Hey all. New to the SRK forums here and figured this could be a good topic for the newbie dojo. I'm interested in what your philosophies are behind picking a character (doesn't matter what game, just talkin fighting games in general), and how you handle the process of learning how to be effective with them. Does the character have to look a certain way for you to play them? Do they have to be top tier? Do you have to have some prior knowledge about their backstory or have played them before in the case of sequels or crossover games? Do they have to fit a certain fighting style like a keepaway character or a grappler?
For me, I have to at least like how the character looks and acts onscreen. Even if they're god tier, if I don't think they look cool I'm not going to touch them. I also look for ease of use. I play on a pad and have never had great execution, so if their combos and movement require crazy fast inputs I'm going to shy away. Grapplers are almost always lumped into that category because I find 360s to be a huge pain in the arse (except for Cerebella). Other than that, I don't look for a particular fighting style because for me the characters I pick dictate my playstyle, not the other way around. It varies from game to game. In crossover games I always try out the characters I can recognize first, like all of the X-Men, Street Fighter, and DMC characters in the Marvel series, but in sequels of older game series I usually try out the new additions first because I should already be mostly familiar with the old cast. In the end though, I rarely settle on the ones I try out at the beginning. In this day and age with match videos and forums all over the place, watching high-level matches and tournaments ends up having a big impact on who I decide to play as well. If a character looks awesome in tournaments and I see some guys owning with them, its going to make me really want to try them out for myself (watching videos of Duc at Evo really inspired me to get better with Cable and Spiral, and watching Daigo at Canada Cup a couple years ago rekindled my love for Guile). I guess overall the most important things for me when I pick a character are how they look and sound while they fight, and they have to be relatively easy to use. I will admit that I'm a bit of a tier whore as well...I don't always go for the tip-top, but I usually try to pick out of the top 25-50% of the cast.
Once you're interested in a particular character, how do you get better with them? When I first started out playing fighting games I always hopped around different characters because I just didn't know what to do, and I feel like a lot of new players sort of plateau after they get the basics down with whoever they play. Nowadays, I kind of have a system for learning a new character. I start off with messing around with their normal moves, figuring out how to do all their special moves and supers, checking out how they move around, the real basics. Then I try out some simple bread and butter combos and/or links. At this point if I feel awkward with the character or don't like how their moves and basic combos feel, I'll drop them and try someone else. Its a hard notion to describe, but combos have to "feel" natural and fluid for me to want to continue learning how to use a character. Then I look at different ways of starting a combo and different openers like jump-ins, low attacks, throws, assist hits, anti-airs, gimmicky setups, etc. and converting into a full combo. A characters movement should be thoroughly explored at this stage. From there it becomes somewhat character-dependent. If its someone with good mix-up potential I'll look for ways to set up situations that force the opponent to block correctly. If its a zoning character I'll try to perfect some patterns that keep the opponent out. In the Vs. series this is where figuring out what assists are good for your character is crucial. Other things like team synergy become apparent as well and setting up DHCs or team supers. The last things I try out are things like advanced combos and reset opportunities. After that I think all that is left is match-up knowledge and the best way to learn that I think is to just play and see what happens against other characters. Learning how to deal with different situations I feel just has to come with experience.
Anyway, sorry for the long post but I'm always interested in hearing other players' reasons for picking certain characters and what motivates them to play a certain way. I think hearing this stuff from a bunch of experienced players could also help out those who are just starting to play these types of games and don't know where to start, or people who are in a character crisis like I frequently find myself in.
"If you're ever fortunate enough to own a caribou, you've got to name it Lou"
UMvC3: Vergil, Doom, Strider
SFxT: Law, Guy, Rolento; learning Hwoarang | SSF4: Guile, Abel, Fei Long | SF3S: Yun, Ken, Dudley
MvC1: Spiderman, Strider, Gambit, Wolverine, Megaman | MvC2: Cable, Sentinel, CapCom; Spiral, Sentinel, Cable; Strider, Doom, Sentinel
Skullgirls: Filia, Cerebella; Peacock, Parasoul | Darkstalkers: L. Raptor, Rikuo, Jedah