A3 tiers update & thoughts

Hey all.

Recently stumbled across these tweets from @version_zero3 (VER from the Vegas arcade in Japan)

He tweeted an updated tier list for A3 as of 2016. It mostly resembles the one from a few years ago with a few changes.

I tend to agree with the first version for the lower-tier characters, in that I feel like the new “D” and “E” characters are all fairly close to one another. And while a lot of those problems might have issues with tournament viability, I’m not sure any of them are truly “E”. V-ISM sort of raises the floor of the game, because even Birdie has an infinite and Mika can do big damage, for example. Honda is not necessarily suited to this game because he can’t use his naturally defensive character design as well. But he builds meter at an usually high rate while holding both charge options (whiff down/back throw), and does at least have decent VC ability (anti-air & midscreen & corner), even if the combo damage is relatively low.

In general, I’m on board with the character tiers here (by row, not individual character order), but the grades throw me off a little bit.

Was surprised to see Rose move up, but I think it probably makes sense. I assume it was largely do to Tsugu/Tugu, one of the Japanese players. His V-ISM Rose is very impressive, in particular because he seems to be pretty comfortable linking VC activation after a crouching light attack (no counter hit needed; a V-Rose-only feature), and seems to have a few other optimizations down as well.

His A-Rose is also very strong and he makes great use of the Soul Illusion (shadows) super and the related unblockable knockdown loops. Sidebar: Note that he chooses A-Rose vs a Charlie player, because he’s less able to deal with it than some other characters; the unblockable can be safe vs wakeups (other than 0-startup command grabs like Zangief’s, or invulnerable throw supers if she’s in range). Charlie can do a wakeup Somersault Shell (flash kick), but if Rose times the unblockable correctly, she will be able to punish. If he were playing a shoto, he might be able to wakeup hurricane kick would get him in to the air immediately (some moves have 0 ground frames on startup, so they are immediately in the air on reversal), and either take the hit and float away if it were a light punch, or maybe escape over it, if it were a light kick.

I’m making a video about the 0f airborne reversals thing, but it won’t be out for a while at this rate.

Seeing Sagat go down a spot, I wonder if it was because people were getting better at escaping the infinite? Air recovery has 3 directions in A3 (forward, back and neutral), and a late neutral air recovery will get you out of certain V-ISM setups that the usual ones won’t. Or maybe it’s just that players like Nekonohi at a-cho made the character look better than he is? Or was it just Ryu moving up? Overall I tend to think that Ryu is a stronger character, he just happens to be more solid, even if he’s not as scary.

Gen moving down I guess I understand. All of the other characters in new tier are also quite strong, so it’s not exactly a major demotion. Never played much Rolento so I can’t say, though I’m curious about Adon. I don’t think of him as a bad character, but I don’t think of being as good as the rest of the chars in his tier.

These are overall tiers, by the way. It’s assumed whatever ISM the character is best in is the one they’re talking about, which means V-ISM for most of the cast. A-ISM tiers without V would be different. These don’t include X-ISM, but I would assume A & X is similar to just A.

Ryu is really strong. I think when most people think of A3 and Ryu they might imagine V-Ryu, but A-Ryu is really solid. I think he is probably a viable tournament character.

But in terms of moving up the tier list, the biggest story is probably Balrog (boxer). Rog has good buttons, and he likes to hit buttons. But his lack of defense vs V-ISM characters hurts him and keeps him from applying pressure as easily as he’d like. Rolento is similar, because the odds that he loses 50% of his health bar for mashing jabs or jumping in drops dramatically, and he gets to abuse his priority. Gief may have been a similar story, if he weren’t also so overly strong in V.

Blanka I like quite a bit, but I can’t help thinking that he’s ranked so high here because Kayaman is such a strong player. I also want to say Chun should move up a tier, if for no other reason that she beats Gen pretty solidly. Maybe I’m jaundiced by playing online too much, but I’ve always found her tricky to deal with, in general.

In terms of moving downward, Cody and Sagat do not fair well. I wanto to say Sagat isn’t that bad, but at the same time, I can’t really argue with his placement.

On the one hand, if these tiers are accurate you have a huge tournament-viable group of characters- but I remember A3 being a lot of shotos + Chun + Gief + Sim, with the odd Charlie thrown in, before people really got the hang of V-ISM (I’d heard Rolento was very good, just didn’t see much of him). I’m not sure how much variety we’d really see if everyone stopped playing V for a few years. These characters are all fairly easy to play, and high-priority characters have a built in option select because they do damage on hit and on block. So people might decide that it’s not worth learning Gen when they could just pick up Ryu instead; why play Sodom when you could just play Zangief, why play Adon when you can learn Chun so quickly, etc.

More on Alpha 3’s red flash

There are many subsystems in Alpha 3, many of which aren’t in other SF games. I’m going to address here the red priority flash.

 photo flashes_zpsf985c827.png

There are 3 tinted color change flashes in Alpha 3, not counting the white air recovery flash:

The blue “Timing Guard” aka Guard Protect (GP) blocking, which lowers the amount of guard and block damage taken;
The pink damage reduction flash, which lowers the amount of damage taken;
The red priority flash, which is a different animal altogether. It essentially determines who wins a trade, with several caveats and exceptions.

The first two flashes are both defensive, and are both caused by an input by the character blocking/being hit. The red flash, however, is automatic, and is triggered the circumstances of two attacks coming in contact with one another.

There are two main considerations for the red flash- at least, near as I can tell. The first is a priority ranking based on the strength of the attack, with each kind of attack being assigned a number:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
(quickie English notes added by me)

Point Value
Normal Moves
Light 0
Medium 1
Heavy 2
Special Moves
Light 2
Medium 3
Heavy 4
Alpha Counter 4
Super Moves
Level 1 5
Level 2 6
Level 3 7
X-ISM 7

The second consideration is the actual category of move:

Outer- the attacking character extending an attack with their back facing the screen, the attack being “closer” to the screen;
Inner- the attacking character extending an attack while facing the screen, the attack being “further” from the screen;
Both- the attacking character extending an attack that strikes both on the inside and on the outside.

An example from All About Street Fighter Zero 3 (page 257):
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

BIG UPDATE: See comment section for a correction with regards to the following paragraph. Special thanks to USD.
Seeming to work like rock/paper/scissors, the red flash will help outer attacks beat inner ones, will help inner ones beat ones which are both inner and outer, and help the ones which are both inner and outer beat attacks which are outer. The exception seems to be that attacks which are of the same type can cause the red flash- see the Cammy vs Akuma picture at the top of this posts, which displays two “inner” attacks

In order to get the red flash, you must have an attack which both has a higher priority value, has overlapping hitboxes with the lesser attack, and also meet the correct criteria with regards to the type of attack as noted above.

However.

The parameters of spacing seems to be so specific as to be inconsistent. The hitboxes must overlap, but whether or not the red flash will happen and determine a winner seems to sometimes vary by the pixel- even when both attacks are done simultaneously, the difference between being less than a step closer can be the deciding factor. At least, that is my observation- there may indeed be a factor of actual randomness (there’s a chart in Japanese above, beside the one describing point values, which references probability), but I’m not sure how much that plays a factor.

Etc.

I’ve been corresponding with someone who’s trying to get a full translation of the things listed in the AAZ3 book, so hopefully there will be more developments on this end in the future.

Click Here for the full text of page 3 of the All About Street Fighter Zero 3 book, p.257 (Japanese)

Divekick counters video (proof of concept)

Not a legit video, but I don’t know when/if I’ll get around to making a more comprehensive one.

Some characters have problems with Akuma’s divekick in A3 because of its speed and angle, and the fact that having to block it puts you in a bad situation, because guard damage is an added concern.

It can be hard for characters without invulnerable special moves to beat it, but there are 3 basic ways:

-An attack which beats it (dependent on distance/height, varies wildly), which you may be able to cancel into a special move;
-A jumping attack, which you may be able to combo into something else;
-VC activation, including a tripguard exception, if your character has a good midscreen combo.

These can all be more easily understood than actually done, especially once you account for any online gaming lag, and/or input/display lag if applicable. A difference of 4 frames (1/15 seconds) is largely imperceptible but still affects game play, as the average human reaction time is 12 frames. The former is a very small period of time, but can make the difference between being able to react to a jump or not.

Sorta working on a list with counters for individual characters and timings/ranges (Cammy s.SP xx KBA from video only works from far away, early standing Roundhouse works from a step closer, standing Jab xx special works from medium range but timed slightly late, etc).

Weird red flash note

 photo sfa3-07-30-015023_zpsc2222ad9.png

Gen’s crouching HK (crane stance) can beat Akuma’s divekick with the right timing/distance, however it is somewhat fickle (often the case with non-invincible attacks that can challenge the divekick).

However, the move is more likely to work, for some reason, if you are holding down/back or down on the joystick- I think d/b even moreso than d. When holding d/f it was far less successful.

I’m not exactly sure what the reason for this is- something to do with charging, or maybe canceling the beginning of blockstun?

Weird.

(the red flash, to be brief, suggests that the move would normally lose or trade but in this case will win because of an experimental subsystem that Alpha 3 (and I think all of the SF3 games) use to rank attack priority)

Thoughts on Evo 2013, counter-pokes, parries and SF4

Evolution, the largest fighting game tournament in the world, has concluded. Being an old man, none of my favorite games were featured as part of the official tournament, because they’re all well over a decade old, but I was more entertained by the final 8 of the Super SF4 (AE 2012) tournament than I had expected to be. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it in person this year, but I watched it online, along with tens of thousands of others across the world- which, while still wildly inferior, was still pretty great. Click here to watch archived video footage, SF4 starting at (10:35:30).

In particular, I took note of Haitani’s Makoto, and the reads he was making on his opponents there and earlier in the tournament, and the way he was both poking and counterpoking. The latter in particular struck me as being very interesting, because while it’s uncommon in SF4, there were a couple of players in the top 8 doing it- Sakonoko’s Ibuki, PR Balrog’s Balrog, Infiltration’s Hakan (in a particularly exciting set of matches, starting at 12:01:30 in the link above), etc. It made me wish there were more of that aspect to the game, other than jumping attacks vs anti-air.

It’s less common in the SF4 games for a couple reasons- the least of which, oddly enough, is the Focus Attack. They don’t change that aspect nearly as much as the parry did in the SF3 games, because there is a risk in using it, even though it can be cancelled out of and used as a feint. With the parry, things were fairly straightforward- it’s less important to know what-beats-what, because parry beats essentially all non-throw attacks. There are still attacks used as pokes, but the reasons are based less on priority, but either risk vs reward (Chun poke to super for huge damage), or difficulty to parry (speed, danger of cancel after parry, etc).

In short, the context is different- it’s no longer attack vs attack, it’s attack vs throw, or attack vs movement. Focus attacks in the SF4 games have a greater risk of the attacker canceling into another move, and extra damage is temporarily taken if hit after performing one, etc.

The simpler reason why there’s less counterpoking in SF4 is less present as a feature of the game is because the focus of the game is on mixup options, because it can be much easier to get close to someone, and into throw range. Throw range then leads to throws and throw mixups, which can lead to crossups etc. And because throws are stronger in the SF4 games than some others, attacks no longer beat throws the way they used to, either because they have faster startup (compared to Alpha 3, CvS2, SF3:3S, etc), have better range, or both.

Some characters still rely on pokes, but this is mostly do to a change of risk/reward in their favor; if shotos can poke with c.MK into fireball, they can cancel it into a dash if it connects and do big damage and stun. It becomes like challenging SF3:3S Chun-Li’s c.MK if she has super meter. Additionally, some SF4 characters like Sakura when they are in attack range are also in throw range and also in frame trap range (something like a counter-poke, but based on punshing option select throw escapes), and also have the option of doing a random EX attack which is safe if blocked, but will blow through any defensive pokes during their pressure.

Barring any changes to the newly-announced Ultra SF4, this is simply a matter of the game engine. Objectively, I don’t find the system of the SF4s to be any dumber than most of my favorite games, though I will say I would probably play the game a little more often if things were weighted a little differently. SFxTekken has a similar characteristic of pokes leading to big (or at least important) damage, but after watching a lot of high-level tournament play of the game, I’m heartened to see pokes and counterpokes being used (ie. the usually unsafe tag attack as a counterpoke), and people challenging each other air-to-air.

(Keep in mind that this entire blog post has a deep Alpha 3 bias.)

Gen vs Chun notes

NOTE: the following entry uses the old school American notation for attack button strength.

Jab, Strong, Fierce = light punch, medium punch and heavy punch;
Short, Forward, Roundhouse = light kick, medium kick, heavy kick

Also, keep in mind that this is not meant to be a genuinely comprehensive look at the match.

this is a header photo

Apropos of nothing, some thoughts on Gen vs Chun-Li in Alpha 3. This is all coming from the POV of someone who plays Gen, but any information works both ways.

The Basics:

Not a good match for Gen. IMO it’s 7:3 in Chun’s favor, and I seemed to be validated in that reading when I came across the following best-of-30 match set played by DARK and Chourin Kenji.

Why:

All of Chun’s moves beat all of Gen’s moves.

That’s an extreme oversimplification, but in general Gen has problems after being knocked down, against crossups, with anti-air, and with simple mixups. All of these situations, by the way, can lead into one another, and so disrupting and avoiding negative momentum is as much the problem then establishing positive momentum.

There is a de facto option select in Alpha 3 because of the guard meter system, even more than in other games with a similar feature: you do not have to hit your opponent to do damage. Because some characters and moves can drain the guard meter so quickly in this game, characters with high-priority attacks in particular can throw them out when in range of the opponent, and there is a real benefit, whether or not the attack hits for damage or is blocked (resulting in guard damage). This is one of Chun-Li’s strongest points in Alpha 3, and Gen’s inability to defend himself stands out in bold relief. Continue reading

Tripguard exceptions list (mostly complete)

Certain attacks cancel tripguard- mentioned in some earlier posts, video example here:

Was working on a list, which is incomplete, but it’s coming together pretty well, so far- I’d say it’s about 90% done.

Here’s another video which demonstrates another use, vs non-jumping moves which have airborne frames.

Note that the interactions were tested using the Saturn version of the game, which tends to be fairly accurate to the arcade versions. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the hitboxes for the console-only characters in particular (Guile etc) vary slightly from version to version.

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Jumping Neutral Jump Command Move Special Move
Adon
Akuma (LK, MK, HK) d+MK divekick command roll (zenpou tenshin)
Balrog (Boxr)
Balrog (console ver)
Birdie LK d+HP air splash
Bison (Dic) HK head stomp & follow up; whiff or skull dive
Bison (Final Bison) untested, see Bison
Blanka HK rainbow roll (backstep rolling), 3K forward hop
Cammy divekick, drill, DP, spin knuckle, hooligan; whiff or throw attempt
Charlie (LK, MK, HK) (MK, HK) knee bazooka
Chun-Li MK d/f+HK knee drop, d+MK air stomp hcb+k (sen en shu)
Cody f+HK
Dan (LK, MK, HK) taunt rolls
Dee Jay
Dhalsim (LP, HP) (LP, HP) d+MK and d+HK air drills
E. Honda headbutt (recovery time), sumo drop
Evil Ryu (untested, see Ryu)
Fei Long (LK, MK) (MP, HP) f+HK chicken wing (rekku kyaku)
Gen (both stances) (LK, MK, HK) ??? center ceiling dive (Ouga)
Guile (LP, MP, HP) (LK, MK, HK) (LP, MP, HP) (LK, MK, HK) knee bazooka
Guy (LK, MK, HK) d/f+HK flip kick
Juli (see Cammy)
Juni (see Cammy) +air drill
Karin LK dp+K, tiger knee rainbow overhead (ressen ha)
Ken (MP, HP) (LK, MK, HK) command roll (zenpou tenshin)
R. Mika (HP) (LK, HK) (HP) (HK) crouch MP and HP, d+LK air knee drop, d+HP air splash kick peach, 360+P (paradise hold)
Rolento (MP, HP) (MK, HK) standing f+MK staff
Rose Soul Throw
Ryu (LK, MK, HK)
Sagat ? (LK, MK, HK)
Sakura (LK, MK, HK) (MK, HK)
Shin Akuma untested, see Akuma
Sodom (LK, MK) (LK, MK) 360+P, 360+K (Butstumetsu Buster Daikyou Burning)
T. Hawk (HP) (LK) LK command overhead
Vega (Claw) standing HK, f+HK claw roll, kick dive (flying barcelona attack); slash or whiff
Zangief

A note on GGPO and Windows 7’s lag.

(Crossposted from SRK)
I mentioned in the last thread that there was some input lag while using Windows 7.

After doing some moderate investigoogling, this seems to be an issue with vsync, which Win7 uses for everything in the standard Aero layout (the one where with all of the pretty semitransparent borders). This can be addressed a number of ways, the simplest being to go into the display settings and change your layout to Windows 7 Basic, or another non-Aero layout. I tried High Contrast Black and things also improved, but for some reason Windows Classic felt like it had a bit less lag than either of those two. I also tried changing the color from 32-bit to 16-bit (under monitor settings), and there seemed to be another improvement. However, it was less noticeable than just switching to a non-Aero layout, so it could likely be an illusion.

In my case because I’m using a windowed application (GGPO/FBA) I went into Win7’s graphical properties menus. But if you’re running a fullscreen application of whatever game you’re playing, you can just go into the options menu and turn off vsync. I tried it with the PC version of SSF4:AE, and the difference was very noticeable.

When you turn off vsync the game will be slightly less pretty, but it wasn’t a big deal in SSF4:AE, when compared to some faster-paced FBA games.

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Also, on a super-random note, if you’re recording something with with Hypercam, you probably want to set the color to 16-bit. You will get fewer video errors (video rapidly speeds up after a minute or two, etc).

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Also, HIRO’s YouTube channel has updated with a bunch of videos for various games (Melty Blood AACC, GGXX, Chaos Breaker, SF4 etc).


See also, a-cho arcade’s other YouTube channel:

Updates, Videos, GGPO and More Frame Data


Hey, everybody. It’s been a while. I’ve been upgrading my PC for a while, and…long story short, I needed a new hard drive during a massive hard drive shortage (HDDs presently cost 3 times what they did a few months ago). As such, I haven’t been doing much blogging or game playing etc, since I’m running a copy of Linux Mint 11 off of a boot disc.

(Linix Mint is a cool operating system, btw- worth having as a backup, if nothing else. I still plan on keeping it around after I get my PC up and running again and install Windows 7. You can download it and burn it to a disc, and that will allow you to play around with it without having to install or change anything on your system.)

So, I figured it’s about time I get around to posting more stuff. It’s been too long.

First of all, a relative update regarding my last post and GGPO’s issues with frameskipping- I was able to tweak my setup (back when I had my normal OS up and running) and get my ping down, and there was a noticeable improvement. With that said, the point about more frames being skipped in the current version of GGPO than the older versions remains true. I do still love the program, especially since I haven’t played a match in a few months.

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Secondly, and speaking of GGPO, you might want to check out the following accounts-

MischieMouse is a Marvel player from Japan, and I’ve seen him in the MvC1 room quite a few times, and played him once or twice. He just made a Megaman combo video which you can see on SRK, or go to his channel to see more videos, including MvC1 GGPO matches, tutorials, a Megaman X2 video and others.
http://www.youtube.com/user/misuch77

BahamanianKing posts match GGPO match videos from a number of games, including SFA2, SFA3, MvC1, Super Turbo and others.
http://www.youtube.com/user/BahamianKing100

Middlekick has continued dutifully capturing and uploading the Chiba ranking battle SFA3 videos, and has posted them to his YouTube channel.
http://www.youtube.com/user/Alivein85


RB #133 features:

Imakichi (V-Ken, A/V-Akuma)
Kuma (V-Dan, A-Ryu)
Sarada (A-Ken, A-Guy)
Amamiya (V-Juni, A-Guy)


In RB #134
Yousei’s Karin continues to be a terror, as is often the case. We also get to see an unusually clear example of the inequity that V-ISM provides certain characters and players…

Kayaman (A/V-Blanka)
VER (playing random select; V-Guy, V-Ryu)
Yousei (A/V-Karin)
Imakichi (V-Akuma)
Amamiya (V-Sakura)
Sarada (A-Guy)

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Finally, because I know people love Alpha 3 frame data (not really), I stumbled across this:

http://salad03.web.fc2.com/

It’s not of much use unless you can read a little Japanese, but I’ll try to do some basic translation at a later date.

GGPO Version .030 Frameskpping/Rollback issue

Edit (Nov.26.2011): It should be noted that after messing around with my settings- IIRC I just unplugged my router and connected my cable modem directly to my PC’s ethernet port- I lowered my ping number, which improved the frameskipping problem by a noticeable amount. However, the overall point of the below post (that the v.030 of GGPO drops more frames than older versions) remains correct, and it is probably worth documenting somewhere.

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Note: The following is written about the current PC client of GGPO, and does not necessarily relate to the versions of the GGPO netcode included in SFIII: 3rd Strike Online Edition, Skullgirls, DBZ: Zenkai Battle Royale, etc.

Note 2: I’m not complaining about a loss- the player in these videos is legitimately better than me at the game. I’m talking about the actual quality of match connections.

The short version: frames get skipped in the current version of GGPO more often, so you can’t always tell what’s going on. See here, where frames of animation are missing- Spider-Man disappears here or “teleports” right before every hit that leads into a combo, and whenever he does a Web Ball while in the air.

YouTube cuts frames anyway, so it may be hard to tell. To download a small video of the game, click here (3.97mb). It may seem much more apparent.

I’ve chatted about this with several people online, but I’ve never seen it documented anywhere. In the newest version of the GGPO client there a greater number of rollbacks and skipped frames (which I think to be the result of small rollbacks). For a somewhat technical explanation of how GGPO works, see Mike Z’s post over at the Skullgirls website. In brief, instead of lagging gameplay and slowing down the time before the players’ inputs register on screen (see: most netplay in fighting games), GGPO lets things go out more quickly, and then synchronizes the sessions of both players, to make sure everything is kosher. This may not be technically correct, but I think it’s probably the shortest way to get the point across.

The problem is, because both sessions are running at full speed, they may not be synchronized the way they should be, and so sometimes GGPO has to make corrections. If Player 1 throws a fireball from across the screen, the data may not have been sent to Player 2 right away. So instead of the game slowing down, or the inputs being delayed, what you’ll have is that Player 1 will see the fireball being thrown, but Player 2 won’t. GGPO will then adjust what Player 2 sees, and immediately import/relay this information and display Player 1’s inputs/game state to him. Under ideal conditions, this is done seamlessly.

Under poor conditions, though, things don’t look quite right. In the above example, Player 2 might see a fireball appear on screen, seemingly instantly; the frames of animation where Player 1 threw it may not have been visible, so all Player 2 will see on his end are the projectile and Player 1’s recovery frames.

This is the type of thing I’m talking about, and to see a long and fairly detailed example, keep on reading. Continue reading