Daily Archives: October 24, 2010

Caster, an unofficial netplay client

RollCaster's interface

Caster is a set of netplay clients that hacks in unofficial netplay to PC games that either don’t have them or have very poor implementations. The original version was designed in 2006 by a Japanese guy known by his tripcode ‘vjyK8Yp05c’ for the game Immaterial and Missing Power, but since it was released as open source it’s been extended by some of Mizuumi’s community not only to have more features, but also to work with Melty Blood Act Cadenza, a game which had no netplay, Akatsuki Blitzkampf, a game with very poor built-in netplay, and even a version with GGPO-like rollback netplay! Unlike a lot of Japanese made netplay, it’s actually aware of the fact that not everyone is going to be within 40ms of each other. Nowadays, it’s a very full-featured client, having direct connect, port-testing functionality, UDP hole punching for people who can’t host, and support for spectators.

It also sports a lovely command line interface! There is no GUI, but it’s easy to use.

The name comes not from its netplay functionality, but from the spectating functionality: (broad)casting. Internally, the data used for watching is sent by cmd_cast.


Melty Blood Actress Again: Full Moon Meter Management

So, let’s get started with some real articles. Today’s topic will deal with meter management for Full Moon in Melty Blood: Actress Again PS2.

If you’re reading this, you’re most likely familiar with the basics of how the Magic Circuit (“meter”) works in Melty, so I’ll just keep things to a brief summary before getting to the matter at hand.

  • Heat (“Activate”)
    • Crescent Moon characters can Heat voluntarily as soon as they reach 100%, and at 300% (“Max”) they can enter Blood Heat Activation, which is a powered-up version of Heat.
    • Half Moon characters cannot voluntarily Heat, but automatically enter Heat at 200%.
    • Full Moon characters can Heat voluntarily, but only at Max by using Initiative Heat, or Blood Heat Activation.
  • Circuit Spark (“Burst”)
    • Crescent and Full Moons only can Circuit Spark during Max mode, and it happens voluntarily with punishable recovery. Half Moon will automatically Circuit Spark during their Heat, and their Spark has essentially no recovery (this is not 100% accurate, but the scope of Circuit Spark isn’t in this article).
  • Meter Gain
    • After Max ends, Crescent Moon characters are left with 200%, assuming they did not use an Arc Drive (leaves you at 100%) or a Circuit Spark (leaves you at 0%). Half Moon characters start over at 0%, but their bar is inherently shorter with a maximum of 200%. Full Moon characters leave Max with 100% less than Crescent Moon, meaning if they do nothing, they return to 100%, and if they use an Arc Drive or a Circuit Spark, they start over at 0%.
    • All Moons gain meter by attacking and defending. However, Full Moon is the only one with the option of charging to gain meter.

The key points are in italics. Melty Blood Actress Again on the PS2 was released in August 2009, and since then Full Moon has been a popular choice for certain types of players due to its more intuitive chaining system (you can’t go backwards) and relatively low learning curve compared to Crescent and Half. One thing I’ve noticed, however, is that many players don’t seem to understand proper meter management — not just within the scope of a round, but over the course of the entire match.