This is inspired by MOD’s thread, but where his thread focused more on “big picture” suggestions, I’d like to start a thread about more specific game-to-game oriented stuff. I’m certainly no expert, but I recently started improving my game in earnest, and I figured I’d share my observations and see what people have to say.
Also, I wanna take a Liberal Arts student moment here and warn that I like finding connections between things, so if I go off on an artfag rant about how x is just like y, just humor me, okay?
The first thing I noticed about improving is that you can’t improve if you don’t step outside your comfort zone. I know I just warned you guys about stupid “connections” rants, but I think that’s something true for everyone: Artists, musicians, programmers, and hardcore gamers. When you find something that works, you can’t spend more than a minute admiring your handiwork before you move on to the next improvement. Otherwise you stagnate, and only douchebags do that.
I play Makoto. She’s tough to play as, and tough to play against… a while ago I started to get pretty good with her rushdowns. With her strong mixup game, I could really take a fight once I gained momentum. Unfortunately, I had absolutely no idea how to play defensively, and I basically used the same rushdowns against every character. So, the more I played experienced opponents, the more I got my ass kicked. Finally after DVD kicked my ass back and forth with Urien for like the six thousandth god damn time, he said, “You have a great offensive game, but I think you need to work on defense.” I momentarily considered hurling him into the sun, but I decided to take his advice.
He was right. I started playing on GGPO and had to consciously force myself to play more defensively. I bolded “consciously” there because it’s a really, really important part. Until you’re seriously awesome, I don’t think you can allow yourself to play on “autopilot”. Unless you’re the best player on earth, it’s just failpilot.
You have to force yourself to PAY ATTENTION to the game as you’re playing it. It actually makes you play worse, because you’re thinking and hesitating and calculating and oh God he just perfected me, and it’s a little less fun to play that way! But when you do it, you realize shit. You realize, “All my opponent did that fight was punish my jump-ins. I’ll jump in less.” Or, “Every time I finish a rushdown combo with Makoto, this guy EX Shoryukens out of it. Why don’t I block? Oh, now I can Fukiage… and FP… sweet! Stun!”
So, that’s my first big epiphany. “Pay attention.” I played 3s for years with my group of friends, and we thought we were awesome! But there were just 7 or 8 of us, and we had no idea how advanced 3s play could get. We had never really tried to improve; we just played–on autopilot. The first time we went to Chinatown Fair, I think I actually sobbed with shame and defeat, and someone told us, “All you guys do is jump in. Don’t do it anymore.” So when we hung out next and decided to play 3s, we said, “Let’s try to play without jump-ins.”
After a couple of minutes, we realized two things: 1.) that the gameplay had instantly deepened and become more complex, and 2.) that it was really fucking hard! We inched closer, farther away, poked, dashed in, jumped out–it was a completely different game. Yesterday I played a new player on GGPO who I gave the same advice: “Stop jumping in.” After just one game, he stopped and asked me, “Well… then how do you get in close???”
I told him, “Now you’re playing 3rd Strike, dude.”