How do YOU make sense of a movelist?

Camel with 2 thumbs

Well-Known Member
A friend of mine who wants to get into 3d fighting games has relayed to me that one of the biggest hurdles he has is figuring out “the good moves” from a characters’ move list. He said he’ll boot up games like tekken and doa and the moment he goes to training mode and sees a movelist with over 100 different attacks he gets overwhelmed. The first thing I told him was “just cause you have 100 moves doesn’t mean you have to use every single one in every match” and then I told him my own specific way of figuring this kind of stuff out, but I’m curious to hear how other people go about deciphering move lists.

Just for comparison my way of initially figuring out what’s useful and what’s not is to first figure out my cqc moves (get off me pokes, fast attacks that need to be respected up close, and defensive moves if I have any), figuring out what’s safe and what’s not, what I can get off it if it hits, and what these moves can set me up for. Then I move one to the mid range stuff (whiff punishers, gap closers, and stuff I can whiff in order to bait a reaction out of my opponent) then full screen if the character has any. This is pretty much how I go about figuring out the fundamental stuff with a character, once I have those down, I explore the other less used strings and attacks to see if I can find ways to set them up, or if they’ll be discarded to bin of eternal uselessness.
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You friend poses a great question and I'm glad you made this thread..... I feel its necessary to Discuss this...... at extremely length.


As much as I love DoA, other Fighting Games, specifically 2D Fighters. Are sigificantly better at Catogerising a character's moves.

On some level or another, we are all aware (to some degree) that Combat between Opponents is seperated into different phases/scenarios.... and the moves we decide to use are dependent on which Phase/Scenario is happening at that time...... well when designing the interface for the move list.... those Phases/Scenarios must be taken into consideration to give newcomers the information they need to help them sort through the moves list.

You can see this in Street Fighter, MK and Killer Instinct's move details.

Not every move is kept in one place.... its all carefully distributed into:
Basic Attacks (Normals)
Chains/Strings (Combos)
Special Attacks (Ex Moves)
Super Moves (The Moves with some some sort of Spectacle element to them)
And Ultra Moves (The Cinematic stuff used to end matches with)

Obviously that isn't enough to turn a Noob into Daigo over night but its significantly better than The Move List Interface in DoA, VF or Tekken which either just throws everything into one single List or only categorises them using literally the bare minimum or most obvious Traits:

Back Turned Strikes

A New player literally can't learn anything from such a simple Move List interface..... they'd literally be better off Button Mashing. The way the moves are Organised gives no clues as to which moves would be best used in which Scenarios.

Contrast that with Mortal Kombat which does give a Neat table detailing the properties of the moves like Its Frame Data, Hit Type (Lows and Overheads) and special traits (Floats, Captures, Teleports).

If DoA was given the Same treatment then the game wouldn't seem so daunting to new comers because the The Well Organised Move List Interface itself would make it obvious that its not necessary to know each and every move a character has.
As it it is right now.... all the Launchers, Guard Breaks, Stun Fillers, Power Blows/Launcher, Critical Bursts, Sabaki's, Low/High Crushes and Unblockable Attacks are thrown into the Strike Category with no added information about the move's effects and properties.


Oh... I got so caught up in my bitching and whining I totally forgot about the point of this thread..... So how do I go about Learning how to play a Character/Game...... I easy.... I Watch someone Else Do it and copy them :oops:. I usually learn from Combo Videos but Actual Match Footage between two good players (emphasis on the "Good") also works for me.

Even in DoA..... I don't think I've picked up any Character and learned them from Scratch.... all by myself. But then again I don't have any opponents to play against so for all I know I probably suck at DoA.
Last edited:

Matt Ponton

Staff member
Glen Burnie, MD
Main Character
Mai Shiranui
He said he’ll boot up games like tekken and doa and the moment he goes to training mode and sees a movelist with over 100 different attacks he gets overwhelmed. The first thing I told him was “just cause you have 100 moves doesn’t mean you have to use every single one in every match”
Yeah, but he can handle a Street Fighter move list ok? For Street Fighter you have more moves, not including character specific.

Standing normals are at least 6 moves
Jumping normals are at least 6 moves
Crouching normals are at least 6 moves
One "Super" Move.

That's at a base 19 moves.

But using SFIV for example:
Jumping normals change on direction of jump. So that's 18 moves depending on if you're jumping forward, neutral, or backwards.
You have an Ultra attack.
You have focus attacks (three levels of them each doing different things).
You have special normal attacks (Generally around 3 or 4)
You have special attacks that can vary with up to 4 different variations (light, med, heavy, ex) generally with 2 to 4 different special moves per character.
You have special attacks that can be done in the air, and are also direction and variation dependent.
Then you have throws as well.

So yeah, it's not much easier on the 2D front.

To answer your question though...

Assuming I understand the system, I look at what each move awards me. Particularly, I look at the hit effects of the moves and how they function with the system. So in a 3D fighter I generally start with "What moves hit mid?" then go on to "What moves launch?", "What moves are my fastest?" "What moves are my safest?". From there I generally have a handle on the moves and try linking hits into other hits or figuring out how to use the game system to my character's advantage using the tools I just used.

From there, once i've gotten a hold of "How to launch", I go through the moves again to see which ones relaunch or provide ways to maximize damage (and then later test maximize positioning/pressure).

Baron West

Despite the size of move lists in 3-D fighting games players have a tendency to use only a few moves in a match.

In DOA5LR a character like Kasumi(133 moves) or Nyotengu(72 moves) played competitive will probably not use more than 25 moves in a match if both players are going round for round. Both characters have intermediate level extensions off their strings. Akira(oddly listed at 78 moves though it is more) who relies on fewer moves to do more damage will probably not use more than 18 moves in a match.

Even in VF5FS Akira(112 moves) will probably only use 18-20 moves in a given match. Like DOA he uses a few moves to produce damaging juggles. Kage will use around 25 moves on average despite the fact that his movelist is around 207 moves. While Kage has a lot of transitions, unique movements, stances, and bt options in those stances, they are not necessarily practical in a match. He only needs a handful of moves to be effective.

In Tekken Mishimas are notorious for using a small set of moves, in older Tekkens they seldom used more than 6-8 moves because that's how strong their core moves were. In modern Tekken (eg TTT2) 15 moves is probably the most a competitive Heihachi(88 moves) will use. A character like Law(134 moves) who uses a simplistic core game will very rarely use over 20 moves in a match like Akira.

A complex character that attracts veterans or patient intermediates like Brad Wong(203 moves) in DOA, or Yoshimitsu(165 moves) in Tekken will likely use upwards of 30 moves. This is because these characters specialize in misdirection and use more moves and transitions to be less predictable. Both characters can be used effectively with fewer moves, but the type of players that these characters attract will gravitate towards using more moves.

A vast majority of the moves used in a 3-D fighting game will be pokes; safe(quick) moves and jabs, and they will be used repeatedly throughout a match because they are less of a risk to use. Character will also use their zoning tools to control space, best launchers/punishers, and any special movements available to them.

To someone new at 3-D fighters these massive move lists can be overwhelming. Originally when 3-D fighters came out in the 90s move lists were much smaller, the rosters were smaller, and the mechanics were simpler. However with each sequel characters are given more moves, new characters are added, and mechanics are added. With games that have been out for over two decades, there are not only more moves, but far more characters. This isn't too bad for someone who has been playing these games since their inception, or those who have some familiarity with the earlier games, but for someone completely new it takes a level of commitment to learn 3-D fighters at an intermediate level.

In Tekken Revolution the designers created critical moves; moves with flashy hit affects that randomly did more damage. They did this so that new players would know what moves they should use. This resulted in most new players completely spamming those moves, and foregoing the rest of the move lists. 3-D game designers don't typically put an emphasis on certain moves because they want players to explore the moves for themselves. This is tough for a beginner but not too difficult for a veteran.

My primary concerns with a character are;

What are their pokes/safe moves? Will they allow me to effectively create pressure?
Do any of their moves have evasive properties? Do they go under highs or over lows? Do they have an auto side step or back step?
How good are their lows? Are they fast, or are they slow and damaging? Do they knock down? Are they +frames on hit?
How good are their throws? Fast/Hard to Escape? How is the max damage? What position do they leave opponents in after?
What is the max range of their moves and what are the hit boxes?
What moves have special properties on counter hit? launcher? guaranteed string?
Do they have any special movements, counters or stance transitions?
Are they similar to other characters I've used before? Why or Why not?

The last concern is one of the most important. Myself and a lot of other veteran players have an easy time picking up characters because we can compare their moves to characters in the same game or even different games, which makes it easier to determine how useful a move is. Cumulative experience is a big help.

For beginners I would recommend watching match videos online. Learning by observation happens quickly. By watching what moves a player uses the most of, and figuring out why that players uses the moves, it will be easy to get a basic grasp of a character.

I hate to say this, but with the huge amount of online resources available in terms of match videos, combo videos, tutorials, and forums, it is much easier to learn 3-D fighters now compared to when they first came out despite the differences in roster and move list size. Originally all people had were their buddies, the arcade and maybe a strategy guide or gaming magazine. Online resources were very sparse. Picking up a basic level of proficiency with a character only takes time, and a lot less when one doesn't have to learn everything on their own.
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