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I originally had fancy big ideas for setting this thread up, but then every time I went to try to flesh it out, I got writer's block setting it up, so I guess I'll just start things off simple, and add bulk to the first post later. Being in general gaming, and not FFTF, the idea is that this thread will have a higher level of discussion to it. Simply put, what I'm expecting is not just your general one-line fluff posts, but stuff a little meatier. Examples may include discussions on scoring, resource, or shot-type mechanics for a particular game. Possibly with a more specific eye to help yourself or others score/survive/capture better (best places to get borders in PCB, must summon spots for blue UFOs, safest/most rewarding places to graze milk, etc). Things could also range from general, to specific, and questions/requests like "I'm having trouble surviving/capturing spellcard X. Here's a replay of one of my better attempts, if someone could take a look at it and give me some pointers, that would be appreciated," are completely welcome. People need to bear in mind that players with a wide range of skill can all enjoy the games, so honest requests for advice should be met with honest attempts at providing help. That means no off-the-cuff one-liners like "oh, that's just simple misdirection," or "just shoot her until she dies". You don't have to provide replays to answer every question, but at least try to go into a reasonable level of detail. Also, I'm planning on having a running Shoot the Bullet challenge going in the thread, one scene each week. I haven't nailed down all the details, but the highest submitted score for the week will probably earn points which may either be bragging rights only, or maybe be redeemable for some kind of prize after getting a bunch of them. I'm open to some suggestions on how to run it. Links to useful posts: Old post about EoSD scoring that I wrote, it probably has some information that should be corrected, but until better comes along... Similar as above but for PCB scoring For IN I didn't have a convenient stand-alone post, so I brought over a section and spoilered it. [spoiler=General Scoring IN]Stage 1 opener, it's ideal to sit in the lower right and fire immediately upon loading in, so that you can reach -80% human side and start earning time orbs by the time you fire upon the first wave of fairies. The more time orbs you get, the more your score, for a variety of reasons. I would hesitantly suggest that time orbs are arguably more vital than point items in this game, although, that might not be 100% factually correct, I haven't done any sort of math on it. It certainly isn't true on an item by item basis, as any individual time orb is going to have a negligible effect, but earning the time orb threshold on each stage is vital to getting a good score for a multitude of reasons: an extra half-hour for Night Bonus and extra spellcard, both for the capture bonus, and for the chance to earn even more time orbs from capturing, grazing in youkai form, or firing in human form. Why collect more time orbs if you've already hit the threshold, you ask? Time orbs' and point items' values are inextricably linked. The point value increases a slight amount for every time orb you collect, with the actual formula being value=base+10*ceiling(total time orbs collected/2), and for each point item you collect, the value of each time orb also increases, value=min(100,10*floor(total point items collected/2)). Furthermore, while on the subject of point items, perhaps the most important thing to note is that point items collected when in -80% human mode (or youmu's equivalent -30%) are worth double their listed value, so maintaining your human/youkai gauge is vital for highscoring. The best way to quickly reorient your gauge (bar bombing in the form you want it to go to) is to collect a lot of items in that form. This is typically done with time orbs, as they're plentiful, home towards you making collection super easy, and their value is independent of your gauge. The best way to get a large clump of time orbs in a timely fashion is by what I like to refer to as "familiar popping", which is a vital technique for another reason. A little more explanation about how familiars work is probably in order though. Certain enemies are designated as masters and either come with a set number of familiars, or summon them continually while on the field. Familiars are like normal enemies with a few differences, the most major of which is that when you are the youkai partner of your team/solo, they are invulnerable to your bullets, and you are invulnerable to colliding with them. The other major difference is that when the familiars' master is killed, all of the familiars associated with it will self-destruct. Self-destructing familiars in this way has a number of benefits over killing them in the conventional method. First off, when self-destructed they drop small point items which they wouldn't drop otherwise, these are worth value = 10*floor(point value/100). (Small point items also replace power items when you're at full power, btw.) Additionally, when self-destructed the familiars release a clump of time orbs, with exponentially more produced the more familiars that are simultaneously destroyed. (NB: This is only true up to a point. It shifts to multiplicative at 8 familiars on-screen for teams, 10 for youkai solo, 4 for human solo.) While killing a familiar normal will still give time orbs, just ask yourself is it better to kill 8 familiars separately for 14 orbs a piece, or 8 all at once for 224? Not only is there that incentive, but when self-destructed, the familiars explode like mini-bombs, and cancel bullets nearby their vicinity, with each of the cancelled bullets being converted into time orbs. I wasn't able to figure out the exact math, but it was something like 2-3 orbs per bullet, give or take. This may sound like small potatoes, but it all adds up. At any rate, the original subject was how "popping" familiars is a quick way to re-orient your gauge. You kill something with 4 or 8 familiars circling them by quickly shifting into youkai form (preferably not chilling around in it for too long as firing excessively would be counterproductive to reaching -80%) so that you don't accidentally kill the familiars, but just kill the master. Then as soon as the master poof, you release shift, and revert to human as the orbs are rushing their way towards you. Now, the timing can be tricky, especially if you're trying to juggle multiple pops in succession, but that's the general idea. On the subject of gauge though, something that I've seen pros able to accomplish that I am not skilled enough to do, is to defeat a skillcard, unfocus, collect enough time orbs to reach -80 and the point items, then focus back up and collect the remaining orbs to get as close back to +80 as possible. That's some truly next level boss mechanics, though, I would for the moment just suggest the simpler technique of understanding which cards/noncards you cannot afford to not be earning orbs from grazing (based on density), and only stay in youkai form for those one, but collecting the point drops in human form when you can. This is much more important in the later stages, after you've already padded up a significant value to your point items by abusing the crap out of collecting time items early. To this end, I've found that for the majority of the early game, firing unfocused in -80% is far more efficient. You only get time orbs from grazing when +80% if there is a (mid)boss present, IIRC, and early (mid)bosses don't usually have the bullet density to make grazing a profitable trade-off, Last Spells and certain other spells excepting. Spells worth grazing include: Wriggles final spell and her Last Spell, if you go up close and circle her as the spokes are spiraling around; Keine's final and Last Spells are probably good choices as well; Duplex Barrier, Evil Sealing Circle, Duplex Danmaku from Reimu; Stardust Reverie is probably the best for Marisa, the others aren't bad though. Other than that, you should probably be fighting the boss unfocused unless you have survivability issues (~two time orbs per bullet that lands will probably outstrip the ~two time orbs per bullet grazed). ALWAYS BE FOCUSED IF IT HELPS YOU STAY ALIVE/YOUR UNFOCUSED CLEAR IS UNRELIABLE. For stages 5 and 6 it would probably be more efficient to say which things are better off/survivable unfocused, rather than the other way around. All I can come up with at the moment is possibly Reisen's first noncard (though you'll want to do small focused repositions), and probably Kaguya's 2nd nonspell. Everything else is probably better off grazed, especially Reisen's long long 3rd nonspell, which is just begging to be milked. Reisen's first noncard would probably be better off being grazed if you started at +80%, tbh, but since you likely just collected a wad of point items from the large dual bomb masters and their clumps of familiars, and you probably did so at -80%, that's just not feasible to get to +80% in any sort of reasonable time. I mostly suggest the Kaguya nonspell for unfocused fire is because there are so many hard to kill familiars that I believe you can artificially extend the fight by wasting your bullets on them rather than her health bar, allowing you to get more bang for your buck... as long as you manage to stay below -80%, which can be easier said than done, as actually killing familiars puts a dent the wrong way in your gauge, and sometimes it gets dense enough you need to focus for extended time. This is also something that sees a good deal of use in the Marisa noncards as well, but honestly in those you're mostly killing her familiars to reduce overall density and increase survivability, imo. I know I mentioned earlier that killing familiars individually is not a good idea, but that was mostly geared at the quickly popped stage familiars. Some boss familiars have enough HP that you'd get way more time from unfocused -80% firing at them than you would if you let them escape/explode when the bosses health depletes. Speaking of familiars "escaping" that's tied in to the number in parentheses during a boss battle. You'll see things like Reisen U Inaba +16(84). 84 would be the total amount of familiars she's summoned that you have not destroyed, while 16 would be the number that is currently on-screen. The number of on-screen familiars accounts for the heftier part of the time orb bonus, being the part that has actual exponential scaling (up to that point I mentioned before), or just plain better coefficients. You only get 2 time orbs for each of the familiars that have "escaped" to off-screen, which is probably less than they'd give for killing them, to be honest. Also, while you obviously want to optimize defeating a pattern with the most familiars on-screen possible, for the highest boost, you must make sure there is at least one familiar on-screen. If not, I don't think you get any bonus whatsoever, though I could be mistaken. A prominent example of this would mid-boss Wriggle. If you kill her too fast before she summons any of her familiars and attempts to spam the screen with bullets, you're missing out on not only the large bullet cancel bonus, but the large time orb production from the 8 familiars she would have brought to the table. Some stage specific notes I don't really know where else to place: For the Stage 2 masters that pop out a long chain of familiars one at a time, it's debatable whether it's better to let them get to 7 or 8, or kill them at 3/4 imo. While you get half the spawn rate of masters if you let them pop out more than 4, the raw time orb collection increase because of the higher scaling. However, you might be missing out on a net extra of orbs from additional bullet cancels in the base bullet patterns, which might make the 3/4 familiar pops more worthwhile. I hypothesize a large part of the reason Stage 4 Uncanny has such higher values requirements for time than Stage 4 Powerful is because Reimu shits out so many more familiars than Marisa does, which makes it much easier to collect time in general. I am hesitant to suggest that it is a compensation for the Marisa fight being harder and time loss due to deaths/last spells being more probable. The reason for that is Zun is pretty much a troll, and as seen in the scoring systems for MOF and SA quite clearly feels you shouldn't be dying anywhere.