‘Rising Thunder’ widens the appeal of fighting games
Seth Killian has been working in and out of the fighting game for years. Between organizing EVO and helping to improve fighting game franchises, he’s seen his fare share of the business. But now, he’s working on a new project with Radiant Entertainment.
It’s still in the genre he’s familiar with but Killian is taking a different approach with “Rising Thunder,” a new PC title that pits giant robots in an epic one-on-one brawl. It seems conventional but the big twist is that this fighting game is built from the ground up to be played online.
Barriers to entry
The way Killian explained it, fighting games have so much potential to be something more, but the genre is closed off from the masses because of three problems. The first issue is that the moves are difficult to pull off.
The second obstacle is that online play isn’t seen as a serious platform for competition. The fighting game is a genre that relies on split-second timing and lag often makes fair head-to-head play difficult.
The third issue is the cost and investment. Some people don’t have $400 to invest in a console or $200 on an arcade fighting stick. Add the $60 per title and the price of delving into the genre is too much for some.
“Rising Thunder” tackles these issues in several ways. First off, the controls are simplified. Instead of rolling joysticks into a complicated motion, those special moves are performed with a press of a key. The game has six buttons: Three are the quick, medium and strong attacks and the other three are the three special moves for the characters. That means no remembering the list of moves. Players can fight on instinct and cunning. The moves also show a cool-down period, so players know how long they’ll have to recover before they toss out another fireball attack. They also have dedicated throw and Super attack buttons.
Because it’s an online game, “Rising Thunder” faces a second issue – lag. But that’s mitigated because Cannon’s brother happens to be Tony Cannon, the developer behind GGPO. The middleware allows for near-lagless play using a netcode technique called “rollback.” The game also takes advantage of being online and on two screens. It creates some asynchronous moments in the match that couldn’t happen on a shared screen.
Built around cosmetics
From what I heard, it sounds as though Killian and Cannon are following the “League of Legends” model for monetizing “Rising Thunder.” The game is free to play and the business will be built around cosmetics.
Although there’s a “League of Legends” vibe going on with the cosmetics, “Rising Thunder” seems to have a Hearthstone element to it. The game rewards players who constantly fight in matches by giving them alternative special moves called variants. Yes, this is a fighting game that lets players customize a loadout for their characters before a brawl. They can switch out three special moves for other variations.
“Rising Thunder” lets players put fighters in three predefined slots. That means players can’t go crazy and make a fighter with three different fireballs or three anti-air moves. This could be a game-changing concept, which adds a wildcard to a fight because opponents don’t know what loadout their foe has coming into a match. They’ll discover it on the fly.
It creates an opportunity for players to get creative with the robots they master. It reminds me of how players can pick a hero in Hearthstone but assemble different decks that take advantage of the cards and powers available to that character. It adds a new twist that the genre desperately needs.