High Execution in Fighting Games

Should fighting games have high executions?

Not the best worded question.

The simplest answer I can give is, yes, some things should be hard to do, other things shouldn’t be, these should ideally be in some way proportional to their role. If it’s a central character defining option, it should be more straightforward probably, as straightforward as can be managed with the control scheme. Like Eddie/Zato’s Shadow, there’s no way you could really make that simpler execution-wise without changing how the character functions.

That new game Rising Thunder is probably the elephant in the room here. I am in the alpha, and the design of the game does limit it. It has a 6 button layout, with 3 normals and 3 specials, meaning that you can’t get different versions of the specials by pressing different buttons, and many characters don’t have a normal anti-air (or in dauntless’ case, a sweep). It is a fun game, there’s no apparent flaws or mistakes in the character or system designs, and the characters are fairly unique. However by the nature of the way the game is designed, there’s just less moves and less way to combine the moves, because to get a more flexible system that allows for more differentiation between moves, you need to use command motions. It also leads to this effect where every character sort of feels like a charge character in that performing anti-airs or other hard punishes is only one button, so you can do it on reaction rather than buffering the input on anticipation. Crow has different versions of his flaming ring special (close, medium, far), but that’s about it. To get KoF hops, you have to add an execution barrier. To get high/low blocking, you’re adding something of an execution barrier. Sometimes you need execution-heavy things to implement a feature at all, or to differentiate between different functions of a single button.

Do games really need 1 frame links? Not really. If you have like, one 1 frame link somewhere or another in a place where it has a big reward for success, but isn’t integral to the character’s function, then go ahead. Hell, a lot of people didn’t really like the 3 frame FRCs in Guilty Gear AC+R, including Mike Z for one, because a lot of them came off as integral for how given characters play and it was a pain to have to work so hard for options that you should basically always be doing. Now I can gunflame pressure with Sol, which should be a fairly standard and easy thing to do (though that wasn’t one of the harder FRCs in AC).

Fighting games need some things to be high execution in order to balance them, like reversals, like 360s, like 720s, and those things attract people, in particular the 360s and 720s because they make the moves intrinsically work in this different way, where you need to buffer them with other movements, or be wary of jumping in the process of executing them. Reversals, you want those to be a somewhat risky proposition rather than something easy that people always have to respect, so that (unrelated: it feels soooo great to get a reversal super in Guilty Gear considering the input, HCB F + HS, and it’s a 1 frame window).

Something like shield dropping in Smash Bros, or moonwalking are probably harder than they reasonably need to be, but the multishine on fox and falco (frame perfect each time) are exactly as hard as they need to be. Moonwalking and shield dropping don’t provide very significant benefits and are best when players can do them consistently on demand. Shield dropping in particular is very difficult to do quickly, when it’s mostly useful for how quick it can be performed versus releasing shield and dropping.

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