‘Rivals of Aether’ creator Dan Fornace is done with making fighting games for newcomers

"I’ve accepted the fact that no matter how “easy” you make your game, pros will absolutely demolish new players."

Dan Fornace, the creator of Super Smash Bros-inspired fighting game Rivals Of Aether, has said that he is no longer interested in trying to make fighting games “easier” for newcomers of the genre.

In a Twitter thread posted yesterday (June 17), the developer said if he was to make a new fighting game “I want to make the best game possible for fans of the genre I’m working in. I want it to be their favorite game of all time.”

Fornace began his thread with a resigned statement: “After 8 years of working in fighting games, I’ve accepted the fact that no matter how “easy” you make your game, pros will absolutely demolish new players.”


He criticised other developers who have tried to make fighting games more accessible to newcomers by simplifying mechanics. However, he has acknowledged that this was often helped more experienced players instead.

“Many of the simplifications that devs have tried over the last 10 years end up being used by pros to make strong characters more reliable while not helping new players figure out why they lose neutral over and over,” he continued.

Fornace admitted he had also gone down the same route when developing Rivals Of Aether, “because I wanted to make fighting games more accessible and reach a bigger audience.”

This was done mostly by making “the most basic actions feel good”, while “each new thing they learn feel even cooler”, so that beginners still have fun playing the game even if they do not go deeper into the mechanics.

Nonetheless, he conceded, “You can work as hard as you want to make a bigger net to bring in new players but a bigger net has bigger holes where other fans will slip through.”


Fornace also made a distinction between accessibility and difficulty. He still works to make his games accessible but he clarified that this means “something that doesn’t destroy my hands and feels as intuitive as possible”, as opposed to going out of his way to draw in players who were not interesting in fighting games before.

Rivals of Aether originally released in 2017 on PC and Xbox One, before also releasing a definitive edition on Nintendo Switch in 2020. It also features cross-over characters from other indie games, including Ori And The Blind Forest and Shovel Knight.

In related news, Tekken‘s Kazuya Mishima is the latest fighter to join the roster of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

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