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> Memoryless randomizer - making tetrises, [Intermediate]
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jujube
post Jul 4 2009, 06:26 PM
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This guide is for making tetrises with a memoryless randomizer. The strategies are biased towards the scoring system in Gameboy Tetris and Tetris Friends -- Tetris 1989 (making tetrises is by far the best way to increase your score quickly), and towards playing in earlier levels where you have more time to think and improvise. Also I'm assuming people would prefer to lose a few games in the early levels while playing aggressively, giving themselves a good chance at setting a personal record score, instead of going for a good average score. Enjoy.


Watching the preview
It's always a good idea to know where you'll put the next piece before it spawns. This becomes more and more important in higher levels in Gameboy Tetris. But if you have time to improvise it helps a lot to watch the preview while the current piece is still falling. It's good to have a general area of the field where you want to put the falling piece, but to consider shifting it over a column from where you had originally planned, or rotating it a different way. It's better to make your stack ugly knowing you'll fix it with the next piece than to try to make it pretty all the time. This idea applies somewhat in all tetris games, but especially when the randomizer is memoryless.

The L piece can fit a few different ways here, so the preview can help you choose which way is best:
O coming next:
IPB Image

S coming next:
IPB Image

I coming next:
IPB Image

More on watching the preview in the skimming section.

Stack shape
You'll want to maintain a stack that has room for any piece that may come, and at the same time you'll want to have skimming possibilities when you're not getting any I's. The best way I've found to achieve both of these is to build a gradual slope with the highest point at the wall opposite from where you're tetrising:
IPB Image

Obviously you can't keep a perfect slope all the time, but try to place each piece in a way that makes it easy to get back to a nice slope at a later time. It doesn't hurt to build up the leftmost 2 or 3 columns as high as you can. In Gameboy Tetris it's logical to stack high on the left side because I, S and Z rotate toward the left, making it easier to get them to the left wall before they've fallen very far. In Tetris Friends--Tetris 1989 it doesn't matter as much because I, S and Z can rotate toward the left or right, and the lock delay gives you extra time to slide if the piece lands on the stack.

Skimming
Skimming can help you maintain a good stack shape, and if you're giving yourself room to skim you can stack higher while waiting on I pieces. It's a pretty straightforward idea that you want to skim with pieces that don't fit well in your stack, so I'll move on and talk about watching the preview while you skim.

Sometimes you'll know you need to skim but you'll have a couple ways to do it. Often in these situations the preview dictates which way is best. Here's one example:
IPB Image

Now with an L and a J coming, making a skim triple -> skim double is the obvious safe choice when you have a high stack:
IPB Image

But remember in Gameboy Tetris a tetris scores 3 times as much per line as a triple. If you're playing in a level where you can easily handle the speed, there's no reason for a mechanical approach to skimming. It takes a lot of work to build your stack high and you want to keep it there and wait on I pieces as long as possible so you can make the most out of your effort (of course if you can make tetrises while keeping your stack low then do that). As you play more and more you'll get better at visualizing what the stack will look like after you've placed the falling piece, and this skill will help you with planning and improvising.

You probably know you want to skim with the L, so you can go ahead and shoot it over to the right wall after it spawns. Then if you have time and notice the J is coming you might make a quick change of plans:
IPB Image

And now you have a little breathing room at the top, while still having a chance to make a few tetrises. Don't be surprised when 3 I's come soon after each other--be ready wink.gif

CONTINUED IN THE 2ND POST
(too many images)

Flexible planning
While you may be most comfortable building in columns 1-9 or 2-10 and tetrising by the wall, it's good to be flexible and find the easiest way to build without excessive skimming. Your entire game plan may change with each coming piece, especially when your stack is very low.

Here you have a low jagged stack and an L piece coming:
IPB Image

The L fits nicely in both of these places:
IPB Image

But the more you stack up in the center, the more you start depending on an ideal sequence of pieces to fill the sides. This isn't a big problem in games with more predictable randomizers, but when playing with memoryless you just don't know if you'll get the right pieces. Your best bet here would be to fill in the gap on the far right, and plan to tetris in either column 3 or 8:
IPB Image

Notice that now the stack can handle just about any sequence of pieces that may come. Even if you get a string of Z's, you can shift focus and work towards tetrising in column 10:
IPB Image

At this point you would probably want to fill in the left side, clear the third row from the bottom, and continue to build up columns 1-7 evenly until you can tetris in column 10. Eventually after tetrising once or twice and maybe skimming a bit, column 8 will open up and you should be able to tetris there. This is just an example, but the basic idea is to be prepared to tetris in any column when things don't go according to plan.

Overhangs
As a general rule it's a bad idea to make overhangs when playing with a memoryless randomizer, unless the very next piece will fill it. Even if one of several pieces can fill the hole you can't be certain you'll get any one of them soon. There are a few exceptions to this rule though. Here's one example:
IPB Image



While you don't know you'll get T, L or J soon, what makes this situation workable is that there's a fixed empty space to the right of the area you want to fill, and it's preferable anyway to keep that section of your stack lower, which will happen naturally as you stack upwards everywhere else. Also you'll have enough connected space in columns 1-7 to build up evenly while you're waiting on T, L or J.

This is ok but slightly more risky. The plus side is you'll have 8 connected columns for stacking:
IPB Image

This twist setup is fine if you feel confident in your timing in Gameboy Tetris, and it's easy with lock delay in Tetris 1989:
IPB Image



IPB Image

If the gravity is slow enough you can also push a T in from the side (or in Tetris 1989 approach the hole with the T rotated left once, then rotate it right twice after it lands):
IPB Image


Questions, comments and suggestions are appreciated. Thanks for reading.
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Zircean
post Jul 4 2009, 06:31 PM
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Nice article! Next time I boot up Super Tetris 3 I'll have to remember your skimming tips and what to do with a jagged stack. If I'm ever going to get close to Edo and CT in that game, I'm going to have to have a much better tetris efficiency D:


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jujube
post Jul 4 2009, 07:01 PM
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is the scoring system in Super Tetris 3 weighted like Gameboy Tetris?

GB Tetris rewards like this, where n is the points given for a single in a given level:
single: n
double: 1.25n per line
triple: 2.5n per line
tetris: 7.5n per line

and thanks.

oops, the 2nd pic has the wrong stack shape, and i can't edit and save the post because there are too many images unsure.gif

oh well
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Rosti_LFC
post Jul 4 2009, 07:01 PM
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Good stuff. I'd say most of it is applicable regardless of randomiser.
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Blink
post Jul 4 2009, 07:03 PM
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very nice article jujube, i'm going to try this stuff in Tetris 1989
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jujube
post Jul 4 2009, 07:04 PM
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thanks everybody.
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clincher
post Jul 5 2009, 03:11 AM
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Really helpful I suck at memoryless randomizers i always stack relying on specific pieces comming soon


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jujube
post Jul 5 2009, 04:41 AM
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the best thing you can do is practice smile.gif
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iphys
post Jul 5 2009, 05:56 AM
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In GB Tetris my preference is to separately stack in columns 1-4 and columns 6-10. It makes it slightly harder having two separate stacks, but that way you can stack higher without fear of not being able to get your I piece into your tetris column when it comes. Since the I pieces come at random, they'll tend to come in clusters rather than being evenly distributed, so it really pays if you can be set up to do at least two tetrises at a time, but since the pieces generate in rows 16/17 it's pretty deadly to stack any higher than row 12.
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jujube
post Jul 5 2009, 02:14 PM
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that's interesting iphys. would you say an optimal tetris stacking strategy would be to first leave a column open on the side, then to make a transition to tetrising in the middle when you get into higher levels? if so, around which level would most people have to make the transition? or would it be easier for a lot of people to leave the middle open the whole game when starting from level 9? i might have to expand this article.
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iphys
post Jul 5 2009, 07:51 PM
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If you were going to start out tetrising on the side, I would try to switch before you get to level 10 and the speed starts changing on you. I usually try to do it starting from level 9. Even at the slower speeds I feel more comfortable stacking higher with a central empty column, so it seems to result in more tetrises and fewer wasted I pieces. At the higher levels, I feel more comfortable stacking even for just one tetris with that configuration, because I know it will be hard to get an I to the side column once you're in the high teen levels. The other thing is a tetris is worth as much as 30 singles, and I know once I get to 170 lines the odds of my lasting beyond 200 are slim even if I just play it safe and take singles, so I usually take the chance of trying to sneak in a couple last tetrises even if it means dying before 180 lines.

There's also a whole logic to how to stack when you aren't yet built up to the level to be ready to tetris. For instance, in your "I coming next" example my instinct would be to put the L on its back in case the third piece was an I as well so that I could put the I in column 8 and then score a tetris -- I hate it when I waste a sequence of I's where I could have scored a tetris and then I end up stacking with no I's coming and eventually being forced to take a bunch of singles.
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jujube
post Jul 5 2009, 08:11 PM
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QUOTE(iphys @ Jul 5 2009, 08:51 PM) *

If you were going to start out tetrising on the side, I would try to switch before you get to level 10 and the speed starts changing on you. I usually try to do it starting from level 9. Even at the slower speeds I feel more comfortable stacking higher with a central empty column, so it seems to result in more tetrises and fewer wasted I pieces. At the higher levels, I feel more comfortable stacking even for just one tetris with that configuration, because I know it will be hard to get an I to the side column once you're in the high teen levels. The other thing is a tetris is worth as much as 30 singles, and I know once I get to 170 lines the odds of my lasting beyond 200 are slim even if I just play it safe and take singles, so I usually take the chance of trying to sneak in a couple last tetrises even if it means dying before 180 lines.

good advice. would you want to make a guide on playing at higher levels?

QUOTE

There's also a whole logic to how to stack when you aren't yet built up to the level to be ready to tetris. For instance, in your "I coming next" example my instinct would be to put the L on its back in case the third piece was an I as well so that I could put the I in column 8 and then score a tetris -- I hate it when I waste a sequence of I's where I could have scored a tetris and then I end up stacking with no I's coming and eventually being forced to take a bunch of singles.

true, that would have worked too, and the left side of the stack still would have been receptive to most combinations of pieces.
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