Musings about Online Vs. Offline


#1

I’ve been playing SF2HF recently and I sometimes hear that, when playing online, it is too difficult to react to certain attacks such as <insert attack here>. Many were not baseless claims. This made me think about about the nature of online play. While I focus on SF2 in the following paragraphs, much of what I say is applicable in any other competitive game and is addressed to those who scorn the online mode.

Offline, good reflexes and quick and accurate execution of special moves to counter and hurt an opponent are absolute requirements for any good player. Another two things such a player exhibits are a keen sense of strategy and the ability to adapt quickly to an opponent’s style, discern his patterns, outthink and then defeat him. Such a player seems to anticipate his opponent’s next move. It’s quite beautiful to watch and it feels even better to perform as everybody knows. That’s why we loved that game back in the day.

Online, however, even the best connection still make reflexes less important compared to the ability to anticipate an opponent’s move as described above. The noticeably slow connections (the ones that slow the game 20% or more) accentuate that trend and also diminish the requirements for timely execution. If I have more time to execute it, I can pull off a shoryuken more reliably to punish a jump.

But the really good players still have strategy and adaptability so, The best 100 players offline and the best 100 players online will have a great many members in common. The same thing will happen if you look at the best players of SF2 and SF2CE. So SF2Online is simply a different game than SF2 Offline. It is balanced differently. Much like the way SF2 and SF2CE are. And, while it might be inferior to its offline counterpart, it’s still a damn good game if one lays away the prejudices aquired offline. When you stop thinking you can counter Blanka’s ball with a shoryuken and opt for a jab instead, you’re already half-way there.

Now, of course, the game might be broken irretrievably by such a change in balance. In fact, each game will have purists that say online is “broken”. Let me take SF2HF as an example: I play online with the top20 players and, as things stand right now, Ryu, Ken, Chunli, Blanka, Honda, Guile and Sagat all seem to hold their own (the best player being Sagat so far). That’s good variety. While this balance may change as people become more familiar with the ins and out of the game, it appears to be quite good.

Ultimately, each one has to make a subjective decision on the game and we should try to keep an open mind and not to be too hasty discarding it. We might miss out on something good. Ya know, like pizza with anchovies.

As far as x360’s SF2HF, if you have the means and the skill, I extend this invitation to you. We’ve got some good lobbys forming up with some fairly skilled people from all over the place. The U.S. of course, but also people from Colombia, Mexico, UK, Morocco, The Bahamas and so on.You’re welcome to drop by, it ought to be fun.


#2

That’s not how it works. Input delay means that you have to start the move earlier as well. Anyone who plays online will tell you that jump-ins become a thousand times more potent, because you won’t be able to get a DP or AA normal out in time in a lot of cases, and the kind of lag that exists online doesn’t actually slow the game down most of the time; it just makes it skip.

I really don’t think we need another one of these topics. There have been a billion of these since kaillera showed up (long before Live got fighters on it), and they always just degenerate into flame wars, with people saying the same shit from both sides.
I think the bottom line is that a top player will do well regardless of lag, but online, they’re much much more likely to lose to someone they shouldn’t have.

I think online play is fine as long as you don’t take it too seriously, and it’s especially useful if you lack any kind of competition in your area. The people who do have arcades they can go to regularly with lots of comp’, don’t really need it.

I don’t use kaillera as a win-loss counter. I use it as a learning tool to see what beats what, what works against a certain tactic and what doesn’t or what should’ve worked.
Lag or not, you do get competition and you do get too see and learn to combat a large variety of fighting styles no matter how retarded some of them might be.
It’s also a good place to brush up on your execution against a moving opponent. Just make sure you’re not playing a lot of online stuff days before an offline competition or your timing is going to be haywire.


#3

You took my quote out of context. I was referring exclusively to those really laggy connections that make the game go slow-mo. And you can do a shoryuken like three times before your opponent lands on you. I’m sure you’ve had them. Otherwise, yes, there is always input lag and that is what I am referring to when I talk about changed balance. I mean, what else is different online?

And pretty much any thread can degenerate into a flame war at SRK.


#4

Yes, but do we really need the same one a dozen times?
There’s nothing you’ve said so far that hasn’t already been said before.

Second, that’s not true. When the game is slowed to that degree, it also means you have to input the DP much slower as well or you’ll likely just end up whiffing.


#5

At least on the Xbox 360 SF2HF, most games are just slower instead of skipping when lag is present. Probably the way their netcode is written but it definitely seems to just slow the faster connection down to the lowest common denominator. Most of the time it’s still a smooth game but just runs at slower than CE speeds.


#6

“I think online play is fine as long as you don’t take it too seriously, and it’s especially useful if you lack any kind of competition in your area. The people who do have arcades they can go to regularly with lots of comp’, don’t really need it.”

I think thats the big point. Surely everyone would prefer to play people in person, its the natural and preferred way to play not just all fighters but videogames in general. But unfortunetly some of us don’t live in areas with good competition or even general interest in fighters (or types of fighters) so what can you do?


#7

I like playing online with old friends. We used to play video games together back in the day but time has spread us to the wind. Xbox live is ten times better than playing spades or poker on the PC.