Wednesday, December 5, 2007

RoaBS has MOVED!

OK, so I haven't transferred all my information over yet, so this blog will still exist for a little while. Meanwhile, all new posts will be at my new location:

Please be sure to update your bookmarks! There will be no new posts here! :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

H2P Series Introduction

I received some inspiration on what I wanted to write about over the next few weeks. Being trapped in the smash abyss of eastern Idaho, I have spent a lot of time teaching new players how to smash better. Amidst these lessons, I realized that much of what I was teaching could be applied to games outside of smash. There is indeed much to learn in order to master smash, but much of it stems from fighter fundamentals. One of the most basic lessons is "don't get hit". It sounds simple, but an entire lecture can follow that statement. For many players new to smash, "don't get hit" is a rather foreign concept (no, I am not being sarcastic).

So, I am going to write a series of lessons. The articles will be central to smash but attempt to convey the messages in such a way that they can be applied in non-smash situations. It is a bit of a tretch, but I find it worth shooting for. I am also open to outside help! If you have faith in your smash knowledge and your ability to express that knowledge in writing, let me know (

Monday, December 3, 2007

December 3rd = Phailure

Wow... Nintendo has a wickedly sick sense of humor. Today (December 3) marks the day that Super Smash Bros. Brawl would have come out had everything gone according to the E3 announcement. Sakurai obviously wants December 3 to not be a day long remembered. Technically, no one can blame him because if he did give us an awesome update, it would draw extra attention to that day.

My sentiments exactly...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Smash Dash #3

2nd Stamp brings us a double update episode of Smash Dash! Be sure to view the full size version as well!

SMYN Trial Posted

Here is my trial for the Show Me Your News podcast. I hope you enjoy it! Be sure to vote for me in the thread!

Smash Nexus Forum goes live!

After much trial and error, I finally have my forum up and running. Granted, there is no action there right now, but at least my site has a home for discussing the future of the Video Smash Nexus and whatnot. So, I apologize for the recent drought of lengthy articles. I hope this is proof enough that I have been working hard at developing my site. Until then, be sure to check out my recent SmashTV post. So far, it is receiving positive reviews!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

SmashTV Update

For those who are unaware, I am a writer for the official SWF Smash Blog. I post the weekly SmashTV "broadcast" every Saturday.

SmashTV - Episode I - Tires Don Exits
SmashTV - Episode II - Montage Madness
SmashTV - Episode III - Coming Soon to a Wii Near You
SmastTV - Episode IV - Evolution

SMYN Trial Success!

I had my trial today with Youko and SamuraiPanda for the Show Me Your News podcast. It was tons of fun, and I hope I make into episode 23. Whether I make it in or not, you should be listening to the podcast every week! It is really high quality material and covers a wealth of topics surrounding Brawl's upcoming release.

Poll Review #3

What format do you prefer the most?
singles (1v1) - 20 votes
doubles (2v2) - 8 votes
crew battles (various) - 3 votes

Hmmm... I think the results speak for themselves. Singles is clearly the most popular event amongst my readers. I plan on doing an article in the near future on how doubles offers a unique experience. Many players prefer singles as a result of how hard it is to maintain a loyal teammate (myself included). Doubles requires that two people practice together so that they learn how to play off each other. Crew battles, on the other hand, are not too popular yet. Two other people besides me voted for it. XD

Friday, November 30, 2007

SMYN Trial

Well, the word came from Youko himself. Tomorrow, I will be doing my trial for episode 23 of Show Me Your News. Wish me luck! :)

Signature of the Week #4

It's been another busy week for sugarpoultry and her sig shop! This week's best sig was the one for Dojo. Congratulations!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The War Rages On

Earlier in the month, I described the interesting conflict taking place between competitive and casual smashers. Well, the discussion marches forward as members from both sides take their defensive stances. Competitive smashers continue to be weary of the casual smashers' accusations against them regarding items, "true skill", and advanced techniques. Casual smashers feel insulted by generalizations regarding how most any competitive smasher would defeat them (by a fair margin, too).

Signs indicate that this will not end until after Brawl is released. First off, the discussion is taking place in the Brawl discussion area despite many of the arguments being drawn from experience with Melee. The moderators seem tolerant of this as a similar thread in the Melee forums would not receive much (if any) attention. All focus is on Brawl at this point. More and more new members are joining the fray. Many people are registering accounts just to participate in these discussions.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Another Glimpse Into Tournament Lore

AlphaZealot was in another interview at Smashes my Bros. I highly recommend checking it out. AlphaZealot discusses many of the philosophies involved in the banning of stages, the role of tiers, and a couple other interesting topics.

The wavedash is STILL not a glitch.

Apparently, the logic from my first attempt still confused several readers, so I will reiterate the logic here in a hopefully more understandable manner.

I have been doing software development for a long time. So, despite what many may think a glitch is, I will explain it here. Before software is released, it is tested to its greatest extent. Numbers and scenarios are fed through the system to ensure that it behaves correctly. Let us imagine a basic calculator as an example. Before releasing any kind of calculator software, we must make sure that it reacts appropriately to any given input. So, we test 1 + 1 and get 2. 3 + 5 = 8. 13 + 7 = 20. No matter how many times we run these tests, the results are identical. The software has structured limits on the results based on the input.

So now, the calculator is out in the wild. Like most non-graphing calculators, this one has a solar panel for power. In poorly lighted environments, my calculator starts to operate slowly. Eventually, it goes insane and stops cooperating (despite having power). The display works fun, but I punch in 1 + 1 and get 413 (I really have before). Despite the many tests done by the creators of this calculator, the math operation experienced a glitch. Something happened (most likely the low light conditions) to cause the software to behave irrationally but still believe it was operating correctly (hence the instant result displayed). By giving the calculator more light and restarting it, 1 + 1 once again yielded the expected result of 2.

In the world of Melee, the designers obviously knew about air dodging (since, well, they put it in there), so it probably did not take long for someone to ask the question: What happens when an air dodge comes in contact with a solid surface? Well, if it is anything besides a floor, it simply blocks the momentum. They could have left it that way and had the floor simply stop movement but allow the air dodge animation to continue. They chose instead to have the character slide along the ground (and sliding still exists in Brawl).

Now, there is another big controversy about the definitions of glitch and exploit. Some believe the two are identical. They both relate to intent, but they relate to entirely different intents. An exploit takes advantage of physics in a way the game creator never intended. A glitch violates the physics in a way the software never intended. In other words, while the creator's intent is mostly reflected in the software, a glitch happens when the system reacts contrary to the many tests run before release. Air dodge + contact with floor = slide. That is a natural occurrence in the game. Wavedashing is clearly an exploit because it is doubtful that the creators ever thought players would jump and air dodge so fast that the jump animations were essentially invisible to the point where characters appear to just slide along the ground. However, the software itself behaves 100% as it should.

Now, let us return to the Ice Climbers Freeze Glitch. Something happens in this process that leaves the victim in a grabbed state despite being released (and despite the Ice Climber losing his or her grip but not also freezing). Under all other circumstances, the victim simply breaks loose and is free to move afterward. Somehow, when the Ice Climbers get together, the circumstances become just right to where this system fault is made known.

I have seen Captain Falcon fall through the center of Corneria. I have also seen Fox fall through the center of Pokemon Stadium. The floors are supposed to be solid surfaces. Somewhere in the object collision algorithms, the system suddenly decides that the character ought to be relocated to below the stage. These are software glitches.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Competitive Rant

There was an excellent post on SWF on how many competitive players feel about anti-competitive casual smashers. I felt it was worth noting here.
The crux of this debate is that some people do not want other people to play a certain game competitively. That's it. No one is asking the inverse, demanding that casual gamers play by their arbitrary set of rules. It is simply the anti-competitive crowd going out of their way to spite those who are better than them. Their "arguments" normally focus on some abstract "way the game was meant to be played", which we all know actually means "way I want to play the game". To this I can only say, who killed Sakurai and made YOU king?

For the misinformed, which includes most of the anti-competitive crowd, here are the standardized rules for Super Smash Bros. tournament play:
-4 Stock, 8 Minutes, Team Damage, No Items
-Both players choose one stage to ban for the set
-Both players pick characters at same time and go randomly to one of the six "neutral" stages.
-The loser determines the next stage to go to, from almost all of them. The loser also picks character second.
-Best out of three wins

Obviously, we have to talk about items. Items add luck to the game, period. If a good item appears next to you, you very well could instantly win. If a bomb or exploding container appears in front of your attack, you very well could instantly lose. Players don't like having their skill nullified by luck in a competition. Players enter tournaments to pit their skill against their opponent's, not to gamble. Items benefit top-tier characters more, period. It only widens the gap between characters. Most the high tier characters are fast and/or very aerial, giving them a massive advantage in obtaining items on the stage. Some people say that items were meant to balance the game, claiming that characters like Mewtwo and Pikachu were designed as item gods, and their low tier positions are due to items being banned. This is bull****. If an item spawns directly between Pikachu and Shiek, who will get to it first? Fox and Falco, two of the top characters, even have their reflectors to give them the upper hand even when their opponent has the items! Are you saying they need MORE advantages?

If you want to play competitively with items, go ahead. Make your own tournament. Tournaments are organized by players, not people who own stores. Just don't be surprised when no one shows up, because virtually no one wants to play competitively with items. Tourneys do not play with items because the people attending them don't want to, not because some evil tourney director is making them.

Next stages. Hyrule Temple sucks, ok? Let's get that out of the way first. The bottom zone makes it almost pure luck as to who kills who first, giving certain characters huge advantages and leading to REALLY long matches. If you want to organize a Hyrule Temple tourney, go ahead, no one will show up. The only other stages that are banned are ridiculous ones like Super Flat Zone that no one ever likes anyway.

Now then... The six "neutral stages." People act like tournaments only play on Final Destination, which is ridiculous, since it's only one of the six default stages even, and it's typically banned by a player if their opponent has a good Falco. Some tournaments even play with something called "Dave's stupid rule", which states that no stage can be played twice in a set of matches. Yoshi's Story, Fountain of Dreams, Pokemon Stadium, Battlefield, and Dream Land all receive just as much play as Final Destination, if not more. And those are only the initial stages! The other counter-pick stages just aren't included on Random so you don't get some ridiculous random match-up like fighting Peach or Jigglypuff on Mute City.

So why are there so many people who think tournaments are the scourge of Smash? It's simple really. Every fighting game suffers from this to some degree, but it has hit the Smash community particularly hard due to its "easy to learn, impossible to master" nature: Everyone and their dog thinks they are great at Smash, some are, but most suck. People seem to get the idea that just because they've unlocked all the stages and characters, that they are true masters of the game. Then one day, they come up against someone using advanced techniques with tournament rules, get destroyed, then become angry and bitter towards tournament rules and techniques like wave dashing.

So next time you get beaten by an advanced player ask for some advice rather than the usual, "Bawwwwww! Wave dashing and L-canceleing are such cheep glitches (PROTIP: they're not glitches). The game is supposed to be played on Hyrule Temple with full items." It's not like advanced players are in some secret club, and are determined to keep these techniques hidden from you just to maintain an advantage. With the exception of a few rare douche bags the whole notion of elitism is false, most advanced players would be more than happy to explain advanced techniques to you. Furthermore, it's not even that hard to learn them. In only a couple hours you can learn to wave dash, a couple more and you can learn to L-cancel. From there it's just a matter of practice until you can incorporate them into your game.

So what do casual players have to complain about? Nothing, the anti-competitive crowd just doesn't like the fact that some people are better than them at the game, and they don't want to put forth the effort to become better themselves. That's it. The can claim otherwise all day, but that's it.

Is Competitive Smash a Sport?

A sport (according to's definition) is "an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc." So, technically speaking, smash is not a sport, but oftentimes this argument is carried too far to say that smash is forbidden from being considered competitive. The reasons revolve around two primary ideas: smash is "just a video game" (I wonder what Halo is, then), and smash is "not supposed to be competitive" (on account of being wild and wacky and having newb-friendly mechanics). But my goodness, fishing is a sport? I would venture to say that Mario Strikers Charged has more physical exertion than that!

Regardless, the argument that smash cannot be competitive (for whatever reason) is absurd. Any activity is made competitive by those interested in taking it to the next level. I totally missed when cup-stacking became competitive. Chess is one of the more popular competitive brain games. The Rubik's Cube is the source of many new competitive speed solves. Smash is something with a concrete set of rules that clearly yields a winner and a loser. Serious smashers win consecutively suggesting that there is a level of skill involved in determining the winner. If smash is too cheesy to take seriously, then why are experts at putting dishes away allowed to win money and awards?

Another attack on the competitive smash community is that extreme gaming skills are a waste of talent and time. Taking the game too seriously is somehow unhealthy or pathetic. What most casual onlookers do not realize is that top-level play requires major cunning and lightning reflexes. I have great respect for players who can best me 4-stock to none. They demonstrate their ability to read my attacks and intellectualize at a higher level than me. That is not wasted talent; that is a sharpened tool. Gamers are some of the best problem-solvers I have ever met. When I work with gamers on any programming project, solutions come easily since we are so used to challenging odds. "Proper" programmers see only one way to solve a problem and refuse to do anything other than the "correct" way.

If the competitive environment is not for you, that is AOK. There is no shame in playing a game for party-type fun (as that is what games are for), but competitive players do not deserve this form of mockery.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Nexus Report

Well, the Thanksgiving break gave me a huge boost on the Nexus. For some, it may seem like backtracking since I had to revamp several old components, but now the system is much more intelligent and intuitive than before. It is almost ready for a new team to start indexing. Once that starts, the search functionality will be opened to the public. So, the public will not yet be able to index videos, but that time will come. I polished off submitting and deleting sets. I have just a few tweaks to make before enabling the editing of pre-existing sets.

Sadly, with the break being over, school is once again interfering with my progress. The only good side to this is that the semester ends in less than three weeks. The Nexus will receive my full attention from then on. It will be very exciting for me! I cannot wait to be free of the tyranny that is homework.

This control scheme wins!

It is worth noting in today's DOJO update about controls that players may now disable control stick jumping. This is something I dreamed of while playing Melee. I prefer using the Y-button to jump as opposed to using the control stick. The buttons just offer so much more precision on when and how to jump.

If you look closely at the upper right corner of this image, you will see "Tap Jump", and it is currently "ON". I guarantee that my control scheme will have that set to "OFF". I cannot count the number of times I (or my wife) have tried to use Link's up-B on the ground (only one of many examples) only to involuntarily take off into the air and be brutally punished by the opponent. Those days are over! I suppose it is worth noting that air dodge self-destructs will be less of a problem too.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Women Can Smash

And I have proof. This is a clip from a recent match I had with my wife "sugarpoultry". I am "Buzz" in the video, obviously. I had such a great start. >_>

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Poll Review #2 - Hours of Smash

How often do you smash under ideal circumstances?
casually (under 10 hours) - 18 votes
regularly (10-20 hours) - 8 votes
part-time (20-30 hours) - 3 votes
full-time (30-40 hours) - 0 votes
overtime (40+ hours) - 2 votes

This turned out differently than I first imagined. I suspected there would be more smashers spread out through part-time and full-time (hence the "ideal circumstances"). Oh well. It seems most of my readers smash casually during the week. When I am on break, I typically smash 3 hours a day, so I voted regularly. It also seems we have 2 smash zealots. Even in my prime, I don't think I ever smashed in excess of 40 hours a week. O_O

New Search Screen

It has been a very busy weekend for me. I am sure it is the same for many of you. Anyway, I am behind on my SmashTV update. It'll probably go up tomorrow. For right now, I have a screenshot of the new search page for the Video Smash Nexus.

I expect the public beta to be open within the next couple weeks.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Signature of the Week #3

Did you all have a good Thanksgiving? I certainly hope so. I've been seeing some negative posts in forums revolving around "my girlfriend dumped me", "my dad died", etc. It makes me sad. Anyway, sugarpoultry has made her decision. This week's award goes to LuigiTheButcher.

Be sure to catch tomorrow's episode of SmashTV!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day

No article today. You shouldn't be reading this, anyway. Go spend time with your family! If you are far from your family, call them. If you are behind enemy lines to where making a call would be giving away your tactical position... why are you reading my blog again?

Enjoy the turkey!

UPDATE: Sorry, but today is also a busy day for me. After my Black Friday runs, I have to work and then sleep all day. I will be sure to post the signature of the week, but no article today. :(

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Video Smash Nexus - Coming 2008

I am finally making progress. I will start posting regular updates here, though I have not decided upon a day. I am looking at Mondays.

Explosions and Dependability

I generally refrain from posting my thoughts on DOJO updates because there are too many personal reviews out there already, but today's update on explosives brought something to mind regarding the absence of items in competitive play. While explosions were primarily responsible for items' demise, at least the specific explosives (bob-ombs and hidden mines) were 100% dependable. The DOJO explains now states otherwise:
It does seem that they occasionally fail to explode. You might throw it, only to watch it not detonate. In those cases, you’ll want to be careful, because you never know when it might go off.
So, now these explosives are essentially lose/lose situations. You cannot count on them to detonate when you need them to, but you would be an absolute fool to let your opponent obtain such a powerful item. It was bad enough before knowing that items spawn in a random sequence in preset spawn locations. Now, even after the item is revealed, it is a gamble to chase after it. It is no wonder that items are generally disliked by the competitive community. If they actually added some genuine depth instead of turning the game into Russian Roulette, item tournaments might have had a chance. It seems many items are still reserved for casual smashfests where everyone is there just to have a laugh.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This land is your land, this land is my land -- unless your name is Fox

I'd like to talk a moment about the validity of banning stages as opposed to banning characters. On more than one occasion I've overheard talk of banning characters rather than stages in tournament play. The supporting logic of the character ban is this: most banned stages are such because Fox can abuse the layout; just ban Fox and open up more stages. Why not ban Falco while we're at it?

Let's look at this objectively: Often Fox and Falco are not the only characters capable of abusing the stage in the manner offered as the reason for the ban. Using my personal favorite banned stage, Hyrule Temple, as an example, the reason for the ban is (largely) the circular shape it makes. Pichu is just as able to abuse this as is Fox.

Second, eliciting a ban on any character sets a precedent for banning subsequent characters and opens a whole can of worms. You know what happens when you open a can of worms? You've got to eat them. Nobody likes eating worms. Once any character gets banned, it'd be a small step to ban another character. And another?

Also, how many smashers sit down and practice a stage looking to improve their play on that stage? When a stage is banned, players move on with no problem. Their practice time and invested effort isn't attached to a stage; it's attached to a character.

The game isn't about the stage; it's about the player's mastery of the character and the techniques of the game in general. Dropping stages weeds out environments that draw the focus of the game away from that.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Candy Land - The True Test of Skill

Recently, I participated in an extremely interesting debate on how skill is defined. While the true definition is somewhat subjective in terms of video games, I learned what true skill is not. The title of today's article is a direct result of that particular discussion.

Essentially, the entire discussion boiled down skill being one's ability to emerge victorious given exactly equal circumstances to the opponent. While this sounds correct upon first hearing it, the definition of "equal circumstances" was certainly a skewed one in this particular instance. The people in the discussion went on to state that it is unfair how certain players have more time to practice advanced techniques than more casual players, so advanced techniques are forms of cheating in that they grant an unfair advantage against those who have not practiced them. In other words, when two people sit down to play a game, the chances of a newbie winning and a five year veteran winning have to be equal.

Now, correct me if I am wrong, but that sounds like a coin toss. Is it not? If the chances of a player who never practices needs to equal that of a polished veteran, only a coin toss will satisfy that. Any other system would steer clear of the needed 50/50 odds. These debaters attempted to clarify that skill implies an ability to adapt and play a new game without experience. So, this changed the argument from a coin toss to a direct measure of God-given talent. Practice is not allowed to alter results; skill simply measures the player's natural ability. Are you confused yet? So am I.

I have checked the world over, and I cannot find one instance of serious competition where this was the measure of skill involved. Last I checked, basketball players were allowed to practice dribbles and shots before competing. Last I checked, skill resulted from hard work and personal refinement as opposed to gaging the amount of dumb luck a person has. However, if these expressions of skill are incorrect, then I suppose Candy Land is the only way we can see how much natural talent a person has. After all, it would be unfair if the game promoted practice or gave anyone an unfair advantage.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Smash Dash #2

2nd Stamp brings us another wonderful episode of Smash Dash! Be sure to view the full size version as well! Be sure to catch last week's episode as well!

You are no fun

Fun. Everyone likes to have fun, but what exactly is it?
Princeton's online dictionary defines fun as "activities that are enjoyable or amusing."

In Smash Bros. Melee, I enjoy winning. Winning is definitely fun, but I also enjoy learning and improving; so losing can be fun, too, provided something is learned from the loss. "Wait, did you just say losing is fun?" That's right. Losing can be fun. It might sound silly, but the only way for something to be fun is to have fun doing it. "Fun" is entirely up to the person having it. Consequently, what one person calls great fun could be the worst idea in the world for the next person.

I loathe coin battles; they're not fun. My little brother loves coin battles; they're great fun! Fun can virtually anything as long as the person doing it is having fun. It's no secret that millions of people love to fish. Fishing is relaxing and generally considered to be sport and a leisure activity. Fishing is fun; however, I hate fishing. It's dreadfully boring and I don't enjoy impaling worms on hooks and then the subsequent removing of the hooks from the fish. Fishing is not fun. I'm certainly not alone in my dislike of fishing.

So fun cannot be defined from a mathmatical standpoint. Fishing is both fun and not fun at the same time. Why? Because it's all in the perceptions of the individual. Everyone has their own personal definition of fun.

Playing Melee competitively is great fun. It drives me to try harder, to play smarter, to react faster, and to be better. Competitive smashing also helps to forge friendships, as those who play competetively tend to gravitate towards each other for more and more competitive play. In this way competetive play is the purest form of fun as far as smashing is concerned; or at least it is to me.

My fun may or not be yours but that doesn't make it any less fun.

CPU Level 10

Practice against human opponents will always be far superior to that of practice against computer opponents. This is true no matter how good the enemy AI is because computers rarely act like humans, and humans are what humans compete against. With the advent of WiFi matches, there is even less need for computer opponents. Despite all this, I thought it would be fun to concoct a new form of smash character AI. (Don't I write the greatest introductions?)

Of course, I have never seen the AI code used in Melee, but everyone can agree that it is pretty bad. At level 9 (the maximum setting), the AI demonstrates superhuman reflexes and amazing timing but walks into just about any attack. The player can simply charge a smash attack and have the opponent walk into it (yes, even at level 9). While I am no expert on designing learning algorithms, I have a few ideas on how to improve the computer's chances of winning, thus unveiling my version of "CPU level 10".

Ideally, Nintendo could take the time to script an algorithm unique to each character, but I propose a more efficient system. First off, the computer would need to be able to understand its own character in terms of each individual available move. It would evaluate each move in terms of startup time, lag, and how it repositions the character. Then, it would evaluate various strings of moves and rank those strings just as if it were chess game. This way, the computer would focus more on successful results rather than simply using a variety of moves. In Melee, the CPU seemed only able to see one or two moves ahead. Preparing multiple move strings that deliver results would (theoretically) bring out a sort of artificial creativity.

Also similar to chess algorithms, the computer could flag certain move strings if they fail a set number of times. This would help to instill a sense of learning into the CPU opponent. By flagging failed strings, the CPU (hopefully) refrains from making the same mistake. In contrast, marking successful strings would encourage reuse. To prevent any inherent stupidity, there would have to be a few higher level logics in place. For instance, even if all viable options have been flagged as failures, the computer should still make an attempt at one of them as opposed to just standing there.

Now to make sense of the madness, here is a real example. Let us imagine I am playing Roy against the computer's Fox. Fox flags dash attacks and dash grabs as bad choices after I sidestep both kinds of attempts. The computer proceeds to ask itself: what is the next fastest way to approach the opponent? There are two good options. Fox can throw a random short-hop and fast fall into the approach just to make the move string new. Another choice would be to dash away before dashing toward (a pivot or single dash dance). In other words, Fox takes a mathematical approach to mind games.

In the end, there will always be flaws in any repeating algorithm. Computers are predictable by nature since they follow preset rules, but a better algorithm would prove a useful challenge for those lacking in smash neighbors.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Poll Review #1 - Items in Brawl Tournaments

Should items be permitted in competitive Brawl?
Always! (8 votes)
Only in special events. (18 votes)
Never! (19 votes)

This does not speak for the entire smash community (obviously), but the results are fairly expected. There is a minority who want items in all tournaments with no questions asked. The bulk of the competitive community is split between even allowing them for special events (on top of having item-free events) and disallowing them entirely. The reality of the situation will be interesting to see as Brawl tournaments are finally organized starting in February. With the advent of online tournaments, there may actually be item tournament followers this time around. While online tournaments will never become the accepted mainstream tournament standard (I reference Halo 2 at MLG), the community will grow as a result of online participation.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Signature of the Week #2

It's been another rather productive week at sugarpoultry's sig shop. After careful evaluation, we have this week's winner! coolfufuman, you are the winner of a brand new car!

Be sure to check out today's article on Brawl update patches!

Brawl Update Patches

I have given this topic a ton of thought. However unlikely to be implemented by Nintendo, I believe the concept is feasible.

For the sake of background, I will use Blizzard as an example. Blizzard maintains their sacred triad of franchises: Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo. In all those games, players discover imbalances in the core engine. Upon revealing those issues, Blizzard releases a patch required for online play. The patch makes certain characters stronger and others weaker to make the game more competitive. In the case of Diablo, the patches tweak individual spells and skills to prevent instances of the "one-trick pony" (one who abuses a single skill in dealing with all opponents because that skill does the job). In Starcraft, units have their damage and speed modified based on group dynamics. For instance, since marines usually travel in groups, it is only necessary to modify their weapon damage by a small amount. The large numbers amplify the effect of such a change.

The feasibility of Brawl update patches depends upon the structure of the combat engine. In an ideal situation, every move's speed, damage, hit-box radius, etc. would have a number assigned to them as opposed to being hard-coded into the game. Under these circumstances, patches from Nintendo would be only a few kilobytes. This would make the whole system quite comfortable in the Wii's limited storage space. 512 MB is not much, but a patch of this size would occupy less than a thousandth of the space.

Update patches would solve a whole bunch of problems. In Melee, Nintendo saw the delayed PAL release as an opportunity to clean up their "mistakes". Several of the high tier characters were weakened in hopes of balancing the game. Today, almost six years after Melee's release, I am sure both Nintendo and the smash community have thoughts on which characters need to be modified, but it is far too late for that. Brawl offers a unique opportunity with WiiConnect24. Today's DOJO update suggests that the game creators could more closely monitor the way players handle their characters. By collecting statistics on wins and losses sorted by character, Nintendo has the ability to better watch out for broken tactics. The tier list would slowly rotate as bottom tier characters improved. Every character would have his or her chance in the spotlight of competition because no one would be neglected.

Sadly, update patches would also introduce a whole bunch of problems. First and foremost, Nintendo and the competitive community would disagree on what moves or characters need improvements or handicaps. For instance, the PAL version of Melee destroyed the semi-spike ability of Link's spin attack, but even the NTSC Link poses no serious threat in a tournament environment. This change likely resulted from new players spamming the move and winning against other casual players. Second, releasing patches too often would prevent the game from evolving as Melee did. That also asks the question, how often is "too often"? Every six months? Once every two years? One way to answer that is to ask, when did Melee stagnate? When did Melee start needing patches? Those questions are equally difficult to answer. Third, patch johns would run rampant all over the world. Anyone playing on another person's Wii would excuse their losses by explaining how a patch's update threw them off.

Both sides present serious issues. Not patching the game leads to issues Melee experienced. Fortunately, Brawl is receiving much more attention and care than Melee did. I am fairly optimistic in hoping that Brawl features more than four characters winning tournaments everywhere.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Inconsistent Experience - Part 2

In the previous post, I wrote about my experience learning Korean. It was a roundabout way of approaching my main point in regards to competitive smash.

I first purchased Melee in the summer of 2002. There was one friend of mine who knew the game rather well. He played a mean Falco in that he rolled quite a bit. I played the game for hours each day. After several months of practice, I finally developed the skills necessary to take him down. I did not stop there. I played with friends often and actively sought out new techniques. I even became a moderator at the Smash Bros. Online forums thanks to my "amazing smash wisdom".

In the summer of 2005, I joined my first real crew at college. We all lived in the same hallway of the dorms, so we had practice sessions just about every day. We would often stay up until five o'clock in the morning smashing it up. In the subsequent semester, I started attending tournaments posted on Smashboards. My lack of skill suddenly became oh-so-apparent! I started losing in ways I did not think were possible. My opponents absolutely annihilated me with L-cancels, wavedashes, SHFFLs, and every other trick in the book... and I thought such tactics only granted minimal advantages (hence why I never practiced them). I started playing the game with a new understanding. I continued attending tournaments and learning about my faults.

That is what tournaments did for me. They grossly exposed my weaknesses and forced me out of my comfort zones. They made my smashfests a hundred times more productive. I became able to view match footage in a new light.

And... my brain suddenly became empty... More on this later...

Featured on MLG!

I checked my blog stats this morning and noticed a sudden surge in traffic coming from the direction of Major League Gaming. Lo and behold, they featured my blog posts about items for reader review! Thanx, MLG!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Inconsistent Experience

Investing time into the learning process is important, but certain processes yield more knowledge and experience than others. To put it bluntly, not all experiences are created equal.

I lived in South Korea for two years as a missionary. Before flying to the country itself, I spent eleven weeks in Provo, Utah at the Missionary Training Center to study the Korean language. When I first arrived at the MTC, there were two other districts learning Korean. One district was five weeks ahead, and the other district was ten weeks ahead. In my district's first week of lessons, we practiced our personal introductions to the ten week district. Our Korean was choppy, slow, and all around bad. On top of that, they were memorized routines. The ten week district, on the other hand, spouted off whole paragraphs of detailed information without a moment's hesitation. At that moment, I wanted more than anything to reach the ten week level. One week into the training, the leading district flew out to their respective missions.

Ten weeks later, I became what I wanted to become at week #1. Not only did I speak comfortably and fluently, there were two districts under me, so suddenly I was the expert. I was the one being asked all the questions. It was an extremely exciting week. My district finally received its batch of flight itineraries, and the nights became sleepless ones. After a few days, we finally stepped into the plane and flew to the city of Incheon. From Incheon, we rode a bus to Seoul.

In Seoul, my district given the opportunity to interact with hundreds of native Koreans. We were excited for this opportunity, but excitement turned to horror as realized we could not understand a single word. We suffered blows to our ego as other missionaries who had been in the country for just a few weeks longer seemed to converse with little difficulty. It suddenly dawned upon us that we judged our own abilities based on each other.

In contrast to my district's disappointment, there was indeed a light at the end of the tunnel. We discovered that our Korean skills had more than doubled in the first few weeks in the country. The circumstances were substantially different. Rather than practicing the language with other ignorant non-Asians, we were in a place where the language really mattered. Our survival depended upon our ability to speak.

To be continued...

Violation of Kindergarten Principles?

Never trust strangers... unless smash is involved. That seems to be the philosophy of anyone who has ever traveled to a far off place for a smash tournament. Competitors are willing to fly to a state or country they have never been to, be picked up by someone they have never met before, and stay overnight (sometimes multiple nights) at that someone's home. This requires an unbelievable amount of trust on both sides. The one traveling has no idea if the host is planning on trapping him and mugging him with the help of his buddies. The host has no idea if the one traveling is planning on pulling a knife and robbing the place on his way out. These are obviously quite radical takes on the situation (and if any parents are reading, know that I completely made them up), but honestly, how are traveling smashers able to trust one another so faithfully despite all we were taught in our youth?

I remember my kindergarten teacher explicitly using Nintendo as an example. She said, "Never get into a car with a stranger, even if he offers a Nintendo!" Ironically, last year, I flew to Colorado and rode with a stranger because he promised to play Nintendo with me (big tournament in Broomfield). My kindergarten teacher would be so disappointed in me, but seriously, what drove me to do this? Reputation plays a big part in this. This "stranger" is now my good friend InterimOfZeal. He was an active member of the Colorado smash community, so I knew I could trust him.

The second best thing to traveling out of state for a tournament is hosting traveling smashers because it is a fresh experience for both parties involved. For the host, it is like "traveling without having to travel" since the 'foreigners' came to them. The only loss here is that the host cannot experience the foreign environment. Personally, I always look forward to doing a 360 in a new place and absorbing my surroundings. Seeing the smash venue is always a treat as well. This all adds to the implied trust since the host is equally excited to the travelers.

Traveling alone is uncommon in the smash community, anyway. It is safer and more fun to travel as a group. This is particularly beneficial when driving a car since riders can all pitch in for fuel costs.

What effect will Brawl's WiFi have upon the traveling smashers? I suspect that tournaments will remain relatively unaffected (if you do not believe me, check Halo 2 at MLG). However, smashfests will most likely take a downward spiral. My neighbor and I both have Mario Strikers Charged. Even we were too lazy to physically walk over and play each other since online play was available and relatively lag-free. If Brawl's online play is feasible, it will most certainly impact the way practice sessions are run. I definitely will have more people to play with than are currently available in the abyss of eastern Idaho.

TO READERS: What are your thoughts on traveling to smash with strangers? Is it exciting or scary? Share your thoughts by posting a comment!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Fate of Items in Smash - Part 2

Today is a continuation of yesterday's article. Be sure to read that first to catch up on the story.

So, what will become of items in the Brawl era of competition? Well, that question can be answered with an absolutely indisputable... depends. In other words, items did not behave so well when Melee competition was developing. As noted in AlphaZealot's response, the competitive community actually did use items for a long time. However, being unable to disable exploding capsules, boxes, and party balls was items' undoing. With unfair explosions occurring within a fraction of a second, items became intolerable in the competitive environment. There were too many upsets during the final matches of tournaments.

As competitive play has evolved over the years, other more blatant issues began to present themselves regarding items. For instance, even without random explosions, the randomness of items gives one player an advantage that cannot be matched by the opponent. A capsule appearing near one character gives him or her unearned added leverage. Consider Falco knocking Fox off the stage. In the time from when Fox starts his fire fox to when he actually starts moving, Falco can watch a capsule spawn at his feet, pick it up, and KO Fox with no effort since Fox is immobile. (A member of SWF witnessed this very event in competition, so it is not unheard of.) These kinds of events pull emphasis away from character control and place more on luck of the draw. That leads me to my next point.

Many argue that smash is supposed to be a game of chance just like Poker and Blackjack. Despite luck being a common factor in all gambling games, there are professionals out there who win consistently because they know how to best handle the elements of randomness. Why can't the same be applied to smash? Well, technically it can be, but the current competition simply chooses not to. Competitive smashers today view the game more along the lines of a sport. They believe there should be no coin tosses or outside interference. Victory should come as a result of hard work and discipline while playing the game. Losses should be traceable to a single mistake (or series of mistakes). Allowing items is like allowing spectators to throw junk onto the field during a football game.

So, we have two strongly opposing perspectives on the same game. Why have item-free tournaments blossomed while item-filled tournaments become nearly extinct? My theory is that is has to due with the very mentality behind both sides. Competitive smashers take the game very seriously and thus are adamant about making sure competition happens. They tend to look for opportunities to compete, even if it means hosting their own event because winning matters. Items tend to cater more to the casual smashers who do not take the game as seriously and are tolerant of random elements in the game. However, since item supporters are generally more casual, discovering who is best is not of utmost importance to them. Therefore, not many item tournaments take place because just smashing at home with friends is usually sufficient for this type of smasher, even if they do strive to increase their ability and win more.

The future of items seems bleak in Brawl. Many tournament hosts have agreed to at least allow items in tournaments for the first while. Disabling random explosives will be a step in the right direction, if it is even an option. There are still two major barricades to overcome. First, many smashers have become so comfortable with item-free environments that hosts may ban items from the get go just out of habit. This will only hinder adoption of items in competitive play. Second, even without the explosions, players may slowly become frustrated with the unfair advantages that items throw around. While a coin flip's odds remain at a constant "fair" 50/50, there is nothing to stop it from landing on tails eight times in a row.

TO READERS: What is your take on the items situation? Post your response in the comments!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Smash Dash #1

Smash Dash has teamed up with Revenge of a Buzz Saw to bring you the weekly updates! View this week's episode below or click here to see it full size (recommended)!

The Fate of Items in Smash

No items. Fox only. Final Destination... The only way to play! OK, not really, but many would have you believe that that is how the competitive smash community likes their Melee. The big question on many smasher's minds is this: Why were items banned? What happened? Did a smasher wake up, decide he did not like items, and ban them from his matches that day forth? Why are items banned so universally in tournaments now? I recently attended a tournament hosted by Play N Trade. The hosts had no connection to Smash World Forums or Major League Gaming whatsoever, but they still banned items (despite permitting all stages).

I sent an inquiry to AlphaZealot about the history of items, and he was kind enough to provide a detailed reply:

The east coast has been functioning with itemless tournaments since 2003, the west coast since 2004-2005. For a long time there were two camps of smash thought, one that argued for items and one that argued against them. The pro-item argument usually centered on the idea that items spawns were not random; they were on a timer and rotated between spawn points. Therefore, the location of these spawn points could be controlled and added a risk/reward type idea. The only problem left then were the exploding capsules/crates, something that could not be predicted in any way. In the end, the east coast won the argument, and Matt Deezie finally changed his rules to no items for TG6, which signaled the end of the debate.

The east coast for many years played with 5 stock. This went on until sometime in 2005 when MLG rules became the way to go. The west coast was using 3 stock until around this time. Again, MLG rules and 4 stock sorta took over in the late 2004 early 2005 era.

[...] There were really only a few tournaments that set the standards we use today, and they occured back in 2004. If you looked at it, the most influential tournaments would be FC in the midwest (and maybe JV's Michigan tournaments), Gauntlet, BOMB, H2YL's tournament series (game over/live or die), and TG on the west coast. MLG modeled their rules (with M3D being the person who did so) after these tournaments but particularly over the tournaments around DC because that is where he first began playing smash competitively. Once MLG functioned, their rules became a consistent force for tournaments; the rest of the community began adopting their rules as almost a standard (the idea being something like this: when we hold tournaments, do it with MLG rules, so when we go to MLG tournaments and large sums of money will be on the line, we will be ready).
Article is continued in the following update.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Signature of the Week #1

For those who are unaware, my wife, sugarpoultry, runs an avatar and sig shop on Smash World Forums. She pumps out so many sigs during the week that I decided to start showing off her greatest creations. This week's lucky winner is Gimpyfish!

The artistic style is amazing. Bowser and Bowser Jr. naturally make a great pair. The scripture up top is a nice touch as well. I like seeing it around the forums.

This award will never replace Friday's normal blog post. Be sure to read today's post: From Melee to Brawl!

From Melee to Brawl

The original Super Smash Bros. for N64 had a relatively short lifespan. It was only around for about two years before being overshadowed by Super Smash Bros. Melee in 2001. Admittedly, I was not around during that transition (well, I was alive, but I did not play smash back then). Regardless, the original smash still has a strong following even today, especially with the advent of emulation software allowing these older games to be played over the Internet. While Melee has no real online presence, it is clearly the game most smashers are attached to. Smashfests and tournaments take place all around the world constantly adding to the culture.

With Brawl just around the corner, members of the smash community are frantically analyzing every tidbit of new information that comes out of the DOJO and various E4All updates. The previous smash games did not feature this much information prior to release, so something tells me the previous games did not suffer the same level of anxiety from such a large population of smashers (not to mention Smashboards was in its infancy back then, and I was a moderator for the obscure Smash Bros. Online forums).

Of particular interest is the area of advanced tactics. Even the competitive community is split on this issue. The casual community is cheering since wavedashing is gone. Half the competitive community is upset that Brawl will not become the perfected Melee 2.0 (fully balanced with online features). The other half welcomes whatever Brawl has to offer, fully expecting a completely new experience. Everyone has mixed feelings about the various single-player modes (though, many of them are no longer "single"). They will most likely be required in unlocking certain characters or stages. Some will enjoy it, others will endure it, and the rest will just copy a friend's Brawl data to skip the process altogether.

For those who have not yet seen Gimpyfish's Brawl impressions thread, I highly recommend it. Having played the Brawl demo at E4All, Gimpyfish makes it abundantly clear that despite borrowing elements from both Melee and the original smash, Brawl is a new game. Thinking of it as one its two predecessors will only handicap everyone in trying to adapt. This sounds like bad news for the Melee 2.0 fans, but considering how the development team is putting far more effort and polish into Brawl than either of the previous games, the whole smash community is bound to be completely satisfied with all aspects (both casual and competitive).

The bottom line is that change is upon us. Melee did not get to where to where it is today by recreating the original Super Smash Bros. with better graphics and more characters. Melee introduced new physics, and they turned out to be superb improvements despite many initial critical reviews. Brawl may seem foreign at first, but after a while, everyone will wonder how they ever lived without the changes.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Ness is Gone

I will be honest. I never liked Ness. I do not like the way he looks, the way he moves, or the way he resembles Jimmy Neutron, but that's just me. I would have been OK with him being in Brawl as long as I did not have to use him much for unlocking stuff.

Anyway, today's DOJO update reads: "There’s a character named Ness who has appeared in the Smash Bros. series up until now, and Lucas is very similar. They are from the same family of PK users." I have seen some speculation in the forums about Ness still having a chance, but the evidence is quite clear. Why would Sakurai describe Ness in this manner unless he were talking about SSB4 for some odd reason? If he were describing SSB4, then yeah, Ness would still have a chance for Brawl, but it is beyond me as to why Sakurai would include a character in Brawl and then pre-announce his absence for a game that has not even begun development. On top of all that, Lucas is essentially Ness with a different name.

Ness will not be in Brawl as a playable character. Sorry, folks. :)

UPDATE: Apparently, many fans believe there was a translation discrepancy on the English page of the DOJO. I find this extremely hard to believe for two reasons. (1) The English page is second most important (under Japanese), so it seems odd that a mistake would appear there of all places. (2) Fans are simply up in arms because a favorite character is on the verge of being declared dead. It intrigues me that only under these circumstances do smashers question the translation of the text on the DOJO. I still say Ness is gone until someone can provide some sort of proof to invalidate the English text.

UPDATE #2: SamuraiPanda translated the Japanese for everyone in the recent episode Show Me Your News podcast. It is abundantly clear now that Ness is gone.

Blood, Sweat, and Tiers

This is a very hot topic and has been for years since its conception. Brawl's upcoming release only adds fuel to the fire. The concept of "tiers" is a very sensitive topic for many smashers. Even I never had a very warm welcoming from the tier-worshiping community.

I purchased Melee in the summer of 2002. My favorite characters for years were Young Link, Roy, and Kirby (you can see where I am headed with this). One day, I stumbled across the almighty official tier list of Smashboards. How are my favorite characters ranked? Low, low, and bottom. (Actually, the list was different back then, but the positions were essentially the same.) Needless to say, I was quite skeptical of the character rankings. How could characters I use and win with be considered so bad? Well, it took a year or two of tournament attendance to discover my answer, but I did finally accept the tier list for what it was.

There is one key thing that everyone needs to understand: the tier list does not dictate the winner of any given match. The winner of multiple matches dictates the tier list. However much people don't like it, Fox is #1 right now. Is it all just a big popularity contest? Sort of. The more people that use Fox, the more likely he is to win, no? This is one unfortunate side effect of the tier list, but it stems much deeper than this. Players take great offense at seeing their favorite characters so low on the tier list, but they do nothing to rectify the problem outside of debating the issue in forums. The tier list was only partially determined through discussion. The vast majority of tier list decisions arise in the Smash Back Room from observations of tournament results.

It is also important to understand that the tier list does not always apply on a personal level. I win far more matches with Young Link than Marth, but that is not some testament that Young Link is "better" than Marth. It just goes to prove that hard work offsets the implication that higher tier characters will absolutely, positively always defeat a lower tier character. As noted in my recent SmashTV article, there are players out there who demonstrate amazing feats with extremely "bad" characters. While lone legends are not enough to push characters up the tier list, they are important examples of hard work (hence the "blood" and "sweat"). ChuDat is one of the best players in the world, but Ice Climbers are still #7 on the current tier list (though, they probably would be lower without his influence).

The tier list is nothing more than a tool. It is not there to mock players who prefer low tier characters. There are several members in the community who use the tier list as ammunition for insults against anyone who dare supports low tier characters. Everyone should play with whom they want to play. If winning tournaments is important, the higher tier characters provide some good options. The tier list is not a source for excuses when losing a match. Players choose their characters fully aware of the consequences.

So, what does this mean for Brawl? Well, this is a rare opportunity to play smash without a tier list breathing down everyone's neck. Play to win, but also play to develop a favorite character. If everyone plays only Meta Knight, then naturally he will be top tier. Branch out and discover hidden talent amongst the other characters!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Creators Intent

All games have a subtle, mystical theme about them in that the whole experience comes from one mind (or one set of minds). Experienced players know how to exploit this element by "getting inside the head of the creator" so to speak. By discovering patterns that are common in a particular game series, solutions to puzzles and enemy weaknesses become more obvious with each iteration.

Take Metroid Prime, for example. The game is very puzzle-heavy, so it is natural for the player to become stuck and be forced to wander aimlessly for a while. However, by understanding the nature of the Metroid universe, players know to retrace their steps using the other available visors in hopes of revealing a secret. Under these circumstances, it helps immensely to know the game creator's intent. Unraveling the mind of the creator drastically simplifies the problem. By being able to anticipate AI's next move, players may exploit that predictability in order to make progress.

Enter the world of Super Smash Bros. (or any multiplayer fighter), and the creator's intent takes a 180. Suddenly, creator's intent no longer helps because that intent is not reflected in the behavior of the opponent. Victory now depends on comprehension of the opponent's intent. This skill of anticipation is all wrapped up into one term: mind games. The greatest players are the ones who literally control their opponents by manipulating their reflexes, habits, and tendencies.

Many smashers look down on the competitive community. Emotions run high when discussing how the game is supposed to be played. Competitive players operate with the philosophy that "if it is in the game and available to everyone, it is fair" (unless it is blatantly game-breaking). Many casual gamers operate within the realm of "the creator's intent", which is usually a mentality surrounding board games. The problem with this mentality is that it is impossible to define the creator's intent, so even such gamers argue with each other about what is "cheap" and what is fair. I have even heard people argue that "because the creator does not know about particular unintended exploits, that means that players would be *gasp* better at the game than the creator". Are creators really offended that fans know more about the game than they do?

To be honest, I believe that in most cases, game creators do not play their own creations anywhere near the same amount as fans do. Is it really so bad that fans are better than the creators? What about games such as SimCity or Rollercoaster Tycoon? Given the level of customization in those games, the purpose is to have fun (however you do that). Smash is exactly the same way. Items can be disabled, stages can be removed from the random list, and there are several modes of play. How do we know that Stamina Mode is not the "correct" way to play? In no way does creator's intent dictate how we are to play the game. There is no "wrong" way to play a game. To suggest otherwise is to stricken us of our creativity.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Confirmed and Unconfirmed

The word "confirmed" is used a lot in the smash community when discussing new tidbits of information. Everyone is anxious to know whether a particular character, stage, advanced technique, etc. is confirmed for Brawl. This is only natural since an official confirmation gives people the green light to start discussing more in-depth possibilities surrounding that which was just confirmed. The problem we run into is that not everyone defines "confirmed" the same way, and various smashers feel offended when "someone dares suggest that Luigi is unconfirmed" since (A) someone high up already verbally leaked the information, and (B) Nintendo would be ridiculous to not include such a key character.

Originally, my definition of "confirmed" as anything that was either presented on the DOJO or explicitly announced by a Nintendo representative on a credible news source (such as IGN). I personally do not believe in mathematical derivation of characters (such as in the Mr. Game & Watch symbol theory); I prefer to just see the character with my own eyes so as to remove any doubt. One day, I had a discussion with Xsyven about the theory suggesting that Samurai Goroh's symbol in the DOJO confirms Captain Falcon (since the symbol belongs to him). He expressed that as far as he was concerned, Captain Falcon was confirmed. I replied that everything is unconfirmed until confirmed and that the symbol simply referenced the F-Zero franchise. Xsyven noticed that my attitude toward the situation clearly reflected my personality as described in Myers-Briggs Typology. He learned about me through my poll posted on Smashboards.

For those interested in learning about themselves, the test is here. Detailed descriptions about the results can be found here. Xsyven pointed out that my personality is INTJ (Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judge), also known as the "scientist". According the INTJ description, "[INTJs] dislike messiness and inefficiency, and anything that is muddled or unclear. They value clarity and efficiency, and will put enormous amounts of energy and time into consolidating their insights into structured patterns." In other words, my mind simply rejects incomplete or ambiguous ideas. There is no room for doubt.

Xsyven, on the other hand, is an ESTP (a "doer). His personality is described, "They are impatient with theory, and see little use for it in their quest to 'get things done'. An ESTP will occasionally have strong intuitions which are often way off-base, but sometimes very lucid and positive." Xsyven has no interest in waiting for the final work from Sakurai. Small tidbits of evidence are good enough, so Captain Falcon is confirmed whether I like it or not.

So, it all comes down to individual perception. There is no 'official' definition for "confirmed". Many (like myself) reserve the word for those things explicitly mentioned primarily on the DOJO. Others use the word more loosely for anything whose odds are looking pretty good. Members of the smash community must learn to better understand one another, which includes understanding how one another thinks. Just remember that Luigi being "unconfirmed" does nothing to suggest that he will not be in the game. It is a mere formality that expresses his current absence in the DOJO. :)

Competitive versus Casual - The Unnecessary War

As the release of Brawl draws closer day by day, the worst seems to come out of all sides of the smash community. Wishful hopes transform into adamant expectations as light-hearted discussion causes members of the smash community to blindly call one another's ideas stupid. Rather than ignore such immature behavior, members proceed to defend their ideas as if it it were their religion that suffered an attack.

This scenario is most evident in the recent outbreak between the "competitive community" and "casual community". Recently, the competitive community made a concerted effort to verify the presence (or absence) of certain advanced techniques in Brawl (namely wavedashing), whose demo was available for several days to the public at E4All. Upon discovery of the apparent loss of wavedashing as a result of a new air dodging system, the casual community interpreted this to mean that wavedashing (among other advanced tactics) were unintentional abuses of the physics engine and thus constituted cheating in the world of Melee. The competitive side retaliated with its own logic and reasoning as to why such physics exploits are completely harmless and only benefit competition.

The tragedy of this whole situation is that the arguments are completely unnecessary. The casual community attempts to define "fun", the "intent of the creator", and "cheap". The competitive community retaliates with insults such as "noob", "scrub", and "idiots". Why is it impossible for both sides to accept the other's style of play?

Casual smashers are seeking genuine entertainment but tend to downplay the competitive smashers' definition of "skill". The common argument is that true skill includes the ability to deal with the random element involved with items and tournament banned stages. Some casual players take it all a step further and refer to advanced techniques as crutches for competitive players to deceive themselves into thinking they have real skill. It is sad to see such a short-sighted perspective. The problem with banning advanced techniques on account of being "cheap" is that it is impossible to draw the line. Every anti-competitive casual smasher has a varying set of rules on what constitutes honorable combat.

On the other side of the spectrum lies the competitive community. What started as simple defense of advanced techniques evolved into vengeful mockery of the casual community. Advanced players throw around terms such as "noob" and "scrub" despite some members of the casual community being fully capable of using advanced techniques. This led to several discrepancies as numerous competitive players defended the casual community, and several casual players defended the competitive community.

The war will most likely rage on until Brawl is actually released. When that day comes, both communities will go their separate ways. Members of the competitive community will collaborate to unveil as many techniques as possible. Casual smashers will mostly withdraw from the forums to focus on just having fun with the game. The forums give them something to do and provide a way to build hype leading up to Brawl's release, which is what led to this clash of cultures in the first place.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The wavedash is not a glitch.

In response to the overwhelming number of smashers who believe that wavedashing is glitch, I have taken it upon myself to clarify this otherwise touchy subject. Whether glitches/exploits should be allowed in competitive smash is another discussion for another day. For now, I will explain the wavedash.

If any character air dodges into the ground, he or she will slide along the ground a set distance based on both the angle of contact (steeper angles lead to shorter slides) and individual character friction (Luigi has virtually no friction [more distance] while Zelda has extremely high friction [less distance]). Players take advantage of this part of the physics in order to better maneuver their characters. It can be used to better space attacks, launch a moving smash attack, or quickly slide off the stage into an edge-hog.

The wavedash is a particular variation of this slide. It is used from a standing position (as opposed to wavelanding where a character air dodges into the ground after having fallen from the air). It consists of three parts: jumping, air dodging, and sliding. If you examine each component individually, it should be quite apparent that all three were clearly intended physics of the game. Using all three in quick succession results in a seemingly unique move since the jump animations are completely invisible. However, no part of the wavedash pushes the game outside of its normal boundaries. Everything happens exactly as it should. So, if jumping, air dodging, and sliding are not glitches, how is the resulting maneuver a glitch as so many people believe?

For the sake of argument, let us examine a blatant game glitch: the Ice Climbers freeze glitch ("glitch" is even in the title). This trick also consists of non-glitch components. The simplest way to trigger this glitch is to have one Ice Climber grab while the other breaks the target loose with the hammer spin (forward-B). The target, for whatever reason, suddenly freezes in time and space. The target cannot move (but still can take damage) until grabbed and thrown. This result is clearly a glitch (or the game creators had a twisted sense of humor) as it essentially grants the Ice Climbers a free kill. According to the physics engine, the victim should either take the beatings or be broken loose. The result is clearly a system accident.

The wavedash grants no such advantage. It is not a glitch that guarantees victory; it is one of many tools available to skilled players to enhance their game. To ban wavedashing is to ban forms of creativity in the game. Under such circumstances, it would be only a matter of time before the most basic of combos are deemed dishonorable. At worst, the wavedash is considered an exploit.