The Fighting Game Diaries: We did (not) hold a tournament

I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I sometimes bring my PS4 to work, so that me and my friends can play fighting games before work starts. And sometimes after work. Or not depending on who reads this. But we do. We have a lot of fun.

For the longest time the pair of us have talked about letting the kids who come into the library to play fighting games. The initial plan was Guilty Gear Strive but then I got nervous about some of the character artwork. There was a brief flirtation with Xrd but it turns out some characters swear and sometimes Ino just takes her top off.  Then I shifted to Street Fighter, with a focus on Third Strike – of the older games it controls the smoothest and isn’t all that complicated (for kids pressing buttons) – the Alpha series being its own beast (explaining the Ism system – I barely get it). Those games never got played. In fact, tournaments didn’t happen. In part because I’m a terrible salesman, and in part because our old boss would not allow it, so I had to keep it on the down low.

I stupidly forgot to record any footage of the kids matches – so, in place of that are gifs of my friend beating me at fighting games and doing cool stuff in fighting games. She digs Granblue.

However, thanks to my friend being much better at talking to kids than me, we managed to do 8-person tournament. We did manage to do 4-person tournament before this, but 8 people allows for more play time and more time for patterns to emerge. It’s fun watching people who have not played these games play them – particularly kids and teens (it was two teens and six kids). They make their own meta in real time.

And there was a prize on the line. People will hang around for chocolate. And what game did they play for chocolate? And having fun. Fun was had.

Cha La Head Cha La: Thank Kami for Dragon Ball Fighter Z. Fighter Z has a lot of things going for it. It’s not that violent – all fighting games are inherently violent – but it’s incredibly tame in comparison to other games. It is visually spectacular – the characters look cool, even if people don’t know how to play it looks great in motion and it’s incredibly colourful and vibrant. It works wonders for kids to teenagers to potentially apprehensive parents.

She’s got a mean Cell.

They do be mashing: Another thing Fighter Z has going for it is that it allows people who don’t know about fighting games to do cool stuff. Taking Strive as an example, if you just mash the square button all that will happen is a character will stand in place doing a punch. Do that in Fighter Z and any character will do a full combo. The same applies to all the attacking buttons. Auto combos are wonderful things. In addition, the buttons in Fighter Z are all forward advancing – so if someone struggles with movement they will still be forward moving. All of this let everyone do something cool in a match – regardless of ability. That’s pretty great right there.

The time she went online and beat another person.

Some kids ran with light combos. Some kids ran with heavy and medium stuff. One person, the eventually winner did an excellent job of using heavy kicks and follow up dashes to keep the pressure up. I even saw a few vanishes being used – I didn’t mention those at any point. She did a really good job at figuring out how to keep and maintain pressure. She also did a good job with spacing – she got quite a few whiff punishes. In fact, she only lost her first characters in the final match – a worthy winner through and through.

The Age of Fire: Talking about the meta developing in real time. Some children remembered the X button (PS4 controllers) is used for fireballs. It did not take long for some of those children to figure out they could stand at one side of the screen and pelt the other person with fireballs. Or Ki Blasts, since we are talking about Dragon Ball. This was dealt with varying degrees of success. Some kids died in the corner, others threw ki blasts back and some navigated by their own means. No one complained about spamming or cheating though – so that was nice. In fact, there was no salt at all (at least with Fighter Z – more on that later). I’ll take that. Because to quote the great Infil Fighting Game Glossary on Zoning “Most new players really hate dealing with zoners, usually expressing their frustration by calling you a fireball spammer and unplugging their console.” None of that here.

She Spirit Bombed me (Genki Dama if you want that). So goddamn cool.

One of the cool things that happened was that all on their own, some kids figured out that fireballs could be done whilst jumping. This led to an avoiding of fireballs, a development in the fireball war and another way of stopping grounded ki blasts. I now realise, after thinking about it this was real life problem solving in action. A problem was presented, and ways to confront it, circumvent it or negate it were crafted on the fly. That’s pretty cool right there.

Unless Vegeta was picked. Because Vegeta can fire off 17 million ki blasts at once. Grounded or airborne. It can be quite troublesome do deal with. Particularly if a certain someone forgot to explain some mechanics…

Teaching is hard: I explained the basics of the game. That being light, medium and heavy attacks – movement – switching characters – using the bar for supers and blocking. It did not occur to me until I watched the kids play how much I missed. Nothing about anti airs, I cannot remember talking about super dashing, and I did not explain the full complexity of blocking – by which I mean high and low. I also forgot to talk about Dragon Rush. I sometimes forget just how much of these games is learned through time and becomes second nature. I have to be more aware of that. Much more. Lessons for next time. Or maybe I should just teach the basics and let the rest come naturally. I don’t know. Hopefully a good teacher will stop by here and give advice.

Playing the Street Fighter 6 demo – she went 6 and 3 against me.

Rule of Cool: When it came to picking characters I just told everyone who took part to pick whoever they thought looked cool. When people start out in these games, tier lists essentially mean nothing. If you don’t know to play the game properly yet, then what’s good isn’t known. So, just pick the characters that light a spark inside of you. That’s what happened here. Not a meta team in the bunch. Well, sort of. The winner had Lab Coat 21 run the show from point. Pretty funny in retrospect.

She has a mighty mean Cell.

No prior knowledge informed that pick though. Android 21 looks pretty cool, so people ran with her. I can dig that.  

One thing I didn’t realise – for the uninitiated it can be hard telling who is on whose team when combat get hectic. Some kids didn’t know who won – I had to check who was on which side to figure out who to advance in the tournament (sometimes actual work stuff came up – how dare). Because the difference between Vegito, Vegeta, Gogeta, Goku and Gohan (and everyone else with spiky hair) isn’t the greatest to those who don’t watch or have not watched Dragon Ball Z. Particularly with fireballs and side switches. This is less of a problem in games like Guilty Gear and Street Fighter. That’s something to think about.

It wasn’t a big problem though. Everyone still had fun. So that was nice. 

Blocking works: It’s not fancy, but it works. I made sure to tell everyone about blocking but its usage wasn’t that widespread. And I get that. Combos and supers look cool, blocking less so. But it’s fundamental. It’ll get you far. By blocking some of the time and taking hits when you can, you can easily reach mid rank. I know this because I’ve done this. But it is something that comes with playing a lot. The biggest thing about learning these games is time. Time to sit down and play them regularly. But, with kids just looking to have some fun with friends it’s all good. As long as they are having fun it’s all good. Blocking or no blocking.

Unless someone’s gloating about winning. After the tournament had finished, some other kids wanted to play fighting games and had a crack at Street Fighter 6. One child found dynamic controls and was spamming a combo with Dee-Jay (the other kid’s words). He wasn’t shy about telling the other kids about this. They asked me how to stop it. Behold, holding the back button. I held back with Lily (the character I’ve been playing with at home), and then hit drive impact followed by L1 three times. Rinse and repeat. Not much gloating afterwards.

Good job back button.

After that some kids went back to Dragon Ball – it is a great game for a first timer. The colourful nature of the combat and the characters (and backgrounds now I think about it) and the simplicity of the controls – it’s an easy way in. Also, there was one kid who knew his Dragon Ball – instantly identifying Cooler. That was cool.

All in all, I think we can call the tournament a success. The kids and teens who played had fun. Some said they would come back. Some said they would be willing to try different fighting games. And the winner got come chocolate. Actually, everyone did – we had a bunch left over from Easter Prizes, so it was given out here to all participants. The winner got the most though.

Here she straight up done me. The vanish catches me blocking the opposite way – done, absolutely done.

We’ll be trying this again. Hopefully we can make it into a regular thing.

The Fighting Game Diaries: (Not) On Floor 10

Since the last Fighting Game Diaries, Baiken has achieved a few things. She reached the mark of 1,000 wins. She achieved a character level of 100 – for which the game gave me a Baiken Master Badge – I don’t fully agree but I’ll take it. And finally, at long last she reached floor 10 of the Tower. For me that’s the big one.

Getting back to floor 9 and the 1,000th win, back to back. Pretty cool.

If by chance you have read previous posts on this blog, it might be apparent that floor 10 became something of an obsession. I know full well there are levels beyond floor 10, but I kept on getting close to floor 10. So much so that floor 10 became the goal. Well, the current goal. There wasn’t much sense in looking beyond floor 10 when I wasn’t there yet.

There are 2 chances that I had to get to floor 10 that stand out. I’m sure there are a bunch of straight up losses when I saw the chance to go up and just panicked and made a mess of it. But of the 2 that stand out, one caught me off guard. I beat a Zato player 2 – 1 (nothing major I thought) and then the second match against a Ky player was for promotion. It felt too quick. And I messed up, losing the first two matches before taking the third, all for nothing. At least in the moment. You can take things from any match but in the moment it felt hollow.

The second one was a set against an Ino player. This set I distinctly remember because it came down to a single hit. And I had it. And I messed it up. I did not cleanly input Baiken’s Gun Super. Final round, and Ino was in the middle of firing off a note. I saw it, I tried to get the gun off and I just didn’t. I must have hurried it, fumbled it or a combination of the two. The chance went, the match went with it. The second match was also close (and possibly still a chance at going up), but again, the Ino player saw it out while I didn’t. Come the third match my tendencies were figured out, my confidence had bottomed out and it wasn’t that close of a finish. I hung on to that for a while.

Then came the extended life of being a floor 8.5, before holding my own on 9. With some rare trips down to 7. Those didn’t last long though. Holding my own on 9 was a big deal. I was managing to climb back for 8 pretty quickly as well. It’s all progress. New base lines are nice.

The night before this happened I was sent back down to 8 after trials and tribulations against Asuka’s (they are everywhere – the tower, the park – it’s oop’s all Asuka’s). I got back to 9 but faced another relegation against – guess who – Asuka. Turns out all the matches before had done some good – I got out with a 3 – 0, in addition to another 3 – 0 against another Asuka. It’s a tough match up but it’s doable. The morning after I’m texting a friend and decide to play some Gear – I had some time. After avoiding some Asuka’s (fatigue more than anything else) I fought a Bridget. There was no promotion icon next to my name, no mention of it on the match screen. Everything said it was going to be a regular set in the tower.

It was a good set. The matches where close – exceedingly so in some cases. The set could have gone either way – those are the best ones. After a bad first round I get a 1 – 0 lead. That becomes a 2 – 0 lead before turning into a 3 – 0 win. I feel pretty good about it. I’m getting ready for the next set.

Finally making Floor 10. Pretty cool.

Well, it turned out the 3 – 0 rescue job against Asuka counted for more than just preserving my floor 9 status. The set against Bridget finishes and out of nowhere it’s the ranking update. I don’t quite know what to do. It’s sudden, it’s unexpected – I’m not prepared to see the words floor 10. I’m very excited. I text my friend – she keeps up with my progress and cheers me on – believes in me when I don’t. I walk around the room. I walk around floor 10. I don’t fight anyone – I just take in being there. I finally belong. I might get sent back down (late edit – I was – went 1 – 5 and back to 9 – won a match though, so that’s good), but I have made it. And that counts for something. It means I can make it again if the worst happens. I think I work better when I don’t know a promotion is coming.

An actual safe jump. Neat.

I know in the context of Strive floor 10 isn’t everything. It’s not the end. It’s taken me a while to get here. There are videos and comments on YouTube of people making it in 10 days (Celestial even), people getting there in 25 hours. None of that is stopping me feeling good about this. I’ve worked hard for this. I’ve put the time in for this. I’ve come a long way from when I started. And with Baiken, I can finally say (to a point) I’ve learned a fighting game character. Prior to this it would have been Yoshimitsu in Tekken 3, 5 and Tag Tournament but those where only ever AI matches. Baiken represents the first time that I have played with people and got a character to the point I can do stuff. It’s been a great journey so far.

The hit that got me there.

I think what has excited me the most is that throughout all of this, there has never been anything, even close to a character crisis. I’ve rolled with Baiken and stuck with Baiken. Even during the struggles, I went with Baiken. I’ve tried other characters for fun and none of them come close to her. I’ll only climb the ranks with another character once Baiken finishes her journey. Not before. No other character vibes with me like Baiken does. I dig that.

A few notes on ranked

I’ve spoken about this before in various posts, but I’ll take this chance to collect my thoughts on the Tower. The Tower…it can be a little volatile for a ranked mode. Sometimes. And sometimes it just confuses me. Like, in this post when I talked about beating the Asuka player to stay up. Prior to that I went 5 – 1 across two sets and then fought a Bridget player. I lost that set 3 – 0 and then it was the relegation set. I somehow went 5 – 4 and had a chance to be relegated. How often, in any context, in any competition can you win more than you lose and be threatened with relegation? I can’t imagine its many.

I have no gifs for this section so here are some random gifs from me playing Baiken.

You get a sense of when a promotion shot is coming – there is an upwards pointing arrow on your R-code and by your name. That’s good. It helps with knowing you’re doing good are and it helps with confidence. It if keeps up a promotion shot is on the cards. Conversely, there is nothing to indicate the opposite. You know when you’re on bad run, but you have no idea when the relegation shot is coming. It can be incredibly stressful to deal with.  Because sometimes it comes on far quicker than expected. One time I got to floor 9 from the night before. The day after I went back to the tower, completely fresh – no prior wins and losses on floor 9. I fight a Potemkin player. I lose 3 – 0. Okay, they were better than me, I can live with that. I am immediately relegated – no warning, no nothing. I think I learned on that day that if you have a good number of wins against an opponent (most of my wins are against Potemkin) the game expects you to win. And if you don’t you are judged, seemingly accordingly, at least according to the game.  The second most wins I have are against Bridget players. It probably explains the previous example of this.

This can also apply to being promoted. Like I mentioned in the post, I won one match 2 – 1 with no prior wins and losses and suddenly had a shot at promotion. This can lead to climbing floors too quickly, finding oneself out of their depth (happened to me) and then bouncing between floors. Because there comes a point where one is too good for lower floors but not quite good enough for higher floors because of the volatile nature of ranked, not enough time is spent on the higher floors but enough skill has been acquired to render the lower floors not that much of a challenge. Like, when that Potemkin sent me down I got back out of 8 real quick. Might have been 10 minutes of work. It would have been much better to hang around 9 and get more experience there.

Ranked is still fun, and more or less, I’ve found, I’ll get to a point where I belong. Eventually. I just wish it was less volatile. If I could change it, I would have it be a set amount of wins and losses sends one up and down. Like, say, 9. That’s three full sets. Win 9 matches, go up. Lose 9 matches, go down. Whichever gets reached first. I’d always know where I would stand, and there would be no surprises. But I guess no system is perfect. Knowing the number of losses could induce anxiety, particularly if that number is approaching. But I do think I would prefer that. Ah well, I’ll deal with what’s here.

I do want to mention here that I do like the R-code. I love that is shows the wins and not the losses. A player knows, at least roughly, the amount of losses. We don’t need reminding. Playing Dragon Ball Fighter Z online is different – seeing my player card broadcasting to everyone that I’ve won 7 but lost 30 – thanks game, really makes me feel good. I know I’m not doing good – no need to tell everyone else. The R-code just lists wins and all that good stuff. In fact, Strive in general (ranked volatility aside) is good at instilling confidence. There are little messages everywhere that just broadcast good vibes – badges being the “crystalisation of hard work, blood, sweat and tears”, your character being expression of your hopes, wishes and skill or how you can always change how you play by hard work and practice – nothing is set in stone. I dig all of it. It’s helped me a lot when I’ve been struggling with my performance.

The Fighting Game Diaries: I do(n’t) have a backup character

Still striving with Baiken. The game has turned into the quest to reach floor 10. I’m not concerning myself with what comes after floor 10. I just want to get to floor 10. Then I’ll take it from there. So, while Baiken takes up the majority of my Strive time, I do on occasion head off to the Park to fight with other characters. Partly because the variety is nice, and partly because having a second character on deck does help. More knowledge of the game, and other characters can handle certain matchups better.

Baiken combo. Felt great.

Of the characters on Strive’s roster who aren’t Baiken I have tried Potemkin, Bridget, Testament, Goldlewis Dickinson, Zato, Ky and Sin Kiske and Ramlethal Valentine. Each of them has had their moments and have been fun to use. I picked up a few wins with Potemkin (5 wins), Bridget (14 wins), Testament (3 wins), Goldlewis (2 wins), Sin (11 wins) and Ramlethal (15 wins). Zato and Ky I went winless with but had some fun regardless. It’s hard not to have fun in the Park. No ranking points does help with that. It shouldn’t, but it does.

I baited a burst. About time.

A few almost made it though. I remember Bridget being a blast – I managed to beat a floor 10 Testament with her, despite not knowing the Blanka Ball move, Scoot and only knowing one of the yo-yo tosses. I mean, I got bodied after that, but I got one (this was when I was like floor 5 or 6). Potemkin and Sin though have made a bigger impression on me though.

Sin feels super fun to use. I’m beginning to think I have a thing for characters that yell out their moves. First Baiken, then Sin (BEAK DRIVVVVAAAAAAA!!!!). I do harbour a secret desire to have a good Potemkin – but boy do I suck at kara inputs. Same with charge inputs. Well, I’ve gotten a little better with charge inputs but kara inputs are something else entirely.

Always good to see FAB in action.

I do dig Potemkin. I love watching Potemkin’s go to work, and I do like fighting them. I know there is more than a few memes’ about Baiken and Potemkin fights. Baiken’s sure do love jumping attacks and Potemkin’s sure do love people jumping at them. It’s a fun cat and mouse game. Some of my favourite experiences in Strive have been fighting Potemkin. Also, some of my most traumatic experiences. But can’t have the fun stuff without the bad stuff. I know Potemkin isn’t considered to be one of the best characters, but when I’m stuck in the corner without a burst Potemkin is one of the most terrifying things in the game (I’d say Goldlewis is the other one). There is going to be a Garuda Impact, and there is either going to be a Potemkin Buster and they are going to go low with 2D and then there’s a juggle probably ending with a Heat Knuckle. It’s a fun guessing game for everyone involved.

And Snake Eyez. Just utter brilliance.

This may have turned into a love letter to Potemkin. Let’s keep writing it. He is completely different to Baiken – design, fighting style – everything. I think that’s part of the appeal – playing the game in a different way. I normally play characters who have a dash. Potemkin doesn’t have a dash. He does have Hammerfall and Mega Fist though, which can function as dashes. Well, not really but also yes. I would like to hit a Heavenly Potemkin Buster. Just once in my life.

However, Potemkin doesn’t have a Dragon Punch. He has a DP input but no DP. I do like DP’s. I do envy those who has DP’s. Wake up DP is one of my favourite things. Hell, the DP in general is one of my favourite fighting game moves. Of the characters I have tried out, Ky and Sin have a DP. If Baiken had a DP that would be nice.

Sin’s one of the few characters I’ve tried that has a meter. It’s not the most complicated meter in terms of management but it is something that’s new to me. It’s a fun challenge. I think from some of the footage I have you can see I can be guilty of burning through it. But those meter attacks have cool visual effects and feel like they hit like a truck. It’s fun to do them. Another reason I like Sin is that he has gotten me to use the throw button more. Confession time: I have almost 1,000 wins as Baiken and I barely throw. I know I should, but I don’t. It would help a lot. I should get on that. But perhaps it is the fact I am using a Kiske that compels me to throw, sometimes from a full screen sprint. It’s like their magic power. I like it.

Just run up and throw. The Kiske special.

Sin also looks cool as a character. Design wise, I dig him. I love his weapon. It’s like having a halberd user in Strive. It’s hard to turn down a halberd. Especially one with a flag waving around with every swing. It’s pretty awesome visually. It makes his fighting style both brutal and graceful. He hits like a truck, and the animation and sound design aids massively with that. Yet, with the flag flowing with each swing each attack is filled with beauty and grace. Beauty and grace that breaks faces. And as someone who used to wear jackets around his waist a lot, his design speaks to me on some level. And finally, as mentioned above the voice actor puts everything into his move names. It’s hard not to get excited when hearing Sin belting out those names.

Once I’m finished with Baiken (wherever that ends up), maybe I’ll spend more time with Potemkin and Sin. We’ll see. Because I have said in the past I’ve got a second character, only to keep on trucking with Baiken.

A Sin combo. Fun to do.

So yeah, we’ll see.

The Fighting Game Diaries: There are (no) adjustments

I’ve been playing Street Fighter 3rd Strike online. Not enough to replace Strive, but enough that I am messing around and trying to learn new things. However, because I play on PS4 I have to play on the 30th Anniversary Edition and let’s just say it’s not the most populous player pool. I’ve encountered like, 5 different people across multiple nights of play. I can see 5 people in 5 minutes on Strive. It’s a different vibe. It has not been unusual to play the same person during one session.

Strive and 3rd Strike are different games. There are things that can carry over – things like spacing, blocking and whiff punishing can carry other. In one way or another. But there is a bunch of stuff that is different, and it can take a while to get used to. A few examples. Sometimes I’d tried to get out of a corner with up and back. There’s no air blocking in 3rd Strike. It’s got me in trouble more than a few times. If only I had a burst. I also sometimes forget that I cannot air dash in 3rd Strike. I just keep doing jumping heavy kick in the middle of nowhere. And sometimes I try to run. There’s no running in Street Fighter. Only dashing. Switching between games can be tricky.

There has been a lot of losing. Sometimes the opponent is simply more experienced and better than me. That happens. It’s an older game – released in 2018 (original release being way older) and I’m coming into this very late. I set my stall out – win a game, any game. As long as I could say I was good enough to win a game at 3rd Strike I’d be happy. Because I am one of those folks who watches a lot of 3rd Strike, talks about how much I like 3rd Strike but barely give it any playtime. Well, it has been time to fix that. Turns out watching 3rd Strike and playing 3rd Strike are different things. This is on the basis of the skill required mind. 3rd Strike is an older game, but it controls incredibly well – its super responsive and clean – 9 times out of 10 an input goes in, and it comes back out as intended. I’m just not that great at picking the right one. I’m a heavy kick enjoyer – dangerously so.

Hits the mark.

After a fair few losses – I think 15 or so seems a good estimation it finally happened. I finally won a match. I should have mentioned I’ve been sticking with Gouki (read: Akuma). I used Gouki the first time I tried 3rd Strike online (incredibly laggy) and after a session messing around with a few characters (but starting with Gouki) I have been running with him. My opponent was using Dudley. They had already beaten me with Dudley, so I was not expecting much. But through poking and keep away I managed to get a life lead in the first round, and I kept it. My spacing felt pretty decent, and I even got to finish with a super. I think they thought I was going for another regular fireball (I’d used a few of them) and tried to jump it and got caught up in the bigger hitbox. The second round saw similar spacing and control – keeping Dudley away for the most part. I’ve seen enough of Dudley to know that up close he’s rather dangerous. It appears Shoto’s can keep Dudley at bay with pokes like standing medium kick – that’s good to know.


I’ve managed to secure three wins somehow. One against Yun who, surprisingly has supers that aren’t Genei Jin (huh) and one against Ken (both the same player) – I blocked supers and punished (somewhat) accordingly. Sometimes the simple stuff works the best.

Think that’s a missed parry.

I’ve got a long way to go though. I still don’t know how to combo properly. There are certain things I can do – low medium kick in fireball, and low medium kick into tatsu for example but nothing substantial. I don’t know any real mixes; I only know one or two hit confirms into super. And that’s the one super, the big fireball one. No idea how to hit into the others. I mess around in training mode and get occasion combos in there – normally little 2 or 3 hit things. Nothing major. I was going to say I cannot do EX moves but Gouki doesn’t have those it turns out. But I also cannot do EX moves. I’ve read how to do them, but I can’t get them to come out. That’s something to practice. That’s what learning is for though. I don’t mind learning through losing either – 3rd Strike isn’t my main game, so I feel like there’s less on the line. It’s something I am doing for fun. Still want to learn some combos though – just say I can do them more than anything else. Hitting one in a match would be fun.

I’m still extremely excited though. I managed to prove to myself that I can win matches against human opponents in 3rd Strike. I’m good enough to do that. And after a long time of watching 3rd Strike I’m finally playing 3rd Strike. That’s good too. It gives me a sense of perspective. I already knew that when I watched tournaments I was watching talented people. Now I know just how talented these people are. Must take a lot of work to get that far in the game.

Whiff punishing. I also whiffed but got away with it. I’ll take it.

I’m a long way from that. I will probably always be a long way from that. But to myself I proved I can win in 3rd Strike, and I’m having fun trying to do that. I’ll take that.

A late edit: I’m not sure how much longer the 3rd Strike experiment is going to last. Not because of the difficulty of the journey, but the quality of the online experience. 30th Anniversary version of Street Fighter does not have ping counters or connection strengths on show. You can select the quality of connection (low, medium and good – solid tiers there) but on the match screen there is no indication of how good things are. Combine that with the low player population and… it’s not great. There are matches like this:

I’m not sure how it is on their end but on my end, that’s barely functional. The loss is inconsequential. Even after a win I’d bail. Playing on a connection like that just isn’t great no matter the outcome.

For reference I have played matches in Strive that have 250 MS and they have been playable. In some cases, more than playable. That’s not happening here. There’s no Arc System Works Rollback to rescue this situation. It’s just something to put up with and deal with. But considering I have fighting games that have good net code on deck – that’s a hard sell. No matter how great 3rd Strike is.

That’s a damn shame.

Back in the Lands Between – with a Moonveil

It’s been a while. Almost year, maybe more. I’ve finally found the urge to make the character I was thinking about. I had forgotten how much work it can be to get a character off the ground in the Lands Between, but it was doable, I’m having fun and I think Suzutsuki is going to be a fine Tarnished.

Back with magic.

Suzutsuki (Empty Moon) is going to be both a Moonlit Samurai and a Buddhist Mage. Hear me out. I’m finally going to use the Moonveil for one – it’s the only weapon for this character. As for the staff, in the town of Selia there is the Staff of Loss. This staff is used my mages who believe ascetism is the path to discovery. There’s some common ground with Buddhism there. It works best with invisibility spells – Night Shard and Night Comet being two of those. Essentially I’m running a two spell build with the Moonveil. However, I might pick up one of the Moon spells just to have it, given the nature of the character.

For her Spirit Ash Suzutsuki is going to use the Avionette Soldier Ashes. The reason for this is that they look (a little) like Tengu’s. Tengu’s are known to tempt Buddhist Monks to stray from their teachings. So, there’s a theme there and as a bonus I get to try something new. It’s fun to try new things. I’m looking forward to seeing the little guys in action (late edit – they are pretty good. Not the tankiest, but they do good damage, have good mobility and trigger a lot of bleed procs. I dig them.)

Little mechanical Tengu men putting in the work.

As of 11/05/2023, this build is more or less of the ground. The Moonveil has been procured, the stats are there – no need to keep using the Wondrous Physik. The Staff of Loss has been retrieved. All the spells have been gathered. It’s been a fun playthrough. I’m a little surprised I got the Moonveil as early as I did – the Magma Wyrm guarding it went down in three attempts. I’ll take that after the time I’ve had away from the Lands Between. This is a good time to give the Uchigatana its due. I’ve done this before, but it’s worth repeating. It’s a damn good sword that is more than capable of going to the end game, and easily carries the early game when starting out with a new build. Just a wonderful sword. Unsheathe does help a lot. Arguably the best Ash of War in the game. Which still confuses me. It’s Unsheathing a sword – why is it stronger than weapons that fire off cosmic powered lasers? I’ll take it though.

I did forget however how much getting a new character up and running in this game is akin to having an errand day. You know those days when you go to the shops, get some cleaning done, do your odd jobs? Elden Ring character building is the video game equivalent of that. Go to Caelid, kill the dragon for 40 vigor, hit up the mines for upgrade materials, kill this boss kill that boss. Luckily I retained some memory of where stuff was, but it is very much a checklist of tasks to get through.

Ensha isn’t the hardest enemy – but it’s dark and it makes the Moonveil look cool(er).

About the Moonveil itself. You might remember some of the discourse around the Moonveil when Elden Ring first arrived. And long after that. It’s probably still going. Well, two weapons – Moonveil and Rivers of Blood. Those two Katana’s were for casuals, they made the game easy, they ruined PVP because low level players were beating good players, they made the bosses too easy. And so on and so on. Full disclosure – I did some of this (I’m sorry for that). I watched people invade, saw a lot of those weapons and piggy backed on the complaints. But it has been a while since I engaged with invasion content, and I’ve stopped concerning myself with how other people play their games. What has also helped is watching other content creators (mainly Sajam) and how he talks about these games, as well as fighting games. Sajam has always argued that people should do what is fun, regardless of what other people think. You don’t owe anyone for having fun. You find those Katana’s fun? Go ham with them.

He’s right about everything.

Turns out the Moonveil is a lot of fun to use. I mean, how can it not be? It’s a magic katana that fires off moonbeams. That’s pretty great right there. It does a lot of damage as well and that’s always appreciated. It’s a cool weapon. There’s not much more too it. It’s easy to understand its popularity. It also gets B and B scaling in both Dexterity and Magic – that’s great. It works on pure magic builds. It’s (probably) not the worse on a dexterity build. A quality magic dexterity build is an option. Plus, dexterity increases casting speed – this weapon is pretty damn great. It makes short work out of bosses – just takes chunks out of health bars. In addition, because it has magic damage it can deal chip damage and against armoured foes (like those pesky miners) it does much more damage than a regular katana, no longer relying on jumping and charged attacks. There’s a lot to like here.

On the spell front, both Night Shard and Night Comet are pretty good. Night Shard isn’t exactly a powerhouse. It’s there for quick hits and finishes. The spell isn’t going to carry the day, but rather its’s going to clean up after Moonveil has taken chunks out of the enemy. Night Shard is there for a quick, easy, risk-free finish. Night Comet on the other hand does do damage. And it can be charged up for more damage.  It’s doing good work already – I can’t wait to see it with a further upgraded staff. Two more things about Night Comet – enemies can’t see it and it has a piercing quality. Because it’s semi-invisible, enemies just stand there as it heads towards them. Sometimes it’s guaranteed damage. That’s cool. And I was using it against some enemies, and I noticed that two health bars went down at once. It went through one guy and straight through another one. That’s cool too. Also, I forgot how nice it is to have ranged options. It helps to give the game variety and it makes for clean finishes. No need to risk it all on a final melee hit if I don’t have to. It’s a nice feeling.

They can’t see the spell speeding towards them.

Finally, the build itself. This may be in flux for a while. Initially I was all in on being pure intelligence. Hit the stat minimums, everything else into intelligence. But with the Moonveil getting B and B scaling (which is slightly ridiculous – but awesome) I’m thinking of maybe going 30 dexterity and the rest into intelligence. It’s perfectly doable, and since I’m not into PVP anymore (not caring about level caps is the best) I don’t need to care about my overall level. I think that might be the best option. Decisions decisions. Fun decisions though.

Suzutsuki is going to be a fun tarnished to play as.

Notes and Asides:

Writing this post has been pretty cool because it has been in a constant state of flux. Normally I have an idea of what the post will be and draft accordingly. This post has been affected by Suzutsuki’s progress. It has been written at various points to reflect her journey, and that has kept on changing as she has made progress, both in terms of her stats and skills and the places she has been and seen. At one point she couldn’t use the Moonveil and then she could. At one point she didn’t have Night Comet and then she gets it. Makes for a fun time – both in terms of playing the game and writing.

The Fighting Game Diaries: (Not) Leaving before its done

My existence in the Tower (as of late) has involved bouncing between floors 9 and 8 (with the occasional sojourn down to 7). Which is great and it isn’t. I’d rather break through to 10 – been close to it three times now. But I can hold my own on and get out of out 8 (sometimes quickly). And breaking out of 7 isn’t tough at all. Hopefully 8 can be the new benchmark and I can go from there. That would be nice.

In the Tower, sets are three matches long. I (barring two occasions) always fight the full 3, regardless of what’s going to happen. The two occasions I bailed was when I was losing 2 – 0, got demoted and then got tea bagged on for reasons. I did not feel like continuing after that. The second was one match with some horrible lag spikes – I’ll take the L thanks – that connection was not good for playing on. Those aside, full sets all the way.

99.7% (roughly) of people I have fought are the same way – the full 3 matches are completed. Lately though, I’ve seen a few folks bail on the final set. I’ve been 2 – 0 up and people have left. In some cases it’s understandable – getting demoted sucks and I understand just wanting to do something else in that moment. And given how volatile the ranking system in Guilty Gear can be I can see bailing on the last match and coming back later. I understand that – you can vault between the floors like a yo-yo.

A fun set against an Anji player. Also this game can be cruel.

In other cases, though I see the same person who bailed hanging around the same floor. Why leave? There was no danger of demotion, so a possible extra loss isn’t a big deal. That leaving early can also affect the other person. It can delay and cost promotion opportunities. That extra win, making a set 3 – 0 and then following that up with another 3 – 0 on the back of some other successful sets would probably lead to a promotion. Instead, folks have to fight for longer to get the opportunity. Sometimes that opportunity is shanked, whereas if it came earlier it would have happened. That’s been the case with me and it’s a little frustrating.

I will admit me shitting the bed on a promotion chance is my fault. I can live with that. I should have played better. I can use that experience to be better next time. But it’s still a little annoying knowing that is full sets had been played, the promotion would have come. I need to put that out of my head though – I need to deal with the here and now. Ignore what could have been and focus on getting better now.

It does help to play the full set though. The extra match is good practice. You might win. You might learn how to respond to a deficit. A demotion isn’t the end of the world. Never know if you won’t fight.

I lost 2 -1 to a Giovanna player which sent me down to 7. The first two matches I was incredibly skittish – dropping inputs, mashing on wakeup – everything going wrong. The third match I calmed down, cleaned up my inputs and got the win. It was a good experience. A worthwhile experience. It could be for someone else too.

Trash Talk, or the lack of it: The way some people talk about fighting games, I figured there would be more of this. In game I mean. On the internet it’s all over the show. Okay, on Twitter. But playing Guilty Gear, in terms of social interaction, has been a pleasant experience for the most part. A simple exchanging of GG’s and WP’s is the standard. That’s nice. I can dig that.

Just a Baiken combo.

It happened on one occasion. I will say my definition of this is someone typing out a message. On one occasion someone did this. And it made me laugh. I fought someone in the Park and lost 3 – 5. Not the worst result. It was a fun set. Or so I thought. I said as much to said person.

Their response was the same, even though I was a “carried Baikentard.” They used Ramlethal.

That aside, nothing. Nothing at all. No comments on my playing, no comments on my internet connection (so I’m assuming that’s alright. Which is nice.) and no other comments on my character choice.

Still confuses me I got away with that. Figured Axel’s super would have I-frames.

In fact, the most recent interaction I had was someone saying my Baiken was pretty good. I returned the compliment with their Bedman? I like that. That was pretty cool. Interactions like that, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them.

Granblue’s back (sort of): Granblue Fantasy Vs Rising isn’t here yet. While people are waiting for that, the original is still here and playable. There’s no rollback or crossplay, but its playable.

I was playing from roughly between 4.30 – 6.00pm GMT. All of the lobbies where empty, barring one in Osaka with two people in it, and one in Tokyo with seven people in it. No one anywhere else. It seems to be a ghost town on PS4, at least at that time. So, I headed off to Tokyo. With no rollback. One person said they couldn’t fight me (understandable – not a good connection) while one person gave me a chance, taking my D ranked Zeta versus their S ranked Bieliel. There were nine delay frames, but their name did say all ping okay, so we ran with it. They won 2 – 0 but I tried my best and I appreciated the time they gave me. They didn’t have to do that. They could have waited for someone to give them a better challenge. They gave me a chance. They even said I did good. I don’t think I did, but that was nice.

After that I headed off to ranked. This was limited to Europe. I fought the same person 9 or 10 times in a row. The game couldn’t find anyone else. Again, in Europe most countries are close to or an hour ahead of Great Britain. If there was a time for people to be around, that would be it. I played on a Friday, but I don’t think that would affect the number of people playing that much. It’s not like seeing all the different people playing Strive (even with the connection issues – although for me they have gotten a lot better lately), and even a game like say, Dragon Ball. I’ve played online there for a bit also, and that game is 5 years old and still has a full lobby of 64 people in the UK lobby.

May have lost the match, but I did hit the big super. That was cool.

I think the other person won more than I did (edit: they did – 13 played 5 to me). However, my win column went from 9 to 14 in about 45 minutes to an hour, and I got a promotion from E4 to D4. That was nice.

Bear in mind, the first time I played Granblue (essentially the first time I went online with a fighting game) I got like 9 ranked wins across a month or so. There’s a good chance there was like 70 losses accompanying that number. It wasn’t the best run of form. Turns out, my experience with Strive has made me better at fighting games. Even in the matches I lost, they were chances to win, much more than my first time with Granblue. The games are of a different pace but learning where to stand, how to block and a host of other things was of a huge help.

Look at me hit confirming into a super. I used to try and hit those raw. Look at the blocking and punishing afterwards. That rarely happened before. I even anti-aired a few attacks. Not in the above match but in other matches. Wonders never cease. Still bad at dealing with throws, and handing throws out. How can I practice that? That’s not rhetorical – I really need it. Throws aside though, everything is cleaned up and better. It’s nice to see that.

Undoubtedly I have gotten better at playing fighting games. Makes me feel more confident about trying new fighting games – I have a few transferable skills now. I should try playing more of them. Hopefully Melty Blood will go on sale again, that could be fun.

Notes and Asides:

There are gifs again! Gfycat might be dead (or at least looking that way) but my old Giphy account still works. I have to upload videos to YouTube first and make the gif that way (no files over 100MB in size allowed) but I can make gifs again. It’s nice.

The Fighting Game Diaries: (Not) Playing Other Games

My friend makes a return visit. She still thinks playing fighting games with me is cool. It’s still awesome. It’s still the best. While we do continue to play Guilty Gear (this time more on the Strive than the Xrd Rev 2), we have discovered the wonder and joy that is Dragon Ball Fighter Z. And we’ve played a little of the Street Fighter 6 demo. We’ve been going around the houses. It has been a lot of fun. I hope we can do it again.

My friend has said she wants to get better at fighting games. Rather than simply mashing, she does want to learn how buttons and commands work. The problem is time and means of playing. She has no means of playing these games at home – PS4’s are still expensive (like £140 still), and her laptop isn’t the best. We get 2 Saturdays in a month where we can play before work starts and sometimes she comes around to my house to play. That is a chance of a longer session – like 4 to 6 hours of game time. It’s not the everyday play that see’s massive improvement but it is something. And she has improved. You love to see it. I love to see it. Perhaps most importantly she still has fun. We both have fun. Particularly when she does well – she’s really happy in those moments. It’s nice. It’s wonderful.

One visit to my house – after spending an hour playing with my dog – saw us playing Strive and then Dragon Ball Fighter Z. We tried more stuff in Stive – I explained Bursting and Roman Cancelling. Then I went through character archetypes. I showed her Infil’s Fighting Game Glossary (just the best) while I showed her move cancelling. She read about it online and wondered what it was. Then we played a bunch of matches. I did win most of them – understandable because of the experience gap. One match that stood out was her playing as Sol and me playing as Happy Chaos. It turns out I don’t know how to reload. I don’t know the command. I fired off six bullets and then nothing. I had nothing. 6P’ed and Close Slashed into oblivion. It was funny to watch.

Bless Potemkin’s 6H.

Then we tried something new. She went online. We took a trip to the Park and we searched for a low ranked opponent. No point throwing her in against a level 700. She looked at the characters she like and ran with I-no first. Because guitar wielding witches are cool. We found a low level Bedman? We went 0 – 5. I then pulled out Baiken and went 1 – 5. Turns out, after a quick R-Code check their main character – level 620 and (I think) Celestial. Swing and a miss. Then there was a few Failed to Connect Messages and we decided to head off to the East Coast of America in search of an opponent. She switched to Potemkin. We got one. We had ourselves a Potemkin mirror match. She mashed a bit (as is tradition) but she was using commands. We got a lot of use out of 6H – covering half the screen has its benefits. And by hook or by crook, she won. My friend took on another human (who wasn’t me) and she beat them. Straight up. Such a good feeling. Such a good moment.

The set finished 1 – 1. We’ll take that. Because we got a win.

Then we tried Dragon Ball Fighter Z. I think we have found (so far) her favourite of these games. Partly because of how awesome the game looks – in artwork and in motion. Partly because of how the game controls. Also, it helped that neither of us has played this game beforehand. I got it on sale a few days before and waited until we got a chance with it.

First up we did a one on one. That went by way quicker than expected. I picked Cooler, she picked Goku and she completely washed me. Absolutely so. I was kicked across the screen, I was launched repeatedly and fun was had by all. Then we went to full teams, as the game is meant to be played and the whole thing was a blast. I’ve never really played a team fighter before – I have enough trouble learning one character, never mind two – three was out of the question. Turns out I’ve been missing out on a lot of fun. It’s a chaotic, maniac visual show – Dragon Ball Z has those naturally and you combine that with a 3 vs 3 anime fighter and it’s just wonderful.

The hight point was her, utterly by chance (her own admission) hitting me with the Spirit Bomb – it might be the coolest thing I’ve seen in a fighting game. We kicked each other through mountains, we flung Kamehamaha’s around and I found out regardless of the game I can’t tech throws for shit. It was great.

It’s so goddamn cool.

Dragon Ball Fighter Z has less directional inputs than the other games we have played. I think it’s only supers that have half circle inputs. Other moves have an either pressing a single direction, forward and circle as an example. Another thing is pressing a single button multiple times will do a combo – pressing square four times will do four hits in a row as an example. This doesn’t stop top players from showing out – because despite making controls easier, fighting game fundamentals are still stronger with those with experience and skill – but it does allow folks like me and my friend who don’t know what we are doing to see cool stuff happen on screen and have a lot of fun. I dig it. My friend dug it. We played again on a Saturday morning, and she had the same amount of fun. She is also incredibly fond of Perfect Cell – calling him strong. I don’t know if this aligns with the meta but there we are. Perfect Cell is strong.

Perfect Cell goes on a tear.

Last but not to be the least, the Street Fighter 6 demo. We played one match on the Saturday morning – it fit in just before the Dragon Ball session. We have played Street Fighter before – 3rd Strike and Street Fighter II (one of them). We have established my friend can mash. She has said Street Fighter (particularly II – that was a womping from her) rewards her mashing. Well, as a result of our best of 3 on Saturday my friend is now convinced every Street Fighter game is a mashers paradise. 3 – 0. Bear in mind I’ve played the demo before. She had not. She just beat me straight up. Fair play to her. She did good. She did great.

I stuck with the regular controls while she used the modern controls (similar to the Dragon Ball controls). Street Fighter 6 has three control types – the two mentioned and an incredibly simplified version where the AI assists with single button presses. I could try and argue that she won because she used the simplified controls – but no. The footage is here – lets look at how many times I press heavy buttons while she interrupts with lights. I mean, she didn’t know she was pressing lights but doesn’t change the fact I did not adjust to what she was doing. Again, I got outplayed.

When she went 2 up, she accurately stated why bother with the third match in a best of three. I said I wanted to play for pride. That went out the window. I honestly look forward to playing with her again. Dragon Ball FighterZ is too damn fun. Playing with her is too damn fun.

I should try and find a fight game local. In person is too good.

Notes and Asides:

Still no gifs – what with Gfycat’s downfall (still sad) and I’ve not found a new place to make them. Hopefully soon.

The Fighting Game Diaries: I have (not) come a long way

I’m still climbing the Tower (when the servers allow it). Well, stuck in a loop between floors 7, 8 and 9 – but I’m no longer stuck at 6 and 7 so that’s good. As a result of this, sometimes it can be a bit of a struggle to write these posts. There are only so many variations of plateauing and learning I can write. Let’s write something that’s a little different.

I have been playing Strive for either 4 or 5 months. It’s one of the two. At least consistently. There was a big gap when I first played Strive – I played the cross-play beta and then I waited for a sale. I still have some of those matches recorded from the cross-play beta. I figured it would be fun to compare one of those matches – my first ever win to one of my recent matches. Just to see what has changed – regarding how I play, what I do, the character I play and all that good stuff. So, let’s take a trip in a way back time machine to last year, when Strive was trialling cross play for the first time.

Back in the cross-play beta I was going to be a Ramlethal main. It didn’t turn out that way, but I still have a soft spot form Ram (when she has not got me stuck in the corner). I’d still like to put some effort into a Ram, but only when I’m done with Baiken. Maybe I’ll mess around in the Park sometime. Anyhow, first thing I notice about this match – Strive has two buttons. They are heavy slash and slash – and jumping and crouching variants of those moves. No other buttons will be pressed. Hell, no other buttons exist.

My movement in this match is limited. There’s a little bit of dashing and smattering of jumping. Quite a bit of my movement here is walking. It’s quite possibly the slowest Guilty Gear has ever been. It’s like I’m trying to play the game like Street Fighter almost. And there’s no comboing. Beyond the basic gatlings there is nothing – it’s slash into heavy slash and that’s it. I think I top out at a 2-hit combo. It did a job but a whole lot of stuff was left on the table.

The blocking is also spotty. I mean, it can still be (I’m terrible at blocking high to low still) but here I feel like I missed a lot of stuff I would now catch. And this was against pre-patch Bridget. Bridget has a lot more stuff to work with now. But, this was one of the first matches I played, so these things are to be expected.

The here and now. There is a lot more movement, and it looks a lot more decisive. There is dashing, there’s running, there’s jumping. There’s air dashing (both ways). Much more dynamic than when I first started.

I’m using a lot more buttons. I’m now cancelling into moves. There are actual combos. I know I’m not meant to be judging right now, but I am noticing drops here, so that’s stuff to work on. But the fact there is thing being dropped means I am trying to things, which is contrasted to the first fight where I wasn’t trying to do much at all – just slash and heavy slash. Now there’s tatami, kabari and jumping attacks – it’s a world away. I’m also using Roman Cancels – wonders never cease.

The blocking is also much improved. Well, at least in this match. There are a few lapses but here when I am forced to defend I hold up a lot better and take less unnecessary damage. Overall, it’s just much better across the board. The progress is nice.

There is still a ways to go. But rather than a constant focus on what I am lacking and need to do, it does help to acknowledge the progress that has happened. There will be time to focus on what I need to do. But constantly doing that could lead to feelings of unhappiness – constantly thinking about what isn’t there. Reflecting on progress, even for a moment will provide moments of happiness, and that’s always good.

I’ve come a pretty far way from where I was. That’s good. That’s to be celebrated. For now, I’m better than I was. I’ll take it. I’ll celebrate it. It’s good stuff.

All of this progress (however much it is) has only come from playing the game. As much as learning combos and stuff is a skill, learning how to fight is a skill. It’s been said before by plenty of folks but everyone has a plan until they get hit in the mouth. A fair amount of the previously mentioned progress has come from being hit in the mouth and learning how to react to it. It comes with time. Sitting in practice mode will only do so much. Street Fighter 6 is coming out soonish. It’s probably going to bring in a bunch of new folks (says he, the 5 month Strive player). Some of those people are going to go straight to YouTube and the lab, practicing all the combos, learning all the frame data and then they will go online. And lose to some dude who knows how to do a punch, a kick and a dragon punch because the latter has been fighting and knows how to carry themselves in a fight. Just fight folks right away. It’ll do a world of good.

Notes and Asides:

It turns out sat some point Gfycat was bought out by Snapchap and the staff was (apparently) gutted. Hence no responses from support and the endless encoding. Fuck me it sucks. I loved making all those gifs. Hopefully I can save them. Sad to see Gfycat in this state. It deserved so much better.

Dark Souls: Hibiki’s journey of self discovery

It’s been a while since I took a trip to Lordran. There’s a part of me that thought I would never go back. However, Dark Souls is a comfy game, and sometimes you just want to have a comfy time. My time with fighting games and more complicated inputs have been balanced by a game with minimally complicated inputs. Plus, there was one character I had abandoned. Granted, a lot of my character’s in Lordran never finished the game but they made it decently far – more or less to Anor Londo. The back end of Dark Souls isn’t the best.

Then there’s Hibiki. Hibiki was conceived as a last-ditch attempt to convince myself I could still enjoy From Software’s slower paced games after Sekiro. Not the best origin story – it would be much better to come from a place of love. The plan was to sprint down to Blighttown, grab the Iaido and run with that. Two slight problems – I had already done this run before so my urge to see it through was lacking, and I forgot where the Iaido was. And couldn’t be bothered looking it up. I knew it was in Blighttown but where in Blighttown? No idea.

It was a shit show. Made it down to Blighttown with no upgraded weapons, no idea where I was looking and no idea where I was going. There was a lot of falling off ledges, a lot of being chased by packs of enemies – just a whole lot of failure. Turns out when a venture has a flimsy purpose and no real want to do it, more than likely it’s not going to succeed. Thus, Hibiki was abandoned in the bowels of Blighttown. That’s no place for a person to be. Hibiki was going to fade without even a whimper – only the Asylum Demon to her name.

Fast forward to this return to Lordran. Truthfully my first intent was to make a new character but it turns out I had used up all my save slots. I looked through the previous characters and there was Hibiki. All alone in an absolute shit hole. I owed her something. I went back to her. It was rough starting out again. Eventually Hibiki dragged herself out of Blighttown but things were not much better top side. It was clear it had been a while since I played Dark Souls. I was dying to Hollow Soldiers – things weren’t great. They weren’t great at all. No confidence to fight a boss, barely enough confidence to fight the mobs. No idea where to go. No idea what to do.

There are two options here – one is to give up, curl up into a ball and die. The other is to fight and try to achieve something. The first option is tempting – it requires no effort. Effort is hard. No effort is easy. The second one is hard – it requires effort, and effort is difficult. When faced with a lot of problems, the second one is hard to do. What do you do? Where do you even start?

There has to be a plan. It does not have to be a major plan. It can be focused on doing one thing, no matter how small. That can be built upon. Hibiki’s weapons weren’t doing it. She had a scimitar and an estoc and was not feeling either of them. The Balder Knights were not in the mood to hand over their swords. So, after a bit of farming and saving, Hibiki found Andre (bless that man) and bought herself a Longsword. Old faithful. Not long afterwards she found herself a good shield too. Longsword and shield is a vanilla way to play Dark Souls. Vanilla is still a flavour though. Longsword and shield is beautiful – pretty damn comfy. One of the comfiest experiences in gaming. Holding up a shield, getting the block and throwing out the R2 counter poke? Shit’s nice. Shit’s good. R1 slashes followed up by the poke? Beautiful. It works in open space, works in narrow hall spaces – it’s all good.

Hibiki gets something going. The Hollow Soldiers are no longer a problem – a change in move set works wonders. The Gargoyles are felled – on the third try but certainly more than what was happening before. Taurus Demon goes down. Hibiki even went back to Blighttown. This time going the, I guess proper way, felling the Gaping Dragon on the way – first try which was nice. There were still moments of challenge down their but now Hibiki was in a much better place to handle it. With some help from Maneater Mildred Quelagg takes a tumble (side note – Mildred is such a good summon. She’s up there with Tarkus for getting the job done. Thanks Mildred).

From there Hibiki only got better. She finally found the Iaido – thank you Longsword for your service. You performed more than admirably. The Iaido carried Hibiki through to the end. Hibiki got to team up with Tarkus – God I love him. Despite a (roughly) two-year gap in fighting them, Ornstein and Smough fell on the first try. Hibiki journeyed to the DLC – Sanctuary Guardian, Manus and Kalameet – with a longer gap than Ornstein and Smough – all down first try. Artorias went down second try – first attempt saw a messed-up dodge let Artorias get his buff off and it was downhill from there. I’ll take a second try under the circumstances though. I’ll more than take it. Plus, since I did the DLC earlier than I usually do it, I got the unique Sif cutscene. Never had that before. That was cool.

Hibiki went on to finish the game. This surprised me because I have said I’ll never finish Dark Souls again – I dislike the Bed of Chaos that much. Took four or five trips – I’ll take that against Bed of Chaos. Nito, Seath and the Four Kings down in single attempts – pretty good. In fact, aside from the Gargoyles, Chaos and Artorias every boss went down in a single attempt. And then there was Gwyn. I summoned Solaire because I like Solaire. I also, for the first time ever, parried Gwyn’s opening leap attack. That was pretty awesome. And as usual, Solaire does a bang up job – health to take hits, more than capable of damaging Gwyn and taking his attention.

From the depths of Blighttown – alone, confused and wondering why to lord of the new world. Hell of effort Hibiki. Hell of a journey. Now time for a well-earned rest, and then a leisurely stroll around NG+ Lordran – probably as far as Anor Londo. After that, I should try and get a few more of my characters to the end of their journeys.

Rest up Hibiki. You done good.

Notes and asides:

Still no gifs. Gfycat is still having issues and I cannot get a response. So, yeah. Not much I can do right now.

The Fighting Game Diaries: (Not) Confronting Things

A post all about learning lessons and dealing with problems. It can be hard, but it’s necessary. And it’s the only way to get better. It’s also a good way to learn a few things about yourself and your habits. Turns out I have a lot of stuff to fix. Well, better get to it.

Close run thing.

Watching replays: I’ve been doing more of this lately. It has taken me too long to do it consistently, but they do say better late than never. It can be hard watching yourself back, particularly when it goes wrong. Particularly when you watch yourself make an obvious mistake. But it’s necessary. Otherwise, I don’t realise these things. I don’t see these things during matches. It’s only with hindsight.

It’s akin to confronting the worst parts of yourself, shining a light onto them and gazing directly into them. Then you have to ask “why am I doing that? No, seriously, why? What is that in purpose of?”. It stings to see it, but it does help. It means there’s less chance of repeating that mistake. More chance to spot it happening in real time during the next match.

What this has taught me – I have been told this before but now I’ve finally learned – things have to be done with purpose. Every button press, every movement, every position in neutral – everything that happens in the match needs to be in service of something. The overall goal is the win – but there are lots of little things. Like hitting anti airs consistently, punishing a whiff, setting up a bait, executing a combo – one of those things might happen in a loss, but if I can execute those things consistently and I can see that in a replay, I can carry that over to other matches. It’s something I could miss if I don’t watch replays. Conversely, I might not see myself failing those things if I don’t watch replays, and then know to work on them.

A master class on blowing a match.

There isn’t much worse than seeing yourself do something in a match, and it’s without purpose. I can handle something badly executed – at least there is a purpose behind it. Something that isn’t achieving anything – and in a loss – it sucks. I was watching a loss against a GoldLewis player (a lost set even – there were chances to turn it around) and I hit a 5P at a distance. During the match I missed it. Watching the match back, it was incredibly noticeable, and noticeably bad. 5P isn’t a button that provokes a whiff – it’s far too short for that. At least at the range I was using it. It was not contesting anything, nor was it going to trade with anything GoldLewis was doing – could not have been either of those things. Maybe it was an attempt at the Gun Super – if that was the case it would have been easily blocked and a bad use of meter. It’s something to work on.

I have bad habits. I can fall too in love with jump attacks. If I get thrown it still spirals. My anti-airing is inconsistent. I should burst sooner. Blocking high to low remains a problem. Amongst other things. But rather than suspecting that, I know those things. I can work on those things. I can lab certain moves and try to figure out solutions. I need to do that with Potemkin – sorting out 2K and 2D is long overdue.

A match up I have improved in.

Eventually, I have to fight these dudes/dudettes: There are match ups that I struggle with. It is worth noting that I can struggle in any match up depending on the other players skill level. But on the whole, there are matches I feel comfortable with, matches that can go either way and matches that that scare me. I don’t want any part of that.

One of those matches. Also, the more I watch these – I barely even safe jump. I should fix that.

Nagoriyuki is the big one. Leo, Axl, (experienced) Chipp players and Sin Kiske are the others. I used to be terrified of Ramlethal and Testament, but I’ve gotten better at those matches. Not enough to be dominant, but enough that I can hold my own. Progress is nice. I can still get freaked out by GoldLewis but I’m not completely at sea now. Nagoriyuki though is his own special hell. Leo is close by. I think if I can better at dash blocking, Axl should be a better match up. I don’t think there is a bigger disparity better player skill levels than with Chipp. Inexperienced Chipp’s die in about 5 seconds, cause who needs blocking. Experienced Chipps players – can’t hit what you can’t see.

What this resulted in was me avoiding these matches in the Tower – contributing to the anxiety no doubt – because I would fight them in the Park. Since I’m fighting them in the Park to get used to them, I won’t fight them in the Tower. And eventually, I’ll get used to them and then I’ll fight them in the Tower. Slight problem – the higher you climb up the Tower, those characters are going to show up more and more. People tend to use good characters, who knew? Eventually, demons have to confronted, fought and conquered. I can’t run away forever. So, lately I have been fighting those characters in the Tower – anxiety or no. Sometimes it has gone well, sometimes it has gone badly. But I tried. And that’s enough, as long as I keep trying.

Super fun set – I do need to learn more ways of applying corner pressure though.

One night with promotion on the line I went straight for a Goldlewis and succeeded. A 2 – 1 set which was a lot of fun. I don’t know whether or not I’ll see that GoldLewis player again, but it was an incredibly fun set. On the other hand, I tried a promotion match against Sin and lost 3 – 0, so it goes both ways. I managed a 2 – 1 against a Nagoriyuki – not the best Nago, but a Nago still. I managed a 2 – 1 against a Happy Chaos despite lacking the match practice. I was 1 – 0 up against a Leo when a disconnect happened – it was almost 2 – 0 up until a fudged a round end. It isn’t going to always go well, there will be bad times. But I should fight. I have to fight. I can’t keep running forever. Confront the things that bother me and learn the match ups.

I’ll take any win against a Nago – hard work out there.

I think I’ll hang around: On the last fighting game diaries I mentioned that I was thinking about, rather than moving down a floor when demoted I would just hang around the floor I was demoted from, making that the new normal – getting used to that standard of opponent. I gave that plan a go.

One night on floor 8 I went from being on the verge of a promotion chance to getting demoted. It goes that way sometimes. As always, I was offered the chance to go down a floor or stay where I was. I stayed put. It ended with a promotion back to floor 8, so you could say that it worked. Admittedly it was touch and go at first – starting with a 1 – 2 set isn’t the best. Then I found a groove – I kept on fighting, reeled off a few good sets and got the promotion – against a Chipp player no less.

Whole lotta jumping going on.

Now, this is a single instance of this plan working. It might backfire later on. Well, the most it can backfire is with multiple demotions. That’s not the worst thing in the world. But I can deal with that. I’m used to that. And in the long run, it should be better for me if I consistently fight opponents of a higher and consistent rank rather than bouncing between floors constantly fighting opponents of different ranks.

This is a no eating establishment.

Might be worth continuing with this experiment.

Notes and Asides:

Still no gifs. Gfycat still won’t work, and I can’t get a reply from the help email. So, I don’t know. Looking kind of bleak on that front right now.