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Japanese Super Street Fighter 4 team goes in-depth on network modes

Posted by Jonathan 'Catalyst' Grey • November 9, 2009 at 10:46 p.m. PST
Japanese Super Street Fighter 4 team goes in-depth on network modes Azrael, who's done a ton of translating for the community, has converted the most recent Japanese Super Street Fighter 4 blog developer post to English.

This is a large entry with a lot of details, so here's a quick summary Azrael typed up giving the gist of what the development team had to say.
  • More "community" feel than the last game.
  • All multiplayer lobbies will have the ability to spectate matches.
  • Working to "preserve" the quality of the netcode from SFIV even with spectators.
  • Can use Fight Request while you wait for all members of a team battle.
  • For a private team match, the host can divide up the teams. Otherwise, it's done automatically.
  • Auto team placement uses Player Points as well as some randomness.
  • Voice chat available while watching a match.
  • Endless Battle has no effect on Battle Points/Player Points.
  • In Ranked, Battle Points is divided up into BP/PP - PP will be your overall score, while BP will be character specific.
  • In Ranked, you can upload a replay after 3 straight wins.
  • Blind character select for all network modes, including no cursor motion sound.
  • Preset comments available for entering a lobby.
To read the entire post, just click the link below.

It's gotten pretty cold! Is everyone taking care not to catch a cold?

This is Tsukamoto.

As a part of the development team, to catch a cold now would be pretty awful. So I'm being very careful about my health.

I'd like to present the network mode, which has been powered up quite a bit from the last time.

We'll be talking with Taguchi who appeared on the blog the last time, and also bringing in the person in charge of the system. So lets really get in-depth about the network mode!

Well then, let's meet our new guest.

Shiozaki:
I'm Shiozaki, a game designer.
I work on all the general systems outside of the actual fighting, for both this title and the last one.

I'm a big fan of sweet food.

What have you improved upon for the Network Mode this time around?

Taguchi:
We spoke about this on the blog before, but we felt that for the previous title, the sense of community was a bit lacking, as fights were mostly 1 on 1. So we focused on improving that weakness this time around, and have made connecting with other people our main focus. So now we feel like we've got a total package. Of course, we will preserve the quality of the connection from the last title as well!

Generally speaking, what is a "community"?

Taguchi:
With the previous title, it wasn't set up so that a bunch of people could gather and have fun together. So this time, we've made lobbies for several people to be able to gather and challenge each other. We wanted to do this with Street Fighter 4 as well. One of the issues was, "Do we have multiplayer lobbies, or single player lobbies with extra functionality?" At that time, we decided on single player lobbies with the Fight Request option. I think that was fine for that time, but multiplayer lobbies was still something that had been on the table, so we added it this time around.

Were there any obstacles in introducing this feature?

Taguchi:
In the last title, what we were worried about was that the Fight Request feature and multiplayer lobbies don't really go well together. A multiplayer lobby is one where you wait, while Fight Request is for those who don't like to wait. We thought about a way to get these two systems working well together, and the end result is that we were able to improve upon Fight Request. And that is the Team Battle where you can enable the Fight Request option.

Since you mentioned it, tell us more about Team Battle.

Shiozaki:
If you want to have fun with everyone, Team Battle is definitely the mode of choice. The fights themselves are still 1 vs 1, but most tournaments follow the team format, so we wanted to do the same.

Taguchi:
The best thing about team battle is that you've got starters, middlemen and closers, so you can see how your previous teammate lost and then decide how you want to fight - there are a lot of various things you have to think about. I went to go see the Shiozawa Cup before Super Battle Opera, and I felt a bit jealous, as people waiting for their turn would watch their teammates battle and get all worked up, or try and rattle the other team. Even though this is a 1 vs 1 fighting game, the team vs team concept is really something else! Even going to an arcade by myself I never really experienced this, so I felt like the guys participating in the tournament were like superstars (laughs). On the net I saw various tournament announcements for 3v3 or 5v5 tournaments, but I figured that most casual players don't participate in team battles. So if we could accomplish that in the console version, then that would be pretty interesting.

Tsukamoto:
You watched pretty excitedly while saying "That's it!" huh. (laughs)

Taguchi:
When you makes the lobby rules, instead of "2 vs 2" or "3 vs 3" or something like that, you get "tag match" or "4 on 4". This is something I wanted personally so that's how it was named (laughs). To get the feeling of, "fighting by the same rules that the pros do at the national tournament."

Could you talk about Fight Request which you mentioned before?

Shiozaki:
Its for those times like, "Well, we've got 6 people, only 2 left," but you're stuck waiting and can't do anything else. So while you are waiting for people you can play in arcade mode, and when you've got everyone together then you can start the match!

Taguchi:
For team battles, if its 3 on 3 you need 6 people, and 4 on 4 you need 8 people. Usually, in a multiplayer lobby, you've got to just wait until everyone shows up, but in Super Street Fighter 4 you can play in arcade mode while you wait, so its like a good warm-up. Of course, playing with your friends is great, but if you don't have any friends (laughs) then you can still enjoy playing in this mode.

What were the difficulties in making Team Battle?

Taguchi:
Continuing on from what was said before, its easy to imagine getting your friends together and everyone having fun. But in reality, actually getting your friends together on the net and then making a lobby - we figured that there aren't many people who would be able to do that. So being able to create a mode where you could enjoy not just with friends, but by yourself as well - that was a bit difficult.

How are the teams separated?

Shiozaki:
For players who came to the private slot by invitation, the host can freely divide up teams as he chooses. When one person just happens into the lobby, even if you have invited players into private slots, if the option is set to "Random" then teams will be divided up automatically.

Taguchi:
For the teams, using the PP (player points) as a base, we've tried to set it up to reduce huge gaps in player skill. There's also a bit of a random element.

While a teammate is fighting, will other people be able to watch the match?

Shiozaki:
This time, if we're going to include a multiplayer experience, then we have to have the ability to spectate. But for the console version, there is some specific retooling that has to be done to pull it off, so this is the engineer's chance to show off his skills.

Regarding spectating, it seems that many people are afraid that if too many people people are watching, that will make the connection heavy...

Shiosaki:
Yep, that's definitely the biggest concern. That's why we're coming up with solutions so the connection won't be affected by spectators.

Taguchi:
It was the same for the previous title, but for SSFIV, if we think about the essentials - we can have match spectation but that would make the connection too heavy, and therefore online battles would be no fun - as a developer I just can't accept that. So we've added the replay mode as a possible solution to that of course, but we are aiming to have the online battles be just as good as they were in the previous title.

Is there anything you can do while watching a fight?

Taguchi:
Voice chat. During a team battle, this lets you get really worked up, or you can just go get something to drink. (laughs).

Shiozaki:
Even though its not an actual word, hearing something like "Oh!" I think is really interesting.

Okay, so now tell us a little about Endless Battle.

Shiozaki:
In the last title, one of our goals was to recreate the arcade feeling. But in the arcade, as you wait your turn you watch other people's matches, and this was something we didn't really pull off. So, using the multiplayer lobbies this time around, you can watch the match before you, and you can think, "Well, he played this way, so I'll play this way to counter," - it's the arcade experience. Endless Battle has no effect on Player Points or Battle Points, so you can just have fun and hone your skills with everyone.

It seems like players who are just getting started can enjoy as well.

Shiozaki:
Yeah, they can watch other people playing and then try to incorporate that into their own game. Its like, having one skilled player create a lobby and then 100 people take him on.

Taguchi:
We can't handle 100 people! Its only a 8-person lobby!

Shiozaki:
Okay then, 8 people fighting 100 times!

Well then, I've heard that Rank Match is also becoming more serious…?

Shiozaki:
Previously, you only got Battle Points (BP) in the Rank Match, but we've expanded upon this to include the Player Points (PP) you've heard us mention before, so you can see how strong the player is with PP, or how strong they are with that particular character with BP. In the previous title, there was no division of points between characters, it was all just on the player's strength. So it was difficult to understand things like "I'm strong with Ken, but not so great with the other characters" or "I'm strong no matter who I use!"
Azrael's note This sounds like the arcade system more or less.

Taguchi:
A lot of people wanted BP for the characters, so it seems that many people on PS3 created character-separate accounts.

People want to know the strength of their character huh.

Taguchi:
Players didn't want to lose BP, so they didn't use other characters.
So in the previous title, it was difficult to try out new characters in Rank Match.

So now its become easier to try out new characters in SSFIV?

Shiozaki:
Yes, but for practice I recommend the new Endless Battle mode (laughs). Another new feature is that if you gain a win streak in Rank Match, your replay will be uploaded as a NEW REPLAY to the Replay Channel. It's a little similar to the replay upload in Championship Mode from the last game. If two people with a 2 game win streak fight, the winner will be able to upload a replay. So it gives you something to aim for even if you are using an unfamiliar character.

You should be able to crank out 3 wins!

Shiozaki:
Its already a serious battle, but this kind of feeling only makes it more intense. Rank Match is for those who are serious about the grind, and the other modes allow for more casual fun!

Speaking of network match, a lot of people want blind character select…

Shiozaki:
Following up with the feeling of recreating the arcade experience in the last game, we made it non-blind select. Since in the arcade, you know who you're going to fight. But after the game went on sale, we got a lot of feedback about this, and then trying it out for myself I got a better appreciation for fighting someone you can't see over a network. So this time around we've made things blind select.

For all modes?

Shiozaki:
Yes, all modes. All of em. No matter which mode, you won't be able to see their pick! We even killed the cursor movement sound!

Cursor movement sound?

Tsukamoto:
When you move the character select cursor, it makes a chime sound. It seems that there were people who could figure out who their opponent picked just by the number of cursor sound movements. … However, leaving the sound in would have left for some interesting psychological battles (laughs)!

Taguchi:
Like constantly making cursor sounds during the select (laughs).

Are there any other new features in Network Mode?

Taguchi:
You can leave a comment as you enter a lobby!
Azrael's note: Looks like a preset screen - some of the options are, "Let's have a nice fight", "I can do voice chat", "I can't do voice chat", "I'll let my fists do the talking", "No need to hold back!", "Please hold back", etc.)

Shiozaki:
Yes, it's a pre-selected comment system, so before the fight you can communicate a bit with your opponent.

This was also a fairly big request wasn't it?

Shiozaki:
That's right. Since there are people who would abuse it, we couldn't make it a free system, so sorry about that. But to make up for it we're adding lots of preset comments. Mostly positive stuff.

Taguchi:
We're making lots of them, so I hope everyone uses it!

Tsukamoto:
We covered a lot of topics today! You may have seen the "Replay Channel" come up a few times, so next week I'd like to cover that more in-depth, so I hope you are all looking forward to it. Be sure to come back next week!

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