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> Toward E-sport
post Jun 21 2019, 02:56 PM
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[ What makes a game interesting ]
1. it's fun and exciting during gameplay
2. some players are better than others, for a reason

[ Modern Tetris ]
Modern tetris is all for speed, like almost all other games else. But, there are two kinds of speed.

The first kind of speed is operatioin speed. There are many different causes that can slow down your operation speed, for instance, your finger may not lift up from a key fast enough for another finger to start. If you have really swift fingers, they also help you play piano and guitar beautifully.

The second kind of speed is thinking speed. Thinking speed is not such a straidforward thing as operation speed. Modern tetris is all about pattern recognition. Let's say there are two players A and B. As for a simple pattern (e.g. place I block into a ditch), A and B can place the pieces with the same speed. But for a complicataed pattern (e.g. a surface potentially for a TST setup), A could come up with the correct placement much faster than B, because A has established a circuit in the brain for that pattern. Without that circuit, B simply can't recognize the pattern, or has to step-by-step calculate out the following placements.

The really interesting thing is how operation speed and thinking speed interact. Suppose a player can complete an operation within 500ms. If it takes him more than 500ms, his talent for operation speed is just wasted. It's like typing, when you type a key, the next key to type is in your mind already. The operation and thinking run parallel to speed up. As a result, a tetris player will choose a strategy that suits best with his talent. If he is very good at operation speed that he can place 3 pieces in a second, he should play really fast to overpace the opponent. If he is good at pattern recognition, he should slow down to maybe 2 pieces per second and play with really good decisions.

[ puyo puyo tetris ]

puyo puyo tetris might be the best modern tetris game so far. The game design emphasize on "efficiency". But efficiency is actually the synonym for "brain speed". Below are listed how ppt tries make players play brain speed, not operation speed (refer to http://harddrop.com/wiki/Puyo_Puyo_Tetris) :

. Long line clear latency.
. No garbage blocking. This basically restrict combo.
. Not always clean gargage for a tetris or t-spin. This is very important that it in a way impacts opponent's efficiency.

Moreover, modern tetris actually is designed for efficient placement. 2 lines clera for only 1 garbage line, the efficiency rate is 1/2. tsd has efficiency rate 2. You do something difficult (you think more with a little more milliseconds), you get your reward.

[ Problem of ppt ]

The problem of ppt is obvious: the strongest player is not the most efficient one. This may be a little controversial, but I think Japanese players kazu (カズ) is the most efficient player in the world. Maybe even the game designer of ppt is surprised by kazu's play:

. kazu plays incredible back-to-back games, he can come up with very complicated t-spin setups within a really short time. He seldoms stop to think. For optimal efficiency, you play perfect clear (if you are a robot) or back-to-back.
. kazu always try to make the surface very flat. When he stack up for a tetris, the result is flat surface. And playing t-spin is intrinsically aiming for a flat surface, because T-block fills an irregular hole.
. kazu doesn't just attack, when the surface is not flat or bad for continuity (e.g. can't place s/z block), he give up t-spin and try to stack up for tetris, or just do some line clears.
. The worst nightmare of kazu's opponent is kazu attack and defend at the same time. He always tries to reveal the hole of the first underlying garbage line. So even though the attacking is fierce, it's still possible for him to handle the counter-attacking. Using garbage lines to do back-to-back is the ultimate technique of pursueing efficiency.

But the sum of above is still not enough to defeat amemiya (I said it will be controversial. He did it once, this february, but with no luck in other matches).

Amemeya has been the ppt world champion for many years. About 4 years ago he won over hebomai. If you watched the match, the reason he won must be quite obvious to you. hebomai was playing ppt the way he played TF and TOP, but ppt awards attacking style. As far as I know ppt is the only tetris game amemiya plays, and he plays it really a lot. Amemiya is pragmatic, that is, he only chooses the techniques that guarantee his wins. Fast, bright, precise, playing whatever works, positional and defensive, like Capablanca.

Note that I am not going to debate what's the best style or who will be the best player in the world here. What I am interested is how to improve the game design. What I care about is efficiency.

When a player is in danger (almost being topped out), of course he should try anything to defend. As for ppt, he should use b2b to defend because that's the most efficient way. But there are several reasons that it's a little bit difficult to do:

. The situation is quite dangerous, so it's risky to do a tetris, though if the tetris is made, it's really helpful for defense.
. Sometimes there is not much space up there, not even possible to do a tetris or there t-spin setups.
. t-spin chances are not always availble
. garbage lines have already come...
. potential timing attack

So plain line clear is the best choice sometimes. Line clear also can help improve the surface to make following t-spin setup or tetris stack-up easier. What I want to say is use plain line clear to defend is not a problem at all. It has to be played after all.

The problem is use garbage lines to attack. I believe this is something ppt game design team didn't pay a lot attention to. amemiya actaully plays a lot of this during his games:

1. Opening:

I wrote a simple article about how to defend combo opening:

If you follow the opening systems I mention in the article, I believe it's totally okay for you to play a combo player who is as fast as you in the opening. But there is an exception. Sometimes the garbage lines your t-spins send will be used by the opponent for his last few combos. Let's say the height of the opening stack-up is 10 (60 squares, 15 pieces, ~2 bags), thus 9 combos, the situation is pretty even, because you can handle the 20 garbages lines he starts to send after your makes two t-spins. But if the holes of garbage lines you send out are very handy to use for combo (of course you can't control that), the garbage lines back to you will be 24 / 29 / 34 / ... no one can survive that, even a t-spin god like kazu.

The opening amemiya loves very much is a variation of DT cannon that turns into 4w whenever playable. The two t-spins it sends don't kill the opponent, the following 4w does.

2. Mid-game after opening:

amemiya plays plain line clears that sometimes reverse the game. Like said in the beginning, a game needs to be fun / exciting. If a player can get out of bad situation, that's exciting. But if he suddenly reverse the game, that might look a little bit too much to me. A player who is in bad situation does need some materials to get out, thus the hole of the garbage lines. But it should not be a hollywood-type plot twist. If the player stack up on his own and start to clear the lines all the way and send a lot of garbage lines to defend or even counter-attack, totally okay with that, no problem. But using the holes of the underlying garbage lines to make combos, is , out of control. It becomes a random disaster. After watching amemiya and kazu's midgames, it's not difficult to see the different strategies they take:

. kazu tends to adjust the position with t-spin and tetris, that is a very efficient way to play (this is no secret among b2b players but not easy to do though), while amemiya may directly choose plain line clear for the same purpose.

. kazu loves spike / TST / DT cannon / double tsd / STSD / ... , in order to create large amount of garbage lines that is impossible to counteract. amemiya can do those setups very well too, but he also loves to stack up a bit and see what happen then. There is a chance the holes of garbage line are perfectly positioned for combo. Not only it's quite safe to play like that, but also can be deadly. Of course the b2b setups are very good for efficiency.

My personal opinions for the game design is: if a player take low efficiency strategy, that's a problem of game design.

[ Improvements over ppt ]

Solution 1: garbage line combos produce no garbage lines.

The garbage line combos can still be used for defense, they just don't attack. This eliminates the possiblity of killing your opponent with combos generated by garbage lines.

Solution 2: b2b with garbage line produce extra garbage lines

It's more difficult to play b2b with the hole of garbage line than creating a b2b all by ourselves. The hole is so dynamic that players choose to combo with it for a reason. If garbage lines prduced by b2b change from 1 to 2, player will love to play b2b with the hole of garbage lines.

These 2 solutions mean different garbage line systems for regular lines and garbage lines, that may conflict with guideline.
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