[Smash 4 Tutorial] How to balance a character in Smash 4 to make them better for play.

Discussion in '3DS - Tutorials' started by Karmic_Backlash, Dec 19, 2016.

  1. I think its really good!

    2 vote(s)
  2. I think it's horrible!

    2 vote(s)
  3. It has good points but misses the bigger issue.

    1 vote(s)
  4. Your have absoultly no Idea what your talking about.

    2 vote(s)
  1. Karmic_Backlash

    Karmic_Backlash Newbie

    Dec 19, 2016
    United States
    As someone who sincerely loves fighting games, and especially the Super Smash Bros. series, I have spent many, many hours playing and learning them. This fact, combined with my love of good game design leads to a problem, Smash Bros isn't very good at this. I'm not trying to say that every character is bad, but the designers have a horrible balance practice. In a game where fast moving, quick hitting, low knockback characters are almost naturally better, you run into the problem of more than half the cast not fitting that role, it basically means that characters that can't change their plan of attack horrible, in this guide, i'll be giving you two examples of good characters, and one character with a bad design, and just because some of these characters may or may not be Top Tier, but that does mean the are or are not designed well.

    My Design Philosophy:

    I'd like to think that I'm not bad at Smash Bros but I also now that they're are better people than me. This leads to me knowing that there is an invisible ladder to climb, this is something that needs to be in any game with competitive multiplayer, and i guess in that way, smash bros has this... artificially...but it's still there. The reason I say artificially is because there are characters that are plainly better than others, It's almost universally understood that Dr. Mario is mechanically, tactically, and numerically worse than his mushroom kingdom counterpart, He hits slower, moves slower, and even recovers slower, this causes Doc to act more cautiously, and creates this sense that you need to slow down your attack, this is bad. It directly causes the player to not want to do the one thing that fighting games are supposed to do...hit things, in a perfect (and boring) world, every character would be just as useful and fun to use.


    This should be your aim when making a character better, is the character fun, this sounds ridiculous when you think about it, but it's necessary to have a good game, in the process of making a character, don't get caught up in this idea of "It needs to be perfect". Perfection is boring, perfection causes the player to always use the same plan every time. this means other people will start doing that same thing, and more, and more, and- oops, fox is the best character in the game. Some characters need to have noticeable complications, things like Wii Fit Trainer's hoola-hoop recovery, which goes higher if you spam the B button, Yoshi's Lack of a recovery move, instead have a Large second jump with armor, stuff like that, it creates obstacles for the player to work around, I can explain this better with an analogy,

    Imagine that your playing mario game, and on one level you are just running from one end to the other, there are no obstacles and no enemies, no time limit, and no power ups, did I just describe half of the mario maker levels that exist? Yes, I just described a perfect waste of time, it's not fun to play, others won't care about it, and nobody will argue that its bad, its just another perfect playthrough of a boring level.

    Now, imagine that your playing another level, It has obstacles, it has pits, it has enemies out the ass, it's powerups lead to new areas to explore, it has hard parts, easy parts and bullshit parts, the kind of thing that makes you want to kill the nearest living thing. Did I just describe the other half of Mario Maker levels? Yes, its sounds like a blast to play and would likely keep you occupied and wanting for more when your done.

    Can you see what I mean? Having a character be "Perfect" is a bad idea, it leads down one path, apathy, and you don't want that.

    "So smartass, what do I actually fucking do to fix that?"

    Well then, you could basically do 3 things, fix the problems with a character that makes them boring, Completely remake their entire person to make them a better character from the ground up, which is a helluva lot of work, or break the klein bottle and pull a Brawl- and just run with the problem until it fixes itself.

    I'll be explaining how to improve on an existing character in this tutorial, for an Master course in the other 2 options, i'd recommend going to Project M for the remaking a character idea, and the aforementioned Brawl- for the break it till you make it idea.

    The tutorial:
    Here I will start by introducing my examples for Good and Bad design, one by one you will learn skills that you can apply to your own character changes. Today we will be starting with:

    Peach in smash 4 is a good example of how you create problems that are fun to solve for yourself, Peach is a pink princess that floats on a cloud of love and sunshine farts, it makes sense that she's not the most sterling example of keeping her feet on the ground, most commonly caused by a giant gorilla punching her in the face. Peach is what I like to call a technical character, her good use is most well shown when she is using all of her abilities to make it easier to get close to that gorilla and shove a tennis racket right up his a- I mean, face. But she still has a problem, anything that isn't for directly countering your opponent is damn near useless, a common issue sighted is the Down Smash, In game it doesn't reach very well, it's damage isn't the best, and its end lag can cause the gorilla to come back and throw you in a hole.

    The best way to deal with this issue when balancing is not to just make the move reach farther, do more damage, and make it take less time to end. But a better way to fix this problem is to create a way for peach to lead the opponent into the move, this does two things, It lets you leave the move the same, and it can used more for punishing the opponent, because now they have to worry about being lead into the attack, because even though you can deal with one or two spins, once it starts happening often, it causes the opponent to stop doing whatever they were doing, which might be their main strategy, which puts them on the defencive, which is a great place for peach to exploit, being that she has a low risk move called throwing shit, I mean, vegetables. which can lead into peaches more useful moves.

    TL;DR: Give bad moves more utility, not more power, more power should only be added for taken away to increase utility.

    My next character is:

    Remember how I said that Dr. Mario was kind of trash for not being very good at not being defencive? Good, because Lucario has a similar problem, but the problem is slowly fixed by another problem, Aura, this is a lucario only mechanic that causes him to get more powerful the more damaged lucario is. Can you see my problem here, I have to basically take somebody who jumps higher when they get shot in the foot and make him successful. So again, I have two options, get him to jump higher from the beginning so he still has a foot by the end, or get him to stop shooting himself, I'm an asshole, so let's go with the former option.

    In the example i'm going to talk about his Counter, His counter is the slowest counter in the game, its attack power is shitty, and it's makes lucario a tai chi themed blue potato if you miss it. so what do we do in this example? Make it useful by giving it more utility? Fuck no! this move is by definition horrible, and would be better if you just make it more useful by itself... you might be wondering why I completely turned heel on my peach opinion, because in peach's case she's a good with a bad move, in lucario's case, He's a fundamentally bad character with a useless move, further improvement would need to be made to improve

    lucario, but that can be left for a later time.

    TL;DR: When a character isn't solid on a base level, moveset improvements need to be in service of making the character more solid, rather than making them technical.

    My Third character is an example of a character that doesn't have enough obstacles to be very interesting:

    Now before I get my asshole ripped asunder by Bayonetta Mains for being a whiny bitch who can't just deal with the matchup or Bayonetta haters who think I'm about to stroke their opinion for 2 and a half paragraphs, listen, Bayonetta is Designed well, most of her moves are fair, my problem with her is that she has too many well designed techniques. Case and point, Witch Time, Let me give you the rundown on this move, it's a counter of sorts, but instead of being knocked back and doing damage, it slows you down to a near stop and lets bayonetta hit you for the duration, now let me explain something else about her, in lieu of having a smash attack involving using her body or something, she summon a giant fist or heeled foot that crashes into opponent and has Extremely large base knockback. usually, this is balanced by the fact that these moves are really long and take a while to end, but the problem is that when your opponent can't move while in witch time. Slow opponent + Really Strong Move = One very dead you.

    How do we solve this, we can't apply either of our two previous idea's to this move, because this move is a actually really good, its utility is so astronomically high that it's basically a win button when used well. In this case, we know that bayonetta has a cooldown on her Witch Time, a novice designer might try and make it last a shorter time or take longer to regenerate the time witch duration, but a good designer would redesign the move, my idea for redesigning this move is to give in an effect similar to little mac or cloud, after attacking the opponent, you get one use of guaranteed witch time, and the secondary effect, called "Bats Within" would become the normal move, shortening the time needed to get a witch time when used successfully.

    TL;DR: When a character has too much versatility, you need to increase the risk needed for using the move, having a lack of risk for a move leads to the character being just as boring as a character that can't be used at all.


    In closing, i'll just say these examples are meant to be cliff's notes on how to make a better character, Once you get the basic idea that better does not necessarily mean more powerful, better means more useful, sometimes that mean more powerful, but also sometimes means more utility.
    Last edited by Karmic_Backlash, Dec 20, 2016
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  2. ShinyLatios

    ShinyLatios Local "That Guy"

    Nov 17, 2009
    As a Yoshi main, I feel triggered because you called Yoshi's armor "Super Armor", when it is KB-based Heavy Armor. And while I agree that Bayonetta has too many good tools, a lot of the points don't seem to make sense. A lot of these changes are designed around the fact that "everything needs to be useful and fun", while that's not really the point. Lucario is not a bad character at all, just terribly misunderstood. At base level, you can't go for the KO yet, so you'll have to attempt to soften the opponent up using weaker, but safer moves, while you have terrific kill power later on. It's a very extreme risk-reward character.

    The fact of the matter is that you need characters like these to make the game interesting. If you took away Lucario's gimmick, he'd just be "slower, weaker Mewtwo". The only real problem with sm4sh is that the top tier characters are simply overtuned with no real weaknesses. There's no shame in being a weaker, lower tier character. Neither is there shame in being a "top tier", if you're not simply too strong, as is currently the problem with top tiers in sm4sh, and the problem with a character like Fox or Jigglypuff in Melee.
  3. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord

    Dec 1, 2014
    United States
    Under a rock
    But why did you leave R.O.B. out?