(chatter) (soft music) – [Esteban] Fighting
games come in all sizes, from big budget blockbusters
to smaller cult favorites, like the one who’s story
we’re telling today. I had a chance to speak to
some of the members of Mane6, developers of Thems Fightin’ Herds to learn about the amazing
story behind their game and to take a look into just what it takes to make an indie fighting
game with an unusual cast. – I’ve been gaming for about
as long as I can remember. My dad worked with computers so we had a bit of a computer
graveyard in our basement. And I always played
around with the machines. And back then, I would
find a bunch of these gigantic floppy disks with games on them. Included in the piles of old disks were some weird sort of
DOS versions of Fighters, like I had a DOS version
of Street Fighter II that I found later on. Since then, I’ve always found the idea of fighting games interesting because I’ve always been a thinker. So, combat has always just
kind of worked out that way. ‘Cause everything you do is directly in response or anticipation
of your opponent. And that kind of struggle is eternal and you get an infinite amount
of possibilities that way. Like no two matches
are ever quite the same because you’ve learned
something about your opponent. They’ve learned something about you and depending on what
the game provides to you in terms of tools and
mechanics and all that stuff, you can kind of explore and
exploit different aspects of it. And use that to take down your opponent then they can bring it back on you and it’s just a back and
forth endless struggle. It’s like a, like a little war zone. – My brother is much older than me, so, he’s technically my half brother but we grew up at the same time so we’ve, we’re pretty much just brothers. His tastes were very dark metal inspired. So, we played a lot of
Killer Instinct and SNES. We played a lot of Mortal Kombat. We played, as we knew
it then, Darkstalkers 3 but it’s Vampire Savior. For me, it was all about self improvement. Because if you get good
at a fighting game, you start to play at a different
level than everyone else. And you experience the game
at a different type of way, where when you learn the mechanics, and you’re plying somebody
else who knows them too, there’s a different type
of game that goes on rather than just people button mashing. And as you get better at the game, those people who used
to be at your same level will no longer be at your level if they’re not improving as well. So, it was more about,
I wanna play these games that I love at the highest
mechanical demanding level that they’re at. And when I started going
into locals for that, that was my way of not only learning how to get better, but being exposed to new things about the game and learning more about
how the game’s worked and getting better at those games. – No!
– (mumbles) Oreo Cookies. Can he get out?
– to get the cookies? – He’s not going anywhere.
– Ooh! (applause) – I played a lot of 2D
platforming action games like, I played a lot of strategy games like Blizzard’s, like StarCraft, Warcraft. It was both the art and the mechanics. I’ve always been fascinated
with design as well. Animation was, I guess it all stemmed from when I was just a wee lad, I
would play with action figures and try to create a story out of that, just like in my head. And that evolved into a
penchant for chronicling the story as a comic. That eventually evolved
into like animation. I actually, I wasn’t
really doing animation until I met Omari, until high school. That’s when I actually
started attempting to animate. And I never really took any
art classes or anything. I mostly just been self
taught since that moment. – [Esteban] While the members of Mane6 were interested in gaming
in one form or another, they were also connected
by something else. They all had an affinity for
the show, Friendship is Magic, an animated show based on
the My Little Pony toys from Hasbro, created by Lauren Faust. – I had an online friend
who just linked me the first episode of the Pony
Show, Friendship is Magic, just off, out of the blue. I had no prior lead up to it, I had no idea what the show was. I went in real skeptical. I was like, what is this? The first episode didn’t really floor me. I was like, all right, well, I guess I’ll watch the second one
and the second one hooked me. I was like, whoa, like,
these are some mature themes that are being talked about. For some reason, I actually really enjoy the story that’s happening here. I enjoy the characters. – Well, the show had a
lot of character to it. There are a lot of things about cartoons where you kind of fill in an archetype. And that’s kind of where you stop. With My Little Pony, every character had major and visible flaws
to them and the show was about them working through those flaws and despite having these
issues becoming friends and if you don’t face the fact that you are not a perfect person,
it’s gonna be difficult to move forward and I
found that rather unique about the show. – It had an uncommon quality to it that shows about selling
toys to kids didn’t have. Lauren made sure that the
characters had depth to them. They all had jobs, they
are all 20 somethings, they all had hopes, dreams,
fears, complex emotions, motivations for doing things. And it was a show about friendship. Something so mundane yet so
important at the same time. This was a show about how do
you not be a jerk to people? And how do you cultivate
relationships that last a long time? It was enriching content for
a lot of people and me too. So, absolutely, the show was, it had a lot of great life lessons in
it and I can absolutely understand why it’s so popular. – Back in the community of Bronies where you’re watching the show, I was always drawing various characters as fighting game characters
and I made little animations of Marvel versus Capcom style
mashups and stuff like that. I was like, oh, it would be really cool if like, for fan art, we made
a game like a fighting game. That’d be weird. Like, who would be
crazy enough to do that? And like, within a week or two, I started seeing this other artist making screenshot mock ups of a Marvus
Capcom style pony fighter. And it all looked really slick. It looked like it was actually
a screenshot out of a game. It was really clean. Shortly after that, someone made a thread of actually making this a real thing inspired by those screen shots. I was the second reply to that. – He just dropped the link to this forum where they were talking
about getting a team together to make this game into one of the chats. And I decided to check it out ’cause I love, I’ve always
wanted to make games. I was always just testing
out different engines and doing little things and
not really ever finishing them but always poking around
and testing my meno for making games. And I was like, you know,
I really want to see what it’s like. I wanna see what it’s
like to be on a team, to contribute to an actual project even if it’s like not paid
or it’s volunteer work, I wanna break into that and
I wanna see what it’s like. So, I was like, hell yeah. I clicked that link so fast. – What better way to
make a piece of fan art than to make it a
playable piece of fan art? There’s a lot of creativity
going on in the fandoms. Something I’d not really seen before and it as really inspiring. So, figured we toss our hat
in and see what we could do. – [Narrator] Omari and Luke
would go on to join others interested in creating this game, later known as Fighting is Magic, and forming the group Mane6. Their goal was to create
something that stayed true to the show’s characters
while also taking cues from some of the favorite fighting games like Tatsunoko Versus
Capcom and Melty Blood. Of course, being an independent
team with zero funding limited their development options. So they turned to an
all fighting game engine called Fighter Maker 2K in the hopes that it could help them
achieve their dream. – Fighter Maker 2K is an ancient engine and by the time we had
started working with it, it was already over eight years old. It wasn’t really a tool that
was made to be expandable. It’s just kinda, you drag
and drop a lot of things. Most if what people did with it was the same thing they did with Mugen, is you just kind of drop in your favorite street fighter characters in Mortal Combat and just kinda slap them together and occasionally, they would be able to hit each other properly. We definitely want to
do a bit more than that. And the difficulty of using that engine really came to a head
when we looked through all of the community forums for it and found that the things that
we were trying to do with it were already out of scope. So, a lot of the stuff that
we ended up having to do with it was learning how to
fake what you’re trying to do on our own. It was a huge learning process. – Real talk, Fighter Maker was ass. It was just, it was no good. It did what it was
supposed to at the time. But there was a lot of times
where we would find something and report it over to Omari
and he would just say, that’s Fighter Maker, I
can’t do anything about it. I’m sorry. It is what it is. I remember the game had
a problem with corners. Left corners and right corners just didn’t operate the same way. And so, I was like, what
can we do about this? And the answer was, I don’t know if we can do anything about it. This is just how it is. – He absolutely respected the
engine for being restricted. But he also hated it for being restricted. Because when it’s restricted,
you don’t go overboard. You don’t blow development time, you know. There’s things that you can do
and things that you can’t do. And you have to stick to your box. And that makes things
faster, easier in some ways. But it also, you remorse
that there’s certain things that you’ll never be able to fix. – We were aiming for an initial release with the first six characters. For starters, we were just
gonna put this one out. As soon as your game is out,
it’s out on the internet. People can just play it. – Aw man, the first video that we dropped, we were like, yeah, we’re
probably gonna get 50 views and then it was like, 500K in three days and we were just like, what’s going on? And that really kicked
things into high gear. Wow, like, we can make a game. We are doing this. We may have what it takes. We have some potential confirmation here. Let’s run with it. – It was overwhelming but it was inspiring because at that moment we
realized we made some kind of a connection. And we now were obligated
to do something with this, do something for real and
take it all the way through ’til the end. – [Esteban] The team
would continue pushing towards the game’s first release, occasionally sharing gameplay furnishing other insights with the Brony communities to continue drumming up
excitement very carefully. While being a project born out of fandom and purely driven by volunteers, the team knew the risk of
attracting too much attention. Unfortunately, an early build of the game was leaked by a member of their QA team. This leaked build would
go on to be featured in a donation drive for Evo 2013, in which the game that
had raised the most money for breast cancer
research would be featured as the final game in
that year as a lineup. While many fans were trying
to support the efforts of Mane6 by getting their
game, it’s the largest fighting game event in the world, they were in fact pinning
a target on the game’s back ’cause it was now being
associated with money in a highly publicized situation. A target that Hasbro would take aim at in February 2013, when they
sent Mane6 a cease and desist effectively killing the game. – At that point, we had
been working on the project for about three or so years. We were on the home stretch of kinda finishing up the last
character, cleaning things up and doing our first official release. Needless to say, I was
pretty torn up about it. We were so close. We were doing, I feel like
we were doing a lot of things as clean as possible, making sure that everyone knew this is a fan project. It’s just fan art. We’re not trying to
make money off of this. We’re not aiming for fame. It just happened. But at the end of the
day, we just wanted people to learn about these
characters and have fun. As soon as you get a letter like that, there’s not really much
of anything you can do. All the work up to that point because you had no official release
is just done, it was gone. – I guess we all knew it could happen but we never really
thought it was going to. So when it did, it was an emptiness. It was a horror that set in for a bit. As the days went on, there
was a little bit of panic in trying to potentially
reach out to Hasbro and maybe get something
going that did not end in the project dying. But as it came to the close, we realized that it’s never gonna work, no way. – We were doing this purely
our of fandom of the show. Without the show and it’s fandom, we felt we had nothing
left to move forward with, especially since what
we were building this on was just a drag and drop Engine. We felt there was no
real transferrable skill or game play that can come from it. Even if we had to start from scratch and make up our own pony OCs or whatever, that it could possibly have if we were doing the original project. There was basically
nothing left at that point. – I had followed the game enough to know how long they
had been working on it, how far they had gotten
and how close they were to completion and my
heart just broke for them. I feel like just as a creative person and as an artist and
knowing what it feels like to work yourself to death
for a project of passion. And then just have it crumble
in your hands like that. It’s just, you just,
it’s just heartbreaking. So, just kind of on a
whim, I just tweeted, hey, do you want some
original character designs? And I just threw the offer
out there on Twitter. – I was like stealing
myself for the long haul, like, I gotta remain positive, gotta like, we can keep this (mumbles),
we can keep this (mumbles) we can go forward and oh, and Lauren Faust is tweeting us new characters. What? Out of nowhere. – It was honestly one of my
favorite fam projects going when it was happening
and the thing that really caught my attention was that
the fighting was in character. So, I thing anybody could
take a cute little kitten and give it a machine gun
and whoa, that’s hilarious. Because it’s ironic, it’s opposites, and that would have
been the cheap way to go and they didn’t do that. They went Twilight is very
studious and a reader. So, we’re gonna make her beat
people up with her books. (laughing) and that really impressed
me and that why I enjoyed it but also just had mad respect. – First glance, nobody believed it and then we were like,
wait, that’s actually her. She’s actually saying this. Are we, are we gonna do this? Are we really gonna do this? And there’s a whole lot of discussion but what mattered the most
was that we respond to it and just see where things go. And so we did. – [Esteban] The nature
of the cease and desist would force Mane6 to start
completely from scratch. So, as Lauren is working
on new characters, the team is looking for a new engine to build this new project on. They would get some help
from fellow indie developers Lab Zero, creators of Skullgirls and the upcoming Indivisible, who offered to give
their Z-engine to Mane6 as a stretch goal in
there crowdfunding efforts for an update to Skull Girls. At the end of the campaign, Lab Zero had raised over $828,000 and
Mane6 had their new engine. – It was a complete change. 100%. Going from a drag and drop Engine to a real scripting language
with no prior experience was quite an undertaking. The Skullgirls engine was essentially me going through a college course learning how to do everything
from scratch again. I had a base to work
from of the previous game of kind of where I wanted the characters to end up mechanically but how to get there with something that I had to learn on the fly. – As Omari figured out the engine, we figured out what would
happen if the engine went wrong? When it was announced that
we’d be getting the engine, I learned Skullgirls. I had just a passing
interest in the game before but I was like, hey, I
should familiarize myself with the game itself. That way, if anything weird crops up, that’s from Skullgirls, I’ll recognize it. But in general, it’s much more helpful to work in Skullgirls because if I say, wait, it would be great
if this could happen. As long as we have the time to develop it, it can happen. There’s no limitations. It’s just what is in our scope? It does require that I
take a little bit of my own personal interests in
what I like in characters and leave them at the door and say, okay, I’m testing something where I may not like all the characters, but it’s his vision and
I have to uphold it. So, it’s important that I
get inside of Omari’s head and figure out what he’s looking for so I can make sure that
that vision is coming out in the game play and I do
have characters I prefer in the game, based on my
own personal play style but I have to become more
multi various (mumbles) is a tournament player
and learn the entire cast in order to properly know
what my deck of cards is when balancing characters against others and making suggestions based
on what could possible happen in the game when characters
and their mechanics clash against each other? – The character design
work took a good while. There was a lot of iterations. We were trying to figure
out a style to land on. It was about a year and some months to get something that was presentable. At that point, we only had about a character and a half to show. And definitely wanted to make sure that the first showing of this
new game with new characters had as final a set of
character designs as possible. To make sure that all the
trust that has been put into us from the fandom and from Mike Z and everyone who believed
in us was founded. Of course, Lauren works on
cartoons and the whole concept of game design was totally alien to her. And vice versa for us. We worked on a game but
we never worked on a show, so, sort of translating
the languages across was a bit tricky at
first but we eventually got a flow going. She knew that we wanted
characters that could work in similar ways to the
six characters we were originally gonna make. But it was very important that they weren’t the same characters. There are a lot of things
you can do with an archetype without just repeating yourself and I think we hit a bit of a nice balance especially when it comes to the stories that we’ll be eventually
telling about them. – I really just followed their lead. So, at a certain point, they just started asking me for stuff and I’d just go like, yeah, I can do that. Oh hey, can you write a little
blurb about this character that we’ve created? Yeah, sure, I can do that. In a weird sort of way, they were, the team were my directors. ‘Cause I wasn’t creating the game but what was great was that they said, we need these characters
to exist in a world and I sat down and just
figured out the basics, just figured out the main crux of what what kind of world they lived in, why are they talking animals? Why are they fighting? That sort of stuff. – Pink highlights? So last season. – Pretty hair won’t save our world. – [Game Narrator] It saves my world. – Round one.
– You should be able to explain who your character
is and what they do quickly. That’s doesn’t mean that
they should be shallow. It’s just that the basic
of them is something that you should be able
to communicate quickly. And as a character designer as well, I feel the same way as far as art goes that you should be able to take one look at a character design and
take a pretty good guess of who that character is,
what their personality is and riff for yourself and your audience should be able to get
pretty close with one look or one, maybe two sentence description of who your character is. And sometimes you lean
into to tropes to do that. You don’t wanna fall back into stereotypes and you don’t wanna be repetitive. I like to take tropes and then
put a little twist on them. It might make them a little unexpected. – These are a few of my favorite things. Kicking, stomping and kicking. – I remember the first
time I animated some of the stuff, like Velvet. She was the first character we worked on. I was super super nervous because Lauren would
come in and take a look at the first couple of animations. And when she said, looks
good, that’s literally, she had had barely any feedback. She was just like, looks good. And I’m like, okay. You know, I was completely stone faced because I expected her to
come in here and destroy it, like just like, this and
this and this is wrong. You need to focus on,
you need to work on that. That does, that looks
really weird, you know. But she’s just like, yeah it looks fine. And I’m just like, that’s
not what I expected but that’s awesome. I’ll just keep going. – They have worked on it for what? Three years before I was ever involved? I mean, I just feel like that
would have been really mean. (laughing) You know, it just would have
been really disrespectful. I was there to help. So, I didn’t want to take over but it’s also a case of
like, I was impressed by what they had already done. So, it’s easy to let go when you know the person who’s gonna run with it is gonna run with it well. I mean, they don’t animate like amateurs. – Since the original
characters we worked with were also Lauren’s
designs, it’s sort of was slightly second nature. They’re just different species
but they all had four legs. They all had a neck. It’s just that we couldn’t
use the same model from character to character again because all the pony characters
had the exact same body. It was different models. We had to build the different models so that was the first challenge. It took six times as
long to build the puppets to animate them. I think the only hurdles that I had was probably with Tianhuo because she was the most
different out of the cast being a rigid noodle with
special effects wings that did karate, you know, like kung fu, like doing martial arts with
a human being is one thing and that’s what immediately
what pops to mind when you’re animating. When you’re animating, you
usually just play something out in your head and you
try to copy that in a way. Translating that to a
four legged character was very difficult. (chuckles) because they have four legs, not two legs or two arms. And Omari always helped
ground me in that case because I’d always have
trouble like with Tianhuo. Like, aw man, how are
are we gonna like, what? And he’s just like, just
pretend she doesn’t have arms. She just has nothing but legs. And I’m like, but I still
have to somehow show the leg. It’s gotta shine through, at least but there’s other pieces you can use like the head and the neck
basically become a huge point of like a focal point of interest and where it connects the shoulders. So you can definitely use that as kind of a workaround for missing arms. – Our characters are shorter than usual and they’re wider than usual. So a lot of the combat
came down to a lot of really deep cross ups
in the spacing that way rather than having the
tall large characters take up most of the screen. And so, having this much
screen space to work with and moving around, helped
inspire a lot of really fun and silly animations and
allowing the characters to have more unique movement
options from each other. So, in our game, for
example, we have an ice deer, and her movement mechanic is skating. So, if you dash forward and crouch, you can slide forward while blocking. And same thing for backward. And kind of mixing that character
in with another character who basically stepped out of Marvel and he can fly around and air dash is it’s a fun challenge and it makes for both a visual and mechanical experience that you just wouldn’t
really be able to mess with as heavily if they were just regular two legged characters. When everyone is crazy,
then no one’s crazy. A game doesn’t have to
be completely balanced as long as it’s fun. But still having everyone be crazy is a lot better that having
just a few people be crazy. – We wanna make sure
everybody;’ still fun. So if people find something that’s fun, we don’t wanna take away their fun but we just wanna bring everything in line so not one character
is just doing something that nobody else is allowed to do. – [Esteban] With the game
starting to take shape, Mane6 was on their way to creating what would become Them’s Fightin’ Herds. But they had been working
close to four years in total without any pay and knew
that that had to change if they were going to have
any chance of succeeding. So, they took a page
out of Lab Zero’s book and started a crowdfund of their own. – It came to the conclusion,
just we don’t have any money. We don’t have any investors. So we need to make investors. What the best way we can make investors? We could crowdfund. That’s investors. Normally when you get a big investor, like a big single or just a couple of really big investors, they tend to ask for a lot of creative control. We definitely didn’t wanna give
up creative control ground. So, we thought that the crowd fund would be the best way to do things and we settled on that pretty quickly. – We had no idea if people
would want the new game with different characters. We didn’t know if people were so fickle, they would say, oh,
there’s no more ponies. I don’t care anymore. So, we had literally
no idea, no projections we could possibly make before we started the Kickstarter campaign. So it was more of just a mad scramble of let’s do the best we
possibly can before we do it, to increase our chances
of maybe staying afloat because hope was there
but it was a sliver. – Three months leading in to the crowdfund was quite the crunch. We were just like, mm. We don’t really know what’s going on. I guess we’re sort of
working on the new game. Here’s some stuff for the
new characters, yada yada. For a year leading into that but then we were just
like, crowdfund is coming. Wham! Three months prior, we did so much work. When the game went up on the crowdfund, pressing that button was terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. We were all just crammed
into a single discord call or something. And money just started flying in. And we were like, whoa, that’s awesome. But, you know, after
the three days goes by, you enter the drought stages
until the final three days. And that’s what really hit us the hardest. We started panicking around that point. – It actually put a lot
of us in the hospital. Our UI designer, he ended
up getting a stroke. I think something happened
to one of our musicians. After our crowdfund ended a week later, I got a staff infection. I guess my immune system didn’t handle all the stress very well and
I ended up in the hospital. So, it really took a toll on us. I ended up donating $1,000
to the campaign itself because I was worried we
wouldn’t make the limit we had to in order to get the funding. And I didn’t tell them beforehand, and so we were all in a group call and I did it and I didn’t put a name down. And they wee like, someone donated a grand and didn’t put a name
down. It must be a troll. Refund it, refund it
and I was like, no guys, don’t do that, it was me, sh! For several weeks
straight, I was constantly found myself pacing back and forth between on the rooms like,
what should we do next? How should we get ahead of this? Where can we be proactive
to make sure that we get as close to success as we can even if it ends up all for nothing? We didn’t even hit it
until the last three days and then we exceeded it. We were so scared until that point. Oh my gosh! – The fandom showed overwhelming
support for the game. That was the only reason why the crowdfund was so successful is
because when they announced that they needed money for Fighting Herds, everybody came out and helped. The fandom wants this content to be made. They believe in this team as well. And the support was overwhelming. – It’s like we passed our final exam. We turned in this huge project to prove that we were capable
of getting the diploma. It was one of the biggest
feelings of relief that a lot of us had ever had ’cause at this point, we had
been working on this project for about five six-ish years
counting the first one. And this was our chance to not
only finish what we started. It was our chance to
prove that we were in it for the long haul. We finally had a project that was our own and there’s nobody to shut us down because that’s our characters. There’s nobody to stop us
because we have all the support. We can actually do this. It became real. – [Esteban] Mane6 finally had funding, allowing them to expand
and pay their staff and continue working on their vision for Thems Fightin’ Herds,
a vision that extended past just the fighting game. Things like a story mode, tutorials, online lobbies with full pixel
art and collectible hats. And even a giant multi
player salt mines mode that put players against various MPCs and the player-controlled
boss were now possible. Some of these additions,
however, would lead delays. And to keep themselves
from slipping further, Mane6 needed some help. – Managerial stuff on a project
is always kind of a mess. We were still operating
in that kind of like, a couple of pals working on a game mode. Because we didn’t know anything else. None of us were ever really worked in a professional game
development environment. So, we were just flying
by the seat of our pants. And it was always something,
like a nagging feeling of just things are messy. (mumbles) team relations are messy. We don’t really like dealing with them. We need somebody to manage
this stuff, somebody to, and we never really had the funds or the or just the motivation
to hammer that home. So, when we met up with Aaron again, that was kind of a God send. – The developers are
personal friends of mine. We went to high school together. They were making this
game in the background. And then I didn’t know
about it at the time. I was doing my thing,
they were doing theirs. But when I came back from school, I got reconnected with
them and I saw how far the game had come and I fell in love. I believed in the project,
I knew it was going places. But at the time, I was
working for other companies. I had a full time job so,
I would just lend some help here and there as I could. Over time, that transformed
into the role I have now, which is production
manager because I started to get more and more
involved in the project. I started noticing how
important my help was to them and I made a decision
one day that I needed to do it full time. Because I wanted to see
the project succeed. I love the game and my
friends who are working on it. And I wanna do everything I
can to ensure it’s a success. Before I came on board,
there wasn’t really anyone on the team who’s role it was to make sure that
schedules were being made, plans were being put into place, people were being spoken to. There, when you’re making a game, that’s all you have time for. And all of the little things that go into running a business,
essentially, just aren’t, there wasn’t anybody dedicated
to doing those things. So, when I stepped into the team, I took care of all the
things that they couldn’t because they were too
busy working on the game. Things like community
engagement, making sure that everybody had work
to do and that it was work that we needed to do, triaging tasks, making sure that we had plans for, okay, this is all the stuff that
we’re gonna do in this patch. Let’s have a meeting about it. Let’s figure out what we want to include, what we don’t want to include,
what’s lower priority, and then execute and
make sure that if there’s any barriers, if there’s
anything in their way, if anybody is blocked,
it gets taken care of by somebody who isn’t them. So, they can keep doing something else while someone else takes
care of the problem for them. – [Narrator] Thems
Fightin’ Herds would launch an early access in February 22nd 2018. Now the team is still developing
and polishing the game for it’s 1.0 release. Thems Fightin’ Herds launched
cast and multiplayer modes are fully playable right now. The decision to release their game early wasn’t one they made lightly, however. – I am kind of on the
fence about early access. Even though it helps you. Sometimes it’s what’s necessary
to actually keep going. Maybe you’re out of money. Maybe you need to go into early access to actually continue, but
if the first impression is bad, it’s gonna hurt
your game in the long run. So, you have to be careful
when going into early access. You have to make sure that
you have at least a product that people still enjoy to an extent, or can at least see the potential of or else they’re gonna
say, wow, this sucks. I’m not coming back to it ever again. One of the things that is really
helpful about early access is the feedback that you get. It does make the game far
more polished, I think, than a potentially finished product would be that never had that sort
of a close relationship with its audience because you basically get to cheat in a sense
that you see what your game is like in a while before
it’s even finished. So, you can proactively fix all the things that people who don’t
release into early access have to worry about after
their game releases. And sometimes they
don’t have the resources to fix those things. So, they’re just like, well, I guess that’s just the way it is. – A lot of the internal
testing that we did was done with season of
fighting game players, so it was me, my coworker, Kim and then, at one point, we hired SonicFox. And he was working in the project as an internal tester as well. We felt like we had a pretty good idea on what the meta was gonna be. But we didn’t take into
account how many of our fans were from the Brony
community that weren’t super into competitive fighting games. Maybe they had dabbled a little bit. So, when the game went
out into early access, people who had bought
the game were playing it but people who hadn’t bought
the game really weren’t. And so, when internal meta
developed in the community, that we didn’t really foresee and that changed a lot of
what we thought the game was going to play like. And it’s weird because you have to know as a tournament player, I’m
playing the game differently than some other people. So, I know what the game could be. But you also have to balance the game based on how it’s actually being played because if nobody’s
playing it that way yet, you can’t really make
changes for the future. You have to make the experience as fun as it possibly can be for your
actual community of players. At first, it was a little jarring because it was like, okay, I, I know you think you know a lot, but I need to check my ego at the door, and let the people who
actually play the game tell me what they think the problems are and we need to get into
a community discussion of we need to just sit
down ad triage the problems and see what we do about it and we can’t really force people to play a certain way. We can buffen their tools,
but if people don’t wanna use those tools, even though
we know their good, we can’t really, we can
bring a horse to water but we can’t make them drink. So we have to balance based
on how people were playing. – The amount of instant
feedback that we can get from players and fix
things under the pretense of it’s not done yet. If we make something and it’s a mistake, we’ll fix it, it’s fine. That’s been incredibly valuable because we can yeah, we can always go back and say, the game’s not done yet. I know this change is controversial. Just bear with us, we’ll fix it. So, it allows us to get
away with some things that bigger fighting games
might not necessarily be able to get away with. I think that fighting game players are used to a certain amount to jank in their fighting games. But not only is this a fighting game, it’s an artistic expression for us. So, it’s important that the
little details are right. We care about people’s
experience top and bottom, even if you’re just going though menus from anywhere into the fight. We want you to notice the little things and be charmed by them. – This is what I live for, honestly. I’ve aways loved just the
mechanics behind things and how things work and
how people interpret what they’re seeing or just
kinda playing around with. And getting all of this feedback in quick succession like
that is a lot of fun. I guess I haven’t really
gotten to the point where that kind of stuff
would start to annoy me because I love hearing
everyone’s perspective on things. No matter how much
experience they might have with a fighting game or
our game in particular. Just that problem solving
aspect has been a lot of fun. It’s great that we did end
up going into early access. It was not really a thing
that we wanted to do ’cause there were a lot
of, there are or there were a lot of games that went into early access and just kind of sank into the swamp and didn’t really have an end goal, didn’t really have anywhere to go. It’s a bit of a vacuum but
if you are ready for it, and you’re looking forward to it, I think it can be a whole lot of fun. – The thing that I get the most joy from in terms of working on
games is just seeing people appreciate or find joy in
something that you helped build. That’s like the one thing I want most out of life, is I want to build something that brings entertainment to the world. I wanna build something that
people are thankful for. So, (mumbles) time, we go an
overwhelming positive response. We were just like, you know. It just felt really good and made, it’s good positive reinforcement. It made working on the project worth it. (soft music) – [Esteban] Mane6 plans to
move Thems Fightin’ Herds from early access to 1.0 late this year and in doing so, completing a journey eight years in the making. It’s no shock, when, when
asked about how they’ll feel about when the work is done, each member expressed a bit of relief but also kept an eye on the future. – It’s almost surreal, I’ll be honest. So much so that I tend
not to even think about it (chuckles) anymore. Because it just, it blows my mind. And if I dwell on it too
much, I can get stuck pondering for hours
about how it all happened and how we got here and
where to go in the future so, I guess for now, I’m
just asking it as it comes, living in the moment. It’s just awesome. – I’m very excited for
this game to be out. I do feel a certain sense of pride in helping the game ship
because this is what I’ve always wanted to do. I wanna work for a small team. I want to make other
people better at their jobs and if I can get someone to the point where they can finish their
product and feel proud of it then I feel proud too. – I never thought that I would be able to have a job where a
piece of creative art is made and I have my imprint on it. And that is released to the
public and it’s ever finished. And I wanna see how far it goes. I hope everybody plays
the game and tries it, even if they don’t like it, even if they don’t buy
it, I want everybody to try this game because once
people pick it up and play it, they’re like, yeah, this is really fun. I don’t wanna learn it but it’s fun and to me, the I had a good time, is the best compliment I can receive. – It’s everything I
could have ever hoped for and then some. We’ve gone through a lot of troubles and came out the other end, I am feeling kind of invincible, but we still need to make
it across that finish line and I can’t wait for people to experience some of the ideas we have,
especially for the story mode. It really is just the beginning
of a whole new process. And I cannot wait. (soft music)

Making Them’s Fightin’ Herds: The Story of Mane6
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24 thoughts on “Making Them’s Fightin’ Herds: The Story of Mane6

  • September 17, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    Thank you, this is very high quality

  • September 17, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    Good documentary, I hope more people play this game.

  • September 17, 2019 at 2:49 pm


  • September 17, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    Thanks for watching our loook behind Mane6 and Them's Fightin Herds! Would you like us to keep going behind the scenes of more fighting games in the future? Let us know!

    – Esteban

  • September 17, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    Nice work, Esteban!

  • September 17, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    I just saw myself in the video at 34:09, and my god, what was I even talking about to be moving around that much, even if I'm a very expressive individual? Luckily, everyone else in those clips of Combo Breaker were enjoying themselves too. Great video overall, definitely very detailed.

  • September 17, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Awesome watch, I loved this!

    What's been holding me back from playing this game is the lack of a console version, so I hope that's on the horizon.

  • September 17, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    Almost every person featured in this video jerks off to animals.

  • September 17, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    This was great!

  • September 17, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    "If everyone is crazy, noone is crazy" – I get the strong feeling these guys are familiar with Brawl Minus…

  • September 17, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    Couldn't you wait for the game to be finished first before making this?

  • September 17, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    Can you do a similar video of rivals of aether

  • September 17, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    idk if its new, but I love the logo animation opening esteban

  • September 17, 2019 at 11:29 pm

    Great job folks! Fantastic documentary. 🙂

  • September 18, 2019 at 12:23 am

    Great video! Definitely made me think about all the hard work and dedication went into this game. Was even influenced to play the game a bunch tonight because of it. Overall, this video really makes me feel proud to be in a community where TFH exists. Thanks so much for the upload!

  • September 18, 2019 at 12:24 am

    Man I've been out far too long. First Fire Emblem and now Borderlands… Considering there is nothing else on my wish list, maybe I should come back here.
    Hell, maybe getting rusty might be good for me- my skill should drop back into an area where I can actually compete with someone, as opposed to being caught in an awkward middle where either I get completely stomped and can't even process what happened, or win easily without really having to try.

  • September 18, 2019 at 4:19 am

    Great video! Very interesting. Would love to see more behind the scenes stuff on passion projects like this!

  • September 18, 2019 at 4:51 am


  • September 18, 2019 at 6:39 am

    Hi Mane6 guys, please give everyone orange colors that make them look like traffic cones, I'll give you $6.

  • September 18, 2019 at 7:24 am

    I’ve been following this game for so long, it’s amazing to see how far they’ve come

  • September 18, 2019 at 8:48 am

    Cool a Jotaro Cameo

  • September 18, 2019 at 9:56 am

    I've never herd of this game.

  • September 18, 2019 at 11:49 am

    Great video! it really shows how Mane6 involved into a fan made MLP fighting game to something original, exciting and so much fun.

  • September 18, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    Nappy sounds SO different over an actual quality mic that I almost didn't recognize his voice.


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