Test build and how it relates to our mission

 Test Build Information  Comments Off on Test build and how it relates to our mission
Mar 032010

This is something I have heard people say, and I understand what they are thinking so I want to clear this up now. There is some perception that some of the more liberal changes seen in the test build represent us moving away from our mission. I disagree with this assessment, but I see how people might think that so I want to explain it more carefully.

Our mission was to change Brawl while retaining the “essence” of what made Brawl… Brawl. This means we did not implement global changes of such a nature as to corrupt what made the original Brawl good. I know there’s a vocal minority that think the original Brawl is not good, but we are talking about the most successful tournament level fighting game of all time here. I think I’m going to err on the side of assuming it’s good!

To protect this, we set limits for ourselves. Changing how powerful moves were was fine, but we weren’t going to go on some crazy binge altering frame speeds. A few were going to be needed, but we approached it with the absolute utmost of conservatism. We weren’t going to change hitbox sizes or such either; it’s unclean in several ways, and it just makes the game less pure to the original design. I won’t lie; certain other projects influenced these limits. In particular, at the time Brawl+ was using a code called the “deadlands” that caused Luigi’s Mansion to be permanently broken and re-arranged the platforms on it a bit. When I saw this, I just about freaked out. Luigi’s Mansion is one of the most tactical and deep stages in Brawl, and that basically turns it into a goofy flat + plat stage. Luigi’s Mansion had its share of abuses sure, and the deadlands are doubtless more “fair”. However, to me, it was a complete and total annihilation of the soul of the stage, and I could not and still cannot accept that sort of sacrifice in the name of “improvement” or “balance”. Thinkaman had a similar reaction to seeing hacks to remove stale moves; we both felt very strongly that, while we did want to improve the game, we wanted to keep what made it good in the first place.

However, I’m not stupid, and neither is Thinkaman. To improve something, one must change it. In the last release, we had far more limited coding tools and less experience, and even still we pushed the limits of what we could do with things like simple power tweaks. We saw dramatically improved balance; I feel as though the first standard release was a high quality product. However, there were several emergent properties of what we did, and the tiers fell in somewhat inconvenient ways on us. An emergent thing, a small detail to some perhaps, is that Link’s fsmash hit 2 became safe on block because of the power increase. This was totally unintended, and while I don’t think it’s bad for gameplay, it does very much change the nature of punishing Link for forward smashing. How is that really different from a frame speed modification? It feels somewhat academic moreso than real. With the tiers too, there were issues. We gave some truly dramatic and very powerful buffs to Ganondorf and Captain Falcon. They became viable, but an honest assessment suggested they were still kicking up the low tiers. Worst of all, their problem matchups were the ones they just couldn’t touch very well, especially Olimar. Further power buffs would just polarize them, they would make them go from “strong” to “absurd”, and all around we really just knew we couldn’t just make their moves stronger and make them better. We also had general game power creep issues. As the average of the cast in terms of power keeps moving upward, we are in a sense changing the game itself. We are just at the limit of this approach.

In short, we saw that we were in a position with our approach whereby we could either increase the scope of our changes or accept a permanent class of mediocre characters. The game’s name itself should be the greatest sign of our mission of all; a permanent class of mediocre characters would merely be defeat for us. Thinkaman, however, saw in some of our previous work inspiration for a direction, and that was Ike. Ike was largely a success story for Balanced Brawl. He wasn’t changed much, but his one change was concrete and easy to understand, and it really opened him up. It at the time may have seemed out of character of our design, and I put my name on it because I thought it was simply what was necessary. However, here we saw that is was the necessary direction for our design, and hence we did what we did. We were still careful and measured, making sure each change that made it past the rawest of internal testing was at the very least non-obviously overpowered though at this point I feel as though none of the changes are truly overpowered. They do, however, offer themselves as a panacea for the permanent class of mediocrity. Fox, Wolf, Ganondorf, Captain Falcon, Bowser, Peach… These characters were the low end of the first release, but now those characters and their mains have something truly worth being excited over and something that makes those characters flexible enough to address real match situations against the best in the game.

There is something else though. We also had to ask ourselves what it is we truly were trying to accomplish here. As an example of good game design, I feel the first standard release was a brilliant success. As a successful competitive game, it was a total failure. No one played it. We’re irrelevant. I am not willing to accept a permanent status of that either. Much was said internally about what we needed to do to fix this, but the ultimate conclusion was that, in the end, people are not going to download our game to enjoy Lucario’s dash attack doing 1% more damage. That change may be good for balance in its own carefully thought out and small way, but it doesn’t get downloads. Ike flying across the stage does, and now we have dozens of Ikes. Make no mistake; we seek to truly succeed as a competitive tournament level game, and we are prepared to do whatever it takes to attain that goal. I think as designers we have matured enough to understand the game on the deepest of levels, and I think the quality of our product remains of such an incredible calibur that we have the potential to truly take off if only we can get the game out there and played. We have some surprises up our sleeves; we have heard the cries of the community, at Meta Knight, at divisive stage rules, at infinites and long chaingrabs, at obviously useless characters, at characters who seem good at first but in truth are not, at planking, scrooging, air camping, and all manners of stalling. The malaise on the Brawl community is not something we are ignorant to, and we can offer a cure. I think that is our hope, and I think this direction in changes is a necessary step on our path to success. I hope all of our current supporters can see this, and I hope they continue to support us as we work our hardest to see this project to true success.

Feb 172010

I have gotten a bit of feedback from the test build, less than I would otherwise like, but enough to run with. Here’s what “go through” to me.

-Several bugs were noted. Ganondorf’s fair change that I talked about was accidentally not included, and the original BBrawl release changes to Mario’s back throw and King Dedede’s down throw were somehow just plain missed. These things happen I guess, but it’s very good it was brought to my attention. All of these issues will be fixed in the next test build.

-Jigglypuff’s down aerial buff may be too good, as I suspected. The report was that it really changed how people handled Jigglypuff which may be good or bad. I wish more people had gotten into this change.

-Unrelated to test build changes, apparently a lot of people think Captain Falcon’s up special is overbuffed.

-Charizard gets nothing notable out of jab cancels on his new jab1.

-Lucas dair and dtilt are apparently weird? I didn’t really get a very clear description of exactly how they were different from the first BBrawl release.

-I heard some positive feedback over the Sonic dtilt, but sadly, there was little exploration.

-Kirby’s Copy is supposedly “fine”. We’ll see, but for now I’m not worrying about it.

-Snake apparently feels much better to fight against but still seems good. That’s a positive report.

-Apparently all item related bugs vanished? Hey, I’m not complaining.

-The sped up transformations (including on Castle Siege) are apparently enjoyed by more than just me. So far there’s scant reporting on how it affects gameplay, but it seems to be the consensus that it makes the game more fun.

-I heard some excitement over the targeted nerfs to Marth and Mr. Game & Watch, but I didn’t really hear a lot about gameplay with them.

Here are the things I didn’t hear about that I really would like to before I can feel good about the level of feedback from this release:

-Did the other characters with jab changes get more jab cancel tricks? Charizard was the biggest question, but the other still matter. Mr. Game & Watch is the main suspect here. In general, I’d really like to hear how the new jab behaviors change gameplay for these characters.

-Did the down tilt changes to R.O.B., Donkey Kong, Marth, Meta Knight, and Mr. Game & Watch actually stop the down tilt locks? I really have no idea; I was kinda counting on external testers to find this out. As in, this is really important. Please?

-In general, I’d really be appreciative if people poked around with Ice Climbers united Hammer Squall. As far as I can tell, the change was non-intrusive and only served to fix fusion, but I have been wrong before.

-If any of these changes have major implications to particular matchups, I’d really like to hear about it.

Feb 042010

Welcome to Balanced Brawl’s homepage! This was originally intended to be a bit more ambitious, but it will serve our purposes well enough for now. Internal builds are going to be made available here; the official release can still be found at:


Either way, enough of that and onto the testing. The latest test build is available at:


Please download FitGanon.pac and replace the one in the download; there was a mistake in uploading this test version originally.

As per the changes contained within, here’s a quick and dirty list. If you want to help with testing, please both check to see if the current port has faithful behavior to the original version and if the new changes are well-balanced. Specifically, I have no idea whether the changes to dtilt SDI factors actually makes them not wall lock; I just kinda picked numbers and am counting on you guys to test this.

Mario u/dsmash and bthrow -3 kbg

Lucas dair and dtilt set to be proper fixed knockback moves.

Sonic dtilt now semispikes to be useful as a trip move.

Ike dsmash change unimplemented (needs looking into)

Yoshi fair grounding removed.

Jigglypuff nair buff removed.

Jigglypuff pummel buff removed.

ZSS fsmash cleaner implementation (slightly better).

Toon Link grounded Spin Attack buffed a bit.

Wario dthrow has way less slowdown now (still no cg, can roll out of it).

Nana’s fsmash receives same buff to kbg as Popo’s.

Transformation speed-ups are different in general, rely on super fast SD loading (Castle Siege loading too).

Did I buff Kirby’s Copy? I don’t recall…

Ivysaur Bullet Seed now impossible to SDI first hit and retains 4% damage from standard Brawl.

Ivysaur Vine Whip slowdown now only applies in air.
Ice Climbers fusion glitch fixed

Fox rapid jab now links

Jigglypuff dair now has extra shield damage

Captain Falcon jab3 now links to rapid jab

Kirby jab2 and rapid jab are changed; jab2 links to rapid jab, but rapid jab is easier to SDI

Charizard jab1 links to jab2

Fair synchronous timer glitch fixed on Ganondorf and Donkey Kong.

Pit ftilt +1% damage (12% -> 13%) and more bkb (12 -> 16)

Mr. Game & Watch bair far loop damage -1%

Mr. Game & Watch bair loop ids reversed (to switch hitbox priority).

Mr. Game & Watch dtilt versus grounded opponents SDI multiplier 1 -> 1.3

Mr. Game & Watch jab1 kbg 100 -> 115

Marth fair unsweetspotted damage 10% -> 9%

Marth fair sweetspotted damage 13% -> 11%

Marth dtilt unsweetspotted SDI multiplier (all hitboxes) 1 -> 1.3

Donkey Kong dtilt SDI multiplier (all hitboxes) 1 -> 1.3

R.O.B. dtilt SDI multiplier (all hitboxes) 1 -> 1.3

Meta Knight dtilt SDI multiplier (all hitboxes) 1 -> 1.3

Snake jab2 now links to jab3

Snake ftilt has damage nerfed (I don’t remember what the old versus new numbers are, sorry)

Snake dthrow 12% -> 10%

R.O.B. dthrow knockback growth 80 -> 90 (standard Brawl’s original value: 110)