"Punish!" indicator?


#1

I was playing this game with a friend, and while they were generally able to grasp the concept and execute the general gameplan for the characters to some degree, the one thing they struggled with was the concept of safety on moves. I think it’s a somewhat legitimate criticism of fighting games in general that it’s often not obvious which moves are safe and which aren’t because the frames of block stun and recovery aren’t directly shown to the players. Sometimes you can sort of tell, but with throws in particular it’s often unclear when a throw is a legitimate punish and when it could be teched.

This game already has a number of little indicators that show up on screen when you get hit by things like “crossup!” or “jumpable”, and I think these are quite helpful to new players. What I’m suggesting is I think it might be useful to have another one that says something like “punish!” or “unsafe!” for when you get hit by a true punish after your move gets blocked, so they can learn what type of offense is safe and when they should press a button to counter attack. Note that there is a bit of nuance to this, as there are situations when you can get hit in the recovery of a move that isn’t a true punish (for example, if Geiger uses Air Super, and you do a move that is normally safe on block, the gear can still hit you during recovery, which I would not consider to be a punish), but I don’t think this would be too hard to implement in general. I also don’t think you’d display this for whiff punishes, as I feel those are somewhat easier to understand - miss your attack, be left open. The main situation I think you’d want to cover is when your move gets blocked and then start up a move afterwards and hit you.


#2

While I do agree that one of the harder things for new players to grasp is what is safe and what is not, I think that having a visual indicator would make the game much busier than it should be. The reason I say this is that most exchanges would show something like “Punish!” (or “Counter” or “Crossup” or “Jumpable”) At this point, players would probably start tuning out all of the visual indicators instead of trying to help cue in on some of them. For instance, counter and crossup are very useful feedback for immediate decisions. When you get the counter popping up, then you know you can follow with the counter combo. If you had to distinguish between a punish versus a counter, that would slow down your decision. The “Jumpable” is also useful because, in general, you do not have to immediately follow-up on a situation that shows “Jumpable”, and it is not obvious at all that you need to jump to get out of command throws.

The other reason I am not sure if I would want a “Punish” indicator is that I don’t think it would make the situation more obvious as to what the player needs to do. If you do a move, and then you get hit afterward when someone blocks it, then you already have an immediate feedback. It’s just that many new players aren’t in the mindset of actually having a defense. So, they don’t even utilize that feedback they are getting. Most of the problems that I see with new players (and I play with new players all the time) is that they don’t get the concept of defense. It’s not about the concept of safety. Until they understand defense, they don’t begin to comprehend the concept of “safe” attacks. When I point out the basic concept of how exchanges generally flow in a fighting game, most of the new players that I play usually figure out what attacks are safe and which are not because they get into the mindset of “Oh, I should probably block now since my attack was blocked.” If their block fails, they pretty quickly figure out that they couldn’t block after that move.

Edit: I just realized I missed an important point you stated in the first paragraph. Untechable throws is a good situation to have a “Punish!” indicator. It would make it more obvious to the attacker that they aren’t able to Yomi the throw since they are still in recovery, and the situation would not require an immediate follow-up since you are going through a throw animation anyway.


#3

I agree that this may not be a perfect solution and I also considered the possible risk of making the UI too busy, but I still think something to indicate safety is probably useful. Besides just learning when your own offense is unsafe, it’s also useful to know when the opponent is unsafe and you can punish. It’s sometimes not obvious whether an opponent’s attack is unsafe or simply minus, one time you might press a button and get a hit, and you’re like “aha, that’s unsafe”, the next time you do it and they do super instead and you’re like “what? How did that happen?”

Presumably, you could watch for the counter hit indicator and realize that if you see it, that indicates that the move is simply minus and it’s not a true punish, but I feel this might be somewhat overcomplicated for new players.

Like I said, I’m not 100% sure what the best way to achieve this is, but I think something is needed.


#4

Hmm, some games indicate the punish phase by a visible slow down and “harder” sounding hits. I was thinking maybe a different sound would be a good cue, but I think that should probably be reserved for counter hits since audio cues lead to faster reaction. Instead, maybe some exclamation from the character or some other audio cue to indicate a punish? I’m a little leery of adding another visual cue since I think this would make it too visually busy. Although, this would disadvantage new players who wouldn’t be able to hear the sound.


#5

If you’re playing the game properly, “Punish!” won’t pop up frequently. Just like “Jumpable!”, it’s relevant only to a player who likely benefits from such direct feedback. It’s necessarily temporary visual noise.

Fighting games have a number of concepts that are foreign to new players, and even just having a name to associate with “they blocked and hit me back and it didn’t feel like I could block in time” is useful

On a more subjective note, I think players who punish would get an emotional highlight from the stimulus, especially if the punish led into a combo or win, while unaware of (or indifferent to) the fact that the game is actually helping their opponent


#6

Yeah, I think that’s a good point. There’s a couple characters who might see it often (for example, Setsuki and DeGrey both have options from their mixups that are punishable if the opponent guesses right), but most other characters rarely get punished if playing properly.


#7

I think you have a good point in that “Punish!” probably shouldn’t pop up frequently when you’re playing the game properly. After all, most of the time you would be using a safe offense. To be clear, I think it would probably helpful to have some type of indicator since most people never bother to check frame data (and I wouldn’t expect them to either).

However, I still don’t think it addresses the fundamental problem new players have: the concept of defense/safe offense. I introduced the game to a new player last night. There were four of us and we played for a solid 8 hours. The new player used Setsuki. He definitely noticed that I would be able to hit him after his teleport kick most of the time even if he hit me with the first hit. When I mentioned to him that he should probably limit his teleport kick, he said “But I’m hitting you with it.” He had confirmation bias towards attacking (as most new players do). When I had him describe what would happen he would mention how I could get one to two damage off of his teleport kick, but he focused on the two damage he would be able to get from it.

Then, I acted as an audio cue to the “Punish!” indicator. Every time he used teleport kick, I would say “I just got one damage from the kick” and “I got two damage off of that kick”. He still did not change his pattern. It wasn’t until we went over 20 matches that I stopped and re-explained to him how he was losing rounds whenever he used teleport kick and explain the dynamic that is happening. The fact that he was punished for one or two damage registered. But, he did not think it mattered. Only when I went in-depth on how those trades loses him those rounds did he realize that it mattered. This is a regular thing that I do for new players. He was not an exception. It usually takes a long time for new players to ever realize this concept if no one explains it to them.

However, I don’t think I like having “Punish!” appear where “Counter” would be. It’s already a pet peeve of mine that “Counter” will not appear if it’s the first hit of the match. I’ve lost several counter hit opportunities because of it. There are situations where a well-spaced or well-timed risky move turns safe. DeGrey’s Pilebunker comes to mind. Those types of situations are where I am looking for a “Counter” because I like to try and bait out the attack in that safe situation. Then, I would have to discern if “Counter” or “Punish!” appears depending on the situation. I’m still in favor of some type of indicator for a punish situation though since I think it would help players better understand certain nuances. Or at least make it more obvious.


#8

This a a fantastic idea, and at the very least is something I’d love to see as switchable.

Note that while “crossup” is commentary on a match, just like “first hit”, “jumpable” isn’t: the commentary would be “jump escape” when someone jumps out of a command grab. “Jumpable” is an on-screen tooltip that really ought to be in tutorial mode, but that’s not how people learn to play, so it’s been out where they’d see it.

Punish, on the other hand, absolutely is commentary, just like “yomi counter” is. It actually seems reasonably hype to display it on-screen. It’s the flip side of a counter hit, I don’t see why it’d suddenly cross the threshold into overloaded UI.

Having an option to switch off on-screen words sounds like a good idea, though.


#9

I do kind of like putting “Punish!” up as a little side-of-the-screen indicator like “cross-up” when you get hit while holding “block” but you haven’t recovered to a neutral state (or, I guess, on the way down from a DP or something?). Not super flashy but potentially useful and kind of neat.