Tuesday I put up a post detailing my shortcomings with Ibuki and today’s video contains three matches where I try my best to correct some of those little problem areas. The act of correcting things that are so ingrained in my muscle memory takes a very real conscious effort, more than I really expected. Multiple times during the video I, for example, do a needless focus attack and then dash out of it and immediately say, “Why did I just do that?” This helps to further drive home the point that I often enter an auto pilot mode when playing Ibuki and instead of playing a reactionary opponent-based game, I just sort of do whatever I plan to do regardless of what’s happening on the screen.
These two (and perhaps more soon) posts were inspired by a Tweet that @Dacidbro sent out last Friday:
I immediately–but not immediately enough–sent him a link to this site in hopes for some pointers on how to improve my Ibuki. In just a few minutes, as expected, Mr. Bro had become overrun with Tweets and he asked that I please hit him up again in a week, which happens to be today. So I took time this week to do what I could for myself, not only to make Dacidbro’s job easier in the event that he isn’t again over-booked on giving advice, but because I haven’t really taken the time to honestly reflect on how I play in quite a while. In so doing, a lot of concerning words came up: habit, routine and muscle memory being among the worst. Muscle memory isn’t always bad, but in conjunction with “habit” and “routine,” yeah, it can be. In this time I’ve realized that Ibuki has almost become a rhythm game to me. I can watch a replay of myself playing from months ago and know exactly what I’m going to do at every point, regardless of how the opponent reacts. This is a weakness that needs to be overcome, but can’t be overcome easily.
So what do i do? A break from SF4 isn’t really the best approach, I don’t think, but effectively maining a different character for a little while may help me break from routine and actually play matches in an adaptive (read: correct) manner. As it stands, I see patterns in my opponents. I call out the patterns. Do I act accordingly? I mean, sometimes, sure, but not usually. Not, especially, in a best out of 3 ranked match when I’d rather just finish my pattern and get a win or a loss and move on to the next match. Stepping out of my comfort zone as Ibuki and into, say, Sakura, Makoto, Chun-Li, any of these characters that I can sort of play, will allow me a fresh set of eyes with which to view Street Fighter. I don’t need a break from the game, I need a break from routine within the game. I could even go so far as to pick up an entirely new character, someone incredibly fresh that I’ve not only no idea how to play, but also no idea how to play against–Yun comes to mind. This would also help me learn a matchup, which seems worthwhile.
All of this self-reflection also made me ask myself the hardest question of all: what do I actually want out of not only gaming, but also this site? Gaming is, always has been and always will be a passion of mine. I can’t remember a time without games and I hope very much that I never have to face a time when I can’t play them anymore. They’re my favorite childhood toy that, for whatever reason, is still acceptable to play with for the rest of my life. So as a gamer, I seek enjoyment, I seek relaxation. I seek a good story from time to time and I seek a means of competing against other people in something that I greatly enjoy without having to leave the comfort of my sectional sofa, falling apart though it may be.
Competitive play is something that I’ve only in recent years begun to embrace. I used to be terrified of fighting other players. I now find comfort in besting someone at their own game (hoho!) and would like to continue playing at a competitive level in fighting games. By continue, I mean that I’d like to go to EVO again, but do better. I’d like to enter closer-to-home tournaments and get experience, meet people, network. And that’s honestly why the blog began. It was a means for me to say things that I want to say, with or without an audience in an effort to make myself a better gamer and, I hope, a better writer–and perhaps meet some interesting people in the process. The blog itself was a step out of a comfort zone and it has, I believe, changed me for the better, making me more comfortable with how I choose to spend my free time; perhaps the stepping from my comfort zone within fighting games themselves, then, will offer me a real solution to my bad habits and help to mold me into a better player.