Consistency of Skill in Fighting Games

What do you think of consistency in fighting games? If fighting game players are consistent/not consistent with their results in tournaments, is it necessarily a bad thing?

It’s tough. Consistency is a mixed blessing is about all I can say after some deliberation on the topic.

We have two case examples, SFV where players are allegedly really inconsistent, and Melee where players are super consistent.

Going back to Theory of Fun, you want some level of inconsistency. If there is nothing inconsistent about the game, then it’s not fun. This inconsistency can come from difficult techniques, tricky evaluations, randomness, or predicting a human opponent. Even a turn based game of perfect information like Chess or Go has a level of inconsistency among players, because the state size is so large that nobody can hold a perfect solution to the game in their head, or account for every possible move their opponent can make.

However building on Theory of Fun, building consistency is fun. If players cannot build consistency over time, if the game’s outcome is perfectly random or close to random, then players become bored or frustrated with the game when they feel like there isn’t actually a way to consistently win.

The top 5 players in Melee aren’t unbeatable, Leffen moved up in a short period of time out of nowhere to join them, and was briefly on top. However getting to that level requires a crazy amount of investment. The drawback of consistency is that players with different levels of investment into the game can’t compete evenly with each other. The more the game rewards the building of difficult skills, the further a player can distance themselves from players below them. The more the game is influenced by randomness or predicting an opponent, the more possibility there is for a less skilled player to succeed. Predicting an opponent is a skill in of itself, but people can be chaotic, which is why RPS doesn’t have consistent winners.

Fighting games have two big elements, predicting people, and mastering difficult techniques. Because people behave inconsistently, and the outcome is highly dependent on picking actions that counter your opponent’s actions, matches progress very differently each time. If it were a match of pure efficiency then we would see more consistent winners, but also that would take away a huge factor that makes the game fun.

In general, I tend to be in favor of consistency more than inconsistency. I’m fine with Melee being as consistent as it is. I think it adds credibility to the game. Armada’s on top because he treats the game like a full-time job and no one else does. People might not like the lack of upsets, but I mean, it’s the nature of the beast.

I’ve noticed some players/pro players saying Street Fighter V is slightly luck based. Is this true?

In all strict terms, no. People think the game lacks consistency because the cap for execution skills is very low and the game forces a lot of rock paper scissors situations.

Because it can all come down to this RPS business, it gives people the impression that the game can swing either way at any point, that the effort they put in is going nowhere.

Actually, since SFV has wrapped up, Tokido’s winner’s speech brought up a good point about it. He said that training mode was useless and the most important thing about SFV is controlling your opponent, and given his performance, it makes sense.

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