I am putting together the initial design ideas for a 3D fighting game. Overall the style of the combat I would like to be something between UFC and DOA games, so focused on realism but the pacing more like cinema combat.
After doing research on the most successful fighting games I have found that the juggle mechanic seems to be common amongst many of them. Honestly I can't really understand why this is so popular for the following reasons:
From a fighting perspective it is quite a ridiculous idea and does not happen in any real fighting style competition. You might knock a person of their feet, very rarely hit them once when they are in the air but to do some kind of combo or base a winning strategy around it, no way.
As a game mechanic I find the idea of having a player wait without being able to do anything while they are being juggled in the air seems not very fun, especially if the damage potential is very high eg. half the player health. It also feels unnecessarily punishing in that one mistake can end the match, although in real fighting competition it is also the case that a single attack can end a match as well.
I am wondering what it is about this mechanic that is so beneficial in fighting games? Because to all honesty I was thinking of not using it at all but I'm not sure if that means I have to compensate for it in my design somehow to keep the game balanced? I know some games like Tekken experimented with their juggle feature such as adding characters that could escape juggles or severely toning them done like in Tekken 4.
I was thinking of perhaps using something like a stun system instead, where certain attacks will stun the other player allowing a free hit but perhaps still giving the stunned player an option such as a counter/reversal so they are not just stuck waiting there. This would reward players with similar free hit combos if they executed a stun combo and I am thinking of possibly adding some kind of escape move at certain points in the combo to allow the player being damaged opportunities to turn the tables. I am wondering though if both the counter/reversal and stun escapes tip the balance too far into the player being damaged side, making it not worth the effort for the attacking player? How exactly do I find a balance for this? Because I don't want the game to be only a defensive game, where the player who waits longer and counters will always have the advantage. For example, if the juggle mechanic was completely removed from a game like Tekken or DOA, would something else in the game need to change to compensate? I feel it would just make them a bit more like UFC games, but happy to get other explanations on this.