Basic Fighting Game TAS Etiquette: General Guidelines

Since we’ve covered basic combo video etiquette, I figured I’d extend the discussion to what makes a good fighting game tool-assisted speedrun. There are a number of perfectly valid ways to approach TASing, but it helps to keep these general guidelines in mind.

  1. Fighting Games Don’t Make Interesting Speed Runs
  2. Except in rare cases, a fighting game speed run is going to look like this: find the most damaging combo and then use it over and over, completing the game in as little time as possible. This can be really painful to watch, even if you’re familiar with the game. Both Dammit and I thought we found a way to do an interesting fighting game TAS with speed as the primary goal. I did a “pacifist” run, and he did a great slash mode TAS. Both failed badly.

  3. sfz2atasMake It Like a Combo Video
  4. If you can’t use speed as the main goal, the obvious alternative would be to find your favorite combo video and copy those ideas. The problem with this plan is that you can’t do a lot of what makes a combo video entertaining: no cool soundtrack, no flashy editing, no extremely complex setups, etc. You also lose a lot of what makes a TAS unique – normally when you TAS a game, no one has ever played frame-by-frame before, so it’s easy to make something more complex and impressive than anyone has seen before. Most fighting games have been studied frame by frame for years, so just playing with extreme precision isn’t going to impress anyone.

  5. Fighting Games Usually Make Bad TASes
  6. So what do you gain over a combo video besides additional wait time between combos and extra difficulty setting them up? Not much. You should always try and have fun with enemy manipulation but that’s probably not worth more than a minute of entertainment, in most cases. This means fighting games are generally a poor game choice.

  7. Don’t Be Afraid to Try It Anyway
  8. Obstacles aside, the TAS format still offers a bunch of possibilities that can’t be done as a combo video. I think my Street Fighter Zero 2 Alpha run works much better as a TAS than if it were a combo video. A well-done run can be entertaining no matter what, but you’re at an advantage if you’re doing something new, or at least if you choose Mokujin.

Well, that just about covers the basic considerations for producing a fighting game TAS. Since they’re likely to continue growing in popularity, now is a good time to share your opinions on the subject. What do you guys want to see more of in tool-assisted playthroughs?

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4 Responses to Basic Fighting Game TAS Etiquette: General Guidelines

  1. Dammit says:

    These guidelines are solid but it’s hard to talk about this without getting into the politics of tasvideos, because the way submissions are judged there affects what people expect to see in a TAS.

    Everything is decided on by a designated “judge”, and none of them understands fighting games or knows how to appreciate combo videos. Speed is considered a boring goal and style is an arbitrary goal so it’s a no-win in the legalistic tasvideos framework. They know what they hate but they don’t know what they like. That rubs off on the community and you get everyone coming up with reasons why such and such game is bad for TASing. It reduces to “how can we make this submission fail?” And only if no way is found is it accepted.

    I’d say any great fighting game could make a great TAS, but there just aren’t many that have a 2-player/infinite meter mode or changing character mode. That’s why I think the next best thing is a continuous series of choreographed versus matches with different characters, like the 3S matches DevilAzite has been producing. There’s no little roll the credits sequence at the end, but FG players don’t give a shit about single player anyway.

    I wouldn’t count on tasvideos ever opening up to style-oriented tases, or combo video makers ever putting up with tasvideos negative nancy attitude, but in a less-dysfunctional system that’s how it would be done.

  2. Maj says:

    I totally agree that all those different tool-assisted playthrough variants would be fun to watch, but i wouldn’t go so far as to say that they’re necessary yet. There’s still a lot of room in “traditional” single-player TASes for fighting games.

    In fact, i don’t even agree with the statement that “find the most damaging combo and then use it over and over, completing the game in as little time as possible” has to be painful. How can we jump to that conclusion when the truth is nobody’s even attempted that in a “good” fighting game yet?

    I’d certainly enjoy watching a true TAS of a game like Marvel vs Capcom. We don’t really know what the fastest run would look like, especially when you factor in the damage reduction system. What’s the ideal team? Which opponent route is the best? How much meter would be used? What would the combos/resets look like? Until we know for sure, we’re all simply guessing in the dark.

    Beyond speed goals, my favorite part of TASes is seeing the player cleverly outsmart CPU opponents. That’s something you can do in a traditional TAS and i really enjoy watching it unfold. I’ve seen glimpses of it from various TASers, but never enough to satisfy me.

    Usually people get lazy and just uppercut a random limb then follow up with generic crossup combos. That’s weak, because in a TAS it would be much more impressive to land that crossup straight up, without resorting to a one-size-fits-all knockdown.

    One of my favorite fighting game TAS battles is still the final round of Saturn’s SSF2 Zangief TAS* vs Bison. It just plain looks interesting! Compare it to the boring first round against Bison and you’ll see what i mean.

    Finding all these counters takes time to research, and planning to execute. I can see why most TASers only bother putting in that effort 10% of the time, but the opportunity is there for whoever wants to seize it. You can make a thoroughly entertaining traditional TAS of any fighting game, but you have to find interactions that i haven’t seen – for every matchup.

    You know you can do it. You also know how long it’s going to take, so i don’t blame you if you don’t want to commit to that. But i’m getting a little tired of hearing that the fighting game genre is at fault.

    *By the way, the description says “This movie focuses more on pulling off crazy combos and showcasing Zangief’s big repertoire of throws than beating every opponent as fast as possible, since that would just lead to the same combo being used 12 times.” Yet i couldn’t find this “same combo” listed anywhere in the author’s comments nor any of the discussions on the site. It’s irritating when “experts” assume something is trivial without proving it.

  3. error1 says:

    Figuring out what the quickest time would be would make an interesting single round but probably not a whole run. Both the Tas I published have a very fast single round, first sfz2a round and first ken round, because I did thing about it a little. Reminds me of this Mortal Kombat II run clearly the fastest possible time but it’s basically just one move over and over.

    To me outsmarting a cpu is lazy, in a TAS you can control what the cpu does, so it doesn’t make sense to let them do somthing that needs to be outsmarted, if I let the cpu jump around when ever it wanted it would make the matches much slower.

  4. Maj says:

    Then make the CPU do something worth outsmarting.

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