The fighting genre is very hardcore within itself, and the community is nearly impenetrable by amateur enthusiasts. However, Evolution Championship Series is the largest fighting game tournament held annually, and it acts as a huge barrier-breaker. It’s like the Super Bowl of the fighting games.
Those who only wish they were able to execute the complex and professional playing, getting excited and entering due to the accessibility of EVO deserve something less challenging than those games they simply watch. And Radiant Entertainment is the right studio to rise up to the challenge.
Rising Thunder is a game built by the most enthusiastic leaders of the fighting community, and it focuses on improving the genre’s shortcomings. Tony and Tom Cannon, the founders of EVO, have partnered with Seth Killian, a designer that worked on combat and community of Street Fighter prior to leaving for Sony Santa Monica, to create something competitive, but not isolating. That is where Rising Thunder comes in, which is also the first fighting game by Radiant Entertainment.
Killian told IGN, “It is a very hard genre. To play and use the games basic moves that we as designers assume you are able to do, depending on the person, requires three months, maybe six months, or even years to fully master. When you get them down, it does not mean you are good after grinding, it simply means you are able to start playing the game as it was designed to be played. That is both rough and a big thing to ask.”
However, the genre succeeds, as can be seen with Street Fighter IV, Capcom’s biggest and most successful series that has continued to be re-released. Although, there is a catch, and when you consider the creators’ perspective, it is rather depressing.
“It is a huge success, millions are playing,” said Killian in regard to Street Fighter. “Then, in week two, only 150,000 are online, third week sees 15,000. The question is what is going on, why are they leaving?” While sales are significant, retaining players is more important if a game wants long-term success, and this is even truer if you are making a new one, like Killian.
Killian decided to return to the drawing board and figure out why those people were leaving, and how to approach the issue with a new game, with the goal of keeping them playing. “I didn’t simply want another fighting game; there are many cool fighting games. But what is holding the genre from advancing? We thought it over and included the answers in this game.”
Killian went on to explain what those answers were.
When it comes to games such as Street Fighter, “People simply cannot do the moves. They leave before learning them, and the online gaming sucks unless you know others who are crazy about the game, making it even harder to have that competitive experience. Additionally, we charge $60 and sentence people to months of grinding before they are able to actually play the game.”
Because of this, Radiant Entertainment is determined and committed to the concept behind Rising Thunder. It’s a PC only, free-to-play online game that has a ranked multiplayer focus. The purpose is to be competitive and played by anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Killian admits that, “Free to play isn’t wrong, it simply sucks and has been trashed by many low-quality games. When it comes to being free, we took inspiration from Dota 2 and League of Legends. You will be able to play as much as you want and never have to pay for the game.”
To make things even better, it is going to be easy to play and creates a good feeling, as it is “mostly made of single-button, some button-and-direction, and some hold-inputs.” It will require a minimal amount of motion input to do amazing and devastating special attacks. Due to Rising Thunder, there are things that have never been done before in fighting games with the easy inputs. Cancelling animations, pulling off preposterous aerial combinations, and bait-and-switching opponents.
As for the keyboard control mode, the thought may be strange, but after a couple hours of play it starts feeling like a natural activity, second only to typing. It allows people to get the feeling that they can only image “pro players” reacting with lightning speed.
Killian says that “Rising Thunder has been built with the focus of being accessible online since before it started.” The beta version runs smoothly with no issues so far. Radiant have been able to create something that is easily attractive, like Street Fighter. It is fun to watch, with a stylish appeal as well. The gameplay, however, does feel more capable in Rising Thunder than in Street Fighter, and for those who watch EVO knowing they’ll never reach that level, they will enjoy it too.