Over the weekend, I attended PAX East and got to play a few upcoming games and to talk with some developers. By far, the most enthusiastic developer was Mike Z, who you may know from his old-school Marvel videos or his impressive Tager in BlazBlue. He's also a Long Island native and was really excited to talk fighting games (and particularly grapplers) with me. Mike's designing and programming Skullgirls, an upcoming fighting game that uses tons of clever design to preemptively prevent players from breaking the game.
The main innovation for preventing abuse is detection of infinite combos. The game does not try to inhibit characters' abilities in order to prevent repeatable loops. Instead, the game will detect if a loop is being performed more than once. If it is, the defending player can simply press any button to do a burst-like combo breaker. If players are creative and find long combos that do not repeat simple patterns, then that combo would be unbreakable.
There are a bunch of other innovations that Mike was proud to point out. The game uses dynamic lighting. The 2D sprites are lit by lights in the background and the attacks' hit-sparks. There's also a neat programming trick involving 360 motions. If your character has a 360 attack, performing a proper 360 motion will not make her jump! You can safely buffer a 360 without taking to the air, as long as you don't press a button. In most games, 360 characters already have hindered mobility, and then they are required to have a slow jump in order to pull off 360 motions. In Skullgirls, grapplers aren't required to have a slow-as-molasses jump. It's a small innovation, but it shows how Mike Z just understands how fighting games can be subtly improved. I'm looking forward to the finished game, which should be out on XBLA and PSN this year.