This is a weird topic to talk about simply because it crosses over into animation. However as designers it is important to keep it in mind. A move can look more or less powerful based on the way it is executed. This is something you might argue with over the animators – but it is important that design drives the game and not animation. When animation drives the game you end up with something like Mark of Kri.
So what is posing? Posing is the way the character looks during a move – this could be as simple as where the arms are located or how far away the legs are spread or how the back is arched, etc. With good posing you can almost define the character in certain situations. Everyone in the world who plays videogames knows exactly what Ryu looks like when he throws a fireball or when he does a dragon punch.
I think it was Walt Disney (my google skills are lacking today) who said that people should be able to tell which character it is just by the shadow/silhouette. People seem to only remember shapes of characters, not necessarily what color they are or adornment, etc. In God of War 1 – the undead skeleton character, there were 3 different variations with huge differences – all gold armor, all red armor, etc and most people just didn’t pick up on those things. One of the things that might have helped is grouping them together in a fight (at least 2 – not all 3, that would have been overkill). So that people could see the differences instead of trying to remember what they looked like 30+ minutes ago (or even more if they haven’t played the game in a few days, weeks, etc).
So when you have characters that share the same shape – such as humanoids, it boils down to having really good posing to help sell the character and the motions. When working on the subweapons for Kratos (Sword, Hammer, etc) we had the concept artists just do silhouettes of Kratos standing with each one to help define the idle pose and the overall character of the subweapon.
Capcom used to have a really great pose with Zangief when he did his Spinning Piledriver from too far away:
Here is a good screenshot to convey what I’m talking about:
Zangief has his arms up and he is coming to chase yo’ ass down. Coupled with the fact that he ran really quickly – this move is damn scary still and it’s been over 10 years.
When Capcom decided to do the Alpha series they changed his pose which just doesn’t have as much of an impact:
Here is a good screenshot so you can see the pose I’m talking about:
His arms are by his side and it just doesn’t seem as scary. He is also moving a whole lot slower which basically made this move suck compared to how it used to be.
So while it is up to the animators to make a move look all badass don’t be afraid to offer up some advice on how to sell the overall ‘design’ of the character. It’s the little things that count and that go a long way.