I'm the lead designer on facebreaker, a new arcade boxing game being made by EA. Yeah, so the last game I designed was NBA Street Homecourt, which is pretty fucking awesome. I like sports games primarily, and I like them fast, twitchy and ridiculously responsive. Other than that I hang out with my 17 month old son and make him imitate farm animals since he can't talk yet.
I'm going to be posting a blog shortly about facebreaker and why it doesn't suck and then you can go to the forums and assault me with questions.
Ok, so the first thing we need to clear up is WTF Kim Kardashian, Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag are doing in FaceBreaker. This one is easy. As you probably already know, our create boxer feature makes use of photogameface, where you can upload a picture of yourself (or anybody) to create your boxer. We wanted to include some pre-created boxers in the final game so that if people didn't want to go to the trouble of uploading pics, or if they weren't actually connected online they would still be able to use the feature, by editing and customizing a person that already exists in the game (much like a traditional create player).
So, we needed some people. Knowing that gamers were probably going to be uploading celebrities and athletes and other famous people into the game anyhow, we thought it might be cool to use some famous people ourselves, rather than John and Jane Doe.
We started with what you might expect. Who would be cool to have in our game? Who would people want to be? We thought of everyone from Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee to Jack Black and Will Ferrell. But, they wanted a shitload of money. So we decided to spend that on the actual game instead.
And then we figured it might be funny to include some people in the game that we thought the general public might always have wanted to beat the crap out of.
And that is how we got to where we got to. So yeah.
Other than that, why does this game not suck, why is it not a button masher and why should you care?
First let's talk about fighting games in general and the whole button mashing thing. We've had feedback from some people that our game feels like a button masher when you first pick it up. For starters, let's agree on one thing - every fighter that you pick up and play for the first time is technically a button masher, meaning you hit a bunch of buttons randomly hoping for the best. The difference is that with some games you start to figure things out while you're smashing away and the game mechanics start to take shape for you. That understanding or learning then opens the game up and starts to make the experience fun.
With many fighting games the underlying gameplay systems are very complex, which means that just learning by mashing and trying to figure things out is a very difficult task and can take hours and hours of play until you can even start to formulate a picture in your mind of how the game actually works. If you ever do at all. I think this is what has turned a lot of people off fighting games in general in the past. For those that take the time to learn the system the experience is for sure very rewarding, but many people just don't have that much time to invest.
It also creates another very common problem in gaming - it is almost impossible to play complex games with your friends because of the length and steepness of their learning curves. Online gaming has kind of hidden this problem, since even with the most complex game you can always find someone online who is at your level and can give you a competitive challenge. But there seem to be fewer and fewer games that are good for offline multiplayer. As an aside, I think this is why people always remember old-school games (ie like NHL 95 or Live 99) so fondly, because they were simple enough to learn that you and all of your friends could quite quickly get on equal grounds, where you were all using the same controls/moves, and then the player who won on any given day was the one who used them the best. Those games were more about a battle of wits than being about who had invested the most time, practiced the most, or memorized the most combinations of buttons.
So this brings us to FaceBreaker. Out of the box you will probably have no idea how to play and will, of course, just smash some buttons and hope for the best. But, if you are willing to invest even 20-30 mins to learn the basic controls (there are not many), the rest of the strategy becomes about how to use those seemingly simple controls in better and more strategic ways. I can't wait until the game is released so I can start fighting people online to see what types of strategies people will employ, because I already have many. And if we do happen to meet online, I will break your face.
I guess the whole deal is that FaceBreaker will keep you fighting for a long time because it is actually more simple than traditional fighting games. This might seem backwards, but I really believe that it is true.
So bring on your questions, feedback or comments and I will answer the hell out of them.