What do you do to maintain focus during gameplay?

Thread in 'Strategy' started by GyRo, 18 May 2015.

  1. I've gotten to the point in TGM where I die more because of mental focus lapses than because of misdrops. (Although misdrops are killer, of course.) The obvious solution is to optimize my physical state, so my mind remains focused as long as possible. I know that sounds like wishy washy nonsense, but it's no different from drinking coffee to do better mathematics. Which is a real thing, just like athletes using energy powders to stay amped up.

    When I was a math grad student, I would take a long bike ride to get started, do an hour or two of math, then drink a certain amount of coffee to get another 2-3 useful hours out of my brain. This was the optimal strategy for getting the most good work out of a day. Tetris should be no different, except that we're trying to maximize the amount of uninterrupted mental focus rather than sporadic bursts of creativity.

    For the most part I've been using moderate amounts of coffee or minor amounts of pot (which is legal here*) to maintain focus. All three of my S5's were made under these conditions. Today I tried my first energy drink ever. And a healthy sleep schedule is an essential prerequisite to any of this, of course.

    I'm curious what the rest of you do for focus, and how effective each strategy is, both in terms of effect on individual games & duration of the effects.

    (*But I can edit that out if need be. I have no idea what the social norms are on here yet.)
  2. GyRo likes this.
  3. If you're carefully dosing your brain with things, at the S5 level, you're missing more fundamental optimizations.

    Through practice, complicated tasks become easier. As in, they literally consume less mental energy. Beginners exhaust more energy than pros who are making smarter decisions. This is true in a broad range of learned skills, and has even been tested scientifically with Tetris. More than anything, persistence with regular training will yield good results over time. Make sure you are actively engaged and avoid zombie practice. The more engaged you are, the faster you should learn / get faster and smarter with less mental energy. Try to look for new mistakes and focus to avoid them. Through repetition this gets easier and becomes second nature... Like a free mental operation! :D
    clincher likes this.
  4. I mostly just suck at Tetris. I was still an S3 last month. One tetris shy of S6 last night, which went great until I noticed I was two tetrises away from S6 & stressed out a little bit, ala the 2008 thread.

    For the most part, coffee or tiny amounts of pot help me stave off headaches & distractions without diminishing my reflexes appreciably, if at all. It's less performance-enhancing than distraction-eliminating. But I suppose it's a crutch either way. (Sometimes I need crutches after the game beats me up!)
  5. I've been trying to solve this problem for eight years and I think there is really no easy solution.
    All you can do is train and train and train to put your tetris skills in muscle memory rather than conscious mind.
    Some techniques do help, however, like putting your tongue on your palate
    clincher likes this.
  6. What the hell cyberguile :D

    Also if you can record videos of your play I think you absolutely should do it. It might make you understand what the heck is going on sometimes
  7. Oh. I thought I posted this yesterday. Seems not. Whoops.
    Mine tends to vary a lot. Though for the most part it's just to remove any possible distractions (be alone, set online statuses to busy/offline, ect) and play until I either notice a large amount of fuck-ups (signaling that I'm becoming tired mentally) or I enter some form of trance. At that point my mind is 100% on the game and everything just flows and goes right. No thinking; Just playing.

    Although, wouldn't coffee make you play slightly worse? As drinking it may give you a quick buzz yet it will also decrease your reaction times by a fair bit afterwards. Try something like ice water instead as it both helps you hydrate (Which is good for things that involve a lot of brain power) and the coldness of it will make you a bit more alert.

    I think the thread is more focused to what people would do when the game starts to push them (as in they get near their limit and things such as stress begin to take over.) Practice is definitely essential as within the past week of me playing 1-5 games of TGM3 master I've gone from averaging rank 7 to rank 4, yet finding ways to overcome your weaknesses (such as too much stress = lack of focus = poor performance) helps a lot more.
  8. Muf


    Hahaha, talk to Jago. I gave him energy drink once, 4 years ago, and he's sworn by caffeine-fueled TGM binges ever since, rofl.
    Qlex likes this.
  9. Coffee and the like definitely helps, but it also brings with it the joys of caffeine addiction and inabilities to function without it so kind of requires adoption of the lifestyle choice ;)

    And I'm with cyberguile on the tongue stuff too :p
  10. Oh, absolutely. Like all things worth accomplishing in life, the only path to success involves lots of hard work & dedication. That's one of the things I love about this game.

    But like anything else that makes great demands of the player, keeping your body in an optimal state is also a prerequisite to success at the highest level, whether that means personal best for an individual or world ranking among the best of the best. Qlex had an amazing TA Death game at AGDQ after flying in from France, for instance, but if he hadn't been jet lagged, he may have done even better. If I don't eat before I play roller derby, I won't skate as well. If I don't manage my stress during high stakes pinball (from beer to sheer force of will) my shot accuracy is greatly diminished.

    The kind of thing I'm getting at is less concerned with outlier games than with the statistical norm in a given state. I may well be able to get GM while sleep deprived, or drunk, or chatting with a huge crush, or anything that's obviously going to detract from my optimal gameplay, but it will happen significantly less often than it otherwise would in my optimal state.

    For me, that state of pure Tetris zen has been most often & most easily attained when well-rested & fully awake (so not right after I wake up, as a nighttime person), having just eaten, and riding either the adrenaline rush from a pinball win or being just the tiniest bit high. I think literally all of my personal bests lately have come under all of those conditions together. Reflexes may or may not be affected, in either direction, by some of those things (although being fully awake is definitely a prerequisite for that reason), but for the most part any negative impact on reflex time from adrenaline, caffeine, or THC has been significantly outweighed by much better stacking.

    But as color_thief points out, some of those things may also be crutches to learning, even if they allow me to reach a little higher, more consistently, in the short term. Hence the topic. I wanna know what works best for everyone else, too.
  11. Uh, don't puke in the plane after having lost your passport like an idiot and before coming in for something that in the moment looks like a once in a lifetime chance to showcase your skills to a broader audience.

    If my strongest advice can be of any help, that is!
    Muf and GyRo like this.
  12. Hahaha! This sounds like an incredible prequel story to AGDQ. And, um, duly noted.

    I'm actually in the middle of a wild spat of insomnia this week, leaving me jet lagged in my own time zone---for the second time this month. And I wanted to puke all day. So your story is way more relevant than it should be! (The good news is I don't have a passport, so I can't lose it.)
    Qlex likes this.
  13. I'd agree that given your personal best is an outlier, it's far more likely to happen when you're in an ideal state as far as mind and body go. That said I wouldn't put too much emphasis on it unless I'm specifically on display in some way and need a specific game to be good.

    I definitely think it's good to try and improve your condition for playing, but I think if I'd restricted myself to only really playing Tetris when I was well rested, well caffeinated and in a zen state of mind then I'd probably still not have put enough hours in to get Gm on anything. 2 hours a week of well-conditioned play is better than 2 hours of exhausted play, but I'm not sure whether it's better than say 10 hours of exhausted play.
  14. Tetris definitely requires a rain or shine training regimen. I'm playing right now.
  15. I find it hard to pinpoint the ideal time to play. Sometimes I can play 10 games and not get a single Gm and then the next day I can get 3 in a row. Like yesterday, I had a hard and tired day in work then I turned on the cab for a single credit and I beat my all-time record first time, and I was dropping!

    I think it depends what you have on your mind at the time. A lot of the time I find myself drifting off and thinking of totally random things nothing to do with Tetris and I have to mentally pull myself together to focus, and other times I totally switch off and I'm 100% focused on the game...weird.

    Btw, what is the secret 'tongue technique'? :)
    Last edited: 21 May 2015
  16. Not TGM for me, but I've still been having really bad focusing problems lately... ever since I set a new PB a bit over a week ago, haha. I managed to set another one since then, a couple days ago, but still just been really awful overall. It's really bugging me too, because I don't have a really solid idea of why it's happening. It's not like I was a super good player to begin with, but lately my play has just been really horrifying. I'm completely unfocused... but it hasn't been good or helpful like you guys have been saying.

    It's like my brain hates me and is making me misdrop on purpose. I've had somewhat-decent games suddenly get totally destroyed by just... mistakes that are indescribably stupid. Like, I'll position a piece to go in a way that I want, and then my brain just says "haha, no" and I... move it at the very last second, making a complete disaster for myself. Or, my personal favorite, rotating a piece in the complete opposite direction it's supposed to go, as if that's going to work. :|

    For a while I was really improving and getting a lot better at stacking, but now it's like I'm right back to square one. :\ Having massive brain fog. Maybe I'm just pushing myself way too hard? Other than that, there is one theory I have on why it's been happening, but I really hope it's not the case because it's completely unavoidable. Guess I'll just have to learn how to deal if it really is what I'm thinking it is, but... damn.
  17. tetris has gone thug!

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