The Influence of Darkstalkers

Nerd, from the Brontoforumus, asked me to write about why Darkstalkers is or is not the best game ever. Well, all I’ll say to that directly is that Vampire Savior is a perfectly playable, good game with a high execution requirement. It’s also the game where Daigo Umehara made a name for himself, after he switched from Pyron to Bishamon. The top tier is a bit too strong and the bottom tier is a bit too weak, but thats indicitive of all games of that era. If you wanna play a Darkstalkers game, Vampire Savior is as good as it gets.

But thats not a very interesting post. Theres not much to say about how fun Darkstalkers is to play — it succeeds at what it tries to do for the most part and is playable. But what IS interesting is how massively influential the series was. While Street Fighter laid the foundation for fighters to follow, Darkstalkers went TOTALLY BATSHIT CRAZY and tried to buck every trope they established. They introduced crazy new systems and piled them on top of each other. The series was highly experiemental and most modern games take more then a handful of systems from the series.

Original Darkstalkers: As introduced by Morrigan's Boobs

Original Darkstalkers: As introduced by Morrigan's Boobs

Obviously lets begin with the original Darkstalkers. Darkstalkers was released just before Street Fighter Super Turbo and Street Fighter Alpha. What systems did this game have?

Chain Combos: Making normals cancel into other normals — the feature seen in the majority fighters these days. MVC2, Guilty Gear, Blaz Blue, TvC, Melty Blood… All these games and more owe this system to Darkstalkers. Called Hunter Chains (or maybe they weren’t called that until the next game?) they allowed you to, in a precise way, chain a number of normal moves together, going from lightest to strongest attack. This is actually more liberal then a lot of systems that exist today. The system was also put into the first Street fighter alpha, but was dropped. Guy and a few other characters retained their chains, but generally speaking, their role was vastly reduced. These chains only grew more liberal as the series progressed.

Enhanced Air Mobilty: … Air dashing and double jumping? Yeeeeah. All the way back in 94. Darkstalkers was the first game to bring fighting into the air. These systems aren’t universal like in Guilty Gear, but there were characters who possessed these abilities even back then.

Air Blocking: Another staple these days. Also featured in the Alpha series. Air blocking was necessary to allow the crazy air mobility to work. At this point you have every air system that modern, high mobility games use… back in 94.

Dashing… at all!: Oh wait you couldn’t even dash at all in any game before Darkstalkers. Where you can dash on the ground… AND the air.

Guard Cancels: Oh you know., Alpha Counters. Attacking out of blockstun, another hallmark of the Alpha Series existed first in Darkstalkers. Pretty much every god damned game ever uses Guard Cancels these days.

Flight Modes: Like Sentinel in MVC2 and other games. In fact, the other crazy thing with this is it uses the super meter. This game also had the first utility supers, wow!

It also featured even more ideas that were used in other games. I-no’s airdash in Guilty Gear is based off of Morrigan’s airdash. Faust can walk while crouching like Felicia. The game also featured a unique superbar immediately after super Bars were concieved. The bar would drain while filled and while active would cause special moves to have more effects, like additional damage or better properties. You could also use a super before it totally drained. This wasn’t a popular system, but it was indicitive of the creativity that went into Darkstarker’s design. There were other quirky decisions too. Fireballs would clash in different ways based on distance traveled and the strength used, based on the amount of ‘momentum’ they had left. So you could overpower a projectile by countering it with another one at close range. You also had weird ideas like Bishamon, who had a dragon punch that could ONLY be done as a 1 frame reversal.

Nightwarriors, also introduced by Morrigan's delcious cleavage.

Nightwarriors, also introduced by Morrigan's delcious cleavage.

Vampirer Hunter/Nightwarriors was Darkstalkers sequal that spawned even MORE new systems.

Stockable Meter: Now you can hold maaany levels of super. 99 levels I beleive, more then you could ever possibly use.

EX Attacks: These were actually called ES attacks (while EX attacks were basically Supers), but they were bigger, badder special moves that used the same meter as your super. Tons of games use this. SF3 and SF4, Guilty Gear with it’s Force Breaks and, in ways, FRCs, Melty Blood., etc etc.

Pursuit: Not to popular, but saw a lot of use in the Samsho games. Involves diving after grounded opponents for a free hit. You lose a chance to mix them up, but you get extra damage.

Tech Roll: Very common in a lot of games (SFA, SF3, SF4, and BB at the least), it allows the defender a safer way to get up by rolling after a knockdwn.

The game also featured a number of other weird systems, like auto-block mode, that lets you block for free when not attacking up to 10 times in exchange for not having the ability to control your chain combos.

Vampire Savior Boobs boobs boobs boobs

Vampire Savior Boobs boobs boobs boobs

Vampire Savior, the ‘best’ of the DarkStalkers games brought even more systems into the fold. None of these are quite as overt, but they are influential. You know Eddie from Guilty Gear? That whole concept comes from the Helper Dark Forces in Darkstalkers. The game also features variations on Alpha style custom combos (having your shadow be on the opposite side of the opponent to negate pushback for example). Super and Hyper armor moves are created — moves that can absorb one or many hits before being interrupted. It also added push-block, a feature that would appear in MVC2, GG, BB and TVC. The game even made some goofy changes. Life bars drain the opponent direction. A match is really one big round. Not necessarily good changes, but it shows how ‘out of the box’ DS was trying to be when compared to Street Fighter.

Vampire Savior/Hunter 2, as introduced, appropriately, by Lilith's impoverished bust.

Vampire Savior/Hunter 2, as introduced, appropriately, by Lilith's impoverished bust.

After Vampire Savior, Vampire Savior 2 and Vampire Hunter 2 came out. Both these games were like Savior, but with slightly different casts due to memory limitations. These gimmick releases were sort of ignored to my understanding. Still, Darkstalkers had a profound influence on later fighting games. I’m probably missing even more examples of new moves and character archetypes. Darkstalkers is easily the second most influential fighting game ever made, regardless of the playability of any individual title. These systems are EVERYWHERE and DS spit them out in mass. There was definitely a crazed genius involved in the creation of these games and while I don’t play them, I appreciate them fro their massive contribution to the genre.

Hope that’s good enough, Nerd.

Art: Grand Trigger

First attempt at pure digital painting! Woo!
It’s come a long way as you can see

I guess I’ll expound on Cassara and the Ignition Trigger a bit more. Additional information is with the original Ignition Trgger picture.

The Ignition Trigger is caused by the attraction of spirits to Cassara’s emotional state. Cassara creates something similar to a gravitational pull in astral space, attracting fire spirits. The effect is the same as the gravitational experiment with a sheet and balls. The big ball creates an impression and attracts smaller objects. As Cassara’s rage builds, eventually this energy gathers and creates even more force, until such a point that it creates a riff between the astral plane and physical space, similar to how a black hole. The fire enters the ‘real’ world and clings to Cassara and attacks her enemies based on her emotinal reactions to them.

The Grand Trigger is a level above that, where the spiritual boundry between physical space and astral space is suddenly shattered. While the magical fire still tends to Cassara’s whims, it ingulfs and destroys whats around her, besides what her will might explicitly spare. In the state Cassara usually is in to trigger a Grand Trigger, she usually isn’t looking to spare much! The release is like the bursting of a dam, with the initial release going off like a bomb.

Anyways on a technical level, this was done as Sai with no lineart as backing. This is basically my first attempt at pure digital painting. It was pretty fine to refine a blob of some base colors into this. I’m pretty happy how it came out and it took me less time than most of my more traditional illustrations.

Art: Reese: Veteran Sharpshooter

Again, DA blurb

I already gave Reese a rundown on the Hot for Teacher picture, but I’ll try and continue with some history with her.

So (as a brief catchup) Reese is a sharpshooter who was a cross dressing soldier in both World Wars do to divinely obtained immortality. She eventually ended up with the British S.I.S sometime sortly after the invasion of Normandy. By the end of the War, she finds (and initially shoots) Kayin, who is just as surprised as she is. Anyways, some random stuff.

Reese is Farsighted, though she possesses every acute vision at a distance, thus her glasses despite being a sniper. As an avid reader and for general convenience she wears thin, stlish glasses. Upon being gifted immortality, her ability to see far off objects has only grown, reacing a supernatural level. Reese has also developed an amazing intuition of ballistic weapons that allows her to accurately hit targets at extreme distances, though whether this is also a super natural occurance or simply a result of her massive accumulation of experience is unknown. Though most proficent in long distance shooting, Reese is skilled in combat with all classes of firearms. The gun pictured about is, a Luger P08 (properly called the “Pistole Parabellum 1908”), which Reese carries as her basic sidearm. It’s a pretty small gun, so it fits the roll, though it is a bit underpowered. I am tempted to have Reese possess one of the few .45 Lugers that were prototyped, but that seems a tad bit exotic and there would be better guns for situations where she would desire a larger cartridge.

Reese is an avid gun collector, owning an impressive amount of modern firearms, though they’d practically be considered antiques where she’s from. Since firearms have not progressed much further, they still consider to be very reliable weapons for her. A short list of her most used guns.

*Luger P08 (pictured)
*Mauser Karabiner 98k (Another sentimental weapon, though still extremely accurate and reliable)
*Dragunov SVD (More modern sniper rifle)
*Barrett XM500 (Anti Material Rifle)
*FN-Five-seveN (Yes it’s really capped like that. Low caliber, light weight, armor piercing self defense pistol)
*H&K .45 USP (Higher caliber, adaptable pistol)
*FN P90 (Because everyone has to use this god damned gun. Chambers the same rounds as the Five-seveN. SMG with a boxy bullpup design)
*H&K G36 (Highly customizabl, reliable assault rifle)
*MG3 (Modern version of the WWII German heavy machine gun)

Besides these and a few other weapons, Reese’s arsenal is for casual shooting and collecting (such as my personal favorite handgun, the Mauser c96)

Despite all her years as a soldier and further combat experience afterwards, Reese is a very relaxed individual. As mentioned in the last picture I did of Reese, her favorite hobby is Reesing and she enjoys boardgames. She is generally quiet and soft spoken, though she emits of an air of confidence. She is also extremely confident in her appearence and often gets flirtatious after a few drinks. Reese is generally the most prone to planning in her household, approaching situations in a more ponderous and methodical matter than Cassara and Kayin usually do. She almost never yells, though can still be angered. Reese’s anger is projected through stern, condescending speech. She is also has the capacity to deal with situations in a eerily cold and brutal fashion.

Reese’s favorite music tends to come from the 70s and 80s. After all the fighting she’d done, she was quick to dabble in the hippy movement. This was also about the same time she grew fond of dying her hair.

I think thats about all I can spit out about here I think.

I love typing up a frenzy for when I post a picture, though I doubt few people bother to read it. Probably doesn’t make much sense out of context. Also this picture was a remake of an older picture.

Old Reese

Comparing the two makes me feel good about how far I’ve come over the last few years.

Posted in Art.

Forum Post Roundup + Other Stuff!

Okay, typical forum post rehash. Lets start with talking about why Street Fighter 3: Third Strike is a bad game and why fireballs are good for games.

Fireball lockdown in ST only occurs in a specific situation. A blocked, slow, followed by a fast fireball at the right range. Anything else has holes and these holes can be expertly disguised. Other thing to remember in ST — everything hurts a lot, BESIDES fireballs. Personally I find the strategy and tactics of dealing with fireballs one of the most rewarding aspects of the game. Slowly inching forward or using various gimmicks (Balrogs headbutt, Fei’s short chicken wing, a DP) to advance,followed by a good prediction at close enough range to nail them with a jump in combo that robs them of most of their life.

I tended to play the extreme ends of the spectrum — Shotos, Dee Jay and Guile or, alternatively, fireball vulnerable characters like Honda and Fei. It’s satisfying as hell to manuever through their attempted zoning before stuffing their fireball with a well spaced cr.fierce or Rekka combo. In non-HDR SF2, O.Sagat can be pretty dumb but generally, besides for a few matchups, fireballs are pretty fair, just knowledge intensive to properly apply and counter. Even then though, I could regularly win the Honda/Ryu matchup against pretty much anyone who didn’t totally main Ryu. The game really does reward subtly and knowledge.

As for defensive game — games with great defense are naturally kind of bad/boring. When the less sound move is to attack, the game starts rewarding nothing which can lead to not much of a game. If your game is going to have strong defensive systems, they need to not lead to strong offensive gains (like parry) and should instead allow you a chance to reset the situation (any type of pushblock). If you have a not of defensive systems (Guilty Gear), you need an even GREATER offensive force. Thats partially why Guilty Gear is so insane. The defensive options aren’t there to make defense strong, they’re their to keep you from just flat out being ran over. It’s a delicate balance.

Of course how defensive or offensive you like your game is up to personal preference, but I would venture an assumption that a defensive oriented game that was good (maybe CVS2? even with the RC bug, the game is viable) would still have significantly strong offense. Just not as crazy as Guilty Gear or Super Turbo. This is part of the reason why Yun owns bitches in 3s — Ginei-jin actually allows him to be offensive without much risk but with great potential rewards, while the rest of the cast mostly lacks that ability.

Parries do a lot more complicated damage than that. For one they severly weaken situational advantage. In ST, if I knock someone into the corner as Ryu, they are now in a very interesting disadvantage. They have to escape my fireball trap and once they do that, I will likely still be at a slight advantage. On top of that, various situations in other games have very different counters for different characters that lead to more dynamic game. The character interaction leads to unique risk/reward matrixes across the different matchups.

In 3S you are always one guess away from having initiative and that guess isn’t always a risky one. In SF2, if I think someone is going to sweep me I can go SHORYUKEN, and get some damage and a knockdown by clipping his foot. If I misstime, he can punish, and he if he does nothing he can really punish me. Since the Shoryuken when applies can beat almost anything (hell, you can shoryuken through fireballs if you time it right), it comes connected to a lot of recovery. Parries not so much. If I hit down expecting you to sweep and misstime, I get swept, sure… but if you do nothing? I lost nothing for making a potentially high reward guess.

Mind games are reduced to a simple “I thought he was going to do something and he didn’t and I was surprised!” which is pretty shallow. Whats even worse about parries is you can even tact them on to moves. Tap forward before attacking and pick up some random parries here and there — pros do it! It works!

As for fireballs, they’re bad even regardless of parries. Metallic Sphere and and EX whateverthehell Oro has are the two most useful protectiles. Remy ALMOST has a functional fireball game, but suffers from being a charge character with fireballs that aren’t appropriately strong for a charge character. Most other fireballs are simply used as a midrange poke. Fireballs and dealing with them are like, the hallmark of the SF series. Real combat at a distance is a thing few 2d fighters get right. The dynamic between a ‘zoner’ and a ‘rush down’ character is a classic kind of fight.

Instead of 3s when two characters are at max range they whiff medium punches to build meter. Booooo. Range advantages are also homogenized due to parries. Optimal range for most characters is within throw range, since thats the only time you have a sure fire parry counter and can exhibit some real pressure. There are a handful of exceptions (Chun’s stupid low forward), but the health of the range game is way worse then pretty much any game in the SF series.

Anyways I’m not sure what you meant by your fireball comment (… that Pros like strong fireballs because scrubs can’t deal with them? If so thats false, but I don’t know if thats what you meant), but the whole issue is much deeper and complicated than whatever you were implying.

Again though, this only begins to grow apparent as you get better. Don’t let me stop anyone from enjoying some 3S. There are great fighting game players that still enjoy the game despite it’s inherent flaws. For me, personally, it removes my favorite parts of the game. When I played it I only did so because Makoto was so god damned fun.

Now some stuff about Piracy.

Thief is a poor word for it. Piracy seems to be the right word, because it’s divorced from physical theft. The Twix argument is also bad. People directly lose money from direct theft. Piracy on the other hand has the same net effect as loaning games(though piracy is obviously illegal, but the theoretical loss is the same). Nothing physical is lost. Physical loss comes with the loss of manufacturing and distributional prices. When I pirate something, nothing is lost but potential consumer surplus.

Now this doesn’t make Piracy right. It makes it a less damaging crime per capita. Now this isn’t an excuse for piracy either, it’s just the facts of the matter. Anyways, I’m going to post something I wrote up on another forum.

Heh, it really is that simple. Many current software business models are just not sustainable. I really have no pity for companies losing money to piracy. We have companies releasing free products and are making major bank on it. Lets all just think about farmville for a moment and then all vomit in our mouths. And it’s not just the immoral, possibly criminal developers like Zynga. Tons of companies are making bank on free to play. Thats Korea’s entire MMO market. Play for free, pay for stuff!

Valve has also shown how to make money off the ‘traditional’ payment model. Featurized DRM that feels logical instead of arbitrary. Matchmaking and friend services. Access to sales that grabs consumer surplus. Companies like Ubisoft see steam and try and imitate it but only copy what benefits them. Thats not how you make reoccurring customers. You gotta be good to the consumer — not because you’re a nice guy, but because it makes money. Google supplies tons of free applications and service — not because they are the sweetest, cutest guys in the world, but because they designed a business model from the start that would profit from being good to the consumer.

Granted you still don’t need to be good to the consumer. Console secondary sales are being fucked with by all those free DLC offers. It’s not nice, but at least it’s smart. I just can’t feel bad for people who use a dated distribution model and then complains that they aren’t making ALL OF THE MONEY. You’re doing it wrong, get over it.”

Now I do post this dismissively of priacy. Not to absolve my self (my stance doesn’t), but in the sense that THIS IS LIFE.

If you are a company trying to make money in video games, you need to THINK about this. You need to think about how to MAXIMIZE PROFITS. Griping about piracy doesn’t do that. That potential money is mostly gone! Sure, you might pick up a few people who buy after they try, but thats it — that money was never yours. The consumer, for whatever reason (piracy, secondary sales, superior product elsewhere, whatever) has chosen not to give you their money. This isn’t a fairy tale land where just doing something entitles you to money — you have the forces of society and technology against you. You need smart business.

I say this also an an indy developer who plans to sell some games in the future. That shit is going to get pirated to hell, I’m sure. Thats life. But I’m more interested in the money people are willing to pay me for a product. Though personally (and I know this can’t apply to Nich who is part of a company), I’d rather someone pirate something I did then not play it at all. Now, my stance doesn’t change the matters of the law, but it does make the facts of business easier to folllow.

Now I don’t condone piracy, but I think people approach this issue all wrong. If your business model doesn’t support people playing fair, then you either need to accept that or find a new business model. Would you make a business model based on telling people secrets and promising them not to tell? When people tell all the secrets to everyone you could blame the consumers, but as a business man you need to realize your model sucks.

Some companies are just so clueless about this. As I said above, companies like Valve get this. Other companies like CryTek are cluuueless. Crytek recently stated that game Demos are a luxury for gamers that will soon disappear. What they’re really saying is ‘steal our game’. It’s hilariously detached from reality. This is amusing to me as someone who does work in Advertising, since, well…. DEMOS ARE ADS. YOU ARE ADVERTISING. YOU ARE DOING THIS NOT AS A SERVICE, BUT TO MAXIMIZE PROFITS. YOU WANT TO CONVINCE PEOPLE TO BUY YOUR GAME.

No demo? People will torrent it and try it out anyways and then they’ll be all the less interested in possibly paying for it. Sometimes you need to accept reality.

Last topic here, I got this link…

The question here is whether the new female character in GoW3 should be killable by the trademark chainsaw gun. This chick looks pretty tough too and also has a chain saw guns.


If she was a civilian or something, sure, there might be a QUESTION but she is a badass soldier chick. There isn’t a question. She isn’t even showing off tits everywhere. Even though I don’t care about Gears, I find this refreshing. I find it offensive to think this woman needs any ‘protection’.

God, if I got a chance I’d chew Stephen Totilo’s head off for making such a retarded post. This is like… the singular dumbest thing I’ve ever read about a strong female protagonist.

Dead Dogs and Schoolwork

So lets start with the sad news. We put our dog, Pokey down yesterday. She was a corgi/border collie mix who was “hella smart”. Everyone loved this dog, though she wasn’t particularly playful or anything like that. She was just a good dog, plain and simple. So we put her down at 14. She was suffering from lymphomia and liver failure. It was a pretty sad thing to watch the life slowly fade out of her, but I was glad I was there for it. It’s also just about a year since Ozzy died, who was the other bestest dog ever.

This leaves us now with Sophie, the unbestest dog, and Ziggy, who is adorable and useless. Perhaps together they will form a semi-functional creature. We will love them regardless.

On a cooler note, I got some stuff floating around from school. My Pre-Press class had my group make an ad campaign for a videogame. Oddly we weren’t assigned a game, but whatever. Eventually my group decided on I Wanna Be the Guy. The project involved two print ads, a game case and a storyboard for a potential 15 second commercial. The billed game title was “I Wanna Be The Guy: DS!”.. Of course there won’t ever be an IWBTG for the DS, but it made a cute theoretical. So don’t get excited.
Apple Ad

The first Ad was my favorite. The photo was taken by Jodi Contini, one of my two group members. She does pretty cool photography stuff. The concept for the ad was pretty simple. I actually put it together and finished it up. I also added the blood splatter. The ad was theoretically going to run in Nintendo Power (this is part of the project). I was shocked to see how cheap it is to run adds in NP! Just a few thousand, which is peanuts for advertising.

This isn’t the finished project, but I never had it in my hands at all. My other team member, Melissa Dooly worked this out in Illustrator. I thought it was pretty cool! Her sketches were part of the reason we went with IWBTG. The finish was just a little bit more shaded and add copy added to it so it could be a functional ad.

The game case is pretty simple. This was all me. It was fun to comb my mail for funny quotes. The front cover looks a bit cheesy but I think thats sort of appropriate? The back text could have been punchier too, but I decided to go with the websites traditional intro.

Melissa and I thought out the storyboard. I ended up making it with my shitty illustration skills, because Melissa was too busy finishing up her ad. I did have some initial sketches she did that I based it on. The storyboard speaks for it’s self, really.

I also made this Brave Earth profile minibook for another class. It’s a little bit goofier and based off of profiles from my wiki, so none of it is new information. I know a few of you guys have snooped through there, so nothing should be too surprising. Technically theres a few spoilers, so I’d take a pass if you still wanna be surprised when the game comes out, 50 years from now. :P

Also working on a bunch of little projects. Almost all of them have some sort of holdup. Eventually one of them will finish and I’ll have something to release, hopefully by the end of the summer if not sooner.