Strikers Edge was originally born from a “game development marathon” or “game jam”, so to speak. It was raw, unpolished and ugly, but the main mechanic was there: shooting weapons at each other to take down your opponent.
We saw its potential at the very beginning; it felt unique and easy to pick up, while offering an almost hidden complexity that versus fighting games usually offer.
But above all, every game felt very intense. Every spear passing through, every dodge felt like a clutch moment.
Moving onward with the concept required us to think everything through. In this PlayStation.Blog post we’ll talk about two of the many, many aspects we improved since that game jam back in the day: the gameplay and the theme, while designing for intensity.
Designing for intensity: gameplay
Strikers Edge is a versus game that thrives in clutch moments and intensity. We wanted to emphasize the feeling to a maximum and try to provide “WOW” emotions and moments. We always came back to this WOW moment that was Street Fighter 3rd Strike’s “Moment #37” and ask ourselves: can Strikers Edge provide even a small amount of the feeling this moment is about? Even for less technically experienced players?
We had an idea that was able to provide its share of WOW moments, stressing out clutch actions: slow-motion. It works simply by momentarily slowing down time when someone is about the get a fatal hit.
This ended up working great for multiple reasons. For one, it acknowledges a clutch moment in the match, dramatizes that moment and creates emotion, putting people on the edge of their sits.
So far, nothing surprising as it just is what every slow-motion effect does.
However, we chose to activate the slow-motion effect before the weapons hits the target, making what seems to be an artifice, a gameplay mechanic. It gives the player at disadvantage an opportunity to turn things around by allocating him/her more time to react and avoid death, which in returns allows time for the attacking player to out-think their low health enemy.
This is when mind games come into play
There are few things more satisfying than blocking an incoming charged attack during a slow-motion moment, making everybody in the room go “OMG!!!”!
As there are very few things more frustrating than dodging the fatal spear just to receive another one, well timed by your opponent, at your recovery.
Intensity became our main design choice, and we made sure every mechanic was revolving around the concept.
On top of the slow-motion mechanic, we added other little interactions that ended up adding to the game’s intensity potential, such as:
- Projectiles colliding with each other in mid-air
- Arenas’ elements and occasional events protect, damage, push or slow you down the high risk / high reward mechanic of charging an attack, slowing you down and temporarily disabling dodges and blocks in the process for an increased output damage and a special ability
Yet, for Strikers Edge to be as intense as we meant it to be, we had to find a theme for our game that would frame it all.
Designing for intensity: finding a theme
It was clear from the beginning that ranged combat was core to the game.
We wanted to make it somehow physical, making the player feel like every hit made a difference, and most of all… we wanted Strikers Edge to feel intense.
Guns wouldn’t cut it, since bullets travel too fast and we needed something that was slow enough for players to dodge.
Yet the obvious was there all along: the first prototype had spears, so it felt natural to keep going with ranged and melee weapons. Everything from axes, spears, javelins, shurikens, knives, even stones, among others, made it to our list of possible weapons.
With this list we immediately started thinking about all kinds of warriors who could use these in combat, as well as what kind of unique abilities they would have.
This stage is super fun and it’s very easy to get carried away and lose focus, so we had to establish a theme: Medieval Fantasy came to us.
It’s a theme that can hold lots of different kinds of warriors without them feeling out of context. You can imagine a Ninja fighting a Viking and find it much more credible than, say, an Egyptian warrior against a modern-day Marine.
COME ON!! Who would win in a fight between a Ninja and Spartan against a Valkyrie and her Viking friend!!??
Yes, we were quite happy with the theme and the intensity the characters, their potential background and their weapons could bring to the fray.
With the medieval fantasy theme sorted out, it became easier to come up with and justify characters, abilities, events, locations and everything about the world.
Here you go, here are solid foundations for Strikers Edge, in terms of both design and gameplay. We hope you’ll enjoy the game as much as we enjoyed making it. We hope to see you online on the fray on 31st January.