Monday, August 27, 2007

Rebalancing ST

After hearing that ST might have a rebalanced mode, I started giving some thought to what should be changed, and why. My first suggestion is that we (as a community) should collect data. We should get data from all the Major ST tournaments, both in the US and in Japan, and get character selection popularity, as well as win percentage. Ideally I'd like to see a list that goes something like this (the numbers are made up)

Characters by popularity:
1. Boxer (1000 picks)
2. Ryu (800 picks).
.. etc..

The reason for this would be to see how often characters appear in competive play, and that way we could validate some of our assumptions of how popular certain characters are.

Anyways, I talked about this with some other players, and thought about the issues. I want to identify the cast of characters I think are at the right power level in terms of work/reward and effectiveness, and then the list of those characters that are above or below.

The right characters:

I think these characters are very well balanced, are strong, and have an appropriate effort/reward ratio.

The too powerful
Dhalsim: He's the best character in the game. There's two aspects of him that are very very good. The noogie trap, and the long range control. I talked to Seth and they said they were considering toning down the damage of the character, but to me, that doesn't address his problem. I would suggest giving him a tiny bit more recovery on the yoga fire. The problem is that he can shut down so many characters with yoga fires, forcing them to jump.

Boxer: Boxer has two dominating factors. His damage and his throw trap. I think reducing his damage is a great way to address both issues.

Claw: Claw's off the wall dive wakup trap is just too easy and too dumb. I would suggest making it so that you always block it the way it came from (if he came from the left wall, you block as if were a left attack). I think with this change he would still be a top tier character but not overwhelming.

O Sagat: His tigers are too fast and he does too much damage. He is probably the second easiest to dominate with character after Claw. Capcom went a bit too far with New Sagat, something in between is probably correct.

The too weak
Zangief: He's a tough one. I don't feel like I know Zangief well enough to be really informed, but it seems to me that toning down the "too powerful" tier is good enough. He seems to do well against the Balanced and Low tiers.

N Sagat: See Old Sagat

Cammy: Cammy is very dangerous in the right hands. I would suggest doing one or both of the following: Make her jab spinning knuckle invulnerable for a slightly longer period of time, or shorten the recovery of her cannon drill slightly.

Fei Long: I don't know what to do for fei long. Maybe he's already good enough if the top tier is lowered?

T Hawk: Give him O Hawk's normals, and make his condor dive faster on startup.

Chun li: I'm not sure if Chun li is balanced or not. I think she's on the border of Balanced and Good, which is probably fine. I would just make her neck breaker kick always blockable the same way. Make it always block backwards, so that it's something newer players have to learn. Otherwise she's probably okay as is.

Honda: I hate Honda. We need a way to help him be better vs projectile characters that doesn't make him dominate even more over non projectile characters.

Blanka: The thing about Blanka is that he's actually pretty close to being good. He was a monster in hyper fighting. This might be another case of leave him alone and just tone down some of his predators.

Dictator: With the top tier being toned down, he might be too good? Unsure.


nohoho said...

Hi Zass,

re: "character selection popularity"

I've been working on this project for my blog: Blanka diagram. It's a detailed look at how well Blanka does in actual tournaments.
I have my data ready to go more or less. Matches from x-mania, star cup, msc, mof, mikado, acho, g41, gmc, popy, etc. Any results I could find on the web. Starts in 2000 with Neyagawa ABC (big event before X-mania 1.)

Here's a list of how many matches I've got for each character. This doesn't exactly represent character popularity. It's like popularity modified somewhat by likelihood of making it to later rounds modified a tiny bit by likelihood of making it past Komoda's teammates Kusumondo and Mayakon/Pony. heh. Still gives a ballpark sense for part of your query I think. More O.Gief than Sagat!

So for the first number there that means that Blanka vs. Ryu occurred at a japanese tourney 57 times.

Ryu: 57
O.Ryu: 3
Ken: 34
O.Ken: 9
Honda: 18
O.Honda: 5
Chun: 19
O.Chun: 7
Blanka mirror: 10
Zangief: 23
O.Gief: 4
Guile: 36
Dhalsim: 33
Hawk: 12
O.Hawk: 3
Cammy: 6
O.Cammy: 1
Fei: 10
DJ: 10
Boxer: 38
Claw: 17
Sagat: 3
Dictator: 39

p.s. My suggestion for balancing ST: make O.Sagat take counter damage on TUs like the WW CPU. That's it. Nothing else. Srsly.

zass said...

Fascinating stuff Nohoho! Thank you for that data. The data is very linear, which I would interpret as "balanced".

I think your Sagat suggestion is a good one, and looking at your data, it may be that most characters don't need to be changed. This subject needs more discussion.

David Boudreau said...

Hi Zass, glad to see your blog. Approaching ST with the intent to rebalance it seems like a dangerous proposition to me, given how long it's thrived and how many other SF versions there have been- how to be sure any particular change wouldn't have an overall negative result on overall balance, or feel like a completely different game altogther? Two relatively new players here spent less than 2 years playing ST/AE so far and stomp everyone with THawk and Blanka. I wonder how Capcom tested for balance- my guess, any given char vs. Ryu was done a lot more than non-ryu char vs. another non-ryu char. so while the boss chars definitely are stronger than just about everyone, Ryu and Dhalsim can usually win against them.

zass said...

Good point Dave. Testing balance is something that would take years. I just think that the really stupid stuff should be looked at, like Claw's wall dive mixup and O Sagat's speed and damage. But you are right that the effects of any rebalance would probably take years to shake out.

Derek Daniels said...

I'd make honda's super actually work like everyone thinks it should - invincible on startup. Other then that I would leave him alone.

I hate the command for Gief's glowing hand so I would make that an uppercut command like it is in every game past ST.

During the interviews for top 8 at Evo - we asked Nuki about Chun Li, he feels that she is the most balanced character in the game. I'd personally tone down the damage on her throws. Her throw game is just too brain dead sometimes.

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