On: In-Battle Forme Display (Namely Urshifu)

Martin

gamer boy
is a Forum Moderatoris a Live Chat Contributoris a Contributor to Smogon
Moderator
There have been a few similar threads about PS! posted here before so I assume this is the right place. Please move it if you'd prefer it in a different forum or whatever.

I've faced quite a lot of Urshifu over the past few weeks, and every so often I come across a weird situation where I play under the assumption that my opponent is running Single Strike only to be hit by Surging Strikes because I didn't spot the obnoxiously small difference between the two formes when quickly glancing at it. A lot of the time this doesn't really make much difference, as when I have something like Toxapex or Tangrowth healthy I hard switch into that pretty much every time Urshifu comes out, but there have been a few games where I've been playing fairly fast with a weakened Toxapex only to lose something to Surging Strikes because I didn't realise which forme it was until it was too late, only to go on and lose the game because of it.

Up until now, forme differences haven't really been a problem outside of spotting Genesect drives due to their completely distinct forme designs, meaning that you can always recognise both major and minor information clues a glance without needing to take note of something as subtle as its pose. Case in point:
:landorus::landorus-therian:
:thundurus::thundurus-therian:
:tornadus::tornadus-therian:
:rotom::rotom-wash::rotom-heat::rotom-mow::rotom-frost::rotom-fan:
:deoxys::deoxys-attack::deoxys-speed::deoxys-defense:
:kyurem::kyurem-black::kyurem-white:
:giratina::giratina-origin:
:ninetales::ninetales-alola:
:weezing::weezing-galar:
:darmanitan::darmanitan-galar::darmanitan-zen::darmanitan-galar-zen:
:shaymin::shaymin-sky:
:meowstic-m::meowstic-f:
:indeedee::indeedee-f:
:toxtricity::toxtricity-low-key:
:charizard::charizard-mega-x::charizard-mega-y:
:mewtwo::mewtwo-mega-x::mewtwo-mega-y:
etc.

With Urshifu, the only distinguishing features between Single Strike and Rapid Strike are the pose it stands in and some very vague fur detailing on its head and legs. You also can't tell which forme they are running on team preview or by glancing at the sidebar mid-game because they share a mini-sprite, similar to Arceus and Genesect.

At some point, we changed the battle UI to only display the base forme's name, and I'm not really sure why. I assume some vague notion of being "true to cart" played into the decision, but it's a weird quality of life thing to forgo when we have other QOL things that actually do affect decision making in battles (HP bar %s, lack of battle timer, and sleep clause making the move fail rather than causing a forfeit) as well as a number of fairly inocuous other ones like stat boost displays pre-gen 7. I'm sure there's probably a PR, IS, or PS Suggestions thread somewhere where it was decided, but I CBA to find it—if someone else wants to go ahead.

I propose that we revert to the way we used to handle formes by showing the forme name in the nickname bar for all un-nicknamed Pokemon (so Landorus-Therian, Rotom-Wash, etc.). In addition, we should either change the naming system so that either Urshifu gets renamed to Urshifu-Single-Strike (there is no official "base" forme) or, if we want to be more consistent across all Pokemon, rename any "base" formes with official names to their official names (so Landorus would become Landorus-Incarnate as that is the forme's official name, but Rotom would still be Rotom because the base forme doesn't have an official name).

Setting aside any dumb preference-based aesthetic arguments, the main pros and cons I can think of off the top of my head are as follows:

Pros:
  • Allows the player to tell at a glance exactly which forme they are facing without needing to hover over the sprite or spend time and energy looking for small appearance differences, allowing people to play faster on ladder when they might have a low number on the timer and not want to hang onto every move.
  • More accessible for colour-blind players vs Pokemon like Arceus and Genesect.
  • Fixes the issue that sometimes occurs where either the sprites break for one player or a sprite hasn't yet been added for a Pokemon
Cons:
  • Could be abused to trick an unobservant or colour-blind player with alternative nicknaming (e.g. this battle). This can be avoided by just disallowing players from nicknaming a Pokemon after different Pokemon/formes, which would be consistent with VGC and maaaaybe Battle Stadium (?) rules.
  • If we rename formes, players might need to go through and fix things that are currently in their teambuilder to prevent teams breaking. This can theoretically be fixed by just including a check when searching for a battle that recognises Urshifu = Urshifu-Single-Strike etc. or which otherwise corrects the teambuilder data automatically upon battle search and teambuilder load, but I don't know much more than basic HTML so this may be easier said than done in practice.
  • It may make the battle UI a little cramped in double battles, which can be easily fixed by slightly repositioning things and/or altering font size on the UI.
The only caveat with this would be figuring out what happens with in-battle forme changes, such as Darmanitan, Aegislash, Greninja, Morpeko, and megas—I'd lean towards the name of the base forme just sticking for these, as the triggers for these forme shifts are made very obvious in the transformation animation anyway.

Thanks for reading, and I hope I won't need to carefully check every Urshifu I see for much longer.
 

MAMP

mamp
is a Pre-Contributor
It's a minor thing, but it bothers me a lot that Single Strike Urshifu is treated as a base form while Rapid Strike is treated as an alternate form. Urshifu doesn't have a base form and an alternate form, it's more like West Sea and East Sea Gastrodon, where neither form is default. The Dark-type Urshifu should be referred to as Urshifu-Single-Strike rather than just Urshifu, for the sake of accuracy, clarity, and consistency. Even the dex does this:
1596236360450.png
 

Zarel

Not a Yuyuko fan
is a member of the Site Staffis a Battle Simulator Administratoris a Programmeris a Pokemon Researcheris an Administrator
Creator of PS
Anyway, regarding the main issue: I don't know, I think "rapid strike stands on one leg, single strike on two" is pretty recognizable. Much easier to see than Genesect drives by far, to me.

Personally I'd probably prefer just adding a blue or black glow to the hands or something like that. I just think it's weird to remove information if someone nicknames their pokemon, like, there has to be a better solution than that.
 

Martin

gamer boy
is a Forum Moderatoris a Live Chat Contributoris a Contributor to Smogon
Moderator
Anyway, regarding the main issue: I don't know, I think "rapid strike stands on one leg, single strike on two" is pretty recognizable. Much easier to see than Genesect drives by far, to me.

Personally I'd probably prefer just adding a blue or black glow to the hands or something like that. I just think it's weird to remove information if someone nicknames their pokemon, like, there has to be a better solution than that.
Genesect is a pretty egregious case of non-functional character design, so Urshifu being more recognisable than it isn’t really saying much. It’s easy enough to spot when you put the two Urshifu formes next to each other and look at each directly, but when actually playing I not only only have one on screen but also am almost never looking at it directly. At best I will look at the HP bar and see a bear with Urshifu colouration in my peripheral vision before my eyes dart back to the move selection bar. The silhouette is too similar, and something as minor as a lifted leg and front arm just doesn’t register if I don’t go out of my way to look at it or hover over the sprite for other info (not something I think to do when it’s taken no damage and revealed none of its set), which is why I think we need it to be a little more immediately identifiable.

The nicknames thing is a tough nut to crack I agree (it was sorta in the back of my mind when writing but I must’ve forgot to mention it in cons). Just spitballing here, as I don’t know if there is a better solution, but perhaps one option would be to include the species+forme in smaller text above the nickname when one is used? It’s sorta clunky on the UI, but it means that we always have most relevant info in a place that players spend a lot of time looking at.
 

esche

woohoo
is a Tiering Contributor Alumnus
obnoxiously small difference between the two formes
Urshifu-They're-The-Same.jpg


Jokes aside, while I don't consider distinguishing between a lifted and a standing leg or hovering above the sprite as something one "goes out of their way to do", the argument about there not being a base-form is sound so re-naming what's currently displayed as "Urshifu" in-battle to "Urshifu-Single-Strike" is a fair suggestion. The forme should be indicated in parantheses in the the battle chat so that with or without a nickname you've got a clear indication other than the sprite (just like it's currently the case with Urshifu-Rapid-Strike). I don't know about renaming all other base-forms though since there doesn't seem to be a problem with distinguishing them from their alternate forms (if it ain't broke, don't fix it).
 

Pyritie

TAMAGO
is an Artist
I tried asking a similar question about urshifu's naming a couple days ago (first in OU SQSA who told me to go to C&C SQSA) and was only met with non-answers. It would be good to get this resolved so both forms have suffixes.

I didn't spot the obnoxiously small difference between the two formes when quickly glancing at it.
1596292832684.png


Whenever PS gets animated sprites for the urshifus that will help with identification as well, they've got pretty distinct animations.
 

Stratos

- OTL
is a Tiering Contributor
At some point, we changed the battle UI to only display the base forme's name, and I'm not really sure why. I assume some vague notion of being "true to cart" played into the decision, but it's a weird quality of life thing to forgo when we have other QOL things that actually do affect decision making in battles (HP bar %s, lack of battle timer, and sleep clause making the move fail rather than causing a forfeit) as well as a number of fairly inocuous other ones like stat boost displays pre-gen 7. I'm sure there's probably a PR, IS, or PS Suggestions thread somewhere where it was decided, but I CBA to find it—if someone else wants to go ahead.
https://www.smogon.com/forums/threa...ilder-and-battles-in-ps.3554704/#post-6503859 FYI

I agree that the answer here is not to make the default nickname Urshifu-Single Strike and Urshifu-Rapid Strike for the same reason Zarel mentions, as well as because it will look like shit in doubles like my provided screenshot. I mean, at the risk of sounding flippant, you can read the log or check the mini display... Now that the mini display bug is fixed and it doesn't display the wrong Urshifu form on hover, I don't think this is a big deal.
 

Zarel

Not a Yuyuko fan
is a member of the Site Staffis a Battle Simulator Administratoris a Programmeris a Pokemon Researcheris an Administrator
Creator of PS
I don't have a problem with moving to "show the base forme name" vs "don't show it". But I it's orthogonal to our current problem: it's easier to see the difference between "Urshifu" and "Urshifu-Rapid-Strike", than between "Urshifu-Single-Strike" and "Urshifu-Rapid-Strike".

I also don't have a problem with showing forme name for un-nicknamed pokemon, but it obviously doesn't solve the problem for nicknamed pokemon, so I'd like to reiterate that I'd really prefer for people to think of an alternate solution that works whether or not the pokemon is nicknamed. Martin mentioned putting the species in small print above the pokemon, which is an okay last resort but I don't like how cluttered it is.

We might want to punt on this until we get animated sprites and have a better sense of how different they look. If that's enough, maybe have the blue/black glow to make the still sprites more distinguishable.
 

Plague von Karma

Rhamantaidd Obsesiynol
is a Pokemon Researcher
One thing I feel that should be mentioned here is regarding Team Preview. The current methodology behind how Urshifu is presented is flawed, and I think this is part of the problem.

Urshifu is designed to be ambiguous in Team Preview, thus why it shares minisprites. As a rule of thumb, Urshifu should never reveal its form until you actually see come out of its Poke Ball. However, Showdown also shows battle sprites in addition to minisprites, which hasn't really been a problem until now. Most of the time, the forms are handled fine, see Arceus and Silvally defaulting to Normal-type as they should. However, currently, Single-Strike forms are used by default. It's sort of expected given there isn't a set "base" so to speak, but I believe this is a bit misleading, especially to the uninformed. It's giving unreliable information that is inaccurate to the cartridge as well.
20200806_155527.jpg


To some, this isn't a problem, but you enter the battle seeing a Single-Strike sprite, which by default would add a bias for that being the form the opponent is using, consciously or subconsciously. This isn't information a player should be getting on the cartridge, so it shouldn't be on the simulator. It feels like, intentionally or not, a misrepresentation. Team Preview should be a "reliable narrator" to both players. Rapid-Strike isn't shown at all, so nor should Single-Strike.

So, these problems require solutions, and there has been one for over a month. I remember Theorymon suggesting that the Following Pokemon Model should be used here, and I think that would really help. It maintains the ambiguity factor (which once again, is part of Urshifu as a Pokemon) while encouraging players to actually check the bloody thing when it pops out so they aren't losing instantly.

I don't know if this is too helpful or even a big part of the problem. However, I do think it's at least a minor one to bring up in this discussion.

EDIT: Making mobile posts is not a good idea.

EDIT 2: Did some digging and found that a Generic Urshifu Form suggestion has been approved for the sim dev, just not done. Chucked some words in there too.

EDIT 3: Funnily enough, another Showdown Suggestion thread was made talking about how misleading the sprite is right now. Just not in the right direction.
 
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