Monday, December 8, 2008

Street Fighter DNA

The Street Fighter franchise is seemingly enjoying an emergence of sorts with its arcade-first release of Street Fighter IV and its impending console release as well as the better-late-than-never Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix version featuring updated graphics and a new mode containing various command and move tweaks. Moreover, Street Fighter IV plays more like a tribute to yesterday's Street Fighter ( with no air blocking, guard meters, parrying or any other advanced and layered mechanics you'd find in more recent iterations of Street Fighter like Third Strike or Alpha 3. In light of the current SF hype, I'd like to briefly talk about how some game developers have been subconsciously (and consciously) been showing tribute to Street Fighter ever since they first started their first job as a game developer.

Inspirational Assets

And there are a few reasons why Street Fighter is a major influence among some of today’s game designers. On the surface, Street Fighter is all about their iconic characters such as Guile and Chun-Li, memorable moves like Ryu’s fireball to Blanka’s ball projectile as well as the ability to string together attacks more commonly referred to as a “combo.” Sound familiar? Many of today’s action adventure games contain these fighting game elements.

On a deeper level, SF was a revolutionary game that introduced an unmatched level of player control, immersion, game feel, depth and instant gratification via responsive controls, clear and concise actions and reactions and unique special move control inputs.

Some additional inspirational elements: constant risk/reward feedback loop depending on strength or type of attack; different types of normal attacks: jab, strong, fierce, short, middle, roundhouse; blocking; throws.

The Catalyst for Inspiration

So it’s hard to imagine what many of today's action adventure video games would be like without the existence of Street Fighter. Without Street Fighter you probably would never have two-in-ones, special moves and super moves. Without Street Fighter you probably wouldn't have Devil May Cry or God of War in their current and memorable states. Most importantly, you never would have had the arcade explosion that resulted in the U.S. Street Fighter competitive scene that brought together some of the top Street Fighter players in the country to show off their skills and strategies.

And here's where the Street Fighter DNA was copied and transferred. The genetic makeup of Street Fighter--its essence and feel--was completely dissected, analyzed and permanently mapped onto some of these player's instincts where eventually this DNA will provide inspiration behind many of today's game developers.

Exposure either through local SF gatherings or regional tournaments allowed these future game developers to witness these game systems pushed to their limits. From here, they had the extreme starting point in which to go backwards and breakdown how these strategies are executed and how each system, individual mechanic and their respective properties work together to deliver the maximum feeling and amount of expressiveness to the SF player.

Street Fighter Playing Skill Not Necessary

Now as I mentioned many of the top Street Fighter players gathered at these national tournaments to show off their skills and compete against new players. Interestingly, many of those players that went on to become game developers weren’t necessarily the “top” SF players. In other words, being a high level game player wasn’t a prerequisite for becoming a game developer that used SF as an inspirational and research tool. Although it didn’t hurt to have the ability to be to able execute these expert strategies, the factors that contributed to becoming instinctively one with Street Fighter had more to do with the amount exposure to the high level strategies, passion for seeking out competition as well as the ability to meticulously breakdown, compare, contrast and analyze the game systems that allowed for the highest level of gameplay skill and flash.

Fighting Game Community Babies

In summary, the creation of Street Fighter would be the first step that would eventually inspire these players to become game designers. The second step was the creation of a more official gathering and showcase of talents: the Evolution Fighting Game Championships. Interestingly, many of today’s game designers have these two characteristics in common. Below is a list of just some of today’s game designers that have been birthed from the Evolution Fighting Game Championships or another portion of the fighting game community:

Derek Daniels - Xmen, Backyard Wrestling, God of War franchise
Eric Williams - Xmen, Backyard Wrestling, God of War franchise
Mark Acero - Backyard Wrestling, The Incredibles, Golden Axe
David Sirlin - Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix
Seth killian - Capcom Community Manager/SFIV Influence
Jason de heras - God of War 3
Adam Puhl - Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks, God of War franchise
Ben Cureton - Xmen, Wu-Tang
Jason Cole - Backyard Wrestling, TNA Impact!
Omar Kendall - Backyard Wrestling,
Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks, GUN, Tony Hawk


Bruno Velazquez said...

Nice article and you are right about Street Fighter, no SF = no GOW.

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