UMvC3 Balance Change Ideas: A Response to Brokentier’s Viscant
First of all, disclaimer: the chances for a Marvel patch are still likely slim to none, so this is all for funsies speculation theory fighter fantasy league in our dreams talk only. Seriously, no matter what Capcom said at the San Diego Comic Con panel, I would advise to live life believing no patch is ever coming to prevent massive disappointment. The only reason I’m writing this up is because I love thinking about these kinds of things and just love discussing it, despite my belief that it’ll probably never happen.
Now that that’s out of the way… Recently Brokentier’s Jay “Viscant” Snyder wrote up a large article with his change ideas that could help balance out Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. Jay has long been a very scientific person who has been able to effectively analyze Fighting Games since before Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. I consider him to be one of the most creative players the Fighting Game Community has and while looking through the changes he presented, I found myself agreeing with much of it. In fact, the most important part of the article, IMO, were the first four paragraphs where he discusses the phases a typical Fighting Game goes through. Understanding and outlining that factor shows he has an understanding of how balance changes can affect a game, in particular a game that’s in this specific phase of its life cycle.
So if you haven’t read his article yet, please do so here:
And while you’re there, check out Brokentier‘s fine selection of Fighting Game related apparel! ^_^
Again, you’ve been warned. The point of my post here is to create an open discussion with his ideas because I have a lot of alternate suggestions and feedback to his post that I think would be interesting to discuss. So much of this post is in direct reference to the comments he has made in his post, so if you don’t read it first, you won’t know what I’m talking about in a lot of places.
Whenever I discuss balance changes, one unique aspect of how I think about them is that I always try to approach them from a programmer’s view point. Many solutions presented by various people sound like simple solutions, but they are probably far more complex than one could imagine (see previous article about fixing SFIV Unblockables). Thus, I always try to think of fixes from a standpoint of trying to find things that might be simpler to code.
Obviously, there are a lot of other areas that I have ideas on how to fix (like X-Factor) that Jay didn’t mention in his post, so I’m not going to go into those. What’s below are only responses to things Jay addressed in his post (okay lie: there’s one extra paragraph for some quick ideas on characters not mentioned by Jar and an entire Felicia section, but that’s all). If people are interested, I can go into things like my ideas on how to change X-Factor in a later post.
So, without further ado, here are some of my responses to Jay’s post:
The TAC system in its current state boils down to exactly what Jay says here: “That’s what’s wrong with TAC, the success rate and the expected value is simply too high.” In other words, the reward is too high for something that is very difficult to counter.
One problem with TACs, as he also mentions, is that they aren’t actually a 33% guess to counter, as the system may lead you to believe. With TAC Resets, where people punish you for trying a TAC Counter, the probability of you doing the wrong option becomes 75%. There are ways to reduce the system to a true 33% guessing game, but I’d rather not merely for the fact that TAC Resets are hype. Crowds seem to love it when TAC Resets occur.
So how do we make TACs less powerful? One of the main concepts is to give them a downside so that you are punished when you getTAC Countered. Jay said that it’s imperative that you should be able to punish the opponent after a TAC Counter, like in Beta videos for Vanilla, but if that’s the case, I believe no one will ever try them again because the risk is too high. But losing life isn’t the only way to punish someone in this game.
I think the right answer is that if you connect a TAC counter, the countered player loses 1 bar of Hyper Meter. It’s not a direct punish, but from the context of resources, its a pretty severe one anyhow. In fact, if it’s not severe enough, maybe it can drain 50% of their current Hyper Meter. Of course, while going from 5 bars to 2.5 bars sounds like a ridiculous punish for one countered TAC, realistically no one goes for TACs with that much meter because they are almost guaranteed a character kill with 5 bars. Mostly, TACs are used when you have low meter, when you know your combo won’t kill and you need some other factor, whether it’s extra meter or another character who can extend the combo. Actually… maybe instead of losing Hyper Meter, the game locks you out so you can’t gain any more Hyper Meter for a few seconds at all after getting TAC Countered. In fact, I like that solution much more. It plays into the “flow” of a match better because TACs are used mostly in low meter situations, so getting countered really hurts a lot without causing you to directly take damage and lose a character.
There is also the solution FGTV’s ShadyK suggested with resetting the overall Hit Stun Deterioration (HSD) to zero when landing a TAC and having it build up from there like normal, so that flight characters don’t get extra damage. While that sounds like a good idea, that means you could potentially get opponents into a “pseudo forever combo” by doing a TAC, landing, relaunching, and TAC’ing again. As long as the opponent never guesses correctly, you can keep the combo going forever until they die by resetting the HSD. It’s a good solution because it makes going for TACs worth it, but bad if you are the victim and die just because you lost 2 successive Rock Paper Scissor games.
Now, my original preferred solution was to apply a new layer of HSD on top of the current one, playing that out until the character lands, and then going back to the original layer of HSD to prevent the “forever combo” situation above. But from a coding standpoint, that’s a pain in the ass. It’s not simple enough and, for a patch that most likely will never actually get made, the solution MUST be simple in the off-chance they actually go through with the patch.
So the simplest solution, IMO, would be to keep the original system that’s already in place, but put a TIMER on the temporarily zeroed Hit Stun Deterioration. Instead of detecting when the character lands to turn it off, just turn it off after a few seconds automatically. This allows for the same swag Ironman and Doctor Doom Combos so we can still get MarlinPie showboating for swag and hype, but it also benefits non-flight characters as well. Everyone could finish with an Air Combo, OTG, and get awesome ground swag as well. For example, Felicia could end with an Air Combo right away, Toy Touch OTG, and do a couple of Jump Loops before it wears off and she has to finish her combo when HSD kicks back on, which is guaranteed to happen because it’s all timer-based.
However, there is a potential that the characters can repeatedly come in, quickly land, re-launch, and TAC again, resetting the time before it runs out, thus putting us into the “forever combo” scenario once again. I would make it so that any TACs that connect while the timer is running does not reset the timer. Thus, it’ll still run out eventually.
Also, to make it clear to the players and viewers what’s going on, it might even be helpful that when a TAC connects, while the “zero HSD timer” is running, to add a visual effect somewhere like making your life bar or character portrait glow until the timer runs out. Otherwise it might be too vague and “conceptual” for the casual audience and it’ll “make sense” to them that characters just start flipping out of combos when the glow goes away.
Again, this is a key quote here from Jay: “You SHOULD be at a disadvantage on incoming.” Many people have suggested guessing games like picking which side you come in on that allow the incoming character to escape if the offensive character guesses wrong. This should NEVER be the case.
I love Jay’s idea of letting characters come in a bit higher, though I don’t think that’ll help against the Unblockable setups from, say, a Firebrand / Skrull combinations. Plus, it hinders a lot of worse characters who have limited Air Mobility with their incoming mix-ups. For example, Wesker won’t be able to pressure an incoming character with Jump L as easily anymore, so he loses a lot.
This is probably my worst idea in the whole post, because I can’t think of a good solution, but… lets’ face it, we’ve all seen the glitches from Vanilla, we know they’re in there… Every character has an Air Dash animation. I’ll bet even the new guys like Hawkeye have one secretly hidden in the game. Maybe allowing all incoming characters to have a forward Air Dash only on incoming? It’ll be Air Throwable as soon as you perform it and for guys who don’t naturally have an Air Dash, they can’t do anything moves, not even Specials, in the middle of their Air Dash (they can after it’s done). And of course they can’t block. This will help potentially escape Vajras and badly timed Jam Sessions on incoming. It’ll also help with those ridiculously ambiguous hits with characters like Haggar or Vergil, where even the player themselves don’t know which side the move is hitting on. You can escape those, but, again, doing so will leave yourself horrifically vulnerable. If they predict you are gonna Air Dash, there will probably be good punishes and Option Selects to deal with that. Also, keep in mind that different characters can have different Air Dash lengths to purposefully keep some characters really vulnerable, like Hulk, who is supposed to be fairly immobile on incoming.
Outside of this idea crazy idea, I’m not really sure what to try. I’ll have to ponder this one some more…
I like all of Jay’s ideas on Throws. There’s really no better way to fix it than the options he put in (needing b + H or f + H, no throws on multiple button presses). There are no alternate codes available to use for Throws (like a LP + LK in SFIV). However, despite the fix that Jay suggested, you’ll always be able to Option Select a Throw from Plink Dashing because there’s no real way to prevent it, coding-wise. But at least it won’t work on Diagonal Air Dashes, only left or right Air Dashes.
Also, you MUST implement the change that makes Ground Throw Techs push characters farther apart. Being in Throw range after a Throw Tech is just silly.
My idea for nerfing Vergil was to make Spiral Swords timer not disappear after the Swords go away, whether if Vergil gets hit or the opponent absorbs all the Swords by Blocking or getting hit. That Yellow Bar stays on the screen and keeps draining. That way, after you hit with all the Swords and they go away, Vergil is still not able to gain Meter from the after his combo while the Yellow Bar is still there. Even if you get hit by an errant move and the swords go away, you can’t activate Swords again nor gain Meter until that Yellow Bar drains, meaning you have to bide your time until then.
If that doesn’t work, I do like Jay’s idea of forcing it to be a Level 2, but… there’s no such thing in the game, so from a programming standpoint, is it as simple as we think? There may be only one flag for Hyper Combos in the code, one state means it costs 1 bar, the other state meant it costs 3 bars. ‘Cause what are the rules to a 2-level Super? Can you DHC out of it? What sound effect does it make? How does it behave as the second DHC (3rd DHC background color? Or 2nd DHC background color?)? It would probably be best to just make it all behave like a Level 1 but just happens to cost 2 meters.
But if that’s not as simple as we though, an alternate solution would be to start the Swords in Blistering Sword form and allowing you to, at the cost of a meter, perform QCB + S to go into Spiral Swords (which will happen immediately in 1 frame so all old combos should work). However, Blistering Swords is ridiculously powerful for a Level 1 Super, so I’d also make it so that you still have to press ATK + S once at the cost of a Meter to put it into “Manual Firing Mode”. If you don’t do that, the Swords will just fire off automatically at no extra meter cost. Once the first Sword fires off automatically, you can no longer change its mode… the rest will just fire off at regular intervals. That way we can get the 2 meter requirement for Spiral Swords without needing to introduce a “new” mechanic of Level 2 Hypers. Plus, Level 1 automatic Blistering Sword may give us new setups that might make for some really interesting combos (activate early in combo so that it’ll automatically trigger after a D/F + H OTG to help keep the combo going, for example). They could even potentially end up being too powerful, so this may be a bad idea overall.
Lastly, his teleport needs more recovery frames. Everyone has about 15 to 20 frames, but Vergil, for some reason, his teleports are 13 AT WORST (10 at best without Devil Trigger). They all should be at least 15 frames. Strider and Dante are the only character with better recovery, but Strider needs it and Dante’s is limited to only appearing in one place. Vergil certainly does not.
Hidden Missiles going away when Doom is hit is the obvious and most desired solution. But I agree with Jay’s assessment that that may actually not be the best solution. Another solution would be to make it so that once the first missile tracks onto the opponent, all subsequent missiles can only track a super tiny angle from its preceding missile. By keeping them all in relation to each other, the “field” they cover will be much more limited. Right now, each Missile tracks you individually, so you have to KEEP running forward to avoid them. With this change, if you avoid the first one, the others don’t track as well and you’ll most likely have escaped them all.
There’s only two changes I want for Morrigan: no Meter gaining during Astral Vision, and once Astral Vision is activated, Soul Fists automatically drop down to 20,000 damage each instead of 85,000 for the duration of Astral Vision. Either that or, to make it easier to code, just drop the Soul Fist damage down to 60,000 and, during Astral Vision, she just gets a blanketed 50% damage nerf on everything (like she’s splitting the damage between the images), making each Soul Fist do 30,000 damage. That will also fit in with Jay’s observation that Morrigan is meant to do no damage.
The main goal, really, is to nerf Soul Fist damage during Astral Vision. That way, if you accidentally end up bouncing on 100 Soul Fists, you won’t instantly die like before. This also makes blocking it out a viable option. You’ll still take a lot of chip damage relatively and you’ll essentially be letting Morrigan get you locked down by Doom missiles and Soul Fists, letting her fly in unimpeded for a mix-up, which is still ridiculously scary.
For Zero, the best ways to balance him without completely destroying him, I think, are to make it so that it takes a bit longer to charge up for Level 3 Mega Buster so he gets it far less often and it feels more “valuable” rather than something you can easily build up and spam. This also makes it so that he needs to do like 4 (maybe 5?) reps of the Lightning Dashes between Mega Busters in the Lightning Loop, basically giving people more opportunities to drop the combo.
Also, make the Ground Mega Buster have significantly more delay, so much more that he can’t combo off of it on hit or be safe on block. Dashing behind you and Mega Bustering you is too effective to reward him that much. It has a 5 frame startup that he can cancel his teleport with (so he can choose which side to do it on), making it way better than Berserker Slash or Rapid Slash ever wish they were. So being able to combo off of it with no meter is pretty ridiculous. And even if the enemy somehow manages to block, Zero is still +2 so he still has the advantage! Give it 5 extra frames of delay, making it -3 on block. That should also be enough to prevent him from combing after it sans Assist. That will reduce a lot of his mix-up power on the ground and force him into wanting to try more Air Mix-ups. He’s already too potent in the air, don’t make him so good on the ground as well. I mean, he can still combo after it if he uses the right Assists, but at least that uses the Assist up early on so he doesn’t get to save it for extended his combos in the corner.
Lastly, lower his health to 800,000 or 750,000, where it should have been all along.
Again, a key phrase from Jay: “Making high level Frank weaker would ruin the gimmick so the better solution is to keep him dangerous and have the player truly earn him.” I like changing the numbers on Frank. Level 4 Frank West is pretty ridiculous already since Level 5 really doesn’t buff him up but just gives him a damage boost. But 100 hits for Level 4 seems like a lot, because then it would essentially force you to pick certain characters like Skrull to level him up. A team of Frank, Spencer, and Hulk, for example, would almost never get Frank to Level 4. Maybe 75 hits for Level 4? So 5 hits for Level 2, 30 for Level 3, 75 for Level 4, and 150 for Level 5.
Just make this poor guy’s Launcher work!!! Speed the damn thing up. Everyone else’s Launchers are around 8-10 frames for startup, why is Iron Man at 14? Drop it down to 10. Or even down to 11 to make it on par with THOR.
Regarding Smart Bombs, aren’t they already aimable? Different buttons allow for different distances. Though a personal pet peeve, I wish the code for them was L + S, M + S, and H + S like the old code… DP code for Smart Bombs feel so weird. But again, those codes are great for joystick users, but not pad users, so it’ll probably stay DP + ATK.
Also, he has a bug where if he connects an Air Throw too low to the ground, the animation will push him higher up, but he still can’t Air Dash because he was technically in the “Air Dash Height Restriction” zone when he connected the Air Throw. Fix it so he can Air Dash after Air Throw no matter what so he can combo off a mid-screen Air Throw when the Throw connects at any height.
The only thing I ask of Strider is that the damn bug that Maximillian told me about where Strider’s Crouching H hit box shrinks during X-Factor be fixed. Please!!!
Agreed with giving the poor robot more health. Being so susceptible to instant Overheads puts him at such a disadvantage, I’d like to see him get back to Nemesis / She-Hulk levels of health at 1,150,000.
Others Not Mentioned By Viscant:
Speed up Hsien-Ko’s Air Dash! Give Iron Fist some movement option in the air. I’m not sure what, but something has to happen to allow him better movement. For Phoenix Wright, make the effects of the good evidence not randomized, so the spheres from the cell phone are always consistent, one always being slightly higher up above his head for Air Space Control. Otherwise I’m actually scared to buff Wright because I think he’s way better than people give him credit for. Change Ghost Rider’s Launcher (S) from 15 frames startup to 12 frames to allow it to be a better anti-air. While that can be a potentially scary change, Ghost Rider doesn’t get much off of launching someone that high up and Air Blocking it won’t allow him to cancel it into anything (it’s a Launcher so it can’t be canceled on Block), so that’s the trade-off. For Storm, make only H Typhoon OTG, and make it track the enemy. Then for L and M, they are different distances (L version being a body away from her, M being 3/4 the screen away), have no OTG ability, and have their startup reduced from 63 frames to 40 frames (still slower than Dormammu’s Purification, which is 32). H can still be used for all the same combos since it tracks, and L and M are for zoning. But since there are only two ranges and are still generally slower than something like Purification, they won’t be super effective.
Of course I can’t leave without talking about Felicia. Her biggest weakness is that a lot of her damage comes off of Throws, so she automatically kills her own damage. So I’d make the L and M versions of Hell Cat (Command Throw) do more damage. Raise them from 102,000 and 126,000 to 126,000 and 141,000 damage. Leave H version at 156,000.
Then make the Sand Splash code QCF + S and just make it the current H version. Just remove the L and M versions that no one ever uses. It would help her in zoning and ranged fights so much better and less accidental Sand Splashes. Charge codes really have very little place in a Marvel game, especially for a character like Felicia who is a particularly active character.
Next, make Wall Cling double-tapping Back instead of only one tap. I’ve jumped and then tried to Block instantly on reaction to so many things only to end up clinging to the wall because I let go of the stick for a fraction of a second before Chicken Guarding. Making it a double tap will remove that problem.
Make the Rolling Buckler follow-up of Neko Punch -1 on Block instead of -2 so it can’t be 100% punished by Throws. Gives her one more option to get in and it won’t be too good because Neko Punch has no range compared to the Slide follow-up.
Lastly, improve Cat Mouse (the foreground dodge). Captain America’s Backflip is 34 frames total. Felicia’s Cat Mouse is 50 total, with a 5 frame startup, 30 active frames, and 15 recovery frames! I’m not sure if this move was meant for dodging or for mix-ups, but at 50 frames, it’s terrible at both. So it needs to be buffed.
However, first off, a nerf: take the first 5 Active Frames and make them startup frames (10 frame startup is still amazingly fast compared to most teleports in the game, 5 was easily the best there was). Now, give me three different length Cat Mouses with L + S, M + S, and H + S. H + S should go farther distance than the current one with same frame data (10, 25, 15 = 50 frames). M + S should go same distance at it currently does with its Active Frames reduced to 20 (10, 20, 15 = 45 total). L version should travel a really short distance, like a little less than CapAm Backflip distance, with only 15 Active Frames in the middle (10, 15, 15 = 40 total). This gives her better mix-ups once up close that give her damage on hit, but not too potent. Even at 40 frames total, the L version would still be one of the overall slowest teleports in the game (compare to Wesker, whose H Phantom Move is only 31 and gets behind you automatically at the 12th frame). Not only that, you can see how far she’s going at all times, so the mix-up is far less potent.
So really, the Cat Mouse is the only true buff I’ve given her, though having a non-charging Sand Splash would help a lot as well. But I don’t think these things combined together will make her ridiculously powerful, as I really think Felicia is really good as she is. I’m still leaving her with the very big gaping hole at the far top corner of the screen and very limited air mobility (Air Delta Kick is still easily reacted to and killed with Supers). I’m just buffing her up once she gets inside and, with the Sand Splash, improving her mid-range ground game, which is pretty terrible as it is right now.