Leveling the Playing Field for Unskilled Players

Is it possible or necessary to level the playing field in fighting games between skilled and not skilled players?

Nope to both.

The only way you can level the playing field is by making skill less influential on the outcome of the game. You can do this either by reducing how difficult the optimal outcome is to produce, or by reducing the amount of advantage conferred by the optimal outcome relative to the least optimal outcome. Or you can do this by having randomness be a much stronger determiner of who actually wins the game.

Of course, all of these things will piss off skilled players. You might have some limited measure of success depending on the implementation though. I’ve been arguing that randomized bullet spread has been bad for years and should be replaced with damage dropoff relative to distance to get the same effect and I don’t think anyone agrees with me on that. Continue reading

The Pain of PC Fighting Games

What do you think of this? Should fighting games move to PC to get the sponsorship bucks and move out of the kiddie pool?

 

There’s an additional issue he didn’t address, the difficulty of setting up controllers on PC. Individual users don’t tend to notice it, because they’ve set up their PCs to run their controllers just fine, they’re not having a conga line of people over to each individually plug in their controller of choice and somehow make it work with the operating system and then with the game. Continue reading

Fighting on Pad vs Stick

What kind of fight stick/gamepad do you use for fighting games, and why?

I use a Dualshock 3. I mostly use it because it’s what I used when I started playing fighting games (although technically I first used the Wii Classic controller for SF2 Hyper Fighting and Guilty Gear XXAC), and because I really like having a good Dpad in the top position.

Pad means my inputs are mostly silent, and I have very good control over my movement, but not quite as precise control over my directional inputs as I might get on stick. It also means that I have difficulty pressing square + triangle or cross + circle and need to bind macro inputs for those usually, as well as R1 + R2.

If I had a consistent way to, I’d ideally use a dualshock 2 controller. Unfortunately my converter is spotty, so that’s not really a viable option (which sucks, because the converter I bought is known for being reliable too). Probably the biggest downside of the DS3 controller is the analog trigger. It doesn’t feel very comfortable, and it’s difficult to know what distance actually triggers the actuation, but I have gotten used to it over time. The DS4 trigger is much more comfortable, but the actuation distance is further, so it throws off all my timings when I use a DS4 pad. Dualshock 2 has a digital button for the trigger, which is highly preferable. Both the DS2 and DS3 have very rough Dpads, and I have actually rubbed my thumbs raw multiple times playing fighting games. I eventually sanded down the dpads to get a smoother surface to play on. The DS4 starts out smooth, avoiding this problem.

I own a Hori RAP4 fight stick. I tried using it, but didn’t stick it out or put the time in to really get good with it. I hold the stick with the same grip as Daigo, from the bottom, between the ring and pinky fingers. I have a lot of difficulty canceling into 2QCF supers or shoryukens on stick. I still hang onto the stick to let other people use it, and I’ll probably learn to play on it so I can play on arcade machines someday.

I think 360 inputs are probably the hardest input to perform on pad relative to stick. Sticks are much better at half circle motions in general, where I think pads are better for DPs and QCFs. Some older games (like 3rd strike, and older versions of guilty gear and blazblue) only count the cardinal directions as valid for their 360 and half circle motions, so if you miss the down input in a half circle back, (6314 instead of 63214), it won’t read your input. (624 does count as valid, it does not care about the 3 or 1 directional inputs) This can happen by doing the motion too fast on pad, where on stick it’s basically impossible. I learned how to do 360s in 3rd strike only after I went into training with input display and realized this was the case. My technique for doing them on pad is to do a half circle back, then tap up and punch, greatly improving my consistency. Modern games like SF4 and SFV let me churn the butter without needing to worry about inputting the cardinal directions accurately.

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.
http://dota2.gamepedia.com/Random_distribution

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.