Throws in Smash Bros

What do you think of the way throws work in the Smash Bros series?

There’s nothing else like it in any game I’ve seen, except Skullgirls with Beowolf, and I guess King in Tekken.

Lemme just describe how it works, basically, once you get a grab, the other player is held in front of you in a grapple, instead of instantly thrown like in most other fighting games. In this state, there is a timer that counts down until the other guy is released, the timer is longer relative to how high percentage is. (and if the guy is holding up or presses jump, then they’ll jump upwards when released) The player who is grabbed can reduce the duration of this timer by mashing buttons (I hear the best method is to spin the control stick, varies by game since Brawl and Smash 4 handle inputs differently). Once the timer runs out, you’re released as soon as it’s possible. So past a certain point, mashing out of icies wobble is pointless, you’ll escape automatically if they mess up. 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

Is Innovation Necessary?

Is innovation neccessary in game design? does a game or sequal need to do something new in order to be good? or making a game that is well thought out and well designed is imprtant?

I stand by the statement, “A clone of a good game is still a good game.” Innovation is nice, it’s good for games categorically, but I don’t think any individual game needs to innovate in order to be good, and I don’t think innovation makes a game good by default.

Innovation helps games improve on their forebears and create new possibility spaces, but by default it does not make those possibility spaces deep.

I said this with regards to all the first person melee combat games recently, they’re not great yet, but they show that something is possible with first person melee combat that hasn’t been developed yet. This future development of really good FPS melee might just be a matter of putting together existing pieces correctly, or some future work of innovation, but what exists right now is pretty neat, but not amazing. 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

Hollow Knight Review

I feel like Hollow Knight sits somewhere at the intersection of an older style of game and a newer style of game. Older in that many enemies have contact damage, and simple geometric movement patterns and newer in that the main character and enemies have a significant number of animations, which don’t necessarily have instantaneous startup, and have varied effects across their play time. It leans way more heavily towards the older style however.

The health system is interesting. You have a limited number of hits you can take, and attacking enemies lets you gain souls, used to heal, so only by attacking and killing enemies can you gain a source of healing, which is cool. Feels a bit like what Joseph Anderson suggested BloodBorne was trying to do, and a bit like Doom. The amount of enemies you need to kill to fill it up and the amount of health pips it will heal are not the same, you need to kill more enemies to fill it up than it will heal in pips. Killing enemies when it’s full is a waste, so if you’re down a pip, it’s more efficient to heal first, then kill them, but it take a while to heal, so there’s risk inherent in trying this. Versus stronger enemies you can have a loop of attacking them and pulling back to heal. In boss battles where they have a lot of health, you can go through loops of attacking them and healing when you find opportunities, or shooting them for extra damage. The heal animation is so long that few enemies give you opportunities to heal however.
Continue reading

Reviewing Mario Maker & User Generated Content

How would you go about reviewing a game like Super Mario Maker?

That’s tricky. Ordinarily for reviews of games, I’d say that user generated content is off-limits, because you’re ostensibly supposed to be reviewing the content of the developer, not the users, because user content can be variable depending on the userbase. However Mario Maker brings that contradiction to the forefront because there’s almost nothing but user generated content. The thing is, Mario Maker technically isn’t a game, it’s a tool for making games, or rather, making levels for a game. The ontology gets a little weird there. Should we consider each level its own game? Should we consider there an abstract generic “Mario Maker” game of which there are many user generated levels, each an instance of this concept of a mario maker game? We can definitely say that the 10-man mario challenge, and the 100-man mario challenge are games within the broader mario maker software. 10-man uses pre-made levels that Nintendo themselves created specifically for you, so if you wanted to evaluate the game of Mario Maker entirely from the perspective of developer generated content only, you could evaluate these pre-set levels and nothing else, and you might end up with a fairly poor opinion of Mario Maker. They’re not very impressive levels. If you wanted to evaluate 100-man, then that gets extremely variable. It’s possible to make tons and tons of different types of levels in mario maker, from auto levels, to kaizo levels, to puzzle levels, to troll levels, to creative themed levels, to more general mario-style levels. That and unlike say Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden, Mario is a game that is heavily defined by its level design. There isn’t a generalized set of options you always have access to and enemies don’t have a wide set of options they exercise against you, your options are very heavily defined by what’s present in the level and the interaction of various level elements.
Continue reading

Fake-out Attacks

What do you think of fakeout attacks? (Both when enemies use them in single plaher action games, or other genre’s, and in multiplayer fighting games)

Enemies using fakeouts in single player games:
I can’t think of a reason to use this off the top of my head. From the player’s perspective, it’s like the enemy randomly attacks or doesn’t. This creates the situation where the enemy uses the fakeout attack, and the player can safely attack them, but randomly sometimes they’ll actually do it, so they’ll trade hits with the player. Beginners might get scared by the fakeout attack, but intermediate will realize it’s basically just an animation where they do nothing important, so they can be attacked.

Maybe it would make sense in a game where enemies attacking requires an action that costs something from the player, and there’s a tell between the real and fakeout attack. Like in Furi, fakeouts would mean you can’t parry the next incoming attack, so if you made a system similar to this you could have the mixup between fakeout or not, then maybe a small reaction period for you to realize you’ve been faked out to let you dodge or something. Similar was used in the Mario and Luigi RPGs, where enemies would sometimes fake you out, so you’d jump over incoming attacks that weren’t coming, setting you up to be hit by the followup.
Continue reading

Smash Bros Move-Staling is Pointless

Any thoughts on move-staling in Smash?

I don’t think it serves a real design purpose. It weakens repeated attacks, which can make the effect of attacks subtly inconsistent, changing the amount of damage, knockback, and shieldstun. The thing is, there’s really no need to make repeated attacks weaker. Making repeated attacks weaker doesn’t prevent any type of degenerate play, it doesn’t encourage any specific tactical plays that are beneficial for the game overall, or add a significant situational factor that can be taken advantage of in the moment like stun.

It mildly discourages using the same move a lot, a tactic that many people would call spamming, but the thing is, there’s nothing wrong with spamming. If using the same move works versus your opponent, then you should keep doing it, not be forced by the system to use other moves to keep your useful moves powerful.

And stale moves can interfere with a lot of things, like it changes the knockback threshold on moves that will cause knockdown versus not, it can change shield stun, making safe on shield moves unsafe.

Thankfully the effect of stale moves in Melee is so small that it can largely be ignored, and PM had the good sense to remove the knockback component of stale moves completely. In Brawl however stale moves had a more extreme effect on knockback, enough that if you played a character like fox, it was recommended you only hit with the second hit of up air to kill, because the first hit would invoke scaling, reducing kill potential. Smash 4 has reduced the effect of stale moves, sitting it somewhere between Melee and Brawl, so it’s probably more tolerable in that game, but in general I don’t think it’s something that has a place in Smash Bros.

In a good fighting game, there doesn’t need to be a regulatory system preventing you from using duplicate moves, because in a good fighting game, using the same move repeatedly is a bad idea because it opens you up to be countered by your opponent.

Notably, Skullgirls has a mildly similar system in its game, the IPS, preventing you from using the same move to start a combo more than once, but of course this doesn’t mean that any of the moves in that game are situationally weaker in the neutral game, it just prevents you from doing infinites and practically nothing else. Using systems like this makes a lot more sense for limiting the length/strength of combos in traditional fighters than anything in Smash Bros, which doesn’t have issues with combo length.

Stale moves just feels like a design loose end trying to fix a problem that didn’t need fixing.

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.