Debunking the myth of the "necessary preview"

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Debunking the myth of the "necessary preview"

Postby X-Panda (Guest) » 20 Jan 2014, 01:26

Warning, long smartass and somewhat butthurt post coming up!

The question of the necessity of preview should be resolved. I've read on this forum and heard from several players how preview is an absolute must and it's impossible to play without it. I've even seen scientifical explanations why there needs to be one. I'd like to point out, however, several reasons why there is no need for preview and even more, how preview is an unfair and unrealistic advantage to those who use it.

My personal hosting settings are Elite + realistic + no preview, which in my opinion guarantee the most realistic, most demanding and most educating gaming experience. Elite controls require formidable footwork and allow for a better feel of the ball, and they also force one to pay the utmost attention to the ball. Realistic mode gives us a tempo resembling men's pro tennis and forces us to develop quick reactions. And no preview forces us to develop a feel and sense where the ball is landing and forces us to react even quicker! These are the settings that should be most propagated.

Now, at first let's discuss why no preview is unnecessary! A good tennis player (even if simply a computer gamer) should have good reactions and a mind capable of thinking of and sensing the ball trajectory without any external help. Ergo, helping icons keep the gamer from fully realising the full potential that one's mind and muscle memory has to offer. The scientific explanation that I've seen thrown around, that the ball leaves no shade so you can't see it and that the camera angle doesn't allow to realise where the ball's heading, that is wrong and misleading. First of all, there is a very minor shade, second of all, in reality the shade is also very minor, third of all, sometimes ball's are shanked or hit off the centre of the racquet so they land in an awkward position (think of Nadal's on the baseline shanks). What do you do? You either react quickly enough or you pay the price of bad luck :yes:

Now, why is preview an unfair advantage? The main problem is the return of serve. "Experienced players" use a thing called auto-positioning to perform the split-step that in real life is a predicate for playing a good return. But the preview icon moves the returner a lot closer to the spot where the serve is about to land, it also gives the returner somewhere around half-a-second more time to react. While this may not seem much, it is a crucial difference , when up against a player of good-enough calibre and thus a well placed corner serve or even a vicious body serve can be sent back with ease. Not much less of a problem is the preview icon on the rallies, once again the preview-user can react half-a-second quicker, since the preview icon appears as soon as the ball has left the racquet cords. It negates on a huge level the aspect of thinking man's tennis tactics, such as wrong-footing, wrong-footing with a slower topspin drive, body-faking, fake drop shots, fake slices, deep counter shots. This (and not the preferance of realistic over fair mode is the reason why we have so much ball-bashing and so little variety!

Now to the butthurt part. I can't host all the time, only when using a WiFi network where I'm able to open the ports by accessing the router. Most of the time I'm using my university campus hotspot and Ethernet cable. So when I'm hosting I win a lot of matches, sometimes simply due to my better reactions and operational ability. But when I'm joining games that especially have previews on (I have mine permanently disabled, since the real-life player in me can't fathom to use such a thing), a lot of the time I can't outsmart my opponents, I can't surprise them with sharp angled or body-jamming serves, since the preview allows them to automatically position themselves where I'm hitting and prevent me from out-manoeuvreing them. This is of course with opponents who play a good-level tennis but my purist interpretation tells me that remove those handicaps, and they will have great trouble.

Looking forward to constructive feedback and comments.
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Re: Debunking the myth of the "necessary preview"

Postby manutoo » 20 Jan 2014, 06:10

Hello,

topic has been discussed here => topic8-9999.php .

A few bonus fun facts :
- best reaction time is around 0.1s => http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_chronometry
- a 200km/h serve needs 0.8s to reach the racket of the returner standing about 4m behind the baseline on the BG-Cement
- 0.5s is a huge long time (see above) ; preview likely make you save from 0.05 to 0.1 seconds
- Autopos isn't dependent of Preview
- a no-preview lover complaining coz he can't see if the ball is raising or not => viewtopic.php?p=168514#p168514 ; me, on a real court, I can see if the ball is raising or not without problem ; in TE, I can as well, thanks to the Danger Zone
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Re: Debunking the myth of the "necessary preview"

Postby testo » 20 Jan 2014, 09:23

Just serve & rallies is enough

Danger zone is for newbs, sorry...
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Re: Debunking the myth of the "necessary preview"

Postby X-Panda (Guest) » 20 Jan 2014, 13:35

Thank you for your reply, Manu. I read the topic that you linked and while your arguments are rather sound, I still find myself agreeing with the topic-starter. "The other game", I've tried that one, the problem there is the usage of simulation controls (as opposed to elite) and the fact that creating personal characters is not allowed, hence I still prefer the original game. As to the "spatial ability", I must then be among those who can react quickly enough and sense the oncoming deep counters and short crosses. You've adopted a socialist-egalitarian approach (each according to one's ability and need), I'm more in favour of meritocratic/aristocratic approach, so let's agree to disagree.

Now I want to explain further the "auto-pos" trick that some (not all!) preview users do. As we all know, the effect of auto-pos is greatly reduced in fair and realistic modes but it's still there, I also use it to perform the split-step on the return. But when I serve, then a preview-using opponent reacts with the auto-pos split-step and "hops" closer to the place where the serve is landing. This enables them to jump closer to sharp-angled serves and return them so quick that I'm often on the backfoot, from a great serve. This trick is used both by returners standing close to the baseline but especially by those standing 3-4 metres behind the baseline, so a slower serve out-wide is useless against them since they recover their position too quickly. But even more useless are body serves: the returner simply hops a bit out of the way to a position where he/she can smack it back. This whatever fraction of a second takes away the surprise element, the jamming. And the worst problem is on the second serve, no matter how much I vary, how much I twist it, one press of the button-combo and they're on to it.

As to the rallies, I feel I covered my points suffeciently, I'll just elaborate on the wrong-footing "slow topspin drive". As in real life, when wrong footing, it is sometimes useful to hit a slower ball, so that the opponent who is moving to cover the open-court "has the extra milliseconds" to move even further. Preview takes those milliseconds away, because the opponent sees the icon instantly (some players also use the auto-pos to turn around quicker, but they are a minority), some aren't even rushing to defend the open-court but simply wait for the icon to appear.

As a transitional solution, "SuperLoosers" idea is worth consideration (salut Seb!). Think of it as going from socialism to communism, you can still see the horizon but it grows weaker and in the end simply disappears. :wink:
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Re: Debunking the myth of the "necessary preview"

Postby X-Panda (Guest) » 20 Jan 2014, 13:40

As to the no-preview user who complained, using 100% topspin is difficult either way. He's probably not using elite controls, othewise he should be used to changes.
That is another topic that I'm gonna raise some point in the future, the percentage of topspin on groundstrokes and the advantages/disadvantages of a flatter/spinnier ball. I'll just say for now, that there's too many users of extremes on both ends and a balanced percentage should be much more useful and extremes be handicapped.
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Re: Debunking the myth of the "necessary preview"

Postby VMoe86 » 20 Jan 2014, 14:39

"The other game" is using "Slow AutoPosition", whereas Fair and Realistic are using Average AutoPosition. The combination of Elite + Average AutoPosition is about as difficult as Simulation + Slow AutoPosition (in fact, Slow AutoPosition makes position and footwork even more demanding, it is a bit easier to hit very good accelerations and short accelerations with Elite + Average AutoPosition than with Simulation + Slow AutoPosition).

There is no reduction of AutoPosition in Fair and Realistic Mode, by the way. The Average AutoPosition of Fair and Realistic Mode makes the AutoPosition trick on return even more useful there. Also, since last year around April AutoPosition tricks cannot be used during rallies (with respect to your "some players also use the auto-pos to turn around quicker, but they are a minority").
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Re: Debunking the myth of the "necessary preview"

Postby X-Panda (Guest) » 20 Jan 2014, 15:03

Thanks for the insight! I'll take your word for it, since you seem to know your thing. Do you agree with my opinion that the "auto-pos trick" enables some of the players to go all Djokovic on the return of serve too easily?
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Re: Debunking the myth of the "necessary preview"

Postby manutoo » 21 Jan 2014, 04:25

X-Panda (Guest),
the AutoPos trick is explained there => topic8-6180.php ; it's not linked to Preview ; with Preview off, you still can use it the same way. The advantage of using it is quite important when you have low reflexes, but with high reflexes, the advantage is not that clear, as it requires to unpress the button to move again, which makes you lose time.

About what's the best gameplay choice (Preview or Not Preview), you are of course entitled to have your own taste, and that's why the Host can select the Preview level.
In terms of simulation & ease of access, the Danger Zone is the best choice, that's why it's used in the Online Tour.
And for me, in term of gameplay, it's better to have a closer skill range, to have more tight matches ; beating the crap out of a newbie or being destroyed by a top player has about 0 interest in both cases ; winning tightly & losing tightly is much more fun & exciting..! :yes:

When you wrong foot someone, in real life & in TE, the important is to be slow _before_ hitting the ball, to give time for your opponent to run farther to the place you want to send the ball back ; hitting a slow ball in such case is only to do a safe shot, to not take any risk to miss it, but a fast ball will be always more effective at wrong footing.
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Re: Debunking the myth of the "necessary preview"

Postby VMoe86 » 21 Jan 2014, 09:29

X-Panda (Guest) wrote:Thanks for the insight! I'll take your word for it, since you seem to know your thing. Do you agree with my opinion that the "auto-pos trick" enables some of the players to go all Djokovic on the return of serve too easily?

I have seen players returning as good (or better) without AutoPosition trick than with it, so I don't think it is too easy, at least in "the other game". Average AutoPosition might make it more useful, but then in Realistic Mode you have faster serves on average than in "the other game", so they should not take much from each other.
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Re: Debunking the myth of the "necessary preview"

Postby Guest » 21 Jan 2014, 22:18

@ Manutoo

I should clarify what I meant with the wrong footing. In general it is possible to wrong foot in two ways:

1) Wait until the opponent is forced to cover the open court and then hit behind him - that's your example. However by waiting a smarter opponent will move to the centre and then be ready to react either way. So sometimes I like to use a different way.

2) The second one is the "slow" one. I use it most of the time to change pace. For example I've been trading full acceleration shots with my opponent. He's reacting very quickly to my every shot (aided by the icons of course :wink: ) and he always moves instantly. So I change it up and hit a sudden normal acceleration with added sidespin and a higher topspin arc. This disruption of rhythm allows me to get the ball either more out wide or place it more accurately on the line. The bigger arc makes for a semi-second or a second difference. The opponent is already moving in his usual reaction habit when suddenly the pace changes. He scrambles but loses valuable reaction time. The same way you can wrong foot when hitting a cross-court drop shot or a fake drop turned into a slice.

I hope I've clarified what I meant. If not, search for two videos on Youtube (enter wrong footing). One should be of Federer vs Agassi, there watch the slow higher ark that I was talking about . The second should be Nalbandian wrong-footing opponents. Sometimes he does the flat behind the back, but a lot of the time he sends a slower, spinnier wrong-footer. The moment when he wrong-foots has also variety - sometimes he goes behind even before the opponent has recovered to the middle, sometimes he waits until he does. I can't post links, since I'm not a user.
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Re: Debunking the myth of the "necessary preview"

Postby Yasin Ozkan » 22 Jan 2014, 09:30

Indeed, like I stressed this before, installing an "aut-pos off" option next to the slow, avarage and fast options would solve the problem.
So auto-pos players could play with auto-pos, and non- auto-pos players could play without auto-pos meaning everyone could play as he desires so it's a win win situation. Fair
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Re: Debunking the myth of the "necessary preview"

Postby X-Panda (Guest) » 24 Jan 2014, 17:17

Agree with the last post. Would be challenging.

On a related note, FighterFognini was a cool sport today and hosted with no preview (other stuff were tour settings). He played a good game to break me, I then played a bit bad to be broken a second time. After that I fought back and took one of the breaks back but he did a good job of holding serve and fending off my tries to break a second time. Congratulations on the 6-4 win.

My personal observation seems to confirm my theory that having no preview mostly affects the return of serve. He had a bit more trouble with returning my 1st serve when I jammed him into the body or when I went short out wide, in the 1st case he had to hit a neutral reply, which I could then take on more easily, in the 2nd case he was a bit late at times. But still hitting good returns overall. On 2nd serve he couldn't attack it as often, since I varied my placement, without the icon he lost just a fraction of a second. Despite those hindrances he still broke my serve a couple of times, so a good returner CAN do it without the preview :wink:

During the points themselves I managed to at times surprise him or keep him off-balance more than usual, I attribute that to the lack of preview. Of course I also made errors but I'm used to that, it's quite natural when you have to judge it with your own bare eyes. Passing shots were also a bit more effective, since he couldn't see where they were going right after I'd hit them. At times he read them, but sometimes I caught him. But again, despite those hindrances, which were probably a bit unusual for him, he still played a good level of tennis. All-court with a good transitional game.

What I'm trying to say with this longish post, is that no preview just makes for a more pleasant play. It introduces some uncertainty, some variety and cunning, since you have to react only by yourself, and actually elevate your game. How FighterFognini beat me? Not by simply reacting to the icons and playing his offensive game. Instead, he was constantly keeping me off balance, "reading" my shots, guessing my patterns of play, and at times producing brilliant winners. That is why it was a pleasant game. He wasn't simply moving in to crush every return of serve or reacting to my passing shots or angled groundstrokes, he was actually using his brain and intelligence to best me. Clash of minds, strategies, tactics and experience makes (IMO) for much more interesting plays than simply "boom-boom, I see where your shots are landing, so I'm always there" tennis. :yes:

It would be interesting to hear his thoughts on how did it feel to play without preview, we didn't have time to discuss that, since after the match we were talking about Federer :lol:
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Re: Debunking the myth of the "necessary preview"

Postby Elias » 24 Jan 2014, 17:39

I won't personnaly enter in the previews/no previews debate as i think it's a personal taste/preference and it's good to have this as optional, flexibility to please everyone respectively different types of gamers is the best thing to adress the wider audience possible. My own preference goes to no previews as i think it brings more depth to the gameplay and requires some more skills, wich can developp with time (i think your 3D spatial appreciation of depth can improve with time and practice), it's also promoting opponent game reading, and thus anticipation skills, also, based on TE mechanics knowledge and experience, positionning before a shot is pretty often a big tell regarding where the opponent will aim, or at least has the most probability to aim to execute a good shot. Overall no previews is more challenging, but then more interesting in the long run in my opinion, thus a good choice for online competition (wich is the main area of gaming i'm interested/invested in).

Autopos is another thing, i played different tennis games, and having nothing helping / messing up with your own movement controls, always has been a great, better feeling, gameplay wise, so i have to agree a zero autopos option available would be a great addition to TE. But maybe not exactly this. The way TE is conceived, Manutoo will often answer you that the game would be impossible to play like this (because of a tiny sweet spot tolerance), and he's not totally wrong about it (though i would say not totally right either, my advise : never think impossible, you'd be surprised seeing what TE players can do/enjoy).

The sweet spot requires you to center the ball in your strings with some precision to execute a shot properly, so that without Autopos, the movement freedom would feel great, but centering the ball would be more difficult.

What i would find interesting, is a custom control setup, in addition to arcade/sim/elite/(add custom here), with some dedicated menu screen for this setup where you would be able to dose the autopos amount with precision (with a slider for instance, from 0 to max, also a contextual autopos would be great if possible depending court area/context, eg : serve return, rally, netplay), but this setup would also need some variables to be tweakable, like SweetSpotRadius, SweetSpotScale, danger zone positionning tolerance, etc. That way we would be able to pinpoint some middle ground as we like. We could even imagine more options available in such a custom setup (why not being able to tweak run acceleration ratios for different axis with sliders there, etc).

if not for TE, i think it's really something important to consider about TE4 at least, to cover the needs and tastes for different gaming communities/orientations, thus pleasing a wider player base in the end.
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