What are the things you make sure to do/learn before you even consider taking them to the streets? How long do you wait before actually trying them out against real people? Basically, if you were asked what the ideal manner of learning a new character in any fighting game was, how would you answer?
Depends on the game. I started playing ST for the first time in my life on GGPO starting this week. Decided to main Balrog. Went cold turkey without reading anything and lost many games. In between sets, I read a bit about how the character work, the moveset, and game mechanics.
So the best start would be to know the basics of the game and your character, learning more detail as you go along.
The goal is to have fun.
I would learn all the bnbs and I would learn which move is best as an anti air and which moves are best for footsies.
After that, id take the character into casuals.
Movement is the first thing to get comfortable with. Walk speed, dash, back dash, can you air dash, double jump, fly?.. Then normals. Figure out which ones are useful for what - which are the good long distance pokes, which ones anti air… Which ones are the best for air to air situations? Which ones cross your opponent up? That means what normals hit in the back of the head when you jump over them and are close enough. (Ryu can use jumping light or medium kick in SF4 for example to cross up) You will use some normals much more than others. Then command normals- button plus direction… Do you have an overhead? Not every character does. What about an anti air move that knocks away a jumping opponent when timed right? Command normals usually all serve purpose, overhead usually being the most important. An over head is a move that you can do standing that breaks through your opponents crouching block. It can only be blocked by a standing opponent. For example Akumas overhead in Street Fighter 4 as well as MvC3 is towards and medium punch (just M in marvel) His anti air in SF is down and HP. Then specials… Understand how they work, when to use them, and learn to be able to do them 100% of the time. Knowing when to attempt a special move is a large part of fighters. You can’t just throw them out or you may leave yourself open to take damage.
These are the most important things. It shouldnt take too long to get all that down solid and that’s the foundation of your character.
Then its time to step it up a notch.
Once youre gold on that stuff, if there’s a challenge mode I’d say hit that up and try a few combos, but expect to get stuck at some point. That’s ok, you’re just getting used to what cancels into what… What normals cancel to specials, if certain specials cancel into other specials or supers, and make mental notes of basic stuff like that. Or you could just skip that and get right into learning bnbs from online sources or what not… Learning stuff from online sources can be overwhelming if you dont know a decent bit about your character first, so it’s not a good idea to just jump into bnbs until you have that earlier stuff i mentioned down. Its tempting to try and move right into the flashy, more complicated stuff but without the fundamentals to put this stuff in context, youre gonna pick up alot of bad habits you’ll have to break later, which is not a situation you wanna put yourself in. Besides, if you know who you wanna main and aren’t trying a ton of people out, all the previous steps up to this point should only take no more than an hour or two most likely (unless you have a hard time with specials, in that case it’s a detour to the noob dojo, but most of the time, practice will fix that for you if you just keep at it).
Once you get some decent combos (a punish combo for when they whiff big moves or you block and can punish, and your go to bnb for when you open them up and break through their defense) and have them down pat, I’d say either turn on the A.I. in training, to get used to fighting an opponent that moves( this isn’t a great idea for too long because the computer does waaay too many things a human player won’t or can’t ) or hop into player match until you can find someone close to the beginner level or who will take it easy on you a bit. If I can tell I’m up against a beginner, usually I’ll pick a character or team that I’m unfamiliar with or trying to learn myself since we both get the chance to learn and work on stuff against another person where it’s not total domination. A lot of people are dicks to noobs online, but wade through them and you’ll find some people to train with. Make sure you friend them too so you can have a resource of different play styles to play against as you improve.
Dont get disheartened, this is the toughest part for us all. The initial matches vs other people, especially if its online and the game has been out for a while are going to be brutal. Odds are youre going to lose alot and at first itll be hard to understand why. Just keep going at it and eventually why you’re losing will start to make sense, youll be able to tell what you shouldnt have done here, or what you should’ve done there, whatever… Then slowly youll begin to apply that knowledge almost subconsciously and youll see improvement.
With all that in mind, the journey can truly begin. Practice, time, getting used to different opposing characters and their moves/play styles, getting better with your character, learning what they can do in every possible situation, learn more combos, more damaging combos, combos for anti air, combos for whatever, you’ll improve your defense and learn to block more complicated things… From here the sky’s the limit.
But remember it’ll take twice as long to get to this point if you skimp out on the early stuff I mentioned. fundamentals before flash and go at a pace that’s comfortable for you and before you know it, you’ll be on your way!