What are Option Selects?

Can you define what option selects are in fighting games, what they do, and why they are useful? I looked them up on Google, but I still can’t seem to grasp the concept of them.

Sorry for answering late. An option select is when you input one thing that can have multiple possible resolutions depending on what your opponent does.

Probably the most common type of option select in fighting games is one where the move will situationally have two different effects depending on what happens. For example, in 1 button fighting games, you can either throw by pressing forward + attack, or with that same input, just get an attack. In KOF in particular, across every single KOF game, it’s always been possible to option select between throwing, and some fast close range attack, because either your C or D (KOF’s two throw buttons) has a close range version of the attack bound to that button which comes out extremely fast. So if the opponent is throwable, you get a throw, if they’re not, you get a fast and powerful attack.

Another common type of option select is inputting additional actions that will get eaten depending on whether your first input comes out or not. For example, in Guilty Gear Xrd, you’re allowed to Yellow Roman Cancel command throws, but not Red Roman Cancel them. This means if you do a command throw, you can input the cancel, and it will cancel if you miss, and not cancel if you hit. So if you can cancel them when they miss, this means you can do something else immediately after they whiff, such as jump and attempt an air throw, meaning you can run into someone’s face, and either get a grounded command throw or an air throw, you’re throwing them on the air and ground in extremely short succession, and whichever one connects will continue. This is effectively an unblockable.

Another version of this is inputting things during hitstop. Hitstop puts your character in a state where you cannot act. By inputting when this time would happen, you’re making it so you’ll get actions if you fail to hit, but won’t get actions if you successfully hit. You can use this to situationally follow up depending on whiff or hit.

Hitstop also has another function, acting as the cancel window for special moves. In some games, hitstop is actually different on block and hit. This is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS! If hitstop is longer on hit than on block, then people can precisely target that interval where hitstop is longer and try to time their cancel for right then, because on hit, they will successfully cancel, and on block, they will be inputting too late to cancel. This means you can commit to risky special moves only on hit, making your moves way more powerful without risking anything. In an earlier version of SFV, Ken had this issue. I heard it also existed in MK9.

In a way, special move canceling by itself can be viewed as an option select, since you’ll cancel on hit/block, but not on whiff. Once you realize this, you can poke with cancellable normals, and time your special move buffer on them so it’s done before the move recovers. Then you can use that special move slightly outside where your opponent is standing to catch them if they move forward and therefore cannot block.

Option selects can occur anywhere where one input or sequence of inputs can be interpreted as 2 possible outcomes. Learning to look for cases like this is very tricky.

These aren’t very common in Super Smash Bros, because there’s almost no cancels in Smash Bros, and moves tend to only have 1 consistent effect regardless of what situation they’re used in. The amount of hitstop on whiff, hit, and block are different, but this doesn’t tend to actually be useful for creating option selects in the smash series. There are cases that are very common however in smash bros where you can position yourself in such a way that regardless of what option your opponent picks, you can react to it and perform the counter option. Smash Bros fans call this option coverage. You sometimes see commentators mistakenly call it an option select, but it’s not the same series of inputs every time, it’s the person consciously changing which input they’ll use based on what they see.

One example of a true option select in Smash Bros is in Project M with G&W. Game and Watch’s throws are all identical in appearance, so you never know which way he’ll throw you. He gets his best followups off down throw, but you can defeat that easily by inputting a tech right before his throw ends. This means that regardless of whether he actually down throws you or not, you will always tech it.

Another one has to do with meteor canceling. There’s actually 2 ways to meteor cancel, jumping, and up B-ing. There is an 18 frame lockout window after being meteor’d and trying to input too soon will lock you out from canceling, but jumping and up B both count independently from each other, so you can try both instead of just one. So if you get meteored, you can input jump first, then up B immediately afterwards, and if you screw up the first one, the second one might work.

I hope this makes it more clear. Option selects can be really really varied across games. Guilty Gear Xrd used to have one where you could mash roman cancel during combos between 25% and 50% meter, and it would automatically cancel your combo if your opponent bursted out, because they were no longer counted as being in hitstun. This means if they don’t burst, your combo continues, but if they do burst, you instantly YRC, making you safe from their burst. This was later fixed.

Consistency of Skill in Fighting Games

What do you think of consistency in fighting games? If fighting game players are consistent/not consistent with their results in tournaments, is it necessarily a bad thing?

It’s tough. Consistency is a mixed blessing is about all I can say after some deliberation on the topic.

We have two case examples, SFV where players are allegedly really inconsistent, and Melee where players are super consistent. Continue reading

What Makes a Character Annoying?

What makes a character in a fighting game/ enemy in any video game annoying to fight against as opposed to being fun? What’s the best way to avoid making something in a videogame annoying to deal with?

I don’t tend to get annoyed by characters very much. I used to get annoyed by sheik, I got annoyed by how one specific guy played Chun Li against me in 3rd strike (would rely almost entirely on lows and jump-ins + chun’s 3HK, was good AA practice, but it bothered me that he wasn’t understanding the game).

I’m currently a little annoyed by Millia, in that she can do a corner carry combo into tandem top, mix up on okizeme and repeat the process if she guesses right. I’d rather deal with Urien, and he has unblockables.

I’m a bit annoyed at how my friend plays Terumi in BB, just using 6C and throws. 6C is unsafe as hell, but it’s high priority and damaging as fuck, and ends in knockdown, so I get caught by it all the time, and he mixes up between it and throw and for some reason I just can’t force him to play honest. Continue reading

Tekken 7 Overview

Have you played Tekken 7? If so, what do you think of it?

I’m playing it now, I’m still learning how Tekken works, not really having any 3d fighting game experience and I think I’m starting to get it after a lot of studying, guide reading, and a little play with friends and ranked netplay.

Like, the framedata is REALLY different from the fighting games I’m used to. Nothing faster than 10f startup? Different inputs? Everything except jabs is minus on block? -13 is mostly safe? Block in the standing position by default with lows and throws being the reaction tester guard break options? Pressure with jabs is real and loops into itself, but it can be ducked and whiff punished? Continue reading

How to Read a Book: Reads in Competitive Games

Care to do a breakdown on reads in fighting games?

There’s a bunch of different types of reads and types of information you can base reads on. First however, I’m gonna cover reactions, because that’s related.

Human reaction time is about 15 frames for something you’re expecting that you have a specific response planned for. So if you’re blocking low and know your opponent is going to overhead at some point and there’s no other variables, you can see him do that when he finally does it and block high. You can try this with the Millia Blocker game here:
http://www.teyah.net/milliablocker.html Continue reading

RNG Fighting Game Moves

What do you think of fighting characters that have special moves that change based on RNG (Like Luigi’s missfire, Peaches turnip pull, or anything else you can think of)?

I’m not really a fan, because sometimes the opponent just gets a lucky draw and you lose and oh well. Random stuff basically always does this unless there’s fore-knowledge of when it’s gonna come up ahead of time, which doesn’t completely negate the random effect, but mitigates it somewhat.

There’s a few other fighting game characters that have random effects like that, I can think of Faust, Teddy, and Zappa, from Guilty Gear and Persona 4 Arena. Phoenix Wright too, but the randomness screws him over more than his opponent. Game and Watch has a random effect in smash too, on his judgment hammer.

I mean, I just think all instances of randomness should be replaced by something that is deterministic and can be kept track of relatively easily, but which still looks random to the untrained eye, and has about the same level of frequency in outcome.

Barring that, there’s ways to build more consistent randomized systems, some of which you can see in Project M, some of which you can see in Dota 2.

One thing Project M did with Peach was make her Fsmash totally deterministic, it rotates the 3 possible items each time it’s used. Another thing is making it so Luigi’s next misfire is guaranteed to show up within the next 6 times it’s used, and allowing you to hang onto it. And with Game and Watch, they made it so the judgment hammer cannot repeat the last 2 numbers, and it has a light over it indicating whether the next number is even or odd, so you can stack the odds in your favor

Zappa in Guilty Gear has an ability to summon a ghost, and this is actually dependent on what second the timer is on. Some seconds still produce a random result however.

DotA 2, and a few other games, use what they call a PRNG (Pseudorandom number generator). Technically all games use a PRNG if you want to get really technical, because computers can’t generate random numbers, but that’s beside the point. Basically, when something says it has a certain odds of success, like 25%, instead of it actually having those odds each hit, it starts at a much lower chance of success and that chance increases drastically for each time it doesn’t succeed. This is set up so an ability with a 25% chance will occur roughly 1 in 4 times every time. By doing it this way, they reduce “floods” and “droughts” of a result coming up or failing to come up. People don’t actually have a very good mechanism for understanding random chance, we tend to fixate a little on the odds in the short term, and expect more uniformly distributed results than are actually likely to occur. This system makes it so a 25% chance effect will only very rarely occur twice in a row, and will only very rarely fail to occur after 6 attempts.

My general recommendation is, don’t include random effects if you can avoid it, it usually doesn’t add a lot, even if it’s funny some times. If you feel it’s necessary, find an RNG algorithm that works for you instead of flat % chance.

Making Effective Counter Moves

What do you think of counter moves in fighting games? (Those in the smash games, cross counter, ect.)

I believe Mike Z made a good statement about those, counters shouldn’t have a distinct animation to them, because nobody’s gonna hit you if they see you in the stance, which is why Valentine in Skullgirls has a counter with no animation until she’s hit.

Counters are kind of like a worse dragon punch. They will beat any attack that hits them, but only if you do it at the same time they attack. The difference is that a counter will not attack afterwards like a dragon punch will, so it will not hit an opponent unless they attack. A dragon punch can be used to beat things like jump-ins or dash-ins, but a counter only works in those contexts if the opponent attacks afterwards. A dragon punch can punish a commitment that isn’t necessarily an attack, but counters only punish attacks.

And because you strike the counter stance, you are telegraphing to your opponent not to hit you, so to be effective with it, you need to go for that hard read that they will attack and not do something else. And if you can read them every time, that works great, but versus good opponents, they’ll realize after you do it twice that you’re trying to counter bait them, and start moving in without attacking, or using grabs instead of attacks. Dragon punches require tighter timing and are more punishable than counters, but they’re much more reliable as a tactic in high level matches.

The actual counter attacks work differently per-game. Sometimes they nullify incoming damage (Marth, Kolin, Valentine, Hakumen), sometimes they take incoming damage as super armor (Dudley in 3s & SF4), sometimes you’re given temporary health versus incoming attacks (Alarak in HOTS).

Sometimes you’re given full invincibility to any followup attack (Marth, Kolin, Valentine, Hakumen), sometimes you just have hyper armor during the counter attack (Dudley in 3s), sometimes the protection is only partial (Marth’s iframes wear off rather quickly, beating multihits, but not projectiles followed by melee).

Sometimes the counter hits a massive area to guarantee it beats long pokes (Leo Whitefang, Hakumen, Valentine), Sometimes the range is more limited and it can be baited out with the right hit (Dudley, Marth), Sometimes it pulls the opponent in like a hitgrab (Zangief in SFV S2.1, Kolin).

Sometimes you have an actual hitbox that catches enemy attacks (Marth has a large shieldbox for his counter that doesn’t cover his feet, Kolin’s V-Skill catches based on a hitbox, Hakumen has a catch hitbox for his D moves), sometimes it counters if the character is hit at all (Valentine, Dudley SF4, Leo Whitefang), sometimes it only catches certain types of attacks (Kolin, Rock & Geese, Zangief, Dudley 3s)

Sometimes you get followups off it (Hakumen), or it just does a lot of damage (everyone else).

The differences in implementation can make these counters more or less effective depending on the game. Marth’s is still useful for edgeguarding certain opponent’s up B moves, assuming they don’t sweet spot.

Frametraps and Blockstrings

What do you think of frame traps?

I love frametraps. Frame Advantage is a really fun concept to play around with, because it’s so variable. You can have more or less of it. Like how Ken is fucking +21 on a V-trigger canceled fireball. Frame advantage allows you to give the defender narrow or wide windows to perform actions, like backdash, dodge, jab, etc. By setting them up at a disadvantage, you can limit their options and condition them as a setup for mindgames. Being +1 on block and +5 on block are very different scenarios.

If a character has a really fast move, it’s even possible to sort of reverse frametrap people. You might be at frame disadvantage, but you can use your fast attack to catch them so fast that they can’t get anything out in time. Sol Badguy in Guilty Gear can do this with his 5K, since it’s out in like 3 frames, fastest normal in the game. Continue reading


Care to do a breakdown on hitlag?

Hitlag, also called hitstop, hitfreeze, and hitpause, is basically when the game freezes the characters at the point of collision during an attack. Having the smooth arc of the character’s attack paused at that point of collision helps sell that the collision actually happened, gives the eyes a few frames to register and confirm it happened, and makes the impact seem a little more powerful, since if the guy’s fist or sword or whatever is stopped along its path, then clearly it needs a lot of force to go through the object that is being hit.

Fighting games and Smash Bros make use of this time to practical ends. The 2in1 Cancel in Street Fighter 2 exists entirely because of Hitstop. Basically, they made the first 5 frames of every single normal move cancellable to make it easier to input special moves, but the hitstop extended that cancel window since it froze the state of both characters for like 10 frames, meaning people could still cancel after the move hits. Since then it’s been a staple of Street Fighter that you can cancel moves during the hitstop period. And this is really convenient too, since the cancel takes effect at the end of the hitstop, so it always comes out during the same part of the move, helping to keep combos consistent. So now you have this large dedicated time that is pretty much exclusively there for canceling things on hit, that’s pretty damn good. Continue reading

Super Moves in Fighting Games

What are your thoughts on super moves in fighting games? Do you prefer to have access to all of your supers, like Skullgirls, or choose between multiple supers a la 3rd Strike?

I have no strong preference. Maybe a mild preference towards having them all available.

As for supers in general, I always think back to this Sonic Hurricane article: http://sonichurricane.com/?p=3757

“The third milestone is learning how to combo into super (or ultra, in SF4’s case). Suddenly a single major mistake can end the round, so everything changes once again. When you can deal 40% damage in one shot, the entire match evolves from a series of isolated encounters into one continuous entity. You start to think long-term because you no longer have to win every minor clash, as long as you prepare to seize that big opportunity down the line.”

Supers are powered by meter, which is built up by merely using special moves, and occasionally other things, so it’s a resource that people deliberately build in part through their playstyle, but one which also requires commitment and action of some kind to build, unlike a cooldown. Since supers are limited by this meter resource, using them is about picking the right moment, which is somewhat similar to a cooldown. Supers typically have different utilities. They usually have invincibility, and can fit anywhere in most combos, since both normals and specials usually cancel into super. So you can confirm into super, or use supers raw. Confirming means you lose some of the potential damage of the super (even if you are doing more damage overall).

Because supers also typically feature a superflash, an animation that does not take place in in-game time, they warn the opponent before use, making them less useful in neutral situations unless you can catch your opponent in the middle of a move. So because of their invincibility and great hitboxes, they beat everything except doing nothing, which they lose hard to since the super flash gives the opponent a massive warning to block, provided any of the super’s startup time is after the super flash (it’s possible to have 2 frames of startup before the flash, and 0 afterwards, so by the time the flash is seen, it’s too late, this is typically done for super command grabs, because otherwise they’d be useless, since the opponent can just hold up to jump, and they need to be in a non-hitstun state for it to work and command grabs aren’t a good choice for beating attacks usually). This makes supers excellent reversals, since the point with a reversal is to beat a meaty attack, but vulnerable to being baited like any other reversal. Some games don’t have superflashes, but they’re rare.

Supers usually have a partial immunity to damage scaling in combos, so they’re ideal to tack onto the end of combos when the damage scaling is really high. This means you lose out on a lot of the super’s natural damage, but you get more damage right now when you know it’s guaranteed.

SFV then made supers the only way to chip out an opponent, which means chipping out is a major investment, which I think is super interesting.

Supers add a long-term strategic element to a tactical (short term) game.