This week's look into the future is a bit of a personal indulgence. It was recently announced that indie fighter Skullgirls is coming to PC with a whole host of improvements. Some of these improvements include additional tutorials, tweaks to the game's online mode, and a much-awaited integrated move-list, but the improvements won't stop there. The team over at Reverge Labs has made it clear that they will continue to support the game with updates as long as people are playing it. I've been following the Skullgirls project since it first started, and this includes hanging onto every single word that the lead designer, Mike Z, has to say. Here are some other updates that we can expect in Skullgirls' future.
First of all, the community was annoyed when they found out that Skullgirls did not include an option to see your inputs during training mode. This, along with an in-game move-list, is one of the first updates that the team has planned. Other training mode options that are planned for future updates include lag simulators that can simulate online play, the ability to toggle hit-sparks on and off, and a replay mode. In addition, the team plans to greatly flesh out the game's tutorial mode, adding tutorials for things such as pushblocking, counters, DHCs, combo creation, resets, teching, assists, special hit states, restands, crossovers, and more. At one point, Mike Z said that he would like to include user-generated tutorials at some point. This seems like a pretty complicated feature to program, and we may never see it, but it's nice to know that the developer has a personal interest in seeing it happen.
Major changes to the online mode have been planned as well. For now, gamers can only battle each other 1v1 in online lobbies. However, full lobby support is planned for a future update. This includes a spectator mode, voice chat, and rematch options. For now, you can't see the name of the person you are playing online, which removes a degree of personality from the game's online mode. This too will be changed in a future patch. The team has also said that they will include a notifier sound or rumble when a match is found, to alert you in case you've stopped paying attention to the "searching" screen.
Of course, much of the fan base is more interested in characters than game improvements, and there is an exhaustive list of new characters that might make it into the game as DLC. Squiggly, a zombified kung-fu opera singer, and Umbrella, the younger sister of Parasoul, were two of the "original cast" of planned characters that didn't make the game's initial release. They have already been confirmed as early DLC characters though, and you can see some of their animation frames in Double's shapeshifting Level 3 super. Additionally, Miss Victoria, Filia's class teacher, and Black Dhalia, an assassin for the Medici Mafia are also shown in the super as well, which might be a tease for future DLC.
There are also plenty of characters that were revealed in story mode as well that may eventually make the cut. Venus Lovelace and Aeon are two strange characters that showed up in the game's ending. Venus fights with strange parasites attached to her midsection, while Aeon's body is made of an hourglass. Feng, a fellow performer in Cerebella's circus, and Brain Drain, the unethical scientist that created Painwheel, may also make it into the game.
Aside from these, there are plenty of background characters that fans have been clamoring for as well, The Anti-Skullgirl Lab stage features a cyborg named Leduc, a bee-looking girl named Hive, a woman called Ileum made out of strange corkscrew-like material, and Big Band, a man in a gigantic iron lung shaped like a saxophone. There is also Annie: Girl of the Stars, an unaging pop star, and Beowulf, a pro-wrestler who fights with a powerful weaponized folding chair called The Hurting. Then there's Panzerfaust, a giant man with a tank for a hand. Panzerfaust was originally part of Alex Ahad's Vulcan Heel, but Skullgirls fans love him so much he hand a chance of making it into the game. Finally, the team did at one point mention that they probably wouldn't create visual assets for a character If they wouldn't eventually become playable. So we might see Marie, the Skullgirl herself become playable sometime in the future.
The team is also looking in to some sort of new story mode as well. Each of the game's stories was sort of a "what if" scenario for each character. However, it's possible that a "true" story mode will come out later as DLC. It all depends on whether or not there is fan demand for it.
This is all the "practical" side of what might happen in Skullgirls's future. However, on the more fantastical side, there were plenty of interesting systems that the designers talked about at some point or another. For example, they mentioned a system that would recommend tutorials for you if the game saw you making the same mistakes over and over again. In-depth character-specific tutorials were also talked about, as were combo tutorials. Heck, the fans even asked for a trophy/achievement that you can earn by beating one of the creators in a match! What's important is that the design team is actually listening to the fans. Skullgirls is really shaping up to be a fighting game composed of the ideas of those in the fighting game community themselves.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: May 2, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*