Post Script

Peter Rosas, de­signer


Un­til 2012, Peter ‘The Combo-Fiend’ Rosas was just an­other Street Fighter tour­na­ment player. But when Seth Kil­lian left Cap­com, Rosas stepped in as com­mu­nity man­ager. He was given a dual brief: com­mu­ni­cat­ing both with sea­soned fight­ing game play­ers and a wider au­di­ence. Ul­tra Street Fighter IV’s com­mu­nity fo­cus meant his role evolved first into col­lat­ing player feed­back, and then into de­vel­op­ment of the bat­tle sys­tem and char­ac­ter bal­ance, leading to a de­sign credit on the fi­nal game. Here, he re­flects on a very mod­ern de­vel­op­ment process and the per­ils of try­ing to please all of the people all of the time. What was your ap­proach to re­bal­anc­ing char­ac­ters? I know that there are tools that ev­ery char­ac­ter has to suc­ceed. It’s just that some char­ac­ters have more tools than oth­ers, and the ones that have the most gen­er­ally do the best. So we tried to give char­ac­ters more op­tions. In the be­gin­ning, I went too hard in that di­rec­tion. I gave them some re­ally strong things. You’re try­ing to ap­peal to ev­ery­body. At the first lo­ca­tion test, all the char­ac­ters were just ob­nox­ious. I gave ev­ery­body what they wanted and con­ser­va­tive play­ers were at a loss, be­cause char­ac­ters were gen­er­ally over­pow­ered. And those that were over­pow­ered [in Su­per Street Fighter IV:

Ar­cade Edi­tion], a lot of people clam­oured for them to be weak­ened, so we did that as well. When did you re­alise that you’d gone too far? Cer­tain high-level play­ers whose char­ac­ters were deemed weak in the pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tion would come up to me and be like, “Peter, I just feel like my char­ac­ter is too strong. I’m so sorry that I asked for all these buffs, be­cause the char­ac­ter’s too good and I don’t want to win this eas­ily. It’s bor­ing.” And how did you ul­ti­mately strike the right bal­ance? I tried to dial them back, but us­ing the ini­tial re­quests as a base­line. When some­thing was truly ob­nox­ious, we took it away. If it was ben­e­fi­cial to the char­ac­ter, but was im­ple­mented in a very strong man­ner, then we [toned it down] so they had new tools that weren’t over­pow­ered but were use­ful and nec­es­sary. One of the more con­tro­ver­sial changes was Dhal­sim’s two-hit medium kick, a huge help to his keep­away style, which you put in and then took out. You have these char­ac­ters that people have been play­ing, then you show them new changes and they’re like, “OK, I haven’t played with it yet. I don’t know how strong it is. I’m just watch­ing videos.” Then it’s taken away be­fore they can play with it and sud­denly they feel like they’re en­ti­tled to it. We were try­ing some­thing out

“If you make the proper read, you should be re­warded. That’s def­i­nitely still here; it’s just the reads are a lot harder”

– it was deemed for the greater good of the game that the char­ac­ter shouldn’t have it. Dhal­sim play­ers told us that he has a hard time fight­ing op­po­nents when they get in close. That medium kick only made his good match-ups bet­ter; it didn’t ad­dress the dif­fer­ent is­sues that Dhal­sim play­ers wanted to see ad­dressed. The pace of Ul­tra feels slower. Is that the in­tent, or will things pick up once play­ers ad­just to it? The game def­i­nitely has a lit­tle bit of a slower ap­proach, in that when you knock the op­po­nent down, it isn’t an au­to­matic win [be­cause of De­layed Stand­ing]. What play­ers were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing was that one knock­down equalled a big burst of dam­age they couldn’t stop. So even though the pac­ing was the same, if I swept you once with Akuma, the match was over. Now if I sweep you with Akuma, I don’t get that easy vic­tory un­less I take into ac­count De­layed Stand­ing.

I’m not see­ing, as yet, play­ers re­ally un­der­stand­ing how to use the new tools given to them. But that’s fine; the game just came out. I was watch­ing Wed­nes­day Night Fights and one player was ad­just­ing his jump-ins based on if he thought the op­po­nent would use De­layed Stand­ing or not. If you make the proper read in Street Fighter, you should be re­warded. That’s def­i­nitely still here; it’s just that the reads are a lot harder and they’re all 50/50 in­stead of 100 per cent in your favour. Why did you launch a non-fi­nal build of the game in Ja­panese ar­cades in April? We wanted to get the game out, and had ev­ery in­ten­tion of it be­ing the fi­nal build, but the feed­back we were get­ting was that some things seemed a lit­tle off. At the lo­ca­tion tests out here in the US, ev­ery­one had three days or so to play, and you can only col­lect so much feed­back in that time. But the Ja­panese play­ers were re­ally go­ing in on the game, and the feed­back we were get­ting led us to be­lieve that a few things were needed to bring the game to that shine Cap­com is known for. As a for­mer tour­na­ment player, do you fear that head start means Ja­panese play­ers will have an ad­van­tage over western­ers at the Evo­lu­tion Cham­pi­onships? I don’t think so. With YouTube and live streams, those guys are show­ing off ev­ery­thing they can do. If you see ev­ery­thing, the sec­ond you get [the game], you go into Prac­tice mode and go nuts. In Ja­panese ar­cades, they don’t have that; they’re spend­ing a dol­lar a game to play. With a dol­lar on the line, you’re not go­ing to try fun stuff. If a player is re­ally good, he’s play­ing to win and only prac­tis­ing se­ri­ous stuff; he’s not ex­plor­ing the char­ac­ter… Amer­i­can play­ers can sit in Prac­tice mode, learn new tricks, and keep them to them­selves.

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