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Guilty Gear Strive Directors: We're looking to prioritize fun over the balance itself

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • June 10, 2021 at 7:56 p.m. PDT • Comments: 46

We've yet another excerpt from the wonderful 4Gamer interview with Guilty Gear Strive Directors Daisuke Ishiwatari and Akira Katano, this time discussing game balance and the philosophy the development team adopted while designing it.

Especially in the modern age of fighting games where patches and updates abound, audience expectations for relatively fair play across rosters is at an all time high. To kick things off, Katano notes three things they first look at when designing a character.

"Regarding balance, we first look at that character's strength, appeal, and what makes people excited about using them," he says. "These are very important to us. For example, with Potemkin in this game it's his command grab - the Potemkin Buster. It does damage that is far beyond what it would've ever done in past titles, and that hasn't changed in the latest balance version either."

Of strength, appeal, and what makes people excited to use them, it seems the latter two take priority. Ishiwatari introduces to a term that's helped the team synergize toward a common goal: wild balance.

"[W]e've been using a word called "wild balance," which says that when we're balancing the game we don't talk about what's strong or weak, but instead what's fun or boring and try to focus on that," he clarifies. "We sharpen certain areas and in exchange we lower other areas. We basically balance from an equivalent exchange perspective."

It seems the team is looking not to err at all, but if they do, they'd rather err on the side of pleasant emotion than be overly concerned with making sure every character has a mathematically equal chance of winning. Katano seconds and expands on his fellow Director's statement.

"As Ishiwatari said, in the end we're looking to prioritize fun over the balance itself. With that in mind, we'd rather not decrease the value of characters' strengths or appeal. There's also a certain push for always buffing characters, but if you keep doing that, you end up with several characters who basically excel at everything, and I don't think that's right, either.

"But, in past games, we did end up with just that as some characters became far too all-rounded. It's a game series with a long history, so that was born from trying to compensate for weaknesses many times over said history."

Strive developers are especially wary of letting things get out of hand in terms of characters garnering abilities and strengths beyond what their character archetype traditionally allows for. For example, a grappling character like Potemkin needs to be mainly about grappling and therefore shouldn't have too many other effective ways of fighting.

"In past titles, we had characters where they're long-range fighters but were actually very strong up close or grapplers who were actually very strong with strikes," adds Ishiwatari. "In order to not confuse people who start playing Guilty Gear with this game, our development is focusing on character concepts which make sense both to us and the players."

Many fans are already playing Strive via early access but it'll be officially available on June 11 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC. Those of you who've been playing, what do you think of the balance thus far? Does it feel like what was outlined here is what came to fruition? Let us know in the comments below.

If you'd like to read more from our translations of the 4Gamer interview check out our stories on Strive's simplistic but not easy style, developers working beyond the game's release date, DLC content, and particulars on the story direction.

A big thank you to Nick "MajinTenshinhan" Taylor for the Japanese to English translation.

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