How to Git Gud at Understanding Games

With regards to the technical elements that you refer to in your criticism of Matosis, what sources would you recommend to get informed about them? Since I’ve never gotten to the really high competitive level in any game, I’m really interested in how they figure out those 1 frame things and other details.

Play the games, read about the games, play the games more. Nearly every game you can mention has some sort of knowledgebase. Most fighting games have a ton of info on the shoryuken wiki Smash Bros has tons of info on the SSBwiki. But that’s not totally up to date for smash and you can find more accurate info in assorted threads on RTS, I don’t know many general RTS sources, but has accurate info for Brood War and SC2. My info on speedgames comes from youtube and google searches as well as watching a ton of them, reading author’s notes.

But the thing is, no matter how many specifics you memorize you still only have specifics. Which is why it’s important to play the game and figure out how they come together. This article is nice in the way it moves from specifics of the pathfinding engine up to how these extend into how players play. This article is good in a similar way, even if it goes overboard in the academic type language.

Blah, what can I say? Play a ton of different games, figure out how they work, how they’re programmed, how the systems inside them are modeled. Fiddle with debug modes, check out the hitboxes, figure out how to model predictions of how the game will behave from any given situation. Notice the finer details, what moves cancel into what, how the velocity works for that particular action, test different things, report information on games so the other person can unambiguously understand what you mean. Figure out how the small things influence the way the entire game is played, like how the changes from Melee to Brawl turned the entire game slow, campy and defensive and it’s still that way in Smash 4.

Ask people how stuff works. Have a curiosity for the world. Track information down yourself, make predictions and attempt to understand the typical processes by which games are programmed. Eventually you find commonalities. Bugs are insights into the logic games use. When you become familiar enough with them, bugs stop looking like bugs and just look like parts of the program doing the thing they were made to do, but the programmer not being very careful about the result.

Go back to tabletop games, sports games, all the rules are defined explicitly there. Understand how the rules need to be different to fit the players there. Understand how the same basic structures apply, you have skill tests, you have flow charts, you have loops, you have cumulative actions that build up with efficiency, and actions that counter the actions of your opponent.

Find people to argue with that understand things about games already. By going back and forth with questioning things in conjunction with other people introducing new ideas into the mix and arguing over results and changing your mind when your predictions are wrong, you get closer to understanding.

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