Posted by: Smash Daddy | June 8, 2012

An Extended Analysis of Smot

Smot is a moveset I care dearly about, as it represents a huge chunk of time at the beginning of this Make Your Move that I spent thinking about the character and the set, without writing it down. It was only after hours and hours of this meditation that I wrote anything beyond the first few moves, as is the case with many of my sets. This means I’m generally pretty solid on this set, I’m sometimes one to wing my work, but this was very thoroughly thought-out. So we’re going to take some time to just talk about it, ad nauseum if I feel like it, because I enjoy talking about this moveset. Plus, there are a couple of things that people may be interested to hear, but… we’ll see.

This set came about because I felt limited by what Pokémon could give me. I’m a purist when it comes to my fandom of the series, even if I don’t play the  games with much more than passing interest  and rush through them before I hit a demotivating road block. Poison-types are hard to come by, and I had trapped myself after making Weezing, Muk and Garbodor, the ones that particularly resonate. Swalot was never a Pokémon I much appreciated and I largely only considered doing it in the first place because it seemed sort of similar to Muk, but it’s a deceptively simple Pokémon, a trait which I find sorrowfully egregious on a poison-type, so it wasn’t a good fit. I actually disliked this moveset so much that I refused to go back and edit it, no matter how much time I spent trying to force myself to do the necessary edits. It was a very painful, very educational experience.

So I came into this contest thinking how the hell I would pull off a pure-poison-type first off, as there was no way I was going to do anything except that for my first posted set. The idea didn’t take long to come to me – Muk from Make Your Move 9 was another set that was a pretty big disaster, but I had gone back and actually done the edits there to make good on the promise, as that moveset always felt important to me. It was the one that solidified my poison-type addiction and further than that, led to the infamous comparison by Rool that my movesets were like a “thick ooze,” which has always stuck with me. Smot would do everything Muk did, but better – that was the plan, but I didn’t want that to be it. I didn’t even want that to be  the main focus, honestly, that was more insurance in case the set didn’t work – I could always fall back on that.

But Smot really formed out of a lot of plans I’ve had over the years. I had planned to make a moveset like Smot since before time began, I had simply never found the right outlet for my imagination to go wild. And wild it did, as I quickly got the idea for the homunculi minions, the substitute and the gas. I never had any problems with there being no poison legendary, but I always loved the idea of something like a giant Muk existing, being like a brood mother to all these other poison-types, and this was a way to put that idea out there artistically. The homunculus are fairly obvious – Smot is a spiritual evolution of Muk in the least, Muk is man-made sludge, thus Smot is fun to envision as a sludge-creating Pokémon. The gas was actually the very first  thing I thought of, because of the visual image of a giant Muk sitting in some sort of swamp or forested area, creating a thick fog to hide its own. Smot was always supposed to be surprisingly benevolent underneath its dark exterior. I always envisioned that stalling the match, as it does, and creating diversions, as it does, were likely to be things it would actually do in the wild to protect the weaker poison-types.

That formed the basis of the set, and what came next was about a month of pure frustration trying to figure out the eventually very simplistic up special, where Smot re-absorbs the homunculus to make himself stronger. The idea had always been central to me, but I had never found a satisfying way to pull it off, let alone in the specials. All throughout this, I was constantly making tweaks, largely to the statistics section, which fluctuated in length from about half to a bit more than what it’s at currently. The aerial form was something I again wanted to do from the beginning, this being the first thing I definitely was inspired by another set to do – namely, Appetizer. I always felt the random ability for Muk to jump was an oversight, but was afraid of the backlash from a “no jumps” set, especially given how I would normally largely agree it’s a dumb idea. But Appetizer had prevented a solution, and I planned to drive it home. So the statistics section ballooned then petered out, back-and-forth, for a good while as I experimented with the execution and wording. In the end, I was very happy with how it turned out.

So the up special. Once I had that, it was rock ‘n’ roll. It gave me a solid recovery to work with  – a unique one at that, so I essentially figured, hey, I’m fairly good for that aspect. I always planned on other modes of recovery, but that took plenty of weight off of my shoulders. So after a long, long time of just  thinking about the set, I got to working on it, and it was made largely within the space of a few hours. I was supposed to go on holiday in the early morning – had my suitcase packed, but I didn’t want to leave until I posted the set. So I worked on it late into the night, into the morn, didn’t sleep at all. I had a relatively long break where I previewed the set to FA and Warlord, who gave some very insightful feedback that let me adjust my focus some. The first thing I banged out, strangely enough, was the grab game. I went right after that section as I had no idea what I was going to do, but seeing the image that is attached to the move [this] immediately gave me ideas. And yes, you know who, this move was never meant to be “eating” people, otherwise it would just be Swalot again, and that was the opposite of what I wanted out of this set. The idea was simply to temporarily consume – envelope the opponent, and your own creations, to stall, but also to take advantage of how much control Smot has over his body. This seemed like another big point to me – control – Smot ostensibly evolves from Muk and Grimer, two Pokémon who are by their very nature man-reliant. This move showcases just how much hilarious control Smot has when he has the opponent and anything else grabbed, even if what he actually does with his “powers” isn’t super impressive. It’s subtle, but the character draws attention to itself in many other inputs, that it seemed fitting. The grab game is probably the most experimental part of the set outside the aerials in general, but were probably the most challenging part, so it was very satisfying to get that over with first.

The smashes were the next hurdle in the set, because I frankly came up with everything in there on the spot… in a way. I had the ideas, but it was only coming together in my roided up mind at that very moment. I went a bit nuts at first, as I usually do with my sets when I get to smashes, something Warlord can attest to with my original Banbollow up smash. The slopes originally were also pits, creating puddles and letting Smot get far too campy. It makes sense for the character, and was another reference to Muk. But relevant to the playstyle? Not really. These  three moves were obviously all fairly important. The screech is perhaps the one move in the set I would put in the specials, if they weren’t so tight. This I can’t remember if I came up with on the spot or was a long-time plan, but it certainly was never as big as it was when it came to writing it. Once I thought of the possibilities of a flowing river of poison… essentially becoming everything I’d want out of a Smooze set… I couldn’t stop myself laughing from how amazing it felt. It was nothing revolutionary in terms of flow, but it felt like a very unique idea and one that played into a poison-type as canonically powerful as Smot – sweeping over the lands of [region]. I could imagine that being an event in the games, really. Downsized a bit here, sure, but that actually makes it seem better to me, as it again emphasizes Smot’s control over his minions, and a higher form of intelligence.

Speaking of which, yeah, the name is smut and smog put together essentially, but also rings true being similar to Smooze and having the same two starting letters as my name. This is a more personal set from me. I wanted to make a set I was proud enough to [sort of] put my name on.

The next smash brought about the aforementioned slopes, which is when the slip ‘n’ slide genre entered my mind at all. I took pause and considered for a while about the ramifications of this being a slip ‘n’ slide set – there had been many wannabes in this category recently, and I wondered briefly if I was wondering too far from my original vision. What persuaded me to continue with this line of thinking was that I felt what Smot did was largely in-character – burning away the stage felt natural to me, and extremely cool without being too much  terraforming (it’s pretty bad to spam this move) – but also the fact that it does represent a new idea that hadn’t really been played on before. I had always planned for the much later neutral aerial that attracted homunculus, so with all that pre-planning slotting into place, it seemed like a great fit, and I was really happy about where the set was going. Player control, again. I loved the idea of this set giving more control to the slip ‘n’ slide playstyle, as it fit Smot’s MO to a tee. What I will say is the set does somewhat take a turn at this point due to the liquefied homunculi stealing the spotlight. That was very unexpected, and the latter moves do reflect more on them than I had planned. However, the smashes, grab and specials before  this were largely not the extrapolating, strongly joined-the-hip-of-the-playstyle inputs that I had always planned  the standards and aerials to be, so that they didn’t explicitly take advantage of the forward and down smash seemed perfectly amicable.

The up smash was always planned in some form. It’s that very first thing I talked about – replicating Muk. In his case, the stage creation was pretty barebones, and served the purpose of extending line of communication with his mechanic. As cool as that was, here I wanted to make it a bit more powerful in terms of playstyle and a bit more versatile too. The lack of focus on it in Muk led to the player basically having this crazy stage creating tool on a random Pokémon, as there was no key strategy involved in doing this. Cool, sure, and something I still like about the set, but I felt I could do better. Here, there’s slight element of randomness as to the output of gunk shots, but their area is so large that this doesn’t matter. It lets him create huge obstructions, creations that dwarf the ones in Muk, and though they are stilted in their verticality, this felt an appropriate limit for Smot. He’s no world builder, just a pragmatist. Still, this allowed some leverage in the whole deal that was not present before, alongside much needed versatility to the whole process. Check and check. This was a fairly important aspect of the set, as were the two previous smashes, but it was a mindless move to write.

The standards and aerials were the final frontier and felt like it when I got there. I was at this point, half having a heart attack, half scared my parents would jump out from downstairs into my room somehow due to being truly exhausted. Still, I persisted, as I had set myself the task of getting this set out before I left to go on holiday. Funnily enough, this holiday never happened. I had many, many ideas for the standards and aerials  that filled up many inputs immediately. Namely, the pound jab, mud slap forward tilt, up tilt mud bomb, sludge bomb neutral aerial, sludge wave down aerial and somewhat the sludge forward aerial, kind of. These were the core moves of the playstyle and I had pondered long and hard about their ramifications. The pound was at its heart a jab. Simple execution, simple purpose. Profound in a way, and perhaps the second definite inspiration, as I won’t deny Night’s End Sorcerer’s wisps played a part here. The mud slap largely just came from how great that Pokémon move is. Plus I wanted something to use on liquefied homunculi, felt natural, so I went ahead with that. The up tilt was a big mess really, but the suction largely solved plenty of problems I had trying to come up with an actual move for this idea. The combination with the gunk shots allowed me to get around the annoying visual of objects comprised of perfectly round spheres attached to each other. You know, exactly like in Shadow Complex, where I probably lifted the idea from sub-consciously. It was satisfying to no end being able to create structures more complex than the gunk shots allowed, without it being too overly complex. It’s still a tad awkward for an up tilt, but up tilts are a tad awkward usually, so I’m happy.

Moving onto the aerials… Already talked about the neutral aerial, though a last minute addition was the ability to stack them like Christmas lights across the higher points of the stage (most easily produced in combination with your down tilt) to create a sort of terminal to run down a parade of homunculi. One of the first things I planned to do was this core idea, bossing your minions around like Pikmin, and seemed a very fun way to take advantage of a big set-up, which I felt was crucial in a heavy set-up focused playstyle. Sludge wave was another long time planned move, but it was far worse originally. It was going to be a psychic-esque move that was psycodelic visually, and would interact obtusely with everything… this idea seemed interesting to me at first, but upon reflection and justified criticism by the previewers, I changed it entirely. It seemed like a fun, simple KO move in the end, and an interesting way of playing with the liquefied homunculi without being totally reliant upon them. It also plays upon the height of Smot specifically – this was something I tried to do in the aerials, give some versatility depending on Smot’s height. So you have stuff like the projectiles which can be angled differently, and ones like this that just let you delay the ‘launch’ of the projectile however you please. This was another element to the aerial form, and came about pretty naturally as well, in the huge period of procrastination as I thought over the set many, many times. It’s something no other set does, and felt like an evolution of the awesome core idea Appetizer brought to the forefront.

Sludge is probably among my least favourite moves in the set outside the back aerial, but they both serve a unique purpose and I imagine would be fun to actually use. Sludge gives you a truly aimable projectile – something Smot sorely lacked, because of his lumbering nature. This along with the ability to screw around with your own set-up and added another layer to the power in your slip ‘n’ slide on a mechanical level. The one thing that I had planned to do with this move was give some way to throw your arm, or at least use it like an ammo bank to damage the opponent, and this was the best way I saw fit to take advantage of the idea. It’s one of your only true traps outside the obvious homunculi, and I felt also referenced Garbodor well too. That isn’t exactly what I’d call a perfect move – it’s a bit of a mish-mash – but it was fun enough. From those obvious moves,  I had a handful left. The down tilt was inspired by a move from Muk I love, but Warlord actually was the one who reminded me of its existence, prompting me to make this move. A simple, if obtuse move that lets you build some good old tendrils. How I love that word. Very, very fun set-up, and really an awesome tie-in with Muk. Dash attack was the last move I typed up outside maybe the back aerial, its purpose is obvious – destroy or don’t destroy substitutes. Despite how simple this is, it’s still fairly useful in the playstyle for some mindgames that aren’t tacky, or at least I don’t feel they are. Back aerial was kind of painful. It has its uses, as a wall mostly, plus it gives a bit more of a creepy feeling to Smot. It’s not imbalanced in the least, actually probably underpowered in its current form and is more of a direct stalling technique available. It’s also the one way to get out of aerial mode without the opponent being able to stop you, which seemed important. The up aerial was real fun to make and more than any other move, emphasizes control, being a very Nick inspired move with how direct it is as moving around elements of your set-up. Did I say I like control in this set? Because I like control.

The playstyle section is indeed too long, but that was somewhat on purpose. It’s supposed to be suffocating – it’s hearkening back to days of yore where this thing was more common! This summary is what you’d call me laying it on thick, and it does descend into some advertising. But it was my intention to go overboard here, if only for further comparisons to my other more simple summaries in my other Pokémon sets. I state there some of the stuff I’m stating in this article, aside from that note on its form. After that is the final smash, which was an in-joke related to Rool’s Gigaskan, obviously. That was no big planned out thing, I just figured the reader may want some lighter material to take the edge off of a long and complex set. The difficulty curve I mention in the playstyle is correct, I’d imagine – this character has a hard time recovering, is slow and relies on his poison gas. You really do need to know a strategy to take advantage of the gas, though it’s open-ended I feel. Without that, the set probably couldn’t compete too well with the top-tier Brawl sets, which is a bad sign in Make Your Move. This feels fitting to me from where the character is coming from – it has so many ways to crawl away from a losing fight and slither into the darkness, so stalling is basically painless to protect other poison-types. It is not a Pokémon who wants to come out and fight, thus why it is considered a legendary – but I would hope above anything else that people can view the set as open-ended. That’s why it has such a short description, supposed to be Pokédex-ish length, anyway.

That about wraps things up. I probably did not end up saying everything I wanted to – this was a big project for me, but I’m satisfied with what I did cover. Thanks for reading, if you read all of that, or even small parts of it. I had fun writing it, I hope others can enjoy the read.

If anyone wants to hear about the organisation at all, post a comment. That’s a section I forgot about entirely, but I wasn’t sure if anyone was interested.

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Responses

  1. Pretty nice article you’ve got here, Smady. I would have never guessed that Smot had such a rushed design period for so much of it, as it feels and looks like quite the polished set.

    I will admit, I would like to hear if you had any particular thoughts on the organization: The headers and pictures seem to give it a pretty nice look.

    Hahahaha, I remember the original Sludge Wave…so glad you changed it.

    Night’s End Sorcerer inspiring something? Neato!

    • Oh right, I previewed you too! That was even before I previewed to Warlord and FA. It completely slipped my mind.

      The image was one I found by googling for a Muk evolution some time ago, and coming upon pictures for a “Pollutar” moveset. The picture was redone a little bit by JOE! as it had this stupid Pokédex box taking up space. I think that was pretty much it for the picture – I took some inspiration from it, like with the bulges that can create the Poison Gas. Generally, I’d say it was a big motivator from the start, as I really loved that design. I always felt it looked a bit spooky, whilst also in-keeping with the Pokémon ‘look,’ as Peanut once said.

      The Pokédex like entry at the top was far from perfect, but worked well. I didn’t want the full-on Pokédex look anyway, because that would then make the set seem like it was trying to fit into Pokémon’s canon. That’s not strictly untrue, however, that was not something I really wanted to start the set out on. So the image makes inferences of the Pokédex entries without fully going there.

      What I had originally for the headers was the font, but without the stroke [the outline that’s slightly darker], which didn’t fit. In the end the fact it looks as screwy as it does was really nice, the patterns are pretty random on every single letter due to the bumpy stroke adding to the already wacky font. It looks like a gas, I think, which was the intended effect. I go to DaFont.com for my fonts and use a standard image editor. Once you have the prototype, it’s easy just to erase the word and write in a new one for every header, then save them as new files.

      There are two types of images here: the homunculus / substitute and the rest. I found the former from googling something like “ooze pile,” and cut it up, changed its colour, etcetera. This took some time as it was pretty important to me to look right. I think the image I got actually had eyes in the beginning that I had to edit out, I made liberal use of the clone stamp to give the homunculus an excessively mucky texture.

      The other images were taken from the anime and games, obviously. I forewent my usual misconceptions about using images from all sorts, as I figured the eclectic look would fit nicely into the feel of the Pokémon. Usually, I scale my images to the same, or similar sizes and resolution, but here I felt it would be better to let each image have more of its own identity. The use of Muk was partly to better help identify the Pokémon as an evolution of it instantly to readers. Likewise, the use of Grimer and other lesser poison-types was used to give the sense of a link to these Pokémon. As Smot is supposed to embody much of the type, it seemed like a good idea to throw in all these pictures of other ones.

      I was lucky enough to find a sprite of Pollutar that went at the bottom of the set. This was among the first things I found, and as is tradition with my sets, it linked to a comical song. I felt the Bill Cosby Pokémon rap was a good choice here due to it appearing in Muk or Weezing [I forget which].

      The layout is similar to my older Pokémon sets. I had some indents in there – I am not a fan of sets that cling to the edges of the page, just always looked a bit rough to me. I used the ‘pipette’ in my image editor to find the primary colour of Smot and its HTML code, then used that for the move names and percentages. Nothing major, that’s always what I do these days. I’m a fan of keeping my layouts simple, and emphasizing smaller details.

      Thanks for asking.


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