Cardboard: How Much Does it Cost to Add a Single Character to a Fighting Game?

In this episode, we dig into the surprisingly high costs associated with making something simple: a single fighting game character.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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As a game dev currently working on a fighting game, I super appreciate this first Cardboard. Looking forward to more of them!


I’d love to see more stories about the work and cost of game dev, especially with words from developers themselves. It’s often all too clear that there’s a misunderstanding or lack of info that can create a rift between developers and players. My favorite example is that person who though No Man’s Sky multiplayer could be implemented fully in one week by one employee :joy:

This visual format was great too, very charming. Was curious why some of the signs were pixelated.

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Oh, I’m working WITH goodnews on this fighting game and he happens to be right above me in the thread, nice

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I really like this! Having shorter videos to convey topics like this in a simple way is a good idea, and the aesthetic works for it. I remember the Skullgirls character crowdfunding so I didn’t pick up much from this one in particular, but the message is definitely important and I look forward to more.

I really enjoyed the visual style. It stands out from a lot of the other content, while also being crisp and easily readable. Was it especially hard to put together?

I also thought that the length was perfect, enough that it easy to digest while also providing enough information about the subject.

Can’t be understated enough. I appreciate the admonition to it too, like how this could be applied to the bigger picture.

Loved this - think it could’ve used perhaps another minute or two to go into details on stuff like why sprite/hand-drawn animation in particular costs so durn much, but what’s here is very very well-done. Quick and snappy timing is a fuckin’ prime approach in general. The cardboard cutouts look great. Looking forward to more of these!

I really like this format. It’s something that I could share with family/friends without necessarily providing context for who the talking head(s) is/are. It tells a story with catchy (but not obtrusive) effects.

Into it.

The high cost of 2d art for video games is somewhat sad to me. Koji Igarashi’s new spiritual successor to Castlevania is using 3d characters and when prompted as to why he cited the high cost of 2d art and very few Japanese game industry people who do that work anymore. I guess that is why the 2d Castlevanias had been reusing sprites that date all the way back to Rondo of Blood for years.

I’m working on a fighting game that’s hand-drawn and when I asked, our artist has told me that, especially with how high-resolution games are now, every frame needs to look beautiful, with no shortcuts. He’ll often spend multiple days on just one frame before finalizing it, and even a simple animation like a short jab can have six or seven frames. So, it’s all about time equaling money, detail and quality control!

oh yeah, for sure - I’m personally aware, since I’m reasonably into watching anime sakuga (basically, showreels for animators, compiling their key animation sequences from various films/series together) and read up a lot on animation techniques and quirks in general

and that’s just for anime, which have (for the most part, unless you’re at the REDLINE level of hand-drawn perfection) nowhere near the frame-by-frame precision and balance needed for a fighting game!

I’d be happy if they got a bit longer (similar to Guide to Games length) but totally agreed on the style front.

It immediately struck me as an incredibly cute and readable style.


Oh, true! If you like that kind of stuff, and just in case you haven’t seen it, I might recommend Shirobako. The anime doesn’t have the most unique art itself, but it’s a great examination of what goes on at an animation studio, with some really interesting episodes focusing on animation and 2D vs. 3D in particular.

When I pause our game, almost every time I’ve caught our characters in an interaction that looks like it could be a still frame from a well-made anime, but to think that these frames also have invisible boxes drawn around them to tell the game what to do, and so many things being calculated and allowed for…it’s magical.

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Really, really cool video. Style, editing and script all incredible. Agree with others that I wish it would have been longer, too many extremely smart people at waypoint for that not to happen. Can’t wait to see more.

Not that we’d ever have access to (or even deserve) this kind of information, but I’m kinda curious as to how much adding a character in Skullgirls is vs. something like a Street Fighter. Or even 2D vs 3D. Skullgirls is a game with a keen eye for frame detail and extremely polished and smooth animations. And in Street Fighter you have large, colorful 3D models. In any event I do like when devs are transparent with the community. It’s a miracle most games get made in the first place.

Also, I really like the style of this video. How very Stick Stickly of ya’ll.

Street Fighter characters cost $1M to make. Game dev is hard man.

so we didn’t have to reshoot :smiley:

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It’s uh, about sixty times as long a watch, but this GDC talk about what goes into animating Guilty Gear Xrd’s faux-2D characters is really, really good.

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I remember this moment made people realize the real cost of development no matter how small. People tend to forget how much work it takes for things to be done.