Friday, March 1, 2019

Double spoiler scores for 2019 January and February

2019 so far is probably the most fruitful 2 months of DS for me yet. However, since I started playing the Spoiler scenes, I've kinda lost my spark and I'm playing a lot less. So since my playing is slowing down, I think now is a good time to reflect on what I've accomplished so far this year. As usual I might briefly explain some contents of the run, some strategy in the scene, what makes it hard or easy etc or what score I might aim for next. Most of the following scores are pretty strong (mainly the newer spoiler ones are weaker)

Double spoiler scores in 2019:

8-1 Aya: 860,894

A work in progress. It's troublesome to wait for and identify good RNG. Orin needs to move in such a way that most of the bullets are aimed into the corners of the frame. For the red wave, you want to angle Aya slightly so the long wave aims from one corner to the other. 900k is possible, but I don't think I'll ever get there. However, I might get something like 885-890k in the future, I just don't feel quite capable of it currently, so I need to get better at this scene specifically...

11-8 Aya: 1,938,360
This is a good score and it might be final, but I might aim for 1.95m at the most. Unlike with Hatate, you don't have to take such perfect care of where you place Aya. There is a leeway to still get 2.00 boss shot. Timing is the most important aspect that sets apart scores. You have to take care down to the zoom frames.

8-5 Aya: 2,284,161
I feel like 2.4 million is realistic on this scene, but it's a matter of luck. It takes a while to get a lucky run going, and even then, Orin's movements could screw it up, or the fairies could kill you. This scene is kind of hard and easy at the same time in a sense. Definitely requires a lot of patience and I'm not sure how lucky I'll manage to get, but I do want to return to it because the potential on it is ridiculous. Then again I might play Hatate instead.

11-8 Hatate: 2,048,452
This is a lot harder than with Aya, because 1. positions for photos are pixel precise, 2. To maximize your score, aim forward until right before two-shot loss. This in addition to the pedantic timings makes this quite brutal without the right tools. I use pieces of sticker on my screen to place my hitbox marker on so I know which pixels Hatate is on. The goal is 2.08m. I just got kinda annoyed and stopped.

5-3 Aya: 700,093
This score is probably done, at least for the time being. I think if I keep playing for a while more, I might hit 705k or more, but the limit is probably around 710k. I don't know if I want to play for scores like that on this... Sum of best 721k. It's troublesome to balance multipliers while actually hitting all the fists. You can add score through luck from the pink bullets on all photos, too, so stalling is required for optimization. This score is pretty good but certainly you could hit 705-710k if you're really dedicated. I just don't really enjoy this scene much; it's interesting but it's pretty painful.

4-1 Aya: 505,120
I decided to take the Macro plunge when playing this. Although you die a lot more often with high macro style due to having to move up sooner before the bullets have really spread out. With earlier movements you can go and get a higher macro bonus, you also need to add backwards aim which makes it harder to get the correct composition. However, I found it to be worth it to do this strategy. I didn't manage to get high macros on two of the photos in this run, but all the timings were spot on, which is the most important part. That's the thing... even if you try for high macro on every photo, if you're not hitting optimal zoom frames you're not getting a good run either way. So depending on how serious you are about this scene it might not be worth it to high macro every photo (I didn't, but it wasn't intentional)
A couple of thousands more is doable, but I don't really care too much for now.

2-5 Hatate: 418,875
I think that around 425,000 is my limit... It's a tough scene

9-7 Aya: 671,761
Very hard scene. My goal is 700,000 but I wonder if I can get the record eventually? I think it's one of the better records in the game, but this is a scene I keep bouncing back to briefly, only to start playing another again. Maybe at some point I'll stick with it until I get something crazy as Aya.

2-5 Aya: 354,952

I couldn't quite beat ckt, but I got close. I've had one god pace before, but it failed. Considering that pace, I estimate 360,000 being the realistic limit, although it's almost impossible. I've gotten slightly little better at this scene compared to when I was playing Hatate, especially at briefly tapping focus before the last picture even on the 3rd shot.

7-5 Hatate: 723,949
I got mostly very lucky photos, and I did the adjacent dive-in style on 4 of the photos. Usually this strategy just kills you, so getting to do it 4 times was unusual to say the least. There's one terribly unlucky photo in this run, but I think I don't want to play this ever again unless I can improve the strategy, but I doubt that's possible. I've tried a lot of things already and the wait-and-dive strat was the best strat. You might think you can gain score by being in the same square, but you'll lose base points. With my known strats, with lucky photos all the time and lots of dive-in shots you could score even 750,000...

7-5 Aya: 741,938
Well executed and lucky run. I'm satisfied with this.

5-7 Hatate: 547,140
This scene is easy, so it's just about grinding for luck. I got very lucky. A little more should be doable.

5-7 Aya: 446,609
Same as with Hatate. Just grind for luck. I got my 2nd highest photo ever in this run. I think still a little more is realistic, since my consistency is pretty good, and the run was a combination of 2 ultra lucky shots and 2 more normal shots.

11-6 Hatate: 2,089,307
This scene was a constant learning process. There's more than a hundred things to memorize, although due to the random nature of the scene, you don't have to use all of those things you've learned every run. Bottom line is, Understanding all the subtle nuances of the scene is extremely important. That leads me to this tidbit: I didn't understand this scene exactly as well as I ended up doing when I finished up Aya, and that's why I might come back to Hatate in the future. Although the rules are a bit different for both, they are still similar enough that understanding everything very slightly better by the end of Aya, will benefit me when I come back to Hatate.
It's a good run, but I know I can do better, and I actually might go back and do just that, despite the extremely painful nature of the scene.

11-6 Aya: 1,890,973
Was pretty amazed I almost hit 1.9 million. Definitely one of my better scores for the game. Most of it went really well, with it working out especially well on the 4th and 5th pictures. The last picture usually fails, either due to a time out which is the most common, or because the photo just ends up really low, but this time it ended up at least decent, and I'm thankful that it ended that way for once, since this was my highest pace ever starting the final photo. A small miracle to break the curse. Scene is very luck based but also simultaneously one with some of the most memorization, maybe even the single most memorization involved of all scenes in the game? The sheer amount of subtle details that can be applied using logic and intelligence repeated in different runs might just be unrivaled. It's different from the complexity of, say, 7-6, where there's every run is completely unique from the ground up and you have to use more "on the fly" logic. 11-6 has different kinds of luck combinations that you can repeatedly identify.

7-3 Aya: 973,144
I wouldn't have played it this far if it wasn't for Kirbycomment, since I'm actually the one who suggested this strat to him without even gong all the way with it myself first. There is a strategy where you add slow bullets from the opposite side into the picture, but initially I only did it on a few pictures, because it didn't seem to add a substantial amount of score, and it was a lot harder. However, after taking this strategy more seriously, I realized it was by no means too hard to do for all the photos, and it substantially increased the potential. I'd estimate the potential goes up by somewhere between 6,000-10,000 per photo. It's RNG, of course, so hard to say. Bottom line is, you need to do it. Other than getting the most amount of Arrowheads which is completely luck based but is also controlled to a certain extent, you want to hit Shou as late as possible without losing bubbles, and if possible be as close to losing 2.00 boss shot as possible in the direction opposite of the bubbles. Losing a single bubble is pretty much game over, but the closer you are to losing them, the better. Shou also aims her dash in a random direction around Aya, and you need to use the wind up direction to determine where Shou is aiming and react accordingly If she aims upwards when you are taking a back shot, that could be fatal for the run. Likewise, if she aims downwards that could be awful if the density is higher upwards, although it should be better for the composition for camera control reasons, unless you are very quick and very good at camera control when Shou moves up.

7-3 Hatate: 1,235,416
Same strategy as Aya, same logic of it gaining score on average, but harder due to it being stricter in how you need to position yourself for the photo. Score is slightly less lucky than with Aya, but Hatate is also slightly harder to I guess both runs are about even. Potentially, the Aya score is better considering my consistency, but for someone less good at the game, the Hatate score might be tougher.

SP-2: 679,614
If I recall correctly, a single bullet is worth around 900 points (multipliers included). My goal was 680,000, so I was half a bullet away... therefore, I thought I could move on, since this scene wasn't very fun or interesting. The bullet timings change over time, so I came up with a personal strat that potentially stalls enough to take 4 back shots (although with the wrong RNG, I have no choice but to reset) but not so much that the timings start consistently messing me up. This scene is more about perfect composition and timing than RNG since the bullet pattern is static, and I think that around 683,000 is quite possible. To estimate even more than this, I'd like to see the last photo go higher than it ever did for me first (which should be possible)

SP-6: 471,441
A work in progress. This score is still awful. The first 4 photos are tricky to optimize but trivial to take without dying or losing a hugely significant amount (since you don't take a nice shot, among other things.) The last photo on the other hand is pretty brutal, and might take some time for me to take high enough the first time. For the time being my highest final photo is about 10,000 lower than the world record's. If everything goes well I might aim for 500,000.

SP-3: 632,631
A work in progress. I've been saying 6-7 is my least favourite scene for a few years, but that's cause I hardly played this one at all. Now that I'm playing it, I think this is worst in the game. The problem is that the RNG will always kill you before the nice shot at some point in the run. The later the phase, the more unlikely it is to survive. I've never survived to take the nice shot on the 4th photo. So after stubbornly trying to take all the nice shots for a good ~5 hours of playing, I then decided to just take 2 nice shots, then skip 2, and then take the last photo with a nice shot again (the last photo is easier than the 4th I think, since you don't have to be as close to Hatate on the last one, due to her Camera not killing you in the aftermath)
Hatate's camera is pretty dangerous. If you are taking a nice shot, your timing needs to be spot on and your position needs to allow you to escape her camera, or you're dead. That's pretty brutal since you'll almost always die to the bullet rng first, so if you actually live to take the nice shot, you might die anyway...
The non-nice shot strategy actually gains some base value, and is as such not a completely unreasonable strategy. I think that I can still score a bit higher skipping 2 nice shots, but if I want 700,000 or more, I can only skip 1 nice shot, so I might just end up taking that route. For the time being, all 5 nice shots requires way too much luck. I never even came close in like 5 hours. I'll rethink that only if I find any kind of consistency improvements.

 And that's it. I'm still playing the spoiler level, just not powergaming any more. I'm basically intending to update everything except SP-2 and maybe SP-4. I'm also not too keen on the single-photo scenes SP-1 and SP-5, because I don't like the idea of only taking one super optimized photo, and especially not that these two scenes are 90% downtime. I gave them both a brief session and it's just not for me. However that doesn't necessarily mean I won't update them, it just means that my motivation is low.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Double Spoiler scores in 2018, and My favorite games played in 2018

Here I will share the scores I got in DS in 2018. January-April can be found here:
I will also share my top 10 favourite games I played this year farther down.

Pt. 1 The following scores were set since May up until today:

11-7 Hatate: 486,786
The bullets need to be composed differently compared to Aya, so the kinds of RNG to look out for and how to position Hatate is a bit different. Other than that, the scene still has the same issues where waiting for the RNG and identifying the right combinations of RNG and how to position Hatate is hard and takes time. My run had 3 great shots but 2 mediocre shots, so there's still room for improvement. The absolute dream would be 500k.

7-2 Hatate: 521,579
I never really felt like playing this scene too much, because it's annoying to wait for Nazrin to move and stay up. It takes forever to get a run going. Luck was decent but if I had the patience I would get a way luckier run than this.

7-4 Hatate: 328,628
Barely an improvement. I've had dozens of runs in the same scoring area. This scene is one of the most mindless in the game; a complete waste of time, but my autism convices me that I need to get the record anyway. It's just so boring that I can't play this scene for more than a few days. I just can't stand this scene and the shitty luck it gives me

4-7 Aya: 359,516
This category is insanely hard. Great score but didn't beat t1100 with it. I might try to in the future, but it's fucking rough.

4-7 Hatate: 344,960
Another great score. I got really fucking lucky here. With Aya I had to grind for a long time until I finally made a big score jump. With Hatate I didn't need to play long until I got 2 great scores in the same day.

12-7 Aya: 1,812,676
I love this scene! This run was really good. You have to do some misdirections and then go very close to Byakuren when you take the photo. Which angle to take from is far from obvious and the RNG here is pretty severe at this level. The timings are tight. It's hard to not die, too.

12-7 Hatate: 1,987,172
Probably my best score in the game. Either that or it's tied with my 10-6 Aya score, I think. With Hatate, you also need the right misdirections, which is far from trivial because you have to quickly move through the wall of doom waves into the misdirection spot. If you wait, you'll be too late. Furthermore, Hatate has to be in a very specific spot for taking the picture. Even a slight misposition will cost you dearly. So I once again had to rely on a pixel sticker to make sure I was pixel positioned correctly each time. The RNG will often push you away, so you have to stall. My execution in this run has been matched multiple times, but the luck I got here is so outstanding as to be almost unbelievable... considering how hard it is to finish a good run even without taking luck into account. A huge score jump was made. 2 million is possible, but man, have fun with that.

12-3 Hatate: 1,827,790
It's a simple RNG grind, but I do have issues maxing the risk bonus reliably, so I always drop some points. The luck was good, but you can get luckier. If you want godtier luck, go for 1.9 million. It should be doable, although it probably would take a couple of weeks to grind for, maybe over a month if you're unlucky. Not sure, but it would be a crazy luck. I'd be fairly satisfied with 1.85m.

12-3 Aya: 1,776,617
Aya has to actually do some random dodging, otherwise it's pretty much the same thing as with Hatate. I got really fucking lucky here, but my execution was bad. If I had executed this run properly, I would've had 1.8 million. I want to try to get that much in the future.

2-4 Hatate: 182,697
Pretty simple. I got really lucky with the first phase, but I messed up the final shot. 190k here would be a great run, but a high 18xk would also be decent. This scene is just so easy and boring that I would rather spend my time on another.

10-1 Aya: 1,003,120
It was good to finally get a million points. I got 990k+ so many damn times! This scene is really fun, but I'm not sure I'll ever aim higher than this. 1.01m maybe, if I really feel like playing this again.

10-1 Hatate: 1,081,945
Amazing Run. one of my best so far, without a doubt. Hatate is a lot harder than Aya here, and I am completely satisfied with my result.

10-7 Hatate: 4,116,249
This run would've been brilliant if not for one photo... I had an average of 600k (the phases don't change on this one) until I got a low 500k shot... RNG is a huge factor for the score, but there's also a wealth of subtle optimizations. I like this scene, but it's one of the most bullshit scenes in the game with Hatate particularly. The reason is the random bullets... They will always wall you and when you go close for the photo there will often be bullets in the way so that you cant take the photo, or when you are already close, a bullet snipes you from inside the laser. What a bitch! I've been trying and trying, but it's really hard to get a run where you never get bullshitted, where you get consistently lucky photos, and where you make no major mistakes with the difficult misdirection optimizations and angles... If I could get 4.2m I would be amazed. I think I would be satisfied with something close to it (say, 4.18m)

10-7 Aya: 3,580,900
Nice run, but I want better. It's easier with Aya because you don't have to go as close to Tenshi for good shots, and you have slightly more positioning freedom for the right Angle. Misdirecting the laser is done slightly differently as well, but it's subtle. 3.62-3.63m would be my target.

10-5 Aya: 5,152,386
This scene is fun and fast paced when Tenshi doesn't move the wrong way over and over, but unfortunately that's what she tends to do... Then it turns into boring waiting. The risk/reward system on this scene is pretty cool, but at a high level, kind of unfair, but that's just how DS is so whatever. The photo tech on this scene is really fun! I met my first goal, but made 5.2 million a new goal, I'm just kinda tired of this scene so in the future I will try it again.

10-5 Hatate: 5,110,838
Harder than with Aya. Also the score is higher on the first 2 shots and then gradually becomes lower than Aya's scores. I don't think I can catch up to Aya's score with Hatate, so I'm fine with this 5.11m.

6-7 Aya: 726,190
Probably my least favorite scene in the game. If you want the macro bonus, the RNG will most likely kill you. If you back away a bit, you are more likely to be able to survive the photo, but you are more likely to lose the risk bonus. What ends up happening with Aya is that I would favor moving away a bit and hoping for a high risk bonus.

6-7 Hatate: 931,872
Take macro bonus on every photo for maximum retardation. I've finished some all macro runs, but this happened to be my best score despite missing a macro. The luck was good.

8-6 Hatate: 1,089,635
This is a good score, but I want to get a higher score and beat CKT (1,106m) if possible. I love this scene because it's of the "move through everything aggressively" kind, instead of the more boring kind of "normal" dodging you normally do in STGs. Although it is hard to finish a run without dying, scoring itself is simple and easily optimized. For that reason, it is a mastter of luck if you want your run to score high. I've had I think 7 1.07m runs and 3 1.08m runs. So getting all the way up to 1.1m, let alone going beyond 1.106m, almost seems hopeless right now. I still intend to try to get there, since I really enjoy playing this. Aya is slightly harder but not that different, so I'll grind her out as well when I am able.

That makes up 38 scores in total in this year:

Best of the year is probably these 4:
12-7 Hatate
10-6 Aya
12-4 Hatate
10-1 Hatate

I should've played more DS this year, but I put in a decent effort and got some great scores to show for it. Definitely a quality>quantity year. Perhaps I can reach 100 mil with Aya in 2019? It'll come down to if I focus on those particular decisive high-scoring scenes that I haven't played much yet. 11-6, EX-4, et al. Hopefully I'll get this accomplishment done in 2019, but if I don't, it's no biggie. There's no rush. I'm more inclined to get outstanding scores rather than rush through the scenes. I still haven't really played the Spoiler scenes, except for SP-9, lol.

Good year overall for DS.


For the next part, I want to talk about other games I've played for the first time in 2018. I didn't play that many, but I still went ahead and made a top 10 list. Consider all of them as recommendations, and the top 2 as must-plays. Please excuse how messy the following looks due to the different image sizes..

Pt.2 My favourite games played in 2018:

1. SeaBed
SeaBed is probably my favourite visual novel by now (SubaHibi and Symphonic Rain come close, but SeaBed managed to be more personally resonating for me)
It's not exactly a game as there are no choices to make, so it's what you call a kinetic visual novel. That said, it is the most resonating VN that I have yet to encounter, and I would recommend anyone with sensibilities similar to mine to seek it out as soon as you can. It's an anti-dramatic magical realist story about two girlfriends. It's heavily grounded in psychology, consists mostly of meandering slice of life, and holds much depth and power. Reading it can be a little boring at times, but it does put you in a trance-like state. It's written in such a dry manner that I wouldn't be surprised if only readers that are depressed themselves can truly immerse themselves in it. When you start to realize the true angle of the story, you'll come to understand the true potency of the text as well. This is one for those that thinks "plot" is overrated. I can't even begin to describe how poignant SeaBed is, or how surprising it was to find this story in a medium that typically has vastly different priorities. SeaBed expresses a genuine love and empathy towards people and how they are connected, and a genuine interest in everything under the sun to boot. I can't really talk about the contents much either, lest I spoil one or another aspect of what the whole thing is really going for. So I'll just settle on this brief description. You really just have to dive in yourself.

2. Freedom Planet
The most brilliant 2D platformer I have played. Even Yoshi's Island, which I used to find the best, might not be as good as this one. One of the most masterful, if not the downright best game for speedrun purposes at a glance. After learning more about what speedrunning this game is really like, I'm not thrilled to learn about some of its unfortunately bad mechanical quirks... like variable input delay... but despite it all, I think it is a one of a kind masterpiece that takes a bunch of influences from classic games and just makes everything far better. Disregard the corny story. The game is a total masterpiece for gameplay reasons. The combination of mechanics and level design goes beyond any other platformer I know of. Only Yoshi's Island could possibly compare. I really appreciate how differently the characters play each level as well. If I ever start speedrunning a game again, I'd probably play this one if I'm not relearning one of the ones I've already done before (like Zelda II or Twinkle Tale for example) for better times. The game also looks beautiful and has great music.

(Huge quality gap between #2 and #3)
(#3-#6 are pretty much even)

3. Quake
Kind of cheating with this one, since I did play it briefly in my youth at LANs, but I'm not going to count that. I played through the singleplayer without save-loads and found it very enjoyable, albeit with a few bad or frustrating levels. Haven't been playing multiplayer but watching some matches recorded on YouTube convinced me that it is definitely a better game for competition than it is to play alone, as one would expect. The level design in the singleplayer is nonetheless outstanding, and I love the music as well. However, it is a bit of a downer that the enemy types are so limited, which does hamper the creativity of the level design and makes the whole game feel more repetitive than it should've. Weapons are fine, but I prefer arsenals with more creativity and flashiness.

4. Silent Hill 2
I'm not sure if 1 or 2 is better. I enjoyed playing 1 more for gameplay reasons (better puzzles, better balanced combat with the enemies and item drops, and less finnicky with "stand in this EXACT spot to do the thing u want to do" and such) and 2 more for theme/story reasons (it was artistic, touching and overall pretty introspective). Both are excellent in terms of their presentation, sound design and slow brooding horror, and I found many areas and individual portions of both very memorable. 2 would definitely have the edge if I didn't have a shittier experience with finding the right items and standing on the exact right spots to do what u want to do (I had to run around and re-explore the same places over and over because I just happened to be on the wrong spot to use a certain item, or mysteriously miss an item, or object, or not spawn an item that was supposed to be there, etc...)
As it is, I think 2 is perhaps slightly more impressive if you take only its good aspects into account. After all, gameplay is clearly not really the strength of this series, and 2 is more impressive artistically speaking. It makes me feel like it was the better game in retrospect, but yeah, I dunno. It operates on an entirely different emotional mode compared to the first game, and I think both games offer a different great experience, and have different kinds of unfortunate flaws.

5. Silent Hill
An excellent horror game, simply put. The sound design is absolutely brilliant, and I also enjoyed the story and cinematography of it all. There are so many points where I am totally conscious of the camera angles. Even the gameplay was surprisingly solid, with a couple of well designed areas, balanced item distribution for a first playthrough, nice puzzles, and deliberately clunky combat being honestly immersive in this context. I still have some complaints, such as the design of the overworld not really making any sense from a gameplay perspective (there is no point in fighting enemies since they'll respawn anyways and items are finite, so I ended up just running through everything with the lights on. if you turn off the lights you can't read the map, so it's pretty useless when you can just run past everything instead.) and the bosses being totally unnecessary garbage. May as well just have a movie cutscene instead. Still, played on its own terms and appreciated for its strengths, I dare say it's almost as good or perhaps even with a film like Eraserhead or La femme qui se poudre. It's also impressive that they managed to pull this one off on the PS1.

6. Remember11 - The age of Infinity This page was a tremendous help after completing it. It's definitely by far the most convoluted and in a plot sense complex VN I've completed. My 2nd game in the infinity series. If anything, This game might be a bit better than Ever17 and 999. It's a lot more intricate, way harder to understand and it expects you to figure out a million little details on your own if you want to piece together some kind of coherent meaning out of it all. What surfaces if you read about this game online is that it's more clever than Ever17. I'm also satisfied that it didn't crap itself for an ending. However, its style is still... not entirely to my taste. Just like with Ever17, there is a tremendous amount of effort put into making it as convoluted as possible, and in this case, they really push it to the limit. It's a great life and death mystery story with fantastic BGM and voice acting, but after understanding everything that really happened, the experience on the whole feels a little hollow afterwards. The game is amazing, I'm not denying it, but neither of these infinity stories completely worked for me. In Ever17's case, it's mostly the true route, which is just way too contrived and positive that I take issue with. In Remember11's case, it's that an overcomplicated plot on its own is never enough to wow me. Remember11 wowed me in a lot of other ways, but what stands out about it is nonetheless the plot structure and subtext, and I certainly don't belong to the audience that would call it a masterpiece on those terms. Great game, brilliant in some ways even, but I wasn't really... MOVED by it y'know? It doesn't completely resonate beyond just being an obviously well thought-out work, and the crux of the storytelling is always going to be divisive. Ever17 had more issues objectively, but it actually really moved me in Tsugumi's route. The problem with Remember11 is that, despite its complex plot and subtext, the narrative itself doesn't really convince me that it's especially deep or meaningful or anything. If anything it's all the little moments in the story, the mystery, confusion and human struggles, that I enjoyed most... so pretty much the same as with Ever17. Also the music is superb.

7. The Punisher
I don't often play Belt Scrollers but after playing around in this one for a while and trying to get to grips with it, I have to say this one really impresses me. It might be in my top-3 belt scrollers ATM behind with Denjin Makai II and PuLiRuLa. Fun moveset, great presentation, and solid design. It seems to me to strike a good balance between casual friendly and well designed for veterans. The stages are well composed in addition to the game not holding back when it comes to catering to a more casual audience. A great game for beginners that actually care about the genre.

8. Volgarr the Viking
An excellent 2D action game with levels and mechanics so well designed as to remind me of the arcade era. Too many games of this kind don't really understand what good design means. Volgarr is a game that gets it. That said, I actually haven't played it enough to rate it higher yet, if I ever will (just too many games to play, and I have other hobbies, man...). I could see my rating going up for this one.

9. Chaos;Head
A murder mystery mindfuck VN which shines in terms of atmosphere and mood. It is an emotional experience which really gets you close to the main character and his fears and paranoia. Quite an underrated work if you ask me. I dare say the last chapter is almost otherworldly in its atmosphere. I don't mean to overrate it myself, though. It's no SubaHibi, but I do think it's better than Chaos;Child.

10. Bubble Bobble
I only ever played the NES version previously, a game of my youth, which I don't consider to be a great game. The arcade version, however, is pretty great. It is a gorgeous, vibrant experience with solid gameplay and a beautiful ending. I've co-oped the NES game with multiple people but haven't gotten to co-op the arcade version yet... However, I could only see doing so improving my opinion of it if anything.

That's it for me this year. See you in 2019.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Top 30 scenes in Double Spoiler

 I picked out my favourite scenes. Time spent is only an estimate. I sometimes wrote down my amount of time spent but sometimes I didn't and have to estimate based on the photo counts.

1. 10-6 (Iku)
Aya: 959,834
Hatate: 1,068,792
Time spent: 90~ hours
My favourite scene in the game was one I was initially not very fond of. The reason was simple: Iku has to go to the left side before you can take a good picture. I almost thought I disliked stalling tactics on principle, but as it turns out, stalling in this scene for the chance of taking strong pictures is infinitely more engaging than playing just about any other video game in existence. The scene is simple on the surface, with a cluster of random jellybeans being the only bullet source... but if you get into the meta game, you'll find it is stupidly deep. my guide for Aya.

2. 12-4 (Nue)
Aya: 1,412,926
Hatate: 1,398,372
Time spent: 65~ hours
The tactics differ completely between Aya and Hatate, and my boundless love for this scene is due to Hatate gameplay, I'm not as big a fan of Aya. Hatate has the coolest aggression tactics in the game in here, and figuring out all the little details to get through different kinds of RNG on the 4th and 5th picture was something else. If I could figure out a way to take the 6th with the behind-style, then I'd like to get an even crazier run. The results I got with Hatate are honestly stunning to me already though and once again I have a guide:

3. 5-4 (Murasa)
Aya: 700,041
Hatate: 873,318
Time spent: 50~ hours
The bullet surfing scene. This scene is kinda like 10-6 in how you offensively dodge difficult bullets while stalling for picture chances. However, the dodging style here is quite different, as you must repeatedly move iup and down to dodge anchors & moving through all the bullet hell to keep directing the anchors horizontally. The tactics for really high scores becomes surprisingly deep in the long term in addition to the inherent fun of surfing the bullets.

4. 9-1 (Satori)
Aya: 1,055,436
Hatate: 902,548
Time spent: 30~ hours
9-1 has 5 different phases of pictures types, the first 3 are already going to scare people away with their intricate scoring insanity, but the real hell starts when you reach the last 5 pictures, particularly the last 3 (which all share the same styles.) With Hatate in particular, the optimal picture style I foresee for the last 3 is just so insane that I doubt anyone will ever pull one off in a run... and you can take 3!
I really love this scene because I think it is the epitome of the sheer depth and variety you can get in DS scoring. Scoring through this looks and feels breathtaking, and depending on developments with Aya or Hatate on the last 3 shots, I'd like to grind out some insane runs here.

5. 8-6 (Utsuho)
Aya: 856,394
Hatate: 1,063,605
Time spent: 15~ hours
There's no depth here and your score is determined mostly through RNG, but in terms of sheer fun there's not much that can compete with 8-6. With the WR triple sun style you have to move through intricate shitstorms repeatedly, and I find this outrageously funny. The last picture with triple sun is damn near impossible, but it sure is fun to try. I haven't played this scene nearly enough yet.

6. 7-6 (Nazrin)
Aya: 1,832,273
Hatate: 2,002,607
Time spent: 25~ hours
One of the most complex scenes, if not THE most complex scen in DS.I would not be able to discuss this nearly enough in depth even with a 2 hour long video...
In fact, it is so complicated that I am far from "figuring it out". I don't even think such a thing is completely possible. You need to manage positioning of pendulum cancels depending on RNG, and use each of infinite RNG combinations on each new pendulum spawn to try to stack it in a manner that is different on each attempt. Which nice shot cycle to take (generally you try to feel out which one is the final before nice shots stop, which is game over) and how to position yourself and the camera requires a lot of intelligence and foresight. Luck dependance is also quite extreme here. One of the most ridiculous scenes in the game from a scoring optimum perspective with very clear differences between Aya and Hatate, but it might not seem to have demonic difficulty in terms of the shmup fundamentals. Sure is engaging, though. You'll never reach or even comprehend the potential of this one.

7. 9-7 (Satori)
Aya: 631,270
Hatate: 844,197
Time spent: 60~ hours
Insanity. It lacks the deep scoring tactics of the StB version, so it is inferior, but it is really funny to dodge. I figured out a really cool tactic with Hatate that increases her clear chance (though it's still demonic difficulty to finish a run.) Aya is more traditional and my score still sucks with her; things just never come together. I actually might enjoy Time-out attempts the most or at least as much as scoring in this scene, making this the only scene in the game that I ever bother playing for other reasons than scoring. I'd really like to get 700k with Aya one of these days but it is a fucking nightmare...

8. 9-4 (Koishi)
Aya: 1,041,887
Hatate: 1,386,033
Time spent: Less than 10 hours
This scene is a triumph in aesthetics and the routing is unbelievably deep. The depth is so daunting and I am lucky that another player who must've researched this nightmare a shitton already made a route that I haven't found improvements for. I'd like to spend a lot of time looking someday. It's already really fun to execute said route, but I believe that due to the sheer depth here you can find even better routes.

9. 8-3 (Orin)
Aya: 3,051,703
Hatate: 3,828,363
Time spent: 20~ hours
One of my personal favourite puzzles, the scoring is quite intricate, but not as complex as most of the scenes above, as dealing with the RNG given is more evident here. I just think the scoring design is totally spot on, it's all about learning how to bunch up the fairies in the bottom right corner through specific camera and movement actions, and then memorizing how to time guiding the fairies depending on Orin's angle/distance. Then go to her right shoulder at the correct time, small focused-tap right before dying, and early 1.5 nice shot with focus-movement boss-camera-plant will carry, if done very properly and RNG isn't bad, 620k+ photos on all phases as Aya.

10. 9-6 (Koishi)
Aya: 2,148,047
Hatate: 2,342,238
Time spent: 30~ hours
Being one of the most gorgeous and artistic patterns of all time puts this high on my list, even though as far as scoring is concerned, it is not quite worthy of being this high, making this a bit of an anomaly on my list. Still, there is a lot of fun to be had here. In the long run it'll be all about the 3rd phase and its 4 sub-phases, which is some of the most stalling-oriented gameplay you will find in DS. That's a shame, because if the game didn't expect you to stall for ages here for good pictures, the scene would be quite brilliant in all regards. If you have the patience, then this is a great one with tons of depth.

11. 10-1 (Tenshi)
Aya: 993,864
Hatate: 1,037,824
Time spent: 40~ hours
You can get best girl vs best girl on best girl's best scene here if you play it as Hatate. Anyway, it's just a very cool pattern with cool tactics. You can anticipate photo values by being perceptive of the bullet mass, and deal with various situations completely differently. The picture style is harder for Hatate, but Aya has to move through some more bullets. I was aiming for a million with Aya but I got ~990k instead like a dozen times and gave up...

12. 8-7 (Orin)
Aya: 661,871
Hatate: 768,382
Time spent: 30~ hours
Unless you get very lucky you're going to have to do a lot of stalling here, but the stalling gets increasingly dangerous on later photos. The actual picture styles are unbelievably cool and engaging and very RNG dependant on how to develop your route on the fly. Despite all the patience required here, the moments of greatness convinces me that this is one of the best scenes here.

13. 12-3 (Byakuren)
Aya: 1,742,063
Hatate: 1,808,550
Time spent: 15~ hours
Another very artistic scene with brilliant photo-only design from a more casual perspective. The scoring gameplay is still fun, but has little depth and quickly becomes just about luck. I value this scene highly more for personal reasons; It's just a very cool scene. It's also much better with Aya, since she has to yolo dodge through kunai.

14. 12-7 (Byakuren)
Aya: 1,693,936
Hatate: 1,843,079
Time spent: 20~ hours
One of the few repeats in DS, though it's more of a remake. I think this is much better than LFS because of what the game wants you to do to score high photos. A brilliant and difficult scene which is all about very specific positioning/timings, and some praying for RNG.

15. 8-2 (Utsuho)
Aya: 914,050
Hatate: 952,963
Time spent: 15~ hours
A very intense Sun scene which is probably impossible to score at my level without pixel stickers or some kind of program to show pixel spots on your screen, because you have to put Aya on so many different specific pixels for different shots. As long as you can accomplish this, most of the pictures becomes more a matter of RNG, with only the 4th one being hell-mode for optimization. As far as Hatate is concerned, the final picture is quite impossible to optimize.

16. 11-8 (Suwako)
Aya: 1,859,566
Hatate: 1,832,410
Time spent: Less than 10 hours
The strategy on the last 2 photos is what really sold me on this scene. It's flashy and it's interesting. This is one of my big to-do's because my runs lack optimization.

17. 12-6 (Nue)
Aya: 1,551,898
Hatate: 1,974,466
Time spent: 20~ hours
This scene is incredibly fun, but there is an annoying glitch that makes it hard to place it higher than this. Also, it's super luck based with timings that hardly even matter. Still, the final shot sure is a trip worth taking.

18. 9-2 (Koishi)
Aya: 1,400,492
Hatate: 1,770,386
Time spent: 25~ hours
There might not appear to be much to this scene. The photo style is always the same; the tactics only change depending on Koishi's movements. However, in reality, this one picture you take over and over is incredibly deep. I developed my photo sense for this scene little by little and finally nailed a brilliant run with Hatate. Difficult and super engaging to optimize, but with no fundamental dodging ability required.

19. 5-2 (Murasa)
Aya: 400,126
Hatate: 513,066
Time spent: 25~ hours
Here is an intricate puzzle scoring scene where you can get very close to your sum of best due to very little RNG. I really enjoyed developing my tactics and grinding out runs here, as the pictures are quite fascinating.

20. 11-5 (Kanako)
Aya: 807,035
Hatate: 1,058,111
Time spent: 10~ hours
No RNG present: part 1. A rarity in DS, and although I think DS RNG often makes for insane skill ceilings and optimization room, It is a breath of fresh air to not have to deal with it sometimes. 11-5, like 9-2, has you repeat the same photo over and over, but it is a fascinating and multifaceted photo with much optimization room. This scene is a pure joy for having only one type of photo.

21. 6-3 (Yuugi)
Aya: 299,446
Hatate: 389,579
Time spent: 20~ hours
No RNG present: Part 2. More about precision and knowledge than difficulty, really, all 5 photos have an unique optimal character position, camera position, and timing. It's all about finding these sweet spots between these components and nailing them. You can get very close to the sum of best here, as it is not especially deep for DS, but very enjoyable and well designed.

22. 5-5 (Ichirin)
Aya: 420,282
Hatate: 549,799
Time spent: 35~ hours
An aggravating scene due to a mixture of a glitch that kills you, Ichirin's movements changing everything, and laser RNG. Still, if you have the patience, there is much fun to be had here, and a lot to figure out. Many different cycle/position combinations leading into new branches of optimal cycles, all while landing different positionings and timings for lazers and Unzan. So many different combinations of stuff here, which is cool... still, can be annoying, I won't lie.

23. 10-2 (Iku)
Aya: 1,548,738
Hatate: 1,290,535
Time spent: 40~ hours
Trying to direct the bullets in such a fashion that you can take a picture on the best cycles is interesting. The bullet direction (not lasers, I mean the bullets!) is difficult to comprehend. Aiming the picture at the optimal time and the optimal amount while hugging the laser as closely as possible as Aya is very, very hard, and I enjoy that. Sadly Hatate gets the short end of the stick here having to up-down camera plant and Aim upward a landscape nice shot. No way to get two-shot + 1.7 angle.

24. 6-8 (Suika)
Aya: 746,201
Hatate: 742,915
Time spent: 15~ hours
Pixel stickers again. This time I needed I think 6 separate pixel stickers with no possible visual cues in-game. I think it is impossible to properly score this scene without something like this...
Suika is a giant, and you have to direct her into 4 specific spots and position Aya as close into her sprite as possible without colliding with her. Before this, you must depending on playing Aya or Hatate move yourself into two specific spots to line up the Blue balls to get the optimal amount afterwards. At least timing and aiming the shot itself is easy... phew!

25. 12-8 (Nue)
Aya: 3,019,404
Hatate: 3,457,116
Time spent: 65~ hours
The playstation scene. I think this is a favourite among fans, but I had a pretty lukewarm reception to it. It grew on me as I was grinding and developing my photo senses, though. Being the longest scene in the game at 5 minutes, with lots of stalling, it requires much patience. Once you start nailing the picture styles (with Hatate having the more difficult style) it's all about honing your picture senses, which demand of you to read the RNG and anticipate the bullet volume you will get in the picture. This is stupidly difficult to anticipate.

26. 10-5 (Tenshi)
Aya: 4,811,213
Hatate: 4,551,677
Time spent: 10~ hours
This is a fun one, although a bit on the repetitive side. It all clicked once I found that the right metronome in my head lined up with different actions you must do at the correct timings to score. Hatate is nightmare mode due to the picture aftermath.

27. SP-9 (Aya)
Time spent: 25~ hours
The most random scene to score in the game, making it the surefire scene to have the largest gap between your personal best and your sum of best. It's more or less PWG from MoF, but to score, you must scout for the best bullet cloud rng and pray for lasers and Aya's position rng. there's a bit more too it, but it's more about luck and perception than depth. Aside from stalling the first 5 photos being frankly quite boring, it is very fun.

28. 6-4 (Suika)
Aya: 898,789
Hatate: 960,526
Time spent: 40~ hours
Some scenes may be harder with specific maybe-impossible tactics that I haven't applied (such as 9-1 with Hatate) but as far as my own experience goes this is the hardest scene in the game, especially with Hatate. Flooding the screen with mini Suika's and still somehow getting close to Suika (movement RNG will ruin this all the time) and landing a good photo is pure insanity. This scene is very frustrating, but I have a thing for nightmare difficulty, so I still couldn't resist putting this on the list.

29. 2-5 (Parsee)
Aya: 298,410
Hatate: 386,236
Time spent: Less than 10 hours
This is the only scene from levels 1-4 that I put on the list! There were a couple of other candidates, but I think I like this one best. It's also one of the scenes I've played the least in the game, so I certainly have a lot of work to do here. The big crux of this scene is that you need the ability to read the red and blue bullet overlap RNG to see if there will be a gap that goes all the way up to Parsee to dash through. It's not a too uncommon RNG, but it is very easy to just barely misread it. I haven't fully developed the ability to play this consistently yet, making it a tough grind.

30. 10-3 (Tenshi)
Aya: 908,622
Hatate: 1,011,354
Time spent: 35~ hours
And last on the list is one of the scenes that requires the most patience and stalling in the game. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this one. On paper, I should dislike it, but in practice, it was quite a zen-like experience to grind. Make no mistake, it is extremely difficult play for score.

Some other candidates includes:
2-1, 3-4, 4-6, 4-7, 5-6, 9-3, 10-4, 10-7, 10-8, EX-5.

This list is a bit different from what I came up with a few years ago. There are still scenes I haven't explored enough, so a new version of this list years from now could possibly end up quite different again.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

DS improvements so far this year.

It's been 4 months of 2018 and I've managed some pretty big scores this time. In the past week or so I've barely played at all so I might be taking a break doing other stuff... It occurred to me that I never really write blogposts about scoring in DS despite my passion in sharing DS with the world, which is for a few reasons:

1. Laziness. Writing stuff takes effort.
2. Nobody reads my blog lul
3. I have my stream and a DS discord

But right now I am in the mood to talk a little bit about the year so far, it's just that my memories might be hazy regarding some stuff. I'll do my best. I'm going to talk a bit about each score, and the potential future prospects for the category.

In chronological order:
10-6 Hatate: 1,068,792
10-6 Aya : 959,834
10-2 Aya: 1,548,738
10-2 Hatate: 1,290,535
9-2 Aya: 1,400,492  
9-2 Hatate: 1,770,386 
6-5 Hatate: 720,120
6-4 Aya: 898,789  
6-4 Hatate: 960,526
2-4 Aya: 162,806  
9-7 Aya: 631,270
EX-3 Aya: 717,656
2-3 Aya: 166,464
12-4 Hatate: 1,398,372 
12-4 Aya: 1,412,926
EX-2 Aya: 896,097
EX-3 Hatate: 825,277
EX-2 Hatate: 931,772    
11-7 Aya: 414,219

10-6 Hatate: 1,068,792

This scene is a very tough one, and it is even more tough with Hatate in my opinion. This score is good, and quite lucky, but I love this scene so much that I think I'll improve it one day. I got the god luck one time, but I failed to execute that run (missing two nice shots)... so in order to make up for that, I'd like to compromise with the luck and have semi-godluck one day resulting in a 1.1 million score.

10-6 Aya: 959,834

I made a video about this category (the PB used in the video is older, though)
If you are interested in how this works, you could watch this video. It's a bit lengthy, since there's a lot to explain. This is one of my favourite categories in the game, and this is probably the most finalized score I have right now. Brilliant luck, great execution, and it was a pretty lengthy grind (55 hours). I have no plans to improve it, but because I love this scene, I think I might improve the Hatate score in the future since it's not as good.

10-2 Aya: 1,548,738

This run is really good, and it's a tough scene (even more so with Aya, in my opinion) but It's tempting to go back to it at some point since I hadn't figured out the optimal cycles yet when I was playing Aya. It's just a small loss, though, and the run is really good otherwise, so I'll probably be keeping it. I got really lucky with this one!

10-2 Hatate: 1,290,535

There was much despair behind this run. I had the right strategy and I played it very well. I put in around 19 hours in two days to get this, and by this time I knew all about the cycles. However, luck was not kind; 1270000+ has been reached 32 times. 22 times 1.27s, 9 times 1.28s, and this time 1.29. This frustration makes me not want to play this scene any more, although, 1.3 million isn't unrealistic.

 9-2 Aya: 1,400,492 

A collaborative effort with KirbyComment. Learning was a very gradual and interesting evolution. The pattern is beyond subtle, and quite different from Hatate. I might go back and improve this some more, maybe up to 1.415 or so, since my Hatate run is better. 

9-2 Hatate: 1,770,386 

This was a really fun and interesting grind! I learned so much and felt very close to the game while doing this... Such a deep optimization! I managed to make the optimization so consistent that I somehow came up with this brilliant score. I had so many 1.75s, and then a sudden 1.77! I think this score is quite satisfying and I don't think I need to come back to it.  

6-5 Hatate: 720,120

This only took a few hours. It's one of the most simplistic scenes in the game. Position yourself next to the laser spawn. Max your macro bonus and risk bonus, aim backwards to get all the multipliers, and let go just as the laser is spawning. If you do it all correctly, you will get a photo scoring 180,030 points. At a glance, it would appear to be a maxed out score(180,030 x4 = 720,120) but you can actually score slightly higher. If the stars align and Yuugi moves just the right way and fires the lasers at the right angle, you can get a photo at least several hundred points higher. Should this happen once in your run, you could even beat my score with an execution error or two (missing some macro bonus). It's doubtful that you could beat my score if you lose 0.01 boss shot anywhere, though. This kind of luck seems exceedingly rare, and I find this scene unenjoyable, so I won't try this.

6-4 Aya: 898,789  

6-4 is the hardest scene in the game to me... Sure, mechanically with the photos there are scenes which are harder to optimize a sense, but I find everything about 6-4 to be absolutely brutal. This score is lucky as fuck but I made a huge mistake. I missed a nice shot on the 3rd shot! How this is still my PB just goes to show how unbelievable the luck influence is. I could try to beat this, I suppose... It's not quite as good as my Hatate run.

6-4 Hatate: 960,526 

Stellar luck on the 1st, 2nd and 4th photos. Only the 3rd had to be compromised (a shame, since this could've been a million with non-compromise strategy. Sadly, that was impossible in this situation)
Before, I've had a chance to score much much higher with a true godtier luck, but I failed in the very final moment. Sad! This run is still good, and took much effort. I find this to be the single toughest category in the entire game. Also, as a sidenote, I noticed something I've never seen before in the other photogames in this scene. The reason why earlier photos are so high isn't because you're getting more Suikas or bullets in them. The value of Suikas (and perhaps the bullets too) actually goes down every photo! If you don't know that, you might think the theoretical value is much higher than it is in reality.

2-4 Aya: 162,806 

This is very easy, and I didn't really bother to put much effort in. I came up with a better plan on the 4th photo, so now with solid execute and more importantly superb luck, we could possibly see a 170,000 run if I ever go grind that out (and I might in the future). For some reason, I appear have difficulty in stabilizing the position of the camera on the first 3 shots, resulting in some pretty random boss shot multipliers...

9-7 Aya: 631,270

It's insanely hard. I've had a lot of 600,000+ runs, and still stuck... I want to somehow reach 700,000 one day. I don't have much to say here, it's one of the more self-evident scenes in the game.

EX-3 Aya: 717,656

I just can't seem to optimize the last photo. I find it simply impossible. If I could just get past that, I could totally score in the range of 760-770,000 eventually. 

2-3 Aya: 166,464

One of the easiest scenes in the game and I gave it a thorough grind! Usually I grind out the harder scenes more, but I guess I just had to get this one. And what a score I got! 166k is absolutely fantastic. I didn't even need to stall many waves in my run, either! Normally I have to stalla nd stall and stall and stall until I get a good heart position. And then the RNG isn't any good anyway. Well, it took around 13,000 shots to get this where I would rarely ever make any notable mistakes. It's all RNG and intuition!

 12-4 Hatate: 1,398,372 

Oh yes! Intense! Lovely! One of my best scores in the game it is :D and such a fun category too!
If you want to learn more about the secrets, I have a video describing how I went about scoring in this:
The truth is that I'm 90% sure the last photo could also be taken at a backshot with a Nice shot. However I could never manage to do it so and even if I found a way, it would likely be so hard that I could go for weeks without finishing a run.. That's kind of what I would expect. If I were to attempt this, the potential would go up by around 45k I think. That's big! But the difficulty rise would also be absurd, and the run is insanely hard as it is, and I don't think my run is quite optimized enough to think about incorporating such an ordeal. Perhaps if I had reached 1.42m or so I would consider it. As of now, I would rather wait for someone else to figure out the best way to optimize the 6th and move on.

12-4 Aya: 1,412,926

I didn't get a run I'm satisfied with here. I'm just so tired of this scene that I'm moving on, but I will probably return to it. Although Hatate looks much flashier and harder, I still find Aya to be incredibly fucked up to optimize all the way to the end (and way too RNG dependant...)
All the same, I could totally see myself getting a much higher score in just a day or two of grinding with some luck, it just didn't happen for like 10 days of (admittely not a lot) of playing and I got tired of it. 

EX-2 Aya: 896,097

Simplistic scene. The execution isn't very hard, but the scene is long and boring. The luck is severe, and I think I could hit a luck at about 910,000 or maybe even 915,000 at best.

EX-3 Hatate: 825,277

Oh yeah! This went much better than with Aya! It's cause I find the final much easier to optimize with Hatate. If I can get enough luck, I think I might be able to score around 840,000 or more. I don't really like this scene, so not a super high priority, though.

EX-2 Hatate: 931,772   

 Almost the same thing as with Aya. This run might be a little bit luckier, though. I think I could hit up to 940,000 with enough luck.

11-7 Aya: 414,219

Requires a lot of luck and patience. It's also pretty complicated.  My PB got absolutely unprecedented luck for me up to the final shot, never seen anything close before. Then somehow the final shot didn't get as high as expected... 
What I want is for the 2nd pillar (coming from the right) to first move straight into kanako and then angle down a bit. Then the 3rd pillar should go through Kanako, a bit on her left side is preferred, and go straight down (maybe angle a bit at the end depending on my positioning). Where to position is RNG in two separate ways: Firstly the position of bullets from the 2nd and 3rd pillar must allow you to go inside and get up to 2000 risk bonus. Secondly the position you choose will also completely alter the angle, of which the effectiveness depends on the rng of the pillars. It's very rare for the RNG to make everything good all at once! 
I also think the first pillar position makes quite a big difference. I'd prefer for it to not go off screen as that seems to be a significant decrease in base value, and if it arcs leftwards you're fucked, too.

And that's all for this year so far! Some prety awesome scores here! DS is by now my favorite game ever, so I will surely put out more great scores :D



Sunday, March 4, 2018

Double Spoiler video progress!

After a few years of playing, here's all of my high scores that I've submitted to Royalflare in two nifty videos!


Most scenes are present, though the quality of each score varies greatly. There are after all 108 scenes and a whooping 207 categories. Maybe a few more years from now I'll have cut down the mediocre scores to only a handful.

I think the videos came out great. They were recorded by Pearlescent, using various extra statistics I've supplied (such as best photos and sum of bests) and music of my choice.

The hard part is getting people to watch the damn things. I've done my best here, and I'm obviously not expecting this to be something people would want to watch. I'm just doing what I can because I want to. If people like the vids, great. If people don't, then everything is still going according to plan, because I like how the vids came out. I'm satisfied.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Double Spoiler progress

I've managed to achieve the goal of 100 stars (1st place score) on royalflare. Is it perhaps the first time in history someone does this? That would be a nice bonus if so! for the full leaderboard.

More or less 100 records, out of a possible 207 (excludes reverse spoiler). This has been a goal of mine for a long time, so it is great to finally finish. That said, I don't intend to end Double Spoiler. In fact, my intentions to stay with Double Spoiler for as long as I'm able remains. It is quite possibly my favourite, I just love how technical and deep it is. Everything about Double Spoiler except the format of infinite retries is so utterly difficult. I love that. I love how much goes into just controlling the camera, it is seriously complex and fascinating. I love how much goes into figuring out and executing how to control all the scoring components. This is quite possibly the most technical shmup I've ever played, and this is why the individual level format is so necessary. The game would be completely impossible without it. As for Shoot the Bullet, there are no intentions of ever returning, other than possibly some random scene if I'm interested. Shoot the Bullet is good for beginners, but once you're mastering Double Spoiler, then the limitations of the system in Shoot the Bullet makes it a boring game to play. For me, I believe it to be obsoleted by Double Spoiler in every way except for the fact that its scenes are different, and some of these scenes are really quite amazing. So I may return for some scenes at some point, but there is no longer the will to work on every scene in StB ever again. I can consider that chapter as half closed, I guess.

It is a shame, but I still have real life reasons that get in the way of playing. At least I'm able to play from time to time. It is enough, and I'm still thinking about the long term now. Even if I usually don't play for super long sessions, I've given this game a few years already and I hope I can give it a few more, and then a few more again. That would be fantastic, though at some point perhaps impossible. At least I'm hoping that if ever I do end this chapter of my life, I can do so while satisfied with my accomplishments in DS. I can't say I strive to reach this kind of conclusion with StB or GFW. I don't really want to play GFW under my conditions, so returning to that game will depend on how my real life situation looks. As for any other STGs, there are no plans for serious playing. Only casual diversions or the like may occur, as usual, but there's hardly ever any of these anymore. I guess that's a good thing for DS, though! I'm still a bit sad that DS is so inactive other than my own efforts, but at least t1100 submits a new score every now and then. It would be great to see some more players.

Future DS goals are all over the place. Rather than discussing this, I'm keeping a chart. I saw people posting clear charts on 4chan, and it struck me that this would be very useful for Double Spoiler scoring. Here is my current revision, though some greens maybe should be yellows, etc.

That is all for now. I realize that my high score list hasn't been updated for over half a year... but I'll do it when I feel like it.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

PM reply turned into blogpost

I was talking to someone in PM, they told me that they completed StB and DS in half a day and proceeded to ask me if I think DS is the apex of the genre. I wrote a pretty lengthy reply and since it read more like a blogpost I decided to put that reply here for anyone interested. Just contains some thoughts on my favorite games I guess!

"It's stupidly fast. The norm is to take 5-10 times as long at least, and it's not unusual that people get stuck on some scenes for hours. Like my first DS playthrough, I could beat most scenes right away or almost right away, but I encountered a few that I'd get stuck on for half an hour maybe. And in StB since I was more of a beginner back then (Just had easy 1ccs in the bag) I encountered many scenes that took hours to crack. A flawless speedrun through Shoot the Bullet is around 50 minutes, and in Double Spoiler around an hour. (Not sure of the specifics since I don't speedrun them). But the games are designed to be incredibly rough the first time around and yeah it's normal to have a lot of trouble adjusting to the game play and figuring out or just surviving the scenes. So many people hit a wall as early as level 5 in StB. Honestly, you must be incredibly skilled and I hope to see your gameplay in action sometime if you ever decide to (have decided to?) play some shmup more seriously!

Of course, I could see how watching others would speed things up. I mean, you have scenes like 10-4 in StB which noone could be expected to beat through skill alone, you'd have to either know how to do it or spend a while figuring it out. I think it's normal to take hours to beat this scene because people can't really crack the strategies. So if you already saw someone else do it for example then that would speed up the playthrough, and this goes more or less for a lot of stuff.

I mean, I don't know about using the word apex, especially not since it's so damn different from normal. But DS and GFW are the games that have fascinated me the most. The problem with DS is that a lot of the scenes are kinda shitty. I just gloss over that because there's so damn many of them so you don't have to play scenes you don't like if you don't want to. Another hurdle to get past is that the game is incredibly unfair. I never midned unfairness itself though, I just wanna enjoy myself and feel engaged. If something is unfair in a fun way then I don't care.

For the pure fun factor, sometimes I gravitate towards the Phantasmagoria games, but PoFV, intense as it is, is too monotonous and simple to be compared with DS and GFW, which are deep and varied. and I've never played a multiplayer match in PoDD which means I'm rating it entirely as a single player game... not to mention comparing multiplayer with single player is always iffy.

I don't think there is an apex because there aren't any clear rules about what makes a game personally appealing. Like you can tell with the games I view as favorites that they're quite RNG heavy and really difficult and scoring oriented usually (Dragon Blaze being an exception in the RNG area, though. that game is pretty static. Then again, I haven't put as much time into Dragon Blaze yet, so I don't feel as strongly in my opinion in that one) On the other hand, many other veterans loathe this kind of RNG and prefer to be able to do what they've practiced more reliably. There is also the issue of how much we value game feel versus mechanics and stage and pattern design. Would I give Batrider a 4.5 if I wasn't totally in love with the style of the game? Definitely not. The style is so appealing to me so the feedback you feel from just playing is all there which makes it a great game to play casually. There are games that I can see as being genius and classics but that I don't personally get turned on by, like DOJ. I learned some chaining routes and gave it an honest chance but, althought he game is undeniable amazing, It's just not a game that personally excites and fascinates me to this extent that it's at my top. Like I find the game kinda dreary and ugly looking, I'm not sold on DDP-style chaining, Hibachi is a really stupid boss to have at the end...

For conventional shmups, Perfect Cherry Blossom or Guwange would be the apex for me. You could say that they both floor me but I think both aren't quite perfect. Both have a lot of milking that turns off some people and I think that milking being quite mindless (and ruins your hand) in Guwange aside from on the Catspider is its biggest flaw. Other than this the game is pretty much perfect with an ideal scoring mechanic with its gauge management and deep cancelling structure. Perfect Cherry Blossom has one of the most ridiculous and awesome scoring systems ever with an enormous skill ceiling. I think it has the perfect scoring system and an amazing relationship between its mechanics and design. For the most part they are flawlessly linked so you can be doing something cool and difficult in almost every part of the game. a common discussion about fans is about how much of an accident this game may have been for ZUN. Some people insist that ZUN doesn't put that much thought into his games (with his newest games I can believe that he doesn't) but I think there's no way that PCB is much of an accident. Now, if PCB does have a flaw, I think I can point out some. The first two stages can feel a bit slow other than some key techniques available being absolutely bonkers, and I was never that keen on the Extra or Phantasm stages. Lots of pointless nonspells in these. As well, PCB is a pure score-em-up, this isn't a flaw per se, but it isn't a very interesting game to just dodge bullets in IMO. The bullets are mostly really slow, which works fine with its scoring, but for fun of dodging I like faster bullets.

For me, GFW and maybe DS are my favorites, but I would never say that they're objectively the best or anything. GFW is just such an odd game that gets easily misunderstood by newcomers. For example, a common complaint about it that I hear from people that didn't really play it (much) is that using ice to bypass patterns is cheesy and that such mechanics hinders dodging. The truth is that GFW is a very dodging heavy game, and it's dodging heavy in the way that I personally love: there's a lot of multitasking. You're not just avoiding the bullets but you are managing boss health, shot versus boss positioning, timing of shooting, whether how much to graze to reach a certain ice meter percentage at a certain time, timing to charge and timing to freeze and positioning to freeze depending on how you want the ice to behave in relation to bullet space and enemy positions. Then you are also multitasking the resource game which is by far the best in any game I've played, the way you gain perfect freeze and motivation and how you "spend" your resources and the routing around this is totally unmatched IMO.

So in short, I have some clear favorites because of my tastes, but I think there are other potential "best games" that I don't feel as strongly about personally due to some personal dislikes being too prevalent (Ketsui, DOJ, Garegga spring to mind...)

And of course, since these examples are more geared towards hardcore players, there's no objective truth saying that a simpler game with a lower skill ceiling is worse for it. Some people love games like Gradius. But I just don't see anyone spending 1000s of hours on such games when there's the aforementioned alternatives, and for me an apex most definitely need to provide incentives for you to pour such time into it. Shmups are very divisive among fans and there are things that could easily turn you off or on them, small or big things. Like in the touhou community just about everyone has a different favorite game or least favorite game."