Balancing FGs & SFV Season 2

What is the art of balancing a multiplayer game properly, like Street Fighter for example. What is the process that goes into evaluating what needs to be nerfed and what needs a buff, and how they go about improving those characters or mechanics? Is it simple as stat changes or an animation change?

It’s a matter of figuring out what’s actually good and bad about the character. What’s supposed to be good and bad? Like all this shit with Juri:

I think Mike Z does amazing patches, so this would probably make a good demonstration:

The key is, you want to retain what is good about the character, and remove excessive strengths. The things that make a character good are part of what people enjoy playing that character for, part of what make the character distinct.

Chun Li, Ken, and Yun all have amazingly powerful supers for example. People enjoy using them because they are so powerful, but they also are way better than their other super choices, and other characters’ supers. So the change with most of them is reducing how many stocks they can hold at once, and in Yun’s case, increasing the length of the meter, so he can’t get it so quickly.

In the case of bad characters, you need to figure out what their strength was even meant to be and draw that out. You need to figure out how they’re lacking compared to the rest of the cast and

As a game is better balanced, this is harder. Fighting games are games of matchups. Every time you adjust one character, you affect how they play against every other individual character. You might give a character a tool to help a little in one matchup, and find it lets them dominate an enemy in another, which is bad.

What I want to see from SFV Season 2 is removal of the most egregious issues with the game (anti-air jabs). Some very slight nerfs to the most ridiculous aspects of the top tier characters (mika is rumored to no longer be able to wallbounce mid-screen, which I think is actually kind of disappointing). And most importantly, buffing the low tier characters to match the strength level of the top tier characters.

This usually does not mean animation changes. This is usually possible with only changing the length of animations, the amount of hitstun, the amount of damage, or moving hitboxes around. You can have the game look the same way and change a surprising amount about how it works.

Of course Juri’s V-Skill probably could stand to be changed, because it’s pretty awful.


3rd strike has no iframes on most DPs. DPs without iframes can beat frametraps if they’re fast enough. Most likely the iframes will be moved off the startup frames onto the active frames.

I’m not a fan of this change, considering I play an invincible DP character, and I think being able to DP out of blockstrings is a nice form of high risk low reward counterplay, but it’s not the worst thing in the world.

They’re also increasing the pushback of lights and increasing the distance between you and your opponent on throw (or just making quickrise faster) so you have less advantage time on knockdown. Meaning that offensive options are worse, as well as knocking out the DP defensive option (which again is dumb, because DPs are already “bad” in this game because of how hard they can be punished). So basically vortex play will become harder to do at the same time defensive options get worse.

Overall, I think a lot of the season 2 changes are way too drastic. None of the top tier characters have options that allow them to dominate on that option alone (except maybe mika’s irish whip and I don’t agree with the nerf they chose there). They also increased pushback on guile’s c.MP, meaning he can’t do his full corner loop, which is stupid. The character was mid-high tier at best, he doesn’t need a nerf this severe. It might bring into play a wider range of V-trigger combos and setups than previously seen, so that might be nice, but I still don’t like them removing basically the best use of his full V-trigger gauge.

Also from the information we have, the bottom tiers aren’t receiving enough buffs.

Oh, and let Cammy crush counter crouching characters! (alliteration, damn!) (She probably shouldn’t get this ability, considering she’s already great, I’m just selfish)

What is your opinion on Season 2 SFV?

I haven’t played it so much. I don’t really like their balance philosophy. The way James Chen or Ultra David put it, the top two characters (urien, guile) right now are really fun to play, but it would be cool if everyone was really fun to play. It’s cool that there’s more combo routes now for various characters. Like I really wish they realized that the top tier characters in S1 were fine the way they were and buffed the lower tier characters. The S1 top tiers didn’t have anything especially overpowered besides maybe mika’s irish whip.

I don’t think they should have gotten rid of all invincible DPs in this way. An issue with Season 1 was that offense was too strong, but the obvious fix that would have solved that was just less input delay.

The balance will probably still be better than S1, but it’s kinda regrettable that they had to go the typical “lets nerf and buff random stuff and wreck any character that won prolific tournaments like evo and capcom cup” route. I wish they explained the reasoning behind their nerfs and buffs in the patchnotes. FANG’s nerfs in particular are weird as hell. It’s almost like they tested on a dev copy and made nerfs based on versions of the game we never saw, like “oh, if we change this, then this happens, and this character was secretly really strong against this, so lets nerf them for next season based on the other character’s changes”.

Make everyone fun to play. This matters more than balance. Balance is nice, but more important is depth. Nerfs are occasionally necessary, but LET THE STRONG CHARACTERS KEEP THE SHIT PEOPLE ENJOY ABOUT THOSE CHARACTERS, AND GIVE THE PLAYERS OF WEAK CHARACTERS SOMETHING NEW TO LOVE ABOUT THEIR CHARACTER!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s