Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Planning For Practice: UPDATED

Busy people do not have a lot of time to dedicate to fighting games. School, work, friends, family, so on and so forth consume our time. These are good things and should not be given up! If you are one of the lucky few who can consider yourself a "pro gamer" then that's great! Your work and your fighting game practice are one in the same. Unfortunately for the 99% of players who are not professionals that can make some sort of living off of only games and nothing else, we need to organize our time a bit differently.

For example, instead of writing this blog entry I could be practicing Nova / Spencer / Dr. Strange in UMvC3. However, I choose to write this entry as a break from schoolwork that will not take as long as game practice and also motivates me to practice later.

I write so that I will be more focused on my practice later. I reflect so that I will be smarter about my practice later. This is also why I take the shortcut and search YouTube and forums such as Shoryuken for the most practical combo videos and tournament matches I can find that are starring my squad. There is no reason for me to reinvent the wheel if something already does 1.2 million damage. All I need to do is practice and perfect it. Maybe when I have more time I can discover some new setup or something; but in the meantime I will leave that to the people who spend much more time than me with the games.

To plan and execute practice is as simple as this, for me:

  1. Understand my preferred playstyle and how it meshes with the game in question.
  2. Decide on a character or team to try out.
  3. Research the character(s) so that I know, in general, what the gameplan with them is.
  4. Compile a list of resources for the character(s) that I can quick reference during practice time.
  5. Practice!
  6. Play casual matches.
  7. Decide if the character or team is working for me or not based on win/loss, general flow of the matches, and how active my mind is while playing. A team that loses a lot in the beginning could still be worth the time if the feel is good and the potential is high.
  8. Solidify the character or team and expand my practice options to specific situations and more advanced tactics.
I was trying to play Chris / Taskmaster / Hawkeye recently because I wanted to stay at long range and chip my opponents to death. Total avoidance of close range situations, but this was not very engaging to my mind. So I went back and did some more research.

I like to keep it simple. Like that acronym KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). For the foreseeable future my goal is to choose characters who are simple to play yet are also powerful. The quintessential top tier that is easy to use but kicks a lot of teeth in.

Nova fits the bill. Spencer fits the bill. The only odd man out is Dr. Strange. I am just not sure if the good Doctor is a good fit for me. Sure he gets Flames Loops off of any touch by the Nova / Spencer shell, but do I really have the balls to play him as an anchor? It is a tough call and the only way to know for sure is to go from practice mode to casual play. Here's hoping I don't drop too many flames in my faltine.

UPDATE: The Nova / Spencer / Dr. Strange, or "Team Nemo" worked well even though I was still unfamiliar with combos and setups that I had known previously. The feel of the team was good and I had a good handle on when to use my assists and when not to. In a team game that is an essential quality and will help increase the enjoyment. So now I've changed my YouTube playlists around and will soon do some easy video research about the characters. After that I will have to make time to practice some essential combos so that damage opportunities are no longer missed.

I also played a little bit of Dhalsim in SSFIV:AE 2012 and found myself desiring to play a charge character more. I switched over to Dee Jay, and while fun I still felt as though E. Honda may be the best character for me. It is a tough call and I do not think I should decide just yet. Especially with Ultra Street Fighter IV on the horizon, the changes in the game will probably have an effect on my decision. There are still a couple of charge characters worth trying, and both are relatively simple when compared to Dee Jay: Guile and Balrog. Remember, I like to keep it simple!
Nathan Shields PowerUp Founder

Fighting game enthusiast, martial artist, and teacher. Nathan Shields ran three regional events, two of which were part of the Road to EVO Championships in 2011 and 2012. He continues to run local FGC events and supervise the growth of his scene and the PowerUp brand.

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