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GDC 2006 Quick Summary

I just got back from the 2006 Game Developer's Conference, and there is just too much to write about. Xbox 360 magazine (in the UK) wants two articles from me about Street Fighter, Game Developer Magazine (US) wants one about certain game design topic, plus I should write about all the great things at GDC for all of you.

The roundtable discussions about MMO economies were all good (I went to all three of them), Will Wright is on another level as always, Nintendo's speech about disrupting the market was a direct hit, Bungie's founder outlined the business model of his new comany that outsources nearly everything except the core gameplay, Ernest Adams had an interesting new take on story games, Raph Koster left Sony Online Entertainment (after being there 6 years), Linden Labs explained the importance of giving property rights to your players, and there were many other interesting ideas floating around, too.

I have so much to write, that I feel like playing Brain Age on Nintendo DS instead of doing any of it, lol.



Evolution 2005 Tournament Experiences

I'm about a month late in reporting this, but better late than never. This year's Evolution tournament was in Las Vegas, and it was great. I entered the Super Turbo Street Fighter 2 tournament and the Guilty Gear XX #Reload tournament (aka ST and ggxx).

I know it's bold to say this, but going in the ST tournament I knew I had an actual shot at winning the whole thing. I have it within me to beat everyone there and I have beaten all the big names before in tournaments, it's just a matter of doing it this time. I finished first in my qualifying pool, and this included a match against the Japanese player Mester. He plays Vega (claw) and finished in top 8 before at Evolution. I told Kuni (my friend, another Japanese player) that I would play Bison against Mester even though I was playing Vega the whole tournament. Kuni said "to counter Mester's Vega?" I said "Well, this is America." Kuni nodded, understanding. (In the US, we often pick counter characters but in Japan players devote themselves to a single character.) Anyway, I completely smoked Mester and beat him 4-0 in rounds. I know that match very well and Mester didn't seem to know it at all.

I watched a very good Balrog (boxer) play another good Balrog and I would play the winner. I whispered to Kuni that I was considering playing Honda for this match. Kuni was surprised, saying "You play Honda?" I nodded. He has been my secret weapon for years. Kuni said "It can work." The better Balrog player won the mirror match, then I stepped up with my Honda. Using some "old man techniques" I won the match. My next opponent was two-time US national champion Jason Cole. I've beat him before, it was just a matter of doing it now. We did double blind select and to Cole's great surprise, I picked Honda. Cole picked his main character, Dhalsim. I beat him the first game and this put him in a very bad position. If he switched to Guile to beat me, I would easily beat his Guile with my Vega (claw) and win the match. Cole considered this for a while, then decided to stick with Dhalsim for game 2. It was a good choice because he barely won it. He also barely won game 3 and the match. Close, but the win went to Cole. He had better knowledge of that match than me, so I have no gripes about the loss. In fact, I learned a few things from it.

As an aside, I'd like to point out that I went to another player for advice before the tournament. I call him "The Ancient One," because he has secret knowledge of the ages about ST that exceeds even my own. (His actual name is James Romedy.) I asked The Ancient One, "If I have to play against a Honda player, who should I pick?" Romedy scoffed, saying that there could be no such player. Only Bob Painter plays honda of any US players there, and no Japanese players at the tournament played Honda. I asked him to answer anyway. He said "Is the theoretical player better or worse than Bob Painter?" I said "Assume worse." He said in that case I should pick Bison. The match is *hugely* in Honda's favor, but I can...rely on a certain tactic to beat any non-expert Honda. I said, "Fine, but what if he's better than Bob?" The Ancient One said "Then you should either play DJ(!?) or possibly tough it out with Vega, just don't get behind in life."

The reason I asked him any of this is that I feared losing to Honda more than almost anything in the entire tournament, including playing people like Cole or Choi or whatever. Romedy made a good point when he said that there could be no such Honda player though. So who was my next opponent? A random Honda player that no one had ever seen. I took the wise advice of The Ancient One and picked Bison and did my stuff. The Honda endured. Hmm....he seemed much better than a random scrubby honda. I could play DJ, but it seemed like too ridiculous a move. At this point, I did the losing move of the match: I hovered my character select box on Ryu but did NOT pick him. Instead, I picked Vega. I figured I could tough it out in that silly match, but Vega cannot come back from being behind. I got behind, I lost. Smoked by a random Honda out of no where. My worst nightmare realized. Why didn't I just pick Ryu to counter? That was a really bad loss. I know everyone talks about "would have, could have, should have," but I really think the tournament results would have been a lot different if I could have just avoided that one player. I'll have to actually be able to beat Honda next year. (That guy made top 8, btw.)

There was also a 3on3 team tournament in ST and I would like to point out my claim to fame here. Gian, the Dhalsim player from Japan, was on the winning team in the team tournament and he won the entire singles tournament. I was the only player this year to defeat Gian in a tournament match! I played Vega vs. his Dhalsim and won fairly easily (even though Cole gives me trouble in that match). So yeah, no one else beat him at all in the singles or team tournament except for me.


In ggxx, I got a few wins and finishied first in my qualifying pool, but I eventually lost to two solid players. One was Alex from Texas who plays Slayer. He absolutely smoked me at Texas Showdown 5, and he did very well against me this time as well. I missed a guaranteed sweep that would have won me a round, but perhaps the overall match result would have been the same. I picked Potemkin against him in game 1 for the character advantage (Alex is a known Slayer player) but he destroyed me so bad that I ran back to my main character, Chipp.

My other ggxx loss was to ID. He's one of the best ggxx players in the US and he beat me fair and square. I have no gripes, and in fact the very first thought that entered my mind when he beat me was "I really have to never play Chipp again if I actually want to win at this game." I had prepared a little bit with Faust, but I was not confident enough to actually play Faust against ID or Alex. Next time maybe, if anyone ever practices with me.

That's all for now.



Evolution Fighting Game Championships 2004

I am back from Evolution 2004. It was huge and awesome and there's so much that went on that I can't begin to convey it all here. Many of the best players in the world were there, competing in 9 different fighting games. I am one of the organizers of the event, and I ran a sizeable portion of the Super Turbo Street Fighter 2 tournament.

Anyway, here's how I did. On Day (qualifying pools day), I did not lose a single ROUND in either game I entered (ST and GGXX). This included a win against two-time US national champion Jason Cole, in 4 straight rounds. (Um...why were he and I in the same qualifying pool? I think we really need to seed by ranking, not just by region next year.) Oh, I played only Vega the whole time in ST. Cole played Chun Li against me first, then switched to Dhalsim. I played only Chipp the whole time in GGXX.

On Day 2, I won some matches in Guilty Gear, but lost (barely) to an Axl player who made top 8. I felt like that was mine to win, but oh well. I later lost to an Eddie player who trains with the great Kensao (Chipp player), which means he had plenty of practice against Chipp. I feel I must be honest here when I say that this Eddie player completely destroyed me. It was not close at all. I finished 17th.

In ST, I had been waiting all year for my rematch with Daigo. After retiring Dhalsim, setting Bison aside and focusing on Vega, I felt I was ready. I have beat both Choi and Valle in tournaments with Vega, so I was mentally prepared to face Daigo. The brackets even worked out right for me, as Daigo was on my path. I faced Alex Valle and the winner would not only qualify for top 8 (day 3) but also play Daigo on stage the next match. I wanted to win that one so bad, but Valle proved too tricky and took the match. In loser's bracket I somehow managed to lose to Jessie Howard (Jessie, you are good, but I'm coming for you next time ;) ). So two Old Ken players knocked me out of the tournament, I finished 9th. In case you think Old Ken counters me, I invite the rest of you to play Old Ken against me in a tournament and see how you do. ;)

My claim to fame was the GGXX #reloaded tournament. I have played #reloaded like 2 times ever (one of those times was when I qualified for Team USA lol). I know the differences Chipp has in #r, but since I did not play #r on purpose (since Evolution's main Guilty Gear tournament was Non-#r this year) people did not expect much of me. I teamed up with Destin and famed Japanese Sol player Miu. We faced "Dream Team USA" of ID, Ruin, and Chaotic Blue. Those are probably the #1, 2, and 3 players in the US. I personally beat ID (top Sol) and Ruin (top Edddie) consecutively, to the amazement of the crowd. Chipp power! My friend Miu was able to clean up Chaotic Blue for me. We took 3rd place.

Oh, and I shouldn't leave out Kuni. He is the Japanese liason, since he speaks very good English. He plays ST Zangief(!) and there is nothing like him in the US anywhere. He wins the unwinnable matches and managed not only to qualify for top 8, but to take 3rd place in ST! He beat down Hondas, Balrogs, Sagats and Dhalsim's like they were nothing...all considred nearly impossible matches. I hung out with Kuni quite a bit, and with the Japanese Guilty Gear players Miu (4th place, Sol) and Kindevu (2nd place, Eddie). They're all very friendly and gave me a glimpse of much higher level play than I had ever seen before in person. I will almost certainly be retiring from Chipp and taking up a new character. For sake of surprise, I'll keep that character secret for now!


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