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The evolution of our fighting engine: Bauta combo video

Posted by Carlos Bordeu, Apr 2 2014, 10:17 AM in Development



Some of the most iconic fighting games have had some of their central game mechanics born out of unintentional design decisions, or "bugs" which players were able to use as exploits to enhance their fighting capabilities, and take the game to a new level of competitiveness. Two good examples that come to mind are cancelling from a normal into a special in the original Street Fighter 2, or wave dashing in Super Smash Brothers Melee. In both these cases, people found out how to do things that were not originally designed by the game designers, and which were intentionally left in the game after their discovery.

Just some weeks ago I had the experience of executing our first demonstration of our fighting engine for Abyss Odyssey by doing a combo video in our series 'Know your Enemy', using the character Judith. This was basically me (a game designer) using my best efforts to show off the potential of the game's fighting system. But just recently we decided to ask the lead tester of Atlus to do the second entry of the video series using a different character: the Bauta.

When Rob sent us back the resulting combos he was pulling off, the jaws of everyone here at ACE dropped to the ground and we were amazed by the huge combos he was pulling off. But it wasn't only that... it was the speed at which he was making the character move. It almost felt a bit as if he was using a turbo version of our game.

While composing the combo video I decided to go frame by frame and see what exactly was going on - analyzing the video to see what Rob was doing at each moment within his combos. What I discovered was that Rob had essentially found out how to combine specific design features to increase his speed and movement in a way we had not anticipated originally. Our fighting system was designed to support cancelling from an attack into a special just like in Street Fighter 2, only that in Abyss Odyssey you don't need to connect the hit to cancel into a special.

When we played Street Fighter 4 we were charmed by the combos you could pull off by cancelling a special into a dash (using two bars of your special meter) so we also decided that you could cancel specials into secondary specials and also into a dash (our dashes are more like evade rolls which have invincibility frames like in Smash Bros). At the same time we had originally designed a feature that allows the player to jump out of a dash. What Rob discovered was that he could attack, cancel into a dash and immediately jump out of the dash in to an airborne attack. Since in our game you can also cancel an air attack into an air dash, this essentially meant you could get a huge amount of momentum by combining all the previous techniques.


The "dash-cancel-to-jump" can be done in just a few milliseconds by linking these commands


Rob's combos also take advantage of a "bug" - something we are evaluating whether we change or not. Our game has 'cancel points', which is basically a registry of how many times you can cancel within a combo. This was necessary because since we can cancel specials into specials near infinite loops would be possible without this restriction. The "bug" we discovered in the Bauta combo video is that cancelling anything into a dash isn't consuming any cancel points. This obviously allows for a much increased gameplay speed, and is something we need to evaluate if we want to limit more.


Cancel points in main character's HUD.


Details such as this discovery and our continuous efforts to improve the game's fighting engine are what is calling us to develop a special player-vs-player game mode. While this won't be available at launch, I'm pretty sure many people will get into the title to fight their friends in the neutral areas of the game. Playing against a buddy in the middle of the Abyss is very fun. We think that there might be a lot interest for PvP post release, and everybody should know that we have a great track record of updating our titles to include new game modes and features. Abyss is the game we've thought of most as evolving over time, so we'll certainly consider expanding the design to support new ideas like this.

Stay tuned for new videos and more info about the game coming soon!



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