Reading combos like music

Hey, I’m not sure if something like that has been done before, but being a musician myself I think playing fighting games is very similar to playing music. Execution, technique, timing, dexterity, etc. I also happen to be a graphic designer and I thought why not try to create some kind of readable “combo sheet” like if you were writing music. Here’s an early draft I made:

This would read: crouching light kick, link, crouching light punch, link, standing light punch, cancel, medium punch shoryuken, cancel, focus attack dash cancel, link, ultra

Here’s where it gets interesting though. If there’s enough interest in this I could make it a webapp so people could write their combos online and post them. What do you guys think?

Pretty neat idea! I think it could be a very interesting tool and resource for the community.

Things will start looking pretty haywire pretty fast with extended or more complicated input series, though. This actually might be more helpful for demonstrating short and unusual series of inputs (such as for option selects) than it would be for any sort of longer combos. And that’s honestly not bad, because those things tend to be a little harder to explain than combos anyway.

Just a thought, though: Unless your primary focus is to help people who are already comfortable reading sheet music (as opposed to just helping any old person who plays fighting games), I think it might be a little more intuitive for the average player to use this if you rotate your notation 90° clockwise. Orrr counter-clock, if you strongly prefer. The reason I’m inclined (ha ha) to suggest this is because then at least the order/positions of the stick and the button rows remain intact (i.e. true to the real-life arcade layout), and only the button columns have been broken. I’m thinking this through in terms of Capcom 6-button here but, off the top of my head, I think it would better-serve most other fighting games too.

One thing that would make this really useful and set it apart from just regularly listing combos is the factor of time between button presses. If you could accurately describe time on it then i think it would have a use outside of novelty.

That can be such a critical piece of the information, I’m sure he’s already put some thought into how it can be accounted for. His mock-up has divider lines in it: the things that look like guitar frets. Using variable distances would be another good way. And on that note…

In a perfect world, if this actually becomes a fully-functional webapp or program, we’d be able to just record our inputs and edit them (to clean them up) after, rather than having to sequence the whole thing note-by-note. And we could even have scrolling playback that would make it look like DDR or whatever, possibly even with the option of playing it back at slower speeds. At a certain point, though, these kinds of features reach a threshold where you’re better off learning/practicing by just plain going back to the game itself.

Really, this is the kind of thing that would be dreamy to have be a part of a game’s training mode.



Great suggestions there. The dev I’m working with suggested we incorporate some kind of metronome for timing which would be really cool. I definitely get where you’re coming from with the horizontal vs vertical. I think in the end we could have both really. I’ll keep working on it, thanks!

I like this a lot! Hope you can get enough support for it!

It took me a minute to figure out how to read this, but i actually find it easier than how people normally write out combos. instead of words and interchangeable terminology, its just raw input data. Keep it up :smiley:

Also in the flip mode, you forgot to flip the arrows that are supposed to be pointing down to represent a crouching state :stuck_out_tongue: just sayin

mspaint v


i like this a lot and think it is cool, although tradition is incredibly hard to deal with.

if you could make this incredibly easy to deal with then that would be super cool

Some suggestions:

  1. If the line stands for link then the number of lines should be the max number of frames the player has to complete a link. I wouldn’t go past 3 lines on this. After 3 a number above a thicker under the controller notation would be good.
  2. Per the format that you’ve established I believe the FADC notation is incorrect. Don’t you have to focus cancel before you dash? That’s what I’ve always done. The way you have it noted you do it simultaneously.
  3. The super notation is off the three 3P button press should be under the second QCF not in between them. That’s confusing.

I don’t like the fact that you have to keep looking to the left to see which buttons must be pressed.

The best way to show a combo and timing is to straight up copy bemani games (Beatmania, DDR, Pop’n Music, etc).
I thought about doing it to my Vsav lua script but I stopped working on it.

Edit how crazy my vsav script was.

edit 2: Another reason how will you be able to handle negative edge, button charges, and precise stick movement(not just special move motions)?

There’s only 6 lines you’ll get used to it. This is at least 10x easier than trying to read sheet music. On top of that the buttons are colored. After an hour or two of using it you really wouldn’t need the guides at the left.

On the FADC thing, you can do FADC and te dash simultaneously, but it is much more reliable to do the dash slightly after the buttons. Doing them at the same time runs the risk of the dash registering just before the buttons, and the dash never even happens.

In case you guys didn’t already know Jedpossum is fucking awesome. :tup:

This looks really neat, I would love it if there was a program that transcribed the combos like this and then saved it as a file so I could add it to videos. Would be a nice alternative for some people to see than my cramped notation style.

Although this probably would get really difficult with games with longer combos like Marvel.

Like for a Dante combo, how would I show bold cancel? How about Tiger Knees? Jump cancels? Plinks?

I was actually planning on developing software similar to this. Except I want it so you can plug your stick in, and hit record, and it will “transcribe” your combo,play it back and practice with it. If you need help with your project I can possibly lend a hand.

  1. I think you could just write “1F” or “2F” etc… below the link line and that would do it.
  2. I think specific game mechanics/techniques should be represented as a symbol. I tried to represent FADC as MP+MK and forward arrows as in forward dash, backwards arrows for back dash. So on the image it reads “cancel the MP into the FADC (foward dash)”. I’m not amazing at the game or anything but I believe that’s correct?
  3. Th way it’s layed out you have to read the motion first, then the buttons. So it’s not inbetween them per se if you read it the way it’s supposed to be read. Maybe I should make that more clear in the design.

As said earlier I think that game mechanics/techniques should be represented as a symbol. I’m not a Marvel player but I assume it would be possible to just make up a symbol for all those techniques you mention. And plink could just be mentioned in annotations on the side.

That’s awesome but you’ll probably need to have the game in front of you to do the combo, which might be a problem.

Thanks for all the feedback guys!

Wanting to represent game mechanics as a symbol is fine if you just want this to be for SF4, but beyond that it becomes limiting and problematic. A universal notation system should be just that, universal. If your inspiration for this is sheet music then you should realize why this is flawed. Beethoven’s 5th doesn’t have different notations than his 9th. Obviously the notes are different, but the method of notation is identical. The point is that someone who wants to use this notation shouldn’t have to relearn nuances between games. They should be able to be completely ignorant to the mechanic, but just see what buttons to press and do so. Moreover, whether or not a special move notation is a special symbol or not experienced players are still going to recognize it for what it is. The problem comes in with new people and people switching games. It doesn’t make any sense to build in a barrier to understanding your notation when the point of this is to make it easier to understand.

As far as the ultra motion it looks like the 3P press is inbetween the quarter circles. If I didn’t know what I was doing I’d read that as QCF, 3P, QCF. I know what you think it says, but the fact that the 3P press is straddled in between makes it confusing. People are going to read it top to bottom, left to right. Because the 3P in lined up in between the motions it looks like it comes before the last one. It should be lined up under the last QCF.

As for plinking that isn’t something that should be included in a notation at all. Plinking is a technique designed to aid execution. That’d be like sheet music telling a piano player what to do with his elbows and shoulders during a performance.