If there has ever been a convincing argument that the advancement of the Internet has become almost too influential in the metagames of competitive gaming scenes, the recent development in the Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 scene certainly puts it to shame. Less than a week ago, members of the community came across an extremely powerful abuse of the Team Aerial Combo mechanic in the game, finding that using the mechanic allows for the second character in the maneuver to put the opponent into a position where an unbreakable, infinite combo could be performed. Thus, the TAC infinite was born.
And not only was one TAC infinite discovered, but a huge amount of them. Not only that, but the other infinites were not found by the same player. Rather, the original discoverer of the TAC infinite mechanic uploaded a video onto Youtube. Once that video graced the Internet, it spread like wildfire and the rest of the community began to replicate it for essentially every character in the game.
A TAC infinite in action results from a player using the Team Aerial Combo and a precise usage of hard or soft knockdown moves while keeping a certain position in the air to make sure that the victim is never dropped out of a state or position in which they can be combo'd in the air. This is extremely deadly – once the second character in the TAC maneuver begins the infinite, the combo will never stop until the executing player screws up an input or the victim dies.
An example of a TAC Infinite in UMvC3 using Magneto and Nova. Notice the looping of Nova's combo.
With such a powerful new piece of technology for the Marvel heads to use, the landscape of competitive Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 has now severely changed. And right out on the horizon is the biggest fighting game showcase of the year, EVO 2012. With the recent discovery of these new TAC infinites, which, though difficult to perform, have proven to be accessible for a vast number of players in the community, who knows how the Marvel tournament at EVO will play out? Not only that, but rumors have been turning heads because apparently the Japanese players are holding out on the rest of the world with new technology of their own.
The supposed Japanese iron curtain for this new technology they may have for competitive Marvel is reminiscent of the STSFN days of competitive fighting games. Fighting game commentator Dogysamich explained to me that that was the era of, “save that shit for nationals.” The philosophy, untainted by the advancements of the Internet, meant that any kind of new gimmick or style a player came across was not shared with the scene at large, but kept in a mental vault, only to be used in a major tournament in hopes of catching opponents off-guard with something they could never prepare for. A decade ago, this was something you saw at every national event. The unpredictable nature of players was absurd considering that any player could come out of the woodwork with a new technique that no one had ever seen or heard of before.
Nowadays, however, those instances are very few and far between. Players, especially those here in North America, are extremely prone to uploading videos of their new technology onto Youtube within hours of their discovery. What may have taken weeks or months for the entire community to learn about over five years ago now takes days, even hours in some cases.
With the existence of Youtube and the Internet itself, the STSFN Era is virtually dead and now what we see is the huge, influential power of the Youtube Era. Unless a collective effort by a certain region is maintained to keep technology from escaping its boundaries, like the Japanese are apparently doing in preparation for this year's EVO, no technology is ever secret anymore. That means small parts or even large chunks of an entire metagame can be completely changed and re-arranged in the smallest amounts of time. The discovery and spread of the TAC infinites is a primary example of this.
Another deadly part of this equation is that developers now have the power to patch games like these, unlike a decade ago for games such as Marvel 2, but the discovery of TAC infinites came at such a bad time. EVO 2012 begins in less than two weeks. There is absolutely no way a patch will make it out to the general public in time for the competition. UMvC3 director and producer Ryota Niitsuma commented on Twitter that he is, “adjusting the mechanics related to the issue,” and asks us to be patient. What he doesn't specifically say is when or if a patch is coming within the near future. And with the amount of hoops that he has to go through to actually get the patch created and sent out online, EVO 2012 will certainly be long over before the TAC infinites get removed.
While TAC infinites are without a doubt difficult maneuvers to perform, they will nonetheless become an influential part of the EVO competition. Thanks to the Youtube Era, we've seen such a rapid evolution in this development that an entire metagame may be folded over onto itself because of a couple of uploaded videos. A decade ago, TAC infinites may not have even been seen until the next series of EVO qualifiers. But, then again, without technology, would the Marvel metagame have progressed to where it was just before the TAC infinite discoveries? There's justifiably a lot of uncertainties...but one thing is for sure – Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 at EVO 2012 is going to be really fucking ridiculous.