Exploring inconsistent counter breakers

I was watching Max stream Mira the other day and he had a couple very good counter breaker attempts go awry on him. I’ve seen this quite a bit recently and I wanted to explore what is causing it.

So, counter breakers work like this. First of all, you must counter break before the opponent breaks. If you are even one frame late, you are never going to succeed. While it might be frustrating to be slightly late on the counter break attempt, and sometimes rollback can make it look like you were early, I don’t think they can/should change this fundamental principle of needing to be early. However, there is one thing I really want the devs to change: the lockout X takes a few frames to animate. This means, if your opponent breaks 1 frame before you counter break, the lockout X shows up after your counter breaker screeches your combo to a halt. This by itself is pretty bad, but adding even the slightest bit of rollback can create situations where you are SURE you counter broke first, because the game is kind of lying to you by delaying the appearance of the lockout X. So the first point of this thread is a request to the devs: please remove the fade-in animation for the lockout X. Have it appear immediately, because there is nothing to gain from animating the startup, and it causes lots of frustration.

But that’s not the main point of this post. I wanted to explore a bit why sometimes you definitely counter break first and it still doesn’t catch. And it has to do with your opponent’s hit stun. You can only combo break while you are in hit stun. You can still be in the counter break pose, and your opponent may have left hit stun, depending on what move you tried to counter break and when in the animation you try it (this is, after all, why you can punish your opponent’s counter breaker attempt). If he tries to press a breaker strength and he has left hit stun, he will simply get throw, or instinct activation, or whatever, even though you are still counter breaking. I’m sure we have all seen this happen.

But… it happens in weird cases. Take for example, Thunder doing a heavy auto-double, then canceling it into shadow Triplax, and trying to counter break the first hit. You would assume that a heavy auto-double causes a pretty substantial amount of hit stun. After all, Thunder can link a light manual after it! So the opponent should be stuck for a pretty long time. But take a look at what happens as soon as you counter break…

See how the game immediately cancels all of his hit stun for (what I can tell) not really much reason? The above gif lets it play out once by itself, and you can see how fast Thunder returns to his neutral pose. Then, after that, I try to combo break the first hit with mediums, and I just get a medium punch and hit the guy in his counter breaker pose.

What about if Thunder does this same combo but cancels into shadow Ankle Slicer?

See how much longer the hit stun stays around? And notice how much later I try to break and I still get counter broken?

Basically, my findings are that various linkers and shadow linkers cancel the hit stun of the previous move in unexpected, inconsistent ways, and I don’t know why this is. It leads to counter breakers that you’re sure should work, but “randomly” don’t. I would like to pick the brain of the developers a bit here and ask if they know why this is happening, or if it’s expected, or if it’s something that is easy to change.

Is there a way to, say… force a certain amount of hit stun for the prior move so that your opponent can’t immediately leave hit stun and kill you? I can’t think off the top of my head of what things that would mess up for the rest of the game… it wouldn’t really help safe counter breakers, because you destroy projectiles and other things, right? It would just mean that the opponent must not try to break for at least the first n frames of the counter breaker, and this n is not super inconsistent and frustratingly different when you change your combo.

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Great stuff 'fil!

I’m going to the lab to investigate this stuff with Omen.

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Very insightful, as always!

Interesting exposition. Thanks for doing this Infil.

I have previously wondered if there is a way to standardise counter breakers so the hitstun is consistent. A possible solution I thought of would be to have counter breakers cause a damageless hit which would therefore standardise the counter breaker window, as you can only break during hitstun.

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There’s a lot at play here, clearly. They have to do some hit stun canceling, because otherwise you probably couldn’t punish heavy auto-double -> counter break (you’d be stuck in hit stun for like 100 frames and the guy’s counter breaker would end).

And if you do a light auto-double (or a manual) into shadow, then counter break, you won’t be stuck in as much hit stun as a heavy attack, which means counter breaking is harder in this case. And, of course, we have air counter breakers and teleporting counter breakers (for Glacius ranged doubles, eg) that probably complicate this matter further.

The part that’s most bothersome is just that everything is so different all the time. If you try to counter break on hit 1 of a heavy linker, vs hit 2 of the same heavy linker, vs hit 3, you might cancel the hit stun in 3 different ways.

I don’t know how difficult it is to just somehow standardize all the counter breaker frames. No matter if you did a light manual or a heavy auto-double or a hit 1 of the medium wind kick linker ahead of time… if you counter break, can they just somehow guarantee you are in hit stun for, say, 35-40% of the total counter breaker time? Like, slowly animate the rest of your hit stun over these 20-ish frames so it doesn’t look janky? I dunno, I would guess the answer to my question is “the game is not easily built to handle this”, so it would probably be a lot of work. :disappointed:

But I think the problem has to be addressed somehow.

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That’s why I suggested a damageless hit be added to the counter breaker as that would standardise the hitstun (and therefore the counter breaker’s effective window) for all attacks and would remove the need for hitstun cancelling, as the hitstun of the previous attack would be overwritten by the counter breaker hit.

Not a bad idea, although I think the hit stun of this hit has to change based on what type of counter breaker it is? Maybe it works fine for grounded counter breakers, but I think the air counter breakers and teleport ones might be a little harder.

But then again, maybe they can add a phantom hit to just the grounded counter breakers, since maybe the air ones are mostly working okay?

I dunno, this is all theory, maybe it’s hard for them to do this type of behavior, and maybe it causes other weird things to happen. It seems solid in theory after a rough 5 minutes of thought, though.

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I just know that I hate it when I counter-break “successfully” before my opponent locks out, without attacking, only to then watch them instantly recover and then proceed to punish me instead, all while I’m still stuck in the very obvious, and apparently long-lasting, counter-breaker pose. :unamused:

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wow that is such a great idea.

You could also use this to remove the goofy looking air counter breaker. Like Thunder doing a slightly modified faster bit different looking stomp with maybe a lightning effect (follow up dp) to hit them to the ground. The hitstun of the stomp applies immediatly and it simply has a standard amount of counter break attempt recovery upon land to give the easy counter break attempt punish.

Same for Glacius he could simply do a tracking puddle punch as counter breaker hit on his range doubles and so on.

I really like the idea a lot.

The problem with these ideas is that they are real hits as opposed to phantom hits. It would add quite a bit of confusion to the combo, I think, because they would essentially be hits that set up the counter breaker; that is, when pressing counter breaker you wouldn’t immediately enter the pose, your character would do something odd first.

As I think Bane was describing the problem, simply after you have already entered the CB pose, your opponent’s character is “magically” inflicted with a certain 0 damage hit that has n frames of hit stun. So if you aren’t really paying attention, nothing ever looks different. I think if you force the character to do an actual 0 damage hit preceding a counter breaker, things will feel pretty odd?

Infil is correct, I was just imagining hitstun being inflicted during the counter breaker animation, not a change in the animation itself.

Regarding teleport and air breakers (breakers where the opponent is airborne: air to ground counter breakers would follow the above rule) I think the latter is generally fine as I presume a similar system is already in place (as the opponent would otherwise be in hitstun until they hit the ground) although if they were to remove hitstun cancelling then they may have to add a hit to cause a flip out or something to reset the opponent if they don’t counter break so they can punish. Teleporting breakers could just act like normal breaker but maybe add an additional hit at the start of the teleport animation to make sure you reach the opponent before hitstun wears off.

And here I was calling myself a scrub last night for thinking something might be up with counter-breaks. Makes sense too since I was using a heavy double. Thanks so much for this.

To be clear I just used Thunder as an example. I don’t think the heavy auto-double is the problem, it’s the move that you counter break after it that changes things. So, for example… Mira’s shadow drill has this problem on the first hit as well, but it’s entirely possible your favorite character’s shadow linkers don’t cause this to happen at all (maybe, for your character, it’s the 2nd hit of heavy Influence linker or something, to name a random example I haven’t tested).

It’s one of those things that the devs probably have to manually program for every move, and maybe some moves just accidentally do weird things to the move before it. That’s why the universal solution that Bane proposed is maybe one worth exploring, if it doesn’t cause the rest of the game to freak out. It would just be a universal rule and wouldn’t require individually setting values for every linker/auto-double/manual/shadow move for every character. It’s just “did you counter break on the ground? OK, add phantom hit with consistent hit stun.”

The best thing about this solution is that the game won’t “feel” different if the person doesn’t know what’s going on under the hood. To them, the counter break mechanic works exactly the same, and as long as you pick a decent value for the hit stun (I would guess somewhere around 35-40% of the total duration of a grounded counter breaker pose should be enough), they won’t even notice.

Anyway, I mostly want to hear what the devs think about the problem as I outlined it and what people have said so far. I think even if they agree Bane’s change is a good idea, it’s far from trivial to program and test, and might cause some weird safe counter breakers or something in some really outlier cases. So maybe they won’t even have the resources to implement it, I dunno. But I think lots of people are saying “man I for SURE counter broke that”, and it’s frustrating them a bit. In some cases they’re wrong, but in some cases I think they’re right.

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Right on. I should have provided more info in my post - I was practicing counter-break combos with Mira, and was having a hell of a time getting the counter-breaker in certain scenarios. I immediately assumed it was me and tried adjusting timing in both directions - still mad inconsistent.

I then adjusted the “Break on Frame” to see if this was merely my old man reactions - but had largely the same results.

After having read your explanation and having seen your GIF, I will check later today if it appears to be the same thing.

Oh, if you’re trying to counter break the dummy AI in training mode, it’s almost entirely impossible. You literally have to counter break exactly on the precise frame that’s stated. So if you set the delay to 10 frames, and you counter break on frame 9, nothing will happen. If you counter break on frame 11, the AI has already combo broken (of course). So it’s literally a 1 frame window.

The only way to test counter breaker combos reliably is to set the dummy to break all with delay 0, then do an opener and counter break immediately. The AI always responds to this scenario with a break. But there’s no way you can get them to do any other situation reliably.

(If you want to test counter breaker damage after, say… opener -> double -> linker -> double xx CB, then your only choice is to set the CPU to break NONE, do that combo, counter break into nothingness on that auto-double, pause the game, set the CPU to break all delay 0, then when you unpause it will immediately try to break)

Well sheesh! That’s certainly less than ideal. I wonder why I never noticed this with Hisako?

Thanks for the explanation, however, for understandable reasons, the gifs are of no use to a person with no sight. A suggestion to remedy this would be to record the video footage and place it here as well. Regardless, the problem does still persist, I agree.

Counterbreakers are off, as are shadow breakers. You have to place your shadow breakers way outside of what they were for s2 which is why I keep missing them (unless I’m lucky and specifically commit to concentrating on that move and nothing else).

Try setting the AI to easy.

Ive been saying something isnt right with the hit stun since S3 dropped. the opponent returns to a blocked state way to fast now. It was never like this in S2. Counter breaker or no counter breaker…something is off.

Awesome thread and video …we need more stuff like this to help get the game right. Good job!

Any thoughts on the lock out timer being totally incorrect or appearing even though you didnt even attempt a break against Shagos manuals?
Example: Shago throws and then goes for the typical HvyK manual… I hit break right on time but it still gives me Timer lock out. But even worse he whiffs Hvy K manual and I hit break as he misses because I know whats coming and It still gives a lock out. Its so strange…never had this issue until S3.

Timing lock outs for juggles weren’t a thing before S3, in S2 you could just hit break without worrying about timing. Also i don’t why it’s a problem, if they whiffed then they dropped the combo so who cares if you got locked out?