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Killer instinct explination

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Nov 19th, 2013
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  1. Since this is kinda long here's an outline of this thing:
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  3. The intro explains a few things about me, mostly that I haven't actually played the game and that this is just an explanation of the game for people curious, not a review.
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  5. The first real paragraph explains the old Killer Instinct games in brief to people who never played them.
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  7. The second gives a very brief overview of how the game works on a surface level compared to the previous Killer Instinct games (if you've read reviews of the game it's probably not new info).
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  9. The third is a basic description of how fighting games work, it's recommended unless you're a serious fighting game player, since I refer back to it often.
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  11. The last paragraph is a description of the game's flow, it's probably the most important bit, so you should make sure to read that if you care. It's followed by an example of the game's "mid-combo mixup" since I wasn't sure how to include that in the actual text.
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  13. If you're only interested in how this new game works and what sets it apart from other fighting games, you can safely skip the first two paragraphs and the intro.
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  15. Before I start, let me clarify: I have never played the new killer instinct. I have barely played the old killer instinct games. But I feel that I am still somehow know more about this game then most critics who are writing reviews for this game. This is not because I have an insane amount of knowledge or skill when it comes to fighting games, I never do very well at tournaments. However, I did invest a non-zero amount of time attempting to understand the design of killer instinct when it was announced, because I like to think of myself as an informed citizen.
  16. That being said, let me offer a small amount of insight into the game from my perspective to anyone who hasn't been following this game and is curious about how this game at least seems to play. Also, I wrote this in a state of annoyance and a bit of frustration, so I didn't really bother to proof read, so sorry for any spelling/grammar errors. Also also, if this sounds too technical and you think "Man, I'll never actually understand this" just understand that it's much easier to play fighting games than it is to read and write about them, and know that this game apparently has a good tutorial, so you'll probably be able to get the hang of it even if you suck at other fighting games.
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  19. Killer instinct is not a series with a good legacy. The early games are remembered almost entirely for their animations, music, and announcer rather than any actual engaging gameplay. The gameplay that is there serves as more of a cautionary tale than anything else. There are two characters in killer instinct: charge character and command character. The combo breaker system implemented was not balanced in anyway, there is no reason to not mash on combo breakers and as a result there is no reason to ever do a breakable combo, rendering the breakable auto doubles and in some sense breakers themselves completely meaningless. Lastly there no throws in killer instinct, breaking the basic concept of a fighting game, that attacking yeilds high reward via damage and pressure, blocking is safe but yeilds little reward outside of not being hit, and throws are harder to land than attacks and yeild less damage, but are able to break blocking. That all being said, the originals are still fondly remembered, either for the cool characters, cool music, cool animations, or nostalgia.
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  21. Double helix’s new effort takes most of the original and either throws it out or radically reinterprets it, mostly to game’s benefit. Characters have been redesigned to have vastly different neutral games (this comes at the expense of less characters overall, but it is a very welcome trade), Combo breakers have been completely redesigned to make the entire process of both comboing and being comboed a sort of mini game in itself (everything is susceptible to breakers, but breakers can be baited in order to lock out the ability to break, which allows the aggressor to do more damaging combos without fear of being broken), and great care has been taken to ensure the game is at least a functional fighting game. It's missing the 90s-tastic character designs of the original, opting instead for more modern character designs. And the soundtrack is replaced with reactionary music. Depending on who you are these are either fair trades, a godsend, or blasphemy. But no matter who you are these are not the most important things.
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  23. The real question and fear in regards to Killer Instinct is whether the combo breaker mini game is worth building the game almost entirely around combos. In a game like Street Fighter 4 or Guilty Gear players spend a lot of time in what’s called the “neutral game” which consists of “footsies” where players try to get superior positioning and poke with safe moves trying to score small, incidental hits. Once those hits are scored and positioning is awarded to the aggressor, pressure begins. The defending player is now at a disadvantage and must correctly defend against the aggressor’s attacks and throws, if they do and find a gap in the aggressor’s pressure they can score a hit, or move out of their bad position and begin their own pressure. If the defender doesn’t find that gap though, and gets hit, the aggressor is rewarded with a combo, usually they then have a choice in regards to how to combo, either trying to set up more pressure after the combo, trying to build the most meter (either for later use in getting damage, or for utility in neutral), or trying to deal as much damage as possible. Depending on how the aggressor wishes to proceed, we either wind up back at neutral, or back into the aggressor’s pressure.
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  25. That is how fighting games work, in brief. With most decisions going on during the neutral and pressure phases of the game. Different games treat these phases differently, in guilty gear ending combos in a knockdown in order to start more power pressure is much more common than in street fighter, where damage is often the higher priority and as a result more of the game is spent in footsies. But most games prioritize the time spent playing being spent with neutral or pressure, since combos are non-interactive for the defending player. Killer instinct seeks to avoid having to pace the game around it’s highly developed combo system by giving players real decisions to make during combos on both sides. On paper this adds a whole new phase to the game, but with the risk that it would end up homogenizing the cast. since pressure and footsies are playing second fiddle to the combo system’s mindgames, the differences in neutral become much less important, and everyone has the same in-combo mixup, which is deep and interesting (at least on paper), but the question is whether that is worth losing a focus on the neutral game or the pressure game.
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  27. For those unfamiliar with the in-combo mixup, here’s a brief example:
  28. level 1 (IE: what you’d see at lower level play)
  29. I can do 3 variations of this combo
  30. 1) weak, but it can’t be reacted to. This is what my opponent is likely expecting
  31. 2) strong, but it can be reacted to. My opponent is likely not expecting it, but he could just break on reaction anyway
  32. 3) middle of the road, it can’t be reacted to as easily, but if my opponent is looking for it, they’ll break it
  33. The mix up is that if you only do combo 2, your opponent will just predict and break it every time, but if you do both combo 1 and 2 sometimes, your opponent will have to be on the lookout, and you might be able to surprise them with combo 3, letting you do lots of damage.
  34. level 2 (IE: higher level play)
  35. I can do the above, but also, if I know they’re gonna break, I can purposely mess up my combo to biat their breaker. If they try to break they’ll be stuck and I can the full combo 3 without risking them reacting to it.
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