Focus Energy: Lucario's way forward, or an over-convoluted fix?

Discussion in 'Lucario' started by Bent 00, Aug 15, 2018.

  1. Bent 00

    Bent 00 Longtime Limit Breaker

    B- FC:
    If you're familiar with Brawl Minus at all, then you know about Lucario, and how he's been Top Tier for years. Maybe even since the very beginning? I forget. If you played any version before 4.2, you may remember how his ExtremeCheese and Double-Team were significant problems.

    This refers to "Brawl Minus" Lucario's ability to use his Up-Special recovery move "ExtremeSpeed" (which can be canceled into Aerial Attacks) twice in a row without needing to land, if the first use was started on the ground. This grants Lucario extreme aerial mobility for no cost other than his Down Special, "Focus Energy", needing to be fully charged. Using ExtremeCheese does not deplete the Focus Energy charge, so it may be spammed -- allowing Lucario to zoom around the stage easily. Joeybeta using ExtremeSpeed over and over again -- more than 70 times per 4-stock match, on average -- is what earned it the "Cheesy" nickname during the 8th official Brawl Minus tournament.
    Before version 4.1, Lucario's Down-Special, Double Team, was Broken mainly because it was a "Get out of Jail Free" move which allowed him to easily and reliably escape tight spots. It was also a strong move, and able to attack from either of two directions. Its endlag was increased in Brawl Minus 4.1, to prevent spam and enable Lucario to be punished for misusing it. While I thought this was the right direction to take Double Team, this was only a short-lived fix.

    IIRC, nearly everyone agreed that both ExtremeCheese and Double Team needed further adjustments in version 4.2. Sammi-Husky, who I believe was in charge of this, only had a limited time to work on it, and did not want to remove ExtremeCheese or keep the Nerfed Double Team from version 4.1. Instead, he put them both behind a charge wall -- "Focus Energy", Lucario's brand-new Down-Special.

    Focus Energy in Brawl Minus 4.2 is incomplete, and I hear that Sammi and the Play Testers have big plans for making the system work better in the next version. Unfortunately, Focus Energy is a flawed fix no matter how much it is polished, because it is an alternate mode, something that was ruled to no longer be included in Brawl Minus after Ike's "No Sympathy Mode" was deemed a failure and removed.

    Way back before Brawl Minus 4.0b, Ike would enter what was called No Sympathy Mode when he fully charged his Neutral-Special, Eruption. In this mode, his attacks did more damage and dealt self-damage to Ike. Very strong new moves were also unlocked, including CountEruption and Razing Eruption. It was eventually decided that all of this was completely unnecessary, as Ike was already strong enough without these "tacked-on" moves, and so ended No Sympathy Mode. Ike's Neutral-Special gimmick went back to only being able to store his fully-charged Eruption.

    ...I'm honestly too tired to go on any further about this right now.

    Excuse me if any of this comes off as biased against Lucario or Lucario players.
    I simply do not want him to receive preferential treatment while other fighters in need of Buffs atrophy.

    Here's what I had to say about this topic over on the Brawl Minus Discord.
    Is Focus Energy still a temporary fix for Lucario's Down-Special?
    If not, might want to call it "Laser Focus" instead, since that is a move he can actually learn, unlike Focus Energy. :p
    Anyhow, I think Lucario's Down-Special should be a more useful move at all times, not a charge-up wall. Make one of his taunts the charge-up, if you want him to have a chargeable move, and make Down-Special something that is useful (if weak) even without a charge. That's my recommendation.


    Double Team needed to be Nerfed, but not so hard as it was.
    Putting it behind a charge wall is much harder of a Nerf than, say, slowing the uncharged version down and adding a visual cue to tell foes which way Lucario will warp in from.
    Double Team, as good as it is, doesn't feel like it deserves to be stuck behind a charge wall.


    Regarding what was mentioned to be Buffed by Focus Energy...

    "FE buffs damage and KB..."
    Lucario, unarguably one the best fighters in Minus, does not need a mode that Buffs anything other than his Specials. I'd argue that he doesn't need a charged mode at all, since he's already Top Tier, and Ike can't have No Sympathy Mode. If Lucario must have a second chargeable move (the first being Aura Sphere), I think it should only affect Down-Special and/or Side-Special.

    " back Double Up B..."
    ExtremeCheese (double ExtemeSpeed) should not be a thing, even with Focus Energy, unless you're going to be very generous with most other fighters' aerial mobility as well. If ExtremeCheese must be kept in, using it a second time before landing should use up the F.E. charge.

    "...Finisher Side-B on grounded..."
    I've got no problem with this, as long as it uses up the F.E. charge.

    "...F-Smash with a shit ton of accidental damage, and that’s it."
    Completely unnecessary and overkill. F.E. should only affect Special Moves.

    I don't play Lucario much, but I'm seeing more incentive to try and stay in F.E. mode (for the boosts it offers) rather than use it up on Close Combat or Double Team, unless Lucario is at high damage, and F.E. is lost on his death. The whole point of a charge-up move should be to encourage the player to actually use the charge, not just keep it for passive benefits. Why do you think Cloud's Limit is getting a time limit in Ultimate?
    It would be so much simpler if you would just...
    - get rid of ExtremeCheese entirely,
    - make one of Lucario's taunts the charge,
    - make uncharged Down-B something tame like vBrawl "counter" Double Team, and
    - make the full F.E. charge turn Down-Special and/or Forward-Special into more powerful, single-use versions.
    Charging F.E. in the air is unnecessary, it doesn't take that long to complete.

    Just my thoughts from a general design standpoint.

    Also, not using Laser Focus as the name because it's not a ≤Gen 4 move is silly, since we're not obligated to care about Brawl's place in any timeline, unlike Smash 2. Minus should operate on its own timeline. Besides, we already broke "no ≤Gen 4 moves" with Pichu's Wild Charge, which it couldn't learn until Gen 5. Laser Focus' move description fits just as well as Focus Energy's does -- "The user concentrates intensely. The attack on the next turn always results in a critical hit." -- and Lucario can actually learn this move in Pokemon games.


    I liked the old idea of simply making DT a counter again.

    I find it... odd that what started out as a Nerf for DT ended up as multiple Buffs for one of the Top Tiers.


    From a utilitarian viewpoint, you've currently got a Down-B that is useless when not fully charged (which should be most of the time), and when it is fully charged, the boosts F.E. grants are turning out to be overkill, so...
    I'm thinking, roll back these unnecessary changes, and make F.E. simpler, while freeing up uncharged Down-Special for something more useful.

    Am I the only one who's seeing Ike's No Sympathy Mode all over again?
    If we keep F.E., can Ike have N.S.M. back?
    If N.S.M. powering up lots of Ike's moves was broken, is it not also broken on Lucario?
    Seems like it's just as bad, if not worse, because Lucario doesn't damage himself like N.S.M. Ike did.


    I hope no one is offended by this... :sweat:
    I don't doubt you'll make Focus Energy more balanced, but its mere existence is hypocritical.
    No other character is allowed have a charged mode like this, only Lucario.
    Joke: Can this be an emoji? If so, name it "favoritism" or "ExtremeCheese".

    If F.E. is actually opening the gates for other fighters to get charge modes that Buff multiple parts of their kits, then never mind -- but I don't think that's what is happening here. Even if you Nerf Lucario's uncharged state via a negative multiplier, he will still have two states, and he'll still have ExtremeCheese -- which doesn't use up F.E. (!) -- multiple states and the insane mobility of E.C. are two things the rest of the roster would love to have, but can't, just because.

    You groan if I even mention B.P.F., but its charge mode only affected two Specials, Falcon Punch and Raptor Boost. My take on Boost Power granted no other benefits than those two powered-up Specials, while F.E. powers up Up-B, Side-B, Down-B, F-Smash... anything else I'm missing? You might say, "Lucario deserves more Buffs because F.E. makes his Down-B useless half the time" -- to that I'd say,"Does that really sound like good design to you? Lucario's Down-B could be useful all of the time, and he doesn't deserve the Buffs F.E. grants".

    Pin once said this of Ike's No Sympathy Mode, why it was removed:
    "Ike's Old Gimmick was toxic and No Sympathy Mode wasn't an issue of balance but more that it felt tacked on and added nothing when in reality Ike was fine without it."
    Replace "Ike" and "No Sympathy Mode" with "Lucario" and "Focus Energy" and it's still true IMO.

    Double Team needed Nerfing, but it could have been done in a better, simpler way.
    The goal was to Nerf Double Team, and you rushed to do that in the limited time you had...
    ...but instead of stopping there, you opened the door to Buffs that Lucario does not need in the slightest.
    Mainly unlimited ExtremeCheese while charged, and the passive power boost(s).
    I believe you'll try and make Focus Energy better, but in the end, you won't Nerf Lucario enough.
    Your refusal to remove ExtremeCheese, alone, is enough to prove that already.
    To me, it feels like you're trying to bring Cloud's Limit system to Minus too early.
    You're turning Lucario into LuCloud.
    Cloud's Limit is so unique to him in Smash, it's weird to see it on anyone else...
    ...and what's more, you've made F.E. even better than Limit, because ExtremeCheese and the passive power boost(s) don't use up any of the F.E. charge.

    IMO, Lucario's pre-F.E. moveset didn't need much revamping -- the main issues were that ExtremeCheese needed to go, and Double Team needed to be more telegraphed, more punishable, and maybe slower, IIRC.
    You're making him more complicated than he needs to be.
    Removing Aura and its multipliers was a great idea, but now you're adding multipliers back in?
    Instead of making Lucario a split-personality, making him "good" half the time, and "great" the other half...
    ...I suggest that you make him "very good" all the time.
    My Lucario opinions are only those of someone who plays against him -- I don't really know how a Lucario player thinks. But I do know that it's not fair to omit a favorite fighter from the rules that apply to everyone else.
    If Focus Energy stays, then more characters should get modes like it and Ike's No Sympathy Mode.
    However fun this might sound, I believe taking this route would actually cause game balance to suffer.
    It's fine for MAX Mode, though.

    I'll stop there. Sorry if I came off harsh. I don't mean to attack anyone or hurt any feelings -- it does seem like there's a lot of thought being put into making Focus Energy work, which I'm not privy to -- I just wanted to express how I think this is the wrong direction to take Lucario, especially if no one else is allowed to have a similar charge system. Feel free to ignore my opinion, but I'm only trying to help.

    If I got anything wrong, please point out the inaccuracies.
    I doubt any of what I've said about this will change anything, since the people in charge of Lucario seem to be all for Focus Energy... but there was some interest in making a discussion topic for this, so here we are.

    Are you for Focus Energy, or against it?
    Are you satisfied with how it Nerfs ExtremeCheese and Double Team?
    Or do you think an alternate, simpler fix would be better?

    The crux of my argument against it is that I think ExtremeCheese needs to be entirely removed, Double Team should have only been Nerfed and not reworked (4.1 was a good start), and it's not fair for Lucario to have two "modes" when no one else is allowed to have more than one.

    Sammi and the other members of the Minus Dev Team who are pro-Focus Energy might come up with something brilliant and prove my concerns needless in the next version. If they want to share their side of this, please listen to their views as much as you have mine.

    If they don't feel like posting here, you can find what they had to say about this topic during last night's discord discussion by searching for "FE is now a separate balance issue of its own, partially because of those time constraints" over on the #brawlminus channel.

    If someone wouldn't mind compiling all the relevant comments from the pro-Focus Energy guys on the Discord and posting them here, that would be a good start for this discussion.

    More relevant posts from the #brawlminus Discord:
    "Bent you are still thinking of moves as they currently are and not what they could be... When you say Lucario shouldn't have Double Up B, yes he shouldn't have double current 4.2 Up B. But the concept of double Up B alone is fine and it can be nerfed and readjusted to not be so problematic while keeping the good control/feeling of control of double Up B that Sammi is looking to keep."
    "ENB, I think multi-use Up-Specials are a flawed concept in general.

    The only characters they work well for, IMO, are..
    Mario (Double Jump Punch, both have to be used at once)
    Ness (gets a second shot if the first hits something, IIRC?)
    R.O.B. (gas system)

    Can't say I approve of...
    ExtremeCheese (duh)
    Mewtwo's double Teleport (he's great enough with only one)
    Pit's triple Wings of Icarus (awkward, and Pit doesn't need so much recovery)

    I'm neutral on Meta Knight's multiple Up-Specials and Pichu's three short jumps.

    No matter how you Nerf ExtremeSpeed, allowing it to be used twice in a row if started from the ground is going to be weird, because no one else's Up-Special works that way, and because Up-Specials shouldn't be influenced by outside factors like that -- they should be self-contained, and only refresh if you get hit, you land, or you grab a ledge. This is like a "law of Smash" with very few exceptions, IMO. You didn't like it when I gave Pikachu "Extreme Quick Attack", and I don't think you'd like the "Extreme" treatment on anyone else, either... except for Lucario, for some reason. Am I wrong?

    The Devs need to decide together whether or not multiple "modes" for a character, like Focus Energy and Cloud's Limit, are OK for Minus.
    If they are approved for anyone who is not Cloud -- he keeps Limit because it's part of his core design -- then more fighters who would benefit from them should have them.
    If they can't have multiple modes or comparable aerial mobility "just because", it's Lucario favoritism.

    ...It's modes that grant several strong Buffs for cheap costs I have a problem with.
    If Focus Energy only powered up Lucario's Side-Special and Down-Special, that would be fine.
    But making it Buff attack power of regular Attacks by 1.2x, and give him unlimited ExtremeCheese? Too much!
    I also think F.E. just feels gimmicky, and would much rather Lucario have a Down-Special that is useful at all times."
    "None of those examples are really comparable to Lucario's double Up B or to one another for the most part. "Laws of Smash" are pretty lame. It's pretty similar to the argument of "design consistency" from Pin that isn't really all that great. You also can't compare the double up from ground concept across multiple characters and the feedback you get. "Oh well I guess if they didn't like this on one character, they'd hate it on any character" is not a good mentality. I do dislike the idea of Pikachu having essentially 4 individual Up B uses. That doesn't mean I dislike the use and implementation of double Up B's because it works just fine on MK, one that you seem to have forgotten. Double Up Bs are a problem on a case by case basis. Same thing as any of other aspect of design for a character."
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
  2. Sammi-husky

    Sammi-husky Scientist #1 Minus Backroom

    4.1's DT nerfs were deemed by community and playtesters to not even remotely fix it. That's why it didn't stay, not because i didnt like the nerfs.

    Why does it deserved to be removed entirely? What part of it is too much? The burst movement option? The speed? The hitbox? The range? Explain in detail why double extreme speed as a base, in other words having 2 uses regardless of if they had no hitbox at all and only could be done from the ground, deserves to be removed. Would having no hitbox still be deserving of having them both be removed? What if they had significantly less distance and range?

    Explain precisely why it deserves to be removed as a concept, and how reworking the other aspects like i mentioned wouldn't be enough.

    The ideology that the concept is inherently bad and can never work is nomesensical and short sighted. You have pointed to other double or even triple up specials that are "acceptable" in pichu and etc, furthering my point that function and utility define these decisions of removal or rework, not some magic law that says it's inherently bad.

    The idea that devs play favorites or give characters preferential treatement is unsubstantiated and innacurate, if not insulting. He was never, and no character ever has, been given special treatement. Lucario is a tempremental character to balance and has been a hot topic in every smash game to date balance wise. We are incredibly hesitant to over nerf any character, but Lucario even moreso simply because he is far easier than others to either over nerf or over buff.

    Focus Energy was only released as is with the intention to tame Double Team and lay the ground work for more changes due to the limited time, as even with 4.1's nerfs the community and playtesters raged that it hardly mattered and DT was still a massive problem.

    As for NSM ike, it was removed because it was difficult to balance around with his character design. No other reason. It was not rempoed because of some philosophy against dual mode characters. We have a philosophy against dual personality/playstyle characters, not modes. (See bat ness).

    Keeping NSM would have required a significant overhaul to his entire character much like we have planned for lucario. Ike would be nothing how he is now and MUCH weaker at that. We decided that it wasnt worth it in his case.

    I am not against NSM ike done correctly however and never was. To sum this up, the notion we are against modes is incorrect only that dual personality characters like bat ness are a problem. NSM ike wasnt removed for those reasons

    Precisely the case. Lucario is being completely redesigned and taking current Lucario and Focus Energy at face value as is, is pointless. You cant make balance decisions or form opinions on something that doesnt exist yet. Double ES, DT, Focus Energy, all of it will be fine and the former wont be an issue with their changes and the new Lucario build overall.
  3. Bent 00

    Bent 00 Longtime Limit Breaker

    B- FC:
    In short, because most characters can only use their Up-Specials once, and the few that can use them twice or more can't abuse them to nearly the same degree that Lucario can abuse ExtremeCheese.

    If ExtremeCheese stays in, this sort of ExtremeSpeed spam needs to be actively discouraged in some way, via self-damage, significant endlag on repeated use, or something similar.

    It's not the burst movement option. As you said on the Discord, without ExtremeSpeed, Lucario is rather slow, so he certainly deserves a single use of ExtremeSpeed. However, once you look at how canceling ExtremeSpeed into an Attack lets Lucario keep his momentum, we start to tread into Broken territory. One Attack-cancelable ExtremeSpeed allows Lucario to fly across legal stages in a blink, making him impossible to get away from. The Attack cancel negates any endlag the move would normally suffer, which instantly unbalances it from its original vBrawl design. That cancel alone changed it from a simple recovery move into a "be everywhere at once" kind of move. Now, this is Brawl Minus, so a single instance of that is fine -- but two of them? This affords Lucario aerial stage control comparable to Jigglypuff's, whose specialty that is supposed to be.

    Bingo. Mostly the speed and the range, which are connected. The faster ExtremeSpeed is, the more momentum is going to be preserved when Lucario cancels it into an Attack. The hitbox can be annoying, but I wouldn't call it Broken. In addition to Nerfing the speed and range of ExtremeSpeed, I think it's worth trying a version without the hitbox, since the move has turned into more of a mobility tool than a recovery move which can also attack.

    I didn't say that multiple Up-Specials cannot work, I said I think they're flawed by design (especially those with unintuitive conditions) and that they break what I consider to be a "Law of Smash": An Up-Special's primary use should be for recovery -- not offense or on-stage mobility -- and it should leave the user in a vulnerable state.

    Mario, Meta Knight, Pichu, and R.O.B. prove that they can indeed work well enough and be balanced -- but don't you see the difference between their Up-Specials and ExtremeSpeed? The latter has MUCH more stage coverage and is much better at stage control than the rest are, by far!

    Now, I am no where near as familiar with Lucario as you are, but I'm not seeing how you can balance double ExtremeSpeed without slowing it down and without shortening its travel distance, and you've said you won't do the former (except perhaps marginally). So, I'm guessing... you'll shorten the travel distance, maybe remove the hitbox, and keep everything else about ExtremeCheese the same?

    If your double ExtremeSpeed...
    - is punishable on Shield,
    - is punishable when a foe predicts Lucario's trajectory and has a hitbox waiting for him,
    - has some kind of disincentive for spamming it, and
    - does not have nearly as much stage coverage as it currently does...
    Then I'm less worried about it remaining Broken, but it will still be needlessly over-convoluted and over-powered.

    ExtremeCheese / "Double ExtremeSpeed if started from the ground" deserves to be removed because...
    - it it not intuitive, especially when hidden behind Focus Energy,
    - Lucario only needs a single use of it per airtime, two is overkill, and because
    - only one other fighter (Meta Knight) has the "Double Up-Special from the ground" mechanic in Brawl Minus, and he cannot abuse it nearly as much as Lucario can.

    I haven't heard your detailed plans for balancing Double ExtremeSpeed, so I can't comment on those, but I think you're building on a bad foundation. ExtremeCheese does not need to be balanced, it needs to be removed. Drastically reducing its coverage, which is what it will take to "balance" it -- will probably make ExtremeSpeed less fun to use, and it will still grant Lucario too many options as once. As I said before, ExtremeSpeed is missing a crucial element of a Smash Up-Special, vulnerability, and it does not make any concessions for this.

    That's all I've got time to write for now. Just one more thing:
    Sammi, my accusation of Lucario favoritisim wasn't all on you. It's also on whoever makes the decisions on his way forward, if they decide to give Lucario things like a second mode, passive Buffs/multipliers, or ExtremeCheese that no one else can have. Don't take it personally.

    In retrospect... I really don't know why I have taken this topic this far. I don't play Lucario. I've been frustrated by playing against him, and bored by watching him being played, but now... I play a custom version of Minus, and my opinions rarely affect the official game. I don't really feel like arguing over this any further, I've said what I have to say. If anyone else wants to keep this thread going, feel free, but I frankly have better things to do. Best of luck with Lucario. I hope my concerns are proven needless in 4.3.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018

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