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Cardinal Emu TACV Scripting Rules

August 24th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Two weeks ago, i recommended MacroLua as an emulator utility for scripting tool-assisted combos. I’m hoping that some of you were intrigued enough by its potential to give it a try. The following guidelines are intended to help you guys get started on the right foot.

Rule #1: Always leave a few empty frames of wait time at the beginning of your scripts.

Personally, 99% of my scripts begin with W10 as a rule. Weird input errors tend to happen if you start scripts with commands on the very first frame.

Generally you’ll want to leave at least 60 frames of idle wait time before each combo for video editing purposes. It’s a good idea to incorporate that into your script from the get-go. The last thing you want to do is spend an hour developing a combo around some random occurance only to discover that the whole thing falls apart when you move it back by 60 frames.

By the way, if a combo doesn’t work, try adjusting the wait number before the script. Sometimes random factors such as turbo speed, projectile slowdown, and superfreeze startup can disrupt a working script. If you’re starting from a fixed save state, the script will always produce the same result. After all, that’s the main advantage of using emulators.

Before you give up on a script, try increasing the wait number at the beginning to see if it changes anything. Some combos work on every frame, some work on every other frame, some on every four frames, some every twelve frames, and so on up to thousands.

ComboVid.com - Fighting Game Combos, Tutorials, Matches, Screenshots, and Strategy

Rule #2: Never use F or B. Always use L or R.

We use L/R when we’re playing on a physical controller; we should use L/R when we script combos. If you’re paying attention to what you’re scripting, you always know which way your characters are facing. Therefore F/B doesn’t save time unless you’re completely zoned out. Then that’s not about saving time, it’s about being lazy. (Don’t be lazy!)

The only time F/B gives you an advantage is during crossup situations, where it’s hard to figure out which way your character is facing. The problem is the emulator doesn’t always recognize exactly when the side switch occurs, so it’s not a precise method to begin with.

The bigger problem is that if you use F/B to execute a complicated crossup charge combo and someone asks for an explanation, you’ll have no idea what to tell them. You won’t be able to explain which way you executed the command, how many times you switched directions, or whether you had to use any tricks to pull it off. What’s the point of doing any of this if you don’t understand your own combos?

Rule #3: Always double-check your held directions for overlaps.

Just make sure that you’re never holding L and R (or D and U) at the same time. Most emulators don’t allow this anyway, but it’s better to make sure that your scripts are free of these mistakes. Obviously it’s physically impossible to hold opposite directions using a real arcade joystick, so most players would consider that cheating.

In general, always make sure to proofread every symbol of your final script one last time before you publish your work. It might take a while for those 200-hit Marvel combos, but better safe than sorry. The last thing you want to see is your combo video masterpiece ruined by one phony clip because you were too lazy to spend five minutes checking it.

Rule #4: Always make sure your combo is a real combo.

Usually all it takes is counting the hits and double-checking the combo counter. However some games (SF2CE, KoF95, etc.) don’t have combo counters while other games (SFA3, MK3, etc.) have unreliable combo counters. Air recovery, safe rolling, and other elaborate defense mechanisms are a nightmare to deal with, but you can’t simply ignore them.

Figure out everything your dummy opponent can do to prevent fake combos. Take my advice and do this as soon as you arrive at the second hit of your combo. Have your opponent start blocking before it connects. Make sure to adjust blocking directions whenever you perform overheads and crossups.

If you have to use any cheats whatsoever, it’s a good idea to keep a working version of the combo archived as a clean state/script with all cheats disabled. Even if it’s something as innocent as shutting off background music or selecting a stage, never assume that any cheat code won’t interfere with the combo unless you can prove it.

All i’m saying is to make sure you’re thorough enough so that if any skeptic requests your state/script for review, they aren’t able to discredit your combo.

Rule #5: If you utilize any form of tool-assistance, it should be noted in the video itself.

Hiding the fact that you used emulator tools is not only dishonest, but also counterproductive in that it gives naysayers more ammunition to use against tool-assisted video production. Regardless of popular opinion, you should always be striving for content so good that there’s no need to lie about how you accomplished it.

In other words, if you need to tell people that you executed everything manually in order to impress them, that’s a sign that your material is weak and you need to start over.

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  1. August 24th, 2010 at 23:12 | #1

    Turned out longer than i would have liked, but hopefully not too boring. I had to figure out all this stuff on my own, so hopefully it’ll help you guys avoid some headaches.

    At any rate, i’ll be talking more about emu scripting every other Tuesday, so even if it’s boring now, it should get interesting soon.

  2. CPS2
    August 24th, 2010 at 23:45 | #2

    AFAIK F and B are exactly the same as R and L for player 1, and L and R for player 2. So if you have player 1 on the right, using F will make them move backwards. If you’re charging on one side, jump over and charge from the other side in mid-air, I don’t think B will automatically pick up the point where you cross over. I think it’s only useful if player 1 stays on the left, and player 2 stays on the right, the whole time.

  3. August 25th, 2010 at 01:15 | #3

    Oh, i just meant in general and for future reference. It varies based on emulators, plus people always request support for F/B autodetect in every project of this kind that i’ve been involved in.

    My personal opinion is that users will have a better understanding of what’s actually going on if they stick to L/R. You know, kind of like the difference between manual and automatic transmission.

    Thinking in terms of F/B is more like writing out instruction guide commands, whereas thinking in terms of L/R forces you to be more visual and to picture what it is you’re simulating. Subtle difference maybe, but to me it’s a big one.

  4. phoenix
    August 25th, 2010 at 07:58 | #4

    Rule #4: Always make sure your combo is a real combo.

    Just wanted to comment on this for people who want to make combos for garou.

    Garou MOTW’s training mode is extremely glitchy when it comes to counterhits.

    Example the other day I did the following combo:

    j.BxxA, cl.D (1 hit) xx feint cancel xx cr. A xx qcb+B (whiff) > B.

    If you switch Counterhit on in trainingmode, even though this is a legit combo, if you whiff a move in between, for some reason hitting them in the combo again will register as a counterhit. So the B after whiff qcb+B hits as a counterhit. In a true match it would not.

    I guess it therefore counts as a one of the few instances of a ‘training-mode only’-combo that doesn’t involve infinite meter, which is kind of cool on its own, but very important to be aware of.

    Anyway, I’m really looking forward to your emu scripting tuesdays Maj!

  5. August 25th, 2010 at 09:45 | #5

    Yup, that’s a major one. Thanks for mentioning it. The other main ones are SFA3 juggle combos that can be tech flipped, Marvel OTG combos that are rollable, and Mortal Kombat.

    With SFA3, you can avoid the issue by choosing a Classical Mode character as the opponent. They can’t tech flip, so they automatically become invincible when a combo becomes flipable. The problem is Classical Mode characters have no meter, so they’re not an option when you need a Blanka watermelon setup or a V-Ism double fireball setup.

    There’s some grey area concerning techable throws, but personally i don’t mind seeing those used in combos as much as flipable or rollable combos.

    Btw i added some color to the article. I hope it helps make it seem less dry.

  6. N00b_Saib0t
    August 25th, 2010 at 10:37 | #6

    in a way i understand the point about flipable/rollable/blockable combos, but IMO there is nothing wrong with it as long as you point it out. you see this a lot in mortal kombat videos, the word “BLOCKABLE” appears on screen during a combo to tell you that this one is just there to look freaking awesome. on that note, if its not a “real” combo, it better be freaking awesome. just like you dont want j.hp->s.hp->hp fireball in a TACV, you dont want 10 minutes of (insert character with a pop-up chain) doing variations of their infinite in a blockable combo vid, this was cool in 2001 when the discovery was new and again in 2003 when it was discovered that sheeva and the robots cant block it, now those videos show their age and there is nothing special about them. here’s an example of what i mean in this johnny cage MK2 combo vid. once he gets to the ball breaker combos he makes it clear that these are blockable. they include OTG ball breakers which in themselves are blockable, as well as MK2 ignoring grounded hitstun(try it with jabs, you can block after the first one, only MK3 chain combos are immune to this) so the first hit after a ball breaker is always blockable.


    i also found an alpha 3 video on youtube a while back, and while i dont know much about alpha 3, i knew the combos could be teched because i know the basic rules of crouch canceling, walk canceling and neutral stance. he had some cool stuff in there, and the video was honestly fun to watch, but it felt cheapened by the guy claiming again and again in comment wars that his combos couldnt be flipped and that he was legit. i dont know why people do that.

  7. August 25th, 2010 at 11:41 | #7

    I like inescapable combos better, but i don’t have a problem with flipable combos either – i just want them kept away from unflipable ones. I always thought Alpha 3 would be a much better “combo game” if the combo counter changed colors once a combo became flipable.

    Unfortunately the game doesn’t provide an easy universal solution, so it’s up to the video maker to label them accordingly. Or better yet, keep them in separate videos. That means it’s up to them to verify which combos are escapable and which aren’t.

    I’m not an SFA3 expert, although i do know a fair amount about the game. I try to enjoy every video i watch, but when a combo gets so complicated that i can’t tell whether it’s flipable, that kinda ruins it for me. I’d much rather watch a video entitled “SFA3 Flipable Combos” than a video where they’re all mixed and i’m forced to guess.

  8. N00b_Saib0t
    August 25th, 2010 at 12:33 | #8

    does alpha anthology have training mode? if it does, it probably has an option for the dummy to flip like the GBA and PSP versions (probably PSX, DC, and saturn too). and alpha anthology uses the arcade version to boot, meaning none of the juggle/custom changes found in other console versions. that would resolve the problem with flippable alpha 3 combos.

  9. August 25th, 2010 at 13:19 | #9

    Yup, except for two problems:

    1) It’s not emulated so no MacroLUA assist, and it’s Training Mode only so no stage select.

    2) We’re still not 100% sure whether SFA3’s Training Mode autoflip can be trusted every time. Neutral flip is broken for sure, but forward/backward flip seem to be reliable.

    I’d be fine with that risk if programmable controllers were more accessible, but nobody’s making them right now which means they’re impossible to find. So SFAA isn’t really an option as far as this subject is concerned.

  10. August 25th, 2010 at 15:47 | #10

    is neutral flip broken? I always thought you had to wait longer if you wanted to neutral flip

  11. August 25th, 2010 at 16:14 | #11

    Training Mode automatic neutral flip stops working if the opponent is too low to the ground. It’s basically useless for that reason.

  12. N00b_Saib0t
    August 25th, 2010 at 17:36 | #12

    oh, bummer. i thought ps2 emulation was farther along, and i didnt think about no stage select or dummy reliability.

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