Posted by: agidius | December 13, 2011

Agi’s Input – Kyoko Sakura

Clearly, folks, the pocky is symbolic of her weapon of choice

Kyoko Sakura by ForwardArrow

For whatever reason, I’m currently riding on a wave of MYM-related creativity. While I haven’t demonstrated it yet, you lot can trust that I’ve got something up my sleeves, and I’ll leave it at that. Anyhow, in order to direct this creativity at something more tangible, I’ll be commenting a moveset from one of our more affluent newcomers, ForwardArrow. Admittedly, FA, I’ve only read Hoppip and Vol Opt out of your sets – the former shut down Tornado Man’s production altogether and the latter we have discussed in detail. I offered to read Kyubey, but you directed me towards Kyoko instead since apparently she had been overlooked. Having read Kyoko in detail now, I think there are definitely a lot of things to be learned from the set – although I’ll warn you right now, I’m not what you would call a fan.

Let’s take a look at Kyoko as a whole. At her core, she’s all about manipulating her spear – increasing its length, splitting it into a chain form, everything meant to fight from mid to long range, yes? It’s a cool idea, and I think it translates well. Your attacks get slower with a longer weapon, but the mere fact that you get more range means that the opponent won’t be breathing down your back as you poke them from afar. Kyoko on the defensive functions as a cycle: Modular Spear chases after the foe, dealing some quick damage but more importantly giving her spear some additional length. She’ll beat them around, retreating as they close the distance, but eventually be forced to shrink her weapon down to a more practical size. She really excels once the opponent reaches the mid percentages, using her pit and wall to rack up damage as she whips them into submission with her increasingly powerful chain attacks. It’s a solid playstyle, if not particularly groundbreaking.

My main complaint against the set, and one I’m worried is going to become a recurring problem in your career, is the way it’s written. I talked with you extensively about Vol Opt’s problems on this matter, but it seems even more problems have cropped up since then. Perhaps, in fact, probably because of the set’s overarcing simplicity in the moves (not an altogether bad thing, mind you. This set lends itself to a good deal of physical attacks based purely on character choice) you often seemed to struggle with bringing individual inputs to a conclusion. It’s as if you thought to yourself “Crap, that move was only a few sentences long. People are going to assume it’s generic!” There are multiple instances of what I perceived as redundancy, ranging from ten variations of “the spear” in the Side Special to repeated reminders (often right next to each other, making reading awkward) that longer spear = slower spear, to moves which are inexplicably separated (grab and DSpec both shrinking the spear can very easily be combined – hold DSpec to slowly retract spear, double-tap to bring it in all at once) to moves which are nearly identical in animation but for whatever reason had different effects (why the FAir makes a pit and the Dash Attack doesn’t is beyond me) to moves which throw all sort of reality out of the window (how exactly does the DSmash have a blind spot in the “eye”, much less one that opponents would “hide” in? The slow-moving inner chain would quickly wrap around both Kyoko and her opponent, tying them together in some weird sort of bondage fetish, not to mention that even if the blind spot -does- work for whatever reason, I’m not going to hide in it, but punish it) to moves which must be assumed to do absolutely nothing without some additional, seemingly insignificant detail.

I’m going to elaborate on this last point, because it’s an important one. It may appear to be trivial, but a weapon like a spear has a number of different ways it can be held. Several different grips trade out speed, accuracy, and range interchangably. That you didn’t mention them isn’t exactly a deal breaker, as it’s easy enough to imagine Kyoko spacing her hands further apart for a lunging stab and sliding her grip to the base in order to increase her range in the UTilt. When it comes to wielding the chain, the bladed monstrosity you describe sounds like it could only be held at the base, adding to that already-useful 1.7x length.

But here’s the kicker. Though her attacks are easy enough to visualize, even with a spear the length of Final Destination, but I’m just scratching my head as to Kyoko’s non-combat grips. While for most sets, idle animations are a non-issue, Kyoko’s grab makes them incredibly relevant since opponents can only be grabbed when they’re in contact with the weapon. Does she hold the spear upright, drag it behind herself, use her schoolgirl strength to keep it pointed forward at all times? Is there a huge sweeping motion when she turns around? Any of these could drastically change the hitbox of her grab. You do briefly mention that the grab can be used during any attack’s ending lag, but it’s implied that only the shrinking aspect can be cancelled into in this manner. And you never do mention what the grab does when the spear is at its smallest length – or rather, its default length, as I can’t imagine Kyoko ever shrinks her spear down to just the head. You never do mention it though, so I have to assume it’s a possibility.

***********************************************************************

I’m going to try to bring the negativity to a close here shortly, as I do like the underlying concept of the set – it’s just that there’s so much to dig through before I can even begin to enjoy it. Just bear with me a bit. Beyond redundant repetition of attack speed throughout the set, whether it was intentional or unconscious, the set’s grasp of basic language mechanics leaves much to be desired. Yes I know I’m getting overbearing at this point, but really, I haven’t seen a finished product in such dire need of proofreading since Warlord’s yellowgreen formatting disaster back in MYM 6.

Vol Opt’s abuse of “it’s” pales in comparison to the shenanigans which ensue in Kyoko’s set. Some sentences (Kyoko will keep spinning around the chain around her) are direct analogues to Full Life Consequences. (John Freeman walked like speed of light back to his motorcycl and left behind the bad place behind him.) Sometimes you slip up when talking about the chain form, referring to it as a spear. This quickly leads to inconsistent visualization – and being able to visualize a set is one of the most important aspects of MYMing. Certain subtle typos which would be easy to miss in proofreading tend to change the meaning of moves entirely, such as the Forward Smash’s “This is not the attacks on purpose,” implying that Kyoko had whipped out her chain by accident. This may not be a narrative, but some suspension of disbelief is needed – and I don’t believe for a moment that Kyoko finds her lack of control over a large spear to be the fortunate balancing factor you call it, especially considering how easily she can wield it canonically. Again, I’ve never seen the show, but… you really seem to have done a disservice to the character with this set. After latching onto the neat idea of lengthening your weapon to fight from a distance, you seemed to forget who was holding that weapon. Yes, you’ve justified her use of pits before, and you’ve done an adequate job of explaining how she uses them to her advantage. But why does SHE use them?

That’s one of the more difficult parts of making a set, particularly for a somewhat obscure character like you have here. We, your audience, are most likely not as familiar with the target material as you are, and it seems you’ve made some huge assumptions here. I’m talking about the pit and the wall, two interesting aspects of the set that nonetheless are presented without an explanation. I doubt these are magic syndrome, they’re more likely than not source material at its finest. But you need to let me, the reader, know that in the set, be it via images or a brief mention of having the ability in canon.

***********************************************************************

Now, back to the positive. I already gushed about how cool the growing/shrinking mechanic is, and I appreciate that you left some reminders about its various effects throughout the set. (Even if they were a bit too common for my taste) I really do wish the mechanics of the growing were more defined/predictable. Maybe I missed a few, since at this point I’m writing a few days since I first read the set, but in addition to the obvious Neutral Special, her Forward and Up Tilts are the other moves that extend her spear’s length, yes? Well, despite being somewhat awkward inputs to increase the spear’s length, they’re explained well. Props for that. I’d recommend standardizing whether or not you need to do a Timed Hit to increase the spear’s length but eh. The Neutral Special, on the other hand… it feels like it’s missing a sentence or two. Or three. There are a few major assumptions you seem to have made. Let’s go through them.

A) Kyoko points the spear forward, extending towards the nearest foe

And if the nearest foe is behind you? You make mention in the second paragraph of the Side Special that the spear “homes in,” implying it can redirect itself in midair, but it’s not states in the move proper. This, I think, is where the out-of-nowhere mention of “turns” came from. As a rule of thumb, don’t use terms until after you’ve defined them.

B) This deals 8% and fixed high knockback when it hits the foe.

Ouch, “when”? That’s a loaded word. As the mechanics of homing in are never adequately explained (I’d personally recommend giving the player some control over it, either a fluid PK Thunder or a more choppy Pac-Man style) and you never mention a kill switch beyond straightening out the spear after it hits, it’s all too easy to imagine Kyoko standing there, absolutely helpless, as her foe abuses homing mechanics to extend her spear forever.

On that note, you may want to make the kill switch the Down Special itself – just have that move be usable mid-attack.

C) As Kyoko’s spear extends, she loses massive amounts of movement speed due to barely being able to carry the awkward thing.

And here we have your greatest assumption, and what ultimately leads to the set’s downfall. You incorporated physics as a balancing factor, something I commend you for, but the lack of follow-up detail means this presents more complications than possibilities. Balance or no balance, this robs her of her character. By no longer being able to wield her own weapon to its full potential, Kyoko has effectively been reduced to the level of a neophyte. She may as well have just found a cool-looking spear and is now using it for the first time in a combat situation. As such… I think the set as-is would be far more interesting if it were a cosplay for a battering item that anyone could pick up, and certainly make sense why it hasn’t been mastered by its holder. But don’t lose hope, FA, as from what I’ve seen you tend to take criticism personally – all of this is easily fixable with some simple number crunching and wordsmithing. Purely from a conceptual standpoint, Kyoko works dazzlingly well. There’s a reason I headed this with a paragraph of praise. I’m coming up on a good 2000 words here and I’ve already missed three opportunities to discuss this with you, so I’m going to wrap this up with a few recommendations for change on this and future sets.

  • Proofread your set at least once, looking specifically for grammar instead of playstyle issues. I’d recommend getting someone else as a proofreader as well – there’s no shame in it, I use one myself. Sometimes spellcheck just doesn’t cut it. In fact, as far as I saw, there were no misspellings. A human eye is needed to catch some things.
  • Don’t double dip with balancing factors. Kyoko’s sweetspot mechanic is already enough to balance the mass range increase she gets. I does make sense, both visually and gameplay-wise to add some amount of starting and ending lag to the moves as the spear grows, but you definitely went overboard here.
  • Don’t forget who you’re making the set for. I’m definitely not the person to do any sort of lecture on this, considering I pick my sets based on a -lack- of character rather than an abundance, but you probably chose Kyoko because you thought she was really cool for one reason or another, right? Be it the spear, the aloof personality, or her magical powers meshing right into her fighting style? Give us occasional reminders throughout the set why she’s interesting as a person. The Penguin’s review is fresh in my mind at the moment – it’s an excellent example of how even the simplest of attacks can become a thrill to read by simple cues like facial expressions and descriptive adjectives..

So, that’s the review, and I hope we all learned something here. FA, I feel you’ve begun to tap into your potential, but have not yet begun to refine it. Once you’ve done both, you’ll be a force to be reckoned with on the MYMing field. I’d recommend that you try out a joint moveset at some point, perhaps with a more practically-minded MYMer like Joe, to get an idea of how to translate your ideas into realities. Either way, I can honestly say things are looking positive for you on a going-forward basis. Here’s to the Praetors!

 

Also, here’s a little post-set commentary thing. I kind of prefer to work on paper, so here’s all the annotations and such I did on the copy I printed out

Page 1

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Responses

  1. I’m sure we already went over this in the chat, but yes I am sort of glad you pointed this out… I am probably going to overhaul the set a bit once I’m done Praetors and such, including the writing style complaints. But I’m glad you at least liked the underlying ideas… I just need to work a little more towards bringing them to the surface.


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