Five Questions with David “Magnetro” Avila

As one of the most prolific video makers in the Marvel community, David “Magnetro” Avila has produced just about every type of project imaginable for MvC2 – from combo exhibitions, to glitch compilations, to strategy tutorials, to pure situational experimentation.

Maj: As a combo maker, what’s the first thing you do when learning a new character?

Magnetro: I try to get a feel for the character by playing them in training mode for a bit — you know, mess with air combos, specials and supers. This is all just trying to get an idea of how the character feels like when they’re moving.

Magnetro's Variable Atmosphere 2The next step is to try to get an idea of the character’s limits. This is when I start to use programmable controllers to see how fast or how slow things can get tweaked.

For example, if I wanted to see how slow Ruby Heart can stretch her Start Button bug, I can program it and test it out frame-by-frame to see exactly how far I can take it. I try to list all the interesting aspects that I could potentially use in a clip for that character in notepad to make sure I don’t forget any.

After that, it’s just a matter of trying to piece everything together in one clip. Although there was more than one step, that’s the first thing I do when I mess around with a character.

Maj: How different would MvC2’s combo landscape be today if Colossus wasn’t in the game?

Magnetro: Colossus feels like a double-edged sword. He can either be the best medium sized dummy to do a lot of special small combos on top of the big idea behind the combo, or he can be the punching bag in a generic combos. He can either help your combo look good, or show that the combo you had wasn’t all that interesting.

I ended up using him in like 3 or 4 clips in Variable Atmosphere 2 ’cause he either was the only dummy I could use for that combo, or because I had an idea for a clip that could be stretched longer if I used Colossus as the dummy.

The only combo I regret using him in was Magneto 41 hit combo. The main ideas in the clip were the Hyper-grav OTG and having the S.HP hit from behind. From there, everything else was filler. I feel that I should have tried to use a different dummy to extend the possibilities after the S.HP hit.

Maj: What about Roll and Captain Commando?

Magnetro: Roll is in her own league in terms of usefulness for combos. Captain Commando isn’t as special. Roll is the dummy for people who want to test every possible combo with every character. She allows for a lot of unique things as her sprite is very small so it doesn’t land when she’s low to the ground. That allows a lot of characters to sweep her out of the air or whiff attacks above her head which extend the combo. I can’t really say much for Captain Commando, there are a few other characters who have a sprite like his.

Maj: How about Joo?

Magnetro: I definitely feel that if it weren’t for him, the real potential and beauty of MvC2 combos would have never surfaced. That’s like the most honest and concise answer that I can think of. If I were to give the reasons and the long version to that answer, they would talk about the degree to which he pushed the game and how he incorporated every possible element into a combo to fully flesh out the ideas.

I think at this point, anyone who is interested in MvC2 combos definitely knows the mark Joo left on the game. Saying anything else would just be putting it in a lot of words.

Maj: In your opinion, how much untapped combo potential does MvC2 have?

Magnetro: If you asked me that like 2 years ago, I’d say “just enough for one more video.” Now, after making Variable Atmosphere 2, seeing all of Joo’s combos and exploring the engine even more, I still believe that there are enough combo ideas to make one more video. However, they are just insanely time-consuming ones as they require a lot of tedious testing.

After Variable Atmosphere 2, I was noticing just how small the pool of ideas had become. A lot of the concepts in Variable Atmosphere 2 and Joo’s DVD were sharpened from when they were first found. So after those two projects were done, I felt that the only concepts that haven’t been explored as much were ones that would take a ridiculous amount of time to just PROVE that you could do something with them.

Dead body combos, combo-throws, off-screen combos, and combos during freezes, tapping forward for one frame after a special to allow the character to move one frame forward that they wouldn’t normally move, having the dummy hold a certain direction while being hit to allow the main character to combo something they normally couldn’t, blocking for one frame before super jumping or double jumping in order to ascend faster — stuff like that. Basically ideas that employ ridiculous uses of system properties to allow a combo to work — and then combining them with everything Joo and I did in our videos to make even crazier combos.

Maj: What are your favorite combo videos of all time?

Magnetro: 1st) Joo’s Combo Collection – I was blown away when I first saw all of the combos from his collection because I knew that I didn’t understand every single thing about them. I wasn’t able to understand what he did in some cases — I would even watch parts of the combos frame-by-frame trying to notice everything about it. I was finally able to understand them when I spoke with him about it and looked through the programmable controller input transcripts. The other part of it was how original and creative some of his ideas were. It’s a cool feeling to immediately be able to acknowledge how cool something was, but then realize that you are still not understanding everything that went behind it.

2nd) Meikyousisui 10 – This was the first time I had seen combos with the two-character bug. It was unreal to see all the stuff he was able to do with two characters being controlled at the same time. My favorite combo was the 999 Hit combo at the end of the video. There were many combos in this video that stood out for me. More so than any other Meikyousisui video.

3rd) Jadon Brown’s MvC2 Combo Exhibition #2 – This was the first combo video I saw when I started playing Marvel. Before then I wasn’t even aware people did videos like that. It really changed the way I looked at the game. I realized then that it was very complex and full of stuff you could combine (bugs/assists/engine mechanics). Although the video is very old, I still feel that it’s one of my favorite videos. It contains a lot of bugs, infinites, combos on assists, reset strings and normal combos. All of which, at the time, were crazy to me.

Maj: I agree, the first two or three years of MvC2’s evolution were astonishingly dynamic. It felt like the game changed every single week, right?

Magnetro's Variable Atmosphere 2Magnetro: I think that feeling of awe and wonder about something you really like, followed up by wanting to explore and understand it is what got me into Marvel 2 so much. You just have to like something a lot in order to put that much time and effort into picking it apart.

There are moments when the task of making a combo video isn’t fun, but there are other moments that make it all worth it. So that’s why when I listed Joo’s Combo Collection as my favorite, I mentioned that it made me feel that sense of wonder when looking at MvC2 combos. That’s pretty much how I ranked them — those three stuck with me the most.

Maj: Upon releasing Variable Atmosphere 2, you announced that it would be your final project. Does that mean you’re retired from MvC2, or combo video production, or fighting games in general?

Magnetro: Well, after releasing Variable Atmosphere 2 I felt satisfied with what I made in terms of programmable controller content. At that point I had decided that I didn’t want to play/watch fighting games anymore.

However, I still released 2 more videos after that (manually executed combos and scrap videos that I liked) — but that’s because I felt like I had stuff that I wanted to get rid of still. So the last two videos were everything else I wanted to get over with; it was for completion’s sake.

But yeah, I’m definitely not going to play or keep up with any fighting game related stuff.

David Avila is attending college in Southern California and pursuing various non-gaming interests. You can still download his past combo videos from his personal website or watch them on his u2b channel.

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5 Responses to Five Questions with David “Magnetro” Avila

  1. Maj says:

    In case anyone’s wondering, both images are from Magnetro’s VA2 vid.

    And i couldn’t find Jadon Brown’s old combovid on u2b, but you can still download it from zachd’s website if anyone really wants to watch it.

  2. onreload says:

    I’ve gotten to know Magnetro pretty well from our LONG Skype sessions (when I was doing narration for Shenanigans+ and the explanations for Variable Atmosphere 2) and these answers are still really interesting to read…I also don’t know much about MvC2 combos aside from his combos (as his explanations were quite in-depth), so I’m glad you asked about potential combo dummies. Do you think other combo makers will have similar answers when it comes to question #1?

  3. SofaKingAC says:

    For what it’s worth, my answer would be similar (though I don’t know if you could quite call me a “combo maker”).

    This was a good read. It’s really too bad that Magnetro’s stepped out of the combo game. I really would’ve liked to have seen him apply some of that in-depth researching ability to other games.

    Just as a curiosity, did you ask about his impressions of MvC3?

  4. Tigre III says:

    David Avila? Wow is a super common spanish name… Where are he from?

  5. Maj says:

    onreload: Yeah i think everyone’s process is fairly similar, at least in terms of broad strokes. But i think if you asked 50 people the same question, you’d get a few unexpected responses. Creativity is a tough thing to pin down.

    SofaKingAC: Actually i didn’t ask because i already know he had a negative first impression of MvC3, and there’s no way we could’ve had that discussion without a ton of speculative bullshit. I mean, how do you judge a game like Marvel before it’s out? We have no idea whatsoever what MvC3 will look like in two weeks, much less three months, much less five years. I’ve only been asking people if they’re planning on playing MvC3, and that’s more or less what the last question was about.

    Tigre III: I think his family’s from Mexico? Not 100% sure though.

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