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My take on fighting game philosophy

I'm pretty sure I've posted something on this before but I think this is a good topic to revisit, both for myself and the new players taking part in the PS3 Fight Club.

I had 3 great ranked matches with an online player today. I ended up winning 2-1 against the other player's Ibuki. After the last match, I sent him a "good games" message. The response back was "your cheap." After laughing at the wrong usage of your, I sent another message explaining that I play to win and asking exactly what was cheap about my style. The response was that I turtled while using a command character, did not use enough combos and was "quit" repetitive. I looked back at the replays and saw that I was simply controlling the flow of the match. This frustrated him which is often an essential part of playing fighters.

After some thought, I decided to write a cblog about my philosophy of fighting games. I have a very basic philosophy that applies to all fighting games, regardless of developer. It's part Sun Tzu and part psychological warfare.

Know yourself
The first step is to know yourself and, by that, I mean several things. You must know what kind of player you are. Are you the patient type who's happy to whittle away at the opponent and play keep away? Do you feel the need to constantly rush down the opponent? Are you a technical master who can easily throw out lengthy, flashy combos for maximum damage? Or are you only able to do a few combos but understand the game well enough to utilize those combos to their maximum?

Knowing the type of player you are and what you can do is crucial in every step of the game. Your play style will dictate your character and the strategy you use in matches.

Know your character
There are several factor that are crucial to winning in a fighting game. You must have some knowledge of the engine (the rules of the game) and how your character fits into the engine. Most players choose a character, study up on the basics and then hit up videos of high level players and learn to emulate. That's fine for most players but I recommend a different approach.

When I first choose a character, I play very special heavy. It's fun and gives you a good understanding of the character's game. After a few days of this, I've mastered the specials and then integrate normal attacks in the game. I try to see what the advantage of each normal is and how they interact with specials. Can jab combo into a special? Or can medium kick cancel into a special? That sort of thing. Find simple combos that work in an actual game and then build on it. It seems counterintuitive but this approach helps me to understand the philosophy behind the character and how it should be played. I then take this knowledge and try to create a style that plays to my strengths and is somewhat unorthodox.

Know your opponent
Every player we face is unique. My approach is that my opponent is myself and I must overcome myself in order to win. This ties into my know ourself thoughts. I'm not that coordinated so I use limited combos. My reaction speed is below average so I try to put myself into situations that require minimal complex instructions. As a Juri player, I recognize that her light kick is amazing; it interrupts many attacks and provides enough hit stun that I can press the attack and, more importantly, frustrate my opponent. The idea here is to not see the opponent as a person and to instead overcome your own obstacles in order to succeed.

Control the flow of combat
Fighting games are about control. The goal is to control the space and limit your opponents options so that you can predict what he will do. Controlling the flow of combat is key to this. By controlling the speed, you feel calmer and your opponent will start to feel flustered, which will result in mistakes, errors in judgement and other exploitable situations. I will sometimes walk away from an opponent in order to see how they react and evaluate the game. I want the fighting to be fast when I'm on the offensive and slow when I'm on defense. By forcing the other player to play your game, you take him out of his own game and put him on edge. It boils down to mind games and forcing the other player into a desperate situation. When we are forced out of our comfort zone, we panic. It's a standard biological reaction. If the other player is controlling the tempo, remind yourself that you're in control and then work at either slowing down or speeding up the match. It's a simple concept but many players seem to overlook it.

Sun Tzu often discussed how knowledge and controlling the variables lead to victory. Master these aspects of the game and your success will increase. Add in practice and the drive to get better and you'll grow exponentially as a player.
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About nilcamone of us since 9:53 AM on 01.31.2007

Old-school gamer. I started gaming with the Atari 2600. I became an addict with the arcade release of Street Fighter II at my college. The SNES release pushed me into buying that system and a lame arcade stick. I haven't looked back since then. I still consider the 16-bit to be the Golden Age of gaming. The current generation is keeping me pretty happy, especially with the fighting game renaissance that's happening lately. And, yes, I'm old.

Proud owner of: Kiwi Gameboy Color, Purple GBA, GBA SP, GBA Micro, PSP 3000, Clear NeoGeo Pocket, purple SwanCrystal, SNES, Genesis, N64, purple Gamecube, PS3, white New 3DS, black Japanese New 3DS, seafoam 2DS, and Wii U.

Favorite Games: Last Blade, Street Fighter Alpha 2, A Link to the Past, Minish Cap, King of Fighters, Ikaruga, Macross: Do You Remember Love, A Link Between Worlds, Ocarina of Time 3DS, Valkyria Chronicles, Professor Layton, Killer7, Pokken Tournament

Games on my mind:
Pokken Tournament
Zelda Picross
Hyrule Warriors Legends
PSN ID:nilcam


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