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Peacock Analysis

Bookworm

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I've been thoroughly torturing this into shape since I conducted my survey, and I finally feel like it's ready. We aren't in a beta testing phase but I think it brings up some points that are going to be useful in the future. I tried to be as accurate as possible describing the systems but if you see anything incorrect let me know, I also had to simplify a bit for a broader audience.

I can't post the link cause the spam filter is blocking it, but the article is at nicholasdayhse. com/post/peacock-villain-or-anti-hero . If a mod could give me permission that would be cash money.
 
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This might not be something you want to go into yet but how does the difference in frustration between Pea and non-Pea players compare with other characters? Cus I imagine that there's going to be some kind of drop in frustration for every character's mains. So some comparison would be helpful for contextualising this point (especially since it seems that Pea players still rated her as more annoying than Fukua, the 2nd most annoying character).

Also, in regards to: "people have complained that the recent damage nerf to item drop [...] was rendered meaningless once other combo routes were found". I haven't seen this specific complaint myself (though I have seen people talk about Pea nerfs getting reverted of course) so I'm likely misunderstanding but are people complaining that Pea players have moved from using the item drop left/right reset to other resets that don't have the initial scaling that item drop has now?
 

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Yeah that's a good point, I can do any permutation of frustration based on character use I just had to keep things in scope for brevity. I'll take a look at that and at least post something here.

I'm not sure what they mean either, I think they mean something about the routing changed so that the scaling nerfs don't really effect whatever new combos they came up with but I'd like peacock players to clarify.
 
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Mr Peck

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I'm also very confused about the combo damage comments. Peacock lost a ton of damage on her normal moves and I'm doing far less combo damage in the current patch, especially if I go for the reversal-safe item drop resets that Peacock used to abuse in previous patches. Unless I'm missing something, the only way she can change her routing to get damage that is closer to her old combo damage is by going for riskier resets that the opponent can reversal out of, which was one of her biggest issues in the first place. For a concrete example of what I mean by this, here's a clip from the Evo Online EU Side Tournament Grand Finals where I take a risk, get hit, and lose the round, all because Peacock can no longer get high damage out of reversal-safe left/right item drop resets (timestamp 2:08:50).


Even if we ignore the heavy nerfs to item drop resets and just look at full combos, my solo Peacock midscreen combo deals less damage (7464) than my solo Fukua combo (7550), and my Peacock + Beam assist corner combos deal less damage (roughly 8100) than my Robo + Napalm Pillar corner combos (roughly 8381). Previously I was getting over 8800 damage from Peacock + Beam. I worry that posting these numbers will cause people to get sidetracked into an argument about exact optimal damage numbers for each team, but I figured it was better than just saying "my Peacock combos do normal damage now" without any numbers.

I think Peacock is one of the strongest characters in the game and could do with some more nerfs, but the fact that people are still complaining about her combo damage of all things makes me worried that regardless of how much she is nerfed in the future, some people's complaints won't stop.
 
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I agree on the point that numbers values are just symptoms here(keep in mind I'm not a really good player though), I feel like the problem in her being frustrating is caused by her free ability to switch around plans with low risks.
Simply put, she is too versatile and is rewarded for it. Her lingering projectiles makes punishing her much harder than other characters, and maybe that by tweaking that it would be fairer? But yeah, I don't think changing around damage is gonna do anything except prolongating the argus agony...
 
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I'm going to ramble because there's a lot I didn't have room for in the article.

@Mr Peck

I'm just reporting what people said, it was really just a handful of people iirc the bulk was elsewhere. I would really like to do informational interviews with high level players and maybe put a matchup list together for future analysis (for instance looking at summed matchup strength compared to frustration), but I don't know if I would be able to get people on board. My current impression is that peacock is the undisputed best character based on what I've heard from most high level players, but obviously there's some selection bias to that.

As for never being satisfied, yeah that's a concern, but I do think we can get her to a place where she's less frustrating but still good. something to also keep in mind is that a really significant portion of people don't contribute to the beta thread. You're only getting the most passionate voices that either enjoy arguing or are so frustrated that they can handle the discomfort of posting in the thread. I actually think an open forum is really counterproductive in a lot of ways and needs to be at least paired with data driven design, which I'll dive into in my next article.

I do have bias against peacock but I want to make sure she gets a fair shake, it's why I did the analysis. I don't really want to see her flattened and I don't think her zoning should be worse, from what I can tell she's just too well rounded. I know Robo isn't a perfect comparison but she's the closest we've got, and I'm confident peacock's zoning can be made less frustrating.

The first suggestion I made is the one I'm most confident in. Nothing in fighting games is "unfair". There's an established set of rules, it's not like getting your combo broken by peacock's bombs cheating because it's just how the game's programmed. But having that happen still feels unfair, which is what I'm actually looking at. I don't trust the average person to evaluate power level, I only trust them in telling me how they feel. There's a quote that goes something like "Players are almost always wrong about a problem, but they're always right about how they feel". I could actually envision a situation where certain feel bad things are taken away from her but she's compensated in other areas, she could still be top tier and also be less frustrating. Also having to make risky resets in some situations isn't unique to Peacock, I would think it's more of a normalization than anything.

I really appreciate the explanation of the current combo damage, I'm only an intermediate player so while I feel confident in my data analysis skills there's a lot of intricacy that I don't have the encyclopedic knowledge for. You're guide was also very useful. Also if you know of better clips to represent peacock's zoning pattern in action that would be useful.

@orian34

Low risk high reward was a common complaint for sure. I also think easy switching is the underlying problem and people are missing the forest for the trees. It's not like other characters can't force rewarding 50/50s.
 
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Mr Peck

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My current impression is that peacock is the undisputed best character

I feel bad for linking a random twitter thread here and dragging other people into it, especially because the thread involves a private account, but here's SonicFox saying that they think Ms. Fortune is the best character. So at the very least, Peacock being the strongest character is not undisputed:
Regarding the rest of what you said, I'm mostly just concerned about correcting misinformation. But I also worry because Peacock is a projectile zoner, and most modern fighting games' solutions to balancing projectile zoners is to intentionally make them underpowered, or at least to make it so they can't win by zoning and have to go in a lot, because more players tend to get frustrated by playing against projectile zoners than other archetypes. So attempting to balance the characters for "equal frustration" would likely either result in Peacock being underpowered, or Peacock losing her projectile zoning focus and becoming a more generic character design.

As for the Robo comparison, Robo is a beam/poke zoner whose main strength on point is that she has no weak spots on the screen so she can zone very safely, and she requires a specific type of assist to unlock her full strength and get big damage from beam conversions (e.g. Annie H knuckle and Annie pillar DHC). Whereas Peacock needs to stand on the floor to throw projectiles (which can be very hard to do in a game where brass and giant step and Beo sweep and Parasoul bike and ringlet spike and a million other ground-level anti-zoning tools exist), so when she manages to do that, her reward is stronger. In other words she has bigger strengths but more exploitable weaknesses, meaning that people who have no idea how to play the matchup or exploit her weaknesses will have a harder time against her.

So Robo's "shoot lots of weak beams from anywhere" character archetytpe is inherently a less annoying type of zoner character to play against than Peacock's "throw projectiles from the ground" archetype imo, and that applies even more to people who don't learn character matchups. There's a reason that a low-frustration beginner focused game like Guilty Gear Strive was perfectly happy to include Axl, but they didn't include any heavy projectile zoners like Venom or Justice or Dizzy (who was kind of a zoner in +R but I was struggling to think of a third example lol).

There's also a huge difference between Robo just being at the back of a team for the beam assist, and a team built around enabling Robo strengths as the "main character". Robo is (in my opinion) easily the weakest solo character in the entire game, which should show how much she relies on good support to be strong on point. Anyway, Annie is the perfect support character for Robo-focused teams, so I'll be interested to see how frustrating people think Robo is when they start having to deal with teams that can hitconfirm from a falling air H beam into an Annie DHC for over half of their health. Peacock, on the other hand, has been the "main character" of most zoning teams for a very long time, and most players probably have experience playing against teams that maximize her power.

Anyway, sorry for another big message! We're probably mostly in agreement here, and I think that Peacock could/should still have a few more nerfs. I personally like the idea of nerfing her defensive options a bit. I think I already suggested making her projectiles disappear if she's hit by a non-assist non-projectile attack (although that could end up making H teleport useless so maybe certain projectiles such as sHP cannonball should stick around?), and I assume something similar to the Annie beta's assist + H teleport nerf will be tested again in the next beta cycle. I just think that the end goal should be to make her a competitively balanced character while also nerfing the most frustrating aspects of her are unimportant to her core fun (e.g. projectiles breaking combos, M bang previously being very hard to punish on block), instead of making her zoning so competitively weak that it makes up for people's innate frustration with projectile zoners.
 
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Things I don't like about Peacock:

H plane can save her butt sometimes
H teleport is an escape option/pressure tool/mix up
jHK is a wall I can't do anything about
jHP is a movement tool that does tons of damage on CH (I know it doesn't combo, it's still a lot) and is disjointed and HUGE
M item being out means Peacock is in advantage in neutral and has a 50/50 option she does not need to commit to (in neutral I'm not even talking about the insane mix up game when she has already hit you)
Unlike Robo, Peacock does not give you much meter for blocking projectiles and sometimes the best way to kill her is with meter she has and you don't
Conversion from Lenny > Argus = Peacock time (can happen anywhere on the screen)
CH damage on projectiles
2HK is honestly a normal I really dislike just because she can decide to end neutral really quickly sometimes this way with special cancel almost anything (it can be made safe on block it can help cross up, things like that)

I just want to hit her and I want it to be a combo-able situation.

Mostly I find Robo less frustrating because when I hit her, it's more than likely that I will get the pressure or kill that I deserve. Robo's movement also feels more fallible than Peacock's where I can't seem to do much at all and will just have to hold that I guess in addition to having access to much more metered options much more often from the sheer meter gain of just whiffing projectiles.

Robo can be just as frustrating with the right team comp but when I hit her I feel like nothing will somehow force me to retreat like a falling H plane does. She also doesn't make me second guess my approach with a looming projectile over me that's easy to convert from and results in me losing any momentum I might've had earlier.

Peacock's projectiles also have CH damage so sometimes just trying to use your movement tools can hurt more than they normally would and peacock can easily convert from it sometimes even manage to double or even triple argus which is far more than you could say robo would do if she could even convert from a stray beam at all (I'm talking fullscreen most assists don't even hit that far, peacock can convert even max range and drops lenny does argus and oops it's peacock time)

I'm very sleepy but I thought I'd share what I think just for posterity.
 
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DomiWizza

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So basically make L and H George disappear on hit and call it a day
 
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I think a nerf like that [projectiles go away on point hit] would better target peacock as a whole, I don't like damage nerfs I don't think they solve anything if the tool is still in the same state (extremely good mix up). But I have no idea what would make a suitable item drop nerf without removing the mix up game from it entirely (which I am down for but it's supposed to be fair or something so this might not be a fair change idk)

I guess I'd like to add that Robo zoning is reaction based therefore you as the player can still influence what the robo player will do, if she misses a beam you're more or less in or at least in a much better position to make Robo second guess. Peacock's gameplan revolves around filling space which is arguably easier and probably why people hate it, whiffing projectiles is a no biggie for her since it's all part of the pattern and she doesn't lose much for it and can correct at most points in the zoning. I can't really say Robo does the same, in my experience once I've tricked the Robo player to think I'll jump and they go for jump beam or hard read sj H beam or whatever, it's my turn to shine. You can't really trick Peacock since throwing stuff is just kind of her thing so your best option to weave through projectiles and hope to god that she can't correct herself into a 50/50 and everything I did was for nought.

I'm not entirely sure what the gameplan is in terms of balancing the game because I'd argue a lot of stuff is haphazardly balanced atm. Like idk if we're making all the characters extra wild or if we're going for making characters more tame but right now I'd say we're going the extra wild route [Robo det is wild, Annie dhc damage is wild, Beowulf net buffed so actually more wild, Eliza healing is better I guess and in some cases wild] so I'm not sure what to think atm. Part of balancing something is that I really want to know what is the philosophy for this game right now since it's being done by a new team and I think knowing that would make a lot more changes better accepted because we know why these things are the way that they are, if the goal is "game is crazy" then I think some changes would be better accepted like maybe peacock didn't get nerfed much because the end goal is to buff everyone else but idk and being left to your own devices isn't the greatest way to live.
 
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@Mr Peck

That tweets another good reason why I don't think open forum is super useful, I'm only gonna see what I'm gonna see at the time it gets posted. You can't aggregate that sort of thing without some sort of formal data organization. I might have to look at the other top tiers at some point, they just haven't given me the same insane results as peacock.

As a grappler diehard, I very much sympathize with having your character nerfed unfairly because people wont learn the counter play. That being said, whether she's the best or top 3 or whatever, she doesn't quote unquote "deserve" to be top tier any more or less than a low tier character deserves to be low tier, and I don't think the fear of overstepping should outweigh frustration level considerations. It's a balancing act pun intended. I'm not sure whether she's a particularly frustrating zoner across the genre, all I can say for sure is that she is a big outlier amongst the cast as far as frustration is concerned:

chart.png


This isn't how I would formally present the data and there's likely a lot more context I'll need to explore, but I wanted to throw something together quickly for you to visualize what I'm talking about.

"I just think that the strategy should be to nerf any of her most frustrating aspects that don't define what makes her fun to play, and not to aim for her being equally as frustrating as the rest of the cast at all skill levels."

I couldn't have put it better myself, and that was ultimately the goal for me. I don't really disagree with anything you've said

I think a "rules level" change like making her projectiles disappear will be something that is way more effective than a nitty gritty nerf like m bang recovery or item drop scaling. I'm not even sure it would make her considerably worse, but I'd need your opinion on that.