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Tuesday
Jul212009

Evolution 2009

The 2009 edition of the biggest annual fighting game tournament in the US is now over. Evolution featured six main fighting games this year, and though I'll mostly talk about Street Fighter HD Remix, and quick notes about a couple other games at the end.

Street Fighter HD Remix Team Tournament

Let's start with the team tournament. After reading hundreds and hundreds of posts about how Fei Long is bad, written by people who don't know the first thing what they are talking about, I picked Fei Long in the team tournament. I beat entire teams by myself, back to back. I beat the main defensive Honda (Thelo) and the main offensive Honda (EA Megaman). Thelo went on to get 5th in the singles tournament and EA Megaman already got 3rd at the Devestation tournament in Arizona. I actually have dozens of casual matches recorded of my Fei Long versus both their Hondas and I'll link to them soon so you can see how to win that match. After all that, I asked them if they thought Honda even had *advantage* in that match and EA Megaman said "I don't know anymore" while Thelo just said "This match isn't supposed to be so hard, I don't get it."

Anyway, I also beat Ryan Heart of Tekken fame, Damdai's Ken, Nohoho's Blanka, and more. In fact, I would have won the entire team tournament were it not for losing to Chun Li (I think it was Chris Doyle?). I had him to a sliver of life, baited his jump correctly, then failed to execute my reversal super. I should have just gone for flame kick, but oh well, that was the difference between us winning the tournament and getting 2nd. My teammates lost to him too. Antonio (Blanka, Bluetallcans on xbla) and famous Zangief player Kuni were great, but didn't pull it off that time.

In an ironic footnote, NKI, who has loudly complained how terrible Chun Li is, lost to Chun Li in the team tournament while playing as Bison (dictator). Though I beat like a dozen people myself in that tournament, one of the only two to beat me was Chun Li. NKI went on to lose the semifianls the next day as Dictator as well. Strategy: lose with Dictator while others win with Chun Li? I told Caesar, Chun Li player from Southern California: "If Chun Li is the worst character in the game (she isn't, right?), then she is the most powerful worst character ever in a fighting game." Caeser laughed and said "she seems ok to me."

Main SF HD Remix Tournament

Since I beat just about everyone the day before with Fei Long, hey, why not keep going. I picked Fei Long against almost every opponent,

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul142009

Evolution 2009, Soon

Evolution 2009 is just days away, to be held in Las Vegas. It's the biggest fighting game tournament series in the US, and always full of exciting drama. This year, it features Street Fighter HD Remix, Guilty Gear Accent Core, and some other games, too!

Over the last few weeks, some sirlin.net posters have been running online tournaments for my card game, Yomi. After Evolution is over, you might join in and contribute to the character balance. Info on how to playtest online here. You can print the decks for yourself here. Or you can try out the game in physical form at Evolution. I'll have dozens of decks there, this time printed on real cards, not just mockups.

I'll also be testing a second card game at Evolution, codename: Fast Game, because it's over extremely fast and is even simpler than Yomi. And finally, I'll have a prototype of a third card game that uses no actual cards; instead, it's played with about 500 special poker chips, abilities printed on the chips (there's no betting, but the chips make it much easier to shuffle). That was a bitch to create, but you can try that out too at the event. I think there will be some fighting games there, too.

Speaking of fighting games, the SF HD Remix tournament will be interesting, won't it?

--Sirlin

Tuesday
Jul072009

Dr. House and The Professor Who Played to Win

Professor David Myers of Loyola University has been playing to win the last few years, and he's been doing it in an MMO of all places, so you can imagine how that went. The story of Myers and his character Twixt should make you laugh and also cry over the sorry state of humanity. What he encountered was entirely predictable, hilarious, and pathetic should any alien races ever see how we handle things.

Dr. House

But before we get to Twixt, I can't help but discuss the fictional doctor Gregory House. House is a genius when it comes to solving puzzles--the kind of medical puzzles needed to save people's lives. His "game" is to save the lives of as many of his own patients as possible. While some might quibble that his game is more to solve puzzles successfully than save lives, I think we can safely say that House does everything he possibly can to save lives, even when it's mean, cruel, abhorrent, distasteful, or illegal. It's just that if a patient dies, he wants to solve the puzzle anyway.

House is self-aware of his "game," and his entire staff and his supervisor (if she can be called that) is also fully aware. That is the very reason they are all there: to save patients' lives. The television show very often (as in multiple times per episode) creates a situation where social convention is opposed to winning this game. Maybe Dr. House must conceal some information from his boss in order to save the patient this time. He often breaks into the houses of the patients, looking for the obscure toxin that's killing them so he can formulate a cure. Sometimes causing physical pain to the patient is medically necessary to figure out the problem. Sometimes causing them emotional stress is necessary to solve the problem. Exposing their lies comes up often, too.

People don't like Dr. House. It's unfortunate that his character is so extreme, such a caricature at times, in that he's mean for no other purpose than to be mean. I think some people think *that* is why he is disliked. Others who can look past this might say that his ends-justify-the-means methods don't give him license to break the law by doing things like breaking into people's houses. (If it saves their lives, it seems worth it though, no?) So even if we disregarded all the times he goes against social convention for no reason other than meanness or spite, and even if we disregarded his (usually justified) illegal activities, he still has plenty of *purposeful* anti-social behavior left. That is, behavior that wins his game.

A common line on the show is when someone says that some plan of his is "impolite" (maybe exposing a lie between husband and wife because doing so is the only way to reveal the medical fact needed to save the life). House responds "would it be more polite to let them die?" It's not even that the person he's talking to has a win-win solution that allows for politeness AND saving the life. Usually, no one involved knows of any better plan than the impolite, life-saving one. Dr. House simply plays his game effectively and he's disliked for it, even though the people doing the disliking are all part of the same game and have the same objectives of saving lives. It's as if they forget the objective and care only for social convention. Or at least they momentarily forget, but usually reluctantly agree that breaking social convention is the right move. (And yeah, it doesn't help that House is unjustifiably mean all the time on top of things, but as I said, even if he weren't, he'd still be disliked.)

Twixt

Enter Twixt. He is a character, or rather set of characters on different servers in City of Heros/City of Villains, that Professor David Myers created to explore a certain playstyle: playing to win.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jul032009

Subtractive Design Article

My article about subtractive design appeared in Game Developer Magazine in March, but I kept forgetting to post it on my own site. A request for a digital copy of the article from a lead designer at Relic Entertainment finally got me to actually do the work. By popular demand, here you go.

Monday
Jun222009

Street Fighter HD Remix On Sale

Street Fighter HD Remix is on sale for $10 this week on XBLA, rather than the usual $15 price. Here's the long list of features that you get for this surprisingly low price.

If you're late to the party on this game, it's an update to Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo where the bottom tier characters are better and the top tier is just barely worse. Many lopsided matchups from the previous game are now less lopsided and move inputs like Cammy's Hooligan throw and Fei Long's flying kick ("chicken wing") are no longer difficult for the sake of being difficult. You even get SSF2T (without any gameplay changes) in the package as well.

You can read a lot more about the game here.