Monday, 27 October 2014

DIY: SSBM Movement Drills (Part 1/2)

Hi guys, it's me again. I'm back from Big House 4 (which was amazing, by the way). Small update on life: Life is good. Finally got a job as an Alarm Monitor for a security company, which is awesome. Been trying to make time to practice despite this shift (they have been very generous with hours) so there's a bit of adjustment still, but in general I'm finding myself very refreshed & motivated lately. I felt so motivated, in fact, that I decided to log in here & see where I was with my numerous incomplete projects. Upon doing so, I was greeted by no less than six half-finished articles, desperately crying out for attention. So here I am, ready to resume the grind.

For those who are following me on Twitter (@kirbykaze_):

No, this is not the controversial article that I announced during the contest on twitter. Admittedly, I underestimated the scope of the topic and despite my large knowledge base there's still a lot of research that needs to be done. Namely digging into old records and compiling statistics (for those still speculating about what it's about, that's a clue). So while I continue to work on that, I decided I'd finish some of the less daunting ones in the interim.

The Origin of this Article:
The idea behind this article is directly the result of a conversation between Cactuar and myself at ROM7. While cavorting around outside the venue, Cactuar mentioned to me that he'd been working on a new movement drill. Intrigued, I asked him to share the details with me over FBchat after the tournament so I could have it in written form. Within a week he contacted me, and by the end of the conversation (as usual) I found myself both thoroughly impressed by his method and itching to explore it myself. For the past months I've been examining his original drill & constantly reviewing it from different angles. Over that period I've shared it with players in my local area, discussed it at length with a number of players, and ultimately made a few minor adjustments here and there (though the core has remained unchanged). And today, I come before you with this: my take on just one of Cactuar's many good ideas. Enjoy!

DIY: SSBM Movement Drills
AKA: Examining movement in SSBM as transitions between different action states.

Link to part 2.

Some of you may be thinking, "Action state? Huh?"

Essentially, an Action State is any state wherein a character either: (a) has access to the majority of their tools, or (b) stands to gain access to the majority of their tools (attacks, movements, and so forth). 

Or as my friend Syphi-chan put it: "[any] state where your character is ready for action."

Examples of some common Action States

Dashing / Running / Crouching / Wave-dashing / Airborne

SECTION A: Beginners

Implementing: Stand, Crouch, Turn

So to begin we're gonna start by numbering different action states, followed by a brief description:

0 - Stand

Our default position. It all begins here.

1 - Turn

One of the more innocuous action states, turn is over skimmed over because its benefits are subtle. However. this is actually an important state to be aware of because many characters' options change as a result of facing towards or away from their opponent (DK and Jigglypuff, for instance).

2 - Crouch
Arguably one of the most defining action states in the game. Most glaringly, crouch is infamous for reducing the knockback that a player receives from non-grab attacks.

So now we have our first three action states:

0 - Stand

1 - Turn
2 - Crouch

From here, we are going to convert those numbers into action sequences. Your goal is to perform each sequence below without error. You will also be allowing the control stick reset to neutral between each action (during the "0" the control stick should be centered).

On offset, aim for accuracy (not speed; that comes later). Start slow if necessary. If you make a misstep (eg. dash or walk instead of turn), you have to do it over again.

[Sequence A1][0-1-0-1-0-1-0-1]


Additional instructions:

  • Once you've completed that sequence correctly, retry the drill but aim to go faster by reducing the amount of time spent on stand.
  • Don't cheat. Let the stick reset to neutral between each turn.
  • Eventually your character should have the appearance of making a long continuous spin motion.
  • When you're satisfied with your result here, move onto the next sequence.

[Sequence A2][0-2-0-2-0-2-0-2]

Additional instructions:

  • Once you've created that sequence correctly, retry the drill but aim to go faster by reducing the amount of time spent on stand.
  • Don't cheat. Let the stick reset to neutral after you enter crouch.
  • Pay attention to the startup time & animation you enter when beginning or exiting your crouch.
  • When you're satisfied with your result here, move onto the next sequence.

[Sequence A3][0-1-0-2-0-1-0-2-0-1-0-2]

Additional instructions:
  • Once you've created that sequence correctly, retry the drill but aim to go faster by reducing the amount of time spent on stand.
  • Don't cheat. Let the stick reset to neutral after each action you perform.
  • When you're satisfied with your result here, move onto the next sequence.

[Sequence A4][0-2-0-1-0-2-0-1-0-2-0-1]
  • Once you've created that sequence correctly, retry the drill but aim to go faster by reducing the amount of time spent on stand.
  • The transition from crouch into turn must be smooth.
  • Don't cheat. Let the stick reset to neutral after each action you perform.
  • When you're satisfied with your result here, move onto the next sequence.

Beginner Level Drills Completed.
Excellent. Admittedly, the drills above are pretty easy. However, they're meant to get you into the habit of allowing the stick reset to neutral between actions. They're also meant to highlight the fact that there is always a transitional phase of "Stand" that rests between two connecting action states in a sequence (with the exceptions of dash into turn-dash, and run into crouch). It's during these moments that you have access to your entire toolkit, meaning you could realistically put any action there: f-tilt, jump, wave-dash, d-smash, illusion suicide... whatever you'd like, really.

Part 2 coming soon.

Now for some Information on Turn, courtesy of Kadano's research:

a) Turn completes in 11 frames.
b) Neutral-B is disabled during turn.
c) You cannot crouch during turn.
d) You can dash on the first frame of turn (this is essentially how dash dancing works).

- KK out

I recently posted this question to my local SSBM community's Facebook group (SSBM Ontario). It generated some fun discussion.

My Question:
I have a question for all of you.
Suffixes aside, what do Zoning, Conditioning, Threatening, Counter-Poking, Camping, and Positioning all have in common?
Some of the Answers in the Thread:
Garbage King -- Yomi
Jamrun -- Sounds like they're all types of strategies from neutral
Duds -- They all end in "ing"
KirbyKaze -- "Suffixes aside..."
Morgan -- i guess they're all things that require you to interact on a mental level with your opponent
Eden -- They all vaguely sound sexual
Toast -- they're all things that you can use to alter your opponents play style
Chesterr01 -- I don't know... to me, they are all passive strategies/elements that require you to pay attention to your enemy more than yourself. If you have all that, it seems parallel to adaptation as well.
Kay -- They're the part of the game that involves reducing your opponent's potential options while maintaining (or building) your own. They're where smash becomes 'strategic' in a way that following through on combos and punishes isn't - it's about building the opportunity for something you can commit to safely, while forcing your opponent to commit to bad options.
Riddlebox -- they're all mix ups tho for the most part or options to do so. mixups change the flow of ze battleeee. also, the way you have it layed out, they every other word is a C word
Kage -- Psychology
The Du Man -- mental game elements that are used accordingly depending on your position relative to your opponents
Fisch -- Theyre all variables of mind gaming your opponent. Doing different things to avoid patterns of movement/being predictable. Or... theyre all defensive options that can also act as offensive options.
Nate -- If you're dictating the match, you're forcing your opponent to focus on what you're going to do to them rather than them focusing on what they're going to do to you.
Kay -- "Thiings that should be talked about more in commentary"
My Answer:
We've had some excellent answers.
The answer I was looking for, as Victor suggested, was related to control. Charlie and Fisch pointed out that they transcend offense-defense. A lot of you touched upon the fact that they depend on technical execution, but also have a mental component.
Quite simply, they're all Tactics.
What's a Tactic? A Tactic is a strategy designed to help you control how an interaction occurs.
The number 1 predictor of who wins a fight is HOW the fight transpired. This means that the player who exerts more control over how the fight took place is naturally at a huge advantage.
These tactics do transcend offense and defense because they can be used as either or both simultaneously. The extremes (of offense and defense) are not really that effective when not balanced with the other. Think about it: as a Sheik, if I don't put pressure on my opponent what's their motivation to run into my attacks? Similarly, there's an inherent limitation to constantly bashing your face into your opponent as your default strategy.
Some of the most aggressive forms of fighting in this game are done with counter-poking (see: Mango dance around a defender). Some of the most defensive forms of fighting are done with threatening (see: Armada floating back with fair / looking to pull turnips). But these still offer Mango defensive outs because he can choose to retreat while he's pressuring. Armada similarly is applying pressure because his opponent DOES NOT WANT him to get that turnip.

Balance. Flexibility. You need to push AND pull. And in varying amounts.

*** This Section is more specific to my own community ***

As a community we have a tendency to be, oh, how do I put this? Very direct. Direct to the point where it looks like most of you think the best or even only course of action is to bash your face into the opponent to win. Or to do what you perceive as your strongest option in every single situation (see: Peaches d-smashing on platforms). But these all have counters. Rather than seeing that the opponent has to respect and play around these options, people just keep doing them and get wrecked for it.
This was really apparent after watching the London stream. I don't want to name names, but I have never seen so many people run directly into so many attacks in my life. And with no effort to bait, move around, threaten, control space, out-position or... anything. And, sadly, when I think back to the other streams I watch, until I'm watching 2 people from our top 11 play (or some people from Waterloo) it's almost always like this.
We are capable of better. But we have to realize that there's more to this game than bashing our faces into the other player's.
This should not be read as: y'all need to camp. Because then we wind up with the other extreme (one individual at a recent MNIC literally stood still and was baffled when I set up my zoning on him and double 4-stocked him; he paid the price for defaulting solely to camping because he didn't actively deny me my strong positions -- doing nothing is NOT the answer).

*** This is where is becomes a bit more general again ***

Now for the example of what I do.
Sheik is normally given the title of a defensive character but what use is defense if you don't apply pressure? Without a pull factor (like Armada's turnip) there's no reason for my opponent to engage my defense. This is why just swinging in place with her is really... poor play. Even if it slays noobs or people with execution too poor to beat it.
The best thing about Sheik is her range advantage over most characters and the amount of threat she exerts with her attacks. Dash attack and grab are things nobody wants to get hit by because they're frustratingly non-interactive when she gets the ball rolling with either.
This is a simple strategy that combines numerous elements of those tactics in a defensive & offensive way simultaneously.
Dash in --> WD back
Dash in begins because it threatens the opponent with my 2 most dangerous moves (boost grab / dash attack). Now, if you know anything about Sheik, you'll also know she's low priority when dashing towards someone due to her high SH, low air mobility, and how her attacks swing. Grab and dash attack are actually low priority moves.
The common ways to combat this situation are:
1) Attack Sheik
2) Jump over either option (though risky due to jump being available during dash)
3) Move away
That's why the follow through is WD back. WD back counters most forms of attacking Sheik, while drawing with or gaining minor advantage vs the other two options. This is a way I can use my threats to condition my opponent, without really committing to a course of action. I like to call it Aggressive Baiting.
There are a few opportunities for an opponent to get the upper hand on me in that strategy (don't worry, I have some mixups after Dash in for just those instances) but that's just a simple example of how you can use one action to force a reaction out of your opponent, and in turn open them up for other options.
Bullying was a good way of describing it.
The mixups to my strat (my most used ones) are mainly:
Dash in ---> run --> crouch
Dash in --> SH back (fair)

No, I'm not explaining why those are the mixups. A gal's gotta have some secrets haha. But if you think about it, it's not hard to figure out.

- KK out