This is a design selected in the last Game Design Challenge, about a fighting game that doesn’t use fighting game mechanics. The original is here.
This game is about drawing swords, in both meanings: you’ll draw your sword to stab, or slice, someone, drawing your movements.
The very basic idea of the game is to give players a blank character, with a common sword, and the players agree on a certain number of movements or a time limit. After all, this game is slow, very un-like fighting games in the sense that you are not actually performing the action of striking someone: you are performing the act of moving your arm towards someone, and moving your legs to enhance that move, rotating your hips to further enhance it…
Each player receives a certain number of frames: they can draw a model in a canvas, and the computer will try to turn it into an actual position, or pull each limb to its desired position, in that single frame. Once the first is made, the following ones will be based on it: if you prepared yourself to do an attack when drawing the sword from the scabbard, you won’t need to once again adjust the body from the start, you can adjust it from that point in the first frame.
As said before, the computer will perform the actual action: with the idea of letting players do their moves, it`ll reward the players who understand actual sword fighting, where you wouldn’t do a spinning move – in the game it would require extra frames, so in the end of the attack you would be lacking defense – where your back is exposed.
Also, if you just made a move where your arm goes up and down, it would be weaker than someone who spend his time moving his entire body to strike: as the computer performs the action and calculates the damage based on the physics of the movement, it increases the damage of those who are supported by their muscles and bones, while weakening those who are more “flashy and not that effective”.
As the game is almost entirely blank, save the characters and the room where they are fighting, it can focus on being an accurate representation of swordplay, and rewarding not the player with faster reactions, but those who understand more of what they are doing than just “slashing the other guy”.