East’s Corner 06: New Guilty Gear SparkNotes

New GG Sol Screen

So I spent most of my Monday running in west Tokyo, training for a half-marathon [My legs are dead y’all. I’m out here like Professor X] and completely missed out on the entire stream about the new Guilty Gear, where they showed off some of the characters, played a few matches, and had a Q&A with some of the ArcSys team.

First off I just want to say, this kind of communication and marketing is awesome. They got core members of the FGC to come in, showed off the game, ask the deeper questions that fighting game fans want to know. I really wish more companies took this approach. Looking forward to more communication about the game like this before it’s release.

Anyway, I digress, I want to go over some of the bits of information that they covered for other folks like me that may have missed the stream. I’ve tried to condense them into the notes below:

VISUALS

  • You probably don’t need me to tell you this at all, but the game’s visuals are jaw dropping. Far and beyond anything currently out there. The close-ups and camera angles make the action more exciting and dynamic for spectators without detracting from the actual gameplay for players.
  • The characters performing their moves are actually shown on the command list screen.
  • When you counter-hit with a big damage starter, you get this bit of slowdown and on the back of the screen in big white letters it says “COUNTERHIT.” I don’t know about you, but I really like this.

BUTTON CHANGES

  • Slash was called the Universal Gatling, which means it will function like previous installments, where you can immediately cancel into Heavy Slash, Dust, Far Slash if your initial hit was Close Slash.
  • Punch and Kick will only really gatling into themselves, so you can’t do a combo like 2P > 5K > 5HS. If you start with punch, you can only gatling into other punch moves. If you start with kick, you can only gatling into other kick moves.
  • Dash is a button that can be mapped.
  • Throw is no longer 1F start-up and has a whiff animation. This means throw can be baited [shimmies, etc.] I feel like this change overall is big and will sway the way the game is played.

SYSTEM CHANGES

Whooo- boy. Strap in, this is the nitty gritty stuff, that core fans probably want to know. I’ll talk about some initial impressions afterward about all of this, based on some of the conversations and the Q&A section of the stream that happened as well.

THERE IS NO:

  • Chip Kills, however chip damage still exists.
  • Dead Angle, but you can roman cancel on block, for a similar effect. It was also mentioned in the stream, that this can be baited and punished as well.
  • Stun
  • Changes on frame data when you instant block. Instant block only nets you more tension gauge [Meter].
  • Air Teching. Attacks will instead knock you far away, you’ll hit the ground and then you can get up from the ground.
  • Difference in wake-up timings. Everyone gets up the same.
  • DANGER TIME. PRAISE BE!

METER CHANGES

  • All Roman Cancels cost 50 Tension Guage [Meter].
  • It looks like the time slow-down for roman cancel still exists. We weren’t given much detail about how it functions now, but there have been changes.
  • There are reportedly many different types of roman cancels, but we weren’t really given much information about what they were and their specific properties. We’ll likely have to wait until Arc Revo or a Kizzie Kay stream to find out.

WALL MECHANICS

There wasn’t another section for this, so I decided to give it it’s own section. There are new mechanics when players are at the wall. Basically, if you get wall splatted in the corner, you’ll notice a broken glass effect behind your character. Reportedly if you are hit 3 times, the wall will break and you’ll send your opponent flying. You’ll both end up on a different backdrop of the level at mid-screen and the person who caused the wall-break [person who hit the other dude into the wall] will have an attack buff for a short time. Although it was said that 3 moves on the wall cause a wall-break, it seems like some moves bypass this need, for example, Sol’s Super did it in 1 hit. Probably for balance.

SUMMARY

Rather than type it out here, I made a video for the summary, to save us all time. I think I cover a couple of big points and ultimately talk about how the changes identified on the stream translate into the gameplay for the game. Check it out below:

East’s Corner 05: The Problem of Homogenized Talent

I’ll be honest, I was very hesitant to write about this topic, because it can easily be painted in a light so dark, that vantablack would seems bright by comparison. I want to start by saying, people who are talented should be paid for their talents. Plain and simple. If you are a good commentator, dammit, hustle hard and get gigs to do it, and make a career out of it. I think Mike Ross once said something that holds very true in my mind: Do what you’re going to do, but never take food out of someone’s mouth.

Over the past year tried to start doing more commentary work. I recognize I’m a small and crappy fish in a much bigger pond, but dammit you have to start somewhere. It’s something that I’m trying to improve and am taking more seriously, especially going into next year. As I’ve become more and more indoctrinated into the inner-workings of how commentary jobs are set and how talent is chosen, there has been something that really seems strange to me, and I’ll pose it to you in the form of a question: When you have regional talent that knows the stories, rivalries, players, and what’s really at stake in a region, why not have them tell those stories instead of someone who can’t?

Take for example, last year’s Dragonball FighterZ World Tour Finals. Half of the Saga Event winners and all 4 of the last chance qualifiers were Japanese. 75% of the World Tour Finals Top 8 were from Japan, and 0% of the commentary talent was from Japan. 0% of the people who interact with those 6 players on a weekly basis were on commentary. 0% of the people who understand the inner-workings of the Japanese scene were on commentary. Saying that, the commentary talent that was there was great. All in attendance killed it. We got some awesome storylines in the finals, but consider all the stories that were missed.

  • Did Dogura being GO1’s training partner have anything to do with him winning a last chance qualifier?
  • How did Kindevu even hang with these other top 8 when we rarely see him in tournament?
  • Who even was BNBBN and where did he come from?
  • What is Fenritti’s background and history with GO1?

Find out never, because the people who know the stories were nowhere to be found.

When you have regional talent that knows the stories, rivalries, players, and what’s really at stake in a region, why not have them tell those stories instead of someone who can’t?

I know that this whole thing could be easily taken as “Quit being jealous and just work harder,” and that makes the platform I stand on just a little bit murkier. That’s fine, I’ll take that and keep it in my back pocket for motivation, but to be honest, this isn’t even about me. If you want an example of what happens when things are done right and regional talent gets to shine, take a look at MajinObama at Guilty Gear XrdR Finals at EVO Japan 2018. As a spectator, don’t you want to see more of this?

https://www.twitch.tv/videos/223210099

As always, thanks for coming by and taking a read. Whether you liked it or not, please share this with somebody as it’s a problem that is often not talked about, but should be given some more light. You can also agree with me or yell at me in the comments below.

East’s Corner 04: Fuudo is Great

So for those of you who don’t know, I live in Tokyo, Japan and I count myself very lucky that the fighting game scene here in Tokyo is well supported and very active. On a given week, I see top players at events and locals. I also have been fortunate enough to be able to help out with some events that happen here. If you’re familiar with Dragon Ball Fighter Z, I help out with the Tuesday event, that’s broadcast on www.twitch.tv/animeilluminati called Fighting Tuesday. As a side note, if you haven’t seen it and you’re interested in top level Dragon Ball Fighter Z play in Japan, I wholeheartedly recommend you check out some of the archives there.

I digress, sometimes I also have a chance to help out with the Thursday BeastTV stream where Fuudo teaches newer players, primarily a guy named “Handsome Orikasa,” about SFV. Again, if you haven’t seen it, I really recommend you watch the archives. Now Fuudo is an EVO chamion in Street Fighter and so it’s really interesting to watch him teach a new player about SFV, especially because you have a chance to really see the game through his lens and how he thinks about situations. Sometimes I’m just absolutely floored at how knowledgeable, smart, and to a degree, how crafty he is in just thinking about how the game should be played.

Let me give you an example. So on August 23rd, I helped with the stream, and half the stream was dedicated to teaching Handsome Orikasa how to fight against Necalli and some of the common tactics of Necalli players. The second half was dedicated to teaching much newer players how to play the game. We did this really fun drawing of people who were at the Red Bull Gaming Sphere for the regular Thursday SFV session. A guy named “James” from Australia won the drawing, so he had a chance to have Fuudo watch him play, critique his game and give him some tips. James sits down and they immediately put him into a lobby, where he fights one game online using his main character, Nash. Just from the way he plays, you can tell that James is a little nervous, but he gives it his best but unfortunately loses the match.

During the match, I took the mental notes of what I would say, and I thought to myself, “If this guy just finished his combos and got knockdowns more consistently, he’d be doing fine. Maybe a few more anti-airs.”

When it came time for Fuudo to give him advice after the match, they immediately went into training mode and Fuudo went into teaching mode. Rather than harp on the combo drops or sub-optimal combos James did during the match, he said the following [I’m paraphrasing here because James had pretty good Japanese but sometimes was a bit lost so I did some VERY ROUGH translating.]

“Nash is a character whose backdash and forward dash are really good. His backdash is pretty quick, and his forward dash is really quick and moves really far. You should use this to your advantage. When you’re in neutral, backdash, to get space and then throw a fireball. Once you’ve thrown a fireball you’re pretty much free to move because your opponent has to worry about it. Once you’ve established your space with the backdash, you can then start to chip away at your opponent. You have other options, like forward dashing and throwing, using the mk version of scythe, etc.

Also don’t worry about getting cornered. This plan is going to have you moving back a lot, but once you get cornered and get beat up a little, You can just V-Reversal. Nash is one of the few character’s whose V-Reversal allows him to move to the other side of the opponent. Once you V-Reversal, just backdash again and keep running the same game plan. There really isn’t much reason to spend V-Trigger defensively, because V-Reversal is so good.”

I’ll be honest, hearing this I was pretty floored. I just kept thinking to myself, “Damn that’s smart as hell.” Rather than focus on what the guy did wrong in the match, he just gave him a really simple game plan he could apply to almost anything and find success. And surely enough, right after the training session, James hopped back online and played another match. He immediately found success following Fuudo’s gameplan. I kept thinking to myself, “His advice was so simple, but so effective. This is how a champion sees the game and how people play.” Rather than focusing on individual moments, he first takes a step back and focuses on what the person’s plan is. I think this is a skill that a lot of people are missing; Being able to diagnose and breakdown a plan.

Fuudo is by all accounts a fighting game champion, and every time I have a chance to hear him speak and talk about the game, I immediately understand why. He taught an 8 year old to play online and at least have a close match with others. If you haven’t had a chance to see him speak on the BeastTV stream, see for yourself and I think you’ll easily understand why-

Fuudo is great.

East’s Corner 03: Commentators, The Story-Tellers

About a year and a half ago, for work, I needed to learn about golf. Granted, back then, and even now I didn’t give a damn about the sport of golf, or it’s players, but for the sake of becoming better at my job, I needed to learn about the pro tour, the different championships, and the players in it. So to get up to speed I would watch commentary clips of the different games and the highlights. In a matter of a months I was caught up to speed and for work, whenever I needed to talk about golf, I could probably fool you into thinking that I had been an avid fan for years. I’ll be honest, learning about the pros playing the game actually became pretty interesting.

So what the hell does this have to do with fighting games at all? Well as of late, the topic of conversation with my fighting game friends has been, “Who are the best commentators” in the FGC. It’s actually been a pretty heated discussion, mainly because we’ve had a hard time nailing down exactly what makes a good commentator. A lot of the favorites names have been thrown out, “Tasty Steve, Sajam, James Chen, Yipes, Ultradavid etc.” and frankly when I think about it, I think they all do something pretty well, but as far as having all-round best commentary, I’m having a hard time being convinced.

I think a commentator’s job is to make whatever you’re watching more interesting. Now that sounds simple, but there’s actually a lot of moving parts here. It’s only now that I appreciate my time spent trying to learn about golf, because I know what it feels like to be hear commentary for something I don’t really know or care about. I feel doing that really gave me a deeper understanding of the whole topic. When I watched and learned about golf, I felt the best commentators were the ones, who would bring you in and make you want to learn more about the scene itself. They were entertainers, but you could tell they were passionate about their sport. They were able to decipher why players would make certain decisions, and do it in a way without explaining exactly what you were seeing [Pokemon VGC commentators are notorious for this].

Taking that past experience into account, I think the person who really embodies this in the fighting game scene is MajinObama [@2djazz on twitter]. Whenever he commentates Guilty Gear, I can see that he loves the game, is knowledgeable about it, and knows the lore and stories behind what’s going on in the match. He can tell you stories, about the players, rivalries you may have never heard of, while also keeping current focus on the game at hand. He’s got the gift of gab, which may or may not get him in trouble from time to time, but he’s who I would say is the current best commentator. He’s the kind of guy who can take a person who doesn’t really care about Guilty Gear, and pull you in. He makes people want to become a part of the scene, to learn the game, and to learn about the players. I feel like that is the true mission of a great commentator; To take the uninitiated and initiate them. Everyone is always talking about growing the scene and honestly I think commentators carry the biggest burden when it comes to this.

Who do you think is the best commentator? What do you think makes a good commentator? Let me know on twitter or in the comments below.  

East’s Corner 02: Dragonball & Under-Night

So it’s been about two weeks now since Dragonball FighterZ came out and let me tell you, between that, Monster Hunter, SFV, etc. I’m struggling to find time for real life. I was hyped about Dragonball’s release after actually getting my hands on it, but at this point I think I can objectively look at it without the Rose-tinted glasses. Gameplay is fun and it’s been set up in a way that no matter how strong or good you are at fighting games, every character makes you feel powerful. That’s great for people coming into the scene and getting interested in fighting games in general I think. It seems that the player always has a plethora of options like vanish, super dashing, tagging, etc. I can admit though I’m still feeling a little overwhelmed and as a result I still don’t feel confident in the neutral game. My brain is still trying to find the pros and cons of different options and when is the “right” time to do something with the least amount of risk involved.

That being said, I’ve spent most of my time in training mode and in arcade mode just practicing different scenarios, instead of fighting against other people. Perhaps the biggest reason for this is also currently my biggest gripe with the game:

The matchmaking system feels like it was pulled straight outta Yajirobe’s jock-strap.

In Tokyo, where at least the first 10 rooms are always full, I get about 1 ranked math every 30 minutes. This in addition to the Vegas dice-roll that is trying to set up a room with friends, are really my two big turn-offs. Because of that, I’ll be honest, my excitement for the game has gone down quite a bit. If this gets patched for the better, I think I would genuinely enjoy this game. Here’s to hoping my and other player’s pleas are heard.

If you can believe it, there is actually a silver-lining to Dragonball’s matchmaking being a Buu-sized turd. I’ve been playing less Dragonball and started to learn Under-Night In-Birth. To give you a little insight to my fighting game upcoming, when I was in high school, I dabbled in a ton of un-popular anime games: I had a friend who was super into-them, and so I just learned them while I was over at their place [See me in Vanguard Princess]. That friend is actually visiting in Tokyo this week and staying at my place so we’ve been playing the game together and it is a ton of fun. I picked up Byakuya, the spider-themed character with feet 3-times too small for his body and have really been enjoying him. For me, someone who has grown up loving 1-on-1 fighting games, this is right up my alley. In addition, the tutorial for the game is at least 3 times better than any other tutorial you will find in any fighting game out currently or has ever been made. I’m really excited to find the local scene here in Tokyo and put my character’s size 4’s in someone’s ass.

I guess if there was a theme for this post it would have to be this: If you are playing a game and it’s not fun, try something else. You might end up having the time of your life with it.

Quick notes before I get outta here:

I’ve been learning Ken just for fun in SFV Season 3. If you’re interested in the character at all, check out my quick guide to using him here

I just saw the patch notes for Guilty Gear Xrd Rev2 update coming. Someone please tell ArcSys to undelete Ky.

East’s Corner 01: Become FGC Super Saiyan

Goku Image

So I actually don’t really play too many games, but last weekend was the absolute triple threat. For those of you who don’t know me, I live in Tokyo, and if you follow the fighting game scene at all, then you knew that last weekend was the first EVO Japan tournament. Sort of like the sister tournament of EVO world that’s held in Las Vegas every year in late summer. In addition to that, Monster Hunter World was released. I’ve been a big fan of “hunting dragons wit ya boys” since the days of the Monster Hunter 3 on the DS. And the perfect combination to absolutely ruin my sleeping schedule was the release of the new Dragon Ball Fighters Z game. Although it’s not out here in Japan yet, I still got that handy American bank account that lets me buy from both regions, so I picked it up as soon as I could.

EVO was good. I was initially pretty down about the fact that I couldn’t enter because of work I had to do this week. I’ve acknowledged that I haven’t been doing much in the FGC as of late and I really want to get back into the swing of things in a big way, so I want to start going to more events and overall just interacting with the Tokyo scene more. Anywho, I did go there to support my friends, so Friday night after working, I headed over to the EVO venue and it was a bit smaller than I thought. Still the air was thick with competition and that familiar fighting game funk. It was great to see so many games in one place, like at an American tournament, but the crowds were too much. The venue was actually too small to move easily. My buddy, a Birdie player managed to get to Loser’s Finals of his pool, but unfortunately that’s where his journey ended there. Saturday, I went for all of about 1 hour, to cheer on a friend in Tekken. He also got to loser’s finals in his pool, but that’s because 3 out of the 8 people in the pool showed up. After that we hung out, had steak and then I headed back home.

I then cracked out to Monster Hunter World for somewhere in the ballpark of 10 hours (not straight). If you trying to “hunt dragons wit ya boys” please let me know. That game is wonderful with friends. I passed out around 5:30AM on Sunday morning.

I then woke up around the crack of noon and turned on EVO finals [Finals day tickets sold out in 5 minutes. RIIIIIIIIPPPPP]. I had that going in the background and was playing DBFZ. I was really impressed at this new fighter. I typically don’t like team-based fighting games, but that game is soooooo good. It’s deceptively simple. The mechanics are fairly straight forward, but once you start figuring stuff out like you get a jump cancel after c.M > s.M you can start putting together and diving deeper into the mechanics of the game. I played for the entire day watching the EVO Japan finals and beyond. I’ve been running Goku Black/Kid Buu/Vegeta. All of whom I picked because they each had a pink costume, but they all seem to be fairly good and have great assists. I really can’t praise it highly enough. If you’re on the fence, please let me recommendation persuade you. I’m having the time of my life with it and I’m a turbo-scrub at it.

Fighting games are great and I want to do more with them this year.

Last minute shout outs:

Shout outs to majinObama for his Guilty Gear Commentary at EVO. Definitely one of the hardest working dudes this year [And it’s only January], and if I can be half of what he is in the FGC, I would be satisfied.

Shout outs to my buddy David who volunteered at EVO Japan and became the English/Japanese workhorse. If you’re ever in Tokyo and you’re looking for a place to play fighting games, he also has a website www.fugutabetai.com that lists all of the places and events you can play. He did a ton of updating for EVO Japan so please check it out and spread the word!