Tutorial Videos

Linking these because I realized I haven't:

- Akatsuki Blitzkampf :: Wei Tutorial for ver. 1.1.2 SP1 Beta
- Akatsuki Blitzkampf :: Marilyn Tutorial for ver. SP1
- Akatsuki Blitzkampf :: Kanae Tutorial for ver. SP1
- Immaterial and Missing Power Tutorial

First three are by Rithli and Zar. The IaMP one is by Bellreisa and myself (with help from Mauve).

The Brick Wall

Being that this blog was meant as a personal journal, I feel I should probably make a personal post about the game. The blog is old enough now, I think.

I've likened the learning curve in IaMP to that of a brick wall for years now. I've continued to feel that way even to this day. To elaborate: each brick represents a bad habit or unlearned "function" that you'll beat your head against until you break it. These "bad" habits may come to us naturally/intuitively or be formed from other games. And these "functions" are usually the things that apply to IaMP's game-flow that we may not automatically consider or recognize, but they tend to bite us on the ass.

Simple things like: Attacking first doesn't always win, height superiority has it's advantages and disadvantages, not beating bullets with melee or visa versa, moving backwards can be stronger than moving forwards, using cover for advantage, and how the mixup and pressure games actually work. They sound simple, but if you don't "get it" it can be a real chore to learn it during a round or even multiple sets of games.

Some bricks are harder to break than others. And, all that head-banging is bound to cause some headaches. Indeed, rage and frustration is really rampant in the IaMP scene once you get to a certain skill level and continue to move upwards. This is generally caused by getting repeatedly hurt by something, realizing that something is wrong, and not understanding/recognizing what's wrong or how to correct it. That's when the head-banging begins.

IMO, you must first isolate a single brick among the wall of other bricks and then forcibly break it by grinding it out. If you're not careful and attempt to break too many foundation bricks at once then the whole wall might come crashing down on you. I know it sounds like a silly analogy, but it's actually very real and has happened to others (we've witnessed it first-hand numerous times). If you allow yourself to get too frustrated while banging your head against the whole wall all at once it'll probably end up being much too overwhelming. You'll crack before any brick even starts to. You can't expect to pick it up and be automatically good at it or level up very rapidly. All you can really hope to do is be patient and observant.

The best players in the IRC channel have been around for years, and they were trash at the game when they first started (we have recorded evidence of this). It took a long long time to get good, and the same applies to everyone else.

Know what? I think that's a good thing. A very good thing. If you consider the opposite, it'd be quite a great tragedy to have some newb pick up a game and then suddenly be playing as well as the top 3 players outside of Japan. That would suggest the game has very little to offer in terms of skill development and depth. But I say IaMP holds a vast amount of areas that we can develop and is indeed quite deep. And the same should hold true for any good game, I think.

Unfortunately though, the scene tends to be cruel to newcomers at times. When first starting out; there can seem like such an enormous gap between yourself and the best players around. Which can be even more menacing if you happen to also pick the worst character in the game.

Indeed, this was my experience. I first started playing with Hong Meirin, the inarguably bottom tier character -- and my first real opponent was Bellreisa, one of the top 3 players outside of Japan who is probably very capable of doing well in tournaments in Japan. And that kind of noob hazing is actually a bit common in the scene, I wasn't the first or the last to get demolished on a debut.

Fortunately, I'm the type that gets hungry to level up after a beating. Sure, I freaked out then, but my rage only fueled my interest and desire to learn. I thought to myself, if I could receive that much of a beating with my years of fighting game experience under my belt; then it stands to reason that the game must have a lot to learn in it, and I wanted to learn it, even if that meant more beatings.

Though, I can safely say that at the time I was in great danger of quitting because I was very stubbornly attached to Hong Meirin. Had I actually stuck with her exclusively, I think I can safely say I'd have quit long ago. It's not necessarily the character's fault or the game's fault per se. Actually, one of the fundamental things that I believe in regards to IaMP is experiencing a variety of characters. Had I stuck to just her, I probably wouldn't have learned anything. Be it due to a very narrow perspective of the game, or just due to my overall incompatibility with the character itself. It wasn't until I really tried experiencing other characters that I was able to learn more about the game, and able to realize that I actually like other characters more and at the same time realize I didn't actually like Hong Meirin at all. And that's when the brick breaking process actually really began for me.

Some of us in the scene have also noticed other "narrow perspectives" and some pattern habits that can be associated with other characters. A common one that often arises is the trends we see prevalent among the Youmu players, such as reliance on naked air attacks and tactless brute force. Further leading me to believe that character variety is a window out of this form of tunnel vision.

Click to view full size To put things in a little perspective, let us examine this Alice flowchart made by Bellreisa (click thumbnail for larger view). This flowchart isn't a joke, like the SF4 Ken flowcharts you see floating around the 'net. No, this is actually very much what goes on in the mind of Bellreisa while he's playing Alice, and probably other Alice players like TMN and such. The thing is, that at each junction, you need to know what all the optimal available options are to you. If you don't, guess what, that's a brick that's going to hit you when you ram face first into it. In order to fill out that chart in your head and put it all into muscle memory, that's a lot of bricks you gotta run into and break along the way before you feel competent and in control of each situation.

Fortunately not every character is as complicated as Alice. It's possible that she is the most technical and complicated character in the game. But, it should give you some idea of what you'd be looking to accomplish if you were to pick up the game years after it's initial release, main Alice, and stick with Alice exclusively while playing against players with years more of experience. It's going to be a long and windy road. It's only slightly less windy and less full of potholes if you pick another character, and IMO you can make the ride smoother by choosing to learn with multiple characters rather than maining just one character exclusively.

- Bellreisa says: "I'm busy".

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Commentated Matches

Bellreisa has been commentating match videos for the Japanese tournament series called "Bullet Action" and putting them on youtube. You can see the playlists for the videos here:

- Bullet Action 3 w/Commentary
- Bullet Action the 5th Commentary

I strongly recommend watching these videos regardless of your interest level with the game. It's not only entertaining, but they can also help give some insight into what's actually happening during a match.

Bellreisa mentions when a player has done something they shouldn't have, or missed an opportunity to do something they should have. Not only that, he also mentions why the players sometimes intentionally don't do certain things. I feel it can be rather educating to those who would otherwise overlook the things that he mentions.

Hearing his commentary makes me wish all tournament matches were commentated on in a similar fashion. It also makes me realize parts of why the Japanese regularly do match commentary. Which also makes me sad that I can't understand Japanese commentary.

At any rate, props to Bellreisa for doing so. I feel it was a good thing for him to do, and I feel he did a great job.

- Bellreisa says: "Bad bomb!".

- Copyright © Xenozip.

Minds Eye

This is sort of a recap on something I refer to as "Mental Tunnel Vision".

Basically, in competitive gaming (Fighters/FPS/RTS) I've noticed that there's an incredibly huge difference in player skill/ability based around one concept: being able to watch what your opponent is doing. It's sounds really basic and fundamental, but it doesn't always come naturally. I find that many players, especially in fighters/RTS, will be so busy watching themselves that they aren't paying attention to what the opponent is doing.

But there's more to it than just that. Sometimes tunnel vision can occur even when you're paying attention to what your opponent is doing. Usually in this case it's because you're paying attention to what you think your opponent will do, and focusing on what you expect to happen next, rather than what's actually occuring.

A good example of this is sitting and watching for a jump-in so you can react to it, but focusing too much on that potential option that you don't see when the opponent dash in c.mk's you. Or, getting knocked down and expecting your opponent to meaty attack you, only to find out that they jumped and you whiffed your reversal. Neither of these would happen if you were actually looking at the opponent instead of what was in your mind.

So, in my opinion there's different levels of tunnel vision. The most extreme form is watching only what you're doing at any given time, and playing your character just based on what you feel your character should do, or just doing moves because you like them. The next level is being able to watch your opponent, but focusing too much about what you yourself thinks will happen. And the last level is being able to actually watch the opponent and allow your subconscious mind to handle your own movements and what you expect from your opponent.

It's like watching a game rather than playing the game. As a spectator/observer it's so simple to see both player's actions and you can make good calls easily. You can say "he'll do this next, and this guy will do that, and that move was so obvious, and that next move was a huge mistake that will cost later", and things like that. But really it's like looking at the game in hindsight, which most players can't do while they are actually playing. A lot of players need to grind each situation until they find out their best options, then grind those options so that it gets implanted into muscle memory as "good habits". That way when they play they can just auto-pilot and dial-the-buttons without putting much thought or attention into what's actually happening. However, these dial-a-match players on autopilot are usually the easiest to abuse with traps and baits, because they are so predictable, they do everything out of habit. All you have to do is recreate a situation where they habitually choose a wrong answer, then you can just keep doing it until they wise up.

Being able to observe, evaluate, judge, react, predict, and just generally pay attention to what's actually occurring with your opponent and not with yourself or what you yourself "expect from the opponent" (because technically it's still you paying attention to your mind) is a huge step forward.

Formalities and Respect

A follow up to my Got Read post, sort of.

In a lot of games it's quite common to run into formalities. What I mean by that is a series of events that you absolutely know both players are going to do because they are the absolute most ideal or optimal plays in that situation.

For example, let's say player Bee gets in and throws a projectile in a game with airdashing. Player Eff jumps to avoid the projectile then airdashes forward, but player Bee turns around and attempts and anti-air, knowing that player Eff with air backdash to avoid the anti-air and is put back into the corner.

Basically, everything that occurred after the first move was a formality and returned back to neutral. Even though player Bee could have attempted to read the airbackdash it was not ideal to do so because of the risk the player might not air backdash and get out of the corner with just the singular forward airdash. Likewise, player Eff should never really just forward airdash because of the risk of getting anti-aired, put back into the corner with okizeme, and then rushed down with mixups/pressure.

But, every once in a while you get people doing completely random things that go way outside of the formal movements, and this makes good players go "What? Why would you do that?". We call this a lack of respect.

Lack of respect can also mean other things though, like not respecting the opponents options. Such as being put into a frame disadvantage; the aggressor now has control and has a ton of options for mixup, continued pressure, or baiting the opponent into doing something stupid. A lack of respect for these options would cause the defender to do an aggressive attack in retaliation, even though they were at disadvantage. A very foolish choice, yet it doesn't always fail.

With high/low/block/throw mixup options that can't be consistently reacted to you get people trying to guess their way out of the mixup with a counter instead of trying to defend against it, and you either succeed or fail based on luck. It's disrespectful, and while complete lack of respect is easy to counter (because it's predictable), varying levels of respect and disrespect can be really annoying at times. We call it a lack of respect because the defender did not respect the potential punishment for doing a counter-action -- like doing a DP to get out of a mixup -- only to have the aggressor block and punish the DP. When you don't respect your opponent you are not respecting the risk, and you are not respecting their ability to play, you believe that the counter will work and you'll be fine.

This is also part of what separates mixups(guessing) from mind games(reading). It is an assumption that has the potential to be incorrect, but the odds of it being incorrect are very slim, so it's more of an educated guess.

To use a chess analogy it would be like intentionally placing your pawn in a bad spot as bait so that it can be taken, only to use another piece to take whatever piece the opponent used to take your pawn; a simple trap. Now, on a more specific scale, pinning the opponent on the board to where they have no choice but to act a certain way, a way that is favorable to you.

I think Viscant probably said it best when he said: "Forcing your opponent to choose from a tree of all failure".

Unfortunately it's incredibly common for gamers to confuse the differences between guessing and mindreading. For some reason people feel mixups and yomi are synonymous, when they aren't really.

What If..

What if there was a central hub for gaming in America? Like, a "gaming state" or "gaming city" that's known specifically for it's high volume of gamers. Would we specifically try to find a job there and move there?

What if we all moved there?

Japan is pretty small geographically compared to the USA. Many gamers are spread out. We could say that this theoretical gaming state already exists in Japan, since anywhere you want to go in Japan is no more than a day's ride on the subway. Though, moving there requires not only leaving the country but also learning a new language which simply isn't logical/practical/realistic for many of us.

But what if there was an extremely large and accommodating arcades and game centers in a place like Vegas, the city that's already known for something similar to gaming: gambling. Theoretically this is the most ideal spot because people already frequently visit there just for vacations. While visiting some random area in PA with nothing in around it but the world's-best arcade doesn't sound particularly interesting, visiting Vegas for an arcade "plus everything else" does. And this is most likely why it was decided that the Evolution national tournaments are held in Vegas.

But Evo's something that happens just once a year. I'm wondering if people would actually consider moving to Vegas if there was year-round comp in Vegas.

Long ago I theorized that cyber cafe's and arcades should merge since they generally tend to attract the same breed of people. So, imagine for a moment a Casino opens a daughter-building that houses an internet cafe, an arcade, and also supplies access to pay-to-play consoles (via membership cards or something). It'd be fairly all-inclusive, with gambling and hotels right next door, and especially being in a city where you can find just about everything else.

Kanae Bunz

Some quick notes about Kanae from Akatsuki Blitzkampf:

After 2A you can 236A late. It's a tick into command throw, pretty basic.

- 2A, 236B
- 2A, 6C (2A 6C)
- 2A, nothing

And here's the opponent's options after blocked/hit 2A:
- block = grabbed by 236B // take guard bar damage from 6C (neutral if nothing).
- jump = avoid 236B // take much more guard bar damage from 6C (neutral or worse if nothing).
- Reversal = Reversal is countered/blocked which leads to combo // counter the 6C or 236B

Kanae can also 2A late 5B or 2A late 22X, but I have a feeling these are subpar options.

The real difficulty here is backdash. And relative distance to the corner, I suppose.

But don't take my word for it; plenty of good players here: xUberSoldatx.

We Were Right

Million Knights Vermilion is the game by NRF that came after Big Bang Beat.

And, it's pretty much as terrible as we all expected it to be. In it's defense; MKV is at least marginally better game-play-wise than BBB. Unfortunately MKV is also marginally worse aesthetic-wise than BBB.

Also in it's defense; the game was very much rushed for release. It seems they wanted to release it early so that the general public could help the developers beta test it. We know it's still an incomplete game because it keeps getting frequent patches that modify the game a lot, and the character roster is also incomplete. There's two characters (Ivan and Sven) that have been mentioned and promoted in the trailers but have not been put in the game yet.

Personally I'm willing to give the game a little time in patience. If the developers keep updating it with patches it could mean they are still willing to work on it in order to make it a good game. So, I'll be keeping my eye on future patches, but I'm really not expecting it to be any good any time soon.

Admittedly I kind of like Virginia's character design in general, I think she's "cool". But she's also currently a little too strong/unbalanced (like a few of the other characters).