Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Basics of Brawl - What is a frame?

When playing, people intuitively notice, "This move is slow." Other times, they will notice, "This attack is super fast."

It is possible to measure the exact duration of moves in terms of how they fit into the context of the overall game mechanics through measuring frames.

A frame is, simply put, a snapshot of an exact moment of game play. Over the span of a second, the game will go through 60 individual frames, creating the movement that we see on screen. Each individual frame is considered to be the smallest unit of time that can be functionally measured in the game.

When considering a move, the following durations should be considered:

Start up: How many frames it takes to activate a hitbox
Active Hitbox: How long a hitbox is out in play. A hitbox is the part of the move that affects your opponent, dealing damage or giving knockback.
Cool down: How many frames it takes for a character to be able to perform another action after the hitbox is finished

Ideally, better moves will have less start up frames and less cool down frames. An important threshold to remember is human reaction time. Generally, it will take the average person 1/5th of a second to respond to an action. That means from a technical standpoint, a move that has a start up time of less than 12 frames cannot be shielded purely on reaction.

Since a large number of moves are under this threshold, predicting your opponent's actions becomes more and more important as the move becomes quicker.

Keep Chasing It,
Philip

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