Tunnel Vision

Focusing (or concentrating) in advance is something I like to call "Mental Tunnel Vision". But in fact there's many different names for it, which is why I believe there is some confusing over the definition of it. A lot of people like to refer to it as anticipation, but there are actually two types of anticipation, which can lead to confusion when using that word in conversation. Anticipation:

- Educated Guessing
- Reaction-based anticipation

Educated Guessing has nothing to do with reaction and is something I also like to call Assuming. It refers to a situation where you know the opponent is likely to do some sort of action that you're able to counter, but you don't wait for the action to take place to try and counter it. In other words, there is no reaction involved with this, you simply perform your counter-action while assuming the opponent's action is going to take place, regardless of what the opponent actually does. This is technically an "educated guess" because you aren't doing this entirely randomly, you know the opponent is likely to do something and the odds of them doing a particular action are high, so you know the odds of success are in your favor. A good example is when Ryu makes you block a crouching low-kick/short, then walks forward and does another crouching low-kick/short or throws you. You don't know if Ryu is going to attempt a throw or is going to attempt that kick, but you're assuming he is going to do one of the two and not block, so you throw out a DP or some other attack that beats both actions (but doesn't beat blocking). This was an educated guess because technically Ryu could have blocked, but you were assuming that he wasn't going to. Getting good with this might get you accused of being psychic.

Anticipation combined with Reaction has many different names as well, and I believe it to be entirely different than educated guessing. As said before, I like to call it "Mental Tunnel Vision", although you could also call it concentration or focus just as easily. I talked a little bit about this technique when I talked about Baiting, though I was more referring to the counter-action of this technique/concept. It is simply looking for something specific to react to. In other words, if you were to sit in the corner and low block all round long while waiting for your opponent to do an overhead or throw in order to counter it with an action, you'd be focusing/concentrating specifically for that that action. You could say that the Japanese player Kuroda (who is renowned for his Q at SBO) is a master of this. The idea is that you know your opponent will eventually try and break you guard, so you specifically look for the options that your opponent has to break your guard by ignoring everything else but those options, in order to counter them on reaction instead of entirely on anticipation/guess. The problem is that players who rely on this tactic tend to not see things they aren't specifically looking for. For example, if you're blocking low and specifically looking for your opponent to leave the ground, it will be hard to see quick actions that don't involve your opponent leaving the ground, such as a walk-in throw. Basically, you're focused on that one thing and therefor have tunnel vision, so you only see the area you're looking directly at and don't see anything around it -- lack of peripheral vision.

These concepts are something a lot of SF3:3S players should be very familiar with due to the parry system. The act of performing them and the act of countering them combined with parries are what makes 3S so "random", due to the need for guessing and reacting. In 3S, nothing is really guaranteed except the second hit of a combo. To quote Viscant "[in 3S] You don't have to choose options from a tree of all failure since there's always an option that will bring you success.". What he means is that; in other games once your opponent traps you, you are literally forced to choose from options that all lead in failure/damage -- but with the parry function you do not, you always have a way to avoid anything that does not combo. It's true that some things are impossible to react to, but that isn't the point, the point is that there is only potential damage due to your opponent guessing wrong, not guaranteed damage. Therefor there are a lot of random occurrences happen due to people trying to offset their attacks by enough frames to avoid a potential parry, or doing a high attack instead of a low and visa versa "randomly" in order to mix things up.

Guessing and Focusing definitely both apply to Monster due to overheads and "short jumps" (which are really instant double jumps). Though, I suppose that they pretty much apply to all fighting games at least on some level. It may be rather unbelievable -- though I assure you that there are some Othello players who can back me up -- but I tend to block Othello's quick 662a and m-shifted a+b attacks on reaction instead of guessing far more frequently than Othello's very telegraphed 66c. Sounds retarded, but I happen to be very tunnel visioned. Monster also applies a lot of Guessing due to the auto-guard system in Tranquility mode. Fortunately it's not as wide-spread as parrying in 3S, but you can also see players utilizing it with Ryougen or Katze quite a bit (and which good 3S players have naturally learned to counter).

So once again, I feel the cast of characters and game mechanics allow you to pick your character based on what playstyle you're use to. To follow up on my previous post; as I said in regards to Siely and Rail, I believe players who are use to CvS2 and 3S might find Ryougen and Katze more to their liking. Even though Ryougen's catch and counter moves both contain "active whiff" frames on failure, they still apply the same logic of use as outlined above (guessing and focusing). You could also apply a little "Psychic DP" logic to both Ryougen and Katze as well.

Ryougen has a "counter" move that is performed by inputting 4b. During the start-up frames of this move he raises his hand. If anything connects with any part of Ryougen's body during the start-up frames of this move he will auto-guard it and retaliate with an elbow thrust (which is cancelable into a shift or super). That means that the move disregards high/low and left/right and also melee/projectile, it simply will "counter" anything that is not a throw. This move isn't unbeatable though as it has some recovery frames when it whiffs, and therefor you can bait it. The elbow itself also has some start-up frames so you can intentionally watch for it and counter the elbow with an attack that beats it. Still, this is almost a 3S player's wet dream as it practically serves the same function of a parry and yet ignores high/low differences.

Ryougen also has a "catch" move that is performed with 623a and will catch anything that connects with Ryougen's body above his knees, including throws. This move also has instant start-up and will beat meaty attacks. However it will always perform an upward thrust even when it whiffs. It is not like CvS2 Geese's catch moves as it disregards which way you're meant to block any particular move, but it's more like Hibiki's catch move in the sense that it will catch anything in the hit-area -- except that it has instant start-up unlike Hibiki's. This move also has combo potential as the upward thrust that he performs after the catch leaves the opponent at the right range and height to perform a bread and butter combo leading to a fair amount of damage. Again, this move isn't unbeatable as you're able to bait it and punish it on whiff, but unlike the counter move you are not able to punish the catch on reaction to the grab -- if you connect with Ryougen during the catch you will be instantly put in hitstun. Thus, Ryougen should appeal to a lot of 3S players (and perhaps P-Groove CvS2 players).

Katze has the interesting property of a persisting dragon-punch type move. His DP move will create a "wing" that persists regardless of weather or not Katze is hit. While Tranquility shifted, Katze has a lot of auto-guard frames on his 236a and 236b punch moves as well as invulnerability on his 623a uppercut/DP move. Additionally, Katze's normals have very good speed and hitbox sizes, making him a very solid keep-away character. He can affectively zone, anti-air, and poke his opponent to keep the opponent off him, which allows him to build meter freely. The autoguard on his Tranquility-shifted attacks also allows him to guess-beat a lot of attacks by relying on the autoguard frames, either on wake-up or anticipation between rushdown attacks. Thus, Katze should appeal to a lot of CvS2 players. Although that's somewhat of a generalization -- Katze is very good at both turtling due to 'high priority' attacks, rushing down due to frame advantage on his attacks, and has attacks that trade with or beat on first-frame due to persistance and/or auto-guard, which are features that CvS2 players should be accustomed to.

Once again I'm not saying this is a bad thing. All I'm saying is that it gives you the ability to select a character based what you're use to, or perhaps based on your overall playstyle. Much like what I was saying in my previous post in regards to Siely and Rail being the type of characters that GuiltyGear or MeltyBlood players would naturally gravitate to.

- Copyright © Xenozip.


Crow Winters said...

Another great, well thought out post, good sir!

spiralon said...

Love your blog, but you're always picking on parry. Saying parries are random but FAs aren't, or supers aren't, or ultras aren't, or even special moves aren't essentially random generators of action, is not very honest or complete. It's in the engine, it's the same for everyone, it has counters, it has risks, there are option selects to implement with and around it, it is fun to perform, fun to fish out, fun to parry a parrys counter, it is exciting to see and you look and feel stupid when u try to abuse it, as with any good game mechanic.

Xenozip. said...

Actually the only parry mechanic I "have an issue with" is the parries that exist in SF3, 3rd Strike. People also play things like Pachinko, Poker, Slot machines, etc and swear up and down that it's entertaining. But that kind of entertainment isn't for everyone.

It does have counters, it does have risks, and there are option selects. But that's literally what SF3 boils down to as a direct result of the way parries work. Which I don't think makes for a very fun fighting game, as with most people who complained about it even when 3S was popular and whom quickly dropped the game as soon as new games became popular.

Actually, I feel more stupid when I land a parry, way more stupid than when I fail one or when I don't parry and could have.