Tag Archives: Persona 4 Arena

X-post from DWR: The importance of a main

Let’s preface this with I’m drunk as FUCK. Like, I’m so drunk, I might actually go swimming or something and enjoy myself, and I don’t actually know how to swim. At all. Hell, for all I know, I might be hydrophobic!

So, I just found out that you can have 50+ levels in P4A’s netcode. What the fuck does that mean? It means you’ve been playing entirely too much.

Now, let’s back up. Let’s address something that’s plagued me for years. I’ve, for the longest time in my Starcraft years, refused to stick with one specific build–instead, I used a build order that I could web into a variety of different builds. An instance of this that at least a few people would be able to understand is the protossian 4-gate in Starcraft 2–it started as one specific all-in build that wound up expanding to 4-gate double-robo and all sorts of other strategies. “But Travis! That only makes sense! Why would you play a video game where you’d gamble it all on your strategy?!”

Indeed.

Let’s talk about Persona real quick (by which I mean, for the rest of the entry), because a lot of people don’t understand what I mean by “learn neutral game as one character.” Let’s back up and analyze this sentiment from one specific angle:

You LOVE this game. You loved Persona 4, and you loved the anime, and if there was anything you loved more (and we’ll take my experience from this), it was the confusion about your future that was paralleled by Yukiko. I MEAN YOU’RE A WHITE SLIGHTLY-LESS-THAN-HETEROSEXUAL WHITE MALE YOU HAVE LITERALLY NOTHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT SIT DOWN YOU FUCKING CISPRIV NERD

So you pick up Yukiko. I know a lot of my readers don’t actually play this game competitively, so I’ll break it down further.

Yukiko has normals where she just straight-up throws fans. They move about a third as fast as the equivalent of P4A’s hadouken, and hit maybe half as hard. The big thing is, she can zone you out by tossing them at really odd angles. She also has a really good mid-to-fullscreen game using her persona, who can attack at weird angles and has long lasting attacks, meaning that during the attack, you can still run or jump or hide or climb trees.

If you recall my schema on how to pick a main, many people will either pick their waifus or pick characters based off of who they can beat their friends with. Yukiko falls into either category because she’s both a waifu AND really easy to beat your friends with, and that’s a double-edged sword.

She’ll win you some games and make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but she lacks the neutral-game tools that other characters have. The issue with that is, if you want to get good at fighting games, you need to learn what those tools are, and how they work. I make the joke to pick top-tier if you want to compete at a game. It’s less humorous than I make it.

Now, where picking her versus picking Yu is a bit of a bad idea, if you really want to learn a game, playing random is probably the dumbest thing I can think of. Some will argue, “well, learning the tools of all the characters will benefit me in the future!” and that’s cool, but the issue is, those tools won’t fully be realized until time is spent playing that character in, say, Training Mode. If you can figure out that you can orgia-dash cancel Aigis’ sweep on your own, then you can tell me that you’ll benefit from playing random.

Oh, you’ll learn how to deal with matchups, regardless. For instance, I’ve known–since my Yukiko days–that Labrys can’t cancel her sweep into anything but Guillotine Axe, so block low, block high. I didn’t need to play Labrys to figure that out, and that’s the best counter argument I can muster against the “play random” lifestyle. Meanwhile, you won’t learn that sweep>Guillotine Axe can go into Raging Bull>burst>Guillotine Axe>Raging Bull. Congratulations, you’ll never know how to maximize damage off of it, but you will learn how to avoid getting that maximum damage.

Even if your main sucks, learning that character is vital to your development in fighting games. Learning combos past basic combos will teach you enders and how to look for enders, and that will teach you to convert into damage off of confirms. It’ll teach you how to properly use mobility options beyond what’s available for everyone. There’s a great deal of water under the surface of fighters; people just need to figure out how to get to it.


I finished this entry like two weeks ago, but forgot to post it. I’m dumb.

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A monologue concerning performance analogues

I want to preface this entry with, yes, I’ll be talking about League of Legends. Yes, I will be talking about math. Yes, it will probably bore you to tears. Yes, I feel the necessity to write this.

In the Tampa FGC for anime fighting games (dubbed, “Tampa anime” for here on out), there’s a joke that’s passed around: “if you want to play competitively, pick top-tier.” It’s partly a truth, and partly a jest at the eSports scene. The interesting part lies in the former, obviously, and that’s what I’ll be nitpicking about today.

As with any good proof or analysis, let’s first define some variables. Top-tier can refer to a number of different things: colloquially, it describes the best character, whereas more intimately, it describes the most effective character at a specific task. There are always wrenches thrown into the cogs, mind you, as time goes on, and because of that, top-tier analysis is usually an empirical (that’s to say, “defined by experience moreso than by logic”) scale.

An example: Solomon Grundy in Injustice (I use this because everyone’s EXPECTING ME to do something anime HAH SUCK IT NERDS I’M EVERYWHERE). Day-1 top-tier. Second day, they found something close to a 60% combo that can be frame-trapped into a reset (or something–I forget, it’s been too long since anyone has talked about him). Third day, he won first place at several tournaments, to include some big ones. Fourth day, people found out about Death Stroke. Fifth day, people found out about Aquaman. Solomon Grundy died on the sixth day, and was buried on the seventh day. That was the end of Solomon Grundy. Props if you got the reference.

Let’s talk about why he was so good, though. Earlier, I used the word “efficiency,” which is (SUPERGENERALDEFINITIONSGO) a ratio of capital put in, versus the amount of capital put out. Note that this can be used to describe all sorts of things. Is it more efficient to invest four hours into a job to get $100, or one hour into a job and get $100? Now, what if, for that one hour, you had to scrub a hyperbolic time chamber, and it felt like years for you? WHAT NOW, HUH?! It’s a rhetorical example.

Ready for the next batch of terms? The first is “learning curve,” and the second is “skill ceiling.” A learning curve is how much you learn over a time (or experience), until mastery. That’s to say, if the learning curve is steep, then the beginning of your training, you’d learn a lot and how to do well with very little experience, but because mastery is set at the same point for all graphs, it’ll start out steep but then rapidly decrease and you’ll learn very little after that first spurt. The exact opposite goes for the converse of a “steep learning curve.”

A “skill ceiling,” on the other hand, is how well one can do with a set of skills given to them. It can be defined by the player’s capabilities (i.e., in Chess or Go), or a mixture of that and that which is given to her to work with. For the latter, the player’s performance can be taken out of the mix and determined through a variety of different quantification methods (Elo system, MMR system, etc., etc.), and those typically assume equal playing field for those in league. What I’d like to point out is this big-ass other part of that: “that which is given to her to work with.”

Solomon Grundy had both a steep learning curve and low skill ceiling, which equates out to players learning how to be decent with him quickly (while the other players who played a character with a more moderate learning curve caught up), and then petering out quickly because the people would top out with him, and better characters would beat him when the players finally caught up. Even played at the top of his game, against, say, a Superman or Aquaman at the top of their game, he doesn’t have tools to deal with their pressure or whatever.

WHERE THE FUCK AM I GOING WITH THIS.

I had the sheer delight of seeing two kids arguing over a character in League of Legends, Blitzcrank, and his lack of nerfs. If you don’t know, Blitzcrank is known for having a hook that pulls you into him, a knock-up that disallows you from doing anything, an AoE silence+DD, and a movement speed buff. It equates out to sounding like “holy fuck why” but remember: every champion has its strengths and weaknesses. The pull is on a high cooldown, for instance, and takes retarded amounts of mana. He starts out squishy. He’s melee. So on, so forth.

“But drunkaigis! What does that mean about that six-page essay you wrote earlier?!”

Note how I wrote about Solomon Grundy earlier; we took out the player performance to net a (rather conceptual) grasp on him in comparison at separate times to other characters in the game. For the lack of a better word off the top of my head, we’ll call this a “theoretical grasp,” as opposed to an “empirical grasp” that stems more from one player’s experience with the character (playing as, playing against, or playing with–it is a team game, after all).

In the end, how do we determine who was right (or has the bigger e-peen?!)? It’s a sticky situation, because both are valid points! However, even though they’re both arguing different ranges of performance on the overall spectrum of Blitzcrank-play, both of them are failing to see the dilemma that Riot is faced when they have to make the decision to buff or nerf a champion (as well as failing to see why I hate “balance discussions” between players in general)–how do they balance a champion in a game with so many moving parts, and who do we cater to? Do we cater to the lowly nubs who don’t understand team synergy yet, or do we cater to the professionals who make millions of dollars to know key points on how to wreck a Blitzcrank’s day?

Now, I don’t pretend to know the answers. I know my observations: Chie’s an asshole, Aigis needs buffs, Ragna needs corner-combo nerfs and less stupid overheads, Millia is fucking sexy–but I don’t expect anyone to change anything based off of my observations, and I sure as hell don’t think I’m qualified to bitch and moan about someone being OP (godihatethatterm). I don’t care if you’re god-damn super-platinum uranium -3, or have 4200 PSR, or are so in-tune with Awesomenauts that you can fucking read the secrets of the universe ONLY through a monitor with the game playing–you don’t get to decide who is nerfed and who is buffed, because in the end, “balance” is an arbitrary construct anyway. Trying to balance a MOBA is like getting a million seesaws and stacking them on top of each other, a mandatory four seesaws stacked on one seesaw until you run out, taking into consideration wind gusts and meteor attacks.

Moving parts. They’re hard to predict.

So stop fucking talking about something being overpowered and enjoy your fucking games.

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