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:

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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

Nostalgia break: SFA3 promo video

While looking on YouTube for old video game commercials, I stumbled across this. Please to enjoy.

If you watch closely, you can spot a few differences between the beta version of A3 from the video, and the final version(s).

acho 113th Ranking battle video

HIRO’s a-cho channel has updated with tournament videos for a ton of games, as per usual, including some A3 matches.

Players are DARK (A-Gen), Harashou (V-Ken), Kisaku (V-Zangief), HIRO (X-Sakura) Raaku (?) (V-Sakura, and a mystery V-Gen player who is either Shishi(?) or Mui(?), or neither, because I don’t know if either of those names are correct. A-Zangief player I would assume to be Kisaku, but I can’t make out the name.

V-Gen player doesn’t always do great, but over the course of his matches he displays more and more of the character’s potential.

Evolution 2011: Thoughts on Skullgirls and Street Fighter x Tekken


Howdy, elite fraternity of readers. It’s been a while. I went to Evo last week (an international tournament for fighting games), and had a good time, as I always do.

I got a chance to play a few matches of SFxTekken and Skullgirls.

Skullgirls is kind of hard to explain in a few sentences, but basically: it’s a fighting game with an all-female cast (at least, thus far; the game is incomplete), and the characters and animation have a sense of whimsy to them.

Comparisons:
People have been comparing it to BlazBlue, Arcana Heart, Melty Blood, the Guilty Gear games, etc. I don’t play any of those aside from some Guilty Gear X matches I’ve had, mostly against the CPU. But the game I would actually compare it the most to is Capcom’s Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, only with a more traditional Street Fighter layout for the button scheme (three punch buttons on top, three kicks for the bottom row). There are long combos and some characters have projectiles which they can use to fill the screen and keep opponents out. There aren’t “Stands” like in JJBA, but each character has a familiar of some sort, often related to some item they have: A hat with big burly arms, hair which turns into a monster, an umbrella that shoots projectiles, etc.

Experience:
I didn’t get much quality time with the game, but I did get in a handful of matches. Unfortunately, the people I played had been learning the game all weekend (I didn’t play until Sunday), Evo started Friday morning, and so I was no match for any of the better players. I did get a pretty fair sense of the game, however. I played Peacock and Parasoul, the two most recent characters announced, as of this writing. Both characters were fun, though not the easiest characters to pick up and play.

Verdict:
Anyway, the verdict: the game is really interesting. It has a ratio system like the Capcom vs SNK games (selectable like CvS2), and a tag/assist system like Capcom’s Marvel games (teammate assists come in and do a move of your choice, but can be hurt in the process if you don’t protect them). The character variety is good, and the game looks good so far. On top of that, the game will be using GGPO’s netcode, so the online play should be better than most fighting games. And while the pricing hasn’t been announced, the rumor is that the game will only be in the $15-20 price range because it’s a downloadable game and won’t be on discs.

    TL;DR-

If you’ve played any of Capcom’s Marvel games or JJBA, you should be pretty familiar with Skullgirls, and it will be mostly a matter of learning a few new moves and features. There aren’t the same launchers and air combos as in Marvel, but the air dashes will feel pretty familiar, and combat mid-air is somewhat similar to how it is on the ground. To hear the developers (including noted Marvel vs Capcom 2 player and combo video maker Mike Z) talk about the game in-depth, click here.

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Street Fighter x Tekken is pretty much self-explanatory. A bunch of Street Fighter characters vs a bunch of Tekken characters, this time in a legit fighting game- Namco x Capcom looked fun, but it was a different thing.


System:
Control scheme is 6-button just like standard Street Fighter, and the Tekken characters have had attacks fleshed out to compensate. Their attack strings remain the same button presses in most cases, however. At least, this is how I understand it- I haven’t played Tekken in years, and didn’t try any Tekken characters when I played SFxT.

It’s a 2-vs-2 tag system, with no assists. Tag is both medium attacks, but IIRC you can’t tag while holding down/back to block or else you just get a medium attack. Tagging has both startup time and recovery time, unlike say Marvel vs Capcom 2 where your 1st character instantly tags out, but the new character you just tagged in has some recovery time. You lose the round when either of your characters gets KO’d.

Combo system is based on chains, seems like light-medium-heavy attack as opposed to the zigzag chains that the old Marvel games allowed for some characters. I didn’t see any dizzies/stuns.

Special moves (for SF characters at least) are generally the same- although Chun for example now does lightning legs as half-circle forward+kick (IIRC) instead of rapidly pressing a kick button. Special move motion with two buttons does an EX attack, like in the SF4 and SF3 games. Special move motion with 3 buttons does a super move like in the Marvel VS games, but it has to be all 3 punches or all 3 kicks, depending on the move.

There are alpha counters of a sort, but I didn’t see if they were any good.

Super meter is segregated into 3 bars like in the Alphas or CvS games (Capcom/C-groove or A-ISM in Alpha 3). EX moves take one meter, super moves take two meters. There’s a crossover mode like the duos in Marvel vs Capcom 1 that allows you to have both members of your team on screen at once, but I never actually did it, so I don’t know how it’s done or what the limitations are. It doesn’t seem to require all 3 super meters, but unlike MvC1, you have to toggle between which character you control, and aren’t controlling both simultaneously. See here.

Super motions are specific to the moves they represent- for example instead of qcf or qcb + 3 kicks with Sagat to get his super (Tiger Genocide aka Tiger Destruction), I found out it was a DP motion + 3 kicks, because the super move is based on the Tiger Knee.

Each character seems to have a special move that they can charge. With Ryu if you do a fireball but hold the attack button down, he’ll charge it up (think Gouken in SF4 or his Denjin animation in the SF3 games). If you charge it long enough it will become an EX move- but wont’ require the super meter. So essentially every character has a free EX move, with the downside being that they take a long time to charge. If you hold the button down as long as possible, it becomes a super move, and again, IIRC, it doesn’t cost any meter. But you have to hold it down forever, making yourself vulnerable to attack.

Pressing Fierce + Roundhouse cancels into a tag move, and because the game has a chain combo system, it’s pretty easy for everyone to do something like crouching light attack, crouching medium attack, standing hard attack into tag attack. The new character comes in and still has time to combo afterwards, as you can see in the videos embedded above. The downside being that this tag move has significant recovery time if it misses or is blocked.

There is a feature that allows you to tag in your partner while doing special moves, sort of like an Focus Attack Dash cancel in the SF4 games- you’re in the middle of doing an attack, and as you cancel it into a tag, you finish up your attack while the new character comes in, allowing them to continue a combo, or do a move that hits low while your old character attacks high, etc. I believe this takes one bar of super meter, like an EX move.

Juggle system is unlimited, from what I understand- there is no limit to the amount of times you can juggle an opponent, in theory. However, there seems to be a mechanic in place that makes the juggled character fall faster/further the more times they’re hit.

Verdict, Experience & Comparisons:
I liked it more than I was expecting to. Luckily I got to play about a half-dozen games, and unlike Skullgirls, I ended up playing with a group of other scrubs, so we were all learning the game instead of just getting owned mercilessly. I played Sagat/Ryu as my team, because I felt pretty comfortable with those characters, but eventually moved on to Sagat/Poison and Sagat/Dhalsim.

Dhalsim now does his far attacks by pressing toward and an attack button, by the way. His default attacks are the short-range close normals from older games, or back+normal attack moves from the more recent ones. He also doesn’t chain attacks as freely as some of the other characters.

The game feels a bit like Alpha 3, actually, only without the guard meter, different super system etc. The throws have an exceptionally shortt range, so the game is based less on mixup like 3rd Strike or the throw games in SF4, and more based around pokes- at least at this stage, so early in the game’s life. Couldn’t get an idea of what characters were good, though I saw a Marduk player (a native Tekken player learning to adjust to the new game, I think) who did some good combos. Seems to be a pretty aggressive game, and I think corner pressure and combos are going to be a big part of it.

Also, air-to-air is going to be a big deal for a few characters, like the crouch-cancel juggle opportunities in Alpha 3; after an attack that bounces the opponent high enough, or an air counter hit etc, you can keep doing attacks until you’re either out of range or your opponent hits the ground. So if you have a high-priority air attack and hit the opponent out of the air with it (let’s say you’re using Chun’s jumping Short as a hypothetical), you get the chance to follow that up with as many attacks as you can.

    TL;DR-

SFxT looks good. Though it’s a little less SF4 and a little more SFA3.

To hear some Capcom staff members talking in detail about the game see here, under the SFxTekken panel heading (the last set of videos in the blog post). See the 3rd of those videos, especially.

A3 videos roundup, and a note of clarification


Middlekick has uploaded the most recent Chiba Ranking Battle videos to his YouTube page. Matches feature V-Ryu, Akuma, Karin and Sakura*. If you like Ryu, you should definitely see these matches, Sarada is even beastier than usual.

Chiba Ranking Battle #128

*Players are Sarada, Imakichi, Yousei and Amamiya.

He’d also dutifully uploaded some casual matches in the weeks before, see his channel for links, and check out the SRK Alphas videos thread for older updates.

click for link to match

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Zero3Japan is one of a-cho.com’s YouTube channels, and they constantly update with match/tournament videos for a wide variety of games. Recently they’ve uploaded an A3 ranking battle, and here it is:

a-cho 112th Ranking Battle

Characters played are V-Ryu, V-Sakura, V-Zangief, A-Gen, X-Zangief and X-Sakura. We get to see more of HIRO’s X-Sak than usual in this video. Don’t know the other player names here, but if I had to guess I’d say the purple Gen is Morimomo and the light blue one is DARK, as per usual.

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Also, with regards to the special tournament matches coming out of a-cho in my last post and ones like it (6th to 8th-level matches)- according to a helpful member of the SRK forums, they’re known as a danisen.

It is danisen. You start at 1st dan and work your way up. +1 point for a win -1 point for a loss. 3 points = rank up -3 = rank down. After 9th dan you have to get 5 points to rank up.

a-cho videos: 111th Ranking Battle and more


If you like V-Cammy and V-Chun, this is your lucky day. HIRO’s/a-cho YouTube channel has updated recently with some sexy sexy A3 matches, over two hours’ worth in total.

Gen: DARK (light blue), Morimomo (purple)
V-Chun: HOT, except in the Chun vs Chun mirror match where 1P is Shin (?)
Dhalsim: X-Dhalsim is HIRO, V-Dhalsim is Takedaru
X-Sakura: also HIRO
Cammy: Harashou
Ryu: Fuchi
Dan: Unknown, mabye Harenchitatsu
Zangeif: Kisaku (in purple), and Tomeshii (? Tonishii?, in orange )

There’s an outside chance that one of the Ryu players may be Kuma, since I heard his name mentioned by the announcer, but it’s hard to tell. I can’t find any tournament results for these, so I’m finding the names by ear.

a-cho ranking battle #111

00:00 – Zangief vs Dan
01:56 – Cammy vs Gen
04:11 – Zangief vs Gen
05:42 – X-Dhalsim vs Gen
07:56 – Cammy vs Dan
10:09 – Zangief vs Cammy
12:34 – X-Sakura vs Cammy
15:24 – Ryu vs V-Chun li
18:52 – Gen vs V-Chun li
22:27 – V-Chun li (HOT) vs V-Chun li (Shin?)
24:09 – Zangief vs V-Chun li
27:33 – Gen vs Ryu
30:46 – Ryu vs V-Chunli (HOT)
33:07 – Gen (DARK) vs Gen (Morimomo)
34:36 – V-Dhalsim (Takedaru) vs V-Chun li
37:06 – Cammy vs Gen
38:27 – V-Chun li vs Zangief
40:42 – Zangief vs Gen
42:38 – Cammy vs V-Chun

What’s that? You also like V-Ken? Well, class is now in session.

Ken player is Harashou, Ryu player is Fuchi, Zangief player is Kisaku, and Gen player is DARK.

6~8th-level matches

00:00 – Ken vs Zangief
03:15 – Ken vs Zangief
05:27 – Zangief vs Gen
07:11 – Zangief vs Gen
09:45 – Zangief vs Gen
12:19 – Zangief vs Ken
15:06 – Zangief vs Gen
17:39 – Zangeif vs Ryu
20:29 – Zangief vs Gen
23:24 – Zangeif vs Ryu
25:22 – Zangief vs Gen
28:09 – Ryu vs Gen
30:18 – Ryu vs Zangief
34:00 – Zangief vs Gen
37:20 – Ryu vs Zangief
40:50 – Gen vs Zangief
42:33 – Gen vs Ryu
44:51 – Zangief vs Ryu
46:47 – Gen vs Ryu
49:08 – Zangief vs Ryu
52:23 – Gen vs Ryu
54:57 – Gen vs Ryu
57:34 – Gen vs Ryu
59:31 – Gen vs Ryu
1:03:04 – Gen vs Ryu
1:06:09 – Gen vs Ken
1:07:54 – Gen vs Ken
1:10:47 – Ryu vs Ken
1:13:52 – Gen vs Ken
1:15:47 – Gen vs Ryu
1:18:37 – Gen vs Ryu
1:21:43 – Gen vs Ryu
1:23:44 – Gen vs Ken
1:26:01 – Ryu vs Ken
1:29:32 – Gen vs Ken
1:31:09 – Ken vs Zangief
1:33:00 – Ken vs Zangief
1:35:13 – Ken vs Zangief

Lag and You: An Amuse-Bouche


With GGPO down for a few weeks, I tried Supercade, which is a great program, but its considered by some to be silver medalist to GGPO’s gold.

My experiences with the program were pretty good, but there was a noticeable increase in input delay compared to GGPO. Input delay, for the unaware, is a form of online lag in which the game plays at more or less normal speed, but there is a brief period before what you actually enter on your joystick/controller/keyboard etc actually happens on screen. This is measured in milliseconds and not fulls seconds, of course, because a full second of lag is somewhat beyond the pale when talking about these two programs.

To be fair, there have been complaints about about the new version of GGPO having more input lag than the old ones for some reason and other new problems, but I happen to be specifically discussing Supercade matches right now.

I’ve been thinking about writing something on the psychology of online/input lag, but it will have to wait.

The short version being: I was not always on the losing end of lag in these matches, and also that it essentially lowers the level of execution for all players, because things you react to visually/audibly have already happened a few milliseconds earlier, as far as the game is concerned. This discourages reaction and encourages predictive actions (ie. random sweeps), and things which are dangerous (jumping attacks vs characters with otherwise-reliable anti-air) become safer because they’re harder to react to.

Please keep in mind the lag during these games wasn’t terrible by online gaming standards, but was simply not ideal. I am Player 2 in all matches.

TL;DR
Recorded some matches, because I was bored.

To avoid opening new window, click on the Play icon in the bottom corner of the video, instead of clicking on the video itself. Continue reading

GGPO Status: BACK

Website up!

Client is up! But requires new download- it is a new test-build.

You will need to copy/paste your ROMS folder into whatever folder you unzip the new GGPO files into. If you didn’t already have an earlier build of GGPO installed, then create a new folder named “roms” and put your games in it.