Reading combos like music


I definitely agree with a lot of your points. I’m still not sure if this should be completely universal, meaning that it should purely show button presses (so FADC would be: cancel into MP + MK > cancel into forward motion, instead of an FADC “symbol”), or if it should be game specific. Because if you have to read ALL the button presses for a simple FADC, then you’re just like well why doesn’t it just say “FADC”. So it might complicate things more than simplify them. Different games will have different buttons anyways, but then again you’re still using the same “instrument” that is the arcade stick. I do appreciate all the feedback though. I’ll keep working on this and keep you guys updated :).

Here’s an example using the full notation for FADC. I also added a little notation for the number of frames for links and put the double motions on top of each other.

Or what if I add a note below the FADC inputs that just says FADC to make it simpler like this:


I tried, honestly, I did. My mind is getting confused with guitar tabs.

I’d much rather have combos written in one sentence. In the time it takes to draw up one of these I could write the combo twice in every accepted form of notation.

This just complicates things so much more than they need to be.


This is perfectly clear to me. I can look at that and know exactly what to do. Putting the FADC at the bottom is a good compromise and stays in line with the sheet music theme.


It really doesn’t. If he programmed an app for it, then all you would have to do is input the combo, and it would generate the picture. Very readable IMO. Nice idea.


Does this mean that the forward dashes in FADC are simultaneous? Or that the button is pressed at anytime during the SRK motion? Could get a little tricky in more complicated inputs (for example just frames).


A software that plays it and shows the result would make it clear…


There’s only one forward dash. Forward on the stick then forward again. It’s clear that the button needs to be pressed after the SRK motion is complete. And for just frame inputs you could just color them oddly or have some annotation on the side, like flats and sharps.
Also, if you want to represent plinking you could write it like grace notes. To plink MP with LP you would have MP and then have a small line to a small LP to show plinking.


There’s a few things to iron out but this is a really good idea. Hope you continue working on this. Kudos!


I’d entertained thoughts of this myself before, but this is a pretty sweet design. A couple thoughts:

  • It might be a good idea to place the double joystick inputs (e.g. for dashes, ultra, etc.) as side-by-side instead of stacking them vertically. Doing this could help with inputs where you want to buffer particular inputs at particular times.

  • Seconding deadfrog on the big potential value of distance between button presses to aid with timing. This bar notation with frame counts in between button presses works for shorthand, but might not work so well when trying to copy it in real time. Using distances also enables you to draw “zones” for minimum/maximum delay time to the next input.

  • Combining this with a slow-motion mode (e.g. 50% speed, 33% speed, etc.) can definitely help with drilling combo inputs. It isn’t uncommon for musicians to take a tricky segment at a slower speed to build muscle memory for it.

  • Held buttons/negative edge could actually be represented in the same way that DDR/ITG/etc. does hold notes: using a long bar with a length corresponding to the amount of time to keep it held down. When the long bar ends is when the button is to be released.

  • Since the lights, mediums, and heavies share the same color, have you considered putting P/K/PK inside the buttons? You could also cut the “staff” (for Street Fighter) down to only three different notes if you do so.

It’d be pretty sweet to get something like this in a training mode some day.


whats really useful about this is when its used to do link combos. it is not needed for standard combos, the normal into special or special into fadc etc dont need to be put on sheet like this because they speak for themselves. but for links purposes, this is truly great. if you think about it, when doing link combos you dont just go for the visual, you also have a rythem or timing when hitting the links. i dont play music, but ive had the same ideas that work for music inside of me for a very long time even though i dont play it. a lot of people actually do. timing is crucial in any fighter that has links, people who play instruments or that have good timing/rythem automatically have a better understanding and easier time doing links.

imo a top musical instrument player like those top pianists that play the hardest pieces of piano, those level 5 pieces (theres probably only a couple 100 or 1000 of these people worldwide, just a guess btw), they should in theory be able to do the hardest combos and links easily because of their timing.

this being said, desk is a good example of a musician playing a fighter and doing those links. on the flip side, if sako doesnt already play an instrument he sure is a person who would excel in playing one and learn it much faster than the average musician.


There ARE nuances that are different between every game though. If you go from SF4 to Guilty Gear, you have different buttons, different mechanics, all of which could be notated in one form or another. If this winds up taking off, I’m sure the communities would figure out ways to notate various things much like as different effects and sounds came into being musically, composers figured out ways to notate them. The basic idea itself would remain the same though.

As a musician myself, I already find this easier to work with than long-ass strings of nonsense. It would make learning combos for games like Guilty Gear and KoFXIII a hell of a lot easier imo.


… obviously there are nuances that are different between games. The only thing that should have to change are the buttons on the left. If shorthand is put in to account for all of those differences then it becomes problematic for people using this as a notation format on a game they’re unfamiliar with.

As for held buttons the hold and release could both be hollow circles.

I still don’t see why plinking would be included. Plinking is just a technique to aid in execution. If people are going to plink they should learn to do so independently of this and insert them as necessary.


Why do you keep putting the motions out of order or stacking them in weird ways? If the Y-axis is time, just put everything in order.


The biggest potential advantage for this would be to notate timing, which conventional notation doesn’t do. As both a musician and a rhythm game player, the most frustrating thing for me in learning new combos/techniques/etc. is trying to identify when to do things by timing–and the inability to do this makes it much harder for me to show someone else how to do it as well.


Video+sound= problem solved.

When I’m talking about sound I’m talking about button press sound.


I guess I’m crazy, but I really don’t see how this:

Is easier to read than this:

cr.LK, cr.LP, LP xx Shoryuken xx FADC Ultra

or this:

cr.:lk:, cr.:lp:, :lp: xx :dp::mp: xx FADC :qcf::qcf::lp::mp::hp:

or this:

2LK, 2LP, 5LP xx 623MP xx FADC 236236PPP

The only possible advantage you could get from complicating the notation in such a way is the ability to represent time, but even in that case, it would be better to place everything on the same line instead of a different line for each button, and only use additional lines when additional inputs are necessary. Example (not graphical because I’m bad at that stuff, but hopefully you get the idea):

cr.LK---cr.LP--LPxxMPxxMP    -LP----
---------------------xxMK    -MP----


Interesting idea, and I see merit in the timing argument. But how does it represent motions like followup dashes, which can be dependent on screen location?

I also imagine a whole thread filled with musical charts would look very cluttered and could become bloated, even if each combo list is spoilered.


It’s better than nothing for sure, but it’s also pretty attention-dominant. For someone ADD as I am, having to keep playing and rewinding really slows the process down, whereas if I could just look I could pick it up much faster.


This would be great as an app.


Do you know why my piano recitals are always so turtle-y?

Because I’m holding down Bach. :cool: