Courtesy of a Master Yi guide on SoloMid.
"Know the Demographics"
This guide works particularly well in solo queue as we are taking advantage of how people think and act while they are playing this game with strangers. Interestingly, while every gamer will tell you in a team game that the most important thing to them is winning, 9 times out of 10 this is simply not true and they are not being honest with themselves but the truth does show up in their behavior. You will see the following behavior in this game.
- Carries putting themselves in harms way while they're at low hp when they think they can snatch a kill that has been secured by the rest of their team
- If you put a low hp opponent next to a low hp nexus, 9 times out of 10 people will target the low hp enemy even at the risk of the enemy team respawning and saving their nexus
- People that are concerned about KDA will not sacrifice themselves in order to win a team fight, get objectives, or the nexus - junglers are a notable exception to this when it comes to baron
- People will hestitate and become indecisive about pushing as a team if they see someone pushing their base - the result being half will push and half will retreat
- People attempting to kill the enemy tank in a team fight just because he's blow half hp while the enemy ad carry is within range
- People chasing down kills within their own base while someone is taking down their nexus
- When pushing turrets without minions, no one wants to tank the turret even if it's certain they will not die while taking it down - junglers are often an exception to this
- AD Carries farming minions next to a turret while an ally is tanking the turret for them
- AD Carries overextending to farm minions or jungle when it is time to do baron
- When individuals on a team don't trust eachother to do the job right you will see 3-5 people attempt to stop a single split pusher leaving their team outnumbered elsewhere on the map
- For most people, Split pushing is not accepted as a legitimate strategy, 5v5 team fighting is the rule even if your team is down 0-40
Life happened! So Ziggurat cover is on the back, back, backburner. For much later.
EVO 2012 is around the corner. I don't think I'm revising the guide on how to not be a terrible traveler this year. The guide applies to every year, anyway -- we don't need another rehash.
I kind of want to write something about the Marlins this year! But it'd probably wind up on Fishstripes instead.
I'm thinking of throwing a major in Miami sometime at the end of the year, but I think I'd rather plan for next year. I want to throw something... big. Real big. Near South Beach! Time to make some phone calls.
Check out ZiGGURAT, the game, at http://www.zggrt.com/ and play the hell out of it (on pretty much any iDevice, as long as it is sufficiently recent I guess). Then check out the soundtrack, if you'd like!
I am writing a cover of the theme. Why? Well, just because.
You've got your plane ticket to Las Vegas. You've made hotel reservations. You've touched base with your roommates. You fly out soon. You're pretty much set for one of the most fun weekends of your life.
If you thought this was a review for the movie The Hangover, then you suffer from one of the following problems:
- You don't read my blog very often. Which is okay, because this is the first post I've made in forever.
- You don't play Street Fighter competitively. You are probably a very successful person in life.
I am kidding, of course. You can be perfectly successful in life while playing competitive Street Fighter as long as your name is something like Hajime Taniguchi, Ari Weintraub, Justin Wong, Daigo Umehara, Peter Susini, or some variation thereof, in which case you have contracts with groups who throw fairly good money in your direction to masterfully chuck a thousand fireballs and dive kick with absolute gusto at unwary opposition. The rest of you are like me, trying to find a way to balance Real Life with Hadokens, with (vastly) varying degrees of success (or failure).
The vast majority of people who will read this are people who have been to a major tournament before and know what to expect. But there are other, more inexperienced (read: stupid) souls out there that haven't had a chance to go to a big tournament. Maybe you've never been to an event of this magnitude before. Plenty of people will be popping their proverbial major tournament cherry with Evolution 2011, and a lot of these people may not feel as if they are completely ready for it. Sure, you've attended a few local tournaments where the brackets can, admittedly, get pretty big -- particularly now with the huge fighting game boom. You definitely felt like you were the master when you did alright out of that 128-man bracket at that nearby tournament in a neighboring city, where people were so packed in such a small building that you thought you were going to run out of oxygen.
If you think this is going to be like that, I have news for you: you're both somewhat right and terribly, terribly wrong.
You will definitely feel like you're about to run out of oxygen, of course. It's just that the big bracket you succeeded in won't be the entire tournament; this time, Evolution is running something close to a million 16-man brackets out of which you will have to fight your way through to get to the top. What that means is that you'll be essentially looking at hundreds of little tournaments going on in the same day in one really big ballroom, which means you will feel both completely lost and intimidated on your first day.
Even with all of that, there's nothing to not love about Evolution, but if there was something about the entire package experience that you'd have to quickly learn to hate, it would probably be the "preparation" part. No doubt a lot of you went with the cheapest possible tickets that you could get to fly with, which means a lot of your flights start at 5 AM in the morning and have a connection or three somewhere along the line and get you there at 12 PM, Vegas time (which means you've spent roughly 10 hours in a plane or in airports). Alternatively, some of you are traveling in from overseas or South America, which means your plane trip is about three times more excruciating and claustrophobic than the flights of people in North America. I can already feel your excitement.
But don't be (too) afraid! If you haven't left for Vegas yet and you've never played in a major tournament, or would just like to be better prepared than the last time you showed up to one, here are some last-minute tips that will help keep your traveling experience pleasant and keep your money from vanishing overnight during your stay in Vegas.
Keep your pack light
I remember sharing my room a couple of years ago with a semi-pro football player. This guy literally brought a huge bag in which he normally carries football gear to bring all his stuff in. While this was okay for him, because he was strong as hell -- that whole being a semi-pro football player and all -- this doesn't mean everyone is as strong as he is. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that the vast majority of people who will be playing at this tournament fall under the more conservative "not very strong at all" category. It is important then that your skinny, sun-starved ass not bring anything larger than a backpack with the bare essentials necessary to survive and an additional place to carry your joystick (either an Evo stick sack, some other small bag, or just carrying it in plain view) so as to not crush your pathetically puny back with the overbearing weight of the military-grade survival pack you originally planned to pack.
Realistically, your ultimate goal should be to completely avoid having to check in baggage so that you can skip baggage claims entirely. Most airlines will let you carry on your main bag and your joystick without too much trouble, particularly if you tell them that one is your actual carryon and the other can be considered as something that will be resting on your lap or under the chair. Not all airlines and airports are cool with this, but the vast majority seem to be. It'll be next to impossible to fit a bag with your stuff while also carrying your stick separately, so be prepared to check bags in if your "carry on" looks like it would need to pay for its own seat.
A lot of you also have trouble understanding what bare essentials really consists of. A lot of the stuff you're going to use can be actually acquired at the strip at the nearby CVS. Your very bare essentials boil down to clothes to wear, unless you're insane and like buying clothes at Vegas and then discard them shortly thereafter. So if you're a pretty normal guy, find a good-sized backpack or duffle bag that you can take as a carry on, and start with the following items:
- 2 pairs of pants / 4 pairs of shorts
- 4 shirts, preferably with one nicer shirt (decent polo or something so you look presentable if you go around in Vegas)
- 4 sets of underwear
- 4 pairs of socks
- 1 extra pair of shorts
Most people are thinking, "why not a third set of pants?" Well, because you'll be hopefully wearing a pair around in public when you get on the plane. If you're using jeans, jeans can be reused for one day without it being a massive problem unless they get dirty. If you're pretty clean, you can get away with one set for a couple of days, and if not then there's probably a place in the hotel where you can do emergency laundry. You may want to investigate this before packing two pair of pants only, if that's the case. Of course, if the amount of pants you're bringing is a problem, just pack more pants. The extra pair of shorts can be swimming trunks or athletic shorts; the goal here is that if you plan on using the pool or gym for some reason, you actually can. If not, don't bother unless you just want a cooler-temperature backup. Also, you can probably skimp on one of the shirts if you plan on making it to the tournament early enough to scoop up your attendee t-shirt, since you will be packing it on your way back.
Many people also like to bring their own towels. Towels take up a lot of space in a pack, so either go with a relatively smaller towel, or just make sure you ask for extra towels for your hotel room very, very early in your stay. Hotel rooms seem to be stocked with ~4 small-to-medium sized towels, most people use two of these for some reason. If you have 4 people in your room, get 4 more towels. Get them changed constantly, too (harass the cleaning ladies for more).
Now, let's move on to the personal hygiene stuff. This can be purchased at CVS, but sometimes it's just better to take your own in case you're really picky about what you use. Here's a suggested list with things that will be easy to fit along with your clothes:
- deodorant (antiperspirant -- no exceptions)
- toothbrush / toothpaste
- shampoo (if you use it; a small bottle will do)
- hair gel (if you use it; a small bottle will do)
- hand sanitizer (it's sold everywhere already anyways, take advantage)
- small pack of Wet Ones flushables
- louffa (get ready to get heckled for this)
Hotels provide soap, most of the time. Hotel soap also sucks, most of the time. Bring soap you like if it'll make you happier. Also, a lot of people are going to see the Wet Ones and think I'm insane. I have news for you: if people tend to say you smell like ass despite using deodorant, then chances are that it's your actual ass doing the damage. Use these after you make longer pit stops at the restroom. People who have to play with you will thank you.
Clean up before you go
Try to do this as late as you can without it making you late for your trip. If you know it takes you an hour to get to the airport and checked in, make sure you've completed all the biological needs you can handle, shaved and showered roughly about three hours before the plane leaves so that you can be at the airport about two hours early. Feeling clean will go a long way towards making your plane ride somewhat enjoyable as it'll take longer for you to feel like all the grime in the world has made its way onto your body.
Try not to eat a heavy dinner and don't eat a ton before you leave so you don't have sudden bathroom urges on the plane, or worse, in an airport in North Carolina. And if you can help it, avoid eating airport food, unless trips to the bathroom are something you look forward to. You also don't want to have an upset stomach when you get on a plane, and eating light goes a long way to alleviate that. If you think you'll have trouble with getting hungry, move on to the next step.
It's completely normal to get hungry at the tournament and on the plane or in a random airport in the middle of nowhere. You'll probably need to eat something to survive, and it's not always conducive to head out and find something to eat at short notice. To curtail this, I suggest you bring with you something that's both edible and relatively filling that you can quickly eat in an emergency.
I personally recommend Clif Bars as they're good for you, have plenty of protein and a fair bit of carbs and thus will fit into most reasonable diets, and they're goddamned tasty. Extra points if you can score a bottle of 1% milk somewhere to have it with (~400-500 total calories, which is enough for a meal and will easily last you a plane ride). You will need the carbs for your mind to operate clearly and to be able to withstand what amounts to a rough bunch of hours of playing.
If you're the kind of person that can't operate in the morning without coffee (like I was when I worked at the law firm), Folgers sells these little teabag-style coffee singles that brew a cup per bag. Bring a few or snap them up at the CVS/Walgreens on the strip. Don't like Folgers? You're stuck going with those Starbucks mini-drinks, which are okay, but aren't really coffee.
Drink lots of water
Water can be purchased in bottles everywhere. There's also water fountains at a lot of places, so you can get away with buying a single bottle of water and refilling as often as necessary in between matches. You will definitely need a good amount of water, considering how ridiculously hot it is in Vegas if you decide to step outside for any reason (like enjoying Vegas outside of Evo). Also, drinking enough water will help your brain operate and help stave off that funky feeling of fatigue you'll get from playing a lot in a crowded space.
Another thing that water does a good job of is to help you regulate hunger. This means that you won't randomly get hungry, you'll just get hungry at the right times. Gatorade really isn't a replacement for water in this case because you aren't running a marathon. Try to avoid exclusively drinking soda, as tons of soda will eventually make you feel like absolute garbage.
Know where to eat on the cheap
Evolution doesn't sell food on the premises, and for the most part they do not want you to eat on tournament grounds, so know where to go to eat. Hotel food can be pretty expensive, and some people (like me) are pretty broke. So, learn what's close by. Here's a Yelp Search to get you started -- knowing where you can eat on a budget can be great if you're trying to save a lot of money.
That said, you're cheating yourself out of the Vegas experience if you don't eat at one of the great buffets. Wait until AFTER the tournament, or when you're no longer an active participant. (Or, celebrate your Evolution 2011 win by going out to the Bellagio and eating like a champion. Remember to invite me when you do.)
Clean up at the hotel, too
What, you thought that first time before you left your house was good enough for the rest of the tournament? Fat chance, slobbo. Make sure you're nice and clean before the tournament starts so that you feel great when you play and so that you're not a biohazard to the rest of the patrons. If people can spot you by your stank at a hundred paces, you need to clean up. If you take grimy deuces, that's what you packed Wet Ones for. Use them, you ass. (Around your ass, preferably.)
You don't really have to shave, but it might help you not look like a hobo by the end of the tournament. In the end, you know whether you'll need to or not.
Don't buy tons of crap
This might seem pretty obvious, but if your goal is just to go to Evolution and enjoy your time there, try not to go wild with Tourism-Influenced Stupidity and keep your purchases to a minimum. Chances are you'll get more things than you took to leave at the tournament itself, so you don't want to overload your pack with garbage that isn't necessary. If you planned on doing this in the first place, the packing guide here isn't for you: you will probably need to check bags in.
Hopefully, all of these tips can help make your trip to Las Vegas and to Evolution 2011 a smashing success. If your tournament experience sucks even after you follow all of these, then it's likely that you made the mistake of actually calling one of the phone numbers on the stripper and "massage" "services" cards that they hand out on the Vegas Strip and had one of them visit your room, leaving you with multiple different cases of STDs, the flu and broke.
I'm kidding, of course. The majority of you wouldn't know what to do with those cards anyways.
I am working on a couple of things.
First off, I am putting the finishing touches on the second part of the guide to running tournaments for Option-Select.com. Ryan is out for the weekend at Season's Beatings in Ohio, so you may see this up next week.
Second off... is a surprise! It's for a somewhat large, well-recognized community website. I can't talk about it yet, until it's done and off and published.
Third off, on Tuesdays and Thursdays I am the host of an online live stream from Final Round Arcade, where we play Super Street Fighter IV and stream our terrible, terrible matches out for the rest of the world to watch. You can view that over here whenever you have a chance; we usually start at 7pm. While you're at it, feel free to suggest songs and send me MP3s of songs you'd like to see used in the openers and closers for the stream.
Lastly, I've added another blog to the blogroll. Jeff Vogel is the head of Spiderweb Software, maker of independent games. It's always kind of surprised me how well he's got his mind together and just how insightful a lot of the things he has to say are. He also happens to be pretty funny. So go read!
I'm now part of the Option-Select.com blogger's roll.
You can read my new SSF4 and fighting game-related posts over there. I just recently wrote an article about running tournaments, which will be the first of three posts talking about that! Go over and take a look. Here's an excerpt:
Running tournaments should really primarily be viewed as a business venture. You should never be trying to run a tournament for a loss unless you're looking at a long term goal of creating and nurturing a scene (in which case, a large tournament with a door fee might not really be necessary, and volunteered equipment and locations may suit you just fine). You should be looking to make money out of the time you spend. What you do with this money is really up to you, but if you're doing it for the community, the common sense thing to do is to reinvest it into the tournament to purchase more equipment and games, and to be able to afford better venues. And remember that not only does your tournament need to make money as an entity to remain self-sustaining, but you (and ostensibly those who are working for you that are not volunteers) need to be paid for your time.
Remember: the money you put in at the beginning is key, and you should aim to at least get your investment back. If you’re losing money, then you shouldn’t be running tournaments; at the very least, you need to reevaluate your business plan.
Go here to read the rest! And expect part two in one week (at worst, two).
As for other news: I have a lot in my mind right now about FIU's football team. I'll wait to write about them until after their game against Maryland; I need to make sure that what I'm seeing isn't just smoke and mirrors so far.
I've been playing loads of SSF4.
Veritable loads. Almost dropped SC2 entirely. I don't think I want to invest my time in two separate games at the same time. SC2 might help me learn to think a lot more about what I do, though, so it might be a good idea just as a mental exercise.
I would update on the Marlins, but I'm taking a wait-and-see approach to how everything plays out. Pitching is necessary; Beinfest (and/or Loria) is keen on not paying for it. So, we have nothing.
Cantú is gone. This makes me sad.
FIU Football is going to start soon. I might write something up about it, but then again I might not. I'm not as knowledgeable about football as I am about baseball. I have a good firm understanding of the core concepts of baseball and I can give a much better analysis there than I can on football. Still, there's a lot to be excited about this year if you're one of the few FIU fans out there, so I suppose I should cater to the (admittedly small) crowd.
As for Street Fighter? I've been practicing my Ryu. The footsies are developing. I am starting to learn things. I mainly see what I'm losing to, and soon I'll be able to adapt in a way that will let me get past it. I'm very ready in that aspect; with time, practice and experience, I should find myself winning more games.
So a bunch of little things are occuring that are reigniting a bit of interest in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. The biggest one of these is the announcement of a 3S Online Version, made by Capcom (which presumably would be on the GGPO Netcode). The idea here, of course, is that people would finally have a legitimate location in which to play 3rd Strike on their console online in a way that doesn't lag. This is, naturally, great for that community. It can only hope to breed more interest for the game and broaden the community for it.
With SF4 as popular as it is, it will probably piggyback on the popularity of the Street Fighter franchise and find itself with a lot of people playing it out of the blue. It will probably never reach the popularity of SF4 (it is a slightly more dated game, less people will be willing to "switch over" to it and there's no real chance for any professional circuit to crop up in the way that it's trying to happen in SF4), but it likely means that 3rd Strike will find its way again into the lineup of Evolution with a little bit of luck (although probably in a 2v2 or other similar team format).
The other curious thing is that, amidst all of this, some guy on the internet has undertaken a project in which he's decided to rebalance SF3 by making his own custom version by hacking the original 3rd Strike ROM and cleverly branding it as 4th Strike). There are a number of changes to a few of the characters, although some of them are a little perplexing, with some of the design choices not feeling like they make a whole lot of sense.
Let's start out with the first character that he showcases: Alex. Stungun Headbutt has been changed to a comboable super -- cool. Flash chops reflect projectiles; including super projectiles -- what? You can combo into a flash chop easily, and then afterwards into Hyper Bomb -- yeah, no.
This is usually the theme for most of the characters in the game. He starts off with a couple of really good ideas, and then slowly but surely pisses all over them by incorporating other, less good ideas. Here's a few of these not-quite-so-brilliant moves:
- Twelve's X-COPY now adds a Yang Super Art 3 effect to his moves; he shows this off by doing a combo on Dudley, transforming into Dudley, and then finishing that combo by spamming toward+FP over and over, killing Dudley.
- Yun's Geneijin bar has become extended. Yang now also receives Geneijin instead of his old SA3, but for some reason his SA3 bar isn't as long as Yun's (which means he now has Yun's old problem of Geneijin forever).
- Sean's uppercut was changed to the two-stage uppercut, but the move sprite wasn't changed to the old uppercut. Why? Who knows.
- Sean has a focus attack. (What?)
- Hugo received comboable lariats -- you can now do stuff like LP LP LP MP into Lariat, which is cool. The uncool part is how you can now somehow do his anti-air super cancelled off of his Lariat.
- Multiple characters can now combo into their throws. Welcome to the King of Street Fighters, '98th Strike.
- Ryu's SA3 has been changed to Shinkuu Tatsumakisenpuukyaku (he can do it on the ground or in the air), in favor of moving Denjin into a secondary role over SA1; Denjin now costs two bars instead of one. Ryu already had Shinkuu Tatsumaki as an EX move, and it doesn't make an interesting super.
- Urien's tackles... just watch the video.
There are a lot of great ideas in here too (Sean being more like his 2I version, where he has a good hurricane kick, his flip kicks are decent and his uppercut is useful; Q has more ways to combo things in, Twelve combos more things altogether, Remy looks viable and fun) interspersed with the garbage (Urien), which makes me wonder why half of this stuff was necessary. I noticed that the majority of these changes serve the purpose of giving ways for characters to get in and do their damage, but some of them are just really perplexing.
Some of the really good ideas in here could be taken and included into a version that doesn't have all of these crazy ideas. Some of the upgrades, reverts and changes to the characters make enough sense that they should be considered for their own version of SF3 without needing all the extra garbage this dude feels he should include. Some other ideas are just cool because of what they are, but it leaves me with the lingering feeling that it's all majorly unnecessary. Ryu having 2 stocks of Denjin, for instance, would have been a good enough upgrade that he likely wouldn't have needed anything else. Adding another super was unnecessary, although his changes to Shin Shoryuken make it viable if you want to do stuff like hitconfirm c.MP into something useful (like Ken can).
I want to see where this project winds up, and I think a lot of it can be kept because of how solid it is. But I almost am hoping that someone else with a bit more common sense can hop aboard and keep the guy from making his version of the game a little too ridiculous.
If you've noticed that your SSF4 ground game is lacking a certain something, or if you realize you're getting crushed by a savvier (or older!) opponent's ground game, then maybe it's time for you to properly learn some footsies.
Majestros has pretty much compiled one of the best, easiest to understand collections of knowledge on the subject of footsies and waging the middle-distance war in a series of 12-some articles, summarized into what he calls the Footsies Handbook. This is practically required reading for anyone that is just getting into Street Fighter, the King of Fighters, or just about any other 2D game where spacing is important -- regardless of what character (or game) they're going to play.
Let's just say that I'm going to be doing a whole lot of reading, experimenting and learning from this.
What does it take to completely remake one's game?
I've come to terms with the fact that my fundamentals in Street Fighter are extraordinarily flawed. It's not that I've suddenly had a revelation about it, waking up to realize that By Jove, I've Got No Skills! or anything to that extent. It simply has to do with the fact that my basic fundamentals and abilities are bunk. I'm finding that because I have a groundwork for what skills I have and it's been laid out over the course of so many years (flawed as it is), I am having an incredibly difficult time adjusting to new games. Namely, I simply cannot play SSFIV at anything resembling a satisfactory level.
People will look at me and scoff and tell me how easy SSFIV is and how it makes no sense that I don't understand the game. But that's just it: I'm so used to learning things through exposition and teaching that I've found that it's practically impossible for me to overcome certain walls through my own realization. While my capability to adjust has always been a little sketchy, it was certainly there and I am able to make some adjustments on the fly to adapt. However -- and I'm not sure if this is just lack of familiarity with the game or something more minute that I'm missing -- I simply haven't been able to make the full transition to SFIV. And it's really starting to irk me, because I have had just as much time as everyone else to make the transition, and I'm not getting there.
I've come then to the conclusion that a lot of the groundwork that I've laid out to play SF with is intrinsically wrong, and there's no longer any helping it. For instance, I suffer from the same issue a lot of players who start their fighting game careers on The King of Fighters (and in general learning fighting games in a vacuum, against the CPU w/no competition) have: I'm used to jumping, particularly to jumping forward. I am transparent when I am going to do this and I do it often. Having to reteach myself to jump straight up to avoid fireballs was difficult. Developing a ground game from the ground up was very difficult because I never had to think of things like beating out my opponents' pokes with my own before. 3S and CvS2 helped me move in that direction, but I didn't apparently learn well enough because my ground game still sucks, and it's just really apparent in SF4.
But scrapping your previous game entirely is really difficult. How do you do it? You will still fall back to certain things in your muscle memory. I've only recently tried reinventing myself, switching my pokes of choice and starting to be concerned a lot less with winning in the "now" and trying many different things to see their results to build for success in the future. How do people cope with that, and how difficult is it for you readers to change your mindset to do this? Have you ever run into this problem, where you've become so obsessed with the present state of your game that you couldn't refine your skills? Is this the wall everyone eventually runs into?