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Guilty Gear Strive Directors want to share the joys of golden age arcade culture with modern players through the portal of powerful netcode

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • June 17, 2021 at 8:05 a.m. PDT • Comments: 14

Having just come through 2020 and all the restrictions that put on us, the days of fighting game arcade culture seem especially far away right now. COVID-19 is far from the only or main culprit responsible for the decline of the arcade scene as home consoles and the internet have, in many ways, made the old approaches for doing things obsolete.

Those who have had the opportunity to visit and compete in a thriving local arcade know that there's a special charm that comes along with the experience, and that charm is something Guilty Gear Strive Directors Daisuke Ishiwatari and Akira Katano are hoping to capture in their brand new title. The funny thing about it? They're looking to achieve this goal through the online experience.

While netcode and general online experience was more of a bonus feature just a few years ago in fighting games, it's become one of the very first boxes fans look to be checked before deciding on whether to buy or offer a passing grade to the genre's modern titles.

Arc System Works has traditionally used the inferior delay-based netcode approach for Guilty Gear entries up until Strive, for which they converted over to the much more effective and widely-accepted rollback netcode. Strive's early performance during the second beta test received rave reviews in terms of online connections and gameplay, and seems to have reached a new level of efficiency for fighting games.

Thanks to the translation help of our own Nick "MajinTenshinhan" Taylor, we've got an English version of a recent interview 4Gamer did with both Ishiwatari and Katano, and we're taking a look at a specific part of the discussion where the focus lands on netcode and what it could potentially bring to the scene if done well.

Here's what the pair had to say when asked about Strive's netcode and the responses it's been getting.

"Back in the day, the arcade events we enjoyed - how good they were, how exciting they were and how much fun they were - that is something we want to express to the new era. In fact, it's something we think we must express to them - Katano"

"We can't say that there weren't any problems at all, but I'd say that overall we've produced very good results on that front," starts Katano. "We received very high praise from many overseas players. I suppose a lot of players weren't very happy with the delay-based netcode we'd been using up until now.

"I can't sit here and tell you that Japan vs. Brazil felt smooth, but Japan vs. Korea or playing matches within America against each other was smooth and is now enjoyable for players. We definitely feel that our efforts on the netcode have bore fruit."

4Gamer then notes that Strive's top-notch netcode may be strong enough to widen the physical distance between players while still maintaining a good enough connection for online tournaments, and suggests that perhaps the kinds of regional battles that were held during the golden age of arcades could be recreated, to a degree, in an online setting.

"Young players today probably don't even know about those old regional battles," reacts Ishiwatari. "We come from the arcade era, so we definitely feel like we want the arcade culture to be more well-known among players."

Katano adds, "Back in the day, the arcade events we enjoyed - how good they were, how exciting they were and how much fun they were - that is something we want to express to the new era. In fact, it's something we think we must express to them."

There might be a bit of an overzealous approach going on here as while Strive does seem to have hit a new level in the way of network battles, the divide between online and offline experiences for this genre has always been extremely vast. Having even the slightest potential for hiccups in gameplay due to lag and sudden slowdowns immediately hampers the way fans perceive the fights when it comes to competitive play.

Then there's the question of what exactly made for all the aforementioned charm of the arcade experience. While it likely wasn't the masses of sweaty people wedged into tight spaces, all clamoring to get a half-unobstructed view of the main cabinet, one does have to wonder if the face to face interactions played a major role.

Talking smack or sharing tech isn't quite the same when done on vs. offline, and so while the concept of one town's competitors being able to team up to compete fluidly online against the next town over is surely in the cards, capturing the full magic of the arcade experience still seems a good bit out of reach.

That said, the fact that developers are keeping that old school charm in mind is encouraging to see. If and when the potential to actually achieve this does surface, it would be absolutely wonderful to see brought back. Katano completes his vision in the following statement.

"This goes for all fighting game events, too. The community feeling and culture that those of us who put our heart and soul into fighting games back in the day, I'm sure we all have very good memories of it, but the new generation don't know it. We want to spread this deep charm of fighting games in a new form."

Those of you who have been able to log some online time with Strive since its release last Friday, how realistic is this vision from the game's Directors? What has the online experience been like since launch vs. during the beta? We'd love to hear your thoughts, comments, and reactions in the comments below.

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