Posted by: darthmeanie | June 18, 2010

Presentation — Expressing Your Ideas

So Darth Meanie is posting an article now, huh? Well, after having very limited access and basically being a lame duck for a week and a half, it’s time for me to step back up again and get some important stuff done.

What Presentation Is

Presentation is one of the ideas in movesets that we don’t really address to often. “We’re not making e-cards,” as MW often reminds us, and accusing a moveset of poor presentation feels like a slight to the moveset, as if we’re disqualifying an olympic athlete on a technicality. However, Presentation is important as part

To most people, presentation is the same thing as organization, simply making a moveset look good enough to read. That’s the wrong way to look at it though. Presentation is everything that isn’t an actual part of the moveset itself. It’s how you actually get your ideas across, and it’s just as important as the actual concepts you’re trying to convey.

Presentation, Flow, and Specials

That may sound strange, but you can see just how important it is in how movesets evolved around Make Your Move 6. Early in MYM history, the general philosophy we had said that the Standard A moves came first in a moveset, followed by the tilts, smashes, and then the specials. But today, practically every moveset starts with the Specials as the first move, and it’s practically unheard of to do otherwise. Why was there such a shift?

As our playstyles became more expansive and more complicated, we had more ideas to express at once. Specials became more and more important as foundations for our movesets. The Specials section became the introduction for our playstyles, defining the moveset and the character to the reader.

When MasterWarlord made Dingodile, the Down Special, Swirling Crystals, became the anchor to which the rest of the moves attached themselves. Because he put it at the beginning of the moveset, the rest of the attacks were able to refer back to it, and gave the reader something to define him as. Before you even got to the playstyle section, everyone knew, more or less, how Dingodile played. If Swirling Crystals had not been at the beginning of the moveset, the moveset wouldn’t have been as good because the rest of the moves wouldn’t have made sense without that context. Even a brilliantly written playstyle section wouldn’t have made it work as well.

It’s a concept you can see in almost every modern moveset. Even movesets that don’t start with the Specials section usually have a reason to do so, such as Sloth and Hariyama, both of which still establish their character with their very first moves. Of course, this is all old news to most veterans, but the point still stands. The choice to put Specials first was a design decision, but it affects the flow of everything that follows.

Presentation Successes and Failures

When it comes to me and presentation, you have to look no further than what is one of my most experimental and controversial movesets, Rider. In order to try to better express the flow of my moveset, I completely disregarded conventional organization, with no respect to move order or to headers. My goal with Rider was to make the entire moveset one giant playstyle section. While I didn’t realize it at the time, since we had still not clearly defined it, my goal was to maximize the flow of the moveset.

In part, I was successful. By completely reordering the moves, I was able to create the most flowing set I’ve ever made, and I had a crystal-clear, slowly built up playstyle. On the other hand though, my alternate format had a number of drawbacks.

The lack of headers made it very difficult to keep track inside the moveset. It would be difficult to stop reading Rider for a while, and then pick back up later while maintaining a sense of where you were, even with the copious images I put in to try to lessen the wall of text effect. More than that though, several complained that by not differentiating between one move and the other, it was difficult to really remember them all, and as a result all of the moves seemed less interesting.

My writing style also suffered because the moveset was so difficult to write. With all of the transitions and complex links between different ideas, editing in new moves or changing how things worked was a monstrous task, which alienated the readers even more.

If Rider had used a conventional formatting, her reaction would have been completely different. Whether she’d have been better or worse received, I can never really no, but I know that I could have expressed my ideas better in her.

Why It Matters

When you get right down to it, in the end, we aren’t making movesets. None of us are. We’re making the ideas for a moveset. That distinction may not seem like much, but really, it’s everything. We’ve moved away from copious amounts of detail; nobody cares exactly how many frames a move takes, or what the priority is. What people remember is the playstyle, the flow, and how all the moves fit together.

And since we can’t play with our creations, fine-tune ideas until they work, what we have to do is simply show what works, what we want to work, and what our vision is of that moveset. And the reader cannot know exactly what is in your mind, only what they understand from what you said. In other words, a connection between moves only exists if you say it’s there.

So is this a talk about presentation, or about flow? To me, they’re actually really closely connected. How you present your moveset shapes how it flows just as much as the moves themselves do. It takes a good idea to make flow of course, but it also needs a writer who can bring out all of their ideas.

It’s a massive part of my own strategy; I try to make sure that all of my moves build off of one another. I use the move description not just to list the effects of the move, but to describe its context. This isn’t just limited to move order though; in Mario & Luigi I changed my writing style to augment the idea of teamwork in the set with a humorous, high energy tone. In VideoMan.EXE I described the moveset from the perspective of a filmmaker working with actors, trying to help establish the idea behind the playstyle of putting together a successful film.

Presentation is a part of movesetting, and if you try to ignore it, you won’t be able to bring out your ideas to their full potential. A good presentation will never be able to hold up a bad moveset on its own, but a bad presentation will hold back a good moveset’s ideas. Presentation is the way you express your moveset, so make certain that you express them as clearly and as best you can.

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Responses

  1. agreed on so many points. There’s no reason to post a moveset unless we want other people to enjoy it, and for others to enjoy our ideas, they need to be actually told what they are, in a way that isn’t going to repel them.

    None of us are paid or forced to read movesets, so we’re every bit justified in having a sore opinion based off of the experience of reading a poorly presented moveset.

    You can’t measure an idea, doing so is literally retarded. I’ve probably got at least 2 dozen individual ideas for movesets floating around right now, but they are all entirely worthless unless they are actually conveyed (actually posting a moveset is a form of presentation in itself)

  2. I don’t anyone’s gonna disagree with the overall point of this article. Heck, I can bring up a recent personal example: Salamence’s UTilt used to be at the END of the “standards” section until I realized that nobody would know what the heck I’m talking about when I mention Steel Wing. Of course, what consitutes “good presentation” is in the eye of the beholder.

    Personally, I find a set with a simple, more “serious” presentation such as a Warlord moveset more enjoyable to read than a set with a bunch of flashy graphics since it means that the set has enough confidence in its ideas that it doesn’t need to dress them up with a bunch of bells and whistles for them to appreciable, which in turn means I get to focus on simply reading the moveset and imaging how fun this character would be to have in Brawl.

    I also hardly ever notice when it’s a special writing style in a moveset unless its blatant like with Negative Man. Otherwise I’d rather see the personality of the moveset’s creator shine through in the set. When I read a Rool set, I know it’s a Rool set. When I read a Warlord set, Twilight set, MT set, Plorf set, blahblahblah set, I can be like “Yeah, Good ol’ *name* and his *personality quirk that shows in the writing*”.

    And since most MYMers present stuff like this (though I don’t think they realize it all the time, lol), I end up liking a lot of sets. No wonder I have given out perhaps the highest number of positve comments in MYM history, lawl.

    So, I agree with this article, and I think most veterans are already subconciously good at it in thier own way. We just don’t always know what kinds of presentation we each prefer cause nobody ever talks about it. (chew)

  3. One more thing:

    “In other words, a connection between moves only exists if you say it’s there.”

    I do agree with you to an extent, considering the entire point of a playstyle section is to show everyone how you intend the character to be played.

    However, like Zook says, I really like to be able to come up with my own ideas on how a characters’ moves might work. This is the reasoning behind my “keep the overall playstyle of the set hidden until the section come along” presentation that Macho Man and Axel Gear took.

    It’s like a mystery novel! You see the evidence (the moves), come up with a suspect playstyle, then at the end you get to see how accurate your predictions were about how the character plays! And seeing how popular these 2 sets are, I suppose it’s a good presentational style. (h)

    NOBODY ELSE CAN USE IT THOUGH! 😡

  4. “In other words, a connection between moves only exists if you say it’s there.”

    I can only assume DM wasn’t being literal here, but there are plenty of ways to show a connection, without explicitly stating it exists. And likewise, being TOO up-front with your interactions can actually cause the reader to forget, or otherwise misinterpret, them.

    Edit: ¬_¬ I hope I’m not being accused of using “bells and whistles” to divert attention away from the moveset. I use presentation for establishing themes and pacing, along with the general aesthetic “feel” of the character themselves and the context I intend the moveset to be read in. I use them with every intention ‘except’ distraction

  5. I like most of your sets Jun, so I don’t think they’ve got a “bells and whistles” reliance thing going on. Although my favorite of yours is Joe who’s got one of the simplest presentations of your sets. (smirk)

  6. It’s a good article, but I side with HR in disagreeing. Movesets are just that, movesets – not a powerpoint presentation, or a resume to send a game developer. At best, a presentation is so subtle and gives so much, that it’s practically unnoticeable and fits the theme of the moveset. Junahu has achieved this several times with movesets like Cutesy, Hector and Doppelori, but most people will settle for much less.

    On the factoid, “a connection between moves only exists if you say it’s there,” I disagree. Even with Brawl movesets, some very generic inputs can be put together to create combinations and this is almost a science. You can, likewise, easily predict what moves will go together like that. Only with interactions like, Empoleon, for example, does the author need to express what happens, because these are in part, moves themselves.

    I do see where you’re coming from – the expressive moveset in its SWF form is the only physical form of it, but that’s a limitation. As I’ve said in the chatroom numerous times now, the presentation is just the shell to keep the actual moveset intact, whereby it obviously couldn’t exist on SWF otherwise. Even the worst movesets, with all-white font and no image, are organised in a small way. Formatting is, in fact, organising, so every moveset has a form of organisation.

    To put a long story short, we’re simply moving along with the times with presentation. It’s a contest, presentation makes our sets prettier and thus more attractive to vote. The same thing applied to my very first moveset, Vivi, or even Yamazaki – as much a failure as that was. It’s almost irrelevant to the set, how good the organisation is – it’s pretty much an ‘extra,’ just an extended form that you can express through B coding.

  7. At first I thought presentation was the headers, but then I delved through a bit and though. . ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I get it now. The writing.

    HOW ONE PRESENTS THEIR IDEAS IN THEIR OWN OPINIONS. THAT’S IT.

    When you put it like; Dingodile’s Crystals can be referred back to, I totally get the point.

    This is a great article, well done darth meanie!

  8. In all technical terms, organization is an extra. How you present the set is an extra. In an ideal world, perhaps.

    But as has been said, nobody PAYS us to do this, and poorly formatted, poorly presented movesets are rather a pain to read. It’s why the MYM 4 Top 50 was built on “the-bigger-the-better” logic; nobody read these sets entirely and felt obligated to vote for them anyway.

    And especially in today’s MYMing climate, when fewer and fewer people feel like they can approach sets, presentation is more crucial than ever before. meanie said it best: we’re not making movesets, much though we’d like to. We’re making the ideas, and showmanship plays a part in presenting ideas.

    [Also I was the first one to really argue for specials-first (A)]


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