Clarifying my goals

I got some feedback from the community and I needed to rethink how I am approaching this visualization. I felt lost, confused, and insecure. I wasn’t sure if I needed to give up or keep trying. I decided to give this one more shot. I was too early to make a judgement on my process.

My first step was to clarify my goals. I needed to understand the problem I am trying to solve. I looked through a beginner’s thread and looked at the kind of questions being asked.

I don’t have a lot of experience or knowledge of how do user research. I thought the best thing to do was to go through the forum and for every question I come across, I’d record it on a sticky note. I made an effort to not skip any comments, no matter how trivial they were. If I skipped comments, that’s incorporating bias into this process.

I had about 10-15 questions noted. The next step was to synthesize. I clustered similar sticky notes together and named each cluster based on their shared similarities. I noticed a trend: all the questions varied on a spectrum of specificity. Questions ranged from being very vague (looking for direction on how to start learning), or, very specific (need help with technical aspects of the game).

I also noticed a trend where people questions are usually more specific correlates to time the player have spent playing the game. If a player is completely new, then they will ask very vague questions. Players who have chosen to specialize in a character would ask technical questions.

I finally felt secure in this crazy process. I felt like I was headed in a direction that made sense. I finally felt some sense of clarity and understanding. I knew I could back up my claims and I could stand my ground explaining my project. A strong foundation always starts with solving real problems. It is questionable that I only looked at about 15 comments, it’s a tiny sample size. But, for my project and my purposes, it’s a good start.

When we got specific and into gameplay, there are two types of questions, the first are question that are high level. How to put together a game plan on what to do in a game. The second are very technical. How to input moves that carry out the game plan. A lot of players had a hard time timing the buttons correctly to execute a move.

I had so many questions on how I should move forward. I had a broad overview of the type of things users need.

How we we teach and understand fundamentals?

Do I approach this and try and target a broad audience? Where I am very general and have information that is applicable to many situations? Or, do I specialize and make a huge impact on a smaller community, perhaps targeting one specific character.

Ultimately, I want to make something useful, but does not yet exist. It’s not good enough to just do a copy and paste of a tables, when players can reference the information in tables. It has to be a tool that not only acts as a reference, but allows people to discover new things.

I can look at this like teaching language. Everyone starts off learning the alphabet. That is the most basic building block of learning English. Once the alphabets are mastered, we string letters together to learn words. We build our vocabulary. From here, the words are formed into sentences. We learn to read and understand what is being written. At a higher level, we can start writing essays, poems, scripts, articles, and so on. At this point, we are creating something that does not yet exist, we are improvising something new. It’s similar to music. We can only create something new once we have the fundamentals down. It’s not possible to write an essay until we have mastered the alphabet.

Now, my question is what is the alphabet equivalent in fighting games? What are the basic building blocks? No matter which character you play.

I still had a lot of questions, but no direction. I was going in circles at this point and I felt hopeless.

From previous rounds of feedback, I had a lot of suggestions on how to move forward. I listed out all the categories I identified from my sticky notes in my notebook and re-framed them as problems.

Having them all written out helped me see it at a bigger picture and helped me narrow down what to target.

I went with the approach of showing players the fundamentals via a specific character. A helpful suggestion I got was to focus on a gameplan and a set of moves for beginners. I don’t know if this direction makes sense, or if it’s right. But, I had to move forward and take a chance. I can’t work on this project forever and I need to move on. With this plan to move forward, I did more research. I found a YouTube video that teaches the gameplan and has a series of good moves to learn from Josie.

I have a better way to move forward with my project and I am back on Illustrator. I decided to use cards because I think of cards as a way to compartmentalize information. Cards are tangible objects that we can move around to learn something new with.

Back into Illustrator

Here is version 2. It’s still bare bones but it’s a good start. Each card represents one move that Josie Rizal can use in the game.

Below are changes I made in version 2 compared to version 1.

Move names are not really paid attention to. Consider not devoting so much space to it. The command is usually more important.

The range information occupies very little space as compared to the frame data, which I think is given too much space. Consider having the range data being front and centre, and the scale normalized across all moves (i.e. all of them are centered around the same axis)

I think the bars can be improved in terms of visualisation of speed. You put the number above the bar because you don’t want us to be counting squares but there’s nothing to really compare it to except the moves above/under it.

No one is going to be counting corners on those stars I don’t think. 15 corners may as well be 20. I just look at it at go it’s a lot of corners. The numbers are more useful. I think that maybe a rule of thumb, if just looking at the number is more useful then the visualisation maybe defeated.

I think the idea of labeling movelists with situations to use that move in is the single best idea in the entire viz. Depending on the character and the player, different moves might be used in different ways, but I’m sure there are enough generalizable patterns in how they’re used to communicate to beginners.

on first glance everything after the frame bar seems confusing as hell to me (and looking at the guide to read, man, that even is more text!). maybe try colors or more obvious symbols like minus and plus signs that change in sizes? and the launch symbol should be more oomph imo. so yeah can‘t say its intuitive…

I didn’t want to create a new public post on Reddit to get feedback for this version, so I decided to ask one user who has been giving me constructive feedback since the very beginning. I sent them a DM and asked them if they could provide me feedback. To my surprise, they generously said yes. And the feedback I got was hopeful for me.

I feel the problem you’ve identified is extremely pertinent and thoughtful. You’re quite right in that most guides simply show top moves/punishers without explaining the utility of those moves in the context of a broader gameplan (mix-up heavy, poking, keep-out). The situations in which to use moves outside of punishers is usually missing.

 

I really like the viz of the questions asked on the Beginner Megathread. It makes a lot of sense to analyze the questions asked there to figure out the biggest pain points for beginners, although I would suggest filtering out questions flaired ‘Help’ on the subreddit as well, since posting on the Megathread is not as common as I’d like.

 

The video you’ve chosen to base your viz on is sadly one of the rarer ones, in that they do explain a complete gameplan for the character along with the moves to use in various situations. Many of the character guides linked in the Beginner Resources wiki exhibit the patterns I described earlier – talking about punishers and specific moves without the context of a broader gameplan.

 

The idea of using cards is growing on me. I can see the utility in being to compare between characters using these cards, by comparing character cards for moves with the same function e.g. Josie’s approach tool vs Dragunov’s approach tool. It might help to quickly pick up a character for players who already know how they want to play a character, and are looking for the moves to use in those situations.

 

The way you’ve represented the data is clever and neat. That still stands out. I’m wondering if the annotations at the bottom, the ones which describe which situations to use these moves in, could be further clarified. For example, many of the SWS moves are simply labeled as Switch stance, which doesn’t really describe their utility. Instead, maybe describing them as SWS mixup (low/mid) would be more useful?

 

Lastly, and this is a bit speculative, I wonder if there are enough general move situations to justify breaking down movelists in this way for every character. I don’t have enough experience with all characters in this game, and for the ones I do know, I can safely say that this labeling would work. However, some characters like Yoshimitsu have very unorthodox and situational moves that I’m not sure would fit it.

 

I think the idea of labeling movelists with situations to use that move in is the single best idea in the entire viz. Depending on the character and the player, different moves might be used in different ways, but I’m sure there are enough generalizable patterns in how they’re used to communicate to beginners.

Their feedback helped me gain some confidence and strength to see this project through one more iteration. The final step now was to add flavour. Add personality and beauty. Create something that expressed personality and customization.

To be continued.

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