Street Fighter II

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Matt Barton's picture

Ah, Street Fighter II, the game I hated with a passion in high school. Why the hate? Because it seemed like the only game that anyone was interested in playing. Later on, of course, there was hundreds of different versions, clones, spin-offs, and what have you, and people kept acting like they were "totally new." I took one look and thought, "You're delusional. That's the same game with minor differences." It amazed me how obsessed people got with these "fighting" games, studying the moves, "practicing" (as opposed to playing) for hours on end, etc. Bleh! I remember my friend going on for literally hours about one called "King of Fighters," making it sound like a revolution of the genre. I finally saw it, and could barely tell the difference between that and SF II. Even to this day, I don't know why so many people thought these games were so "unbelievably awesome." What am I missing?

The only games of this type I actually enjoyed were Way of the Exploding Fist for the Commodore 64 and Death Sword (aka Barbarian) for the Commodore Amiga. I played these quite a bit whenever I could find a partner. I also remember playing a bit with some kind of elf-themed fighter and Mortal Kombat for the Amiga. I thought Mortal Kombat was kinda neat, though I certainly don't think it warranted so many sequels and versions.

I guess the reason I didn't like these games was the "I'm going to beat you" type of gameplay. I've always been much more fond of co-op gameplay than the "deathmatch." It seems like games like SF II only lead to two possible outcomes: Either I win, and the other guy gets mad and doesn't want to play anymore, or vice versa. There's nothing worse than someone begging you to play a game of this sort just to beat you with a superior knowledge of all the special moves. It's really friggin' lame. I also hated it when one of them worked out some kind of trick, so they could keep doing the same unblockable move on you again and again. That made them feel powerful, I guess. Just seemed stupid to me.

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Cody Reimer
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Play to Win?

Matt, have you read Sirlin's article "Play to Win"? It's an oldie, but answers your question of "What am I missing?" regarding SF2 with a thorough analysis of game theory and design. His other articles on game design (Yomi Layer 3, for example) are also enlightening. You can find his articles here:

http://www.sirlin.net/Features/feature_PlayToWinPart1.htm

Cody Reimer
Freshman Composition TA
St. Cloud State University

Matt Barton
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That's a good article, fun

That's a good article, fun stuff. I definitely have been on both sides of the "scrub" issue. :) I remember playing Death Sword and loving the decapitation move. It was easy to blow or avoid, but it ended the fight instantly if it got through. I remember using it on my friend Max after what felt like a three-hour long fight (I'm not sure how long we were playing). We had worked out all the attacks and counter-measures, are were pretty much gridlocked. Then, I thought, hell, I know it'll never get through, but I'll try the decapitation move. Viola! Max's head came off, and boy, was he mad as hell. He never thought I'd try that move, because it was so easily blocked...He was stunned for a few seconds and that's all it took.

What usually happens on the other side is that someone will, like the article says, work out a bunch of "cheap" shots. The other player tries and tries, but can't work out a counter-measure. The other player might get on a high horse and keep saying, "Well, there's nothing to prevent you from doing the same thing to me," but that just seems lame. For instance, in World of Warcraft, there was a spot you could wedge your character into and kill people without their being able to touch you. To me, it was a glitch in the game and they were exploiting it. To them, I should be okay with it, because I could do the same thing if I wanted to. Call it "scrubness," but that just didn't seem like an honorable way to play to me. I put it in the same category as trainers, editors, cheat codes, and the like.

The one that really pissed me off the most was more complex. Someone would flag himself PVP and then stand right on top of a vendor or quest-giver. Then, when a NON-PVP flagged character tried to buy or turn in a quest, he'd accidentally click on the idiot and be flagged PVP. Then the guards would rush in and annihilate the player. This made me mad enough to try to report it, but everyone kept saying, "IT'S TOTALLY FAIR. YOU COULD DO THE SAME THING!!" Eh...whatever. That's not a code of ethics I care to live by.

On the other hand, if it is true that in these fighting games there is a viable counter-move for every move, I concede the point. It's only the genuine bug or glitch-exploits that bother me.

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Cody Reimer
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Fairness, Exploits, and WoW Arena

The PvP-flagged opposing faction on quest-giver/vendor/mailbox? Yeah, they get warned/suspended/moved by GMs; however, the GMs usually take so long working their way towards the complaints that you've given up and moved on by the time anything is done about it. Glitches like the one you talked about like the wedged-corner scenario require more information, but more than likely if the "creative use of terrain/game mechanics" was posing a threat to game play (if it was near a crucial quest hub, or a PvP area, and not just some esoteric crag in the middle of nowhere) the devs would eventually fix/ban it. You'll recall the early WoW days when roof-top battles were the norm, until Blizzard dropped the hammer and outlawed roof-top PvP.

Here's another example: early in TBC arena, players could remove their weapon prior to taking the que and put a temporary consumable buff on it (wizard oil, sharpening stone, etc.) and then after joining the match (upon entrance all buffs are removed, remember) re-equip their weapon and have the benefits of that temporary consumable buff. Was this an exploit? Yes. Did every hardcore, high end arena team that knew about this do it? Yes. Only after the devs fixed the problem did it stop.

In a game centered around min/maxing (munching, utilizing maximum efficiency, whatever you want to call it), any minor benefit will be taken advantage of by the bleeding edge competitive gamer. It is only the threat of losing their character to a ban, or the removal of the benefit by the developers that will cease their "merciless abuse" of the system to further their gains. Arena doesn't know fairness. Arena only knows win or lose. Pillar humping outrage was rampant when arena first came out (and still is because many "scrubs" refuse to play to win), but the competitive players, the ones who play to win, revised their strategies accordingly and went on to adapt to pillars' influence on the maps.

As far as the elitist gamer who replies "there's nothing to stop you from doing the same to me" goes, Sirlin addresses this topic in Part 2 or 3 I believe. He give the example of the arcade veteran who played his best no matter what and squashed even 7 year old girls in the fighting games. If you refuse to try to counter his "cheap move" or you don't bother attempting to "do the same thing to him" then your level of game play has just plateau'd by your refusal, and not by the game's mechanics. Your skill progresses as you face more challenging opponents.

The reason people clamored over each new fighting game (that to you, appeared the same as the version before it) is because it was a new chance to explore the terrain of the game, as Sirlin would say. New moves to learn, new counters to discover, new tactics to master meant that even if the characters were the same, everything was different. Each fighter platform gave enthusiasts a new chance to get in at the ground level and learn the mechanics for themselves (before others discovered it); it was a race to the highest peaks of game performance. A parallel can be seen in the early days of vanilla WoW (I know, you're probably tired of my WoW references by now). Blizzard would open new servers constantly, and people would reroll in droves. They already had other another character (often the same class, race, etc.), but this was a NEW server and that meant that they could be the first to max level, the first to kill a boss on this NEW server, the first to do any number of things. It was a great equalizer, and people love being "First."

Cody Reimer
Freshman Composition TA
St. Cloud State University

Calibrator
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Death Sword aka Barbarian
Matt Barton wrote:

I remember playing Death Sword and loving the decapitation move. It was easy to blow or avoid, but it ended the fight instantly if it got through. I remember using it on my friend Max after what felt like a three-hour long fight (I'm not sure how long we were playing). We had worked out all the attacks and counter-measures, are were pretty much gridlocked. Then, I thought, hell, I know it'll never get through, but I'll try the decapitation move. Viola! Max's head came off, and boy, was he mad as hell. He never thought I'd try that move, because it was so easily blocked...He was stunned for a few seconds and that's all it took.

Death Sword (or as it was called in Europe: "Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior") with its decapitation move was a prominent title to get on the notorious German "Index" which prohibits the selling of such titles (movies, games, books etc.) in the open which includes putting it on the shelves and advertising it. The only way for an adult to buy such stuff was to do business "under the counter" as mail ordering it was also forbidden (your kid could've accepted the parcel at your front door and opened it).

Even more ridiculous: If a games magazine happens to feature a game that gets on the index it is possible for the issue to get on the index also! This happens rather seldomly nowadays but games magazines are generally thought as advertisement to this day by the authorities (which in case of most German games magazines isn't far from the truth).

Hard to believe but true: Earlier titles on the index were Synapse's "Blue Max" and Activision's "River Raid"! Activision got the latter from the index in 2002 when they wanted to publish the "Activision Anthology" for the PS2. Without such a move this collection of classic titles would've gotten on the index also...

I haven't heard anyone taking Death Sword from the indexm though.
http://www.mobygames.com/game-group/bpjsbpjm-indexed-games

take care,
Calibrator

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Matt Barton
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River Raid and Blue Max???

River Raid and Blue Max??? What the hell? Why?

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Calibrator
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River Raid

Sometimes the reasoning behind it gets into the public.

According to this page: http://www.c64-wiki.de/index.php/River_Raid
"In der Begründung des Indizierungsbeschlusses vom 19. Dezember 1984 hieß es unter anderem: "Jugendliche sollen sich in die Rolle eines kompromisslosen Kämpfers und Vernichters hineindenken (...). Hier findet im Kindesalter eine paramilitärische Ausbildung statt (...). Bei älteren Jugendlichen führt das Bespielen (...) zu physischer Verkrampfung, Ärger, Aggressivität, Fahrigkeit im Denken (...) und Kopfschmerzen." (BPjS-Aktuell Heft 2/84)"

Which roughly translates to:

"In the justification for the ruling to index the game at December 19th, 1984, it says among other things: "Adolescents are coerced to think themselves into the role of an unapologetic warrior and exterminator (...). A paramilitary training happens in their infancy (...). With older adolescents the gaming leads to physical spasms, angriness, aggressiveness, mental fidgetiness (...) and headaches."

Did I promise too much? ;-)

As Blue Max has a similar concept as River Raid the reason for it's commercial death in Germany (which the effect of indexing a game) should be similar, too. But one could never be sure with the inspection authority ("BPjS") as its decisions were as random as ludicrous.

take care,
Calibrator

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Matt Barton
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Censorship
Calibrator wrote:

"In the justification for the ruling to index the game at December 19th, 1984, it says among other things: "Adolescents are coerced to think themselves into the role of an unapologetic warrior and exterminator (...). A paramilitary training happens in their infancy (...). With older adolescents the gaming leads to physical spasms, angriness, aggressiveness, mental fidgetiness (...) and headaches."

Mein Gott! I thought things were bad here. Geez, this is parody stuff.

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Troy Wilkins (not verified)
Elf themed fighter...
Quote:

I also remember playing a bit with some kind of elf-themed fighter and Mortal Kombat for the Amiga.

I'd bet that game was Elfmania:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBBiM9I80Mw
http://hol.abime.net/2832
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elfmania

Matt Barton
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I remember that Elf game as

I remember that Elf game as well. I remember getting it around the same time I got Mortal Kombat for the Amiga. Those were the difficult days between the ECS and AGA chipsets, IIRC, and MK is one of the last major ports I remember seeing on the platform.

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