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7/02/13 - The problem(s) with Revolution

posted Jul 2, 2013, 3:28 PM by Tyler Bustinza
Tekken Revolution, as I mentioned last week, is Namco's F2P twist on the Tekken series. Instead of leveling individual characters, your account levels as a whole. As the "level" increases, you gain Skill Points to boost the stats of your characters. Dependent on your overall playstyle, you can theoretically adjust your characters to best suit your strengths or potentially cover your weaknesses. Revolution also has a much smaller character roster, so the game becomes a lot easier to learn by osmosis. It's a great step in the direction of picking up newer players but it's not without its faults.

The unlock system (or lack thereof):
By far the #1 problem with Revolution is that the bonus characters (Alisa, Bryan, Leo, Steve and now Jin and Xiaoyu) are randomly unlocked using the Gift Point system. This is pretty bad news for character specialist and loyalists who tend to stick with a single character and basically refuse to play the game unless they have them. It truly is a compounding problem because of how in-depth and difficult the game can be. Players find a character they like, invest a ton of time learning them (sometimes over the course of years), then find out that their character is in the game and whoops, they just hit 30k Gift Points and their character didn't unlock.

To give a little better context, here's the Gift Point (character) unlocking tree:
1,000 points - 1st character
7,000 points - 2nd character
30,000 points - 3rd character
60,000 points - 4th character
90,000 points - 5th character
120,000 points - 6th character

Now I used the 30k Gift Points example because that's the threshold where it goes from somewhat difficult to incredibly hard. With no Gift Point bonuses or modifiers, you get 100 points per completed Ranked Match, therefore to reach the 30,000 target you'd need to have completed 300 games. What happens if you didn't get your character by your third unlock? Another 300 games for a 33% chance. What happens if you didn't get your character by the fourth unlock? Who knows, you probably already quit the game out of pure rage.

For instance I'm currently the max rank with nearly 300 wins and I've still yet to unlock Leo, the one character I did want to unlock of the original four but have yet to hit the 60,000 goal. Now that Jin and Xiaoyu have been unlocked, instead of a guaranteed Leo unlock at 60k I'm now down to a 33% chance. That's not to say I wouldn't play Jin but there's still the 33% chance I'll hit worse case scenario and get Ling and have to wait another 300 games before my next character, which of course by then may unlock another two characters.

Now not all is lost. Namco currently has a promotion going to unlock characters quicker. Unfortunately it's through buying micro-transaction coins and using them to play Ranked Match, two things I'm not currently interested in.

Rank is a double edged sword:
Which brings me to my next point, having a rank cap slows down the need to play the game but also lowers my desire to play the game. Every time the cap has been raised, I play until rank cap and then stop playing Ranked Matches because Player Matches have near equal reward for far less risk. At first I thought Player Matches gave a fraction of the Experience and Gift Points (namely 10 gift and 20 exp) but playing higher or similar ranks gives about the same, although I'm not 100% sure because I rarely fight someone near rank in Player Match. I theorize this is the reason that some players actually exclusively play outside of Ranked Matches because if they're level 1, they're raking in the points since everyone is higher ranked than them.

Secondly it's really, really hard for me to find a Player Match because of my rank. Regardless of me picking characters with lower or sans stat boosts, people see the rank and level and immediately kick me or leave. Actually due to the weird chat system in Tekken, the last message sent will be visible to the chat once the game ends and I'll almost 100% type some filler such as "damn", "lol", or "ouch" so I don't get immediately booted or raged out against. It's important to restate that I don't noob stomp in these situations, I'll pick my low level characters to make the match more even. The point being I just want to play and would really love if my rank didn't get in the way. I've also never received so much trash talk in my life, players constantly sending hate mail, insulting me when I lose while using secondary characters with stats equal to a level 0/1, voice chat smack talk, people pulling the plug mid-match, and people raging out at the character screen.

The sooner stat nullification is introduced in Player Matches, the happier everyone will be, at least I hope so.

Invincible attacks:
Now the idea of invincible attacks isn't bad and I'm not against them as a whole, I just dislike the idea that they're not built (somewhat) equally.

As best as I can tell (without any real scientific testing) invincible attacks are vulnerable during the first two frames, completely invulnerable during their animation, and then finally vulnerable on the impact frame. Therefore it's possible to trade with an opponent if your attack hits exactly when theirs does or the active frames of your attack are still active during their impact frame, e.g. "meaty" attacks.

This is the cause of the first major discrepancy, the slower an attack is, the more effective it is as an invulnerable attack. This is due to less of its animation being spent on vulnerable frames and more spent being invulnerable. For instance below I'm comparing the fastest invulnerable attack to the slowest one, Paul's d+1+2 vs Law's b+3+4, respectively. Paul's d+1+2 is i12, therefore it's totally invulnerable for 75% of its animation, whereas Law's b+3+4 is i29 and totally invulnerable for almost 90% of its animation. Now obviously there would be a point of diminishing returns where an attack would be too slow to act as an invulnerable attack, e.g. whiffed attacks would recover in time to block and launch the invulnerable attack, but for now it seems that about i26-i30 might be the sweet spot for Special Arts.

Paul's d+1+2 (i12) invulnerability chart

Law's b+3+4 (i29) invulnerability chart

The second issue is that the newly made "Special Arts" were moves real moves before being converted, had different properties on NH/CH, and many were already highly evasive. For instance, using the prior two examples, Paul's d+1+2 isn't very evasive but it is very fast and is often used to cause advantageous trades for W! and combo. Law's b+3+4 in TTT2 is very evasive, highly regarded as the most evasive "back swing" attack in the game, and W!/KND on NH/CH. So while the system works for those attacks, there are moves that were hit hard by the change to becoming invulnerable attacks.

All the Special Arts currently in Revolution (as they appear in TTT2)

I used three major criteria to determine how the moves from TTT2 translated to Revolution:

1) How much worse on block the attacks are now. Since all Special Arts are universally launch punishable on block, IIRC -25 on block, some moves are much worse off now. Inversely many converted attacks were already launch punishable on block, so becoming more launch punishable isn't really that bad a change.

2) How much the properties changed on NH/CH. In Revolution, Special Arts all universally KND/W! on NH/CH, but in TTT2 certain attacks did not KND/W! and instead would be +frames on hit or launch on CH. Obviously an upgrade from +frames to KND/W! is an improvement, while losing launching or stun properties is (for the most part) a huge downgrade.

3) Finally, what role the moves were originally designed to fill. Most of the Special Arts chosen for Revolution are "Back Swing/Sway" style attacks that were originally designed to evade pressure while being punishable on block, but quite a few in TR were meant to be used as punishers. Unfortunately, now, improperly punishing will be death on block for a select few characters.

So of the 14 characters currently available in Revolution, only 3 are theoretically better off when compared to TTT2. Of the remaining 11, only 3 are about even with a "win some, lose some" approach. That leaves 8 of the 14 that are worse off due to the invulnerable Special Art changes of TR.

Potential solutions to my problems with Revolution:
The problem with the Gift Point system is that it's totally random and there's a decently high chance you won't receive the character you want most. It would be a major improvement if you were allowed to pick one character for every 25,000 gift points reached and leave the 30,000 benchmark still unlock other characters randomly. That would give you three random characters and one guaranteed character by the time you reached 30,000 points, potentially increasing the retention rate of certain players.

Regarding rank in Player Matches, Namco has made some good strides. They've already announced that they will be adding the ability to disable stats in Player Matches so a level 1 could equally compete against a level 50. What I'd really like to see is if they could dynamically scale stats versus the opponent's level. For instance a player could set their preferred stat distribution (let's say 2-1-1) and if their level was lower than their opponent's, the player's stats would automatically scale to match. So instead of it being a level 1 vs 50 becoming a level 1 vs 1, it could be a level 50 vs 50 instead.

Unfortunately invincible attacks wouldn't be a quick fix as there's so much wrong with it might be better off just leaving them alone. Although I'd like to see a consistent decision of only choosing character attacks that already KND/W!, instead of just hand picking attacks that look or act evasively, regardless of their TTT2 properties. This should cause a more balanced selection of Special Art where no character has too much an advantage during the conversion from TTT2 to TR.

Disclaimer: Please remember that I'm writing this as the beginning of July and somethings and/or everything may have changed by a later date