The 5th episode of the Interview Time! is very special for me. That's actually not because Belial is one of the biggest name in our community. That's because back in 2006 he showed me how far from Europe my country is when it comes to Soulcalibur.
Belial is a man thanks to whom I started training harder and hard. But is he still Belial? I doubt it. He transformed to Kапитан Pоссия!
Di: How did you become Captain Russia?
Belial: In an ancient Russian tradition, when a boy is born under the star of hammer and sickle, he is sent far away, to harsh Siberia mountains to prepare for what lies in store. After the hardest of trials and thousands of tasks that would break an ordinary mortal, only one in a billion boys emerges from the depth of the deepest of motherland's caves, to become a member of a Special Red Internetes Forces. I cannot disclose this classified information, but so that you get the idea of how inhumane some of this challenges were, here are tirals names: Alone in the vodka, Balalaika Hero, KGB quest, Call of Putin, Bear Craft, among countless others.
However, even this is but a stepping stone to a true glory, if one displays such purity, skill and truly divine wisdom, that it awes even the most revered of agents, he is awarded the highest title in Soviet Russia and inherits the name of "Captain Russia", one in whose voice the wisdom and union of whole motherland is gathered.
we're all the same.
Di: What's your favorite SC game and why?
Belial: Its very hard to pick, since I share so much emotions connected to every game.
- SC2 was my first fighting game ever and I loved it, the community was huge both local and worldwide and it really was the game that drawn me into the competetive fighting scene. Now that I look back at it I think the game itself was pretty poorly made, every character was very dumb with a bunch of braindead spam moves. The frames on some stuff were just beyond stupid (like +7 off a low poke?!), some really stupid glitches that made game one of the most boring to watch, unless you were at high level.
- SC3 was a complete mess however you look at it. Severe disbalance, even furthened by major differences in PAL and NTSC versions or the game. Barrage of glitches, really, this was beyond bad in so many aspects Im surprised it was played at all. However it was the first fighting game I became a at (maybe for the lack of comp), I travelled to France for the first time and earned a name. There was that completely amazing moment, that, I think, happens very rare in any competetive game, where Omega, completely unknown player, came to USA and won National tournament with Zasalamel. It was a blast to watch and something to tell for many months after.
- When SC4 came out I really enjoyed it for the first .. couple of months. The game was one of the most enjoyable and at the same time, most disappointing to me. The good part was - I travelled a lot, and travelling is something that makes your experience truly unforgettable. I played against the very best players in the world and to my greatest surpries managed to best almost all of them. Unfortunately, competetive wise the game wasnt very well done. It had zero arcade or prior to launch testing, which resulted in terrible disbalance again, where half the cast wasnt really playable and then there were characters like Algol or Kilik that were already out of charts and then Hilde which some called "the most broken character in history of fightings". The fact that game got zero support from Namco and also the growing gaming industry overall really pushed players from the game. I mean why would I even bother spending hours in practice when I can go play WoW or other online games without breaking a sweat. The age of offline gaming was dawning, so the SC russian stage, which has been diminishing since SC2 days had now shrinked to 3 dedicated people. It was of course nearly impossible to get any kind of training needed to keep up with the world. And at way too many points I gave the game up, picked it back and gave up again. So you can realize how mixed my feelings are.
- Finally, SC5 which is almost unbelievably good in almost every competetive aspect (I put competetive there b/c alot of people are unhappy with single player experience and I understand that). I got my ghost in quick battle mode. The game system redone from scratch (I never wanted to get another SC2-4 , i mean - how long can you play the same thing over and over again) with lots of cool new additions. The online is GODLIKE. And first time ever the game got so much developer support I couldnt belive its true, really.
As the whole euphoria weared off I started to see the game's flaws. In pursuit of appealing to spectator this re-tweaked system become too much not like SC. Which I think a lot of people start to notice by now. The game system got much, much more simplier from what it was. Most of the characters are really lacking deepness. Someone expressed the opinion that "it is like Namco decided how characters must be used in our stead". When I looked at the cast in SC2-4 I wanted to try out everyone, but in SC5 outside of maybe few characters I dont like the rest. Gameplay got pretty simple as well. Yes you can chose how to spend you meter, or which mid to use, but overall there is not a lot of variety of how to play the character b/c of how good some moves are compared to the other. Take new Hilde for example. She has a multitude of pokes that deal 20 damage and then there is a sidestep mid with + on guard, that TC and reach half screen that deal 100+ dmg w/o meter. This is just lame and asking for abuse, even if there is risk. b/c it doesnt matter how much risk you take if you are low on health but you can punish your opponent's mistake for more than half of life bar. Tekken is known for this, but tekken movement is ultra-safe and is cornerstone of the game. SC movement, on the other hand is very risky, so there is no way to deal with this but head on and this makes the game random.
That said, right now my hopes reside in SC5 so I'll name it as my favorite part.
is SCII really that boring to watch?
Di: When it comes to SCII, don't you think that, when compared to most fighting games throughout the last 10-15 years, it's a unique game because of so much stuff you can do (plus most of it being that good)? Don't you consider it appealing for many players? I believe that the number of possibilities (including bugs) is what makes it really enjoyable to play, while currently tons of games limit you, making you concentrate on 10-15 moves.
Belial: Except Soul Calibur I've tried many other fighting games. I've played Tekken5/DR and MK9 professionally. I've casually played some Street Fighter and Guilty Gear. What always struck me is how very different SC was from those games. It was a real chore to learn Tekken right after Soul Calibur b/c those games, despite being 3rd fightings and sharing a lot of common mechanics still play entirely differently.
Soul Calibur is unique in a couple aspects. One of them is weapons, of course. Ranged game has different meaning in this game. In 2D fightings there are fireballs and jump arcs and all, which sort of define a big part of ranged game, in Tekken there is a very complicated movement system that encourage you to always stay as close to your opponents effective range as possible, baiting wiffs and mistakes. But in Soul Calibur there is a certain emphasis on weapon reach and how well a character can perform at different ranges. Of course other games have that kind of stuff as well. Take Zangief vs Dhalsim in SF4 and you'll get what I mean, haha. I dont want to dwell too much on this, but people who play SC know that it is very unique in that regard.
Another thing that is unlike any other fighting game SC has is it's mathmathical nature. When I first read Sirlin's article I was surprised "Yomi? Really? Are those people high or something?". But after playing some 2D fightings I realized what they meant. You see: SC has so many moves and options that solve the same situation. For example if your opponent hits low: you can block it, you can step it, you can GI (or JG it), you can jump in, you can interrupt it, you can evade it etc etc. All depends on advantage and risk reward. So there are usually many ways you can solve the same problem and each may be correct, given the circumstances and what kind of moves your opponent is likely to chose.
In other fightings its not quite like that. There are usually only one good way to solve the problem and you get rewards only if you guess right. Thats a first part of "Yomi" phenomenon. The second part is how this fighting games encourage smart/high level play: they deepen the interaction between characters by adding hidden layers which only become available as you execution grows. Good example of such techniques is "option select" that allow you to escape more than one move by repeated pattern of inputs. And if other player knows you will likely go for this advanced escape pattern, he baits that and punishes. Overall this is the cornerstone of Yomi: Rock/Paper/Scissors mechanics. So where other games deepen interaction between characters moves, SC actually broadens it giving players a multitude of options to play with. Just for the record - Im not saying SC is superior to other fightings, Im just saying its really is unique, compared to my prior fighting games experience.
I can go on forever, so I'll just stop here. One more thing : you mentioned bugs as a "feature" that may have become the business card of the series. I strongly object. It is always interesting and intriguing to discover something that "wasn't planned" by developers, but in the end - it hurts games reputation and through it affects community life negatively.
India. Russia's biggest enemy.
Di: You are one of the most active SCV players. A simple question comes up to mind: why? Do you think this game is worth it?
Belial: Well, I know its a bit childish, but since Namco started all this PR campaign that revolves around community-interaction I felt the desire to make an input. I dont know if the whole "make a petition-get a game" was for real or it was another sales-trick, none the less, I really loved how, after years of silence, they treated us and I want to pay them back, to show community is here and answering their efforts. Over the years SC has become more than "just a game" to me. It is a community of people all over the world I know. It is the characters I love. And of course its so many memories and hype I share with this game. So I feel that, if I have even the small chance of making this game more appealing and popular I want to try and see if it works out. That's exactly why I've started this "Bugfix" and "Balance" threads. I know most players overall do not care much about the future of the game and only play if the game's good, however it doesnt need to be like this any longer, if we can influence something as competetive community, we can change the game so it fits our desires.
thanks for SCV, Tago.
Di: I agree with you because we share the same point of view. Are there moments when some people make you so angry/annoyed that you just want to stop doing what you're doing because THEY are not worth your work?
Belial: I've been past that emotion a couple of times, if I understand your question correctly. It strangely reminded me of a line from Dostoevsky novel "The Brothers Karamazov ": "The more I love humanity in general, the less I
love man in particular. In my dreams, I have often come to making enthusiastic schemes for the service of humanity, and perhaps I might actually have faced crucifixion if it had been suddenly necessary; and yet I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone for two days together, as I know by experience."
I think every person who is trying to achieve something at the best of his abilities have second thoughts. I also think that people who are doing charity work for the sake of payment or recognition rarely accomplish much. But of course each of us longs for some sort of expression of gratitude and when some people do not meet our expectation it causes frustration. Yet here we are. I guess there is enough good things going on to keep the passion burning :)
our souls are still burning. is yours?Di: As simple as it sounds: why Mitsu?
Belial: Obviously, when I entered SC scene I was a scrub. And scrubs, you know, love the samurais! So that you get an impression how much a scrub I was: A lot of people ask me of my habit to holding pad in a "stick-like grasp", well, the reason - I never knew it was possible to configure shoulder buttons :) After that there were countless times I wanted to drop Rugi:
I love turtling, I play defencively all the time, but Rugi just isnt fit for it. So I rebuild my style from the beginning and now world knows me as one of the most agressive players.
I am good at punishing, but Rugi doesnt offer a lot of options. So I start finding use for things that can deal punishment damage, like MST evasions etc.
I am looking for difficulty, but Rugi is just a head on char with 50/50 mixup. So I start trying to define this mixup situations in math and find ways to set it up properly.
Where other people would have just switched character long ago... I dont know why, really. I dont even like the character that much.
I think at first it was out of stubborness, I didnt want to switch like so many people b/c I wanted a win as an undebatable result of my effort. not my character.
Later on there was too many memories I shared with that char. After researching so much stuff I felt compelled to do a skill project, which even further bound me to the char.
Finally, after my first EVO I just dont think I have the choice anymore. In community eyes I have become the face of the character and this has been clad in stone by Namco by introducing my ghost in quick battle.
PS: I know Kayane has strayed from Leixia, I thought women are supposed to be more faithful then men? Meh, "what do they teach kids those days" (c)
he should've 2KBed Vader.Di: Do you think that SCV will live long enough? Will it make it to next year's Evolution? How would you encourage new people to pick up SCV?
Belial: If you've asked me this question a week ago, I'd say yes, obviously. No doubt about it. There was no reason to think otherwise: a couple of tournaments each week, multitude of streams, great prizes, making it to MLG twice. I dont think I ever seen anything like this for any fighting game. However recently I heard from many top players that they grow bored with the game. I partly blame it on the mechanics and balance problems I described earlier. Partly, I think, too much hype might be just as bad as too little. Its hard to keep up the pace. A stream is no longer that anticipated, b/c you spend more time watching streams than playing, the tournaments are no longer a proving ground, but "just another day in the office". Finally, an awesome online means accessability that often outweight the social factor which kept the community together for such a long time. A lot of people no longer gather for the game and hang out, sharing memories and experience with each other. Speaking for the local community: online tournaments gather 64 people (max) easily and offline tournaments gather between 20 and 30 ppl. I mean its still way more than it ever was since SC2, but it shows how online has affected offline scene.
The game in a few month accomplished more than most games never achieve in whole lifespan, so some people will have to take a break from SC, conviniently, Diablo 3 has just came out.
Overall Im pretty sure that the game will live on and I think it has good chances at making it to EVO2k13, although, of course it may depend on EVO2k12 turnout.
I dont think there is any need to encourage new players. SCV has been patched generously, with perfect online, lots of hype, lots of streams and tournaments. There is just no other game right now that offers that much and in such quality.
let's support events including SCV.Di: Anything else you'd like to add?
Belial: I want to adress this one to Namco: SC4 was one patch away from becoming the best in the series. SC5 is one patch away from becoming the best fighting game ever made. Do not let us down and we surely will not let you down.