Comeback Mechanics Hurt Beginners

There is a discussion I’ve seen crop up recently in regard to giving newcomers a “fighting chance”; balancing a game with added mechanics to better help a new player, as seen with SFV’s upcoming revenge meter. To me, this seems backwards, as all they are doing is giving the game an added layer of complexity to further complicate the game for a newcomer.

With Combofeind’s recent comments on the subject, I noticed a pretty ignorant stance on Capcom’s part:

“The battle mechanics that give players a “fighting chance” are not necessarily a bad thing. I say this because a player who has put in time and dedication will know how to avoid being hit by said mechanics. For a new player however, the difference between losing by 20% vs. 80% could mean the difference between whether they quit the game or stick around.”

There is a pretty big problem here, IMO, when it comes to game design. I feel a new player would be way more inclined to keep playing if they quickly understood WHY they lost, opposed to noticing how much they lost by. The quicker you can get a beginner to understand why they may have won or lost, the quicker they can enjoy the game for what it is. Yet Capcom has done nothing but hinder a beginner’s potential to understand their games by adding sub-systems and making their games more and more complex. What is so perplexing about their stance on this is how right they got this in the past.

We can look at a game like Street Fighter II as a game that embodied this philosophy. Because of the game’s high-damage and lack of meters/sub systems, you could find out how the game worked fairly quickly. Beginners could learn to punishing moves and deal damage rapidly, because they didn’t have to juggle various meters, understand cryptic mechanics, or practice huge combos in training mode to punish an opponent worth a damn. It has such a simple concept: Jump? Anti-Air. Projectile? Jump. Walking forward? sweep. Blocking? throw. You can punish someone with strong attacks and specials and easily win on strategy alone, without high execution combos and meter management. If people love the game enough for the game’s fundamentals and strategy, they’ll learn the more complex stuff later, but at least they have a fighting chance with strategy alone.

If we take Street Fighter II as the prime example of a fighting game that facilitates the nurturing of beginners with simple mechanics and clear strategies, then SFIV and modern Capcom fighters are the antithesis. A low-level and mid-level player can’t even fight eachother, because of the low-level player’s futility when it comes to damage output. Without an understanding of all the subsystems, the low-level player has no hope outside of the Comeback Mechanic. The mechanic in turn obscures fundamentals by covering up a beginner’s inability to deal damage through strategies and reads. How can this help a beginner understand your game at all? What did you teach the player? “Get beat up until you can do your hail marry move and hopefully eek out a win”. Yeah, I’m sure people will stick around with that sort of logic, sounds like a blast.

What do you guys think? Is the feeling of landing a huge comeback move enough to have people come back for more, to create new fighting game fans? Is the obscurity in fighting game systems holding back the growth in popularity of fighting games?

I feel you won’t want to take an interest in any fighter unless it’s something that pings your interest. Whether that be a character, game mechanics. FG’s aren’t exactly the most popular genre out there and overshadowed by games like CoD, BF, Pokemon, RPG’S, MMO’s the like. Learning about a fighter takes time. It’s not usually a pick up and play if you want to get serious about it. Alot of gamers (and new gamers these days) don’t have that mentality. It’s “If I can’t master in in 1-2 days game=sold/whatever.”

Some people just don’t care about winning/losing and just press buttons for the hell of it. They did some big dmg move it may keep them around.

I’ll use myself as an example.

I’ve played fighters throughout my life. However I only starting getting down and dirty with them only 3 years ago. Before that it was “press some buttons something happens. Yeah, keep playing.” But I never took them seriously, I never looked up (outside of reading manuals) how to REALLY play the game. I just…“played”.

As the years went by I visited boards from time to time and people would post things like “Yeah if you do this mix-up you get a HKD which gives you X frames and if they tech” yada yada yada. I was clueless.

Then I started reading up on this stuff (vesper arcade taught me everything took months to learn correctly) and now that’s where I am today. But there was one true motivator. Juri Han. I liked the character so much it made me go above and beyond of what I knew of fighters and took it to the next lvl.


Characters are key or a really good motivator.

I actually don’t mind comeback mechanics. The only reason I fear them in SF4 is due to mashing being very effective. The fear of an ultra forces me to do a safe-jump or something less aggressive than I might want (ex. cross-up).

if comeback mechanics were the only issue.
Eg in Garou MOTW one character can deplete your whole energy with a single strike. Despite that, game is much more fun than SF4

SF4 has other more serious issues

Supers are ‘comeback moves’ themselves. SFII is not a good game for to be saying you should look at it to make a better game. You get hit 4 times and you’re dead. In SFII, normal attacks are ‘comeback moves’ lol.

Damage dampening is good because the match won’t end in 2 seconds like SFII. Multiple hits in succession as damage decreases is reasonable because if you throw out all those hit in real life, wouldn’t you get fatigued? So that is why damage is less, the more you put out. You’re supposed to do more damage on single focused hits. It just makes sense. It bridges the gaps just fine.

If you complain, how can you call yourself good? Ultras are no different than supers and most of the time, supers do way more damage than and full ultra bar. If the opposite side is so scrubby, then why can’t you ‘as a good player’ beat them? They’re supposed to be scrubby right? tsk tsk tsk. By that logic, all ya’ll scrubby for having to look at a strategy guide for a FIGHTING GAME. In my eyes, that’s cheating :stuck_out_tongue:

The only thing I don’t like about SF4, is that the light attacks don’t come out fast behind each other like on previous SF games. Other than that, the game is just fine in the “comeback mechanic” department.

What does any of this have to do with my argument that added mechanics hinder A BIGINNER’s ability to understand the fundamentals of a fighting game? We aren’t talking about how “unfair” comeback mechanics are, what I’m trying to say is that adding dedicated mechanics and meters like that do the opposite of what they claim they are trying to do: make the game more accessible to newcomers.

Not dying to chip damage is comeback potential enough for me to be honest.

I also don’t like the notion that people only stick around with a game when they’re good at it.
I suck at fighting games for all my life and still love playing them.
Same goes for basketball.

If you design a good game people are gonna keep playing, you don’t have to feed them an extra bone.
That shit is League of Legends pyramid scheme bullshit, where you design a garbage game and have people keep playing it because you make them feel like a very special person.

Fuck that shit and fuck Combofiend, USFIV balance changes were garbage.

This comeback mechanic isn’t going to affect a beginner’s ability to understand the game. It’s not going to detract from it either. It’s a very simple bar that when ready allows you to perform a powerful attack.

It will encourage beginners to stay in that it’s nice eye candy and makes you feel special when you land it.

As far as game complexity, ofcourse SFII is way way more easy to understand. But that’s unnavoidable. It was a much simpler game. Current fighters are way more complex with combos and meter management in addition to the foundational mechanics of their predecessors. I love that they’ve become deeper and more complex, makes them more enjoyable to me.

If you wan’t to make a beginner understand the game better, then make a very fun tutorial system. I don’t know what to do outside of that.

Im one of the few people out there that doesnt mind the concept of ultras as comeback mechanics.
The reason why is simple: in CONSOLE GAMES like sf4 where damage is low (as compared to older arcade games where damage was high to get people to throw in quarters faster) it becomes VERY HARD to mount any sort of comeback. This is for 2 reasons primarily that i know of:

1.Its harder to make a comeback via low damage… This just makes perfect sense.
2. Its ESPECIALLY difficult to make comebacks with low damage AND less time to make those comebacks since the clock is inevitably half spent or more.

In oldschool streetfighter this mattered alot less since simple non super move combos could often do over 50% damage up to around 75% damage all the way up to 100% damage via dizzy combos.

And since fighting game developers have (rightfully) seen that always having one player be able to at least entertain the idea of a comeback makes games more exciting for both the players playing the game and viewers watching the game.

So, in other words, low damage necessitates the need for comeback mechanics. The easy answer if people dont want comeback mechanics is to increase damage and then take the comeback mechanics out.

But if you do neither and run a low damage game with no comeback mechanics… Be prepared to play and watch games that feel like the players are just going through the motions once a sufficient lifelead has been gained by either side.

The only thing i know of that will allow a game to be lowish damage and no comeback mechanic, but still allow for comebacks to be a percentage to where the game is still in question even after a significant lifelead has been taken, are games/characters that are highly momentum based… Aka vortex characters liek what skullgirls is or ST vega is, or sf4 akuma and ibuki are.

But if its fundamental characters… Then the game is mostly over once on side has a certain amount of lifelead going.


At the same time, this means that you could do away with comeback mechanics if you simply have higher damage.

I dont mind comeback mechanics. Comebacks have always been part of all fighting games and they are available to both sides. SF4 has overall low damage so you need such a mechanic. I see a lot of posters just saying well get rid of it and up the damage from normal attacks. Well that could work but thats how the FGC alienated the casual. We need the causal for sales, in the end this is a business for Capcom. Capcom need to make a profit to keep making the games we love. They need to paid their overhead and keep people employed to maintain their lively hood. I like that more and more people are into fighting games these days. I went this trend to continue, not go back to the way it used to be.

SF4 main issues isnt the Ultra system, its the retarded ass reversal window. Its to dam big.

Once again SF was more popular when there was no comeback mechanics. So called casuals do not buy games based on the systems within the game.

On the subject at hand, while I DO NOT believe that low damage means that something like ultras will be necessary, I do agree that clmebacks are easier to make in high damage games.

I also generally find high damage games more fun.

I think its bad to reward someone for getting hit.

I agree and believe that comeback mechanics should disappear. “Casuals” don’t buy games for such specific/obscure mechanics (arguably, like the OP says, it may drive them away) and competitive players hate them because they unbalance the game.
The moment I saw the SFV Revenge meter for the first time, my reaction was “not this crap again…”

This post right here perfectly sums up why. Can anyone truly disagree with this logic?


At the same time, this means that you could do away with comeback mechanics if you simply have higher damage.


Im just replying in quote form up there because it seems to have been skipped over for whatever reason.

Going on, i also said that comeback mechanics arent as needed if the game is low damage and vortexy (aka the new skullgirls with undizzy where the average combo does 7.5k with super against 15k hp characters). Even though the numbers in 3v3 are a bit skewed, the game is still basically a low damage game now. But that matters little for making comebacks in sg. What DOES matter in sg is that the game is super vortexy, so comebacks happen because of that.

However, vortex is an artificial way to hide damage. Lots of damage is hidden in the fact that those characters have so much damage added on to their combos simply because they get crazy mixups afterwards… And the average damage times percentage of successful mixups is what the TRUE damage of said vortex characters is.

But, none of that in any way disproves my point that if you have a low damage game, combined with non vortexy fundamental characters… Comebacks are really hard if not impossible.

So, as i said above, if you dont want comeback mechanics…YOU DO WANT HIGH DAMAGE OR VORTEX.

Or a game where no comebacks can happen easily at all and therefor becomes boring and people will tire of very quickly.

Me personally, i like high damage, or i like comeback mechanics… Since both are high damage, albeit in different ways. The only things i dont like is low damage with no comeback mechanic or vortex.

Aka sf4 chun or sim or rog or blanka WITHOUT ultra.

That’s not true. Fighting games were almost dead for a while there. Only time they were big is when the whole thing started. I remember I was there. Most of you guys didn’t join srk till SF4 dropped with its flashy graphics and over the top Ultras.

I joined SRK after 4 came out, because the game looked cool. But before we heard about any new sf me and my friends were hosting melee tournaments. Its a different scene but it was still getting players.
There were also FG’s that sold millions when SF wasn’t around.
Maybe some of them weren’t getting tournaments that were as big as SF in the US, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t popular.

Just because people didn’t join SRK doesn’t mean they weren’t playing fighting games seriously before then.

When did I say that? I surely didnt. I was playing thrm seriously vs other serious players. I even have videos from those days.

Heres a classic match.

Let’s stop acting like the 2000s were a thriving time for the scene. Thanks.

As for games with low damage and mixup potential; wouldn’t it take a lot longer to really build up a substantial health lead in a game like that? If so, the your opponent shoul have had plenty of chances to turn things around before health difference got so big, so a comeback mechanic still wouldn’t be necessary.