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Kustom Variation Math: Refuting Popular Claims

karaokelove

Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.
Premium Supporter
When it comes to the debate over kustom variations in tournament play, the big argument against them I keep seeing is that NRS would never be able to balance the kustom variations. The next biggest argument against kustoms is that players would never be able to train against all of the possible combinations. These arguments break down completely when you change how you think about characters in MK11. So today, let's compare MK11 kustom variations to one of the most popular, long-lasting, kompetitive fighters of all time: MvC3 (and UMvC3).

Released over 8 years ago, MvC3 was one of the main Evo games from 2011-2017. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think any NRS game has been a notable tournament fighter for more than 3, maybe 4 years, tops. UMvC3 contains 50 characters. You can choose any 3 characters to make your team, and you get to choose each character's assist type. So, right off the bat, that's 6 kustomization choices you get to make when creating your team.

The numbers seem to be all over the place, and most don't seem to take into account assists, but it seems that the possible combination of teams is somewhere around 103,776. If that doesn't include variations, then you're looking at closer to 3-million combinations (since 3 assists with 3 options each equals 3^3=27 * 103,776).

So, what does UMvC's system have to do with MK11's characters? Well, when you think about it, a team in UMvC3 is just a collection of moves. Even though you're not using all 3 characters at once, you're still essentially adding new normals and specials to your repertoire. Swapping out a single character or assist in your team can drastically alter your kombo potential, strategy, matchups, setups, and overall gameplan. Almost like swapping out a special move in MK11's kustom variation system...

MK11 currently has 25 characters. Even if every character had 100 unique kustom ability combinations, that's still only 2,500 possible combinations, well below what you can find in UMvC3. The MK11 system is even less flexible due to the variable slot costs of moves and the fact that some moves conflict.

The other thing to consider is that characters in UMvC3 are much more complicated than they are in MK11. Characters have variable health amounts, variable assists, multiple super moves, and synergies with other characters. Some characters, like Phoenix, had extremely unique features that essentially bent the rules of the game. Compare this to MK11's exceptionally limited system of low-key kombos, static 1,000 health for every character, and single FB per character. If NRS can't be expected to balance 2,500 toned-down characters, how can Capcom manage to balance over 100,000 more complex combinations?

The final issue I see brought up is how much of a pain it would be to kustomize your character before a match. Let's look again at UMvC3, where you're free to make every kustomization decision in the character-select screen. It takes just a few seconds to choose 3 characters along with each of their assists. That's 6 choices. In MK11 you just need to pick your character and 3 specials. 4 choices. With a halfway-decent UI, these choices would be super easy; barely an inconvenience.

So there you have it. I'm not the first to make the UMvC3 comparison, but since that argument has been getting ignored and lost in the sea of discussion, I just wanted to lay out all of the details in a new thread. If I'm missing anything or am incorrect in my math, please post corrections. Thanks for reading.
 
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karaokelove

Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.
Premium Supporter
The other thing I forgot to mention was the hype of seeing unusual teams do well in tournament play. When you see someone tearing up the Morri-Doom teams with their weird-ass Spider-man/Hulk/Hagar monstrosity, it was always super hype. The same could be said for someone rocking an MK11 character using an unusual combination that the pros haven't trained against. Instead of another Geras vs Sonya top 8, we could end up with everyone using entirely different characters. Yes, there will be the go-to kustoms that everyone migrates to, which will just make it even more hype when a creative player discovers a new viable combination to take into the kompetitive scene.
 
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xenogorgeous

Fuck yeah !!
Premium Supporter
good call , good explanation .... :)

it's frustrating having a game with such imaginative cool move sets, not being allowed to be used in its full extension .... sometimes I think what the hell they came with this cool custom variation concept, if they , in the end, don't let the players have the freedom to use it in competitive level .... so, why create custom variation in first place ? :confused:

NRS knew it exactly what they were doing during the development stage of MK11 ? sometimes, I have my doubts .... :eek:
 

JTC

From the Depths
Really good analogy. NRS are way too conservative with the way they designed their games. You can tell they never really thought things through. Tournament variation was just a last minute attempt to try to so called balance the game.
 

ColdBoreMK23

Noob Saibot
This game will die rather quickly if they don't address the issues. Mainly the variation system. They hit a home run with being able to customize your character and have them play the way they want them to play.

Sure, we can still use them in player matches but ranked/competitive would have been more intriguing.
 

Vslayer

I'm a gril
Moderator
Premium Supporter
I think NRS's strength is listening to the community, but it's also their biggest weakness. They nerf based on tier lists that mean nothing, they listen to the loudest and saltiest voices.

We've seen how some people claimed how OP Geras and Erron were, once in a tourney setting in the hands of great players, they didn't seem that way at all. It's easier to cry about it than to lab.

The truth is they will nerf based on tourney variations when that's not truly a character's full potential and just like MKX some variations won't be used at all because they're not as strong as other ones and some will be rendered completely useless based on this (a lot already are useless).

They're giving us the impression we have choices, but one will clearly be better than others. If they want balance they need to look at characters as a complete package, not broken down ones with missing pieces and that's what the tourney variations feel like right now.
 

MalevolentFix

Sombody gonna clean this up?...
Royal Contributor
I think NRS's strength is listening to the community, but it's also their biggest weakness. They nerf based on tier lists that mean nothing, they listen to the loudest and saltiest voices.

We've seen how some people claimed how OP Geras and Erron were, once in a tourney setting in the hands of great players, they didn't seem that way at all. It's easier to cry about it than to lab.

The truth is they will nerf based on tourney variations when that's not truly a character's full potential and just like MKX some variations won't be used at all because they're not as strong as other ones and some will be rendered completely useless based on this (a lot already are useless).

They're giving us the impression we have choices, but one will clearly be better than others. If they want balance they need to look at characters as a complete package, not broken down ones with missing pieces and that's what the tourney variations feel like right now.
Translation: Just give us custom variations yo. Like... Let us worry about labbing against the shit and just give it to us.
 
I’m surprised that nobody has pointed this out yet, but UMvC3 doesn’t have a reputation as being all that well balanced.

I want customs to be made tourney legal, and I believe that customisation could help to balance character out as different combinations could be used to counterpick the dominant builds that arise, but it’s not accurate to say that ‘if Capcom balanced 100k combinations, NRS can balance 2.5k combinations’, because as I understand it, Capcom failed at balancing that particular roster.
 

karaokelove

Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.
Premium Supporter
I’m surprised that nobody has pointed this out yet, but UMvC3 doesn’t have a reputation as being all that well balanced.

I want customs to be made tourney legal, and I believe that customisation could help to balance character out as different combinations could be used to counterpick the dominant builds that arise, but it’s not accurate to say that ‘if Capcom balanced 100k combinations, NRS can balance 2.5k combinations’, because as I understand it, Capcom failed at balancing that particular roster.
That actually brings me to another point I forgot to mention: What’s up with the obsession with perfect balance? It doesn’t exist. What matters is that the game is fun to play, hype to watch, and has a long tournament life. MvC had all kinds of busted shit, including infinites, even during its prime as the king of tournament fighters. So the issue with perfect balance is another thing that doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny.
 

MalevolentFix

Sombody gonna clean this up?...
Royal Contributor
Some MUs are just always going to be unfair and some characters are always going to be busted or more powerful than the rest of the cast. That's kind of how competitive environments go. There will always be an advantage to be had somewhere but at the end of the day what does it matter? If someone can sweep the Koreans using Gigas or Kuma in Tekken 7 going up against DJins, Dragunovs, etc etc and even beating Qudan what does any of it matter? No character specific advantage is enough to really overcome talent and grind.
 
That actually brings me to another point I forgot to mention: What’s up with the obsession with perfect balance? It doesn’t exist. What matters is that the game is fun to play, hype to watch, and has a long tournament life. MvC had all kinds of busted shit, including infinites, even during its prime as the king of tournament fighters. So the issue with perfect balance is another thing that doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny.
This I don’t disagree with. UMvC3 is a lot of fun, and I want MK11 to be as enjoyable in the long term. I believe custom variations are the key to that, and if certain combinations turn out to be broken, NRS have the option of balancing the point values of the moves to tone things down, rather than adjusting the frame data, keeping the moves strong but the combinations less so.
 

JTC

From the Depths
I’m surprised that nobody has pointed this out yet, but UMvC3 doesn’t have a reputation as being all that well balanced.

I want customs to be made tourney legal, and I believe that customisation could help to balance character out as different combinations could be used to counterpick the dominant builds that arise, but it’s not accurate to say that ‘if Capcom balanced 100k combinations, NRS can balance 2.5k combinations’, because as I understand it, Capcom failed at balancing that particular roster.
Right now the game needs more depth and more depth means longevity for the game. Balance doesnt mean anything if the game is stale as fuck, that stuff can be dealt with later.
 
People like balance because they like to see a good variety of characters, something I definitely agree with. I still don’t think it would be too difficult though. There’s a reason some abilities take two slots.
 
Right now the game needs more depth and more depth means longevity for the game. Balance doesnt mean anything if the game is stale as fuck, that stuff can be dealt with later.
I don’t disagree. Like I said, I want custom variations for the depth they afford.
 

LawAbidingCitizen

MD| Soberless FGC
I think NRS's strength is listening to the community, but it's also their biggest weakness. They nerf based on tier lists that mean nothing, they listen to the loudest and saltiest voices.

We've seen how some people claimed how OP Geras and Erron were, once in a tourney setting in the hands of great players, they didn't seem that way at all. It's easier to cry about it than to lab.

The truth is they will nerf based on tourney variations when that's not truly a character's full potential and just like MKX some variations won't be used at all because they're not as strong as other ones and some will be rendered completely useless based on this (a lot already are useless).

They're giving us the impression we have choices, but one will clearly be better than others. If they want balance they need to look at characters as a complete package, not broken down ones with missing pieces and that's what the tourney variations feel like right now.
I completely agree. NRS has a tract record of nerfing before thinking it through. They Nerf the crazy stuff but always in a way it hurts the character and other variations.
Custom variations need to be let loose so we can start getting true balance not the best variations balanced and then finding out later other variations have broke shit.
Characters absolutely feel incomplete and lack depth. Maybe we need KB's mid combo again or added character moves but honestly for a good portion of the cast we just need freedom to customize abilities.
Make an icon system so everyone knows what they are up against and put it in tournament so we can start to discover what needs adjusted. Casual mode is the worst place to find character strengths.
I'm a Kotal main and I'm still getting away with Quake and Sunlight in thier face both being more than 40f startup and 40-62f recovery.
I'm a competitive player and only use tournament variations since it's counter productive to use customs while building game plans and MU's. So I feel many characters are lacking and many Variations are completely abysmal.
Burn God Ray and replace it with anything.
Kotal Panther needs a rework, it's loony toons.
Not even gonna talk about his entire movelist wiffing from hitboxes.
 

mn_tercercine

you can call me blue cheese, because I am DRESSING
MvC had all kinds of busted shit, including infinites, even during its prime as the king of tournament fighters.
umvc3 was never this. MvC2 was, before sf4 ushered in the fgc renaissance, but the main criticism to be levied against MvC2 was its balance issues, so using it to support your argument is odd.

I agree Variations should be unlocked, and saying they can't due to "balance" is lazy. The MvC argument just doesn't really hold up though.
 

Methysan

Noob
Capcom absolutely did not balance every possible team combination in Marvel 3. They also lost the rights to work on it so it's hard to speculate what, if any balance changes they would have made down the road. However, as time went on the game developed on its own and the community discovered meta shifting things like TAC infinites and Morridoom. Those two things really dropped an iron curtain on the game as your team and characters were either ones that could take advantage of infinites and deal with Morridoom or you couldn't. The game saw much less variety later in its life than it did in the early stages of Ranbats in South Town Arcade, for example. Although we did still see some new blood rise with innovation like Dual Kevin and Ryan LV.


So how does this relate to MK 11? It's a much smaller game space in terms of total combinations, and if we're being honest, eventually players would figure out the best one or two custom variations for each character regardless (while still giving the option for niche picks based on match up), the same way many assists in Marvel 3 went unused. This narrowing makes the game space even smaller so as long as NRS gives tournament players the UI options to quickly select their move list, I don't see a huge problem.


Issues I see that could arise:


1. There may be certain existing combinations that people want to use but NRS made them casual only for a reason so if they make customs tournament legal, certain moves might get nerfed right out the gate.

2. The issue of counter picking/blind picking in tournament. How would that be handled? Is it really fair to go into a match not even knowing what moves your opponent has?
 
Capcom absolutely did not balance every possible team combination in Marvel 3. They also lost the rights to work on it so it's hard to speculate what, if any balance changes they would have made down the road. However, as time went on the game developed on its own and the community discovered meta shifting things like TAC infinites and Morridoom. Those two things really dropped an iron curtain on the game as your team and characters were either ones that could take advantage of infinites and deal with Morridoom or you couldn't. The game saw much less variety later in its life than it did in the early stages of Ranbats in South Town Arcade, for example. Although we did still see some new blood rise with innovation like Dual Kevin and Ryan LV.


So how does this relate to MK 11? It's a much smaller game space in terms of total combinations, and if we're being honest, eventually players would figure out the best one or two custom variations for each character regardless (while still giving the option for niche picks based on match up), the same way many assists in Marvel 3 went unused. This narrowing makes the game space even smaller so as long as NRS gives tournament players the UI options to quickly select their move list, I don't see a huge problem.


Issues I see that could arise:


1. There may be certain existing combinations that people want to use but NRS made them casual only for a reason so if they make customs tournament legal, certain moves might get nerfed right out the gate.

2. The issue of counter picking/blind picking in tournament. How would that be handled? Is it really fair to go into a match not even knowing what moves your opponent has?
I think onscreen icons are the answer to your second point. That could be tricky though, as they would need to be big enough to be discernible, whilst being discreet enough to not intrude with the game play. Or just have them clearly displayed on the load screen?
 

NeonGroovyGator

Edenia's Ambassador
I just don't want this game to come down to overloaded kits and everyone-has-everything like MKX.
I think it's more fun when characters have meaningful strengths and weaknesses.
That's my main concern with Kustoms. But I'm pretty neutral on the subject really.
 

CrimsonShadow

Administrator and Community Engineer
Administrator
We should never, ever, use UMvC3 as an argument for game balance.

That game was as broken and wildly unbalanced as it gets. If it wasn't a Capcom game it'd have died far sooner than it did. As soon as there was a sequel, that community completely went bust.

We already had a game in this community that was balanced like that (IGAU) and we know exactly what happens when that takes place. The Marvel 2/3 method of balance ("Ehh it's broke, who cares") absolutely will not work for us.

By making this thread you're ironically helping the argument of the people you were trying to argue against.
 
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Methysan

Noob
I think onscreen icons are the answer to your second point. That could be tricky though, as they would need to be big enough to be discernible, whilst being discreet enough to not intrude with the game play. Or just have them clearly displayed on the load screen?

Maybe that's something for the TO to work out. Large icons on the loading screen would probably be best, however. I don't think it needs to be displayed over the whole match.


Two other points.

1. It was kind of cheap for NRS to tease all these cool moves during the Kombat Kasts and then most of them aren't even tournament legal.


2. We wouldn't even be having these discussions if NRS just ditched the variation system and gave us complete characters with full move lists. Or at the very least, each character had two good variations (and there were no left over casual only moves) that fulfilled different purposes. The problem is the vast majority of the cast only has one good variation, if that. Hell, does anyone really have two good variations? Maybe Jax, Baraka, and Kabal?

Edit: And Scorpion.
 
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