Evo 2008 Addendum
Super Street Fighter II Turbo - I don't really have much to add from the last post I wrote. The Super Street FIghter II Turbo community is actually on the rise. GGPO and HD Remix have spurred on a rebirth of the game, and I've seen a lot more people interested in playing ST that started off playing other games. In other words, ST doesn't seem to be only for old-timers anymore, which is exciting.
Super Turbo is on its way to prove itself to be THE greatest Fighting Game of all time. The players who loved the game never stopped playing it (as evidenced by the fact that old-schoolers still come back to play it at every Evo despite it being super old) unlike many other games which have even the experts stop playing after a while. And the game is so good that all the new players who pick it up cannot help but enjoy it as well, as evidenced by its recent surge in popularity.
As a result, the Super Turbo community only needs to do one thing: continue spread knowledge. For some reason, Super Turbo seems to be the one game that people love to spread knowledge about. When you need to find information, you have stalwarts like NKI who have a wealth of information on his web page translated from T.Akiba's web page (so it took two monster efforts: T.Akiba for getting all that info and NKI for actually translating it to English!). And on the SRK Forums, people love to give help on Super Turbo and spread knowledge (see sites like Nohoho's Super Turbo blog). Super Turbo is a game of knowledge, so it is one of the easiest to teach and learn. And in the end, I think, its ability to be taught so simply is what makes it so strong because, despite how simple it is to teach, it's still very fun and challenging to play.
Capcom Vs. SNK 2 - As I hinted at in my last post, I do believe this game has no more growth left in it. I do believe, as surprising as this may sound to some people, that this game has a lot of untapped potential left in it. As I mentioned in 2007, Kim a.k.a. "Ohayo1234" pointed me to some videos of a tournament they played in
The problem is that there just isn't anyone left to tap into these unexplored areas. These unexplored regions may end up in a dead end (turning out that Maki and Dhalsim and such actually just aren't good enough), but I don't think we'll ever find out. We've ended up with the same top 8 players yet again (it really boils down to a total of about 12 players) and I really don't see anyone else going to make any run at that group. Frankly, there just aren't any hotbeds of CvS2 anymore.
But otherwise, I just don't think any other location has a strong enough CvS2 community that cares anymore. We have a lot of good players out and about. For example, one player by the name of SmoothCat has always been doing well in CvS2. But last I spoke to him, it seemed he was moving on to other games. It doesn't even feel worth it for the CvS2 fans to continue pushing the game to its limits because there isn't a significant enough of a reward. And there just isn't anyone left to push you to be better. Everyone is playing Third Strike and Super Turbo these days.
Don't get me wrong. The existing community for this game is a good community. I just don't see anyone joining their ranks. No one new seems to be getting sucked into the game, and I just don't see any chance of the game growing anymore. I think CvS2 has reached its peak, and it simply won't go anywhere from here... which is a shame.
Street Fighter III: Third Strike - Street FIghter III: Third Strike, oddly enough, has the exact opposite problem of CvS2. Instead of having no players to tap into the unknown, Third Strike has a ton of players with nothing left to discover. In this case, there is definitely not a shortage of people in the community. New people still get pulled into this game even today. But the funny thing is... well, there's nowhere left for the game itself to go!
The game itself is the limiting factor. Despite having the largest fanbase of players for any of the Fighting Games played at Evo, nothing new is being discovered. The dominant characters in that game are so dominant, that there just isn't anything that can be done about it. In fact, I feel like it has gotten worse. Whereas before, there used to be the trinity of top-tier characters in Ken, Chun Li, and Yun, I don't even feel like Ken is a factor anymore. If you recall from my previous post, I noted that 24 of the 32 possible Top 8 spots from the last 4 years have all been Chun and Yun players. I think there may have been a total of 3 Kens of the 8 players left.
The thing is... it may not matter. The community for Third Strike hasn't gone anywhere. And it's not struggling. The game does not have any lack of interest. So... what's the problem? Well, the problem is that the game has simply grown stale. And not because no one is trying new things, it's because there is absolutely nothing new left in this game to try. I think the game is literally at a point where nothing new can be discovered at all.
So what can the community do to freshen the game up? Probably nothing. But again, why bother when the game is still as hot as ever?
Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 - The MvC2 community has me torn. I always say there is no community like the MvC2 community, and I mean it. You cannot get a community with better hype and excitement and rivalries and such. But at the same time, I feel like the MvC2 community is flawed. And part of the reason that I feel it is flawed IS this level of hype and rivalry and passion. Simply put, in the MvC2 community, winning means TOO much. There is so much shit talking going on and so many money matches being played that no one is willing to lose. So people will win at any cost... and one of those costs is not giving away any of your secrets. As a result, there are so few players who can even come close to being the quality of player that Justin Wong is. I do not believe Justin Wong is at a level so far above everyone that no one can reach him. I just don't think the community has the ability to get as good as him because no one is willing to lose.
Remember how I mentioned in the Super Turbo section above that the community is really good at teaching others? The MvC2 community seems to be the opposite. There is very little education of the game going on. There's a wealth of knowledge amongst the experts of the game but, for some reason, they never seem to want to spread the knowledge. I've heard this complaint from members of the community itself. It's just tough to find information about this game. There's no MvC2 equivalent of the T.Akiba information NKI translated or the detailed character information you can find about Guilty Gear at Dustloop. And as a result, I think the MvC2 community has trouble growing. One of the interesting things about a community like the ST community is that experts are willing to teach other players to be good enough to beat them. But in the MvC2 community, giving others the power to defeat you seems to be taboo. So no one ever wants to help others get better (unless they are a part of your crew). So many players get good, but end up reaching a plateau where they can no longer improve. It seems the only way to get to the top echelon of players is to just be in the same area as Justin Wong. There's no coincidence that all the best players (Sanford, Smoothviper, Yipes, Demon Hyo, etc.) live around
So I think until the MvC2 community learns to lower their pride (I didn't say ignore it, I just mean tone it down a bit), I do not think anyone will ever get good enough to beat Justin Wong nor even challenge him unless you live near him and have to get better simply because you are playing him a lot. I think it would benefit the community a lot if all of the experts began helping each other more and working together to bring up the overall quality of play, rather than just trying to make sure your particular crew is better than everyone else.
A couple of side notes: this is my impression. I'm not very involved in the MvC2 community, so my impressions can be completely false and I'd be glad to proven wrong that knowledge isn't shared. Also, keep in mind that I don't mind Justin Wong winning. In fact, I think it's awesome that we have someone so dominant. I mean, look at Roger Federer as a perfect example. During his streak of domination, it was a joy to watch him. He was one of my favorite tennis players and I always rooted for him. But it's really hard to argue that it hasn't become a lot more interesting since Rafael Nadal entered the scene to start spoiling Federer's reign. So while it's awesome to see Justin Wong and how soundly he can pummel his opponents, and no matter how much I root for him, I'd love to see him really have a good challenge, especially if he wins it after gutting it out.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl - Hmm. I'm still scared to talk about this community. I've criticized the Guilty Gear community in the past, I've just criticized the MvC2 community, and I'm about to criticize the Tekken community a bit. And I'm sure all three communities will not like it, but I somehow feel like if I criticize the Smash community here, it's gonna start some huge, gigantic shit storm of Smash players coming here and totally bashing me over the head. So keep in mind, I'm an equal-opportunity "critiquer" here. I'm not out for anyone in particular. And, yes, I do have an issue with the Smash community.
Last year, I was so complimentary of them. But this year, after all of the controversy revolving around the choice of having Items at Evo, my feelings have been slightly tainted. Keep in mind, I still love their community. Their dedication and passion for the game is admirable. But if I had to point out one flaw in their community, it's this: they have a real serious God Complex.
And this has come from the fact that they have so much control over their game. Too much control, if you will. By being able to tweak and adjust so many aspects of their game, the community has grown to become perfectionists, ones that are unwilling to accept anything that is less than what they want. Whereas most of the other Fighting Game communities have had to learn to deal with B.S. their whole lives (Hoyokusen / Genei-Jin, Valle CC's, Roll Canceling, Alpha Counters, Easy Mode Ken, Infinite Combos, Custom Combos, Unblockables, and on and on and on), the Smash Community hasn't. They have been lucky enough to be able to tweak their game so much that they can get it to a point where they deem it perfect. And anything different is unacceptable.
Case in point: when presented with something they disagree with heavily that they can't change, they actually still go and try to change it. Some members of the community have gone so far as to create an altered version of Smash Bros. Brawl that removed Tripping. Now, the majority of the community doesn't agree with this new version of the game, but regardless: it was done! It's fairly unprecedented in the Fighting Game community for people to go and make your own altered version of the game to fix flaws you perceive as a problem. Again, most of the Smash community doesn't agree with this, but it's a good indication of how much control they desire and how far they will go to achieve it.
And please, don't read this as telling the community they are being ridiculous for not wanting Items at Evo. I'm not arguing for or against Items here. I'm not saying they erred on their part not wanting Items. In fact, I largely agree with them that playing without items makes for a better game. And, if Smash returns next year, I'm betting there will be no items (I, for one, will push for it). The part that got to me was that they insisted that we were wrong and they were right, even to the point where they wanted an apology from Evo Staff (they had very particular reasons for wanting one, but it's still a weird thing to ask for on something that really comes down to opinion). To me, no one was right or wrong.
I still love their community because of how passionate and dedicated they are to their game. In fact, I think debating with them has given me a new level of respect for them (last year, it felt like they were this really nice, friendly casual community that had a fascinating history. This year, it feels more like there is a large amount of weight behind this community, with leaders and educaters and experts and everything). But I do hope that they can reach a more tolerant level. There are so many factors you cannot control (one being, for example, Sakurai himself and what he wants out of the game... SAKURAI!!!!!!!!!). I'm not saying they should learn to play with Items on, but if someone chooses to do so, there shouldn't be as intense of a backlash. Frankly, it was shocking for me to see the level of hatred directed towards Evo just because of that. Disappointment? That I can understand. But the level of pure, deep hatred that we received was quite something.
Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection - My letter to the Tekken community: "Where were you?!? Why didn't you show up? I know Tekken 6 is coming out but... it's not even out yet! Is Dark Resurrection so bad that it warranted being completely ignored? Was there no motivation to come out and play at Evo at all? Can someone please explain to me why the Tekken community bailed? I'm actually really disappointed by that, especially since I talked them up so much last year about how dedicated they were to their game and such. Is there something I just don't know? -- James"
Guilty Gear XX: Accent Core - Bravo. I think you guys already know how I feel after the last post, so I won't bother saying much more here. But let's just say all the shit I gave you guys last year has been taken back. I've eaten my words and am happy to see myself proved wrong. Bravo.