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Design Intent

"Meatier Footsies" 

The original design intent of the game was to make a fighting game that was generally accessible in the same vein as Footsies (HiFight, 2020) or DiveKick (Iron Galaxy/One True Game Studios, 2013) but with more gameplay flesh for players to engage with. 


A couple of our original design pillars with this were:
"2 Minutes To Doomsday" - If players didn't understand/have fun within 2 minutes, we failed.

"Low Execution Floor" - No motion inputs, no hit-height levels. Button-mashing newbie-friendly.

"Pocket-Knife Kits" - Simple, universal character tools but multi-purpose. Player expression with simple tools.

Challenges

Interdisciplinary Production - For many team members, it was their first time working in an interdisciplinary setting.

Custom Engine - The engine wasn't commercial, the programmers had to create their own engine from scratch.

Class Restrictions - Two-semester development time limit with class guidelines/grading scrutiny. 

Reluctant Professors - Professors had genuine concerns about the game being too large in scope/too hard to develop. 

Fighting Game - Fighting games entail specialty knowledge to develop, with no prior examples/resources at DigiPen.

What Went Right

Strike/Unblockable Vs Hit-Level

A key design choice made was for Strike Back to not have any hit-levels as part of its combat. In games like Street Fighter attacks generally have a "Hit-Level". Things like a high attack, low attack, overhead attack, etc. These systems intend to give clear openings versus overly defensive players - there's also the mild historical reasoning for Street Fighter specifically where having a dedicated block button would have required an extra button on the cabinet, something Capcom at the time already thought was a lot at 6 buttons, but I digress. A key design decision I made was to shift from hit-levels to hit-types. This resulted in actions being defined as "Strike" or "Unblockable" instead of as "overheads" or "lows".

This initial decision was informed by a range of things. One was we simply didn't have the art budget to animate a crouch idle/state, much less a whole moveset from crouching. The second was more audience-based. A lot of testers we would test with only really had experience playing fighting games through games like Smash or Mortal Kombat. Some even had no experience with the closest reference being games like God of War or Dark Souls. In all those games, defense is tied to a single button instead of holding backward to block like in most traditional fighting games.  

 No hit levels were a design decision I made that I ultimately did not know how it would end up. 

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