Posted by: Smash Daddy | June 18, 2011

The Easy Pitfalls of Intermediate Moveset Making

An Intermediate, Or an Advanced?

Dithering on my old flow article, I found that it didn’t mention a significant part of a growing member of Make Your Move. I believe that coming to understand flow marks the evolution of an intermediate – someone who understands what makes a good set – into an advanced set maker – someone who understands why a good set works like it does. This phase is critical in the development of a member, and yet it has received little-to-no acknowledgement. At a time like this, when we have so many newcomers, it seemed appropriate to make an article like this to better empathise with what they’re going through and perhaps help them in improving their own way of doing things. Lets get one thing straight – everyone does sets different. However, there are common mistakes made by everyone who has gotten past the early stages of set making.

 The Details

This is an obvious one. When commentary points to how short or understated a set is and even sometimes ask for more details itself, the maker of the set will think that this is the focal point of Make Your Move – that we’re just peddling away with details to make our sets look bigger. And that is indeed where many of them make a misstep, in cramming in as many details as possible. We have the sets from those who never advanced past this stage – like PK-ow or Meadow – which included entries nigh unreadable due to the sheer amount of detail involved. As we all know, detail isn’t a bad thing and is the basis for much needed description to make inputs unique. What the newer members sometimes misunderstand is that detail isn’t just for detail’s sake, low detail represents the lack of substance as a whole, but is far easier to just cast off as “no detail” or “needs more details,” almost as easy as saying a set “needs to flow more.”

Far Too Much Information

I know Junahu is going to hate me for using this as an example, but it is rather perfect in illuminating exactly the mindset newcomers can find themselves in. Will & Freedan completely alienated most readers with its overly long descriptions of, well, everything that it possibly could talk about, even going so far as to talk about the various animations, bullet pointed inputs and a lot of generic attacks which don’t seem worth all of the expository text preceding them. Even if this set is a good example of a set document you’d see passed around Sora Ltd concerning real sets, it misses the point of Make Your Move entirely – fun, hypothetical projects that aren’t tied down by realism or a mandate to create an actual set. What do we attain through displaying all of these pointless details in our sets? As Will & Freedan proved, very little feedback and a muddled playstyle which seems all the more confused simply due to how the set is laid out. PK-ow’s failure to connect with other members with his big project seemed to me to be a big part of why he left the contest, the worst case scenario of when a member goes in the wrong direction set-wise.

The Shallow Playstyle

This is one that is perhaps most to blame on the dealings of the more experienced Make Your Movers and their effects on the newer members, alongside a lot of confusing commentary. The basic suggestion of, “needs more playstyle” generally will lead to a nodding response, but will not actually be correctly received. Unless you are experienced with making sets with a playstyle, the glorious game itself – Super Smash Bros. Brawl – becomes the basis for what a playstyle is. By this logic, Ike’s “long charge times” and “punishable speed” constitute a playstyle, with the ‘concepts’ being his super powerful forward smash and how some of his moves act slightly different to other characters’ moves. The Brawl playstyles are terrible, and are certainly not to be recommended, but that’s the only basis newcomers have, unless they read other sets – something rare to many “veterans.” So you end up with these so-called playstyles that are still severely lacking in actual interactions that make the set flow better, but have an extremely vague sense of space, a focus on a certain section of moves or a really gimmicky bunch of inputs and are practically footnotes to how complex a playstyle could be.

Terribly Forgettable, But Also Terrible

This set, Mr. 2 by kirbywizard, well demonstrates how a relatively new member can completely confuse what a playstyle really is and create something utterly ostracised from the rest of the sets, without trying anything particularly unique. Mr. 2 tries desperately to have a playstyle, but ends up very generic and trying far too hard. Many of his moves do gimmicky things – shooting heart-shaped projectiles that cause dizzying, Ditto-ing the opponent – while also retaining a lot of generic attacks like punches or kicks that are only apparently longer because they rely on gimmicky special effects. In the end, kirbywizard mistakenly seels the set in the vein of TAC, saying that this convoluted mechanic somehow works into the whole set perfectly, at which point it becomes obvious how disjointed this all feels. And isn’t it obvious that a new member couldn’t possibly make a good playstyle without knowing what flow is? As with PK-ow, kirbywizard indefinitely retired and hasn’t been seen since Make Your Move 6, probably also due to how negatively-received he became due to the wrong direction his sets went in.

The Rushed Moveset

This is probably the one section that needs the most explanation and is possibly the most prevalent problems amongst intermediate set makers too. Every level of Make Your Move member is capable of rushing a set – the difference here is that it can actually end a career entirely, as the newer member’s motivation in making submissions is ended by one set’s bad reception, or by a bad experience making a set. When newcomers start to rush sets, it’s more of a greater sign of trouble, as they start to lose their indignation to make sets they enjoy and instead try to crank them out to try and gain attention from other members. This is dually a cry for help and a way for newcomers to throw out ideas fast without having to focus too much time onto them, foregoing their later criticism by claiming the set isn’t of the highest quality. Of course, once a newcomer stops caring, that may as well be the end – and sometimes, the reaction to a rushed set is less than appreciative, especially when the poster is actually just trying to gain some appreciation for his work by posting it in a condition where it’s seriously flawed. One other element one has to consider is that more experienced members do engage in this kind of set making, only providing a bad example from which one can follow.

The Archetypal Career Ender

Few would speak highly of Koppakirby’s  set making abilities – he was often the target for lampooning and mockery for how overtly creative and zany his sets were. By Make Your Move 8, though, it was really looking up for him, as Burst Man was by far his best-received set yet. This was at the beginning of the contest, though, and what really killed Koppakirby’s drive was the lack of support from the community, eventually leading him to feeling like he was unappreciated [especially when Burst Man was among the best sets at this point in the contest], thus he threw his lot into Dunsparce. There had been a whole week without any set activity – a put-off for newcomers in of itself, as they crave an active thread community what with being unknowns in the chat – and Koppakirby took it on himself to be the martyr and post a terrible rushed set in Dunsparce. Suffice to say, most of the moves are either entirely pointless, or what they do achieve is some of the zany stuff Koppakirby was most infamous for, pulling away from the great progress done by Burst Man in not only improving the user’s respectability, but also his own skills. After posting this set, Koppakirby faded into obscurity and only turns up very rarely to say hello the chatroom, never talking about making sets. It just goes to show that without positive reinforcement, even newcomers who have improved beyond needing help can fall back into a trap created by a lack of motivation.

Understanding the Origin of the Problems

These issues all come down to one thing – confusing advice on sets as something it isn’t. It can be easy to misconstrue what is said as not an entirely different comment, but certainly wildly different in intent as the recipient then travels even further from where the commenter of them requested. This is nobody’s fault – there’s almost always no reason for the more experienced Make Your Move member to give bad advice, and they only want the newcomer to improve to better the contest. On the other hand, the newcomer only wants to improve to better their own sets and gain a larger amount of respect in the contest. It’s a simple break down of communication that comes because of just how convoluted the subject of set making can be. There are plenty of ways to screw it up and there’s no way of knowing just how your words go down, unless you were to stream their screen and bark orders at them. Though you’d think newcomers would make mistakes by themselves, they generally just stay at the same level of quality if they don’t take criticism to heart, rather than risk making any more mistakes.

What We Can Do

Number one is to construct our comments with care. As said, our comments are generally what sends newcomers off in the wrong direction, and it’s our own vagueness that makes them vague on the important parts of Make Your Move. When it comes to our peers, it’s more understandable to expect them to know what loose terms mean like “flow” or “details,” but with a newcomer this stuff can not only be confusing, but completely disastrous. I shovel the blame pretty thick on the experienced part of the community – it also comes down to the new users themselves. They aren’t always a fit for the contest, and yet they try, how are we supposed to react to them when we don’t know yet if they have the talent or persistence to carry on, even if they have made several improvements and are no longer terrible at what they’re doing? You can’t motivate them, but you also shouldn’t use comments as a way to talk generally about a set. Be direct, even if you think it makes you seem like a jerk – if they can’t take the useful, straight advice, they aren’t cut out for this contest. At the same time, be appreciative of their effort, and don’t tell them they should quit because you think they’re hopeless. This contest is laid out so that anyone, with enough effort, can attain greatness. These newcomers are indeed the future, and it’s our job as the older generation of members to properly educate and prepare them for when they’re competing with the best. If we expect nothing less than greatness from our best sets, we should expect greatness in our ability to educate the younger generation of Make Your Movers.

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Responses

  1. Did you seriously just like your own article?

    And yes, I now hate you for the examples you used for ‘overdetail’. ¬_¬

    And that’s where I feel we need to take newcomers; to a point where they are confident enough to make, and defend, their own decisions. That of course, needs us to be more receptive of what each newcomer’s intents and qualities are.

    But it’s still hard to disagree with anything you’re saying here, and the blame lies squarely on us veterans who cannot quite eliquate the qualities that make a truly great moveset. Now, more than ever, we need to revive the idea of roundtabling, because we individually kind of suck at feedback.

    A big problem we have, is that while many of the veterans have been following MYM’s evolution over a period of years, and thus gradually learning and applying our trade, newcomers are expected to find a shortcut to greatness. In what can occasionally be a hostile contest, having to rush through these trials is a painful experience.

  2. I liked my own article to remind people that the “like button” exists.

    That point on the watching of Make Your Move’s evolution over the years is a great one and I regret not putting it in the article. It’s a very good point to make in describing just why there is such a disconnect between the new and old members. There is a lot expected from newcomers – but there is also a sort of disassociation made by most experienced set makers when they come into contact with them, as most refuse to empathise with them, instead distancing themselves from them as much as they can.

    Though a lot of it is sub-conscious, there is some chagrin going around about it and some Make Your Movers actively try to ignore or belittle the newcomers as much as they can. We’re certainly more accepting than we were in Make Your Move 3 or 4, but we still have a ways to go before we become a completely positive influence. Also, I do love your idea of bringing back round-tables. I would be behind something of that nature.

  3. as far as I can figure out, roundtables were never used because no-one really wanted to be the one to kick start any particular review.
    I think it would need a real-time element, such as a recorded chat, or skype, to get free flowing moveset discussion to occur.


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