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One of the most common things newcomers to Brawl+ become confused about is the inclusion of a custom “buffer”. This “buffer” is often the cause of many complaints and misunderstandings. Many newcomers don’t understand what it is, which leads to the feeling of “laggy jumps” or “ignored inputs”. This article is for those of you who don’t understand buffer, or for those who want to learn more.
Now, first of all, let’s define buffer. Buffer is the execution of a command which is inputted before you are actually able to perform it. The buffer window is the length of time in which you can input the move and have it still execute.
Don’t understand? Allow me to explain it more clearly:
Whenever you use a move, there is a certain amount of lag at the end where you have to wait for the animation to finish. During this lag, you are still technically carrying out the move, meaning you are not allowed to do anything else in the meantime. If you try inputting another move while this lag is happening, nothing will happen because you’re still executing the move. In order to use another move, you have to wait until the lag is over and the move is fully complete before you can input it.
However, this is where buffer comes in. What buffer does is create a tiny “window” of time at the end of every move and animation, where inputs are still counted even though the move is going on. If you input any move or action within that timespan, the move or action will be carried out on the first frame possible as soon as the lag ends. This means that instead of having to input moves after the previous moves are done, you can input them at the very last second of the previous move to have the next move instantly come out.
This timespan, or “window”, is a variable amount depending on the game; for example, Melee has a “window” of 0 frames, whereas Brawl has a “window” of 10 frames. That essentially means that in Melee, in order to use another move, the first move had to be finished COMPLETELY. However, in Brawl, you had a window of 10 frames in which to input a second move at the end of your first move, and it would still be carried out at the first frame possible.
An example would go as follows: say I used an aerial move, such as Luigi’s nair. This move lasts a total of 45 frames, which is 3/4ths of a second (60 frames per second). If I inputted a jump at exactly frame 44, with 0 buffer, nothing would happen after Luigi finished his nair. However, if I had a 10-frame buffer, and I inputted a jump at frame 35, that jump would come out immediately after Luigi finished his nair on frame 45. This 10-frame buffer window means that the last command inputted between frames 35-45 will execute, meaning that if I inputted fair again at frame 40, fair would come out immediately after nair was finished on frame 45.
However, buffering also has its downsides; while it gives you more leeway to perform commands, you also lose control over your character. Buffering causes random or unintended inputs to carry out even if you didn’t want them to. One extremely famous example of this is to shield with Ike near a ledge, and have an opponent hit your shield, causing you to fall off the ledge. If you try to buffer a jab while your shield is getting hit, that jab will still carry out as soon as your lag is done…in midair. The buffered jab becomes a nair, and Ike falls to his death while doing an nair because of that buffered jab. Having no buffer means this doesn’t happen, as players can react to being pushed off the ledge and recover, instead of being forced to carry out an unwanted input.
Two general problems raised about Brawl+ are “jumps feel laggy” and “inputs are dropped”. Both of these have to do with leaving buffer at 0 frames. Remember that the Brawl standard is a 10-frame buffer window, so the timing differs. Laggy jumps occur because you press jump before a move is finished, meaning that input is disregarded, and then you press jump again to execute it several frames after the move is already done. This can be most easily seen if you choose Captain Falcon and try to link uairs on 0 buffer; if you’re not used to it, jumping feels weird and slightly delayed, and you can’t get the timing right in order to juggle the opponent. Dropped inputs are caused by inputting a move during Brawl’s 10-frame buffer window, except that since buffer is set to 0, there is no buffer window. This means that the input is disregarded completely, and you suffer the illusion of the game ignoring your inputs completely.
As for how Brawl+ implements this buffering system: for every 10 handicap, you gain 1 frame of time for the buffer window. At a handicap of 0, there will be no buffering at all, while at a handicap of 100, it will be at the default Brawl buffering window of 10 frames, or 1/6th of a second. Anywhere in between works as well; a handicap of 40 will result in a 4-frame buffering window, and a handicap of 70 will result in a 7-frame buffering window. Any handicap over 100 defaults to 10 frames, since 10 frames is the max for the buffer window. If you don’t know what handicap to use, feel free to try different values until you find one that feels “right” to you. Buffers are personal preferences, just like control schemes, and it is up to you to decide which value to use. Remember, Handicap no longer changes any damage dealt to your character, it only alters your personal buffer window.