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.
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