Yesterday, we got a chance to play the freshly released Super Smash Bros-inspired fighter Rivals of Aether with developer Dan Fornace. During Early Access, Fornace was able to build a sizable community that fell in love with the game’s stylistic characters and the tightly-wound combat, much of which you can see in the video above.
But if you’re looking to learn from Fornace’s success, while there’s much to think about in terms of character in move design, Fornace actually advised aspiring fighting game developers to think more about animation when getting into the genre—especially character silhouettes.
“Silhouette is the most important thing when it comes to fighting games and animations,” Fornace told us. “A lot of times, game developers skimp on anticipation animations in general. In a fighting game…because your attacks are not instant, they have to take time in order to be balanced, your opponent is looking at your character, so they need good animation so [your opponent] can tell what’s happening.”
Fornace also mentioned that good character silhouettes help developers when making hit pauses—animations where characters freeze briefly when completing or receiving an attack. Those moments of stillness help players register what happened, and give them time to think what their next move will be.
This is all advice that Fornace got working with Killer Instinct design director James Goddard during his time on that game, so if you’re looking for more games that display this animation mindset, be sure to watch some of that game in order to study the animation.
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