TiZ

Competitive standard: Pushing for acceptability of single-screen near vs. far

8 posts in this topic

I was really excited for Pokkén Tournament DX to come out on account of the fact that it would allow single console play between two-players. Split-screen mode sucks a lot, mostly because of how performance tanks on it, the rest is matters of taste in regards to how utterly ass the UI is. This past Saturday, I brought my Switch with me to a tournament for Pokkén casuals. My friend and I played a fairly long set between matches in our other games, using the near vs. far mode. I volunteered to be on the far end, and found it took me virtually no mental effort to adjust my inputs to play that way. My friend played some casuals with a newbie and he didn't have trouble adjusting either. Of course, at duel phase, everything feels normal and fine for both players.

Of course, there are potential problems. You can see each other's assist selection screen. You can see each other's held charges. Some attacks on the near end can obscure the character at the far end during field. However, I like the psychological effect that is imposed by visible charges, and obscuring a character in field is actually bad for both players (meanwhile, with two separate screens, you now can't see the other guy and the other guy can see you). These are hard downsides to some. However, it's a matter of a tradeoff. And I think this is way, way, way better than the alternative.

 

I don't know about you guys, but mandatory LAN mode is single-handedly what killed the Pokkén scene in my area. Think about it: you need two people who like the game enough and like the scene enough to consistently show up for weeklies or monthlies. Luckily, our arcade had a spare Wii U that allowed us to sidestep that issue. But then you still needed two monitors and some sort of networking setup. I donated an old router to the arcade after setting it up with Tomato and multiple VLANs to sidestep the possibility of wrongly-paired setups. This was better than making sure to have a cross-over cable and two compatible ethernet to USB adapters. And then stomping all over ethernet settings for people who might use ethernet at home.

 

All that for a game that was extremely niche. Smash players dropped it as soon as they found out it was nothing like smash, and traditional FGC players barely held interest in it. You could single-setup for casuals if you had one dude willing to compromise on controller preference (me) and you were both willing to deal with 30FPS. Soul Calibur V lived longer than Pokkén because even though there were so few people carrying interest for it in my scene, any one of us could get sets running for it on our own. Our airdasher scene was happy to adopt Pokkén with me as the organizer, but in practice, I dreaded running Pokkén because I would go through a whole lot of shit and hardly anyone would play it. I'm often the only guy bringing a Tekken 7 setup to my weeklies, and that helps to sustain interest and continued competitive growth. If I can't do that with Pokkén, it's in trouble.

 

Pokkén DX is out and we finally have single-setup two-player. Finally. FINALLY! And there's ad-hoc wireless, that's fine too. But I found out about something called "Fixed Battle Arena" when I watched SCR footage. Hey, I want that in my local games! ...Wait a second, it's not in local battle. It's not in wireless battle. Where the hell is it? Turns out it's in LAN battle, which is flabbergastingly still a thing. After all the effort to get single-screen 2P viable. After the Switch emphasized ad-hoc wireless as a console-level feature. Why the hell does LAN mode still exist? When I discovered it on Serebii, I found out its activation was just as convoluted, just as much of a pain in the ass as it was before. Why? Seriously, why?

 

Is this the competitive standard? Is this going to be mandatory for people to consider attending? Because guess what? I'm not going through all that shit again. I'm running my scene on near-vs-far, because as it stands right now, I'm the only person driving interest. I can get people playing the game at weeklies and monthlies, and I can get them to play and grow the scene, but the moment it becomes mandatory to have two setups, the scene will die the same fiery death it did before.

I'm going to say this again. I am not running LAN mode for my scene. Period. Non-negotiable. And yes, I know I'm pretty much starting a fight by posting this. The question is, is the side that is okay with that going to win, or are we going to let Pokkén die its second death and become relegated once again to an online-only game?

Edited by TiZ

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I'm a little hesitant to reply because the way you write makes me wonder if you want to start a fight. I don't—I agree with at least 90% of what you wrote. So here goes nothing.

 

You're right about how much hassle it is to set up LAN mode. Tournament organizers can tell you horror stories. I bet you most of the community would love it if it were easier to use: if it were accessible from the main menu, if it played nicer with your network settings, and so on. Those would all be great improvements to the game. Unfortunately, they're out of our control as players to make happen.

 

Despite all those flaws, I think LAN mode will remain the gold standard for competitive Pokkén, for the simple reason that the game was designed with the expectation that each player has their own screen, either in the arcade or on the Wii U gamepad. Because of that, any single-screen mode is necessarily going to be a compromise, and top players don't want to play with compromises.

 

Like you, I prefer the near-vs-far mode for single-screen, and I had no problems adapting my inputs. I've played plenty of games as the far player. It was very good, but it's still not perfect. I had problems getting the timing and spacing right on some of my FP moves, like the Fire Punch follow-up to Fireball. That's a relatively small handicap—but any handicap is unacceptable in top-level play.

 

But just because LAN mode is the gold standard doesn't mean it's the only thing you should do. Personally, I have no problem with smaller tournaments saying "Sorry, we only have the resources to run single-screen," and I'd still be happy to attend them. That's what we did at the launch day Boston local. This included a bunch of folks who are used to LAN play, and even we all agreed that playing single screen was way better than not playing. So personally I'd encourage you to keep doing what you're doing.

 

My only real suggestion would be that you set expectations up front in the rules. Different players have different split screen preferences. This is something we had to hash out for each game at our local, and that was probably the most frustrating part of the whole thing. Cut out room for debate. Establish how you pick the far player.

 

Also, a tip: in single-screen mode, you can use the Y and X buttons to choose a support without your opponent knowing what you picked. Just press the button shown under the support you want.

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Hey man. I was in a weird headspace when I started the topic. I don't really want to get into a fight with anyone, but I did end up getting into a fight with a Missouri TO on Discord not long after I posted this about this very thing. His stance was "you do it right, no exceptions" and obviously that doesn't fly in some scenes for reasons that should be obvious but somehow aren't. There was one other dude who legitimately suggested I buy a second Switch and second copy of the game, but that is straight up insane so I just kind of... ignored him. Anyways, I'm exhausted after dealing with them, and not willing to fight here.

If it becomes viable for us to do LAN mode, we'll do LAN mode. But right now, it's not viable because we currently lack resources and interest, and the only way to cultivate interest is to get people playing it whatever way we can right now. What did you guys end up doing to decide who plays on the far end? I've been at con tournaments in the Wii U gen that ran using a single setup, and there would often be people who would just volunteer for the gamepad.

I feel like if you could voluntarily go to the far end in single-player or even online modes, it would make near/far more competitively viable because you could get used to it, same as how Tekken 7 lets you pick which side you play on for every mode. Another thing that would help would be if you had a setting to turn off the display of held charges (vibrate the controller instead, maybe). Good to know about secretly choosing a support though, didn't know that.

I no longer want to make near-far the competitive standard, but I need it to be something that's okay to run with so that scenes can grow.

Edited by TiZ

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Hey, TO over in Omaha here.

 

Honestly, for locals, definitely do whatever is going to best for the scene to grow.  If the equipment is a concern and single screen is the way to get it rolling,  great. The most important thing is literally just getting seats in a chair and playing.  That is a goal as a TO.  Locals can 100% do what they want.

 

Just know that larger events (majors and such) will run LAN setups, as it is indeed the competitive standard.  Sure, it kinda stinks that it takes more resources to pull it off, but it has worked in the past and there are reasons that you have already noted to why they set it up as such.

 

Hoping things go well in your area!  Hopefully we can help out with any logistic issues that may arise. =)

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On 10/9/2017 at 4:10 PM, TiZ said:

What did you guys end up doing to decide who plays on the far end?

 

In the games I played, I just volunteered to be the far end. I figured that would be fairer, since Charizard is more likely to obscure a far opponent than the other way around.

 

On 10/9/2017 at 4:10 PM, TiZ said:

I feel like if you could voluntarily go to the far end in single-player or even online modes, it would make near/far more competitively viable because you could get used to it…. Another thing that would help would be if you had a setting to turn off the display of held charges (vibrate the controller instead, maybe).

 

Agreed those would all be helpful changes too, but sadly they're also outside our control.

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Thanks for the support and reassurance, Fumu.

Hmm. I guess for now if I end up finding a conflict where two people both want near or both are equally okay with far, we'll just 20XX it and decide by Rock-Paper-Scissors. Or maybe it'd be equally fair to just give far to whoever sat on the 2P side seat, haha.

Edited by TiZ

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I'm one of those anti-single screen people... competitively. I played with my husband and he haaaaaated being on the far side, so I was like "fine, I'll play on it." It wasn't unbearable, but both my mains have useful f.ys and b.ys. My muscle memory wasn't cooperating on some of those. Like, as Weavile, you can angle j.y, the distance of ice traps is wonked up, and my biggest whine is that I was messing up the very basic b.y into Knock Off combo because it was completely backwards. Also, as I'm still learning Darkrai, remembering that Nasty Plot and hands of death are backwards threw me off, especially since Nasty Plot isn't something that's angled and thus "obvious" that it should be backwards. I would argue that seeing charge moves adds more strategy to the game, but it isn't fair since I never utilized them well.

 

*deep breath* That all being said, single screen is wonderful for budding locals. New players probably aren't bothered at all by learning the game from two perspectives as they don't have anything in muscle memory yet. They're just seeing how rad the Pokemon are in this game. And I certainly had fun doing an accidental synchronized hands of death to Nasty Plot vs. my husband in our casual Darkrai ditto.

 

And as far as my gripes (and others') about practicing on the far side... it suddenly dawned on me that I believe you can just go into training mode and set yourself as the second player. :0 So if there were a push for single screen, I would look into that way more.

 

tl;dr the veterans are not ready for single screen to be competitive/ at majors, imo, but I give two thumbs up if it saves locals

Edited by PaperSak

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I know you can control player two in training by using a second controller. That might help for practicing stuff on far, that's a good idea.

I appreciate your support of using near/far at locals.

I honestly wish split screen mode was just... way better, though. It's really under-designed. Like, to the point that it's clearly rendering two separate 720p scenes for viewports 1/4 the size, what's the point of that? What's the point of showing two duel phases? What's the point of showing cinematic moves (grabs, supers) twice? I would personally fix split screen by using two tall viewports in field phase, slightly zoomed out for each player so not to totally kill peripheral vision, and then show only one duel phase with the camera perpendicular to the plane the players move on as opposed to skewed slightly Tales of Xillia-style. Show only one scene for grabs. Only one scene for supers. The main bad thing about this would be loss of peripheral vision which would make stuff like Sceptile's jump Y stronger.

Playing this game on one screen is a hard problem to solve.

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