Posted by: SirKibble | June 4, 2012

Kibble’s Bit — The Five Ancient Pillars of Movesetry

Yeah, something like that.

In an age long past, circa MYM4 B.C., moveset-making was a much simpler beast to tackle, and newcomers were always showing up to try their hands at it. In light of that, in an effort to help anyone who wanted to be able to make a decent moveset, I posted a set of general guidelines for things that mattered to MYM, and basically how to accomplish them. The original post wouldn’t mean much to modern-day MYM, but in this article, I’ll explore the evolution of these five principles in MYM over the years, with their relevance and meaning then and now.

I. Detail

Detail was a real killer way back when, and more-or-less the line that divided the experienced or promising from the otherwise. Newcomers and princesspeachluver13 were easily spotted by their one-sentence moves that, even if not boring, were underdetailed and impossible to properly envision. Examples could range from “X punches” to “Y summons Gilgatron to attack with lightning.” Naturally, both examples could use some expounding, but in the wake of trying to make more interesting moves like the latter, a lack of detail was especially hampering. Warlord’s particular enforcement of further detail even earned him the title of Detail Nazi back in the days. Prior to and since those days, MYM has seen both sides of the detail spectrum. The earliest days of the contest were far more Brawl-oriented than today, and let’s be honest–you can only describe a move that’s an exact copy of Mario’s Down Tilt with so many words. On the other hand, there were times in MYM history where the details were so scrutinized it wouldn’t have surprised anybody to see a move that described the decibel level of a character’s grunt as he or she attacked, despite how irrelevant it was to the actual move or moveset. These days we’ve reached a pretty effective middle ground. The necessary details are those that help someone understand the character, the moveset, or the specific move. Naturally, basic things like what the character actually does to attack and the damage output are important, along with things like the trajectory and speed of projectiles or maybe the non-standard way a move charges. The trick here is to be as concise as possible–there’s a huge appeal to a moveset that describes a whole bunch of intricacies without making every attack a novel. As a general rule: f something will help the reader understand your moveset better, put it in; if it won’t, don’t. Of course, that’s a general rule, and there are always exceptions. Maybe one of your moves has a nifty but subtle interaction with another, and you’d rather not mention it and give the rest of us a chance to notice it for ourselves. Just be sure to give your reader all the tools they need to put your moveset together in their head!

II. Creativity

Ah, yes. This was my niche once upon a time. Whether increased detail gave rise to more creative moves, or vice versa, I can’t really recall, but the two were real peas in a pod in their humble beginnings. Since MYM began with only the premise of “a lot of characters aren’t in Brawl so what would they be like if they were,” things were once very Brawl-like. Needless to say, flipkick after flipkick after flipperflipping flipkick got old fast, and many a MYMer set out to make their movesets more interesting to read. The results were an important part MYM’s evolution, even if they were sometimes messy and overdone. Just like detail and its oversaturation, our creativity reached a peak that, looking back, is a little embarrassing. No longer was this a mere flipkick, but a triple backward flipkick followed by a multi-hitting swordspin, with each flipkick firing off seven random-trajectory projectiles that explode into balls of light that both damage opponents who touch them, but also absorb energy projectiles and reflect non-energy projectiles. Did I mention that there’s a 1-in-1,000,000 chance the balls of light will form the big dipper and X character automatically gains access to their Final Smash? And you don’t even want to know what the Final Smash is. What really takes the cake is that these kind of insane moves occupied inputs like F-Tilts and N-Airs. Without labels for each move, it’s unlikely we would have been able to pick out a good number of MYM4 characters’ Special Attacks. These days I think this principle is due for a rename. Perhaps “creativity” is too encouraging of the last paragraph’s madness. What MYM values these days isn’t the most effect-laden moves imaginable on every input, but fresh and interesting ideas, new takes on old ideas, or things that are just fun to imagine playing out in a real match. This is where much of that elusive and vague “fun” label comes from for a moveset. Maybe a better word for today’s “creativity” is “originality.” Thinking outside the box is an important way to make your set likable. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas–some of them will work, some of them won’t, but in the end, it’s a lot more entertaining than rehashing the same thing over and over again.

III. Organization

Pretty movesets, pretty movesets everywhere. Obviously, our organizational skills have come a long way since prehistoric MYM–there’s nary a White Wall of Text to be found nowadays. Whether it’s simple sizing and coloring, or a fancy-shmancy image moveset, we all have our favorite ways of making our movesets easier on the eyes. It’s almost one of those things a lot of people take for granted, since, like I said, the painful days of the dreaded White Wall are far in the past, and just about every moveset of the present looks at least presentable. However, that brings me to another point. Just like I did with creativity, I’m going to rename this fundamental pillar. I’m going to change it from “organization” to “presentation.” Presentation is a lot more than the eye-candy of a moveset. Presentation is, well, the way you present your moveset to your reader. That includes not just how it looks, but also your writing-style, the order of your moves, an opening “hook” of sorts, or a proper and engaging buildup to a playstyle summary at the end. Even a truly phenomenal moveset, if presented poorly, won’t have as many fans. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to pull something crazy off every moveset, with first-person view in one followed by accompanying animations for each move in the next, etc. What it does mean, is that you need to engage your reader. Do something, whatever it may be, to make your moveset an experience for them. And a lot of the time, you can do that without going out of your way or adding anything extra, but just writing each part of the moveset with the reader in mind!

IV. Balance

We all know balance–for some, it’s an all-too-familiar opponent, while others don’t seem to give a flying Eldritch abomination’s sixteenth liver about it. In the sense that our movesets are all hypothetical, and obviously not going to actually be programmed into Brawl, so-called “number crunching” may be seen as nothing more than the individual being overly picky (“His Smash Attack can only do 15% damage tops?! lolunderpowered!”), while some movesets have at their core concepts that could be crunched like mad either direction, and would still be severely underpowered or overpowered. Some examples may be found here. It’s hard to give tips about balancing sets, primarily because so many things can be passed off to number-crunching and therefore aren’t of particular concern. Still, it’s worth mentioning that MYMers should attempt to balance their sets to the best of their abilities. Oversights will be made and things won’t probably be actually balanced (especially considering the majority of MYM sets are far overpowered to Brawl’s roster anyway), but with a little effort, you can at least make it looks like you know what you’re doing, whether you actually do or not.

V. Playstyle

And now we reach it–that pillar of all pillars that’s gone from virtual nonexistent to serious prominence over MYM’s lifetime. Tell somebody in MYM1 to put into their moveset something that would connect it all together and give it a playing style, and you might end up with something like Marth’s tipper or Lucario’s aura. These days MYM is rocking move interactions, game-altering mechanics, and every style of play from typical combos to reforming the very stage beneath the fighters’ feet. Naturally, playstyle is something that entire articles could be and have been written about, but here we’ll explore just a few aspects of it.

Playstyle was born, to some extend, out of a need for cohesion in sets–or, in other words, to promote flow in a contest that sorely needed it. In a sense, it became the necessary factor to tie the other principles listed here together into a well-oiled machine with a common purpose. In some cases it serves as an end goal of one’s presentation, where other times its major role (especially in the days when it was first emerging as a legitimate force) was to curb over-the-top creativity. These days it’s easily the primary focus of MYM’s moveset-creation process, and is the most widely-praised or -criticized thing about almost any given moveset.

Of all the movesetting principles overviewed here, playstyle boasts the longest time in the spotlight by far. And why is that? Perhaps because its perfection is virtually unattainable. Even now, MYM stretches further into the seemingly-infinite cosmos of uncharted styles, whereas other principles like creativity have risen past their peak and regressed to a more widely-accepted level. Perhaps playstyle simply intrigues us more because its quality can’t be measured linearly as something like detail can be. Great playstyle is a continual outward expedition in every direction, with new concepts and ideas along every path, and ever more paths to be discovered and traveled. If ever someone says we’ve exhausted all our ideas, the pioneers of playstyle are there to prove them wrong. There may be periods when the progress is slow, but this search is what keeps us moving forward. And fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight.



  1. I’m nostalgic about the first edition of this you posted in, oh, Make Your Move 4? Was a real inspiration back then – great to see it updated.

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