Improvement in Smash 4 IV – Friendlies

**If you’re unfamiliar with Smash, this probably isn’t the post for you unless you’re curious. In order to get a full understanding of this, you should be familiar with Smash’s game mechanics and lingo (EX: Forward Air = Fair), specifically the mechanics for Super Smash Bros. Wii U.

Let’s talk friendlies.

Friendlies are one of your best resources for valuable practice, especially since you can play in a low-risk environment where you can talk mid-match, pause, etc…

The absolute best way to utilize friendlies is to disregard their relevance as it pertains to your skill level. Losing sucks, but that shouldn’t compel you to play to win all the time. I want you to make sure you drill this into your head: Winning. Friendlies. Is NOT. Important. There’s no pride lost in losing a friendly.

Let me paint you a quick picture. It’s been 3 months since I picked up Project M competitively, and I go to the local monthly. There, an Out of State (OoS) Lucas players 3-stocks me in friendlies. Now my friends are gettin’ hype because I got bopped, as friends do, and I just laugh it off. Coincidentally, I fight the same Lucas player, and I solidly beat him – it’s a complete turnaround to what happened while we were playing friendlies. The kid wasn’t very happy when he lost – I’m pretty sure he was going in confident after 3-stocking me before. I won where it counted – in tournament.

So then, what should you be doing during friendlies once you’ve acquired this mindset? How did I go from losing those friendlies to winning in tournament? By experimenting!

When I play friendlies, my general game plan is “what can I get away with against this player?” To that end, I ask myself questions as I play – what if I try x move in y situation? Would z be more optimal? How well can my opponent punish me for throwing out moves haphazardly? How well can they deal with pressure on and offstage? Will they fall for a gimmick? What spacing are they struggling with against me? What habits can I ascertain easily? Once I find this out, I can adjust my game plan accordingly if we meet in bracket, where all that information will be put towards me winning.

To this end, I always play friendlies to learn, rather to win. Winning a bunch of friendlies is great, but playing to win means you’re not allowing yourself to explore the “what if” scenarios that are present in every game you play. That spike you don’t go for? Maybe you could’ve learned if it were possible by at least going for it in a friendly. You’re basically stripping yourself of valuable information.

Friendlies are also a great way to practice a specific MU. This is the only time I’ll tell you to take the player out of the equation momentarily – when you practice a MU, look for a few things:

– Move priority
– Kill %’s
– General Spacing

Then zone in more tightly. Look for ways to get around a Sheik throwing needles. What’s the best spot to disrupt a Yoshi’s Eggs? How can you space away from a Luigi’s grab? In other words, look for very character-specific instances and look for ways your character can beat it. Then, take all of this information and apply it to the player. Luigi can Nair through a double Uair combo, so see how a player reacts to it – do they stop it, do they not? Sometimes, even a disadvantageous position can turn advantageous if the player is unaware of it.

Make sure you’re talking with your opponent before, during, and after friendlies. Even if they don’t know much about the game, asking for advice or just conversing about the game can sometimes provide valuable insight into the game itself, the fundamentals, and how that player views and plays the game. That’s critical information when playing against them. You’ve (hopefully) read all of my posts now – how do you think I play the game? What’s my style? I guarantee you can tell from reading these posts.

Finally, friendlies provide one other very useful function – they’re GIANT energy-savers when it comes to endurance during a tournament. But we’ll talk about that later.

Friendlies are your best tool for practice. They allow you to learn and adapt without the pressure of winning. And if you’re experiencing pressure to win, drop that now and start thinking about friendlies differently. They’re a tool for you, not a way to prove yourself.

That’s what results and taking names in bracket are for.

Just Sayin’

I – Fundamentals
II – A Different Way to Look at Match Ups
III – Attitude
V -Stages
VI – Preparing for a Tournament
VII – Training Regimens
VIII – Character Loyalty

Check out the BONUS series!

IX – The Plateau
X – Practice Methods I
XI – Practice Methods II
XII – Practice Methods III
XIII – At a Tournament
XIV – Practice Methods BONUS IV
XV – Game Flow

Tales of Xillia: 4-man Co-op (first impressions)

So, for anyone who doesn’t know, I stream myself playing games pretty much every Saturday night. Usually, I do single-player games with a commentator or two. This time, after talking to a friend, I decided that I would tackle a game from the Tales series of games. These games are known for supporting 4-player combat, although most people just play by themselves or with one other person. Now, each Tales game generally has a gimmick that they can use to enhance combat.

However, Tales of Xillia’s is a little odd. It actually “hampers” 4-man combat. When you link with another character, the one being linked to is automatically taken over by an AI, and only unlinking will restore the ability to control that character. It’s basically a way to make playing by yourself easier and more fun because it makes the AI much smarter.

Now, at first, I didn’t like it. I didn’t think my group would need it. But then I started doing some research after a very painful 1st boss, and after doing some research and really thinking about it, 4-man combat with linking is starting to grow on me.

Let me explain linking really quick. Linking allows characters to beef themselves up, share skills, and use “Link Artes”, more powerful versions of normal Artes. With 4 players, linking isn’t really an option if everyone wants to participate in 100% of the combat. So, you’re basically gimping yourself for bosses, which is the problem (normal battles are completely fine with no linking). How can my group utilize linking effectively while not feeling like we can’t play during boss battles?

The easy way is to have two people allow themselves to be linked from time-to-time. I played a lot of Tales of Symphonia – it was my first ever Tales game! I played it so much I’d go through the whole game just having the CPU’s fight during boss battles and managing them through items. So, really, I’m okay with being linked and just sitting there sometimes, but even I’ll want to play sometimes, so I’m set on finding a way to utilize linking differently than the game intends you to (which is have it up basically all the time).

My strategies going in are not to try and fill the Link Gauge, which is filled through normal attacks while linked and using Artes while linked.

We could link for different things quickly. For example, if one of us is knocked down, we link with Jude, get picked up, and then unlink. We could link to position someone from behind quickly since the AI is programmed to take the best route to the back of an enemy. These are the kinds of small optimizations I think we could use with linking to utilize it while still basically playing the whole time.

We could also link just to spam more powerful artes if the boss is knocked down/stunned, and then unlink. It’d be a quick link to unleash a couple powerful attacks.

Those are all I’ve got right now though. If we wanted to fill the Link Gauge effectively we could go in waves of 2 players being linked and switching off every “tier” (I think there’s 4) of the Link Gauge. Again, I personally am okay with letting myself be linked, but this is a final resort kind of option if the boss is really hard and we need over limit.

I’m actually pretty excited to try and master linking with 4 people. Sure, it’s not the standard Tales 4-player experience, but to be honest it’s kind of refreshing and I think it can be a lot of fun. It’s obviously poorly designed (it feels like the multiplayer for Xillia was shoe’d in), but I’m the kind of guy who tries to make something work, and I think linking could be a really cool way to play this game with 4 people, even if it’s generally seen as bad. I think there’s a lot of strategy to be had with this sort of linking; unfortunately, no one’s really experimented with it and just bash it, so I think there’s a lot of untapped potential here.

There’s got to be a way to make this work. I think people just focus on filling the Link Gauge too much and not on the little optimizations you can make regardless of the Link Gauge.

Just Sayin’.

Tank Fever

Now that spring break is finally here, I have time to play some games, work on my own personal projects, and run form 10+ tanks in a maze-like area, clinging to the very fabric of survival.

Yes, I’ve started to play Left 4 Dead 2 once again now that I have my new computer, and it runs like a dream (which means it doesn’t choke when a swarm comes. Yes!!). And with that came my need to re-download a lot of custom maps, one of which I had yet to beat: Tank Fever. Tank Fever is a campaign that lasts for 10 minutes, and it is literally you running from tanks as they spawn and chase you.

Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first: this map has way too many common infected. There are actual swarms of common infected that will slow you down and allow a tank to catch up to and subsequently knock you off the map, which kind of ruins the experience sometimes. I like challenging myself, but it’s almost impossible on Normal difficulty because of the swarms, whereas I think it would be challenging on Intense if it were just tanks. There are many times when 4 tanks pincer you, so the added swarms of common infected up the difficulty too much. It really should just be tanks.

Besides that, this map is absolutely fantastic. There’s two kinds of fear when you play games: the fear that makes you not want to continue playing (a la Amnesia: the Dark Descent), or the kind of, “OhshitI’mgoingtodienononoNO!”. Tank Fever elicits the second kind of fear almost constantly. Even when you don’t see any tanks, one can spawn at any time and begin its quest to destroy you. It’s definitely more survival than it is campaign, but for good reason: campaign allows you to save your teammates after they’ve died by the one closet fitted in the map. I didn’t find out about it until I beat it with my friends, because you usually don’t last very long.

At the very end, I had 10+ tanks and a swarm of common infected chasing me to the helicopter. It was terrifying. LOL.

If you’re looking for a map for you and a group of friends (because you REALLY need to play this map with 4 people), this is a map you should definitely give a go, especially if you’re short on time and want to get obliterated by tanks a couple times.

Just Sayin’.

Link to map: http://www.l4dmaps.com/details.php?file=9381

Kappy’s L4D2 Mod Pack!

Hello, L4D’ers!

Today I’m presenting to you my mod pack for Left 4 Dead 2. It’s just a collection of mods I’ve found whilst browsing l4dmaps.com that I now use when playing Left 4 Dead 2 with my friends. The theme is, “A Snake and his velociraptors”, and it comes not only with a velociraptor skin, but a skin where one of them is Solid Snake from the Metal Gear Solid series. The rest are little skin changes to various weapons in the game and the Safe Room and Credits music changed.

It includes (with credit to those who made it – these guys are awesome!)

Solid Snake (replaces Nick) – Mr. Lanky
Velociraptors – Splinks
Gold Desert Eagle – miztaegg
Pinkie Pie Fireworks – Sabre
DJ Pon3 Guitar – Sabre
T-Virus V1.8 – NeoMetalSonic360
Jack Daniels Molotov – Xaxt
Pistol – Springfield 1911 custom gold – K1CHWA (ported by Pappaskurtz)
Digital Camo SPAS – SILKO
Bonk! Atomic Punch (Blutonium) – Canis L. Sapien
HD M4 Super 90 – =DiG= He-Man!
M4 Special Forces – =DiG= He-Man!/SoulSlayer/Kimono
Remington 870 Wingmaster – Twinkie Masta/modderfreak
John Deere Chainsaw – G.I.Joe/K.Tastrophe
Chrono Cross Credits Music – XD001
Pokémon Black/White Safe Room Music – XD001
Target Ibuprofen – miztaegg/Samm5506
Johnny Bravo Tank – ??? (I don’t know who made this one, but whoever did, you’re amazing!)

That’s my pack! I hope any of you who download it enjoy it!!

The Johnny Bravo tank is my favorite.

NOTE: Everything is in .vpk format EXCEPT the tank mods. For those, I have two folders named “tank PLAYER” and “tank MUSIC”. What you need to do is go into your sound folder and replace the tank folder in your music folder with tank MUSIC (and then rename that to just tank), and the folder in your player folder with tank PLAYER 9and then rename that to just tank). Everything else goes into your add ons folder!

Just sayin’.

LINK TO KAPPY’S MOD PACK: