What fighting games aren't telling you (but probably should) - lightslingergame.com

What fighting games aren’t telling you (but probably should)

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Last video, we’ve looked at ways you convinced yourself (rightly or wrongly) that you couldn’t enjoy fighting games.

Today, I want to look at one little talked about aspect where fighting games do make it harder for you to get into them, in a way that might be unnecessary.

Big thanks again to Seldom Sad Sam for capturing some SF6 Beta footage for be, go sub to his channel:

00:00 Intro
00:59 Tutorial problems
01:55 Moves have purposes
02:50 Sharing knowledge about moves
04:01 Sharing knowledge about characters
04:35 Ways to share knowledge
06:22 Learning by doing
07:59 Matchup knowledge
08:38 Training modes
09:51 Feedback when learning
12:21 Feedback when playing
14:07 I ask for your opinion
14:28 Outro


  1. Fighting games in general just need to teach you more visually. New players get destroyed constantly because the game doesn't visually tell them what they did wrong, so they just eat the same attacks over and over. The frame data and everything can stay the same, but the moves need to pop out more somehow to convey the idea that a certain attack is coming.

    Tekken (the fighting game I'm most knowledgeable in) has a lot of moves where the animation goes low, looks like a low attack, but then the hitbox turns out to be a mid and you eat shit for blocking wrong. It's the same situation for highs: you go to high-crush an attack and then end up eating a full combo from the mid that hit you. Throws are even worse: if you're not paying attention to way the opposing characters uses their hands to grab you'll end up eating massive damage if you don't break that throw within a 15-20 frame window. A lot of people (myself included!) can't visually identify what throw is coming at that speed, so instead we just guess if it's a 1, 2, or 1+2 throw.

    Maybe have a subtle hint of what is coming through the uses of some particle effects? High attacks have a red spark, low attacks have a yellow spark, etc. Having something to visually identify a move at a glance would allow the player to learn mid-match without having to head to practice mode to find out why they lost. I'm not sure if this would be popular as it may potentially lower the skill ceiling, but the skill floor would be lowered drastically and would visually teach players why they got hit by a certain move.

  2. I'm not totally sure why but I appreciate the Notifications when playing a fast paced fighter like SF but I've never missed it playing Tekken.

    Maybe there's one or two things that aren't clear? But you pretty much realise everything that's happened in Tekken just by watching it occur. Maybe hearing sound effects

    Like being countered or punished. It just feels self evident through playing I find and doesn't really need text popping up in the screen telling you their sweep kick bear your High Attack and put you in a juggle state.

    Is it cause its a slower game overall? Because its also a 3D game? Not sure.

  3. 14:17 To me, the hardest thing is getting down combo timings. I would love if more training modes had indicators to show me if a combo isn't linking because I'm pressing the buttons too slow or too fast

  4. Yeah it is right. Most if not all Fighting Game tutorial suck but I don`t think thats an issue in the great scheme of things. If anything showing frame data and such is even more off putting.
    I think there is a hard limit on how appealing a Fighting Game can be. Because to really engage with one, you have to learn to lose.Think about it, no matter how good you are, if there are enough players and the matchmaking works, your winrate will never be over 50%. And that's in an ideal environment. In reality you have really to work for this 50 percent (because of lag of low level players and smurfs).You want Fighting Game to be more appealing? Give the Players more free stuff as a reward. I played so much DOA 2 back in the day just for the costumes. I think thats the way to go.
    Nowadays I have to pay twice or thrice as the game itself for that. In my opinion that's the biggest letdown of modern Fighting Games. For Christ Sake, it is not unusual to pay for just color palette.

  5. I think something great that SF6 could bring is limiting the player's move list from the get go in the story mode so he can get use to his moveset gradually.

  6. despite having no tutorial, i find tekken to be the easiest to learn

  7. I consider myself a casual veteran, as I've been playing fighting games casually since I first touched a console, but I haven't played ranked more than 5 hours.

    I think that games should let you customize how much information is displayed. At first you would like the game to tell you everything, the counters, the invincibility, etc. But as you keep playing, you would just turn it off because it's no longer something you don't know. Kind of like training wheels.

  8. My ideal fighting game:

    – Is slow. Very slow. I think I might like the mind games and the real-time navigation of a moderately complex decision tree of fake-outs, attacks, counters and counter-counters, but I'm old and don't go so fast no more.
    – Is clear. No cluttering up the screen with a zillion particles. The cute animal one with very few colors looked visually clean. Also a bit plain, but if I'm ever to be able to think my way through a game, I must be able to compute the actual game state in my head based on the screen image.
    – Is relatively simple. I don't want to learn a large-ass move set. Make the big thing happen in the combinations and responses.
    – A youtube colleague of yours praised a feature whereby you can take control of a character in the middle of a replay. Sounds legit, then you can practice execution of a response to a particular move in the middle of a real fight.
    – In terms of on-screen data: some representation of the decision tree going forward from each point. For example, given that my opponent is stuck doing whatever it is they'll be doing for X frames, I can do A, B and C before they can react. If I do A then I can also do D, E and/or F, giving my opponent a reaction window only long enough to block, not punish. If they block, they [and so on…].
    – Maybe combine this with the option to step through the game one frame at a time, combined with the resume replay function. That way, my slow ass brain can get enough time to think through the possibilities.

    TL;DR: ya can't git gud with no homework, so help me do the homework. Give me every tool that helps me do the homework.

    My assumption is that fighting games factor relatively neatly into two components: planning and execution. Planning is all about knowing which actions are good in which situations; execution is recognizing the situations and firing off the good responses. The homework is then (a) studying the decision space one frame at a time to plan better; and (b) practice recognition and response in a live fire exercise. Or maybe a live fire non-exercise.

  9. You are one of my favorite new finds in our FGC community. Glad to be one of your first few thousand subs! Can't wait to see more. You got some good takes and it's helps me explain to my friends, who I'm trying to get into them playing some fighters with me, wassup with the genre. Mostly I want em to like playing on their own not just with me so that we can all play on the same level. Usually if I lose its because I got tilted because one of my boys is hitting me with a knowledge check he found and is exploiting my weakness to it (i.e. throws) because I usually don't practice the games we usually end up playing, SC6 and DBFZ, to give em a chance, make it fun for all. Most of the time I still win because of my knowledge of fundamentals. But that's why I want em to get good so we can be on the same level and then it's TRULY fun for everyone.

  10. I think getting the knowledge to the player when it's relevant to them is important. someone won't go into the game knowing how to punish certain moves and won't bother looking at frame data at all. however, if the player loses to balrogs dash punches over and over again, and the game has a match review option in the post-match screen that tells them what moves can punish that move seconds after the match is over. the player will be more inclined to look into it because they know what being hit with that move is like. having fast access to information is great, but having fast access to information that's relevant to you is better

  11. I have been saying for years that fighting game tutorials do not teach how to play, thanks for the excellent presentation of all these thoughts

  12. I have been saying for years that fighting game tutorials do not teach how to play, thanks for the excellent presentation of all these thoughts

  13. As a total beginner and rookie to fighting games, the biggest thing that I really need better feedback on is button inputs. It is so frustrating trying to input the same combo or move 30 times and not being able to figure out whether something is wrong with my inputs or my timing, if my inputs are too slow, too fast etc. Getting visual feedback on what I'm doing wrong in situations outside of the lab would be so useful

  14. As a beginner I think clean UI that gets across what it is you need to convey is really important. How good your training mode is doesn't matter if I can't find it, etc.
    A thing I've never seen but would love to see is a very specific training mode feature, only let me perform the selected actions. So blocking out any inputs that would cause it not to go through, this way I could find out exactly why I keep messing up something I'm certain I'm inputting correctly, to go with this. Next to moves in a move list I think it could be nice to show the exact time window I have between one part of an action to another for it to come out, it's always difficult for me at least to understand if I'm messing up the input itself or just performing it too slowly.

  15. I don't know why there has never been a fighting game where you choose a fighting style and then you go through a story mode which is actually about teaching you to fight. In a dojo setting against a rival who uses movements which are problematic for your character. Your sensei then gives instruction and you apply it and use it to overcome your rival. All part of an overall story that would be far superior to just: there is a tournament. Like: why should I care? Because. I have trained for this tournament and I want to honor my teacher and prove my martial skill. Skipping the learning and going straight to the fight robs it of meaning. Thus, engagement.

  16. I wish games had so much better ways to actually 'decode' a character roster. Even games with very clear cut character gimmicks, such as the BlazBlue series, aren't the greatest at introducing and demonstrating what a character is capable of and why you might want to play them; nevermind games where the differences can be a lot more subtle, especially when 'clone' characters come into the picture and make it even harder.

  17. This was an amazing write up, I hope that every fighting game developer gets a chance to watch this and take notes.

  18. They need to take the word "training" literally.

    when practising a move Kinesthetic learners would learn much better if (for example) a voiceover said "ah, your second input there needs to come a touch sooner – or on screen for those that don't like the sounds)

  19. As a noob casual fighter, i thought blazblue did a good job of teaching me the basics

  20. I started playing ggst a few days ago and one of the things that would be rlly handy to know is which moves are plus on block so u can know which moves are good for approaching your opponent and stuff, idk how u would put that in a tutorial tho

  21. It's funny how all this is a "problem" that originates from the fact that most people aren't physically playing with each other anymore. Learning a fighting game alone is terrible, even if you have online play since online play in my experience might as well just be better AI. The benefit of having IRL groups to practice and exchange info is so invaluable that it's kind of freaky that it wasn't mentioned at all in this video. If a FG isn't telling you info, the guy next to you might as well know it and say it.

    And before anyone says "but I can't IRL," think about all the people who do, say, Judo, BJJ or wrestling or any other combat sport that has a heavy emphasis on 1v1 sparring during training. It's the same thing as asking how you can get better at those on your own. The question makes no sense. And if you can't IRL, then oops I guess you're going to have a hard time getting into FGs, tough luck there.

  22. Yes and No.

    It's a lesson for life. Go and do. Just go.
    Empty your mind. Imagine yourself as a nobody. Separate your self worth from the thing you're doing. You're new – look at yourself that way.
    And your mind will do everything else. You'll start recognising patterns. You'll start understanding and sometimes not understanding what happened – you'll start doing detective work.
    It will become engaging.

    And that is all the fun of learning.
    Ah yes…Learning. The thing that games have been steadily trying to erradicate in the last 15+ years, holding your hand through everything, rewarding you for not doing anything and making you a hero for clicking through cutscenes.

  23. Mortal Kombat style campaigns but with more focus on learning mechanics are probably the most important thing to make fighting games popular again. Hopefully world tour does this well but so far it doesn't look as good as something like mk9.

  24. Rivals of Aether is very good about this with their tutorial.

  25. I'm not an absolute beginner, but I'm not what I'd call well practiced in anything in the fighting game genre. But one thing I personally found helpful was the story mod in DBZ Budokai 1, where the game doesn't expect you to memorize entire combos and movelists right away. It teaches you one, then has a battle that mechanically directs you to it. Or it adds a limited number of techniques to the move list, so you're not looking at a wall of text.

    It has its own flaws (like changing the character around on you), but at least I knew what was going on and why certain things weren't triggering.

  26. Unless I've missed an option to do so I wish Guilty Gear strive let me slow down the speed at which I'm shown the combo done by the CPU because even though it's probably done at a realistic speed it doesn't help me with understanding or being able to follow it and that's with me already having a list of what i'm supposed to be doing. For some of them I also just switched from missions to training mode just to practice without only having 5 short tries.
    There's also a bit of a lack in clarity about what I'm supposed to do it took me a while (and some outside sources) to figure out what a Z-looking formation is supposed to be or how to do May's charged attack despite it being kind of straight forward and simple in retrospect (but also not being told that I can charge it wile I'm doing a different hit).
    One one hand the more I find out the more appreciation I have for all of it but on the other hand I whish the bar of entry didn't feel so high.

  27. Some more advanced things that might help without needing a replay viewer would be putting the frame advantage of moves and how much frame advantage you need to guarantee a punish in the move list rather than just on-screen when they come out (for games that have frame data), and with this maybe letting you look up a move and the game spits back every move your character has that will punish it on block. Instead of needing to trial and error to find an answer you can just auto-search when you notice a move is giving you too much trouble. Maybe even do the inverse where if you look up your own character's attack it would show all the ways that the opponent could punish it to help learn matchups and to some extent teach block strings since people would see "If I end on this they can punish with a combo starter but if I end with this instead all they can do is jab."
    On that note, maybe also something that tracks when you're getting hit and by what. Something that would say like what state your character was in (neutral, attacking, crouch blocking, jumping, dashing, etc.) and what classification of move was hitting you (moves within an opponent's combo wouldn't add to this, it would just be the initial hits). If you are jumping too much and getting anti-aired, instead of needing to manually recognize that during a match or watch a replay you could simply look at your recent match data and say, "Oh wow I got hit by like 20 anti-airs in one game." or "The game is saying 70% of the hits I was taking were counter hits, that's a big problem for me." It would be an in-depth teaching tool that wouldn't do much more than a replay viewer could but it would give people way more visible and accessible feedback on bad habits in the play style.

  28. Fighting games aren't for everyone. It's for the elite 0.1% of gamers. If that is accepted, then fighting games don't need "fixing", they are perfect as they are

  29. With GG Strive's newish mode that lets you create and share combo trials online, I think a lot of other training features could have a focus on user creation as well. For example, AC+R's replay takeover feature could be used not only to teach how to react to specific situations, but could also allow skilled players to design puzzle-like challenges, show off fun moments from online matches, or even showcase highlights from recent tournaments. At that point, some other smaller tidbits could be added to encourage players to come back regularly, such as rewards and featured challenges.

  30. Honestly i've always played fighting games (started with like tekken 2) but always on a "2 buddies mashing" level. I started looking at it seriously since a year maybe, and im training on street 5 (thx ps plus) before the 6.

    Dude, ive been "knowledge check" by platinum, and it feels like the douchest move possible to a newcomer. Overall the experience was great but those 2 or 3 games were trully awful and even made me quit for a time…

  31. just the fact that there's so much videos trying to convine people why fighting games are not that bad tells us all…

  32. Adding the SF6 frame replay frame counter into normal matches would teach frame data while playing which is a leap in accessibility

  33. Yeah… this is one of the bigger reasons I don't think I can get into fighting games. Every game just has such a big knowledge base required to be able to play.
    With Skullgirls in the news recently I felt like giving it (and the genre generally) another try, and just playing the story mode I get frustrated because I feel like I have to study for a test to know what I'm supposed to be doing at any point.
    Other games I play have knowledge base requirements as well, and some are bad at teaching those too, but either I already have most of the base or it feels more forthcoming. Or they're just more satisfying quicker than fighting games tend to be for me.

  34. So much excellent info about so many fighting games here. Thanks much

  35. something I don't like is when fighting games just decide that something that's extremely important is actually an "advanced mechanic" and it doesn't have to be in the initial tutorial
    one that comes to mind that is still just absurd to me is throw escaping in sfv

  36. They should hire pro players to play against each other as a specific character and implement videos into the game from the pros that discuss a variety of things about the character and matchups.

  37. I think fighting games would be a little easier for people to get into if they had some better tutorials, sure.

    But the real reason why fighting games have such a small audience is that fighting games require you to drop your ego defenses and face the harsh truth: you are not special, you're bad at most things, and you're too fragile to look at yourself honestly. These defenses protect you in real life and they merely come with you to the game. You don't want to let them go because you would have to acknowledge that your life is mediocre or shitty because of YOU and nothing else.

    Fighting games strip away all the seemingly legitimate external reasons that explain your failure and leave you to accept your weaknesses and improve, or live in deep, salty denial like Low Tier God.

  38. Thats EZ..make the AI in the arcade/tower/Single player perform how actualy a human would perform, give it twice the health as the player .

  39. I still remember getting Tekken Tag tournament 2 and getting destroyed by the computer pulling 10+ hit juggles after I made a single mistake on EASY MODE.

  40. As somebody that plays a lot of Tekken and streams it

    if I didn't have a chat with some really good players telling me what I'm doing wrong I wouldn't learn anything honestly

    It would be really handy if every post-match screen had some sort of summary that was like "you got hit by this specific move a lot" or "you have a habit of getting counterhit"

    When I'm in the match and trying to fight my opponent/learn what their patterns are it's really hard to figure out which move is what, what it does, whether it's safe or not. It's a bit of a drag having to watch replays or lab something after almost every match if you want to definitively know how to beat a certain move or strategy, y'know?

  41. I dont think move infos like frame data should be displayed in fighting games, you should have to learn how to use these moves yourself

  42. Every fighter needs:

    -Ability to take control during a replay
    -Ability to put combo routes on screen
    -Link/cancel time window
    -Ability to reduce speed
    -Combo maker mode (check gg strive)

  43. I think part of what makes this so infuriating is that different games have different rules, and players often expect games to behave similarly. Things like being able to block in mid air are obvious, but how many times are you going to get hit before you realize this game treats cross up protection differently than the last one you played? I've seen multiple people confidently tell me that grabs beat strikes in Street Fighter 6… They don't. But they did in every single Street Fighter before 6.

  44. Literally the most important thing in my opinion would be taking over control during replays, so that you dont have to learn the opponent's combo.

    Then also adding tips into said replay. If you got countered where you took control the game will tell you what that means and how to best avoid it etc.

    To me those are the two things every FG can do that will drastically improve the learning curve. Other than that, I wish every game had a framebar option like SF6 has, because I can't tell you how many times I struggled with timing my moves in Strive. Though there's a mod for that (however only for offline training). Still that's less important.

  45. i think a story where you unlock your moves for your character little by little and you have to use it on what do the next boss and enemy you encounter (and at the end boss you will have to use every move at least one for each situation it required)for the line i would say they can stop after stuff like anti air,why the invicible reversal work and knowing that theire is move faster than others, and that it exist some move that you can't mash after without risk (+ on block, minus on block)

  46. no idea who that girl in the beginning is but I'll assume she defeats opponents by turning them into gold statues.

  47. While it has a lot of overall problems, including some of the problems mentioned here, MK1 does a really good job on letting you practice freely in the tutorial mode. I really appreciate the way it handles that particular idea.

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