The Multiplayer Strategy of Thomas Ekstrom, "Give Me Speed"

Thread in 'Strategy' started by Corrosive, 4 Mar 2009.

  1. This is for all you ignorant multiplayer cherries who whine about garbage lines being sent to all, and who are looking for a shining beacon of wisdom and hope. These are articles written by 'spindizzy', who was famous in his day on TetriNET along with his clan HELLFIRE. Let's read.

    A few notes regarding speed

    Among all online Tetris players, there has since long been a craze for speed. Even in the old days of regular TetriNET, people were respected for this talent, even though regular TetriNET has to be one of the slowest online Tetris games ever created and the difference between a slow and a fast player is almost negligable. However at the present with the increasing popularity of TetriFAST among the few players that are left, speed has become an obsession. So I figured I might as well write an article on it.

    As I have often stated (well, it even says so on my pure TetriNET strategy guide), speed has always been overrated in competition Tetris. There is no substitute for wise stacking, period. There are no living Tetris bots. Consider for example the fact that a skilled T2net player will almost invariably beat a VSA T2net bot, arguably a lot better stacker than a newbie Tetris player, operating at three times his own speed. Given a slow player this lands us at 70x3=210 blocks per minute, which is simply impossible for a human player to maintain.

    This does not mean that the brute force approach to competitive Tetris is doomed to failure. In a battle between equally skilled players, of course the faster one will be at an advantage. Nevertheless, sacrificing speed for accuracy and intelligence is almost always preferrable. Besides that, the common practice of judging players' skills by their speed is ridiculous. The reason for this partly being, the speed you can achieve is in a great deal dependant on the hardware and software configuration of your computer. For example, when playing TetriFAST I had always great trouble beating 100 bpm. Now playing at QuadraNet, I can manage over 130 and sometimes even over 140 with no greater effort, something other players find impossible. Playing at the TetriNET 2 servers, sometimes a friend of mine called acidboy could not even beat 40 bpm, while I was merrily making ground at 110. This had nothing to do with his real speed, since at T2net he was at least as fast than me, instead, this was a function of network lag.

    No, indeed, the practice to judge people by their speed is unfair. Sometimes even judging people by how often they win is misplaced. There are a number of players on the Quadranet that I respect immensely as players even though they could never beat me in 1 vs 1. This is because they are too slow to actually threaten me, but their stacking is artistry, and new players can learn a great deal from watching their textbook examples of playing. Noone will learn anything from watching me, I am basically a speed demon with no advanced skills whatsoever.

    All these things considered, how do you achieve speed? I was reading a "godspeed" strategy guide written by plibble member Logix which basically suggested using all controls, remapping your keyboard and have faith in God. I will try to provide a little more pointers for you. I have tried to cut the crap and get right to the point of the subject, distilling everything out to six simple rules.

    Stack for speed. While in regular TetriNET, you will have plenty of time to think out the perfect layout of the field, this is not true in fast Tetris. Disregard beauty and perfection. While in TetriNET if you encountered a streak of, say, six Zs, you would be well adviced to find decent positions for each one, the best approach in fast mode would probably be to stack them all on top of each other on either side of the field and get on with matters. Do not stack optimistically thinking that the right block will come along. If you are not lucky, you will be left with a serious stacking issue pondering over how to best fix the damage (which will in turn slow you down) and probably stacking yourself to death. Instead fill gaps instantly with blocks that fit approximately. This basic building must be made automatic, so that you can concern yourself with strategic issues while your fingers and autonomous nervous system do the major work.

    Use as few keypresses as possible. While I have said this before in my discussion of speed in TetriNET, it is especially important in fast Tetris. If you can find a way to drop the block instantly and it poses no major problem, just do it. Of course, there are delicate situations where this approach is not suitable. A good part of the strategy of a Tetris player is the sense of knowing when your field craves extra attention.

    - The number of average keypresses required to place a block can be estimated as follows. First, moving the block takes at least one keypress (normally a lot more, but let's be optimistic). Then, rotating the block will take you one keypress ((0+1+2+1)/4). After this, one keypress is required to drop the block. This totals three keypresses per second. (Remember, we are counting low here).

    This means that a player operating at 100 bpm will need at least 300 keypresses per minute or 5 keypresses per second. (The machine typist speed world record is in the vicinity of 10 keypresses per second which leads us to believe that using this method, a human being's theoretical speed maximum would lie somewhere around 200 bpm).

    Now consider that you could somehow find a way to NEVER use two rotations. This would mean that your total number of keypresses would drop from 3 to 2 + 2/3. Your 100 bpm player just turned into a 112, and your 150 bpm player is now a happy 168! (Admittedly, these figures are somewhat overstated, since the moving part actually plays a larger role than I have accounted for, but still, you should get the point). -

    Do not misaim. You may think that this has nothing to do with speed, but truth is, nothing hurts your speed more than misaims. Misaims require extra thinking, and thinking makes you slow. Always stay in control of your actions. If you start to misaim, you are going too fast, and in this case, your speed is making you slow. On top of that, consider that a misaim will effectively destroy a lot of whatever speed advantage you can muster since you will be spending time repairing mistakes and that time could have been used to kill the enemy.

    Optimize your software and hardware configuration. This might sound as lame advice to some of you, but every Quake player knows that the gear you are using is important, as does every track runner know that you can't get good results without a decent running shoe. You should already have some ideas on how to accomplish this, but I'll give you some examples. Running Quadra under Linux with anything other than SVGALib is a bad idea. (Actually, for most users, running Quadra under Linux is a bad idea, period). Playing TetriFAST with the playing sounds enabled is definitely not recommended. Using TetriNET or TetriFAST with Windows NT (yes, that includes Windows 2000) is a bad idea, since you will have to wait two to three seconds at the start of every game before you can play. Actually, if you are really serious about getting any hardcore speed in TetriFAST you should probably be running a decent Linux distribution (Slackware, Debian) with GTetriNET and hack the source code to reduce the block delay to 0 (there will be modified sources available shortly on the download page). If using Windows, use Windows 95 or Windows 98 and kill all background processes. Also, regardless of what kind of game you are playing, find a decent keyboard. Customize your surroundings by creating the right light levels, finding a favourite chair, selecting the favorite music, etc. Your playing environment must be familiar, as everyone knows, no person plays any good on a new computer.

    Do not constantly press for speed. Willingly trying to go fast will most of the times cause you to tense and go slower. Try to concentrate on maintaining a steady flow of blocks and do not concern yourself too much with each one. Then, in order to gain bpm, try operating in bursts, throwing out two, three or maybe four blocks at one time in rapid succession before returning to the original rhythm (a great time for these bursts would be when you see a number of identical blocks come along). Try to maintain these bursts for increasingly longer periods of time until you can keep bursting indefinitely and establish a new improved steady flow speed.

    Take drugs (:.

    spindizzy/HELLFIRE, 12/00
  2. tepples

    tepples Lockjaw developer

    halfway in this video, someone gets close.

    In other words: "If your PC runs Linux, play only TetriFAST. If your PC runs Windows, play only Quadra." Do I understand you right?

    Not these, I take it.
  3. Not these, I take it.[/quote]

    lmao @ the second vid. I didnt write this, id like to change that sound effects should be recommended (great players like blink and others like sounds because it helps them keep pace.) That whole paragraph about Linux/Quadra/Windows is obsolete.

    DIGITAL Unregistered

    My comments after giving the article a read.

    This might be a vastly outdated perspective as modern games have introduced several mechanics that have entirely changed the way the game is played. First, piece distribution randomizers are no longer entirely random. You rarely even see strings of triplets of any particular piece. Second, the introduction of more than one preview has allowed the player to plan ahead with a lot more accuracy. There's hardly any more need to negotiate with chance. And third, the hold function has since become a mainstream feature as well and it particularly allows for the rearrangement of distributed pieces to an extent. With all of these features in mind, the bar for stacking quality has been raised really high. That's not to say that negotiation in stacking quality does not exist anymore. But keep in mind that "messy" nowadays is like "neat" back then, even for the fastest players.

    This is the same as above. Since the bar for stacking quality has been raised really high, the keypresses per tetromino (KPT) have to accommodate it. Compromises that might have been made back then would not be made now.

    There's a huge flaw in this calculation due to a few assumptions. One is that not all placements require rotation or movement. Something else to keep in mind is that modern official games have a field width of 10 cells and not 12 like TNet, meaning there will inevitably be less movement. With the width thing aside, we can assume that placements without rotation and/or movement will decrease the average KPT. What we want to know is if the placements that require extra rotations and/or movements balances this back out to roughly 3 KPT. I will have to say no. The biggest evidence I have of this is the Lockjaw 40L thread. The average KPT of several players consistently hit under 3. Modern mechanics like 20G have aided in the simplification of movements and have helped me to hit under 3 KPT with ease. But even without 20G, players like caffeine and fnord have honed their finesse so well that they can hit under 3 KPT with fast DAS.

    There are underlying considerations we have to take into account. Some modern games allow for initial actions with a small prerequisite of ARE (initial delay for piece to spawn). Initial actions allow a player to input several keypresses at once and "charge" movement even before the piece touches the field. An average of 4 KPT can easily hide itself behind 3 KPT if the player presses at least 1 input simultaneously with another. Even without ARE, players can still move and rotate at the same time.

    The biggest assumption that might have led to the conclusion that 200 TPM is around the max theoretical speed is that 10 keypresses per second (KPS) is the upper bound for physical ability. A quick google search came up with this page that states the fastest pianist as capable of hitting 19.5 KPS in each hand and another as capable of maintaining approximately 13.5 KPS in each hand for an hour. Look at the Lockjaw thread and think about it. Jono is only hitting 11.997 KPS with BOTH hands and he's at 236.78 TPM. And Maserati (Khmai) is only hitting 18.799 KPS with both hands even though he has a slightly lower TPM than Jono.

    This is really true. Misdrops (misaims) greatly interrupt speed. I'd add that placements that are not optimal can do the same but in a more passive manner. If you just throw pieces wherever without enough thought, it can really come back to bite you when it comes time to downstack. This rings true in recent games more than ever because the bar for stacking quality has been raised so high. Little mistakes like this which are not obvious at first make up for the biggest differences between players like blink and the rest of us.

    This might not be as much of an issue as back then because games tend to perform the same for everyone now. Hardware specs are often not an issue. Most game experiences are standardized across platforms so there's no arbitrary advantages. The controller you play on though could potentially be the weakest link here. Get a decent keyboard, joystick, gamepad, whatever (no ridiculous crap) and you'll be fine for the most part.

    Burst speed is definitely a part of average TPM as maintaining top speed over a prolonged period is highly impractical. This balances out with situations where you have to slow down to make good decisions. Bursting indefinitely is not the way to go though because we have to remember that speed is relative. As your average speed increases, your top speed increases. Your burst speed is a reflection of this, meaning that you cannot play at your top speed at all times. If you think you can, that would only mean that your top speed is actually even higher than what you estimated it to be.

    I'm already taking one. It's called Tetris. [​IMG]

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