# The Tetris Guideline - What would you like to see changed?

Thread in 'Discussion' started by Edo, 8 Jun 2009.

1. ### Edoa.k.a. FSY

Which features of the Tetris Guideline would you most like to see changed and why?

"The Tetris Guideline is the current specification that The Tetris Company enforces for making all new (2001 and later) Tetris game products alike in form." If a company wishes to obtain a license to produce a Tetris product, their product must conform to the official Tetris Guideline. More information regarding what the Guideline is can be found on our wiki: http://www.tetrisconcept.com/wiki/index.php/Tetris_Guideline

If you have suggestions on how to improve future updates to the Tetris franchise, now is your chance to have a say.
• Are there any present features that you think should be changed or removed?
• Are there any features from older games that you would like to see reinstated?
• Do you have any suggestions for completely new features which could be added?
Some things that you might like to consider:

• the Random Generator
• number of NEXT previews
• the HOLD piece
• T-Spin rewards
• back 2 back rewards
• other scoring mechanics
• multiplayer garbage distribution
• multiplayer garbage hole alignment
• the basic rotation system
• the wallkick/floorkick system
• move reset lock delay ("infinity")
• level of difficulty of single player modes
• "ghost" piece
• tetromino color scheme
• Sideways auto-repeat (DAS) speed and delay
• Soft Drop/Hard Drop locking behavior
• top-out conditions
• piece spawn location
There are TTC employees who are willing to listen, so if you present your argument in a logical and objective (unbiased) manner, giving detailed reasoning to support your ideas, you will make it easier for them to present our case and potentially get things approved.

It might be a good idea to focus on one or two specific features, and describe how they should be changed in as much detail and clarity as possible, rather than speaking in vague and general terms about the entire guideline.

2. ### Muf

I hate to sound like one of the old men from the Muppet Show, but isn't this basically what me and Kitaru have been doing when Tetris Friends for Facebook just came out?

As I'm not going to write all of that out again, here are some excerpts (these are from last year when I didn't have my Ti machine yet):

Now you might understand why I didn't want to write all that a second time

3. ### Kitaru

I want to talk about most of the things you used as examples at some point, obviously. To start, I think I'll talk about DAS and IRS/IHS.

Autorepeat:
As things currently stand, the speed of autorepeat is unduly limited. If TTC has some rationalization for imposing this limitation they'll have to voice it; I'd be hard pressed to come up with one. I assume it has something to do with it being "better for newer players," but they'll have to elaborate a bit more on that. If TTC wants the autorepeat to be anything other than a way to get to the walls quickly, then they're missing the point. We already have tap shifting for making precise column placements without traveling the full distance to the wall. Trying to balance the autorepeat so it is less specialized for travelling to the wall makes it not exceptionally useful for anything. You can't make it precise for in-field column placements without making it "GB Tetris"-spec molasses slow. Even then, it can never be as precise as pure tap shifting. Since tap shifting already covers that role, offering a slow autorepeat as an inferior alternative is illogical on the whole.

I don't know if TTC grasps the full implications of this design choice. With a specialized, fast autorepeat, the focus is placed efficiency. With developed finesse, no placement under low gravity will take more than two tap shifts. Since they only offer a slow autorepeat that is easily surpassed by tapping, they've shifted the focus to physical performance -- rapid tapping. Perhaps they initially started with the intent to make the game more accessible to casual players, -- what logic is behind this I can't understand -- but they've ultimately created a new barrier to execution that lies outside the scope of the game itself. I don't know about anyone else, but I don't feel physical endurance is something a puzzle game should need to test. Tapping is why I don't play GB or NES Tetris anymore. Why is such a dated design making its way into a supposedly modern Tetris game? Sega got it right in 1988.

Say someone does indeed prefer a slower autorepeat. Why can't we make the logical compromise and provide autorepeat _options_? I don't know what else there is to say here. On April 18th, 2008, I was told the next build of Tetris Friends would have these options. I have yet to see them.

Initial Rotation and Initial Hold:
Hey, look at that, I've already written something perfect for this:

4. ### colour_thief

Why hello giant walls of text.

I'll keep it short and only mention the least subjective changes that everyone would agree with:

IHS/IRS should be standard.
DAS should be fast and/or customizable.
Line clear delay should be fast, at least for time attack and versus modes.

Though, random tetris employees may or may not be able to parse our TLAs into meaningful suggestions...

5. ### Caithness

I feel that the main game mode should be about survival, not just time attack or score attack, although those don't hurt if they're included as well. With SRS in its current form, it's possible to survive forever with a low to intermediate amount of skill, which makes Marathon and other such modes boring, unless you're going to focus on time or score. Ideally I'd like to see a switch to Sega-style rotations with wallkicks, but even the simple removal of Infinity would make me very happy.

6. ### jujubeUnregistered

thanks edo for making this thread. in addition to things mentioned already, here are some things i'd like to see changed.

Randomizer
the 7-piece bag makes single player too easy. ZT stacking is the preferred method for scoring, and with practice the pattern is repeatable. this seems counter-intuitive because the well width was designed to prevent the player from stacking the same way all the time, right? you should have to make strategic decisions in real time rather than relying on the knowledge that the piece you want is always coming soon, and that you don't have to adjust your stacking to accommodate for what-ifs.

i don't see the 7-bag as a problem in multiplayer because the random arrangement of garbage makes each game different, even when the garbage isn't extremely random. there is still an issue at the start of the game. players have memorized a number of T-spin openings, and they choose one based on the first few pieces they see. if the first 7, 10, 14, or whatever number of pieces from the start of the game were more random it would eliminate most of this abuse. then a seamless transition to the 7-bag would give players the predictability they need to deal with complex situations that come up in the meat of multiplayer, the middle game and end game.

Scoring
Combos - they aren't rewarded enough. you have to make a very long combo to start earning the points you would make from tetrises or T-spins, and to make up for the first few clears that didn't earn much, and for breaking up back-to-back. if there were ways that skilled players could consistently make 15-combos then the current scoring system might be ok, but there's too much luck involved.

T-spins - they're a little too strong, although if the randomizer were changed they might be ok as is. personally i would like to see a system where clears are rewarded from high to low as follows:

1. T-spin triple
2. Tetris
3. T-spin double
4. Triple
5. T-spin single
6. Double
7. EZ T-spin single
8. Single

with the same back-to-back system that currently stands, except EZ T-spin singles would stop back-to-back (Yoshihiros are too easy).

7. ### PetitPrince

One more voice that agree with the rest of the crowd: move reset and overly lax counter (infinite or 12 should be out, and fast DAS is a must.

I don't like the idea of having T-Spin Triple (TST) stronger than Tetrises. My first impression is that TST are highly counter-intuitive and I think the main focus of the game should be to stack cleanly, as fast and as efficient as possible. In this regard, TST setups goes directly in the opposite way.
But perhaps you're right jujube - after all, T-spin adds an interesting twist to the game... I'll think more about it later (after today's exam revision are done).

8. ### jujubeUnregistered

well of course you're entitled to your opinion, and many would agree with you. and to clarify, i'm saying that if there are T-spin triples, i think they should be rewarded more than tetrises. but it wouldn't bother me if the kick that makes TSTs possible was completely removed from the game.

9. ### Pineapple

I have some thoughts on the Random Generator that's on my todo list.

10. ### caffeine

Fast DAS and autorepeat are the most important right now. I need to be able to get to the right wall with a vertical I-tetromino faster than I can tap three times.

11. ### tepplesLockjaw developer

If these features were in Tetris games from the mid-2000s, some unofficial clones might not have been developed in the first place:

1. An easily understandable explanation of the complete scoring system.
• Good: The manuals of Tetris for NES, Tetris Blast for Game Boy, Tetris Zone (explanation of scoring), and Tetris Party (explanation of the T-spin rule that I had labeled as "3-corner no kick").
• Bad: The manual of Tetris DS.
This also implies an easy-to-understand scoring system itself, which would appear to rule out awarding more than four "lines" for a Tetris in a marathon game that ends at 200 "lines" and is played for score, not time.

2. An option for fast sideways movement.
The goal of delayed auto-shift (DAS) is to put the Tetrimino at the side of the Matrix as quickly as possible. So make the repeat rate at least 20 Hz, as it is in Tetris Blast for Game Boy and Tetris DX for Game Boy Color. It could go all the way up to 60 Hz, like in Arika's games. Options aren't completely foreign to The Tetris Company: Tetris DS has "hide ghost" and "unbind hard drop".

3. Instant replay.
Don't rely on the player's use of a VCR. It doesn't work on handhelds, on PCs without an S-Video or composite output, or on game consoles connected through a component or HDMI cable. So let the user record the movements of each Tetrimino and then play back the recording. Mario Kart 64 allowed this over a decade ago.

4. The randomizer.
At times, Tetris has been marketed as the mind game from the same country as Chess grandmasters. There are two schools of thought in Chess: the standard game (rook-knight-bishop-queen-king-bishop-knight-rook), and the other 959 arrangements of the back row. Standard Chess emphasizes the memorization of openings, and Chess960's goal is to deemphasize it. Likewise in Tetris, people have come up with openings for the 7-bag Random Generator used in most authentic Tetris games published since 2001; some of these have been posted on the wiki. (See Fiddlesworth's opening for example.) Other randomizers that just make least-recently-used shapes more likely, such as the one in Arika's games, keep the Random Generator's goal of evening out piece distribution while deemphasizing opening theory.

5. Survival mode.
Tetris for NES had two modes: "A-type" (survive as long as you can) and "B-type" (score the most points in the first 25 lines). But in recent games, the "marathon" mode has started to feel like B-type, only longer (200 lines in Tetris DS). You can keep the new marathon mode, but I'd recommend reintroduction of a "survival" mode that requires the player to keep up a minimum pace that increases over time. I can think of two ways to do this, and there are probably more:
• Like classic games: No Infinity in this mode. A lot of players prefer the way it works in Arika's games, where the lock delay starts to decrease once the falling speed reaches the equivalent of Tetris DS level 20.
• Like Lockjaw Rhythm: Automatically hard drop pieces if the TPM (Tetriminos per minute) over a sliding window of 5 pieces decreases below a minimum value that depends on the level.
6. House rules.
Mr. Pajitnov created the name Tetris as a portmanteau of "Tetrimino" and "Tennis". He wants Tetris to become a sport, where the Tetris Cup compares to, say, the U.S. Open of Tennis. But in Tennis, people can develop their own training exercises. Likewise, I'd like to see a Tetris game that allows people to make their own training scenarios, possibly even by scripting the Tetrion themselves.

7. No mentality of "no export for you".
Give westerners an occasional taste of Arika-style Tetris games. Did Tetris the Grand Master ACE really need to be region coded?

Last edited: 3 Jul 2009
12. ### Zaphod77Resident Misinformer

A new request that i think makes sense.

For console games, have hard drop disabled by default. I know, i know, sacrilege. But newbies are very adept at accidental hard drops when playing with a dpad or analog stick. I've had experience with this first hand, with people who aren't so great telling me some version of tetris sucks because pieces keep hard dropping and locking themselves. With keyboard and stick such an option is not really needed, but it is absolutely essential on many console controllers.

In other words, the type of platform should dictate the default controls for the Guideline, and the default should cause the least frustration in people just starting. And up to hard drop is not only very easy to do by accident, but is rather counterintuitive to newbies.

13. ### PetitPrince

How about moving it to a button ? I'd say any right shoulder button.

14. ### tepplesLockjaw developer

Tetris DS already allows unbinding hard drop, as does Dr. Mario Online Rx.

An 8-way stick still makes accidental hard drops too easy. One solution is to emulate the diagonal restrictor plate of a 4-way stick by ignoring diagonal presses until the direction has become straight again. I've implemented the following logic in a puzzle game, and it worked well:
Code:
if (left is pressed OR right is pressed) AND (up is pressed OR down is pressed):
use the previous frame's direction

Tetris Party does it another way: if you press the Control Pad in any direction other than up, you have to release all directions on the Control Pad before pressing up will do anything. So you can't roll to up at all.

Would PetitPrince's suggestion (L to hold and R to hard drop) work better?

15. ### Zaphod77Resident Misinformer

Actually i think tetris party has the right idea.

make it so only a direct upward press hard drops, and if you attempt to roll the d-pad, have it not drop.

but allow this protection to be disabled, should the player want it.

This would remove 99% accidental hard drops.

Personally i would not want to play with hard drop on a button, and agree it belongs on the joystick or d-pad. And i would rebind it back to it's "proper' position rather quickly. But having any diagonal upward press cause an instant drop and lock is very harsh for beginners.

Actually in addition, the very first time you press up (and only the first time out of all the games you play), have it stop the game, and explain that pressing up will cause the piece to drop down and lock instantly. Then when you press x or a or whatever to continue, have it ignore the press, and only on the second time, have it lock.

16. ### tepplesLockjaw developer

That sort of reminds me of how the Katamari games teach the game's tank-like control scheme. The tutorial screen after creating a file could require the player to move a J to the left wall, move an L to the right wall, and hard-drop an I in the middle. (Line clear!)

17. ### Kitaru

Alright, I'm finally ready to sit down and write another monster post! :] Today's topic is rotation rules. I also intend to do a short write-up about scoring soon.

Preface: When I say four-state, SRS, or symmetry, I'm talking about rotations from this table. When I say ARS, Sega, bottom-row alignment, etc., I'm referring to this table. More specifically, when I say bottom-row alignment, I am referring the property of most pieces in Sega tables to have at least one block in the lower-most row of a piece's bounding box in all orientations for a given piece.

Although I'm sure many would like to start a write-up on the problems with SRS's kick table, I think the logical starting point is with the basic rotations. The way basic rotation is handled has a big impact on the ultimate usability of the rotation system. The first thing to talk about in regards to rotation tables is how SRS handles symmetry. The TTC justifies symmetry by asserting that it is ultimately more intuitive than a rotation system that features either bottom-alignment or asymmetry like ARS. However, I believe that SRS is ultimately no more intuitive ARS in low gravity situations, and is in fact slightly _less_ intuitive. (ARS is also a clear winner in high gravity situations, but that necessitates discussion of wall kicks. I'll get to that in a little bit, sit tight.)

Although the claim that symmetry is ultimately more intuitive sounds pretty reasonable, I don't believe symmetry is something that can be handled in Tetris without introducing some odd behavior. Symmetry can be implemented quite logically for L, J, T, and O, but how do you handle S, Z, and I? The point around which the brain would logically want to call the center for each piece falls _between_ blocks. You can't rotate around this point without throwing the piece out of alignment with the grid. SRS deals with this by rotating the whole piece around a block _near_ the center. Since these pieces have an offset center of rotation, they wobble between four states of rotation -- upper horizontal, rightmost vertical, lower horizontal, and leftmost vertical. This isn't the most intuitive way to handle things. We can only immediately see whether it is vertical or horizontal and can't see the block that is the center of rotation. In fact, our brain only ever wanted to see two rotation states in the first place! I think Sega had it right in 1989: make a logical compromise. For example, lining up the "point" of a vertical S or Z piece with the center column of the horizontal one makes a lot of sense. The I-block is a little bit harder to deal with, but picking a column that is close for the vertical orientation works out perfectly fine. If it sounds wrong to be arbitrary about that, why not give _just_ the I-block that wobble? S and Z feel more awkward since their center of rotation is placed on an arbitrary block, but the I-block has its center of rotation place quite close to where it would be in reality anyhow.

Saying that it looks more natural with symmetrical rotations is also a silly argument. Don't _wall kicks_ look unnatural? Why not get rid of those? How about line clears? Naive gravity? I think it is important to remember that Tetris is an abstract game. Things like "looking natural" don't ultimately matter. Past that, we rarely ever see the pieces in free space anyhow! Since pieces spawn in the vanish zone, we'll be looking at the ghost piece for a great deal of the time. The funny thing here is that the behavior of the ghost piece matches ARS's bottom-row alignment. There is more of an argument for bottom-row alignment of L, J, and T to match the ghost piece for the sake of consistency of appearance than there is against it because it looks "unnatural."

I'd say that bottom-row alignment is more elegant in providing useful functionality. With pieces L, J, and T in SRS, a wall kick is _necessary_ to go from their flat-side-down orientations to their vertical ones. (Figure 1) On the other hand, ARS gets that rotation for free as part of its basic rotation. (Figure 2) Ultimately, this makes bottom-row alignment more versatile under high gravity. We can slip pieces under notches quite cleanly like this, whereas rotation would fail or they'd be pushed out by a wall kick with a symmetrical rotation table. (Figure 3) The real treat here is that by giving a bottom-aligned rotation a floor kick, you've given it more options than a symmetrical one. You get the useful twists without any inconsistencies in wall kick rules, and you can still get the benefits of a symmetrical rotation table should you get your piece "totally" stuck. (Figure 4) By using a bottom-up approach, you can have a more flexible rotation system without having to make those useful twists an exception by adding new wall kicks.

Finally, for reasons beyond my understanding, SRS's kick table is nearly incomprehensible. If the design philosophy for SRS was to be intuitive and natural, they certainly forgot about that here. The only thing that would be easy to understand about these kicks is that rotating will probably let you climb over previous inappropriate placement decisions and ugly mistakes with ease. The only way these wall kicks provide a challenge is by being frustratingly difficult to understand and thwarting hopes of playing quickly and efficiently. ARS's wall kicks, however, can be described in a few sentences. (The wall kick order is one right, one left, fail. With one extremely rare exception, L, J, and T won't kick if their center column is blocked after basic rotation. I-block could not kick in TGM1 or TGM2, but can kick up to two spaces away directly away from either the wall or floor in TGM3. T also has the ability to kick one space up if the horizontal kicks fail. The floor kicks for I and T reset lock delay and only work once per piece entry.) While ARS kicks are predictable and aligned with only one axis, SRS frequently pulls pieces diagonally and in directions that were not expected. If nothing else, SRS needs some sensible, straight, predictable kicks. I'd also advocate the final set of kicks being much less lenient than SRS. Max gravity should not be a matter of persistently rotating to hop over problematic elements of the stack. If there isn't a more significant difference between low and max gravity than "in one, you have to rotate more to get things where you want them," why even bother getting that fast in the first place? I believe that the set of wall kicks in ARS provides a very fair challenge. Since the rules are clear, you never feel like you were cheated because the piece didn't do something you thought it should have done. If ARS's kicks are "too hardcore," how about something like DRS?

Last edited: 9 Sep 2009
18. ### Ai

On the subject at hand. I haven't really thought about it that much and I'm not knowledgeable like most of you. I only believe that they should make the game more challenging for the pros by adding more difficult (survival) modes. They should also give people the choice to customize the game to their specific needs. I understand that a simple concept is the best way to not scare off the casual players and give everyone the same weapons to fight, but still... I just want to be given the possibility to change some things to experiment a little is all. Seeing as Tetris is as popular as ever I don't think TTC will find it necessary to change anything (yet).

This is offtopic...

Is it possible to implement both ARS and SRS rotations in the same game? So one would have 14 pieces in the same field, which would respect both rotation rules. I think that would be cool. Maybe something like this is already available?

19. ### tepplesLockjaw developer

You mean like a 14-bag, with 7 ARS pieces and 7 SRS pieces?

20. ### Ai

Yes exactly! And both should respect their own wall kicks.