary or tertiary when you bring in gameplay and giving the greatest number of different fans what they want. They’re just trying to do what’s best for the game with the material they set out. As some other commentators in the same arenas point out, there is no point in adding a character to these games if it’s just because they’re female.

Besides, the anger is completely misaimed. You want to see more women or black people showing up in these games? Ask the people who make the games these games pull their material from to create more diverse sets of characters. The world would be so much better if more games had a greater variety of protagonists and antagonists, anyway. So not only do the fanservice games get a wider variety of characters to use, but the games themselves would be more interesting. Everybody wins!

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Posted by Matt on June 18, 2011

Oh god, what now?

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Posted by Matt on July 27, 2010

And now for the regular reader unfriendly posts.
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Posted by Matt on May 9, 2010

I’ll explain: the reason why I’m playing Pokemon again, aside from nostalgic residue, is because it plays perfectly into my OCD desire to customize characters and make a distinctly ‘me’ team in games. For this same reason, I also like SRPGs like Final Fantasy Tactics and Disgaea, as well as Worms. The fact that’s it’s a simple fun RPG that can be played anywhere is a bonus.

I don’t understand this trend among a lot of online Pokemon fans or former fans who seem to think every monster made after the first games are shit. They’ll say things like “Oh, well the first 150 were more like actual animals. and the later ones are too weird!” (there are several answers to this question: (a)there’s a mix of more ‘down-to-earth’ designs and weirder ones in every game, and (b)who cares? Did you not notice the part where this a game of magic monster fighting for kids?), and it seems to be based more on nostalgia than any actual logic. I mean, what kind of standards do people have for cartoon creatures? For me, it goes like this: if I were ten years old, would I draw this?

Is every Pokemon design awesome? No, but when you’re creating 100+ new designs every few years, each one attempting to fill a specific niche, that happens.

As you can see, I discuss matters of utmost importance on this here site.


Some have been freaking out about Marvel vs Capcom 3 since not long after it was announced. Capcom has made mention that they want the game to appeal to as broad a audience as possible. Since Street Fighter IV, ‘hardcore’ fighting players know what that means: they will not be the primary demographic the game is designed for! They will ‘dumb down’ the game and make it for casuals and scrubs!!!!! More importantly, it won’t be exactly the same as Marvel vs Capcom 2!!!!!!!!!!!

And now they have evidence: the game is going to use the 3-normal-attack layout (like Tatsunoko vs Capcom) instead of the 4-button of MvC2. Here’s the thing, though: that layout worked in TvC. In a more fantastic game like this, you don’t need to follow the Street Fighter standard 6-button layout, because you don’t need to have specific buttons for punches and kicks like those game do. Some people complained before TvC came out that it would be confusing not knowing which button is a punch and which button is a kick, but I think that’s more of a problem with preconceived notions than anything else. In any case, you have to figure out what the button does; even if you know it’s a punch or a kick, you still have to know what that punch or kick does. so what difference does it make if it’s not specifically either?

The other argument against this is that it limits the amount of moves that each character can have. That’s a possibility, but I doubt it’s really a significant hamper. For example, in TvC, Ryu’s moves are easy to figure out even without a Punch/Kick separation; and unless one thinks every character should have a dozen different special moves (which wouldn’t even be in-line with past MvC games), the system works out fine. Yes, the game will technically have fewer attacks than, say, Street Fighter IV, but so what? These games have never really been as ‘in-depth’ as the SF games, or at least not in the same regards. Don’t forget: this game also has lots of its own unique features (everything revolving around the assist system, snapbacks, aerial raves, stuff like that) to help provide a unique strategic experience, and they announced ALL those features being brought back alongside the new button layout. Losing an attack button really doesn’t hurt the possible depth of the game that much, from what I can see.

I had considered the possibility that they would use this control scheme; my only concern was it would use an odd number of buttons with the two assist buttons needed for a 3v3 game (in TvC, it worked out very well with only one assist, leading to 4 buttons). They solved this problem by adding the Exchange attacks, which actually sounds pretty interesting. Aside from providing one-button launchers (which is fine by me, I see no real difference between using a specific button and DF+HP for it) and other easier access combo-oriented attacks, it can also be used to counter other Exchange attack, depending on what they use. So, not only do they solve the even/odd layout issue, as well as make a certain important aspect of the game very slightly more doable, but they even added entirely new ideas in the process! I’ll be curious to see more about this new thing.

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Posted by Matt on January 21, 2010

Let’s talk character selections in upcoming games, shall we?
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A serious post

Posted by Matt on October 25, 2009

I love fighting games. The problem is that there just aren’t that many of them anymore…or, atleast, not that many interesting or worthwhile ones.

I’ve seen people try to argue that the genre has come back to 90s-levels these days, what with the return of Capcom to the scene. The problem with that, however, is that there is little to no variety in the present fighting game scene. Yes, it’s nice to see Street Fighter and Vs. games back on the market, but reviving old series can’t be the solution to the general fighting game drought, can it? I mean, now we just have two more familiar faces joining the regular iterations of Tekken, Guilty Gear, and the like…the ones that never went away. But that’s pretty much it, aside from filler crap like Naruto games, and the odd new game like Blazblue. If the genre was really ‘back’, wouldn’t we be seeing a greater level of experimentation?

That’s the thing. What Street Fighter IV and Tatsunoko vs Capcom should inspire is a renewal in fighting game production, and with that, ideas. Both these games go back to the basics to draw more people in. This is a good thing: one of the reasons fighting games stagnated is because they became increasingly complex, meaning only veterans or people with lots of time on their hands could get into them. Gone were the days where two friends could fire up Street Fighter II and just putz around. It seems that the fighting game producers started making games specifically for the hardcore fans, meaning that they weren’t actually creating any new hardcore fans (this is the same thing Marvel and DC keep doing with their superhero comics). The audience shrank, and the genre became unprofitable. (not that the hardcore fans really cared, they were more concerned with being the top of whatever their chosen game was). The only fighting game series that went beyond navel-gazing was Smash Bros., which ironically is often snubbed as ‘not a real fighting game’ by snobby, insular fighting game fans, while also having its own set of snobby, insular fans who pretty much stand against the spirit of the series.

But Capcom’s succesful return could serve as an inspiration for others. While it doesn’t mean that hardcore-oriented fighting game need to go away completely, it does indicate that there’s a wider world out there for developers. They don’t need to be making opaque games for a small audience; they don’t need to please only one set of people. We could see a whole crop of new ideas being implemented in fighting games; Since they have become ‘viable’ again, publishers might not be as hesitant to greenlight new ones.

The rise of downloadable games makes it an even better situation for fighting games right now. If you don’t want to spend the cash for a full retail game that might or might not make its cost back, you could put them on XBLA or PSN or WiiWare or Steam. These services are great for smaller, arcade-style experiences, so fighting games are a natural fit. I’m actually surprised we haven’t seen more of them…we have plenty of indie developers who make homages to Mario, Metroid or classic beat-em-ups, so where are the old school fighting fans who became game developers? Maybe they’ve just been hiding.

Of course, this is just what COULD happen. As you can see, it doesn’t really seem like anyone is looking at SFIV‘s success and is saying ‘Hey, we can make fighting games again!’ And it seems like most fans would just like to see more revivals, like Darkstalkers, rather than completely new things (whoah, a shocker there). I might be alone in my belief that the spirit of creativity that was present in the Darkstalkers‘, Slam Masters‘, and Power Stone‘ of the past needs to revived before those actual games should be. But I also seem to be part of a disorganized demographic of people who like fighting games, but aren’t tourney-level players. Between them and the nostalgic set, we might not be a priority anytime soon.

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