Good Game episode 2 part 2
Friday, July 23, 2010 at 8:06PM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Announcements, Super Smash Brothers

Part 2 of episode 2. 


Myth 2.2 Brawl generally has fewer actions per minute (lower APM).

This myth is also difficult to prove/disprove because it really all depends on the character, the situation, and most importantly the player. In general, I can say that when you’re in a combo in Melee, the only thing you can do is DI, while in Brawl after a hit you can typically DI, air dodge, and/or attack out of the hit stun. So when on the defensive, you’ll probably have a higher APM in Brawl than in Melee. And when on offense, Melee probably has the higher APM. When recovering in Brawl, multiple air dodging, footstooling, and a slower fall speed allows players to generally do more in the air and still recover. *Check out this extreme video example. Brawl Duelist* This probably gives the edge to Brawl when recovering as far as APM goes. See how complicated things are getting? How all of these considerations weigh out exactly will require a lot more data.

*show website APM thread*

Speaking of data, a group of smashers over at created this thread for analyzing and posting the APM of different players. Some players have been clocked at over 300 actions per minute! That’s pretty crazy. Moving on...

Knowledge. LTM. STM. MM. Analyze. Code/Decode. Channels.

Knowledge the skill of cognition.

The following are the subcategories or facets of knowledge skill. LTM (long term memory) is our memorized, encyclopedic knowledge. STM (short term memory) is the temporary and smaller memory that can store about 7 plus/minus 2 bits of information actively. Then there’s MM (muscle memory), or learned sequences of actions. Code/decode is how we can expand the use of our LTM and STM memories by compressing and decompressing large amounts of data into small amounts. This is also known as chunking. And channels is the ability to process multiple independent information streams without crossing them up.

Most smashers that mentioned knowledge skills have expressed an equality between Brawl and Melee. Both games contain more data  than any one is ever likely to memorize. And this isn’t even considering all of the emergent data like the metagame or specific player playstyles. This is more of an issue of complexity, so I’ll save the long explanation for the next episode.

But before I move on, I will say that with a super complex game like Smash, LTM and MM are the facets of knowledge skill that are exercised the most. Basically, until you learn/memorize the different strengths, animations, ranges, timings, sounds, etc. of each character’s moves and each stage element, you can’t really form a highly effective strategy. Learning to play Smash at a high level involves a great deal of learning all the intricacies of your character and all the other characters in the game. This basically means you have to practice a lot like a musical instrument or study it like you would any subject at school. Only then can you battle knowing all the “rules,” so to speak. Like LTM, we use muscle memory so we can execute our moves correctly without taxing our STM or conscious thought. Without Muscle Memory, the tax of playing at a high technical level (dexterity) would be too great.

Adaptation. Tier 1, 2, and 3.

Not to oversimplify, but the basics of adaptation can be expressed easily. Changing when change is needed. Or if you prefer, changing just for the heck of it. The quicker you change and the smarter changes you make, the better you are at adapting. I’d say that adaptation is a core part of any action game, but especially fighters considering the triangularity or the interplay loop between attacking, blocking, and grabbing. Adapting in anticipation to counter an opponent’s move is generally referred to as reading the opponent.

*show the skill spectrum image*

There are 3 tiers or levels of adaptation that increase in complexity.
Tier 1 adapation involves making adjustments within a single core skill (DKART)
Tier 2 adapation involves augmenting the lack of one core skill with another.
Tier 3 adaptation involves adjusting to an entire shift in the spectrum. This typically occurs when the game rules change or when the game speed changes.

Myth 2.3 Because Brawl is slower and/or less technical than Melee, Brawl has more mind games.

Many have expressed that Brawl has more mind games than Melee because it has a lack of technical skill. Others have expressed that because Brawl is slower, it has more mind games. I don’t think this is the case at all. The ability for a player to create mindgames, or more specifically mixups, isn’t directly tied to game speed. So, we have to look at other factors like mechanics design and gameplay dynamics to understand how mixups are made. Until I cover such topics later, I can’t prove or disprove this myth. But...

Reflex. Base Reflex. Stim/response curve. Peripheral vision. Dynamic Visual Acuity. Momentary Vision. Eye Movement.

*use white board*

Reflex the skill of perception.
Most are familiar with the basic reflex test. A light goes off and you must hit a button as quickly as possible in response. There’s so much more to reflex skill, and It only gets more interesting from here.

The more stimuli someone is required to look out for and the more responses they have to choose between,  the slower our reaction times become. All of this has been scientifically proven. See the links below for more information. So the second facet of reflex skill is a measure of how much slower your reaction times get when the tests become increasingly more complex.

*show flash focus booklet*
Taking a page from Nintendo’s Flash Focus, Peripheral vision is a measure of how well you can see outside of your hard focus. Dynamic Visual Acuity (DVA) measures your ability to track moving objects. Momentary vision measures how much you can see in an instant. And eye movement tests you ability to rapidly change focus between different objects.

Game speed and pacing are a seemingly simple but very complex concepts. And I think they’re best addressed from a reflexive point of view. So let’s say my average base reflex is 12 frames. This means that I can’t react or actively see anything that happens in the game that’s faster than .2 seconds. Because many attacks and moves in Melee and Brawl become active in under 12 frames, using these moves makes the game speed or pace faster than I can react to. Likewise, in a situation where I have to do something specific if A happens and something else if B happens, my reaction times increase to 21 frames. And if I’m stressed, overloaded with information, or in the middle of doing something else, this number can increase to the point where I’m  practically blind. Looking at things this way, it’s more accurate to say that the speed and pace of a match is mostly determined by characters, players, and playstyles.

In general, the fast falling speed, L-canceling, wave sliding, and the overall fast movement allows players to push Melee to faster pace than Brawl especially in the area between the ground (or platform) and the height of a short hop. Like I said when discussion APM, it’s not that Melee maintains this speed at all times. When recovering or when in certain combos the speed slows down somewhat, which I think is a good thing. But more on that later.

Timing. Static. External. Internal. Accel/Decel. Complex. Tracks.

*use a metronome analog and digital*
*use violin*

Timing the skill of... time.
Static timing involves executing actions to a steady rhythm or to a unchanging rhythmic sequence. Many combos and follow ups are based on the same action to action static timing. Pushing yourself to follow up moves as quickly as possible helps establish patterns of static timing. The timing of individual moves are also mostly static. External timing involves extrapolating the timing according to visual cues. This is the standard kind of timing for an action video game. In other words, you see something coming and you do something about it before it gets you.  Internal timing involves executing actions based on a mental timer (ie. no visual, auditory, or physical cues). *perfect shield a falcon punch without looking or hearing*  Acceleration/Deceleration involves speeding up or slowing down the timing of actions or sequences of actions. This happens organically as you close in the distance between yourself and a spamming opponent. Complex timings involve executing syncopated, jazzy, irregular, and/or multi layered timings. Tracks, like mental channels, measures your ability to keep multiple timers and timings straight in your head.

*scene change*
*use internet screenshots from*
Overall, Brawl and Melee feature a wide variety of timings for attacks and other moves. Because both games run in 60 frames per second, we can use frames as an equivalent measure of time. Both games have moves that hit in 1 frame all the way up to 120+ frames. As far as variety goes, Brawl has the edge on Melee. Moves like Diddy’s bananas, Snakes upsamsh/C4/grenades/nakita/dsmash, Pits infinitely looping arrows and Wings of Icarus, Rob’s Gyro, Robo beam charge, and Robo burner, Wario Waft charge and Bike add more lengthier timer to combat, which expands the upper range of the timing skill ceiling.

*scene change*

Now, this is just a very basic over view of the DKART system. Remember, everything about the DKART system and the skill specturm is covered in great detail on my blog. More importantly, my brother and I have actually designed 4 games that test your raw/core skills. I highly encourage you to download the games, get your highest scores, and send me your results. It should give you great insight to your own abilities and possible hidden biases. PC only. Sorry Macs. Links below.

Next up we’re tackling the epic age old debate of complexity versus depth.
Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel. Hang tight in the meantime.
Article originally appeared on Critical-Gaming Network (
See website for complete article licensing information.