Breaking Down the Game A Training Suggestion for Aspiring Players Our game, DOA4, has been out for quite a while now. Yet, as I look around, player knowledge and skill level in the game seems to be on a very uneven curve. There are a small percentage of players who stand out far from the bunch, but the rest of players seem to either A) Be going about development the wrong way B) Not put enough effort into developing C) Not care D) Be struggling on finding ways to develop I can't help the "B" and "C" crowd, but I can try to contribute something to aid the "A" and "D" crowd. In this post, I will provide a basic rundown of a training method I feel will work well for an aspiring player to adopt. This is also a training method that I am personally putting to use in my own time. Breaking down the game, IMO, is very much similar to learning a craft or mastering a hobby or acquiring a new skill, etc. It's about learning how things work, where things branch out, how components interact, etc. In the case of DOA4, there is Learning the Components of the Game Learning Fundamental Offensive and Defensive Skills Learning a Character's MoveList Learning the Properties of a Character's MoveList Learning the Strengths and Weaknesses of a Character Learning Ideal Strategies for a Character Learning How a Character Matches Up Against Other Characters Learning Other Characters Learning How to Read Your Opponent Learning How to Read Yourself I will cover each of these subjects, starting with Learning the Components of the Game RULE #1: Start from scratch. The basic components of DOA4 are attacks, holds, and throws. In the game, attacks beat throws, throws beat holds, holds beat attacks. This simple structure is referred to as the triangle system. Attacks Attacks come in various forms of punches, kicks, knees, shoulder strikes, body strikes, headbutts, etc., according to the character being used. When an attack successfully hits the opponent, the attack will cause damage, and may also connect with STUN, LAUNCH, or KNOCKDOWN properties. STUN attacks inflict a stun status on the opponent, usually granting the player various amounts of frame advantage. Depending on the amount of frame advantage, the player can followup with an attack to extend the stun, an attack to launch the opponent, an attack to knockdown the opponent, or simply use the frame advantage to restrike the opponent before he/she can strike the player. Note that many stuns can SLOW-ESCAPED, speeding up the opponent's recovery from the stun. LAUNCH attacks are powerful moves which send the opponent into the air for a followup juggle, air-throw, untechable, wall-hit, etc. Some attacks will launch on normal hit, all will launch on counter hit and hi-counter hit, and will launch while the opponent is in a stun status. The opponent can do nothing while launched in the air. KNOCKDOWN attacks are moves that knock the opponent to the ground. On normal hit, counter hit, hi-counter hit, and during stun, the opponent will be knocked to the ground with a successful knockdown hit. Many knockdown attacks also have KNOCKBACK properties that send the opponent flying away from the player and into a wall if a wall is within range. Holds Holds, simply, are moves designed to reverse an opponent's attack. There are holds for all 3 HIT LEVELS in the game, high, mid, and low, and mid holds are split for mid punches and mid kicks. Holds cause various amount of damage to the opponent, will sometimes have LAUNCH properties, and will occasionally grant frame advantage. Some characters also have parries or advanced holds that will grant frame advantage and/or deal slight or heavy damage to opponent. Throws Throws, simply, are moves designed to grab the opponent and cause damage when the opponent is not attacking. Throws can go through the opponent's blocks and the opponent's holds. There are throws for standing or ducking opponents. Some throws, referred to as Offensive Holds (OHs), have the special property of being able to grab the opponent while he/she is attacking. Learning Fundamental Offensive and Defensive Skills RULE #2: Learn fundamentals or be beaten by fundamentals. Fundamental Offense Fundamental offense comprises offensive elements that are universal to mostly every character. This are things everyone should practice executing. STUN. Find moves that stun the opponent and practice using them. WORK THE STUN. Practice extending the stun, launching a stunned opponent, knocking down a stunned opponent. Practice alternating these things. LAUNCH. Practice launching the opponent in various situations. Preferably, keep this to situations where opponent is stunned or when you have frame advantage. JUGGLE. Practice various juggles when the opponent is launched in the air. GROUND GAME. Practice hitting the opponent with attacks while he/she is on the ground. Also practice following up on FORCED TECHUPS. CRUSH. Identify and practice using moves that crush attacks of a certain hit level. Some attacks crush high attacks. Some attacks crush low attacks. Some attacks crush attacks of multiple hit levels. TRIANGLE SYSTEM-ATTACK. Practice attacking the opponent when they whiff a throw. Jab is easiest. Launch is preferred. TRIANGLE SYSTEM-THROW. Practice throwing the opponent when they whiff a hold. Normal throw and quick command throw are easiest. Most damaging throw is preferred. Fundamental Defense Fundamental defense comprises defensive elements that are universal to mostly every character. This are things everyone should practice executing. BLOCK. Practice blocking attacks. High/Mid and Low. Most attacks give you frame advantage on block. SPACE. Practice spacing yourself from the opponent. Spacing baits the opponent to charge in or whiff an attack, allowing you to PUNISH. PUNISH. Practice punishing the opponent. Punish unsafe attacks on block. Punish whiffed attacks. Throws, jabs, quick mids, launchers, or knockdown attacks can be used to punish depending on character position/range and frame advantage. The ability to punish is VERY important and VERY underappreciated defensive skill. INTERRUPT. Practice interrupting slow string attacks, slow crush attacks, and slow launch attacks with jabs or quick mids of your own. Interrupting is also useful when the opponent whiffs an attack, you move in, and they try to attack again. Note that interrupting is a tricky defensive skill, and some characters are better at this than others. SLOW-ESCAPE. Practice slow-escaping out of stuns when the opponent stuns you. Toss away the hold crutch and make slow-escaping a main part of your defense. TRIANGLE SYSTEM-HOLD. Practice holding the opponents attacks. Preferably, limit this to slow string attacks, sweeps, slow launchers, and charge attacks. DON'T SPAM THE HOLD. TRIANGLE SYSTEM-THROW. Practice throwing the opponent when they try to OH you. Normal throw and quick command throws are easiest. Learning a Character's MoveList RULE #3: Become ONE with your character. Go to sparring mode. Go through a character's movelist exercise multiple times. First time slow. Second time slightly faster. Third slightly faster. Each time after, faster than the last. Use Versus mode and Online mode to "confirm" the memorization of moves. The goal is to be able to command ALL of your character's moves by pure instinct (no thought) at anytime. Return to sparring mode if confirmation fails. After confirming the character's moves to memory, do the same practice with the character's various juggles. Refer to threads showing character's master file combos for reference. Practice each juggle until each one can be done on pure instinct. Learning the Properties of a Character's MoveList RULE #4: Study your character. Go to sparring mode. Have hit levels displayed at the bottom of your screen. Throw out each attack in the character's movelist, looking at each hit level, memorizing each hit level. Watch the animation for each move. Learn to distinguish the hit level based on the animation. Do this multiple times. Use Versus mode and Online mode to confirm memorization. Identify the attacks that stun the opponent. Identify any crush attacks, and the hit level the attack crushes. Identify any sabaki attacks. Set CPU dummy to punch/kick at various hit levels to identify the levels the sabaki works against, and to get a feel for properly timing the sabaki.