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Skullgirls Dev Diary: Skullgirls’ Perfected Pugilism

Peter Bartholow's Avatar + Posted by Peter Bartholow on Oct 27, 2011 // CEO, Lab Zero Games

A few weeks ago I gave you a run-down on our new 2D fighter, Skullgirls. Last time I discussed the game’s story and its characters, and exclusively revealed Ms. Fortune. This week we’ll be talking about the really important part: the gameplay.

As I noted last time, Skullgirls’ lead designer and programmer is Mike “Mike Z” Zaimont, a noted tournament fighter and (regretful) creator of the “real soviet damage” internet meme. While our art team strives to make the game look amazing, gameplay always comes first. Mike’s impetus to create Skullgirls was to make a game that was as fun to play as Marvel vs. Capcom 2, but addressed the system and balance problems that kept that game from being competitively viable.

skullgirls - psn 02

The bane of many a fighter is the infinite combo: these are easily-repeated, inescapable attack patterns, and they can completely ruin games. Skullgirls gets around this by monitoring the players’ attacks, and if the game detects a looping combo the other player can break out of it free by hitting any button. Because we’ve eliminated the worst case scenario, we can free up the rest of the game in ways others have been afraid to – Skullgirls’ combo system is wide open, letting you experiment freely.

Another common problem in team-based fighters is the high/low unblockable. For example, you attack low and call a high-hitting assist attack at the same time making it impossible for your opponent to block. It’s a cheesy and frustrating tactic, and so Skullgirls has a short grace period after blocking that will guard against other hit types. You’ll still need to read your opponent and block the first attack, but at least you’ve got a fighting chance now.

skullgirls - psn 03

While all of this was designed with the tournament scene in mind, it’s actually great for the casual player, too. If you’re new to fighting games, you can jump online without worrying about losing to these sorts of frustrating exploits – you may still lose, but at least it’ll be a fair fight you can actually learn from. That said, we’re doing everything we can to have the most comprehensive tutorials in a fighting game – we’ll not only teach you how to do things, but also why you should do them.

Being a small indie fighting game with an initial roster of eight characters, we’re giving you more ways to play with those characters. Skullgirls lets you play with mismatched team sizes of one to three characters. Single characters can give and take tons of damage, while teams are weaker but compensate with the myriad strategic benefits of multiple characters. Also, by eliminating the possibility of high/low unblockables, we’ve been able to allow custom assists and let you call on any of your teammates’ moves in battle. So despite having only eight characters, these systems give you a huge number of ways to build your team. It’s also a great way in for Street Fighter and BlazBlue players, too – if you’re not used to playing team-based games, you can start with one-character and build up to a team, or not – it’s all up to you.

skullgirls - psn 01skullgirls - psn 04

Balance is something we’re taking seriously, and we’ve been aggressively play-testing the game and getting community feedback at events such as the East Coast Throwdown, the EVO Finals and Seasons Beatings. All of this is well and good, but what’s the point if you can’t play online with people? To ensure the best possible online experience, we’ve built our gameplay around the excellent GGPO networking library, the best one out there for fighting games. We’re also committed to providing free content and balance updates, as well as expanding the character roster through DLC.

Finally, a little bit of bittersweet news: as you may have heard, Skullgirls is now set for a release in early 2012. We’ve been getting tons of community feedback, and all the little tweaks and new features we’ve added delayed us a bit.

If you like what you see here, visit our website, Twitter @Skullgirls or Liking us on Facebook for the latest on the game as we approach release!

Thanks for reading!

//Add Your Own

34 Comments

1

+ Crotin on October 27th, 2011 at 11:03 am said:

I’ve been watching Skullgirls during the Wednesday Night Fights and saw it during Season’s Beatings I think? The game is shaping up nicely and I’m excited to try it out.


2

+ darfreeze on October 27th, 2011 at 11:19 am said:

I’s so excited about this game. The first time I saw it I’m like amazed by the art style and the gameplay.
Just take your time guys. I know this will be a good game once it comes out. :)


3

+ JDrexmo on October 27th, 2011 at 11:19 am said:

I have to say, the feminist in me is sick of video game girls with skimpy outfits or hourglass figures. I love the idea of an all-girls fighting game, but that puts me off a bit.


4

+ Jetup on October 27th, 2011 at 11:27 am said:

I’ll be using Filia by the looks of it.


5

+ PainOfSarrow on October 27th, 2011 at 11:28 am said:

JDrexmo eather your a female, or a guy that i question…


6

+ TorgoTime on October 27th, 2011 at 11:32 am said:

SHARK SCIENTIST FOR DLC!!!


7

+ TorgoTime on October 27th, 2011 at 11:34 am said:

ERRR SHARK DOCTOR??? not sure. need backstory on this character


8

+ cadeSILVER on October 27th, 2011 at 11:53 am said:

Man, I am looking forward to this! As someone burned my MVC3′s dial-a-combos and lack of one-on-one modes, this game looks perfect to me. The only thing that could make this better is the option to add in SF3 parrying. ….there’s not parrying, right? Is there any chance you could add it as an option? :D


9

+ Gohoromoro on October 27th, 2011 at 11:55 am said:

In regards to their outfits & figures, not all of the planned characters have exactly that kind of design. But more importantly, their sexuality isn’t presented as either hindering or being a cause for their individual successes. It’s simply part of them as characters.


10

+ Crotin on October 27th, 2011 at 12:22 pm said:

If people can play Dead Or Alive, you can DEFINITELY play this. I mean come on with the feminist complaints…


11

+ AriesWarlock on October 27th, 2011 at 1:02 pm said:

Thank you! I have always wondered why developers didn’t put a training mode that teaches you WHY you should do things.


12

+ zech678 on October 27th, 2011 at 1:03 pm said:

this game greats


13

+ RurouniSaiya-jin on October 27th, 2011 at 1:06 pm said:

Nice dev diary. This one is a Day 1 buy for me. I’m looking for to hear more about the game as we get closer to release. Also, long live Parasoul!


14

+ ReptileHand on October 27th, 2011 at 3:29 pm said:

Buying this Day 1, I am a sucker for Animated games, and this one just tops the charts. A highly unique cast of 6 characters so far and I’m assuming there’s more =)


15

+ D-Squad3 on October 27th, 2011 at 3:50 pm said:

Give me the release date and price.


16

+ nyobzoo on October 27th, 2011 at 4:01 pm said:

I can see tournaments lasting a bit longer cause everyone will be using the custom partner assists


17

+ unityd3v on October 27th, 2011 at 4:42 pm said:

While it was rather unbalanced. I’m pretty sure no one who played it in the tournament circuit for the past 10 plus years (Mike Z included) would call Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 not tournament viable.


18

+ guitalex2007 on October 27th, 2011 at 4:57 pm said:

@JDrexmo, the game will initially only have girls, but the game itself isn’t called Skullgirls because it’s all-female; DLC characters will include males.

The term Skullgirl refers to the storyline. If a woman gains possession of an artifact called the Skull Heart, it will grant her one wish. However, like many horror stories involving wishes (Wishmaster comes to mind), the Skull Heart will often corrupt the wish to grant you EXACTLY what you asked for but in horrible ways.

Example: the queen of the Canopy Kingdom is the current Skullgirl. She wished for peace for two kingdoms that were at war with each other. The Skull Heart turned her into a vile, powerful monster which started destroying everything. Both kingdoms agreed to stop the war in order to fight the Skullgirl together. End result is the two kingdoms do get peace, but at what cost? This is actually the game’s storyline.

I’m assuming males want to destroy the Skull Heart, but their side of the story hasn’t been shared. Rest assured that while many will quickly dismiss this as an all-female fighter, it is a very deep game and will also include guys.


19

+ Falaut on October 27th, 2011 at 5:47 pm said:

Here’s an idea Sony. BUY THESE DUDES!!!! they know what they are doing, and this title drips “Playstation Family”!


20

+ Kasaix on October 27th, 2011 at 9:44 pm said:

Really looking forward to this. The long wait time is a drag, but I can survive. Keep up the good work!


21

+ Cross-Legacy on October 27th, 2011 at 11:37 pm said:

Must buy right here, but will this be playable on the vita or only ps3? -coughpleasesaybothcough-


22

+ Kchow23 on October 27th, 2011 at 11:53 pm said:

Game looks great! been hyped about it since it has been announced and it keeps looking better! Would be awesome we could pre-order it soon and maybe a discount for PS+? ;) Regardless, keep up the good work.

P.S Bayonetta costume/colour scheme, please!


23

+ Hooligantuan on October 27th, 2011 at 11:59 pm said:

Guys, you gotta work on your gameplay footage.

There are a lot of repeated combos in use. I mean, back in the day, the word “cheese” would probably apply.

Gotta mix it up.


24

+ Kchow23 on October 28th, 2011 at 1:47 am said:

Would it be possible that the Skullgirls can be compatible with both PS3 and PS Vita? since it is a PSN title kind of like Ruin.


25

+ Kchow23 on October 28th, 2011 at 1:48 am said:

@23 Hope that was sarcasm unless you didn’t read the screens explaining what was going on :)


26

+ harmony102 on October 28th, 2011 at 5:32 am said:

Can’t Wait!


27

+ Slien on October 28th, 2011 at 9:16 am said:

@Hooligantuan: You know the repeated combos were there to demonstrate the “Anti Infinite-Combo System” right?

I have to say, I’m pretty excited by the custom team size aspect, you know I’m gonna 1 man it till I’m super beast with my first pick character then 1 man another till I’m at least comfortable before even looking at a 2 or 3 man team. I’m totally psyched for this game! Hurrah for inovation!


28

+ TheTwelve on October 28th, 2011 at 9:36 am said:

You address some of my exact problems with the Marvel vs Capcom series. Much closer to buying this now.

12


29

+ Welmosca on October 28th, 2011 at 11:32 am said:

this game is already a MUST HAVE!!!….and Parasoul is awesome.


30

+ ChibiMrBubbles on October 28th, 2011 at 12:58 pm said:

Awesome, I love down to earth devs who genuinely love their fanbase. I’m not particularly good at fighters so I enjoy easing us novice with the tight input window for non-arcade sticks. Looking forward to seeing more reveals in the future.

Any chance one of your artists will draw Ashley from RE4 on the whiteboard he keeps updating? “HELP ME LEON!” sounds good to me. :P


31

+ nineday385003 on October 28th, 2011 at 8:06 pm said:

Can’t wait!


32

+ LeshHdawkins on October 28th, 2011 at 11:13 pm said:

man, cant wait for the game, gotta love that psn gets the music album


33

+ StinkyMoney5 on October 30th, 2011 at 5:02 pm said:

Awesome graphics!!!


34

+ Nekotail on October 31st, 2011 at 5:10 pm said:

This look Amazing! I look forward to this game!
:D


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