Monday, December 8, 2014

Visual Aid: SSB4 Stage Legality Chart

S = Starter
C = Counter Pick

This stage chart represents my current opinion on stage legality. I would like to explain why I chose to allow walk off stages as counter picks. I personally have misgivings about walk off stages because of the lack of ability to see what is happening, and less so for the potential for camping. I would like the stages in question (Mario Galaxy, Coliseum, Delfino Plaza, Yoshi's Island, Wuhu Island, Wii Fit Studio, Castle Siege) to be tested in tournament and in separate stage testing events. I consider Delfino Plaza, Wuhu Island, and Castle Siege to be walk off stages because at least one of their transition arrangements includes a walk off portion. Ultimately, I do not feel these stages should be banned without considerable testing in the new game. If they are legal, they should absolutely remain counter picks.

I would also like to point out that, to me, Omega Stages and Final Destination should be considered one item for stage striking purposes. The same goes for Miiverse and Battlefield because their arrangements are identical.

To sum it up, this stage chart gives us:

  • 4 Starter Stages
  • 12 Counter Pick Only Stages
I believe this stage chart gives competitive players a plethora of gameplay and visual design options. Please feel free to comment so that we may discuss stage legality in more detail.

I will post arguments for each specific stage in a future post, if no one brings up those stages in the comments.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Word in Favor of SSB4 Custom Moves and Mii Fighters

This is a copy/paste from a post I made on Smashboards:

"I think that Custom Moves should be legal, and Mii fighters should also be legal. The amount of time it takes to transfer your custom fighter from 3DS to WiiU is negligible, and having Custom Moves vastly increases the variety within the game. I understand complaints about not wanting to learn all the various matchup variants, but in the end that is a poor reason. Restriction of competitively viable options solely to make the game easier to memorize sounds too much like laziness to me.

There is a certain amount of monetary investment that any fighting game player has to put in in order to play their game of choice. If you want to play Smash 4 competitively, then you will probably need a 3DS and a Smash 4 for 3DS. If you get a used 3DS and a new copy of the game, you should spend around $160. That is less than the cost of a brand new PS3/PS4 or XBONE MadCatz Tournament Edition 2 arcade stick ($200) for players of USFIV, UMvC3, KI, and so on. So players who complain about custom moves not being fair because they can't afford a 3DS and 3DS Smash 4 have some sympathy from me, but not that much.

Custom moves have not yet been proven to break the game's competitive play, and the logistical challenge of using custom moves and Mii fighters is negligible. In order to play these games competitively you should be prepared to invest a certain amount of money for equipment. Therefore, custom moves and Mii fighters should be legal for tournament play.

I do draw the line at custom character Equipment, however. Logically, the argument for Equipment is the same as the argument for Custom Moves. However, the same logic can be applied to Items. We can't be sure that Items will break Smash 4 competitively, but I doubt many TOs will take the chance and allow Items based on their history. I worry that allowing Equipment will make the game too silly. Characters might be running around too fast for players and viewers to keep up, and KOs might happen at odd percentages thanks to the wide variety of potential interactions between two players' Equipment selections. In short, Equipment adds too much of that random factor that most competitive players disliked regarding Items. Therefore, Equipment should be illegal for tournament play."

Monday, August 4, 2014

Using YouTube Playlists

     YouTube playlists are a great way for you to organize your fighting game research. I have used playlists to compile videos for multiple characters across various fighting games. This is a great research method for people who either do not have the time or inclination to discover things in training mode. Do not get me wrong, though. Playlists are usually a great way to learn the basics and a few tricks, but they are no substitute for practice in training mode or against opponents.

     I once used playlists for a game's entire roster. Very quickly I found this to be overwhelming. So to better focus my thoughts, I chose to have playlists for each character I play, and also a playlist of general information for that character's game. I enjoy the lower number of playlists because of the lack of clutter. Each playlist has general tips, specific setups and combos, and of course intermediate to high level gameplay of the character across many match ups.

     Playlists provide me with a way to visually train situations outside of training mode. I can begin to commit certain setups and situations to memory so that I can react appropriately during real matches. The playlist is also much faster than training mode, where I would have to take time navigating menus and recording what the computer opponent should be doing. That takes for granted the existence of a recording/playback system in the training mode. This is something that all fighting games should have, but all do not.

     Playlists are also usable on the road. Please drive safely, and if you happen to have an easy and safe way to observe fighting game videos while on your commute, it is a great opportunity to use time that would usually be lost. This also goes for down time at work, or any other time when you have access to an internet ready device, but not your gaming platform.

     There are limitations to the usefulness of playlists. Eventually the information may become outdated, or you have memorized it and no longer have a need for it. Also, all characters do not have an equal number of content creators committed to them. High tier or otherwise interesting characters are more likely to get tutorials, in-depth guides, and other really useful goodies. Eventually your information well will run dry. The realization that all your character's information cannot be found on YouTube is a wonderful transition into my final topic.

     I have spent a lot of time using playlists, subscribing to others' channels, and favoriting videos. I love that these people have spent their valuable hours creating and uploading this content for me to enjoy. Now, as I have finally gotten over my need to have playlist for each and every character, I find myself wanting to produce some sort of content on my own. I encourage everyone who utilizes content from other sources to consider producing valuable content of their own. Video tutorials, matchup videos, or simple text-based or image-based documents are all valuable contributions.

     YouTube playlists are a great way to find content for your fighting game of choice. More can be gained by compiling the efforts of numerous people than relying solely on yourself. However, you should take all that you have learned and then apply it to furthering the publication of quality content for your game/character of choice. It's all a big circle, right?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Stay Salty - For Now, For Always

Salty Bet Logo

     Salty Bet is the background music to your life and you do not even know it yet. The premise is deceptively simple. Take AI controlled MUGEN matches, stream them, and allow people to bet on who they think the winner will be. No real money is at stake. Instead, you are given a beginning amount of Salty Bucks, and you must bet wisely in order to climb the leaderboards.

     I played Salty Bet a few months after it's release, and found it a whole lot of fun, and very addictive. I eventually left the site after I lost a lot of Salt and then an update resulted in the loss of my original account information. I still have no idea why I cannot recover my original account. It is a little funny, but I chalk it up to changes made to the site when I was not keeping up. 

     I just recently got back on to the Salty Bet website, and in order to do this review, and in order to satiate my own gambling urges, I once again became a member of the Salty Illuminati. A basic Salty Bet account gives you the ability to wager, and a bailout, or minimum amount of Salt, that grows in accordance with the number of matches you have bet on. Check out the Salty Bet level system here. As a member of the Salty Illuminati, for $4 per month or $30 per year, I now enjoy access to character statistics, my betting record, exhibition match requests, and the ability to upgrade characters within the game.

     Salty Bet has changed in important and fun ways since I left and subsequently rejoined. Exhibition requests used to be for paying members of the Illuminati and contributors to the main Twitch page for Salty Bet. Now all Illuminati members are eligible to request exhibition matches. Previously, tournaments were held every Thursday, and they were a big to-do. Tournaments are now held every 100 matches, and betters are given a base amount of $1,250 Salt to bet with. It is the better's responsibility to turn that initial amount into the highest possible, and then it will be added to the better's regular Salt total. Regular Salt is green, while the special tournament Salt is colored purple for our convenience.

     Perhaps the biggest change is the ability for betters to purchase upgrades, or downgrades, for characters within certain tiers. Tiers? Yes, tiers. The characters in the game are now separated into different tiers in order to better balance the matches. Now it is much more of a risk to wager large amounts of Salt, and it helps create more anticipation and drama within each match. But hey, if you want to mess with the tiers, go right ahead! By spending your hard earned Salt, you can upgrade characters' life, meter, or change their palette, which apparently effects some of their stats. You can even get characters promoted to the next tier. I admit, the entire Compendium system is still a bit mysterious to me, but I look forward to learning exactly what it is that all of my new options accomplish. First, though, I must acquire lots and lots of Salt in order to afford the high costs of unlocking and then upgrading the characters. Then again, my efforts could come to nothing if the character I invested in gets deleted, but then that changeability is one of Salty Bet's charming qualities.

     I have also noticed new bots in the Twitch chat, which is always active next to the matches. In addition to the already hilarious, but often stereotypical stream chat, the bots can be issued certain commands by the stream chat. Terms such as "!song", "!mode", "!tier" and so on allow the betters access to more information about what is going on in. This sort of feature is absolutely amazing for the amount of user interaction it provides. It is medium level interactivity, but Salty Bet already has plenty for you to do and people to interact with, so medium level interactivity that is also very useful to users is truly impressive. I assume these types of commands are used in other Twitch streams. The future of gaming entertainment is happening on Twitch and I will have a great time observing how the service continues to grow.

     All of these things make Salty Bet a great amount of fun for fighting game enthusiasts and regular old gamblers. So much is automated, but the choices are interesting and the game is constantly changing in small and large ways. Salty Bet is a hidden gem of gaming because even with over four-hundred thousand accounts, the number of betters on at a single time is nowhere near that. Sure, some people are probably obsessed with Salty Bet. For most people this game is likely a diversion that will last about a month, and trust me when I say that you will really, really want to spend the $4 to make that a month of Illuminati status.

     On a more serious note, Salty Bet must operate on an assumption that the music and characters it utilizes for entertainment purposes will never reach such success that the copyright holders for those assets will interfere. So being a hidden gem of gaming has an important meaning for Salty Bet. It truly is a small community of people creating a culture around a form of entertainment that is unique in the world. That is one of the many reasons why I love it, and look forward to hosting my very own Salty Bet gathering in the near future.

     Do yourself a favor and visit Salty Bet. Please bet responsibly.