Where Should You Look While Playing?

This might sound like a weird question, but when playing fighting games like melee, what should players direct most of their focus on? Their own character? The opponent? Or both? Where should they be looking the most?

It’s not a weird question at all, I’ve had a lot of people ask this before. It’s actually very astute of you to notice that you can be looking in different places. Most people don’t think to ask that.

Basically, it’s a matter of looking at what’s important at any given time. Most of the time it’s best to watch what your opponent is doing. It’s good to watch yourself when you’re trying to space yourself precisely. It’s good to watch between both characters when you’re spacing relative to each other. Watch yourself while recovering generally, especially for the sweetspot.

In other fighting games, watch yourself while doing combos, watch your opponent while they’re getting up. Look at their meter when they’re getting up so you can see if they have enough to reversal super.

There’s better and worse places to look, and I’m not conscious of my own habits enough to give you strong advice. I look kind of “everywhere” without really trying. You can only really look in one place at a time and loosely keep stuff in peripheral vision, also switch rapidly.

Figuring out what to look at when is an important skill, but I don’t have much more advice than that. It’s very good that you’re attentive enough to notice that though.

2 thoughts on “Where Should You Look While Playing?

  1. woah July 24, 2017 / 5:54 pm

    I was thinking back through your articles and I have two questions (both unrelated to each other):

    1. I often hear the statement from some expert Dark Souls players is that the game isn’t difficult/hard, but the encounters I’ve had with other, more casual, players suggests that they have difficulty with the series. Even if you get over the learning curve (learning how to be patient/careful, specifically) you still have to deal with enemies being quite dangerous if there are more than one, the punishing nature of losing souls (and the further punishment if one dies before their retrieval), the limited nature of non-hidden checkpoints, the possibility of being invaded by someone way more skilled than you, the punishing nature of being cursed, etc; all of these can be quite challenging for players that don’t have a lot of experience with action games.
    If a game being ‘hard’ shouldn’t be based on how difficult it is to the average casual player then what metric should be used, and what makes that metric more valid?

    2. You’ve said that your criteria for depth can be applied to enemies, but I’ve had difficulty thinking of instances of how criteria #3 (manipulation of options) can be applied. The only example I can think of (that isn’t just a consequence of criteria #2) is spacing altering damage.
    Does criteria #3 apply less to enemies in contrast to other criteria?


    • Chris Wagar July 25, 2017 / 2:23 am

      1. A saying I once heard was, “When you’re a new gamer, dark souls is hard; when you’re experienced it’s easy; and when you’re an expert gamer, it’s average.”

      The way I interpret this is, dark souls is a genuinely hard game. Beginners will struggle with it because it’s assembled to challenge the player in a variety of ways, many of which are different from other action games. Intermediate players who have mastered the game will insist it’s easy to brag about how good they are. Expert gamers who have a lot of experience across games will recognize that in the scheme of things, there are much harder games than dark souls out there, but dark souls is still pretty damn challenging.

      I don’t know necessarily what metric should be used, the result will probably be rather fuzzy regardless. This guy Lambhoot likes ordinal scales, so that seems appropriate.

      Dark Souls is harder than most popular modern games, but it’s easier than practically anything on the NES or SNES, and there’s a lot of hardcore games from the PS2 era that were a lot harder than it.

      2. Think about what aspects of enemies are analog, or can have multiple outcomes, even if it’s only 2. How do enemies control their spacing relative to you? How does their spacing and rotation affect the way you want to dodge or block? How many different patterns can they move in? How does the environment play in? If you have a hard time thinking of this for complex enemies, think of simple enemies and how they can do this in games like Castlevania 3, or Ninja Gaiden. Think of how you can manipulate enemies to get bigger or smaller levels of advantage from them, such as in souls-like games where you want to expose them when you’re not busy with an animation to get more damage off them. Stealth Games have enemies that are filled with analog behavioral patterns. The Alpha Metroids in AM2R are really simple, but have a lot of critera 3, dodging them can be really involved because of how much their movement can change based on how you move and the way they collide with the environment and they’re set up to constantly change their movement pattern relative to you, so keeping them in equilibrium is tricky.

      By moving carefully, you can continue to line up shots against them, but the shots can throw them out of equilibrium too. This use of criteria 3 is part of what makes these simple enemies so great at what they do.

      Enemies in Nioh have stamina meters, so watching enemy stamina gauges and attacking at specific times can stun them, letting you get off a bigger punish on them depending on your timing and setup.


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