2019. Digital game (Windows, Mac). Collaborators: Chapin Boyer, Connor Carson, Dylan Nelkin, Palmmy Sivarapornsakul
Knockdown TV is a simple fighting game where reading your opponent is everything. It’s all about knocking them down not just once, but again and again.
No long movelists to memorize or complicated inputs to practice. There’s just 3 attacks: punch, kick, and counter. Each attack knocks your opponent down to the ground. From there, they can either get up, roll left, or roll right — so try to get a follow-up hit!
More info, including Windows & Mac download, can be found at the official site:
Knockdown TV on itch.io
Design & Production
The initial creative challenge was to create a competitive game from a genre usually associated with complexity / high barrier to entry, but distilled down to the simplest and most accessible elements.
This goal led to designing towards a simple and competitive fighting game that emphasizes the yomi of the neutral game and the wake-up game.
Initial prototyping was based on 5 sets of exploratory questions:
- How do we simplify the fundamental elements of a fighting game? Can we make 2D fighting movement feel fluid, simple, and intuitive? Can we make fighting with only 3 controls and no fireballs not repetitive and also juicy?
- How can we make Okizeme (wake-up options) feel snappy and tactical? How can we implement tech landing / rolling well?
- With simplified moves, can we still make characters that are interesting in terms of animation and visuals? Can we create compelling characters that feel different and unique despite limited fighting moves?
- How can we integrate effective UI? (hitpoints, timers, etc.)
- Can we rethink the assumptions of health in fighting games? Will a Stamina-only system work, or will it need to be Stamina + Health?
As we moved from preproduction into production, there were some key decision points:
- beginning with coroutines, transitioning to a state machine
- vector-based character art instead of pixel art
- scoping from 2 characters down to 1 character with a palette swap
- leaning more on effects and shaders while having fewer hand-drawn set pieces and animation frames
Most of these decisions made the art pipeline and QA process more cost-effective, and addressed some common challenges of building a fighting game within a short timeline, all while maintaining the most important design and creative goals.
When standing, you can punch, counter, or kick.
When grounded, you can input left, right, or up.
Teching is faster than the normal grounded options. You can tech by pressing the input at the right timing (just as you’re about to land on the ground). You can tech up, techroll left, or techroll right.
If you can return to a neutral standing position from being grounded, you can recover up to 1 health. If you land an attack, it’s important to land a follow-up attack also!
It’s still possible to perfect your opponent after recovering health!
A spreadsheet of all the Knockdown TV frame data is available.