Down Right False: One-Button Moves In Rising Thunder

Can a fighting game become mainstream in the way, say, League of Legends has? Like MOBAs, fighting games have years of unquestioned design in them, and bits hanging on from when they were a necessity, but can someone streamline them while staying true to their spirit and find a new, wider audience? The folks making Rising Thunder [official site] hope so.

The game has big fighting game names behind it. Developers Radiant Entertainment are lead by Evo founder Tom Cannon and GGPO netcode creator Tony Cannon, with former Capcom chap Seth Killian onboard too. Rising Thunder will be free-to-play, online-only, and actually playable on a keyboard – without any complex special move inputs to remember.

One big novelty is that Rising Thunder does away with the input combos for special moves, simply making them abilities you activate with a button press. Without needing to roll half-circles and whatnot, it becomes perfectly playable on keyboard too. Radiant say Rising Thunder They has the breadth and depth of your usual fighting game, and they want people to be able to simply focus on beating people up. Its moves do have cooldowns, albeit short ones, which is unusual.

“I don’t know if Counter-Strike would be better if, you know, to throw a grenade you had to do a 360 motion with the mouse,” Killian told PC Gamer in a preview. “You could make that game, and it would change the game, and that would have impact on gameplay, but does it make it a better game? Not that I can tell.”

GamesBeat‘s interview-o-preview gets into a fair bit of detail too.

Rising Thunder will be free-to-play when it launches, selling cosmetic stuff for its lineup of robots. A “technical alpha” is due to launch next Tuesday, July 28th, and signups are open on its site. Here, look, that PC Gamer lot have a little video:

45 Comments

  1. Robert Post's Child says:

    That it took this long for a game to ditch combos is rather surprising, but better late than never!

    • pepperfez says:

      I don’t think it’s combos being dropped but the combinations of inputs for special moves. At least, the trailer looked pretty combo-y to me.

    • draglikepull says:

      Smash Bros.?

  2. Kitsunin says:

    “I don’t know if Counter-Strike would be better if, you know, to throw a grenade you had to do a 360 motion with the mouse,”

    This is exactly how I feel about fighting games. It’s why Smash Bros. is my favorite one. Even though as a 1v1 game it feels too plain when compared to the likes of Street Fighter, it doesn’t expect you to practice and practice and practice until you can press a button within a completely arbitrary 1/30 second timeframe.

    I totally understand the purpose of quarter circles and DP motions; it means there can a greater depth of options despite a lack of buttons. However so much is just rote nonsense and I hate how every fighting game seems obsessed with arbitrary timings which don’t even involve anything other than “if you memorized this combo, +75% damage on landing x move”. It’s basically the equivalent of grinding in an RPG, but the grinding is repetitively developing muscle memory rather than repetitively obtaining gear.

    • Reapy says:

      I’ve had my troubles with fighting game inputs, but man, smash is just as bad. I feel like I have to be a concert pianist to throw out the correct moves at the right time in smash. The sensitivity for just doing a short hop vs a jump is really tough, not to mention trying to do stuff like short hops to neutral airs… the natural tendency is to push forward when you jump which does another move.

      How about trying to actually get an up tilt attack that is not a jump and not a smash attack? Or even just trying to get tilt vs smash attacks, how fast do you actually have to move the stick to get the different input?

      Oh and the stale list too, have you thrown that move too many times? Have to track that in the back of your head.

      I dunno, smash has just as much as any fighting game to struggle through imho.

      • Kitsunin says:

        I don’t really have the same issues, but I get your complaints and I played Brawl casually a whole bunch before I got into semi-competitive Sm4sh, so I guess it’s easier not to notice. Still, they are moreso limitations of the hardware and controls, rather than more deliberate design decisions, and imo way easier to learn than stuff like a DP motion, which took me HOURS AND HOURS to figure out.

        Still, regarding most of your jumping problems, in Sm4sh you can turn off jumping by pressing up and use a button instead, which makes a lot of things easier in my opinion.

    • pepperfez says:

      It’s really no more arbitrary than, say, headshots causing more damage in shooters. The broad tactical challenge of an FPS is being in the right place at the right time; the fine execution challenge is aiming. The tactical challenge in fightmans is constructing a sound fight strategy and choosing the right moves for the situation; the execution challenge is getting the timing right.

      • Kitsunin says:

        I don’t think it’s the same. At all. In a shooter, aiming for the head is a tactical choice — do I take the time to line up that perfect headshot and kill him instantly, or do I spray more bullets to the body and hope/plan to get several hits instead? What if he comes around the corner crouched? Then all these considerations change depending on your weapon, your opponent’s equipment and health, whether you’re moving, and probably more. It takes some practice to hit a small target but the skill is universal. The only difference is that you’re hitting a small target rather than a medium-sized one. Also, there’s no way to give the same tactical depth while removing the muscle memory required.

        In a fighting game, when you throw out a move which has a 2-frame link, there’s just no actual reason for the window to be so small. If there’s an LP-HK 2-frame link, it’s completely arbitrary that I have to wait for the exact tiny window of time to hit HK to land the combo, rather than being able to press LP-HK in quick succession and the game recognizing I pressed the combo rather than ignoring my input because its timing was off. Typically, it’s quite simply a question of “Have you practiced for several hours to develop the muscle memory? If yes, +100% to damage.”

        • pepperfez says:

          That same risk-reward calculus applies to choosing combos. Even tippy-top level players drop combos a lot, especially ones with multiple tough links, so they’ll often go for an easier, less-damaging one to stay safe. On the other hand, if they’re up against the wall in terms of round time or resources, or if they think their opponent can be counted on not to respond correctly, they can go all in and hope that their practice carries them.
          Those thought processes apply at more human levels of play as well, all the way up from, “Can I get the shoryuken input in on time or should I just block?” That’s not to say that all those things are necessary for a satisfying game about two beings pummeling each other (Smash is real fun), but I think it’s missing a lot to view it all as unnecessary cruft.

          • Kitsunin says:

            You’re right, but I just don’t think that has anything to do with what I feel makes a fighting game a fighting game. It’s basically PvE, but Player vs. Controls rather than player vs. monsters. Which is exciting in the context of a tournament, sure, but kind of lame otherwise (to me). On the other hand headshots really play into the player vs. player tactics of a shooter, rather than being a sort of minigame. Now, I would totally agree that Counter-Strike’s predictable bullet spray patterns are a sort of similar unnecessary PvE.

            My main, and really only issue is that there are no damn options which actually forgo this. Well, there’s Smash, but I’ve only got a 3DS for that now, which totally sucks, and generally it feels a little empty as a 1v1 game compared to other fighters.

          • zentropy says:

            Smash has the most insane input requirements of any game I’ve ever played, and it’s not even a “real” fighting game.

            I mean just watch this shit: link to youtube.com

    • QSpec says:

      I think it’s crazy that you are saying that Smash doesn’t have execution barriers. I mean… wave dashing?

      In any case, there are plenty of games that have really helped to fix the execution barrier. SG has almost no links and simplified motions (no 720s, no half circles, faster charges). MKX has a few characters that have tight links, but for the most part it is dial-a-combo. P4AU has autocombos that can take you surprisingly far while you learn the game.

      For my money, I’m willing to try it, and it looks fun and Killian has some serious chops.. all of which bodes well. That said, super motions are only one part of a larger execution barrier. Theoretically, this game could still have tight links or long complicated combos to memorize.

      And no matter how much they simplify it, I think there’s going to be a large number of people who get disappointed when they realize that their execution is only one tiny piece that is stopping them from being good. Meanwhile, those with good footsies, positioning, and other fundamentals are still going to blow them up.

      All that said, I’m super excited that a fighter is catering a little bit more to casuals. It is a fantastic genre (probably the only genre I put serious time into these days), and it needs a better and more vibrant scene… something that casuals naturally bring with them.

      • Kitsunin says:

        Well, I’ve only played Smash 3DS as a 1v1 game, seeing as its the only one with online play, I had assumed 1v1 no items was really boring because the people I played with in person seemed to think so. Generally, it has far less execution that its predecessors — no wave dashing, and I main Robin and Palutena, and they both have like two extremely simple combos.

        Aside from it, I don’t have a television and I live in Taiwan, which is pretty…no, extremely limiting as far as what I can actually get into. But I guess that’s my fault and not the FG selection’s fault.

        • Kitsunin says:

          Mortal Kombat’s pretty good though, and even playable where I live, but I really prefer games which please my eyes rather than constantly assaulting them with gross stuff. Guess that makes me picky though.

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        Phasma Felis says:

        It doesn’t really have execution barriers at the casual level, i.e. you can get three friends around a TV and teach everyone how to do all the moves in about 30 seconds. Things get trickier if you want to be a serious pro player, but taking Smash Brothers seriously appeals to me about as much as having a non-ironic argument over whether Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse would win in a fight.

  3. jcvandan says:

    This sounds very interesting. I enjoyed SF IV when it came out years ago, but with fighting games I have always had the problem of special moves only being executed about 50% of the time, despite me being sure I am doing it right, so this sounds like it could be up my alley. The main problem I can see is the art direction, not really digging those cumbersome looking robots.

  4. Anthile says:

    Looks interesting but I’m not sold on the robot theme. Gives me some nasty Rise of the Robots flashbacks. Say what you want about lazy national stereotype fighters but at least it adds a certain flair.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      You just need to train yourself to think of One Must Fall: 2097 instead.

  5. webhead says:

    people like to blame execution for them being bad and losing at fighting games rather than try to improve and maybe one day realize that execution is a part of the game and probably the easiest thing to learn in the long run. but i want to win now why am i losing what can i blame except for myself im perfect

    • Blackcompany says:

      Or maybe people just want to have fun playing a game without the frustration of arbitrary, unnecessary, complex input combos.

      Finally a game that puts everyone on equal footing and focuses on fighting as opposed to twirling a stick in circles while playing Simon says.

      • webhead says:

        Why are you talking about input difficulty in fighting games as if you have any idea what you’re talking about? Equal footing? Arbitrary? Youre making baseless assumptions about something you clearly know nothing about. Being bad at something is frustrating. You can quit or try to learn.

        • sextonblake says:

          Execution doesn’t need to be as tough as it is though, so why keep it that tough?

          Which more appealing for a starting player? Practising the dp motion over and over again by themselves? Or learning when and why to use a dp by actually using the move in matches against other people?

          What does the game lose by simplifying that input?

          • pepperfez says:

            Which more appealing for a starting player?
            I think this reasoning is one of the things most putting off current fighting game players, because it’s explicitly admitting that their preferences are less important than the much larger mass of people who don’t play them. I imagine somewhat like serious RTS fans feel toward the MOBA boom?

            And anyway, in any game remotely like current fighting games, the most difficult component of execution — tightly-timed link combos — will exist organically. Even Smash has them; they come from differences in move recovery, hitstun, and move startup that are just in the nature of fighting games.

          • steinernein says:

            There is a game for you and it is called Dive Kick; all the high level play, low execution barrier.

          • sextonblake says:

            The difference, I think, is that the tough links you describe are a fundamental part if the game. Any effort to remove them would feel restrictive and leave a worse game. They’re hard but good! I don’t think the same is true for difficult stick motions for basic commands.

          • EhexT says:

            Professional Players almost universally like it when execution gets easier. See Street Fighter 5 for the most recent example. One Frame links are supposed to be gone completely and all the links are supposed to be easier – and every pro player likes that. Execution is not what makes high level play interesting – the thinking is. Removing or lessening the execution barrier means there’s MORE thinking, which means there’s more of the interesting part.

    • Reapy says:

      While I agree with you that many people want results with ZERO effort put into the game, there still exists some sort of middle ground between the amount of execution needed to still have a good fighting game.

      One of the reasons I enjoyed mount & blade multiplayer a lot was that it demanded some execution practice, but not an insane amount, and the reaction windows were not down into ‘double blind guess’ territory all the time. It still let player’s have a style and way they went about things, while not on the level of a pro fighting game match, it was really fun none the less.

      I don’t know that this game is going to do enough though, I remember the xbox capcom vs snk has an EX mode where you could single button press special moves and it was met wit a lot of scorn. Easy special/ultra activation is ok, but still a lot to learn in there besides that, not to mention there were some combos in there that i’m sure will take some good button mashing to remember.

      I like what the guy is saying, but I think their execution of their goals isn’t going to pan out for them for what I’m seeing right now.

      • Kitsunin says:

        I’m pretty sure the main problem with that EX mode (or maybe it’s another game I’m thinking of, which had something similar) is that it replaced buttons which had other important uses with the easy-special option. It wound up giving you far less control than playing regularly, made the game sort of boring and also it meant you couldn’t do a lot of really important stuff. It wasn’t just that it simplified the controls.

    • draglikepull says:

      If people enjoy the element of most current fighting games that requires memorising and correctly inputting button combos that’s cool; no one is trying to take away those games, and people are free to continue enjoying them.

      For me, there are other elements of fighting games I find interesting: knowing what situations each move is best in, knowing when to counter, knowing when to press an attack, knowing when to defend, learning your opponent’s approach and reacting accordingly. Adding in complex button combos to that mixture doesn’t add any strategic depth, and strategic depth is the primary thing that I find interesting in games. I like games where sound decision-making is more important than manual dexterity.

      If you aren’t into that kind of game, that’s cool too – don’t play it! But people who would enjoy it aren’t somehow lesser beings, they’re just interested in a different kind of challenge.

      • webhead says:

        Listen, the fact that you say manual dexterity is more important than decisionmaking is itself proof of how ignorant you are. People like you get hung up on a thing they can blame, and execution being a concrete thing you can suck at, it becomes the scapegoat. Fact is, even if you had no difficulties with inputs, you would still suck. When you are a beginner at stuff you suck.

        Fighting games are hard and the actual difficulty of execution is a miniscule part of everything that goes in to learning one. Controls are a fundamental part of fighting game design that effects decisionmaking, strategy, gameplan. But its an easy thing to blame so people dont have to discover that they are bad at every other important part. Because a lot of people are not willing to take their lumps, lose a million times, and get an actual understanding of the components of a fighting game. Instead they drum up some spiel about how “it should be about decisions and mind games”, like it isnt already and youre. just. bad.

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          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          Nobody is saying that fighting games are not about strategy. The problem with current fighting games is that before you can even begin to think about strategy, you have to spend months learning how to do some bullshit button motions for no reason other than that’s how it has been done. This is fine for people who have experience playing fighting games and have all the basic motions down. For the rest of us who don’t have the time or desire to learn the arbitrary part that precedes getting into the fun part it would be nice to have another option.

          Fighting games aren’t fun when you’re a beginner because you are losing all the time, they are not fun because at that point you aren’t even playing the game.

          • webhead says:

            as ive been saying, its not bullshit, theyre not arbitrary and if it takes you several months to throw a fireball you may have some kind of palsy. actually look up a dude called brolylegs. hes quadraplegic, way good at street fighter and he literally plays that shit with his face. no excuse

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          Phasma Felis says:

          Wow, you’re really angry about this.

      • pepperfez says:

        Adding in complex button combos to that mixture doesn’t add any strategic depth
        I guess this is the main idea I reject in this discussion. At some point, sure, it becomes silly (see Vampire Savior button supers), but at the basic level the control scheme dictates a lot of strategy. A clear example is the specific play style demanded by charge characters. Being unable to use charge specials while approaching adds an extra level of strategic play — moving so as to keep a charge when you need it — and mind games — bluffing your opponent on whether you have charge or not. It also allows for different character designs — Guile would be hideously overpowered if his moves didn’t require charge, but because they do he can be a defensive house with strong normals for offense.
        Motion characters have bluffing options from their inputs, too. Players of fireball characters often tap down-forward to mimic the direction input for a fireball and try to bait their opponents (David Sirlin has written about the importance of this).

        Anyway, none of that is to say that a game without that stuff is necessarily bad (Probably the opposite; Seth Killian’s a smart guy), just that it’s more than a flaw to be streamlined away and that there is some loss to be considered.

  6. SuicideKing says:

    This may be the only other fighting game I’ll play apart from Tekken 3 run on an emulator when i was a kid.

  7. Razumen says:

    If this was a 3D fighting game ala Soul Calibur I’d be a lot more interested, I always liked how SC handled inputs, simpler but still intuitive to an extent, less about remembering combos (though it helped) than it was about using the right moves at the right time.

  8. Janichsan says:

    There were a bunch of good fighting games in my C64 and Amiga era that worked very well with one button and an 8-way joystick. I don’t see why this also shouldn’t be feasible nowadays.

  9. BobbyFlay says:

    I believe this is what we call “lowering the threshold”
    :o)

  10. Zankman says:

    I like the theme & aesthetic and I certainly like the “simplification” of executing combos.

    However:

    1. I feel like the core fighting game community will take an elitist stance on the game – the change to how you do special moves/combos, being F2P, being made for PC…

    2. The gameplay looks so much like SF, unfortunately. SF is boring.

  11. kosch says:

    I still feel that nothing will ever top OMF 2097 for a robot fighting game!

  12. ssh83 says:

    I played Akuma in SF3 and Alpha 3 on a keyboard and beat people using controller and stick regularly. Half circles are easy, you just need practice and it will become muscle memory like anything else.