Comeback Factors

What do you think of X-factor in MvC3?

Comeback factors are weird in slippery slope games, that’s what I think. Hell, slippery slope games have a weird sense of fairness to begin with and comeback factors are weird.

Basically, as you lose characters, you lose neutral and combo tools, it’s a slippery slope. X-factor gets stronger in correlation to the number of characters you’ve lost. It’s character loss compensation. Though it does so by making your point character stronger/faster for longer periods of time, so it’s not exactly paying you back the stuff you lost, it’s not exactly counteracting the slippery slope. X-factor can frequently just flat-out win you the match by making everything you do better.

The trouble with comeback mechanics is that they make it so that the game is less consistent. In a game without comeback mechanics, a lead is a lead. If I’ve successfully won neutral on you enough times to to push your lifebar really low, you’ll need to put the same amount of work into winning neutral back at me to even it up. Comeback mechanics give you a chance to even it up without having to work as hard to do so as I originally had to in order to put you in that situation, making it so effectively, a lead isn’t a lead.

Another way of putting this is, there is no such thing as a true comeback mechanic, it’s only that who is in the lead gets abstracted as the game gets further in. If a comeback mechanism is powerful enough, then the game might very well become a race of who can take enough damage to get down to that point where they win. You might look at the guy in first place in Mario Kart and say he’s in the lead, but in reality the guy in last is holding a blue shell, a bullet bill, lightning, or so on. In games with powerful enough comeback mechanisms, you aren’t actually behind your opponents, you just can’t compute the actual state of the game. That’s part of what makes comeback mechanics frustrating, that the actual state of the game so clearly contradicts the apparent state of the game.

A classic example of this type of thing crops up in game shows like Jeopardy; early rounds are for only a few points, and later rounds are for a lot more points. So it may appear that you’re ahead early on, but in reality your current lead has almost no effect on whether you’ll actually win in the long run.

This comes from a corporate sort of thinking, “Everyone should have a chance to win! Games are more fun when they’re close!” But when you’re ahead and you get evened out by a comeback mechanic, it’s really grating. Comeback mechanics mean you need to respect characters more as they are almost about to kick the bucket. Comeback mechanics help strong experienced players, or mid-level players more than the noob trying to get into the game that might get scared off if they don’t have a comeback security blanket, because those mid-level players are the ones who can actually use it effectively, unlike the beginners.

The trouble with comeback mechanics in my opinion is is, sometimes the worse player wins, and with comeback mechanics, that’s likely to happen just a little bit more. It can help you close the gap in a bad situation that little bit more easily. It makes the game that little bit more inconsistent, and that can be frustrating to deal with.

More so than this:

Thankfully SFV decided to keep its comeback factor toned down, as a simple cancel and a super mode that gives you either the one good move you need, or a couple more options. And there’s different ways to charge the meter besides being hit, like using your V-Skill successfully.

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