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An in-depth look at Brawl's buffering system

Doval

Smash Lord
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I don't think the forum has a buffering guide yet, which is a shame, because buffering affects gameplay on a fundamental level - the way we're allowed to give our characters inputs. In light of that, I decided to do research on Brawl's buffering system and put a guide together.

What IS buffering?

Buffering is a feature found in many fighting games. It allows you to enter a command before your character is done with its current action (within a certain time frame, of course,) and the command will execute as soon as your character can perform that action. In other words, it lets you enter commands early. Now that you know what buffering is, let's take a look at how Brawl handles buffering.

General Rules

- The game will retain inputs for slightly more than 1/5th of a second (~13 frames). I tested this in Training Mode, by setting the speed to 1/4 timing how late I can buffer a move with a stopwatch (and obviously, dividing that time by 4.)

- Inputs are handled in the same order they're received. For example, if you're landing from an air dodge and input {Y, Y, Forward + A} shortly before you land, your character will jump, then immediately double jump, and immediately start a forward air.

Buffering on the ground

- If you're holding Back, Forward, Down, or Shield at the time that your character becomes able to act, it'll simply start to walk, crouch, or put up its shield and "forget" to do any action you might've buffered. So if you plan on buffering a Forward Smash or Down Smash using the Analog Stick, don't forget to return it to its initial position. Unfortunately, this also means that buffering a dash is a pain in the *** - you have to buffer the dash, return the stick to neutral, and then hold forward after your character's dash comes out if you want to continue running.

- The above rule has a minor exception - if you buffer a move after a Down Tilt, holding down won't cancel the buffer because your character is already crouching anyways.

Buffering in the air

- There are no commands that'll cancel buffering while in the air.

- Like in Melee, you can buffer a mid-air jump or a Meteor Cancel while stunned. (Careful, though, hitting the Jump button too early will prevent you from Meteor Canceling with the Jump button. However, there's no penalty for using the analog stick.)

- You can't buffer early air dodges, aerials, or Z Button tethers while stunned from an attack.

- Landing during an air dodge has the same lag as landing normally, so you can air dodge before you land to buffer your next move without doing any aerials.

Buffering while in Shield Hit Lag

- You can't buffer rolls during hit lag; the game just interprets it as Smash DI. Can't buffer sidesteps either. You have to wait for hit lag to be over and buffer them during shield stun instead.

NOTE: Buffering while in shield hit lag is a little bit weird...the game seems to handle it differently when an attack has a very large amount of Hit Lag. I've noticed that the game will retain inputs made during the hit lag from shielding far longer than the usual time frame (for example, inputting a shieldgrab while shielding the Halberd's beam, or while shielding two of Samus's Charge Shots back to back.) Putting two and two together, maybe the game handles the commands differently because you're inputting them outside the time frame for "real" buffering? In any case...

- If the attack has a very large amount of hit lag (e.g. Samus's fully charged Charge Shot, Dedede's F-Smash), only Jump and Shieldgrab inputs can be buffered. If a Shieldgrab is buffered, it always takes precedence over jumping, even if you input the jump first. To buffer other actions, you have to wait until hit lag is over and your character enters the shield stun + knockback phase.

- If the attack has "normal" amounts of hit lag (i.e. most attacks would fall into this category), buffering seems to behave as it normally would.

Buffering while in Shield Stun

- Unlike buffering during hit lag, I didn't find any quirks in the buffering system in this phase.

- If you aren't holding the shield button when your character comes out of stun, any buffered commands will be forgotten and your character will simply drop its shield. (You can, however, buffer a move during those few frames of lag you get from dropping your shield.) You can also override buffered commands with a roll or sidestep as soon as your character becomes unstunned, but the timing makes it impractical.

Examples/Applications

- Buffering an attack during the landing lag of an aerial.
- Buffering an attack during the lag time from dropping your shield.
- Buffering JC'd Up Smashes, Up Bs, or aerials out of the shield.
- Buffering dash-grabs during Dedede's chaingrab.
- Buffering shines during Fox's reflector semi-infinite wall combos for greater precision.
- Buffering a shine when performing "jump-canceled" shines with Fox.
- Buffering the next attack in a combo (e.g. buffering an up-tilt after Fox's d-air, or an up-tilt after ZSS's dash attack.)
- Buffering a Dash Attack and Up Smash while your character is lagging from something else to perform Smash Boosting easily.
- Buffering an Air Dodge during the start-up frames of your ground jump to air dodge immediately.

Glossary of Terms

- Hit Lag/Shield Hit Lag: The frames after you get hit, or shield an attack, during which your character (and usually the opponent as well) remain "frozen." Very obvious with powerful attacks like Samus's Charge Shot. For reference, these are the frames during which you use Smash DI.
- Hit Stun: The frames that come after the Hit Lag frames; your character isn't "frozen" any more (and is usually flying in some direction,) but you can't perform actions yet.
- Shield Stun: The same thing as Hit Stun, except when shielding. I.e. The frames after Shield Hit Lag during which your character is sliding from the attack, but you can't perform actions yet.

-----

I hope this guide is of some use in understanding why the game behaves the way it does sometimes!
 

SiegKnight

Smash Journeyman
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Feb 17, 2008
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Yeah, its weird how this got no love before this.

awesome guide. thanks, this is a help, particularly the specifics.
 

1HKO

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You stalker, you make me sick!
what happens if you get hit while on the ledge, can you first SDI up then buffer a jump>a little forward DI>airdodge to return to the stage? If so then this is freaking awesome as I can stall on a ledge until
a) someone hits me off and I jump on the ledge
b) my ultimate timer goes off and I must fall
which allows me to do the float-aerial-thingy(you know where you walk off the stage for just long enough to do an aerial and return back)when I land to catch the person who got me off the edge right as soon as they run out of armor frames(w/ Jiggz as my character at least). Or even better Jiggz specific option is to SDI up>rising pound. I'm either sounding like a n00b, not making sense, not understanding the concept, getting ahead of myself, or not making sense right now.
 

Ørion

Smash Ace
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Very informative guide, thanks for being the first to make a guide like this. I have a question (sorry if this was covered and I missed it), what is the maximum amount of commands able to be buffered? Does it depend on the character/technique or is it just however many you can use in the timeframe?
 

Doval

Smash Lord
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@Sonic Wave: What's really broken is Smash DI'ing forward while shielding (especially since you can use the C-stick in conjunction with the Analog Stick to get extra Smash DI's if it's set to Smash, and the C-stick will buffer the shieldgrab for you.) Also, thanks.

@1HKO: I'm having a very hard time establishing a connection between your question, and everything that comes after "If so then..." Anyways, if you get hit while grabbing on to the edge, the same thing that'd happen when you get hit anywhere else will happen. Buffering doesn't bend the rules of DI or stun in any way, so I can't imagine how it would let you move forward, jump and air dodge onto the stage when you've just been hit. If that doesn't answer your question, please rephrase it more clearly so I can understand what you want to know.

@Orion: As far as I can tell there's no limit to the amount of commands you can buffer, but it doesn't really matter anyways - most actions take much longer than 13 frames to complete, so by the time the first action is over, the game will already have forgotten about everything else you inputed. The main exceptions are actions like jumps or dashes, since these actions execute instantly (well, near-instantly in the case of ground jumps) and don't prevent the use of other moves. The largest number of actions you could buffer and execute that I can think of is 3: jump -> double jump -> (insert action here); dash -> dash attack -> up smash for Smash Boosting; backwards dash -> roll -> throw to perform a backwards glide toss using a forward roll; or dash -> jump -> throw for an "instant" JC'd throw out of a dash.
 

Heroes_Never_Die

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Hmm, I pretty much do this instinctively. Nice guide for those unfamiliar with the concept. Buffering in Brawl isn't as big of a deal as in other fighters though since commands aren't as complicated.
 

Vro

Smash Lord
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Doval, you never cease to impress me.. never. Thank you for this buffering guide.
 

mugwhump

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Awesome guide, I didn't know that about having to let go of the analogue stick. That explains some stuff.

Some of the cstick's behaviour when buffering still confuses me, though. For example, pressing the c-stick set to specials or tilts very early in the buffer window seems to result in a jump. Also, try holding shield+the analogue stick in one direction, and mashing the c-stick in another direction. Crazy **** happens! :O
 

Doval

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Heroes Never Die said:
Buffering in Brawl isn't as big of a deal as in other fighters though since commands aren't as complicated.
This is very true, but it has far more uses than most people realize. For example, nobody in the Dedede forum realized that you can chaingrab like 10 characters far more easily and without room for mistake by buffering a dash+grab after the down throw, rather than running and doing a shield grab. The first method is practically automatic, the latter leaves room for error (and makes you travel further, too.) By buffering, Fox can also combo his dash attack after a shine, whereas you'd likely miss the timing manually.
mugwhump said:
Some of the cstick's behaviour when buffering still confuses me, though. For example, pressing the c-stick set to specials or tilts very early in the buffer window seems to result in a jump. Also, try holding shield+the analogue stick in one direction, and mashing the c-stick in another direction. Crazy **** happens! :O
Yes, the C-stick seems to have a jump command somewhere in there when set to Attack or Jump. I haven't the slightest friggin' clue why. It can make you jump in the air if you're mashing it more than necessary (this is especially annoying with multi-jump characters.) As long as you use it within the correct timing for buffering it shouldn't give you any problems, though. Also, if it's set to Specials and you Smash DI while shielding, it'll buffer a jump. This can be used to your advantage if you want to up smash out of the shield.

Thanks for the kind words, everyone.
 

Taymond

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Yes, the C-stick seems to have a jump command somewhere in there when set to Attack or Jump. I haven't the slightest friggin' clue why. It can make you jump in the air if you're mashing it more than necessary (this is especially annoying with multi-jump characters.) As long as you use it within the correct timing for buffering it shouldn't give you any problems, though. Also, if it's set to Specials and you Smash DI while shielding, it'll buffer a jump. This can be used to your advantage if you want to up smash out of the shield.
*laughs* Yeah, that stupid early-buffered C-Stick jump has confounded my guide plenty. *shakes fist*

Doval, solid resource y'got here, I wonder if you could examine something for me. I've given a little look into it, but nothing thorough enough to give specific answers to when it occurs. In Special or Attack C-Stick setup, there's some peculiarity involving trying to ledge attack using the C-Stick. If you hit it too early or too late, that blasted buffered jump results in a ledgehop instead.

I'd mostly just like a fresh pair of eyes/hands to check it out, see if you can spot any more definitive "how early" or "how late" the inadvertent ledgehop occurs. *sighs* Why would they make C-Stick Specials and Attack even HAVE a jump property?
 

Crow!

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*bump*

Awesome guide. I realized something odd was happening when trying to short hop double laser with Falco, but I never would have gone through the efforts to learn the details shown here. Awesome analysis that should be easier to locate than this (I wouldn't have found it if not for the Fox shine thread.. and "buffering" is not something I ever would have thought to search for on my own).

There should be some definitive Brawl Engine Rules and Physics FAQ, and this should be one of the things it points to.
 

S2

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Yeah really good guide here.

If I could make a suggestion - it'd probably be easier for new players to understand if you put a quick list at the start of basic terms and their meanings (like shield stun, etc). Tournament smashers know all this stuff, but it'd be like a foreign language to a new player.

Otherwise, I really like this guide. Surprised there hasn't been as much of a response.
 

Vro

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It's tiring to iterate to every single new player every term. Can't they read the stickies and use the search function? =(

Also, Doval, is there anything strange about the buffering system in Training Mode?
 

Doval

Smash Lord
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Pardon the late reply. I've been a tad busy this week. I'll add a short glossary to the guide soon, for those that aren't too clear on the definitions. It's not too big of a deal since I only use a handful of terms.

@Crow!: This thread is linked to in the "New Comprehensive Guide to AT's, Discoveries and Glitches" as well as the "Links to In-Depth Game Analysis Threads." Although this is a fundamental game mechanic, it doesn't really deal with the physics of the game per se, so it may be a bit out of place in the physics thread. However, I appreciate the sentiment; it's very good to know the guide has been useful.

@Vro: I don't think there's anything special to say about the buffering system in Training Mode. We all know the C-stick sometimes doesn't register commands at lower speeds, so obviously if you're trying to buffer something with the C-stick it may fail, but that's about it.
 

adumbrodeus

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You sure you can't buffer during hit stun while mid-air?

Because I'm sure that I've taken attacks where I was trying to grab and got beaten to the punch by my opponent using Toon Link, but the move came out as soon as shield stun wore off as a zair, and once in particular it tethered the ledge (the attack would've killed me that time actually).

It's possible it was buffered during hit lag though.
 

Thiocyanide

Smash Hero
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I love how somebody can abuse this at the edge against characters that have autofall dairs. Jab them off the edge when they're trying to dsmash or dtilt, and they dair themselves to death!

I hate the buffer system.
 

teluoborg

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teloutre
OP said:
If you're holding Back, Forward, Down, or Shield at the time that your character becomes able to act, it'll simply start to walk, crouch, or put up its shield and "forget" to do any action you might've buffered.
You mustn't hold the direction, just tap it during the buffer window.
 

Yikarur

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why is it that when i buffer a dash in the opposite direction of my attack , he just buffers a turnaround?
you have to do the dash command for at least 2 frames. If you only smash the stick for one frame he does only "in the other direction" for one frame and thats a turnarround.



@teluborg, that is what the OP stated lol
 

Sliq

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- Landing during an air dodge has the same lag as landing normally, so you can air dodge before you land to buffer your next move without doing any aerials.

This is one of the main reasons I dislike Brawl. Why would they make a move that makes you INVINCIBLE lagless with almost no startup?

Anyone got any frame data on rolling and spot dodging? I'd like to see if the lag is even remotely comparable...
 

-LzR-

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Airdodges are laggy as hell. And when you land you still have dead frames.
 

Yikarur

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between airdodge that ends on the ground and any other actions are at least 2 frames.
2-3 frames landing lag. Thats enough, really. you always/mostly get punished when airdodging into the opponent
 

Lord Chair

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Yeah, 2 frame landing lag is kinda of a ***** to catch, but 4 frames is definitely doable.

Same deal with spotdodge spam, your average spotdodge spam has 6 vulnerable frames in between the spotdodges, which is rather manageable. 'Broken' spotdodges (Falco, TL, Link, Pika) have 3 frames. I already noted that 2 frames was a manageable *****, so your call on what 3 frames is (hint: it's doable).

Inb4: 'I get away with spotdodge spam all the time'. I suppose your opponent sucks at reacting properly then...
 

Sliq

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2-3 frames is not that punishable. The only reason air dodging as you land is punishable is the because the time they start airdodging until the time the reach the ground is greater than 2-3 frames. A 2-3 frame window is still pretty ********, when you consider MOVES have much more lag, and they don't MAKE YOU ****ING INVINCIBLE. So instead of spacing an aerial to protect yourself, it makes much more sense to just mash air dodge.

The same for spot dodging. It's only doable because from the time they start the spot dodge until the time they are vulnerable is greater than 2-3 frames. Also, they aren't MOVING when they spot dodge, so I'm going to go ahead and say that air dodge is far harder to punish.

Seriously, airdodging into the ground should have about the same lag as a quick aerial. ****** air dodge spamming is...well ********.

I'd like to compare the vulnerability data to Melee, because I have a feeling that the frames will be far more similar than I think. Mostly because I believe that Melee had a lot more frame disadvantages for spot dodging and rolling; therefor, I must be wrong.

Edit: YAY! I was right!

Found here:http://web.archive.org/web/20070318....com/oovideogamegodoo/myhomepage/profile.html

This was written by M2K, btw.

"Note: almost all of the dodges start on frame 2, so in other words, for most of the dodges when you start them, you can only be hit the FIRST frame of the dodge. Some characters, like Captain Falcon and Zelda, start their invincible part of the dodge on the 3rd frame, and Bowser starts his on the 4th frame. Note that for 99% of attacks, Zelda is invincible for the 2nd frame + (but certain explosion moves can hit her on the 3rd frame of the move so it still counts as starting it on the 3rd frame)"

---Go here for more information about dodging: http://smashboards.com/showthread.php?s=&postid=493089#post493089

14/22 - Dr. Mario / Falco / Fox / Kirby / Link / Luigi / Mario / Pichu / Pikachu / Samus / Sheik / Yoshi / Young Link

17/27 - Ice Climbers / Marth / Ness / Peach / Roy

22/37 - DK

19/32 - Ganondorf

18/32 - Captain Falcon / Zelda

20/37 - Mewtwo

14/27 - Jigglypuff

21/42 - Bowser

11/32 - Mr. Game and Watch

So the best spot dodges in Melee had 8 frames of ****ing lag. Man, Brawl IS all about defense...which makes me sad...
 

~ Gheb ~

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you have to do the dash command for at least 2 frames. If you only smash the stick for one frame he does only "in the other direction" for one frame and thats a turnarround.
I don't think this is correct. The whole point is of buffering is to input the command before the previous animation or move is over. If you keep the stick flicked like that then there will be no buffer at all. Just a regular turnaround, followed by a walk / dash.

A turnaround and a Dash are two entirely different moves - they just have almost the same inputs [The only thing that varies is the timing of the input. Everything else is the same]. That means that you can't buffer a "turnaround dash". You can only buffer a turnaround and then immediately follow with a dash because they are two different moves, of which each requires its own specific input.

To buffer a dash into the other direction you have to flick the control stick twice in quick succession. The first flick should buffer the turn around and has to be very quick. The second flick simply keeps you dashing in the desired position. You can keep that position as long as you want to dash but there should be as little time as possible between the inputs for the buffered turnaround and the dash.

:059:
 

Kasper!

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I don't think this is correct. The whole point is of buffering is to input the command before the previous animation or move is over. If you keep the stick flicked like that then there will be no buffer at all. Just a regular turnaround, followed by a walk / dash.

A turnaround and a Dash are two entirely different moves - they just have almost the same inputs [The only thing that varies is the timing of the input. Everything else is the same]. That means that you can't buffer a "turnaround dash". You can only buffer a turnaround and then immediately follow with a dash because they are two different moves, of which each requires its own specific input.

To buffer a dash into the other direction you have to flick the control stick twice in quick succession. The first flick should buffer the turn around and has to be very quick. The second flick simply keeps you dashing in the desired position. You can keep that position as long as you want to dash but there should be as little time as possible between the inputs for the buffered turnaround and the dash.

:059:
i hold the attack button during a move and flick the control stick (left or right depending on the direction i want to go) along with the cstick down.


YEAH IM LIKE THAT XD
 

Yikarur

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you doubt Yikas words????????
Rule 1: Yika is always right.
Rule 2: Yika is always right.
Rule 3: Rule 1 and 2

at least in explanation of Brawl Mechanique.

aka I'm right.
 

Flayl

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Except for that time you said pummeling didn't refresh moves more than once!
 

Yikarur

Smash Master
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I didn't know that interrupting the Pummel animation let the game count as the same pummel but waiting till the end of the animation let it count as 2 different pummels! [/johns]
I like to get new stuff to know.
 
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