You talked a second ago about trying to set up the control in a certain way so that it's logical what's going to happen based on what the button does, right?
JM: Yes, yes.
Is there a way to lead people into learning deeper combat through design, essentially, rather than giving them a tutorial, or sending them a move list like you talked about? Is there a way to lead people into learning ways to become more proficient as they play?
JM: Yeah, yeah. Most games these days, no one reads the manual anymore. Hardly anybody reads the in-game manual if there is one.
Vita games don't even come with manuals.
JM: Yeah. They just decided not to even ship them, because it's like, no one reads them. These days, a lot of people want to learn by doing. They don't want to have to access a menu to learn everything they can do. They want it to be a little more straightforward, a little more intuitive.
For us, Kratos has always had a certain style of attack per button. L1 and Square has always been slightly radial, and L1 with Triangle has been power -- Triangle itself has been power. So just that link right there, where it's like, "L1 and Triangle, very powerful. Triangle, a little less powerful but still more powerful than Square." Those are the kind of things that you intuitively get, and you don't need to access a manual to remember this. If you want to do that giant plume, you know what button usually leads to that. You'll press it, even though you don't know what exactly he may do in this sequence.
So it's not so much about the intermediate steps as it is giving people some way to understand -- to equate an attack with a button, essentially.
JM: Yeah, yeah. To be honest, games like Street Fighter have been doing this for a long time... I mean, they just have a lot of buttons, which kind of reduces the accessibility, but they have things where it's like a jab or short. It's going to be very similar across the board.
Where they get really different is when it comes to linking based on frames, specials, how to get those off, how to get your super. That's what you're really interested in, at the end of the day.
The various details between the buttons -- I don't want to say they're not important, because they are, in Street Fighter -- but I think the layman can still get the job done just by those tropes and knowing, "Oh, okay. This is a roundhouse. Usually I sweep guys, or trip guys, when I press down and roundhouse. I'll press that. Oh, guess what, I swept them."
Do you have to really concentrate on balance now in a way that you didn't have to before because of the multiplayer?
JM: Definitely. For Kratos, we always try to give him moves where you can link in your combos and things like that, but at the end of the day, we don't care if it's fair for the AI. They're going to get hit like 20 times by this one Square move; so be it. We don't care. But in the multiplayer, it's not so good. One of the first things we did this game was just put two Kratoses in the arena against each other just to see how it works. And yeah, it's like getting hit by a move that does a 20-hit combo on one little press, that's not exactly where it's at in multiplayer.
So we have to find a different way to still give you some satisfying moves that can give you some links and longer combos but present a little more skill to actually get those.
And you have to have an eagle-eye on whether or not things are exploitable.
JM: What's interesting about that, there's games like Street Fighter, very technical, deep game that people still play to this day because of its depth. Then you have games like Marvel vs Capcom which is still really deep, but it's very broken as well. There are a lot of characters in there that are just like vastly better than other characters.
Or, God, there's Street Fighter X Tekken, which has infinites that involve forward, punch.
JM: Exactly. Where it's like, these guys are really broken. But then you just choose guys that are also broken, and everybody just fights broken. So there's a little bit of balance there where it's like, yeah, there's going to be some moves and some abilities, especially the ones you're going to earn in the arena, because those are like the grand equalizers, like I was talking about, where it's like, "Go and pick this up. Anybody can do this." "I know how this works. I don't have to memorize a combo to use it." So, there's going to be a few things in there that are just going to be like -- boom! Knock everybody out.
Kind of Smash Bros-y.
JM: Yeah, it's going to be a little of that. But at the same time, not so random. We don't want everybody complaining about the Blue Shell like in Mario Kart, where it's like, "Ah, damn it. I like racing, and this Blue Shell keeps stopping me." So definitely tuning balance is something that we're really aware of. Everybody in our team, especially the combat team, loves fighting games, loves action/adventure. So a good barometer is us ourselves. If we think it's good, then it's like, "Okay. Does everybody else think it's good?" And we'll just retune.