Sirlin on Game Design, Ep 18: Fantasy Strike

Fantasy Strike is our new fighting game. We've just announced it and begun crowdfunding for it on Patreon. This podcast explains what Fantasy Strike is all about. We cover the high concept about making a fighting game more accessible from top to bottom than anything else we've seen, the specific game mechanics we chose to accomplish that, and the resulting dynamics of how it plays.

Because it's unusual to crowdfund a game through Patreon, we also explain why we're doing that and what the advantages are.

Hosts: David Sirlin, Richard "Leontes" Lopez, and Sean "MrGPhantome" Washington.

Fantasy Strike patch notes, August 2016

Thank you to all our patrons for supporting the Fantasy Strike fighting game. Although we're not ready to show the game publicly yet, we give our $25+ patrons new builds every month, the latest one is here. We rely on your support, and we'll need even more of it to finish the game. If a really accessible, easy-to-play fighting game that's still tournament-quality appeals to you, please support us.

If you need more convincing, no problem. In a few months we'll finally show the game publicly and give you more ways to help us fund the game to completion. For those who are interested right NOW, here's what's in our latest build.

Change List:

The biggest thing is a new playable character: Midori. That brings us to EIGHT playable characters now. Also worth noting are lots of new animations for Valerie, a new character model for Grave that has over 3x the polygons as before, and a preview of a new character select screen that will be used for modes other than local versus and training.


--New character!
--Midori’s super takes a long time to build. Using it lets him transform into a dragon. You can build super faster by using his parry (ground C).
--Normal attacks in human form. b+A is a sweep, A is a chop that can be cancelled to specials, and f+A is a 2-hit attack.
--B is a torpedo attack, can also be done in the air.
--C is a parry. If an attack would hit you as you parry, you take 0 damage from it and automatically hit back. In addition to dealing damage (if you hit back), you also get super meter, AND you gain an empowered state where you glow purple. In this mode, you will AUTOMATICALLY throw the opponent if you’re in neutral state and they’re throwable. You lose this state if you use it (to throw them) or if you get hit. This state doesn’t persist across rounds.
--Air A is a kick.
--Air C is a flying butt stomp thing. Crossups!
--Both ground and air super transform you into a dragon.


--Oh my!
--The dragon’s character model is an unfinished, low polygon version. Also, the dragon has many glitches that we know about, especially related to throws. Because he is generally playable, we wanted to get this to you before fixing his various animation problems.
--b+A is a sweep with absurd range.
--A is a an attack that hits in front and above. You can press A,A to get a second attack that flies up into the air. After that, you are still able to do another air attack before you land.
--f+A is a pretty long range attack that you can cancel to an acid spit as a second attack by pressing A again.
--B is like a better version of the human version’s torpedo attack. On hit, it bounces back and you can do another air action before you land from the bounce.
--C is a running grab with 2 hits of super armor.
--Air A hits twice and is crazy.
--Air B is an air version of ground B; a torpedo attack.
--Air C is as a divebomb that grabs opponents. Can be yomi countered.
--Normal throws do 2 damage in Dragon form.
--Your super meter becomes a countdown meter in dragon from. You automatically revert to human Midori when the meter runs out.
--New debug option in training mode to stay in dragon form forever once you enter it.


--New character model. Grave now has over 3x the polygons he had before. Also, his hands have been rebuilt to be better shaped and allow for more articulation.
--Grave’s costume colors now use our new system (already in use by Setsuki, Geiger, DeGrey, and Midori). That makes them look a bit better and also reduces file size by quite a lot. Also, while porting him to our new costume color system we changed the aesthetics several of his costume colors. Check out the new choices!
--Updated visual effects for his projectile. Implemented effects for his big projectile (hold B) and electrified projectiles too (B during wind). (There will be new effects during the starup and impact of these fireballs later.)
--Changed behavior of big fireball during wind. Months ago, it got powered up and was too good. Recently, it was not powered up at all, which feels wrong. Now it does get powered up during wind, but it only travels a short distance before dissipating.
--Updated visual effects for lightning strike of air B during wind.
--Grave no longer spends wind meter unless the wind really happens.
--Doing wind (forward) when near the ground no longer makes Grave land before actually summoning the wind.


--Ground super now does 2 damage rather than 1 damage.
--updated character select screen idle pose and “I’m selected” animation


--updated character select screen idle pose and “I’m selected” animation
--Fixed a bug where Rook’s air C statue wasn’t showing the correct color palette to match Rook’s costume color.
--Thunderclap now has 4 fewer active frames and 4 more recovery frames.


--New animations for almost everything: idle, f+A, A, b+A, C, jump B, and jump C. Also ground super and air super. Also, forward throw and back throw. (She still has placeholder animation for walk forward and back, jumps, knockdown and get up, and yomi counter.)
--Old placeholder paint effects replaced with new placeholder paint effects that are more paint-like.
--Hitboxes for C and air C are normal sized and not crazy anymore.


--Very slight changes to costume colors to fix some that were showing up too bright (like radiating extra light).
--Changed default costume Setsuki’s inner pants from red to dark brown.


--Fixed a bug that made flashing life persist after getting hit by an attack.
--Fixed a bug where quitting a game during a cinematic camera angle would use that same camera angle for normal gameplay the next time you returned to gameplay.
--The game’s window can no longer be resized. it’s always 16:9 at fixed resolutions now. Later we will enable resizing it to other 16:9 sizes. 
--New UI feature for menu help text implemented. On the “play” submenu, the new help text for “back” can now be mouse clicked to go back.
--You can now switch between using the UI in “mouse and keyboard mode” and “console controller mode” in the options. As a debug feature, pressing the C key also toggles this.
--Character select screens that involve only one character being selected will have a new layout. You can see a preview of this in Play -> Casual Play. In later builds, this screen will be more fleshed out and will take the place of the character select screen in Arcade mode.
--Several other small bugs fixed.


Play this build right now at the $25+ support level on our Patreon.

Fantasy Strike fighting game, January build for Patreon patrons

Thank you to all the patrons supporting the Fantasy Strike fighting game. The $25+ patrons are getting builds of the game as we go (latest build here), as we aren’t actually ready to show the game publicly yet. In the meantime, your support is helping us keep going to the point where we can eventually get a lot more players involved. Our team is incredibly grateful.

There’s a lot of new things in our latest build, so I thought I’d share the change list publicly so you can see the kinds of things we’re working on, even if the build itself is just for patrons (feel free to sign up!). We have worked on gameplay-related things, as well as non-gameplay things. The highlights are:

--A new character!
--”real” alternate costume colors for some characters
--First steps toward new menus
--Performance improvements

I’ll give a list of gameplay-related stuff first, then go into the non-gameplay stuff.


--New playable character!
--Setsuki is the most difficult to play character with the highest skill ceiling right now. This is because she is based on the idea of “speed”, so to fulfill that, she can do a bunch of stuff really fast. She has the fewest hit points in the game (five), so that means to be effective, you have to actually use her tools well. See tips at the end of this section.

--Normal moves do cancel to specials, but the specials don’t actually combo. Instead, they create mixup opportunities.
--Normal moves DO cancel to super. Tacking on guaranteed extra damage costs her meter, in other words. (A fair exchange for her various other advantages!)
--B special is a teleport kick. This can go through the opponent to cross them up, even in the corner. Hold the button down to instead do a special throw (wow).
--C special is Starlight Tumbler (aka hooligan throw). When she tumbles in the air, you can press the C button again to throw them (air to air or air to ground). You also have the option to press A to divekick from this move, or even super to air super from it. This move CAN be yomi countered (that’s when the opponent lets go of all controls) in order to prevent it from being unbeatable as a meaty attack.
--Air A is a divekick, note that holding back or forward let you change the angle of the dive.
--Air B is a kunai projectile. Note that holding back or forward let you change the angle of the kunai. This move is very useful to throw out just before approaching the enemy.
--Air C is “Flying Fox”. This is a floaty air dive move. Although its priority is low, it’s a very deadly move because you can cancel it to itself on hit or block. Even if you don’t hit with it, you can perform another air action after it, such as second Flying Fox (even a backwards one that runs away), an air kunai, or divekick, or a super.
--Ground super is a very fast dashing attack. The startup is vulnerable, but the speed and distance is so great that it can punish a lot of things and extend your combos.
--Air super is an air parry. It currently has the same implementation as Grave’s air parry, though later on Setsuki’s will work a little differently and have more of a ninja flavor to it.

--Be aware of your max damage bread and butter combo. Air C (Flying Fox), air C again, normal attack when you land, super. That’s 4 damage. It takes a bit of practice to perform the Flying Fox properly to do that, but it’s not actually difficult.
--An air kunai can cover your approach with Flying Fox.
--Go crazy with lots of quick stuff like hooligan throw, cancel to dive kick, jump and flying fox, land and teleport kick, etc. Once you are able to actually control all that stuff you’ll be all over the place and can hit opponents with things they “should” block just because they are so confused.
--If you land a double palm attack (forward + A), it’s often worth it to spend the super to get a guaranteed 2nd damage. But at the very least, be ready to do a mixup with either teleport kick / teleport special throw, or hooligan throw into either “really throw” or divekick or air parry super.

--His projectile now has back / neutral / forward versions that are slow / medium / fast because that’s what you expect anyway. Before he had neutral (slow) and non-neutral (fast) to make sure that all commands work even in a possible future 1p mode that had enemies on both sides of you. We’ll relax that requirement and make the commands whatever they need to be for the main mode, then slightly modify them to work in that other mode if we ever actually make it.

--no change

--no change

--Revised a lot of things. I’m not really happy with her previous version OR this revised version, so she will likely see several more changes in the future. The issue is that rekka punches are inherently super good in this game and so she’s a rushdown character that a) can do crazy damage and b) can get in easily, always. Also, the way characters fly when hit out of the air does not really work properly yet, and the issues with it hugely favor Valerie by making juggling with rekkas easier than it should be.
--You can now do rekka 1, 2, 3 all the time, rather than only in manic mode.
--Manic mode removed (it existed only for the reason of stopping you from doing rekka 3 all the time.)
--Rekka 3 no longer combos. The animation has been replaced with Flying Rainbow Stroke (aka chicken wing), so that it’s obvious that it wouldn’t combo.
--All three rekkas do block damage. That means if you block all 3, you’ll take 1 point of real damage but you could have done something to hit that 3rd hit probably.
--Rekka 1 and 2 now have back / neutral / forward versions that go short / medium / far distance.
--Walk speed slightly increased.
--Divekick replaced with a more normal air attack. This slows her down when she’s trying to get in, but the attack itself is pretty good. Very wide, so it’s good at crossups.
--Ground super (Chromatic Orb) now has 13 frames of invulnerable startup after the super flash.

--Flash gear (aka flash kick) startup increased by 2 frames
--neutral kick startup increased by 4 frames
--Time spiral (aka sonic boom) shorter hitstun. This combined with the change to the neutral kick means that point-blank time spiral no longer combos into neutral kick. This was a weird-feeling bread-and-butter combo for him, so it feels better that you don’t have to worry about doing it anymore.
--The input detection for differentiating between “press” and “hold” on his backfist (for traveling forward vs not traveling forward) has been improved. It is less likely to make you travel forward when you didn't want to. But it STILL needs work and will likely be improved again in the future.
--It is no longer possible to have his air special gear and ground special gear on the screen at the same time. If you have one of those on screen, and activate the other, the first one will be destroyed and your new one will appear. By allowing them to both be on at once (in the previous build) it meant you were basically forced to constantly spam them a lot, which did not feel very “Geiger-y”. I’d rather he mostly stays on the ground and does sonic booms than constantly has to jump around.
--Air special gear is slightly buffed because of the previous change. It travels slightly faster and it will not be destroyed if Geiger blocks or gets hit. That said, its overall power level is low (somewhat intentionally). We might adjust or revise this move entirely in the future. It’s difficult because he doesn’t even need this move and we don’t want it to be a thing he does all the time, whatever it is.
--Air super. Your super meter no longer refills while the Cycloid gears are on the screen. (Was way too good.)
--Ground super has been completely replaced. We tried many versions of time stop, and they were always too weak or too strong. It was very hard to deal with it, so it’s been replaced with a move sort of like Charlie’s multiple sonic boom super. Geiger can throw three gears with this, and he can delay the gears too. The graphics for this super are so placeholder that it does not yet give the feel that we want. The real animation will start with a “time stop” where he fills up his gear meter 3 times, then gameplay will resume. This first pass doesn’t have that, but does have basic functionality.

--Super flash (the cinematic at the start of supers where the game is briefly paused) increased across the board for most supers. They don’t have proper animation, but this is to test the general timing to make the supers a bit more dramatic.

--New alternate colors! Grave, Jaina, and Rook all have 8 costume colors now. This is the first time we’ve had intentionally designed alternate colors, as opposed to just stuff for testing purposes. (Note that these are the three characters that have “real” character models. The other character models are placeholder.)
--The placeholder character models now have different 3D shading applied to them. This is not important because their models and shading will be completely replaced anyway, but this makes them look less awful in the meantime.
--Rook now turns into a big stone “trap” when he does his air C move that pounds the ground.
--Jaina now has a new model for her bow. (Note that it still doesn’t correctly show her flame arrows yet).

--Main menu revised. In the middle of the screen, the menu emphasizes the main modes where you actually play. Other features that aren’t about playing are below, and use icons so they look different from the gameplay modes. Then tertiary features are small and in the corner, to give more focus to the main modes. The “Play” menu item will lead to online play, but as a temporary measure it’s hooked up to single match vs CPU right now. Many functions shown on the main menu are not actually implemented, but I want to start getting things in place so we get a sense of how to organize it all.
--The menus are designed to work with mouse OR gamepad. They are designed to look good on your computer screen OR tv that’s across the room. That said, this version broke mouse support in some situations and we know that. The mouse still mostly works, but we are aware of several bugs with mouse use on the main menu items in the upper right corner and on the character select screen and we will fix them in a later build.
--Character select screen revised. It now shows 3D characters at a more reasonable size and orientation. It now also has on-screen UI for selecting costume colors.
--There is now a smooth flow from character select -> stage select -> versus screen (the screen showing “Grave vs Jaina” before the fight starts). Various elements stay constant across these three screens so it all feels coherent. 3D character animation also works smoothly across these screens now.
--The versus screen now stays up longer on purpose, rather than going away so quickly that it feels like a glitch. During this time, a quick pre-fight music fanfare plays, but the music itself is placeholder. (Note that all other music you hear in the game is real and finished music from OC Remix.)

--Graphics settings completely revised, now simplified down to 4 settings (very low, low, medium, high). On setting below high, we managed to improve graphics quality AND improve performance too (nice trick!). This was possible because some of the tradeoffs on quality vs performance in our previous builds really made no sense. Lower setting disabled some graphics features that mattered a lot, in order to keep other features that don’t really matter much.
--Screen tearing used to occur on about half our graphics levels, but now never happens, even on the lowest setting.
--The background was rendered as blurry in some areas on about half our graphics levels, but now it’s never blurry, even on the lowest setting.
--In previous builds, the shadows were not handled well some of the medium settings. One of those settings made shadows so transparent that it was hard to even see them, yet you were still taking the performance hit for rendering them. On another setting, the shadows were very visible, but the quality was so low that they appeared jagged to the point of being obnoxiously glitchy looking. In our current build, the top three settings have shadows at high / medium / low quality, where they still look reasonable no matter the setting. The lowest setting has no shadows at all. In future builds, we will eventually add “blob” shadows to this quality setting.

Tip: If you’re trying to run the game on a low power computer, especially laptops, remember that in addition to changing the graphics quality from lowest / low / medium / high, you can also change the resolution. Running it in 720p rather than 1080p might help you a lot on low-spec computers.

That’s a ton of changes in this build! We have lots more in the works too. New menu features, new character models, and even some new animations are finally in the works. Stay tuned on Patreon for more updates!