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 Post subject: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:19 am 


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We all want to git gud. But how do we git gud? Yeah, I read Full Extent of the Jam and much of the other stuff in the strategy section. But I'm kind of obsessed woth the idea of practice, and what practice actually means, and how nebulously it's defined.

For example, some artists just execute execute execute work, and hope to slowly grow better over time. Others, if they are having trouble with hands, just draw a hundred hands.

I feel like I'm in the former category. I want to do runs, not spend 100 hours in savestate practice. But I've been working on ESPra.de., and I've been devoting a lot of time to the practice mode because of how smartly M2 broke it up and incentivized it. I feel like i've gotten much better at the game, but i sorta fall apart at the same place anyways. My scores are better, but I still haven't gotten past the stage 5 midboss, which I first got to a good while ago.

My first clear that I worked for was Futari Black Label. I didn't use practice mode at all. Hell, I didn't even credit feed. I just played one credit after one credit after one credit until I reached the end boss with three lives in tow. Could I have gotten that clear a lot faster by doing endboss runs? Maybe?

What the heck is good practice? Should I just throw myself up against incredibly hard bosses to build skill at the easier stuff? Practice God when I wanna clear Maniac? What is good practice? What is hest practice? What is your practice? Do we even need practice? Should you get the 1CC before going for score? Do we do better when we try hard? Do we do better when we release all gaining ideas? Do you take breaks to breathe? Do you come back after a weeks or months of not playing and crush (as happened to me with a Mushi 1.5 Original clear)? What the hell is the meaning of it all anyways?
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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:07 am 


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IMHO savestate grinding is the quickest way to git gud, but I feel its always game specific. Getting better overal at shmpus just takes experience across many games and many years. Like any other hobby, its simply about how much time you put into it.

As for my personal preference, I don't have a lot of free time anymore, and do not enjoy grinding save states, so I end up just playing each credit to its fullest like in an actual arcade. I sometimes use continues if I get bored with the first 3-4 stages and want to improve on later stages. I also switch up games quite often to not get bored. As a result I enjoy the little time I do have playing, but on the whole I'm not anything more than average in ability, and I'm ok with that.
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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:18 am 


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We talking about practice? Not world record attempts.... Practice?

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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:23 am 


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This is my practice method in general, taken from a guide I wrote for total shmup beginners to learn gradius as their first 1cc. Some advice is specific to that game but it applies to most any STG. Stage restart options can also be a great alternative to states, like those found in many Cave 360 ports.

https://shmups.system11.org/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=60147

ACSeraph wrote:
Section 4: “You need some practice!”


Gradius is not a 1cc that can be achieved blind, so go ahead and understand that practice and preparation will be required. However with an efficient system for practice your clear will come quickly. Try the following steps:

Step 1: Learn Routes
Go through each stage individually creating a save state at the beginning of each stage. Experiment in each stage until you are able to clear the stage without dying a few times. You don't need to be super consistent at this point, simply get a feel for the route required for the overall game. Do this for each stage in the game. The notes in this guide are primarily designed to aid with this first step.

Step 2: Create Practice States
You will notice quite a few points in the game that require strict strategies and seem to regularly kill you. As you are routing make specific save states for these points, and practice them regularly to develop a consistently safe strategy to overcoming them. This guide contains strategies for each of the practice states I utilized during my own 1cc attempts.

Step 3: Learn Recovery
It's tempting to simply skip this step and do an endless parade of frustrating no-miss attempts, but for the reasons stated earlier I don't recommend it if you want to fully appreciate Gradius and avoid breaking your controller. To that end I recommend that once you have your route and have practiced your states you start doing basic 1cc attempts and taking note of the places you tend to lose your run. Analise whether its a simple problem that could be avoided by making slight adjustments to your route, or whether its actually just a very difficult section with a high chance of mistakes and death. If it's the latter I recommend you make a state and try to work out the recovery path. For myself I lost many a run to stage 7 deaths, and so I simply learned to do the entire stage naked. It might sound insanely hard, but actually with a little practice I was able to get through the full stage recovery fairly consistently. My first 1cc was also done via stage 7 recovery. I have detailed out the stage 7 Recovery strategies here, but don't be afraid to learn additional recovery points if you need to. The only point in the game I was never able to work a recovery strategy for was 5-2, so let me know if you find a good strategy for it!

Step 4: Shoot the Core!
Once you have done all of your homework it's time to simply do some runs. I recommend you practice your recovery points and any states that tend to give you trouble prior to any run. For the sake of consistency in practice I recommend you play all runs to the end of the game. Play your credit to completion every time even when you are stuck in recovery hell, then load the stage starting state for the first stage you died in. Retry using this full stage restart strategy until you complete the entire game. Then just repeat the process until you inevitably get good enough at the game to 1cc. Always make sure to take notes of your deaths and what caused them as you go and try to fine tune your overall route and strategy for subsequent plays. Follow this methodology and I guarantee players of any level can find success in Gradius.
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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:02 am 


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brokenhalo wrote:
We talking about practice? Not world record attempts.... Practice?

World record scores are only set by super talented savants on their very first run with a game. We are talking about practice.

Thanks for the guidance, ACSSeraph! I think I should set up practice states but I also feel like the training mode in ESPrade is specific enough to just do those? Probably there are some boss patterns I should focus on, like the major wave of the Stage 3 battle copter. I usually bomb at least twice on that.

@David: Playing widely is great, but lately when I play another game I just end up feeling like my skills didn't transfer AT ALL and then I go back to ESPrade and get totally destroyed due to the playfeel being off. I feel like I really need to stick with a shmup for a little bit to get the routing back in my mind.
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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:28 am 


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Special World wrote:
I want to do runs, not spend 100 hours in savestate practice. But I've been working on ESPra.de., and I've been devoting a lot of time to the practice mode because of how smartly M2 broke it up and incentivized it. I feel like i've gotten much better at the game, but i sorta fall apart at the same place anyways. My scores are better, but I still haven't gotten past the stage 5 midboss, which I first got to a good while ago.

Good point here, it's important to not overestimate the usefulness of practice. Being good at final boss in practice mode won't prepare you for the pressure you'll feel when getting there in a real run. But it's also important to not underestimate it either. Practicing the final boss may not guarantee 100% success rate in a full run but it does give you a better chance than coming in unprepared. So my advice is to try to keep the time you spend on full runs and practice equal.
Special World wrote:
Do you come back after a weeks or months of not playing and crush (as happened to me with a Mushi 1.5 Original clear)?

Yes. There's only so far that raw skill can get you. Bullet hell games like most of CAVE stuff rely more on memorization than reaction. And guess what, you can forget stuff after some time. So yeah, derusting is a thing everyone has to do when coming back.
Special World wrote:
What the hell is the meaning of it all anyways?

Whatever practice habits work for you, if you're not having fun then you're playing the wrong game.


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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 4:40 am 


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Credit feeding
or
1 credit per attempt
or
stage practice

i don't save state practice because I don't use emulators and it crosses that line for me.


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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:27 am 


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i mostly just credit feed to practice stuff. rarely some part of a game will piss me off so much that i will break down and learn it by savestating it but i avoid it where possible cuz it makes the game feel like work. its maybe worth noting i basically never play for score
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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:49 am 


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Here's my methods:

if it's a memorizer, I suggest playing stage by stage. it's not just about surviving tough spots, but also learning to anticipate them. You can savestate 100 times but you'll still die when you actually reach that one attack in realtime, is what i'm saying. Playing the whole game can be exhausting so just split the stages and practice each. it works.

otherwise, if you're learning survival, i'd suggest this flow:
-play the entire game a few times
-write down/remember the points where you keep dying
-savestate those and polish them until you stop
-go back to step 1 and repeat until 1cc/nomiss.

if you're learning scoring, unless it's a new game where you're literally discovering stuff:
-master survival first :)
-watch videos. It's way more important than for survival.
-record your gameplay, then compare to the vids.
-correct mistakes, only savestate cheesing if any particular issues pop up

personal opinion by the way: just have fun. It doesn't matter if you credit feed or master a game. games are made to be enjoyed.
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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:42 am 


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Why is this such a common question when you practice it the same way you practice basically anything? Every aspect of it has something in common with real life stuff you do every day

Special World wrote:
Should I just throw myself up against incredibly hard bosses to build skill at the easier stuff?

Do you lift heavier stuff in order to build strength or add more reps?
Special World wrote:
Practice God when I wanna clear Maniac?

Do you learn spanish when you want to learn german?
You can do the reverse and apply shmups to irl stuff and it works just as well because it's the same concept


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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:59 am 


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Bananamatic, it may seem a painfully obvious question to you, but I have arted for thousands of hours and I still ask myself questions like "what is good practice" and "how should I best be spending this time". You have people saying "just contour draw the figure from life a thousand times" and people like Andrew Loomis saying "no, don't contour draw without imagining, demarcating ,and sketching out the 3D form."

To look at lifting, you got dudes doing bicep curls till the end times with little skinny legs. Not all practice is equal.

I'd say some people have really good practice habits and some don't. And sometimes that can be easily tweaked and sometimes it can't. Good advice can still improve the day, etc. I find that a lot of people who are good at something have no idea why they're good at it. Other peopls have noticed the struggle and are very aware of how they did what they did.
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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 10:38 am 


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Special World wrote:
but I have arted for thousands of hours and I still ask myself questions like "what is good practice" and "how should I best be spending this time"

Probably because art is subjective and there's no real measurable goal besides drawing what you want to draw which changes all the time?

Special World wrote:
To look at lifting, you got dudes doing bicep curls till the end times with little skinny legs. Not all practice is equal.

Replace bicep curls with stage 5 and squats with stage 4 and it becomes common sense, if you want disco muscles then you can forget about legs, if you want the biggest score in stage 5 only for some reason then you can forget about stage 4
Do something, evaluate your progress, evaluate how seriously you approached it, observe when the biggest gains come, make adjustments or continue, sometimes take a step back and try to look at it from a different perspective, repeat


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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:01 pm 


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Dave_K. wrote:
IMHO savestate grinding is the quickest way to git gud, but I feel its always game specific. Getting better overal at shmpus just takes experience across many games and many years. Like any other hobby, its simply about how much time you put into it.

As for my personal preference, I don't have a lot of free time anymore, and do not enjoy grinding save states, so I end up just playing each credit to its fullest like in an actual arcade. I sometimes use continues if I get bored with the first 3-4 stages and want to improve on later stages. I also switch up games quite often to not get bored. As a result I enjoy the little time I do have playing, but on the whole I'm not anything more than average in ability, and I'm ok with that.


This, except I like to stay focused on one game before going for another one.

In the end, for us common mortals, it's all about having fun. The definition of "fun" depends entirely on you, so make what you will of that.

For example, I've enjoyed Batsugun Special a lot, played a lot of it, 1CCd it and never got back to it because it kind of lost its charm as I've managed to get a 1CC consistently and scoring was never really a thing I've been interested in.


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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:48 pm 


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Seconding a lot of what banana has said thus far with some addendum's:
Practice with intent
- This means setting up some sort of game plan before you practice of what you want to accomplish and how you should do it.
Don't just mindlessly put in time but actively think about the decisions that you're making throughout and how they will affect the outcome.
Are you following through your plan and if executed with perfection, will it get you closer to what you want to accomplish?
If not, it's time to re-evaluate.

Constantly re-evaluate
- Is the way you're currently approaching the problem the best possible way as seen from the perspective of accomplishing your goals?
If your solution is lacking (points, consistency, whatever other factor), experiment and try some different ways of approaching the same situation in a different way.
Make mental notes and pick the strategy which maximizes whatever metric you use for defining success (points, consistency, etc.).


For me, practice has boiled down to first understanding the problem space, experimenting with intent to find possible solutions, compare solutions to pick the one that best supports the achievement of whatever goal I have and lastly internalizing all of the steps needed to accomplish my chosen solution.
Internalizing can mean anything from practicing a certain movement pattern for consistency, timing or how to react given certain types of random behavior.
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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:04 pm 


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I am not a good shmup player, and in fact am just really starting my journey. But as a regular fighting game player, I see this question being asked a lot. What Eaglet says about practicing with intent is often advised in the fighting game world, and it is an attitude I strongly subscribe to. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a goal while you practice. Aimlessly practicing without a goal is usually not successful. There are exceptions of course, but shmup games, like fighting games, require focus and practice. Focus is aided by making goals and trying to achieve them. I'm going to repeat a lot of what Eaglet has said, and for that I do apologise, but I feel it is important to put it into specific examples.

Having only a large goal can often lead to failure, which leads to frustration and giving up. So in my case, I identify my larger goal and then break that down into smaller goals, which when achieved, help me succeed at my larger goal. These smaller goals often become clearer when I play real matches (or real playthroughs in shmups) and see where I am failing.

For example, in a fighting game, my larger goals is to achieve the top rank. However, this doesn't help me practice. There is a need to focus on smaller goals that will lead to my overall objective. During matches I've noticed I sometimes struggle against jump-ins. So now my smaller goal should be practicing ant-airing opponents better. I'm dropping combos in matches - okay then, I need to practice my combos. Succeeding at these goals will undoubtedly improve my overall ability, and thus move me forward on my path to my overall objective of being in the top rank.

Bring this attitude to a shmup. My overall objective is to get a 1cc (or high score or whatever). While playing, I notice I'm always dying at a certain section. Now my smaller goal is to practice this section until I'm confident enough to successfully get past it. Other smaller goals I've often used include practice no missing no bombing the first stage; practice the second stage with a goal of only losing one life etc. If I achieve these smaller goals, I feel satisfied and happy. If I can't, then maybe I need to ask outside help or take small break to think about it. Then I will attempt a full run and see if I can past the part I had been practicing. While doing the full run, I can then identify further areas I need to practice.

If practicing like this is not fun, then I advise just do what you makes you smile and have fun. You will invariably get better just playing games, but I'm willing to bet it will be a slower process than focused practice.
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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:57 pm 


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in regards to the fighting game comparison, it's also good to remember that everyone develops different skills at a different pace. some people might be better suited initially to one aspect of the game but crumble horribly in other ways.

when i practice a game, i tend to try to focus on one thing at a time when i'm explicitly practicing, and if i don't see the kind of progress i want, i narrow it down further. i'm the kind of person who can get pretty overwhelmed by choice and options, so sometimes i need to try a lot of different strategies to get the kind of effect that i want.

an example; if i'm trying to score high in stage 2, i'll first try a sort of generic strategy and see how well it works. if my score is low, i'll practice routes over and over and try to narrow down where the biggest score boost is. if i'm dying a lot at a certain point during the score run, i'll forego scoring almost entirely and focus completely on avoiding damage. once i can avoid damage consistently, then i'll work routing back in slowly until i've minimized/eliminated my deaths and gotten a high score.

i do this same thing in fighting games (i play Tekken mostly); my usual focus is on getting a life lead and holding onto it with movement and poking, working in block punishment and whiff punishment when possible. but my block punishment kind of sucks sometimes, so i might forego my poking game in order to focus on just movement and blocking/block punishment. if my block punishment still sucks, then maybe it's an issue i'm having with the matchup, so i'll take the character i'm fighting against to practice mode and go through their movelist, find the stuff that was giving me trouble, and lab against it. maybe it's not punishable so i have to sidestep or backdash out of the way instead, or maybe you have to punish quickly, so then i'll start trying to focus on seeing at least some of the startup of the animation so i can immediately prepare myself to punish. once i'm satisfied with my labbing, i go back into the fight and try again.

with shmups though it can be kind of hard because there isn't that aspect of a second human player there to give you advice or guidance on what to do. i actually wonder if some kind of "shmup coach" sort of thing would be a cool thing to have in the community. sometimes no matter how much practicing you do on your own, you really just need someone sitting there telling you what to do/not do, to hammer in the knowledge more effectively.
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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:52 am 


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Thanks for the advice-- i set up a few goals for the chopper boss and Pleiades (that turbo douche)

Reached my goal of no miss 4/5x on chopper boss, gonna try to no miss 3/5x Pleiades tomorrow. Hate him to death! I feel like I am way better than I was two weeks ago and yet I still rarely make it to 5 midboss.

I feel like my goals should be better, but i dunno. I'll work on figuring out what works.
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 Post subject: Re: Can we talk about PRACTICE?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:59 am 


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"Practice" for me is boring. I just play what I want to play. I exert some amount of effort as I play, this is normal for me as I like to play as well as I can in that moment. Over time I naturally improve just from playing. I don't chase 1cc's typically, they sort of just happen the more I play. I play to have fun. "Practice" is not fun. But I play enough that I am always improving.
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