{Fighter x Dater}

Game Concept

…in a high-stakes dating simulator {Doki Doki Literature Club}
Dating Sim” genre
Dating sims are often dialog-heavy and focus on time management. The player must befriend and carefully build and maintain a relationship with one or more characters. The gameplay is largely dependent on statistics. These games also often involve raising stats that reflect the player’s skills and can be combined with other genres. Series such as Sakura Wars combine tactical RPG gameplay with dating sim gameplay.
The term “dating sim” is also sometimes used incorrectly in English as a generic term for romance-driven games (恋愛ゲーム, ren’ai games), especially visual novels focused on romance. This can lead to confusion, as visual novels are considered a subgenre of adventure games and are not included in the dating sim genre. While the two genres often share a common visual presentation, dating sims are considered to be more statistically based than the “choose your own adventure” style of visual novels.
Komaeda Dating Sim ~ source

Thesis: {Fighter x Dater} aims to be a synthesis of the fighting game and dating simulator / visual novel game. The roster of characters ~ potential dates ~ includes the fighters from every popular fighting game – every meathead martial artist, every high-kicking babe, every beast, monster and eldritch lord. Locked into an international dating competition, a dozen fighters will converse via combat and engage in emotional, psycho-sexual bouts in a quest to find their soulmate…

Setting: Cafes | Parks | Zoos | Movie theaters | Shopping malls| Abandoned pagodas | Ancient temples | Night beachfront | Bloody sand arenas…

The general aesthetic of the game will closely resemble the cartoonish, anime style of the classic Street Fighter games – as well as the general art style of most modern dating sims (as opposed to the more 3D stylings of modern Street Fighter, Tekken, Mortal Kombat and Soul Calibur games)

Characters & Story:

The characters are the fighters we know from all of gaming history: Ryu and Ken, Chun-Li and Cammy {Street Fighter} – Kazuya and Kazuma Mishima, Marshall Law, Yoshimitsu, King, {Tekken} – Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Johnny Cage, Liu Kang, Kitana {Mortal Kombat} – Taki, Voldo, Ivy, Raphael {Soul Calibur}, etc.

Each character has a set of emotional / physical / psychological characteristics that contribute to both their fighting and dating ability. These attributes inform the potential strategies and paths to success within the dating competition, both for you playing as them and facing off against them within the competition… Each is uniquely positioned as candidates within the game, with their own romantic strengths and weaknesses.

Ryu’s attribute matrix {source}
Chun-Li attribute matrix ~ {btw I am just making this shit up}

The game, of course, is an international {interdimensional} dating game – in which a dozen fighters enter an arena not of fists and martial energies, but of crushes and raw lusting and maybe even, eventually… love. A dozen fighters {6 men and 6 women}* chosen from across worlds and timelines unite to pair up and out, winnowing themselves down to a final two – via a cooperative fighting tournament whose champion will be dictated through the strength of the couple’s connection.

*{Canonical characters of other genders and sexualities are in play and characters’ attributes / personalities / genders / sexualities can all be customized}

Chun-Li, Psylocke and Morrigan
Akuma, Ken and Ryu

The goal of the game is the same as any other – to win – and to win, a player, quite simply, must find their soulmate. To do this, the fighters engage in speed dating – conversation over meals, group interactions such as social games and trivia challenges, engagement in team sports such as volleyball or basketball, 1v1 bouts against partners and 2v2 fighting tournaments among paired partners etc. Each of these activities and challenges provide opportunities to get to know each other, all your available partners within the game, using your skills, charms, and yes, sometimes even your fighting ability to gain ground upon a potentially game-winning relationship with your future soulmate.

Whether conversing or throwing down, in {Fighter x Dater} you will be fighting for love!

~ Soul Calibur


Conversation x Combat ~ Once the competition has been engaged, each combatant x bachelor / bachelorette will be paired randomly with a partner, progressing and meeting each potential partner from there as relationships are built, avoided or frayed. From there, in each pairing’s interactions, the prime gameplay consists of two different kinds ~ Convos and Bouts

~ Face-to-face Convo ala the Dating Simulator:

~ examples of dating simulator gameplay

~ Fist-to-fist Bout ala the Fighting game:

In the Convo sections, the player will have the choice of how they wish to pursue their counterparty – with charm, sass, aloofness, candor, sexy radicality, or some combination of all the above. Each fighter will exhibit such attributes and personas with greater strength or weakness, as will opponents respond well or worse based on how they like to wooed and pursued. Topics such as life, the competition, past relationships, fighting techniques, and the inner lives of the two people themselves can be explored in conversation; the further you get to know each of the potential partners you converse with, the more you move along the relation to opportunities for more serious bouts and potential relationship-building…

In the Bout sections, in which the duo square off in the way they will come to best know each other – hand-to-hand combat – the player will have the chance to engage in conversational combat about more specific items, about yourself, your partner, and the competition thus far. Based on the content of your playthrough thus far, how many other conversations you’ve had and how well you know the partner you are squaring off with in the Bout, the conversation will include all such history within its dialogue branches. In the Bout, the game screen will be a profile of each fighter striking and blocking one another not unlike in a fighting game – except the moves, offensive and defensive, will be dictated by words: question, answers, specific and incisive conversational points. The better you know your own character’s strengths and your “opponent’s” likes, dislikes and general character, the better you will perform. By the end of a Bout, the relationship will be progressed, or potentially ended – with your character moving on to the next available party, or defeated within the competition – all depending on your performance within the fight. The more effective your attacks and defenses – the more competitive and exciting the fight is – the more likely you are to make for a good pairing going forward with your opponent. And such outcomes always depend upon how well you know your fighter and your potential mate!

Mechanically, these Bouts will play similar to such hybrid games as Typing of the Dead, in which the classic arcade shooter is reformatted and played by typing out words for each attacking zombie providing the attack upon them. In real-time, the player can posit topics, questions or even accusations to their opponent, who will then respond in some way within the bout; in the same way, the computer-controlled opponent will do the same, and the player can respond with defenses/responses of their own. Each offensive or defensive conversational point will be displayed by righteously animated punches, kicks, blocks, jumps, special energy attacks, etc. as is associated with the fighter being used.

Typing of the Dead, typing iteration of the House of the Dead arcade game

For example, if Ryu and Chun-Li were on a date, and were progressed to the point of their Bout, Ryu might launch a hadouken with the inquiry “What do you think of Ken?” ~ Chun-Li responds with either “I think he’s a dope” / “I’m not sure, I need to get to know him better.” / “He’s hotter than you!” ~ from there, Ryu will attack or defend with additional inquiries along that line of questioning, or into other topics – such as whether they will team up for the upcoming volleyball tournament, or if they think a relationship between them might work going forward, who they think will win the tournament, whether they think them joining up might be able to win it, etc.

The purpose of this core Conversational Combat gameplay is to evoke a synthesis of the gameplay of the Dating and Fighting game – both the visceral, action-packed content of a Dating sim – getting to know someone else, crushing on them and eventually leading on to a sincere relationship – alongside the strategic attack & defense hand-to-hand violence of the fighting game.

Meeting Up > Activities > Relationships > Tournaments ~ The gameplay is structured around these one-on-one conversational interactions with Convos and Bouts, however, there are other activities the fighters will engage in within the 12-person competition.

These include: races, volleyball, limbo, eating competitions, trivia night, charades, board games, “mafia“, and others. Teams are formed based on the previous conversations between partners and a degree of randomness/NPC-to-NPC calculations. These short mini-games provide additional conversation paths and new interactions between the wider group. Each mini-game is relatively simple to execute and complete, and will not take up as much time as the core conversation x fighting gameplay – they are simply another avenue to develop your relationships – and get to the point where you choose your mate and the final tournament can begin.

Dates & Convos / some Bouts will take place at public locations like markets, cafes, movie theaters, zoos, carnivals, theme parks
The final tournament and most Bouts will take place at temples, pagodas, ancient locales where the storied history of martial arts has been developed for aeons…

The final tournament is between the 6 paired couples and will follow a double-elimination bracket format. The seeding will be based on the perceived strength of the relationships established up to that point – with of the trials of tribulations of the all the previous Convos and Bouts between all 12 combatants fully accounted for, the missed pairings, the breakups and the crushes smited or burned away. The tournament gameplay will resemble the Bout gameplay, with fights being resolved with incisive words and well-played question and answer actions. But this time, the fights will be 2 versus 2 / switching out over time to face a similarly switching opponent {similar to fighting games like Marvel vs. Capcom} – and the success of attack and defense will be based on not only how well you know your character’s attributes but how strong a relationship you have forged with your significant other.

~ example of a 6 team double elimination tournament
Marvel vs. Capcom’s 3v3 mode
Venom and Gambit vs. Morrigan and Chun-Li

In the final tournament phase, relationships can still be strengthened, weakened, or even broken off. After each 2 versus 2 fight, win or lose, there will be few rounds of Convos to engage in – with your partner or the other fighters. Thus, there will be opportunity to alter relationships, take more risks even in the middle of the endgame. In the case of a relationship fraying in the middle of the tournament – new potential romances can be kindled with teams switching partners and continuing with the higher / lower seed’s placement within the bracket up to that point, depending on the strength of the new relationship (or randomly, if the strengths are nearly equivalent).

Ultimately, success in the final tournament will depend largely upon …

Creating Chemistry ~ The underlying mechanic determining the success of relationships and bouts between other couples is Chemistry. The chemistry between fighters depends upon “wins” in Convos and Bouts. Wins will mean different things for different fighters and pairings. Wins result in strong relationships – charming performances in Convos, back-and-forth exciting Bouts with new information and regard gained for your partner. Wins results in relationships; losses result in tension and breakups. In a Bout, what might be a win with one partner will be a heavy loss with another; knowing the difference depends upon the information gained – and the chemistry developed – within the Convo phases. Chemistry continues to fluctuate throughout the tournament, and can even result in drastic endgame *turns*…

Tournaments Turns – “Enemies to Lovers” ~ During the tournament, through the bouts against other power couples, earlier chemistry developed in Convos and Bouts between your now-opponent fighter could re-kindle into a flame – if the player wills it and can execute through deft Conversation x Combat maneuvering within the tournament.

I mean I SAY I love the ‘Enemies to Lovers’ trope but what I really MEAN is that I love the

‘Enemies to Resentful Allies In A Time Of Crisis to Grudging Mutual Respect to Growing Fondness Concealed By Snark to Hurtful Betrayal to Slow Reconciliation With A Greater Understanding Of Each Other to Strange But Solid Friendship to Unexpected Feelings In A Time Of Crisis to Denying Their Feelings While Growing Closer As Friends to Epiphanies Of Love In The Worst Possible Circumstances to Mutual Pining to Unbearable Sexual Tension to Lovers’

~ ‘Enemies to Lovers’ trope explained

If through the tournament’s course, your fighter ends up developing (or re-developing) a relation with an opponent – the player can choose to break it off with their current partner and consensually join this opponent fighter (whether in the winner’s or loser’s bracket), thus allowing them to break it off with their partner as well. The risks here is that by following the whims of your heart at this late stage, in the middle of the final tournament, you end up pairing off with a partner that you have less chemistry with and thus stand less of a chance of winning the tournament in the end; additionally, a potential advantage or disadvantage is the pair of former partners left behind – they may choose to pair up, or pair off with other similarly broken off groups and continue the tournament, with variable amounts of chemistry – less or potentially greater than your new pairing.

The tournament provides the most exciting stage of {Fighter x Dater}, in which the player gets the payoff of their fighter’s relationship-building actions up to then and where sudden turns within these relationships can shake up the whole competition within its eleventh hour.

Replayability ~ Obviously, {Fighter x Dater} provides the opportunity for a high replayability value given the amount of potential unique fighters to use within its gameplay – featuring the variable dialogue, fighter personality characteristics, and endgame tournament combinations in play as a result of this optionality across the universes of these popular fighting games.

Street Fighter II characters
Power Stone characters ~ the best of the best

Inspired by ~

Dating Simulator genre

Fighting game genre

Endgame: {Fighter x Dater} provides a fun and certainly ridiculous gameplay experience in which the player can expect to gather up the tropes and thrills of these two disparate genres into one exciting package. Learn to listen and love as your favorite fighter while pursuing your crushes and crushing your opposition in the ultimate tourney to determine the best power couple in the fighting multiverse!