Comeback Mechanisms in Fighting Games

Thinkaman

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#1
We like it when our sports are interesting--if the losing side realistically has zero chance of a comeback, why bother playing it out? Why bother watching?

Fortunately, most games with some sort of uncapped skill test--including all games built on a stable yomi foundation--always both players the chance to make a winning move. And by extension, any number of winning moves they made on you, you could hypothetically make back. If they scored 30 points more in the first half, it's equally possible for you to score 30 more points in the second. If they won 47 points in a row in tennis, it's just as possible for you to turn around and win the next 48.


So why have comeback mechanisms at all?

The most common issue is that many competitive video game genres are built around snowball mechanisms, where success is rewarded by the winner getting stronger. So, they probably win even more, and get even stronger, until the game is super boring.


The midgame of professional SC2 can be really dramatic, but the ending that follows is always an anticlimactic "gg". (Save the rare base race)

League of Legends is chock full of exponential snowball mechanisms, and to remain a viable eSport it bends over backwards to include as many anti-snowball counterbalances as possible. Over the last 10 years, League has incorporated:
  • Flat passive gold gain
  • Inventory max
  • Level max
  • Exponential exp requirements to level
  • "Catch up" exp when behind
  • Reduced gold for kills on a repeated target
  • Increased gold for kills on a target who has not died
  • Reduced exp for kills on a lower level enemy
  • Increased exp for kills on a higher level enemy
  • Generous assist gold+exp tends to favor the losers, who are more likely to get kills as a group than solo
  • Rubber-banded exp for jungle monsters based on your level (vs. average)
  • Respawn timers scale with relative level
  • Respawn locations relative to objective order
  • Relative cost of returning to heal/buy from current objective
  • Relative cost of maintaining vision/safety relative to objective order
  • Inherent opportunities for passive play (existence of towers, opponents forced to leave to buy at some point)
  • Towers have a hefty early armor bonus, to limit extreme early success
  • Towers have an "anti-backdoor" armor bonus, to discourage base attacks that are difficult to respond to
  • Multiple primary map objectives (often exclusive--"if you Baron we can at least Dragon")
  • Defensive itemization structure that favors the loser--can buy items that mitigate specific gained advantage
  • ...and more!
Even so, you can still find people wondering if League is too snowbally, wondering if even all of these systems fail to counterbalance the inherent opportunities and upgrades the players get for winning. And they might be right! Fortunately, fighting games don't have to put up with all this complexity, because they are "linear" games like Tennis. Right?

Wrong.


Snowball Mechanisms Implicit To Fighting Games

"Wait a second!" you cry. "Fighting games are based on yomi! If I take away 90% of my opponent's health in Street Fighter 2, it's still exactly as easy for me to turn around and take 90% his health back! This isn't a MOBA, his character hasn't gotten stronger! We're repeating the same decisions, with the same options!"

It turns out there are a handful of snowball mechanisms built into all fighting games pretty deeply. They are somewhat subtle relationships, but quite powerful. I'm going to look at a few of the biggest ones in detail:
  1. Inequality of Ties (trades, chip damage)
  2. Yomi Handicap of a "Forced Hand"
  3. Impetus to Approach

Inequalit
y of Ties

Fine, let's say I took away 90% of your character's health in SF. You say it's just as reasonable for you to do it back in reverse? Not so fast, I've got some tricks up my sleeve.

Any outcome where we trade hits and both take damage is a win for me. If I can force even a couple trades, that's gg. If my character has an easy way of doing this, the game might be as good as over.

Or, what about chip damage? Normally safe blocking tactics might be super risky in this situation, where small slivers of chip damage could end the game.


There's a lot of ways Ryu could win this--more than DeeJay.

When I was doing my 90%, I didn't suffer these disadvantages. I could throw out all the trade-able and chip-able options I wanted, without worrying that they might cost me the game. Now you are trying to do the same 90% back with significantly fewer options at your disposal, against an opponent who is fully aware of that and prepared to take full advantage.

You might say that Smash doesn't KO based on heath, so neither of these apply as much. But the fundamental idea applies exactly the same: in Smash, if I already did 120% damage to you, and you are trying to make a 120% comeback? You are now having to play around all the moves I could throw out that KO at 120%. I didn't have to do that while I was making my 120% on you first! Your comeback is harder than what I did to you.

This is a factor that many fighting games actively try to design around--Smash has rapidly regenerating shields, and SFV does not allow chip damage to KO. Still, the overall imbalance of "tie" outcomes remains.


Yomi Handicap of a "Forced Hand"

When you know this is your opponent's last chance--when you know there are some moves he HAS to defend against--you have him on the ropes.

Take baseball.

Baseball is "linear", right? The pitcher doesn't level up every time he gets a strike. There is no reason in the rules of baseball that any pitch should be more difficult than any other pitch.

But the data shows a different story altogether:


It's hard to bluff when you are one pitch away from losing it all.

If there are already strikes in the count, the batting average goes down. Way down. And the opposite for balls.

The more you understand yomi, the more intuitive this is. Yomi is all about evaluating the weights of options, and proximity to victory/defeat is one of the primary factors of those weights. It's not just psychology, but mathematically-founded game theory.


Impetus to Approach

All fighting games I know of use a timer. If the timer is up, the person "in the lead" just wins.

You know where this is going. (You've all played a Sonic before, or watched Hungrybox.) It means the winner has the luxury of assuming whatever stage position they'd prefer, and the burden of approaching them rests on the loser.


"Only a 5% lead!"

How much this matters depends wildly on the matchup, as well as the stage when we're talking Smash.

It's worth noting that this snowball mechanism is largely an implication of the external tiebreaker rules the community has imposed on the game. I'm not saying we shouldn't do this, but the snowball effect it adds is very much on us. (It's possible to design a tiebreaker system that doesn't do this or encourage stalling, but it would have to be built into the game.)


Other Snowball Factors

Many fighting games also have some form of super meter, which rewards you for landing hits. Smash doesn't really have this, except slightly for Little Mac and Cloud.

Smash does experience this pretty heavily with items, though! Item spawning largely removes the impetus to approach advantage, and replaces it with "whoever currently exerts more stage control is most likely to control the items." You see this most often in "Pokeball only!" games--the massive stage control that some Pokemon grant often let that player grab even more Pokeballs.

Our stage-picking set structure also favors whoever won the earliest matches, but this is a different topic entirely. (And frankly, not really a problem.)

And then there's player elimination in teams, which is just a super-snowbally complete mess. But that's, also, a whole 'nother topic.


Conclusion

The same principles of yomi that say a comeback is always possible also show that a comeback is always harder than whatever you are coming back from. This is the natural state of all yomi-based fighting games, in a vacuum.

Just like League, fighting games need comeback mechanisms to counter-balance their implicit biases towards whoever gets the early lead, so that the first hits are not disproportionately more important than all the action that follows. Fortunately, fighting games don't have it nearly as bad as genres like RTS or MOBAs, and can reach a more stable equilibrium with less effort.

We can hope that rage is tweaked from 15% of all knockback to 20-25% of knockback growth, but we should be thankful for the impact it's had on match excitement, moderating game length, and helping out heavies while keeping Diddy and Sheik in check. Let's hope that Smash 5 continues having eSports-friendly systems that provide us with years of tense matches.


This message paid for by Friends of Tsu Super PAC.
 

Red Ryu

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#3
I don’t find the idea to be bad, execution is key to it’s success.

Lucario is not a bad idea but in smash 4 comparing to his brawl counter part tuned it so far to being extreme. Killing at 0 is really hard with him where as when he gets aura he kills you in 3 hits. While I like Lucario and think aura is fine, this creates frustration when playing against him.

Rage is also one that can be fine but what people have an issue with is it adding to base knockback rather than growth. That would help make that more palitable

Compare this with DBFZ, Tekken 7, UMVC3 they all have comeback mechanics of sorts. In the case of DBFZ and UMVC3 burst mechanics that get better the less characters you have.

League has them to, some characters are literally built to be ticking time bombs that you can’t let them get to late game.

This asks the question, should they be in fighting games? From the developer side of things, they do seem to want them to be a thing, something to make gameplay more interesting and varied.

There are players who would say never have it be in a game ever, which is understandable it can be seen as something that can undermine an advantage. But the way I have seen it, it’s a two way street. Both players have access to it and the mechanics. You know it is a thing that can be used. It still would look like the better player won out in the end be it taking advantage of a situation or using gameplay to result in them using the tools they had to win.

I see it as fine, but I do think characters like Lucario can take it too far.
 

|RK|

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#4
Comeback mechanics have no place in fighting games. If players want to have a comeback mechanic they can go play Lucario. Foh.
I thought the post was interesting, as I made an immediate comparison to fencing. I'll be really brief so I can get to the point:

There are three weapons, Epee, Sabre, and Foil. For sabre & foil, there's a rule called "right-of-way," which dictates who gets the point if both fencers hit each other at the same time. So like, if you stop your opponent's attack, you have right-of-way. If you hit each other at the same time afterwards, it's your point.

Epee doesn't have right-of-way. If you and your opponent hit each other at the same time, you both get a point.

Epee is more similar to what the original post describes in terms of a snowball effect. If you're down 12 points to your opponent's 14 in a 15 touch bout, simultaneous touches - or trades - benefit the person who is already winning. So making a comeback now is harder than it would be if everything were equal.

Sabre and Foil have right-of-way that doesn't necessarily work as a comeback mechanic, but it does neutralize the advantage that you gain from being in the lead. It makes it so that you're on the same equal playing field whether you're at a deficit or not. The only difference is that your opponent can take more risks (because obviously, they have more room to play with).

Bringing this comparison to fighting games, I think an effective "comeback" mechanic does what right-of-way does in fencing - it puts both sides on equal ground so they can continue to make decisions normally.

That doesn't mean a power-up, necessarily. But I do think something like Resonance Burst in Cross Tag Battle is hitting the mark. It makes you stronger when you have only one character, but not so much stronger that you can overcome a team. It also doesn't last super long.

Rage, on the other hand, doesn't work as well. In Smash 4, anyways. It doesn't equalize opportunity - it's closer to equalizing outcomes. It lasts as long as you have your stock, and makes it such that both players are immediately playing for their stocks. That's bad design, as it trivializes the work you need to put in to get your opponent into high rage.

That's more akin to your Lucario comparison, and I agree - we need less of that.

However, because Smash is based on percent and knockback, I'm not sure what sort of mechanic would equalize opportunity.

Maybe it's reworking the knockback formula, and making rage increase the damage of moves by no more than 2-3%? That would at least require multiple neutral wins to secure your opponent's stock, and adds a level of consistency. Additionally, maybe it should only last for a few seconds.

Though, with Smash being the way that it is, that part would only incentivize camping as opposed to the careful footsies you see in traditional fighters. It's all very interesting in the end.
 
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#5
Rage is an interesting case because in many cases it acts more like a snowball mechanic than a comeback mechanic. Imagine that two Corrins are fighting each other. One is at 100% while the other is at 120%. The one in the lead manages to get a good pin into a kick and bam, first stock. Now the Corrin with the lead will be at an advantage due to rage, since the opponent will be at 0% rage and might struggle to kill the other Corrin. Rage can also greatly hurt characters who rely on specific kill setups, such as Donkey Kong and Bowser.

If they wanted to turn rage into a true comeback mechanic, then it should, perhaps, take stock difference into account. Another alternative is to scrap rage altogether.
 
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#6
Comeback mechanics have no place in fighting games. If players want to have a comeback mechanic they can go play Lucario. Foh.
I think the “hot take” has fallen on deaf ears. Frankly it’s almost like you didn’t read anything... Comeback mechanics are perfectly fine as long as they don’t marginalize a lead. Never mind that most games have meter gimmicks that fill up when you take damage.

Like he said, in fighting games, small leads can quickly become big ones. It can boil down to who got the first solid hit off and snowball from there, and that’s no fun. Something as simple as making the player who’s down HP deal more damage in trades would be s good way to level the playing field without encouraging taking damage.
 

KuroganeHammer

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#7
Like he said, in fighting games, small leads can quickly become big ones. It can boil down to who got the first solid hit off and snowball from there, and that’s no fun.
Good. If they land the first hit they deserve the advantage.

Don't play the "u didnt reed" card just because you're a braindead rage supporter.
 

|RK|

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#8
Good. If they land the first hit they deserve the advantage.

Don't play the "u didnt reed" card just because you're a braindead rage supporter.
First, no need for the insult.

Second, you could extrapolate the "if they get the first hit, they deserve the advantage" to a number of things. But fighting games aren't fun if you spend 90% of the time in disadvantage. So we try to allow more opportunities for interactions.

Rage is a poor way of doing it, but it's reasonable to try to avoid the snowball effect.
 

KuroganeHammer

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#9
First, no need for the insult.

Second, you could extrapolate the "if they get the first hit, they deserve the advantage" to a number of things. But fighting games aren't fun if you spend 90% of the time in disadvantage. So we try to allow more opportunities for interactions.

Rage is a poor way of doing it, but it's reasonable to try to avoid the snowball effect.
He made fun of me first.

Anyway, there's no HP bars in Smash so there's realistically no way to make a comeback mechanic work purely for the loser. (AKA Bowser is a stock up at 150% ????)

Melee and Brawl both were fine without a comeback mechanic, and Smash 4 is definitely a worse game than both of them mainly because of rage.

Finally the proposed fix hasn't even been thought through. 20-25% to KBG? ARE YOU INSANE? LOL
 

Idon

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#10
Comeback mechanics like Bursts, X-Factors, etc etc just don't inherently work in Smash due to the way how Smash is set up for knocking people off-stage. Same thing about having meters with "supermoves" (especially if they get charged manually and/or can't be removed)
Rage especially isn't a way Smash should implement a comeback mechanic.
 

Thinkaman

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#11
Rage is also one that can be fine but what people have an issue with is it adding to base knockback rather than growth. That would help make that more palitable
Yup. I (and lots of others) have been preaching this since day one.

Rage is an interesting case because in many cases it acts more like a snowball mechanic than a comeback mechanic.
Agreed. The biggest source of this isn't the disparity after a stock loss though--it's that rage bonuses can ruin 0% combos. Fixing the aforementioned issue would solve this.

If they wanted to turn rage into a true comeback mechanic, then it should, perhaps, take stock difference into account. Another alternative is to scrap rage altogether.
I agree; we already do this with Lucario. Rage should just have a modest floor if you (your team) are behind on stocks/score/coins.

Finally the proposed fix hasn't even been thought through. 20-25% to KBG? ARE YOU INSANE? LOL
Even +25% KBG is less than the current system of 15% to all knockback for the vast majority of kill moves in the game in most kill situations. It's pretty basic math.
 

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#12
Comeback mechanics have no place in fighting games. If players want to have a comeback mechanic they can go play Lucario. Foh.
Preach brother.

You want to comeback on me, then outplay me.

Just like I outplayed you the entire match.
 
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#13
Just because Rage is broke now doesn't mean it can't be tweaked in a future game. Have faith. They could even take a more hands on approach to rage balance by having a "rage modifier" on moves if they think something is scaling too well or not enough.

I still hate Lucario tho. Just as obnoxious to play as as he is to fight with such polarizing mechanics.
 

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#15
Even +25% KBG is less than the current system of 15% to all knockback for the vast majority of kill moves in the game in most kill situations. It's pretty basic math.
Did you fail basic math?

+25% KBG is worse than 15% to all knockback. Pretty much every kill move will kill earlier. Not to mention WBKB moves are hugely affected by this change. Enjoy things like Peach/Roy/etc up b killing people at 0%.
 
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#16
Good. If they land the first hit they deserve the advantage.

Don't play the "u didnt reed" card just because you're a braindead rage supporter.
You think I support rage because it’s a comeback mechanic? Cute.

I support rage because it ****s over characters like Sheik and helps characters like Bowser, and no other reason.
 
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#17
I like comeback mechanics as much as the next guy (though only because I use charizard) but honestly the way it's handled in Sm4sh is overblown, it's all well and good when you're benefiting but when you're on the receiving end of a blow that KOs you when it shouldn't that's crap. Though it also means you can deliberately rig it by taking damage on purpose before fighting back.
 

|RK|

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#18
He made fun of me first.

Anyway, there's no HP bars in Smash so there's realistically no way to make a comeback mechanic work purely for the loser. (AKA Bowser is a stock up at 150% ????)

Melee and Brawl both were fine without a comeback mechanic, and Smash 4 is definitely a worse game than both of them mainly because of rage.

Finally the proposed fix hasn't even been thought through. 20-25% to KBG? ARE YOU INSANE? LOL
Well, rage is one of the worst possible implementations.

My suggestion is a reworking of the knockback formula (so you can increase damage without knockback), and adding no more than 2-3% to attacks. Further, make this boost last for seconds - not indefinitely. Or make it disappear if you're ahead a stock.

Preach brother.

You want to comeback on me, then outplay me.

Just like I outplayed you the entire match.
I feel this, I really do. The issue is that you have to outplay someone harder to make a comeback than to put them in a precarious position.

A comeback mechanic that makes the game play out normally - that is, an equal chance to win neutral - should be inoffensive. Because I agree with the idea that comeback mechanics that provide an equality of outcome (rage & multihit rage especially) are bad.

You think I support rage because it’s a comeback mechanic? Cute.

I support rage because it ****s over characters like Sheik and helps characters like Bowser, and no other reason.
IMO, heavies in Smash should be designed differently. Right now, they're big and strong with poor disadvantage and "good survivability" meant to mimic the health heavies have in traditional fighting games.

But in Smash, where you have a lot of freedom of movement - and heavies can still die early to gimps and the like - I think they need better disadvantage states. Give them real survivability, but as it applies to Smash. They should have worse neutral, but better disadvantage states.

This way, even without rage they can be good.
 

iCrash

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#19
While I appreciate the read and the research that effort that was clearly put into this (even if nothing was new to me), I disagree with the conclusion on Rage.

Rage doesn't necessarily function as a comeback mechanic. Because its based on percent, but games are played with multiple stocks, you can take someone out at lets say 80%, and end up in a situation where you might be hanging around at 120% and 2 stocks while they are at 60% with one stock. You clearly have the advantage, but you are one who has rage.

Rage 'keeping Diddy/Sheik in check' and moderating match length isn't a testament to how good Rage was as much as it is the faults of other parts of the game.
 

Nohbl

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#20
I think the “hot take” has fallen on deaf ears. Frankly it’s almost like you didn’t read anything... Comeback mechanics are perfectly fine as long as they don’t marginalize a lead.
Yet you are just as insistent that the conclusion reached in OP is fullproof enough to assert "comeback mechanics are perfectly fine". I have barely read the OP myself, but after skimming, I don't feel inclined to.

As a nugget to ponder, consider section "Inequality of Ties". As I understand it, the argument is based on the assumption that in order to comeback, you have to pull off a mixture of blocking (and let's assume chipblocking is a thing for the sake of argument), and trading hits. Therefore, it's nearly impossible to comeback with 10% health against an opponent with a significant life lead.

This argument, unfortunately, is entirely nullified by a game like Street Fighter III with a mechanic like parrying. Parrying allows one to block while taking no damage and more or less instantly counterattack. I don't even need to mention Daigo vs Justin Wong. Parrying is a built-in "comeback mechanic" that is not limited to coming back at all. It can be used at any point during the game, though its use is strictly limited to the knowledgeable, skillful, or plain lucky of the players.

Considering parrying, you see that there is no need to incorporate a rage mechanic of any sort if you are concerned about always having a level playing field.

If this is the quality of argument OP has to offer, I see no need to read anything more beyond the first sentence---no offense to OP---nor doubt that
Comeback mechanics have no place in fighting games.
 
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#21
IMO, heavies in Smash should be designed differently. Right now, they're big and strong with poor disadvantage and "good survivability" meant to mimic the health heavies have in traditional fighting games.

But in Smash, where you have a lot of freedom of movement - and heavies can still die early to gimps and the like - I think they need better disadvantage states. Give them real survivability, but as it applies to Smash. They should have worse neutral, but better disadvantage states.

This way, even without rage they can be good.
Well they’re not designed with one on one fights in mind. Nobody is.

Rage is the compromise. It’s certainly a lot better than the fat load of nothing they’d get otherwise.

Yet you are just as insistent that the conclusion reached in OP is fullproof enough to assert "comeback mechanics are perfectly fine". I have barely read the OP myself, but after skimming, I don't feel inclined to.

As a nugget to ponder, consider section "Inequality of Ties". As I understand it, the argument is based on the assumption that in order to comeback, you have to pull off a mixture of blocking (and let's assume chipblocking is a thing for the sake of argument), and trading hits. Therefore, it's nearly impossible to comeback with 10% health against an opponent with a significant life lead.

This argument, unfortunately, is entirely nullified by a game like Street Fighter III with a mechanic like parrying. Parrying allows one to block while taking no damage and more or less instantly counterattack. I don't even need to mention Daigo vs Justin Wong. Parrying is a built-in "comeback mechanic" that is not limited to coming back at all. It can be used at any point during the game, though its use is strictly limited to the knowledgeable, skillful, or plain lucky of the players.

Considering parrying, you see that there is no need to incorporate a rage mechanic of any sort if you are concerned about always having a level playing field.

If this is the quality of argument OP has to offer, I see no need to read anything more beyond the first sentence---no offense to OP---nor doubt that
If comeback mechanics had no place in fighting games then why are they in virtually every fighting game nowadays? It’s not just some fad either, it’s actually the opposite since we get lovely people like Kuroganehammer opposing them every step of the way.

I don’t truly understand how parries work, as I’m none too familiar with that game, but I’m under the assumption that it’s when you press it (forwards iirc) at the right time you block an attack and take no damage, correct? That doesn’t really solve the issue. It’s just another way to deal with offensive options, it doesn’t balance trading. I mean you might as well say that goofy Z or pretzel inputs are something of a comeback mechanic because the leader could flub them. It hardly renders it moot.

Again, rage is a totally separate mechanic. If anything it’s just a risk/reward mechanic for FFAs that just so happens to effect competitive play.
 

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#23
If comeback mechanics had no place in fighting games then why are they in virtually every fighting game nowadays?
To make it easier and more enjoyable for casuals and players of lower skill.

I don’t truly understand how parries work, as I’m none too familiar with that game, but I’m under the assumption that it’s when you press it (forwards iirc) at the right time you block an attack and take no damage, correct?
Correctamundo.

That doesn’t really solve the issue. It’s just another way to deal with offensive options, it doesn’t balance trading.
Then I don't get what you think the "issue" is.

I mean you might as well say that goofy Z or pretzel inputs are something of a comeback mechanic because the leader could flub them.
That's completely unrelated and not relevant to this discussion. Parrying is one input---forward, or down---that must be timed precisely---it is exactly like a perfect shield.

Again, rage is a totally separate mechanic.
I was using "rage" as a shorthand to refer to the low health mechanic that you see in Dead or Alive 5, Marvel vs Capcom 3, Under Night In-Birth, and other games, where universally you get a special move or a stat boost when at low health. This encompasses SSB$'s actual "rage" mechanic.
 

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#24
By design, rage has about as much potential to be a snowball mechanic as it does being a comeback mechanic for all 2+ stock matches. In one stock formats you could more accurately say rage is a comeback mechanic, but rage isn't always 100% beneficial to have since it can mess up key combos and KO confirms. Although developer intent is largely irrelevant, if rage was intended to be a comeback mechanic then they didn't really do a good job at it. The more I think about it, the more positive I am that they never really intended it to be one in the first place.

The most useful way to think about it imo is seeing rage as a tool to add more tension to matches. Rage basically puts more emphasis on ending stocks efficiently, punishing you for playing too passively and letting the opponent live too long. It de-emphasizes tactics that aren't good at actually sealing stocks (like most projectile spam). These same tactics also tend to not be exciting gameplay, so introducing rage into the mix ends up increasing tension by reducing the effectiveness these strategies. Rage also tends to have a more drastic effect on things like smash attacks, especially when you have stage control (like against a cornered opponent at the ledge), which favor riskier decisions and more exciting dynamics. When you look at it as a tool to promote tension, rage becomes more interesting to think about and discuss imo.

A lot of people get caught up in the top 1% of "rage jank" abuse cases or thinking of it as an unneeded comeback mechanic and just dismiss it entirely. If certain moves were tweaked to not be ridiculous with rage, I think a lot more people would like and/or tolerate it. It could have been worse, we could have gotten something random like tripping or crits thrown in to spice things up instead of rage.
 
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Red Ryu

#ZardGang
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#25
The match starts at the character select screen.

"Don't ever play ya self." ~ DJ Khaled
I don't disagree.

My problem with the rage argument is that is kind of play into that same quote right there. Some characters are better and comebacks and some characters are better at it.

It's situational awareness the same as not dying to an edge-guard.

At the same time, I get why people do not like it and see it as undermining the game. I just don't see it as a problem like I did in SF4, DBFZ, and Tekken.
 
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#26
To make it easier and more enjoyable for casuals and players of lower skill.


Correctamundo.


Then I don't get what you think the "issue" is.


That's completely unrelated and not relevant to this discussion. Parrying is one input---forward, or down---that must be timed precisely---it is exactly like a perfect shield.


I was using "rage" as a shorthand to refer to the low health mechanic that you see in Dead or Alive 5, Marvel vs Capcom 3, Under Night In-Birth, and other games, where universally you get a special move or a stat boost when at low health. This encompasses SSB$'s actual "rage" mechanic.
It’s going to take a lot more than what we get to let a button masher win over somebody who knows anything about the game. Casuals are the ones that get the saltiest anyway.

The issue is that fighting games often snowball. If it boils down to the first good hit you might as well just play rock, paper, scissors instead.

Adding in more defensive mechanics doesn’t make trades balanced.
 
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#27
For those who do not know what Blazblu Cross Tag Battle's Resonance Blaze offers when RK mentioned it, here is what it does.

When you lose a character, you can activate the mode to buff your remaining character for 15 seconds. During those 15 seconds, your character will have: chip damage on blocked attacks, gain the ability to cancel special moves into supers, increased damage on supers, health regen, meter regen, and the ability to use an Astral Finish (aka an automatic win move that is generally very hard to land and it only works if both characters are down to their last member) once you get 9 bars of super meter (by the time you get 9 bars of super meter, there is a little over 5 seconds left in Resonance Blaze to land the move assuming that you activated the mode with a max of 5 meters already in tow).

Players are able to amplify the benefits of health regen (makes it faster), chip damage (deals more damage), and meter regen (makes it faster) by using moves that involve their partner character a certain amount of times to raise the level of Resonance Blaze before a member of your team dies, capping at level 4. The meter regen also gets another buff where based on a player's Resonance Level, their meter cap will increase with 9 being the max,

-

As for Rage in smash 4, I always viewed it as Namco Bandai's attempt of copy and pasting their rage mechanic from Tekken 7 into Smash 4. I think it worked out pretty well but players are too caught up on making Rage to be a function that ruins Smash as a whole that destroys the game, when I see it as there to make the game more fun and to keep the winning players on their toes so they can not afford to slack off if they think they are in the lead.
 

EMT~

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#28
First off, thank you for posting this! Certainly a thought-provoking read. I'm not hugely in favor of comeback mechanics in fighting games simply because I prefer fighting games to reward skill as much as possible, and I feel that comeback mechanics violate that principle. Regardless, though, this was definitely an insightful OP.

As for Rage in Sm4sh, I think most of us can agree that it is horribly implemented as a comeback mechanic. And really, it's debatable as to whether Rage is actually a comeback mechanic at all. It certainly has some traces of a comeback mechanic, but it also rewards smart play and survivability with the ability to kill earlier regardless of who has the lead (a player in the lead can have more rage than the person playing from behind). And it benefits different characters to different extents, so to some extent, it's a character-driven mechanic as well as a player-driven one.

Yet you are just as insistent that the conclusion reached in OP is fullproof enough to assert "comeback mechanics are perfectly fine". I have barely read the OP myself, but after skimming, I don't feel inclined to.

As a nugget to ponder, consider section "Inequality of Ties". As I understand it, the argument is based on the assumption that in order to comeback, you have to pull off a mixture of blocking (and let's assume chipblocking is a thing for the sake of argument), and trading hits. Therefore, it's nearly impossible to comeback with 10% health against an opponent with a significant life lead.

This argument, unfortunately, is entirely nullified by a game like Street Fighter III with a mechanic like parrying. Parrying allows one to block while taking no damage and more or less instantly counterattack. I don't even need to mention Daigo vs Justin Wong. Parrying is a built-in "comeback mechanic" that is not limited to coming back at all. It can be used at any point during the game, though its use is strictly limited to the knowledgeable, skillful, or plain lucky of the players.
Let's take your train of thought a bit further. On one hand, yes, you can use parry to avoid blocking and trading hits to avoid the inequality of ties issue. On the flip side, why are you using parry exclusively instead of those options? Because you're forced to. Because of the issues inherent to blocking and trading hits while down, you have to parry rather than block or trade hits if you want to win. This is in contrast to the player who is winning, who can parry, block, or trade hits no problem. Even with parry being a thing, your viable options are still limited compared to what your opponent can do when you are down, so the snowball effect is still in play here.

We can see this logic present in Evo Moment 37, which you reference in your post. Did Daigo parry every hit of Chun-Li's super for style points? Did he do it to look cool? No, he did it because if he didn't, he would have been KOd. Even if he blocked. Now I'm not as familiar with Third Strike, but I'm guessing that, if Daigo had the lead relative to Justin Wong at that point (i.e., notably more health), Daigo probably wouldn't have had to parry every single hit to live, at least through the initial super. He probably could have blocked and eaten the chip damage.
 

iCrash

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#29
First off, thank you for posting this! Certainly a thought-provoking read. I'm not hugely in favor of comeback mechanics in fighting games simply because I prefer fighting games to reward skill as much as possible, and I feel that comeback mechanics violate that principle. Regardless, though, this was definitely an insightful OP.

As for Rage in Sm4sh, I think most of us can agree that it is horribly implemented as a comeback mechanic. And really, it's debatable as to whether Rage is actually a comeback mechanic at all. It certainly has some traces of a comeback mechanic, but it also rewards smart play and survivability with the ability to kill earlier regardless of who has the lead (a player in the lead can have more rage than the person playing from behind). And it benefits different characters to different extents, so to some extent, it's a character-driven mechanic as well as a player-driven one.



Let's take your train of thought a bit further. On one hand, yes, you can use parry to avoid blocking and trading hits to avoid the inequality of ties issue. On the flip side, why are you using parry exclusively instead of those options? Because you're forced to. Because of the issues inherent to blocking and trading hits while down, you have to parry rather than block or trade hits if you want to win. This is in contrast to the player who is winning, who can parry, block, or trade hits no problem. Even with parry being a thing, your viable options are still limited compared to what your opponent can do when you are down, so the snowball effect is still in play here.

We can see this logic present in Evo Moment 37, which you reference in your post. Did Daigo parry every hit of Chun-Li's super for style points? Did he do it to look cool? No, he did it because if he didn't, he would have been KOd. Even if he blocked. Now I'm not as familiar with Third Strike, but I'm guessing that, if Daigo had the lead relative to Justin Wong at that point (i.e., notably more health), Daigo probably wouldn't have had to parry every single hit to live, at least through the initial super. He probably could have blocked and eaten the chip damage.
I think the point with this is that even if the leading player has MORE options they can use and they can afford those risks, there are still ways the game allows a player to get by in those situations, when otherwise it would be impossible. They are still at a disadvantage, but if the parry mechanic was absent then moment #37 physically could not happen.
 
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#30
By design, rage has about as much potential to be a snowball mechanic as it does being a comeback mechanic for all 2+ stock matches. In one stock formats you could more accurately say rage is a comeback mechanic, but rage isn't always 100% beneficial to have since it can mess up key combos and KO confirms. Although developer intent is largely irrelevant, if rage was intended to be a comeback mechanic then they didn't really do a good job at it. The more I think about it, the more positive I am that they probably never really intended it to be one in the first place.

The most useful way to think about it imo is seeing rage as a tool to add more tension to matches. Rage basically puts more emphasis on ending stocks efficiently, punishing you playing for playing too passively and letting the opponent live too long. It de-emphasizes tactics that aren't good at actually sealing stocks (like most projectile spam). These same tactics also tend to not be exciting gameplay, so introducing rage into the mix ends up increasing tension by reducing the effectiveness these strategies. Rage also tends to have a more drastic effect on things like smash attacks, especially when you have stage control (like against a cornered opponent at the ledge), which favor riskier decisions and more exciting dynamics. When you look at it as a tool to promote tension, rage becomes more interesting to think about and discuss imo.

A lot of people get caught up in the top 1% of "rage jank" abuse cases or thinking of it as an unneeded comeback mechanic and just dismiss it entirely. If certain moves were tweaked to not be ridiculous with rage, I think a lot more people would like and/or tolerate it. It could have been worse, we could have gotten something random like tripping or crits thrown in to spice things up instead of rage.
I thought this was a very good point. I would think rage benefits the player with the stock advantage at least as much as the player who lost one, if not more.

What about rage is legit problematic in the first place aside from some obscenities like peach and samus' up specials? Did people forget the objective of the game is to take stocks? You can't sit back on a percent lead until maybe the last 30 seconds. In my opinion rage enforces this by rewarding the more efficient player.
 

EMT~

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#31
I think the point with this is that even if the leading player has MORE options they can use and they can afford those risks, there are still ways the game allows a player to get by in those situations, when otherwise it would be impossible. They are still at a disadvantage, but if the parry mechanic was absent then moment #37 physically could not happen.
Fair enough. Yeah, obviously a player that's down still has tools they can use to come back, otherwise we would never see comebacks at all in fighting games. I had made my post to address his statement that parrying "entirely nullifies" the inequality of ties argument that the OP posited.

What about rage is legit problematic in the first place aside from some obscenities like peach and samus' up specials? Did people forget the objective of the game is to take stocks? You can't sit back on a percent lead until maybe the last 30 seconds. In my opinion rage enforces this by rewarding the more efficient player.
I would say that those obscenities are enough to consider rage problematic on its own. But truthfully, rage as it's implemented now seems to be the culprit for a huge amount of the "janky" stuff that's present in Sm4sh (Mario + ZSS ladder combos, Luma UAir, partial contributor to Lucario's everything). I agree with Thinkaman that, if rage is implemented in the next Smash, it should be a buff to KBG instead of total knockback.

Also, rage isn't just about rewarding the most efficient player straight-up. Different characters have different capabilities to take advantage of rage in the first place, so it's a character-driven mechanic as well. For example, DK and Bowser are very good at taking advantage of rage due to their survivability and reliable kill setups. On the other hand, Jigglypuff is very bad at utilizing rage because of how early she dies and how her strongest move leaves her asleep at a high % if used with rage. This is the part of rage that I actually like, but I digress.
 
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TTTTTsd

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#32
Comeback mechanics have existed since the grand daddy of 2D Fighters. Even in World Warrior, yes, World Warrior! Any version of SF2, really. Super Turbo's Supers can technically be leveraged but there's an underlying mechanic in every version of SF2 that allows for this, and it's not even the somewhat random dizzy: It's the random damage tables.

In ST, damage is calculated by taking pulling a value from a table and adding/subtracting it. As put in an article from here: http://dammit.typepad.com/blog/2011/06/random-damage-in-sf2.html it's explained as "How random damage works: there's a base damage for every hit, then a random value is added. The random values are looked up from a table of 32 possibilities, with the actual one selected determined by the output of a pseudorandom number generator. The sum is then scaled down by a certain factor and rounded up to produce the final damage."

What does this have to do with comebacks though? It's a commonly documented phenomenon, but you actually do MORE damage when you're behind in rounds in SF2, though it is particularly noticeable with throws as they don't scale in the same ways. So really, we've had stuff like this the entire time (on top of likely more randomness), but this is a 2D space and in a round-based format. The problem is Rage snowballs and it also removes options (while granting others). For some, this is a gift. For others who have very specific throw setups and combo routes that require less KB (Doc kill setups, D-Throw > Fair for instance) it is a curse.

If we want a mechanic that allows games to be swayed when utilized skillfully, perhaps it's time for actual meter management as opposed to a mechanic that functionally works in really, really janky ways, and often leads to players being unsatisfied with the game. The cost of entertaining matches should not be at the cost of player satisfaction.
 
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**Gilgamesh**

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#34
The problem with a comeback mechanic in Smash compared to other traditional fighters is that in traditional fighters; you have a health bar that depletes only allowing so many hits before it's certain defeat regardless of stage position, type of move, etc. Smash has no health-bar and therefor the amount of hits you take before you "croak" varies and numerous factors that doesn't exist in other traditional fighters now interacts with the Smash "health bar". Character vs Character, Stage positioning, type of move all affects your Smasher "health bar" while any damage is killing damage in say SFV. A character can live to 170% one stock than die at 100% another stock in Smash. Traditional Fighters doesn't have that variance which makes it harder to determine a comeback mechanic in Smash and if one is even necessary. Heavy characters will always be inherently inferior to smaller/faster characters.

A more better option for heavies in Lancer's case is to make them have some resistance to weak attacks such as bowser's mechanic but a bit better etc. DK//DDD/Bowser/Zard/Dorf (especially) could all function much better if certain tweaks and changes were made while still feeling the same.
 
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#35
Having an advantage for outplaying your opponent is a cornerstone of fighting games. In traditional 2D fighters, putting someone in a corner or down on the ground limits the options available to that player; in smash, putting someone in the air, offstage, or at the ledge limits the options available to that player.

Trade inequality applies to this situation as well. If my opponent is at the ledge, and we trade f-smashes, he's more likely to die than I am, and that's cool; that's how it should be. It encourages my opponent to make more desperate plays, which leads to a more exciting match for spectators.

If the same applies to percentage and stock deficits, so be it.

We like it when our sports are interesting--if the losing side realistically has zero chance of a comeback, why bother playing it out? Why bother watching?
The losing side doesn't have a zero percent chance of a comeback in smash though. The player who takes the first stock usually wins (even with Rage), but it's far from 100-0.
 

DunnoBro

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#36
Comeback mechanics are fine, and honestly even Melee has some semblance of if it with how different edgeguard options become optimal at a deficit, longer ledge rolls making for better edgeguards, or when percents stop mattering. (Obviously far less prevalent, but still present)

The primary issue with rage is obviously the implementation. It's used as a cheap way to solve certain characters lack of options, or others abundance of them.

DK can't do **** about his disadvantage, no real mix-ups, so he just has to take that damage and make the most of it when he returns to neutral.

It's not really a fun solution for anyone. It makes the DK player feel helpless, and the currently winning player feel like it's kind of pointless if DK gets back to neutral and gets a grab, they die anyway.

Let's also not forget the devs CLEARLY didn't compensate for rage properly when designing large chunks of the cast. It doesn't work in training mode, and in the history of the game there's been many moves which:

Don't work properly WITHOUT rage (Mario Dair, Sheik Jab)
Don't work properly WITH rage (Duck hunt's anything, pre-patch dancing blades, pre-patch samus fair)
Or just became absolutely broken while taking rage into account (Luigi Cyclone, Greninja Hydro Pump, MK Ladder *All Prepatch)

And I'm sure there's a treasure trove of combos and frame traps effected by rage negatively, too.

Not to mention the platform and stage split between 3ds and Wii U (And the blastzone differences) also hurt things.
 
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#37
I think people need to take into account the fact that Smash wasn't designed for competitive 1v1 play.

This doesn't mean you can't play it competitively, but it does mean that if you try, you're gonna run into a lot of hiccups and frustrations as a result of the mechanics getting kind of in the way, or just flat out being unfun.

Rage is one of those things.

Comeback mechanics are fine, but rage isn't a a good mechanic for that tbh. I'm not overly familiar with how it works out in Tekken, but honestly, my gripe with Rage is that itsi a free bonus, that eliminates choice, and this is what makes it FEEL unfair. Your opponent didn't really do anything to get that buff in power, nor did they have to make some sort of decision, they were simply granted a free bonus cause they were low in health. It makes it feel more like a matter of luck, than a matter of skill, as ultimately, Neutral is a guessing game, and no matter how good you get at it, you're still basically playing a very complex game of R-P-S, and you will guess wrong from time to time. Giving someone a free kill of a wrong guess is what adds to that feeling of '''unfairness" (this is also why I have a problem the way counters are handled in Smash, but that's another topic).

Compare this to Sparking in DBFZ, or Ultra Combos in SFIV. The former is given to both players at the start of the match, and both are free to use it whenever they like. Either use it early to save a character, or make sure you kill one of theirs, or save it for the very end when it's most powerful, but also most risky. One character with Lv.3 Sparking can eaaily take down a whole team. But it could also backfire. But it's this element of having to CHOOSE when, and how you use this power up that makes it a lot more fair to both players. Plus, it's not a permanent boost, so you still have ways to counteract this. Let's look at Ultra Combos for a second as well. Right at the start, both players are given a choice as two what move to use, as all characters have two UCs to choose from. When you're low in health, you're granted a very powerful special attack that could even the scales or grant you a win. However, if you're too obvious with how and when you're gonna use it, the move might whiff, and you could get punished for this. So in this case, the comeback mechanic adds a new layer of depth that changes up the mindgames in the neutral. It grants both players new options and new strategies.

Going back to Rage in Smash, it does none of this. When you remove the element of CHOICE from a game, then it quickly starts to become more chance based. There's no real strategy, and options. Honestly, something more akin to UCs would be how I'd handle a comeback mechanic in Smash. Final Smashes are already in game, and totally useless. So, rebalance those so they're not overpowered/****, and make it so that when a player gets to their final stock, they're given a FS. Remove the annoying glow, and replace it with a less annoying notifier, and change the input so that it doesn't intrude with specials (Something like A+B). This makes the FS feel more like a desperation move, as it should be, and it validates the overpowered nature of the attack. Often netting you a kill if you can secure the move. However, it can miss, and it can be baited, and your opponent not only knows when this card is available to you, but also, has ways to deal with it.

Alternatively, you could add meters to the game, but make it so that they only build when you're getting hit. And then add a bunch of options to players through that. But that's too complex for Smash imo. Something like FS already builds on what's ingame, and balances out an already useless component of the game. Hell, you could easily mod this into an existing Smash game. It's not that hard.

Final thoughts on Rage:

I think the concept is good, but for a gimmick for a SINGULAR character, because then you could appropriately balance it. Like a big heavy character, with poor recovery, he gets mad strong the more damage he takes, but has to stay alive. Making it a part of his gameplay strategy. I know Lucario has this, but his recovery also gets buffed, making him an incredibly annoying character to fight. The point of Rage would be to make it DIFFICULT to keep that character alive, to earn the payoff of the powerup. Throw in a matchup or two than can easily gimp them at low health, and it's fair. As it currently is, and as others have pointed out, Rage is an unbalanced mess that doesn't even work as a comeback mechanic. It works OK within the chaos of FFA, and that makes sense, since like the Smashball, that's what it was designed for.
 
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T0MMY

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#39
Just like League, fighting games need comeback mechanisms to counter-balance their implicit biases towards whoever gets the early lead, so that the first hits are not disproportionately more important than all the action that follows.
Why?
That's simply arguing by assertion.
As stated earlier the previous Smash games do not have the rage mechanic (and are better games, imo).

We can hope that rage is tweaked from 15% of all knockback to 20-25% of knockback growth
20-25%? I don't know if I should laugh at this. But I'll just point out the use of the word "we" is attempting to be inclusive to garner support, yet the use of it is disturbing due to a tone of force, and thus alienates me from the argument presented.
 
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