Them's Fightin' Herds is an indie fighting game developed by Mane6 and published by Maximum Games. It features a cast of all-female ungulate characters fighting each other to find a champion worthy of gaining a magical key that will protect their world from predators. First released into early access in February 2018, the full release was on April 30, 2020 for Microsoft Windows, followed by Linux on March 25, 2021 and a beta macOS version was added on October 27, 2021. The game was released for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S on October 18, 2022.
The game was initially developed as a three button-based fighter, allowing to remain simple to be picked up by players but still offering a variety of combinations of moves, while limiting the amount of animations for the various moves for all characters. The three buttons were designed to mimic the light, medium, and heavy attacks of the Marvel vs. Capcom series. However, the development team also wanted to include an EX system like the one in Street Fighter IV where pressing two attack buttons at the same time executes a special move. Within the initial game engine, Fighter Maker, the game would only register two simultaneous button presses if they were within the same processing time frame, which would hinder gameplay. To work around this, the team designed a fourth button, (a "magic" button as described by Mane6), used to have the character remain still while doing a specific activity that would build up an EX meter, such as Twilight Sparkle reading a book. With a full EX meter, the player would then be able to execute special moves with any of the other three buttons.
Mane6 focused initial efforts to build up the six main characters from the show as the initial fighters, but have stated that an expanded roster of up to seventeen characters would be in their planned final version. The game was to be downloadable and free-to-play, with local and online multiplayer modes as well as a story mode. Character-specific moves were to be present in-game. The individual movesets for each character are based not only on how they are represented in the show, but also considering other characters in fighting games to fill out their fighting style. Twilight Sparkle, in the show, is a unicorn with powerful magic abilities, which the Mane6 matched with Akuma from the Street Fighter series, while Rainbow Dash, an aggressive pegasus, was compared with Magneto's playstyle in the Marvel vs. Capcom series. Fluttershy, a timid character within the show, does not fight directly, but instead her animal companions fight for her, creating a playstyle similar to Eddie from Guilty Gear XX or Phoenix Wright in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. In another case, Pinkie Pie, a hyperactive pony who is shown to have some fourth wall reality-warping powers in the show, allowed the team to experiment with a wide range of haphazard moves. They had designed one move where Pinkie would use her "party cannon" to launch a present at the opponent, and then she would then pop out of the present at close range. As they were developing the game, Persona 4 Arena was released, in which the character of Kuma/Teddie had a similar move. They realized they were thinking along the same lines as the professional developers and continue to work more of Pinkie's moves based on Teddie's moveset. While these other characters helped to inspire additional moves, the Mane6 team made sure to stay true to the characterization on the show and not introduce moves that would be outside of this, such as Fluttershy herself making an aggressive attack.
After each character's moveset was tested and refined based on testing feedback, the team then began to animate each character, first by creating Flash-based animations and then transforming these to sprites needed for Fighter Maker. The team noted that the pony shape of the characters proved an additional challenge both visually and for the engine. With most fighting games, players can easily identify heads, arms, and legs, and know where to watch for attacks, but the same was not true for the ponies. They proceeded to add effects like sparks on the attacking character and opponent responses to help players recognize attacks. In terms of the engine, the hitboxes for the ponies were more horizontal than vertical as would be the case with humanoid fighter characters, and they had to work around this in the engine to accurately model attacks. Additionally the more horizontal shapes of the characters limited how much of the fighting stage space they could use; they overcame this within the game by using a 3/4ths view of the characters that shortened their on-screen lengths giving them more space to work with.
The Mane6 team also gained contributions from the Lab Zero Games studio, the same developers of Skullgirls. Lab Zero has also developed a fighting game engine, named the Z-Engine, from scratch for their own title. While others had contacted Lab Zero to use the Z-Engine for other fighting games, the studio was drawn to the work of the Mane6 who, according to Lab Zero's Mike Zaimont, had shown a high degree of competence of what made a good fighting game compared to other efforts, and wanted to support their work. Lab Zero used an Indiegogo crowd-sourcing effort to gain development funds, and having readily cleared their initial target of $150,000 and with additional stretch goals of new characters and content for their game, included a $725,000 target that would allow Mane6 to use and distribute the Z-Engine for free as part of their new game, and challenged the brony community to help towards that via online donation. The goal was met on the final day of the funding campaign, which was on March 27, 2013. The Z-engine allowed the Mane6 team to expand beyond the limitations of Fighter Maker, thought they kept some of the conventions learned from working with Fighter Maker, such as the use of 3/4rd views to reduce the horizontal lengths of the four-legged characters. The Skullgirls engine also brought in the open-source networking code GGPO ("Good Game Peace Out"), designed specifically for overcoming known limitations of playing fighting games online. GGPO uses a system called "rollback" that delays the game's response to the user's input slightly, masked by character animations, coupled with predictive behavior to appear to give zero-latency gameplay for players against online opponents.
There are different "paths"... magic (dragons > magic island), space technology (partol boat > pirate island), cyborgs technology (sunset island > the cyborg twins) and so on.... but what you have to beware of, is that once you trigger the fighting of the "old one" (the purple glowing boss on "magic" island).... aliens bomb everything to crap, unless you are ready to stop them. 2b1af7f3a8