Developing footsies and fundamentals

I recently realised that my execution and combos aren’t worth anything if I don’t have strategies, tactics and a strong ground game, so I went on a quest for knowledge, stumbled upon Sonic Hurricane’s Footsies Handbook, and holy hell, that was one amazing read, but I’m having some problems digesting that info and implementing it into my game, so I’d like some help. And before I begin asking away, I must say I’ve committed myself to the website’s advice on learning footsies; that is, not jumping and dashing and limiting myself to one psychic DP per match (I’m playing Ryu).

So, first and foremost: we can resume the first 3 elements given by the writer (for those who haven’t read it or don’t remember it, I posted a link to the guide @ the end) as being able to get into your oponent’s poke/sweep range and backing out (element 01), having attack strings and combos that place you at a safe position from your opponent’s reversals (02) and eventually making use of his hesitation to walk up and throw them (03). That seems simple, but to perform 02 and 03, you seem to need a solid grasp of element 01, which I don’t, and have no idea on how to get it. I mean, every character has different hitboxes and stuff, but surely, there must be some kind of “common denominator” that you can use for that; learning the sweep/cr.MK of every single character just sounds crazy. So, my first question would be: can someone help me find that space? Sure, I’ve tried looking at Ryu’s sweep hitbox and drawing a line out of it, but I can’t seem to get it quite right, so any help would be appreciated!

Whew, that’s a lot of text for a first post; must be really annoying when new guys come around and start posting text walls, huh? I think I’m gonna leave it at this for now though; I plan on asking more as I digest and learn whatever I can! Thanks in advance!

Sonic Hurricane’s guide : the mentioned elements, 1 to 3, are mentioned in the first chapter.

This is exactly why training mode has those grids running across the floor and walls. Use them to measure distance and height. Over time you begin to develop a sense of the distance on other stages as well.

Another aspect of spacing is knowing from which range which of your moves will beat/trade with/lose to another characters moves. To figure this out, have a dummy spam a certain characters moves and test your own character’s moves against them. You can use this to practice whiff punishment as well.

Woah, I never knew you could use those grids on the training stage that way; I just thought it looked like that because it’s some kind of “beta” stage which the others are build upon, like a wireframe, so I never bothered to pay attention to it. That’s pretty amazing! I’ll hit training mode to experiment this ASAP (problably tomorrow morning), and I’ll try to post some screens with my results on them too, but that might take more than a day. Thanks for the fast and awesome reply, ilitirit!

Congrats on finding that treasure chest worth of information.

Even though training stage is a great help, I say…don’t bother as much learning this stuff in theory. Just play it out. Practical knowledge gained from real matches is worth a lot more than training mode could ever grant you. IF you focus on it, that is. You have to forget about winning. Also watch your own replays, your losses. Having your mind free of inputs and lifebars and seeing the game from an observer’s perspective can teach you a LOT.

I don’t know how good you are and how long have you spent on SF, but if you want to have some kind of a footsie game, you have to master the knowledge of your own character’s moves first. Only once you know them so well that you don’t have to think about what you’re doing, then you can focus on your opponent’s moveset.

Watch this. All of it. It’s great. Explains the training mode stuff too.

Text wall incoming: I know this pisses some people off, but I think discussing this kind of stuff awfully entertaning, and this seems to be the right place to do it. If not, sorry!

@ Larthy: I agree 100% with you, I try to play it out and analyze my own matches as much as I can, though I am stuck with online competition since I don’t have a scene here, and, sometimes, the training dummies just beat whatever’s out there. I also watch as many videos from top players as I can, so I can try to understand what they’re doing and stuff. And yes, one thing that always held down my game was lack of knowledge of my character’s moves, especially the normals, which I never bothered learning in the past since I didn’t really know what fighting games were really about, which actually brings me to an important point.

I know jack about this stuff, and this is only an observation from a newbie so pardon (and correct!) me if I’m spitting some BS here, but it seems you can only improve after you understand what you want to improve on, and while that seems obvious, I think it’s not.You see, to do that, you gotta have a solid grasp on what the game’s about, and that can be quite an expansive thing, since no one see fighting games the same way.

Before this week, I saw the basic aspect of a fighting game (I’m really talking about 2D fighters here, SF4 and 2 in special) as inflicting as much damage as I can, whenever I can. This vision led me to plan my game around combos and combos only, I only bothered to learn them and nothing else. This would limit my improvements to my execution (and to excessive jumping) and nothing else. After reading Sonic Hurricane’s guide, and watching the Air Ryu guide, posted below by Phil_SSF4 (thanks dude, that’s an amazing watch!), that changed. I know see them as something closer to how I see chess, and that’s basically space controling (limiting your opponent’s aproach, etc) AND deal damage, and I think this is what really made a change to my game. Space controling implies a lot of things, which I’d like to discuss later, but it expands my ‘improvement field’ to footsies, normal and special moves knowledge, combo knowledge spacing and zoning, and this is that’s the importance of theory: basically knowing what you’re going to apply to your practice.

Again, I’d really like some people’s opinion on this, I’m a complete newbie who’s only played this casually and am planning to get into competitive play one day, and this is just some casual observation of the game’s structure.

Side note: my computer fried up just after my second post, so I can’t really try stuff out until I get it fixed, might be ready by Monday, or not, God knows, so it might be a while ‘till my next post regarding this stuff. Oh well, Hyper Fighting on the PSP will have to do it for now!

Pretty much. Controling space means controling the pace and ultimately, the result of a match. Though it’s important not to be overeager. It took me a damn long time to realize that limiting the opponents’ options too much can lead to my own disadvantage. Like a hunter cornering his prey; they’re backed up to a wall, they have nothing more to lose and will do anything to get out. If you’re not 100% sure about all their options/habits, give them a small breathing room and bait them into something stupid, abusing their false notion of security.

There are a few steps in order to get better.

A goal - Something that you would like to achieve, (i.e) understanding Zoning and being able to implement it in game.
The steps to your goal - Being able to identify the route that you will be able to Zone effectively
Patience - Understanding that it can take a while and every day you will get better. You paid $200 for that Fight stick, don’t throw it at the wall!
Advice - Ask people for their opinion, people may not always give you the right advice, it may not be explained as well as you’d like, but you will get good advice too.
Persistence - If you don’t keep at it, you’ll lose the progress you made. You will get there!
Reward yourself - Condition yourself. If you complete an aspect of your goal, a step towards it, give yourself something that reinforces positive thinking.
(Don’t go buy a ferrari on credit though, think of it in relative terms - It’s just a game!!!)

Hope this helps, it helped me. Although I amended it a bit.

It’s not crazy. It’s kinda necessary.

But yeah… I find these kinds of discussions interesting, myself.

As much as I believe in learning from fights, I also believe it’s important the know as much as possible, so that when you fight, it’s easier to pick things up. The more knowledge you have, the better, so if you can go to training mode to learn ranges, and shit… do it.

I also think it’s good to learn the game system on a technical level, for the same reason, but that’s a completely different discussion.

My advice to players coming into a new way of thinking, read the Domination 101 forum on this site. They are articles written by Seth Killian back from 2001-2002. They got me to a completely different level, as a player.

@Larthy: I know what you’re saying; I ate many impractical and wake-up Super Arts back when I played Third Strike on GGPO, thinking I had 'em cornered for good. Harsh, but I think I learned my lesson. It’s all about playing the other player, eh?

@Phil_SSF4: I hear you, pal! I think kinda like you: having goals help you know what to improve and HOW to improve. Playing for the sake of playing, hoping to get “better with time” always sounded a bit lazy to me (although it’s not like I can argue with that at all, it depends on the player’s aproach)… but rewarding myself? The reward of seeing myself play the game at a higher level than I played before is really my favorite reward :rofl:!

@HAV: After reading and watching everything I did this week (including Seth’s Domination 101 and David Sirlin’s Play to Win, which I’ll get to in a bit), that sweep/cr. MK range learning thing seems not only necessary, but that much easier.

Killian’s Domination 101 is an interesting piece, and I like how much it parallels with Sirlin’s Play to Win: the way they approach the subject is a tad different, Seth seems to have a in-your-face, leave-no-prisioner’s style, while Sirlin’s more calm and analytical about it (or not, that’s just the impression I got), but (unless I misunderstood some serious stuff here; hell, it can happen, I’m not a native speaker, I self-taught myself this stuff) intend to make the player avoid certain pitfalls that characterize the ever-hated “scrub” and to make him develop a stronger mind, so that he is not easily overwhelmed by the game’s certain aspects, and how to deal with the game outside the game and, well, play to win, among other things (side note, I’m about half-way done with Sirlin’s book, just haven’t had enough time). Or something like that.

But you got my attention on the learn the game system on a “technical level” bit. What do you mean by that?