Drip drip

Hehe, don't ask.

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Baiting and Provoking

Yukari f.5A hj9 fj.5A, Youmu D6 HJ9
In all Fighters there's many ways to set up traps using the archetypical hook-line-sinker to bait the opponent into a trap or trick. Due to the movement system in IaMP there tends to be instances that are somewhat more common due to seemingly intuitive reactions for many situations. A particularly common occurrence among newer players is to pass through bullets by forward dashing and then highjumping into an airborne opponent, such as in the above image. The route of this movement is outlined with the yellow arrow. Perhaps because using D6 then pushing 9 will transition you from a dash into a highjump very seamlessly, we sometimes do this without thinking.

Trap set - Baited
However, the bait was Yukari herself, floating around in the air where she appears vulnerable. The trap occurs once Yukari air dash cancels her bullets and uses height, range, and speed to her advantage. The result of this exchange is often like what you see in the above image, with Yukari at a height and range advantage. Here, Yukari is free to flop Youmu right in the face, causing a counterhit ground bounce which leads to a massively damaging combo. The speed advantage Yukari has comes from the fact that she is able to attack immediately after the airdash startup ends, whereas Youmu can't attack until first passing through all the bullets, which doesn't happen until some time after Yukari has already started to attack.

Though, this certainly isn't limited to just Yukari, many characters have bullets that they can cancel in the air very quickly, such as; Reimu, Marisa, Sakuya, and Patchouli.

Sakuya j.2C baiting Patchouli anti-air
It's also all too tempting to try and do a graze attack in a lot of situations. But graze attacks are often laggy, either on startup or recovery. Therefor, we can attempt to take advantage of this by provoking our opponent into doing it when we want them to like in the above image, then punishing it.

Sakuya avoids Patchouli's D3B anti-air
Shoe to face
Since we have two airdashes, we can not only avoid these attacks but also punish them. The Sakuya player in the above image first used an air backdash to avoid Patchouli's D3B anti-air, then after the attack had whiffed Sakuya used the second airdash to kick Patchouli in the face, as seen above.

Not all baiting occurs in the air, though. I'm not really sure where the bad habit of jumping at your opponent comes from -- within ourselves -- but it's rather intrinsic to the Fighting game genre in general to try it, even when we know it will probably fail. In IaMP it's a bit easier to goad the opponent into doing such a thing, partly because anti-airs in IaMP aren't quite as consistent and guaranteed as they are in other games (like CvS2 lol), and also partly because of the way grazing works.

Youmu jumps over Yukari's 6B Stopsign
Firing off some bullets on the ground that recover quickly, then covering the nearby horizontal area with ground melee, allows us to set up yet another trap. Our opponent knows that we can cover the ground with some large attacks before they can move close enough to attack, so it can be rather enticing to try and jump over them and hit from above.

Yukari anti-airs
But this isn't an uncounterable action. As we see in the case of Yukari, we can jump back and attack from far away which takes advantage of range. We can HJ8 and attack from above which takes advantage of height, since HJ8 moves vertically higher and faster than an opponent's diagonal jump does. We can also anti-air with a ground normal provided we have a good one. And we can use a graze attack or special move with graze frames, such as Yukari's 623B.

The correct action the opponent should take is not to fall for these obvious traps in the first place. But rather, taking evasive actions and then setting up their own array of bullet cover is really ideal, as outlined in my Moving Backwards to Win post.

So what we end up with is a game of actions, counter actions, and countering counter-actions. Thus, nothing we do is really just free and simple, but rather we have to work for our rewards.

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Reversals, Gaps, and D

Reversals have been around the Fighting game genre for ages, but they often come with their own set of rules or quirks depending on the game. Generally, it's the act of performing a special/super move when getting up off the ground (after being knocked down), known as "wakeup" reversals.

First, in quite a few games when you perform a successful wakeup reversal the HUD will notify you with a "reversal" message, and this doesn't occur in IaMP at all, so in some cases it's hard to know if you did it right or not. Second, IaMP does indeed have it's own set of quirks regarding wakeup grazing, backwards reversals, and frame "Suki" which means frame "gap".

The 1F Suki;

Patchouli meaty f.2B bubble versus downed Alice

In IaMP there's a special mechanic called Suki (or Gap) that refers to a situation where a bullet move connects 1F (one frame) after blockstun, hitstun, or wakeup invulnerability ends. The easiest and most common example of this would be to use a bullet on a knocked down opponent just as they get up, such as Patchouli's f.2B bubble move as seen above.

If you simply hold D and a direction in this situation you won't graze the bullet. You will either be hit by the bullet or block it, depending on if you were holding a backwards direction or not (1, 4, or 7). The reason is because holding D and a direction will not trigger an instantaneous dash/highjump movement, but instead there's 1F before the action begins. I like to refer to this as a "wakeup dash" attempt, which I refer to independently of a "Reversal-Graze" attempt.

Alice Reversal Graze through Patchouli meaty f.2B Bubble

For dashing and highjumping, IaMP treats a reversal input different from a held input. It is technically possible to graze a bullet on wakeup using the D button, however this requires you to push the D button -- or to push a direction while holding the D button -- on the exact one single frame before you're hit, known as a Just-Frame. Doing this would be considered a Reversal-Graze since it requires "reversal timing".

Directional Input Reversals and Cancels;

As outlined above, the D button requires a 1F timing to use as a reversal, however there is another input method to perform a graze and that's with a double-tap. Such as dashing with 6-6, or backdashing with 4-4, or highjumping with 2 then 8 or 1 then 7, and so on.

This method of input is a lot more lenient in regards to reversals, among other things. Using this method, IaMP will allow you to input the last part of the input a few frames earlier than is necessary and it will still perform the action on the first possible frame. In other words, unlike the D button, this method doesn't require 1F timing. Instead there's a larger window for when you can push the button that will result in success.

The rundown in laymen's terms: If you just hold D and a direction you will not graze, you'll get hit. If you tap D at the right time it requires a 1F (perfect timing) input. And if you double tap your directions there's a 5F input buffer window, resulting in a "reversal graze".

Remilia 236C HJC

But this doesn't apply only to reversals, this also applies to bullet cancels. For example, using D to cancel Remilia's 236C into a highjump on the very first frame that the move is cancellable, you must once again input the D button on the exact right frame in order to cancel "as soon as possible". In other words, you can't input the D button any time before the move is cancelable, you can only input D on the same frame that it's cancelable or any time after that frame. But using your down-then-up input method, such as 2 then 7, the timing again becomes more lenient. It's actually 5F (five frame) input window, if you're wondering. That means if you tap down then push upwards four frames before the cancel window it will cancel into a highjump on the fifth frame (the first cancelable frame).

Indeed, upon inspecting many Japanese matches and examining their inputs with an input viewer, the majority of the best Japanese players (AKA. the "top players") use directional taps to cancel bullets and for Reversal-Graze, but they use the D button for pretty much every other kind of movement. In other words, they only use directional taps for HJC and Reversal-Graze, and D for everything else.

Backwards Reversals;

To demonstrate the concept of what happens when you get up facing the wrong way, let's look at a video:

High quality youtube version: Reversal Graze (1F Graze) from behind

As we see in the above video, another peculiar quirk occurs with reversals which I call "Backwards Reversals". This happens when you are knocked down and the opponent ends up on the other side of you or "behind" you. Thus, when getting up off the ground your character is facing the "wrong way", meaning away from the opponent.

In this situation a couple of peculiarities occur. First, reversals are done by inputting the directional buttons the way that your character is facing, and not "toward" the opponent. Second, reversals turn you around automatically to face your opponent, including Reversal-Grazes.

Marisa groundtech forwards into backwards reversal 623a

To use an example we will say that Marisa is knocked down, and then uses a ground tech roll forward and ends up on the other side of the opponent. Now, in order to do a reversal uppercut (623A) you would think that you'd need to push the first direction toward the opponent, so in the above image that would be Right (towards Reimu). But this is not the case for IaMP. As outlined above, you instead need to push the direction you were facing when you were knocked down, so like in the above image you would push Left first (away from Reimu). It kind of feels like you're inputting the DP motion "backwards", but in reality you're always inputting it "forwards" relative to the direction you're facing and not relative to the opponent's position.

You'll know if you did it right because Marisa will perform the Miasma Sweep uppercut toward the opponent once she gets up off the ground, but failing it will result in either no attack or possibly her 214A broom ride move instead of the Miasma Sweep.

Now, this also applies to Reversal-Grazing as we saw in the video posted above. When you double tap the direction, it's not relative to where the opponent is, but rather it's dependent on what direction you were facing in the first place. So after crossing the opponent, while you're facing the "wrong way", double tapping toward the opponent results in a backdash instead of a forward dash.

One last peculiarity that occurs with this is Highjumping. Normally you are able to Reversal-Graze with a highjump either forwards or backwards. But after crossing the opponent up and performing a Reversal-Highjump you will always either jump vertically or towards the opponent. Both HJ7 and HJ9 result in you jumping toward the opponent rather than away, regardless of how you input it.

Seems odd indeed, but this is actually very beneficial. The reason is because it prevents crossup shenanigans from countering reversals. You see, in other games if the opponent were to use an airdash or two airdashes to cross over your fallen body, with the intention of screwing up your reversal inputs, this would actually succeed because inputs are relative to their position. In IaMP though, you need not worry about that because the Reversal inputs don't change when your opponent changes sides at all. Attack reversals also won't point away from the opponent when you succeed, but rather the only time such a reversal ends up going the wrong way is when the attack begins and the opponent crosses you up after the attack has already started.

- Copyright © Xenozip.

IaMP Tutorial Video

High quality version: Immaterial and Missing Power Tutorial

So, here we have it. A collaboration between Bellreisa and I, with assistance from Mauve. Bellreisa was in charge of the narration and video production, while I was in charge of the video editing and direction, and all three of us were responsible for recording the material and for general collaboration. The video should be self explanatory, so I'll talk about things surrounding the video instead.

The concept of a narrated demonstration tutorial was something I've been wanting to do for the longest time. I don't even really recall exactly how long ago it was, but it was when I first saw the Street Fighter 3, Third Strike Anniversary Edition DVD that included a video tutorial with both verbal and written explanations, oh so long ago. You can see a sample segment of the tutorial regarding Gouki here.

Later, I bumped into David Sirlin's Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo tutorial which was a representation of exactly what I had in mind; a video that demonstrated a concept both verbally and visually, and then showed it to you again visually but in slow motion and with graphical visual aid. You can see a sample segment of the tutorial regarding beginner techniques here.

Then even later I stumbled on Buktooth's Capcom versus SNK 2 video "tutorials" which were really simply just a recording of him explaining different character's core gameplay to some one else in the room. Sounds simple enough, however when I think about it I realize this is exactly what an ideal kind of tutorial would be; the act of explaining something to some one as though you were talking to them in person (just minus the actual interaction). You should be able to see a sample segment of this stuff regarding K-groove Rock here and part 2 here.

Certainly, all of these were huge influences for me in different ways. With these things combined I had become somewhat obsessed with the idea, so I was certainly poking around and fishing for opportunities to give it a shot myself. Finally, around December 28th of 2007, a couple days before my birthday, the concept of an audio+video narrated tutorial for Immaterial and Missing Power started to spring to life over a late night IRC chat conversation.

Quite a jump from late December '07 to early May '08, roughly four months plus one week, but there was a lot of deadspace in between dates where we just talked about the video rather than did anything. Or times when one of us was procrastinating and just doing other things. In reality the video didn't take nearly that long. I was able to complete about 3 whole sections of the video per single day once we had all the material recorded, and worked on it on separate days. The only section that took one whole day on it's own was the first section, because I needed to appropriate the footage that you see in the intro and outro, and also create the ghetto button input screens and other such panels. I also spent a few days deciding on a format and whatnot where I didn't work on the video at all, but rather I just toyed around with static sample junk in Premiere.

Now, just to clarify, when I say that Bellreisa was the Producer and I was the Director, I mean it quite literally. I decided back when we first talked about it that Bellreisa would have full creative control over the script for the narration, and also control over what visual content would be used to demonstrate what was being said. The only creative control I had was over the concept design of the presentation itself, and whatever I was able to do with video editing in Premiere. So in a way you could say that it is really his video, and all I did was encourage the idea and then presented the content that was given to me.

Anyway, that's the brunt of the backstory on the video. No need to get into further nitty gritty details or anything. In future posts I'll try to get back to talking about the game itself.

- Copyright © Xenozip.