Fuzzy Numbers

A lot of people are rather apprehensive about framedata. But, framedata doesn't have to be scary or confusing or even misleading if you don't take it too seriously or literal. There are general rules of thumb when looking at framedata that can really help in a lot of ways.

Skeptics seem to argue that you don't need to know framedata to play the game. This is true. But by playing the game for hours and hours and hours you are achieving the same fundamental knowledge about frames that you could get by very briefly glancing at some framedata tables: fuzzy numbers.

For example, we would say a small number like 3 is "a little", a larger number like 10 is "several" and a big number like 20 is "a lot". After looking at framedata, you don't need to memorize every number and figure out how each number applies to every situation, because that's just absurd/silly. Rather, you could say that jabs have "a little" startup. This overhead has "a lot" of active frames. And this uppercut has "a lot" of punishable recovery.

So again, you might have come to those conclusions after playtesting the game for hours, but a simple quick glance at frame tables would have also revealed the same thing without memorization required. Really, I daresay it's been my experience that you may even discover much more about the character just by skimming a table for a few minutes than you would after playing for days.

Personally what I look at when I see framedata tables is exceptional numbers, rather than giving a crap about what they mean. I don't have to know everything right away either, just things like "this is more, this is less". For example, out of standing and crouching jabs and shorts, plus close variations of them (so let's say six different light attacks): the crouching short is the fastest. I don't care what the numbers are, I just know crouching short is faster than my other options and is therefor that's what button I want to press when I need a fast light attack.

I also look for really big active frames and really large numbers on block, whether they be plus or minus. If it looks like "most characters" mid-strength attacks are 6F startup then I know any move that I have that's -6 or more is "punishable by most characters". And then I immediately forget the actual numbers because they are replaced by fuzzy numbers and rules of thumb like "punishable on block".

This is also why I take a good look at active hitframes. Because let's say a move is -10 on block, and is therefor really easily punishable by just about anything. But let's also say this move has 15 active hitframes. If I hit an opponent out in the open then obviously I'm going to get punished, so I know not to do that move out in the open. But if I do that move after a knockdown and it hits meaty, let's say after 5 active frames have passed, then it becomes -5 which is not so punishable anymore. If I hit on the last possible active frame it could even be +5 instead of -10, which is great for practical applications. An opponent blocking that move might instinctively stick out an attack thinking it's free damage, or at least free initiative because their attack would force a block, but if it's meaty like that then I recover much faster so I can DP being getting hit and hit them out of their attempted retaliation. And once again, the numbers leave my head after I discover this, I just know "this move has no active frames, useless as a meaty" or "this move has a lot of active frames, it can be safe if meaty" and so on.

Looking at numbers doesn't have to be a puzzle or math. The only time you ever really want to crunch some numbers is when you're trying to find link combos. Aside from that, basic rules of thumb like "this move is plus frames, so it's safe and can be used as a tick throw" or "this move is minus frames, unsafe, but it's got a lot of active frames so it's safe when really meaty" or even just "this is my fastest attack" can go a long way.

- Copyright © Xenozip.


Crow Winters said...

I know you exclusively cover 2D games here, but I (of course!) always think it bears noting: in 3D games, frame data isn't an option. You HAVE to know it at high level play, no 2 ways about it.

Xenozip. said...

Oh, I'm sure.

I think you more or less HAVE to get a feel for "frames" in high level 2D gameplay as well, but it's just that people don't memorize the literal numbers, they just put everything into muscle memory. Hence, fuzzy numbers.

2D gamers just learn from repetition, practice and experience. In a way, it's like grinding. A little brute force if you ask me, lots of trail and error.

As far as I know, there are only a few top level 2D fighting game players that actually do memorize numbers and esoterica, like Buktooth. The majority of top players can't even put the game into words, let alone numbers, and tend to frown upon technical data.

I also like to know about hitboxes, but that doesn't mean I visualize them when I play, I just think "this box is larger than this one" or "this goes over lows" and such.

I do read framedata and try to learn it, but mostly for the sake of sanity. Eventually it all becomes fuzzy numbers, and if I happen to remember a number here or there then it's probably because it's a unique number. Or if I'm surprised by something "random" I'll check the data to figure out why.

I say "I" and "me" a lot, but I'm pretty sure most 2D gamers are like this.

Arjuna said...

Xenozip, in order to find out the advantage one has after your attack land on block/hit/counter hit, you have to know the block stun, hit stun and counterhit stun of your particular attack as well the active and recovery properties of the attack used, right? If this is correct, where would I be able to find the block, hit and counter hit stun values say for a game like alpha 3? Are these values universal in general at least for normals? Thanks for you help on the matter.

Xenozip. said...

Arjuna, it depends on the game. A lot of modern games use hit "levels", and in those games you can calculate the advantage based on what hit level it is.

Games like SFA3 do not use hit levels, so things get a little more tricky. This kind of data exists in what is called a "mook". There is a mook for SFA3 called "All About vol.21" which lists some data for every move.

However, the data they give is just data, it does not account for a lot of situations. These days, in order to get accurate data for all situations, people use emulators and run the game paused, analzying the data one frame at a time.