David Sirlin, the designer known for games including Chess 2 and the tweaking of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, is ramping up development on his new fighting game. With Fantasy Strike [official site] he's trying to cut away the cruft of fighting games, removing the complicated chains of commands to execute moves, so players can focus on being the best at biffing faces. He's had the game on his mind for ooh a good six or so years but is now ready enough to start drumming up more interest. Sirlin Games are crowdfunding it, offering instant access to dev builds. Here, check out this recent trailer's pre-alpha action:
All those fancy moves? They're done with only six buttons: left and right, jump, attack, and Special 1 and Special 2. The greatest number of buttons you'll need to press for any move is two, and countering throws is done with no buttons at all - by simply letting go of your controls. That'd leave you vulnerable to other attacks, of course. Sirlin Games explain their decision to simplify:
"Emphasizing player-decisions over difficult dexterity is a much deeper commitment than simply letting you do special moves easily—it's a commitment to avoid fiddly, unintuitive, difficult-to-execute techniques throughout the game. If you don't know what plinking, kara cancels, option selects, charge partitioning, FADCs, or crouch techs are, you don't have to. Instead you can focus on the fundamentals of fighting games: distancing, timing, zoning, setups, reads, and strategy."
The devs are crowdfunding Fantasy Strike through Patreon, a service based on ongoing monthly subscriptions rather than one big lumps. Why Patreon? Sirlin explains that it lets them work on the game until its done, rather than having to decide upon and budget for its scope years in advance. It means no over-promising on stretch goals either. He says:
"On the surface, it sounds good to promise ahead of time exactly what everyone will get, including a dozen or so stretch goals, and codify that into writing. But in practice, game quality and player satisfaction can be even higher if you allow the game to develop organically over time, making the best decisions you can at each point, and letting the community give feedback the entire way through."
Which is fair. Sensible stuff, that. It does risk wandering into the early access territory where games don't draw enough players and interest to fund development to completion but hey, making video games is financially risky.
If you fancy supporting this, at least $5 per month on Patreon will get you access to dev builds. Do be aware that it doesn't have online multiplayer yet and some art is placeholder.
Radiant Entertainment's fighting game Rising Thunder had similar ideas about simplifying controls but, er, it got cancelled when League of Legends makers Riot Games bought the studio.