Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 condensed

2015 is not quite over yet but this feels like a good time to make this post since I'm slacking now anyway and not working on anything major that would change this post regardless.

2014 was the first year that I really went balls deep and started accomplishing things in these games, mainly in Shoot the Bullet which I began playing obsessively in April, but also in Great Fairy Wars which I played a lot during November and December. I really felt how my general skill had improved noticably, and my analytical ability and endurance really helped me to understand, to WANT to understand what I was supposed to do, how I was supposed to think, to play, and the possibilities that existed.

In other words 2014 was the first time I felt like I could really amount to something in Touhou, and this carried over into 2015. The GFW sweep  and working the scores well beyond what people had done previously, which I had only joked about prior to this (saying I wanted to "be the shin of GFW or "be the HS of GFW") started to reveal itself to be a possible reality, I now have almost every record for the game, and most of the records I have are significantly higher than the previous record thanks to the insights and consistency that I've gained. I feel like an anomaly in the English-speaking community because unlike most others, I'm pretty satisfied with my playing, I'm of course not entirely satisfied with my ability, there is always room to get better, but I do think my skill is peaking and that I can't really get noticably better in general than I am now. Of course, I realize there's so many players out there that are much better than me, not just at Touhou, but especially among the arcade players, where there's such a rich history, of course there's going to be an abundance of incredible players. I am still self-critical to a high degree. I just think It's important to be realistic. Critical doesn't have to be negative, and allowing yourself to be satisfied or happy about something, even if just for a brief moment, is important.

Now that that rant's over, I'm going to take a step back and look at just what happened during 2015.

Just as with 2014 I've narrowed my vision down to just a few games, where I focus on one at a time. Occasionally I've branched out to something unexpected for a little while just for the fun of it, and I don't regret that at all, I intend to try to do a bit more of this during 2016, even.

The big game of this year was without a doubt Great Fairy Wars. only 1 of my 25 scores from before 2015 still remains, Hard C2. All other scores were made in 2015.

The greatest score I achieved, by far in any game ever, was the 105.94 million score in Lunatic B1. I genuinely think this score is pretty much unbeatable unless you are highly skilled, have learned all the little nuances of the category, and have the endurance to grind until you are blessed with fantastic luck while also keeping the flaws to the minimum. It's not a perfect run, far from it, but it is such a difficult category, only high level players would stand a chance, and GFW appears to be neglected among these folks, unfortunately. The same run with a more ridiculous stage 3 could even have scored 107 million, which is pretty much around where I consider the humanly realistic limit to be. Who knows though, maybe someone will surprise me in the future. Stage 1 and 2 were all-time high scores, the odds of that happening... To get your highest score on stage 1 AND 2... My stage 3 was not the best I've had, though, but still among the better stage 3s.

Some other stand-out scores for GFW: Easy C1. I liked this run a lot even though I definitely have not optimized Easy as thoroughly as it could be (Dream Dweller's A2 run is a good example of an Easy mode score that is nearly unbeatable, none of mine are quite that good), reaching 38 million was not something I previously would've thought to be realistically possible. With a lot of studying and improving the patterns, and the consistency of getting it all together without much issue, 38 million somehow happened. I still think 38.5 is somehow realistic as well if you get a Dream Dweller-tier score, but 38 is good too.

Normal A2. I surprised myself by not having to put in as much time into this as I had expected, and I was so happy to beat Gasoline's great score which I have always idolized. Something that was really helpful was their article on this category, it helped me to grasp some things better. The final score reached 72 million and 73 million is still highly possible. I am honestly a bit doubtful about 74, but strictly speaking, sure, that's also "possible".

Hard B1. Nowhere near the level of my Lunatic run, but it is my strongest Hard run.

Lunatic B2 and C1. They're quite interesting runs but, since I am so fond of Lunatic, I intend to try to improve them significantly somehow. Same with the other Lunatic non-B1 routes. Big updates in the future.

Reaching the total score of 1.8 billion was a huge thing as well. It's now getting more and more close to 1.81 billion. I'm hoping to get to 1.82 billion in 2016, but we'll see if I play GFW enough for that.

Overall I put not that much time into GFW this year (less than 500 hours) but I instead managed to use the knowledge and skill I had gained efficiently. I would never have expected, before, that GFW could be mastered to this extend in this short amount of time.

I also played other games so lets move on. Roughly in order of importance...

Shoot the Bullet. I played it a bit less than Double Spoiler this year but a lot more focused on individual scenes. I actually didn't touch the majority of the scenes this year at all. This basically means I put the time in to get some really high individual scores, I think the most notable ones being 2.129m in 10-1 and 373k in 6-5. The 892k score in 9-5 was also a highlight but, Ia found a better pattern, so it is now obsoleted. The 10-1 score was single most in-the-moment satisfying and relieving score I made this year, even if it's not the most impressive.

Double Spoiler! I've hardly touched this game since my previous post about it, so I need not say much here, but I put in about 200 hours of playtime this year and upped the total score to 94 million with Hatate and 91 million with Aya, with a dozen top placing scores and even more second place scores. Since the last post I also made just a few improvements that I haven't submitted to Royalflare, notably around 660000 on 9-7 with Hatate. As for the most satisfying individual scores, I'd say those were on 6-8 and 10-7. I usually didn't put all that much time into individual categories in DS so far, so this entry is more about the total score.

Armed Police Batrider. I didn't play this so much, but when I did, I made some huge improvements, most notably 18.1 million with Solo Carpet on the Advanced course. My goal for that was met, though I know a lot more is still possible (there's half of I think a 21 million run online, the second half is missing...).

Battle Garegga. I scored only around 14 million, with Gain, but it was nonetheless very satisfying because I'm still quite a newbie at this game and I had to work harder than expected to reach this score. Before I had put my goal as I think 16 or 17 million. Now I know I just don't like this game enough to go for that kind of difficult score.

Phantasmagoria of Flower View. I scored 398 million with Reisen and made some other scores as well. Nothing particularly stand-out, though, and I played it very little. There's some really great scores out there made by players like yet, and I don't have the endurance for this game to go for those kinds of scores.

Strikers 1999. I cleared this game (both loops). Obviously nothing impressive at all compared to the above but I usually don't go for hard-ish new game clears and am more focused on scoring, so it marks an interesting deviation in my usual focus... I actually hope to do a lot more stuff like this in 2016!

What I want to do in 2016:

Double Spoiler/Shoot the Bullet: nothing in particular. I use these games when I get the drive and there's so many scenes to choose between that I could do pretty much whatever I want in them. I expect I'll play them a fair bit, but I'll decide my goals on the spot.

Great Fairy Wars: I want the sweep to be absolute, I want to have every record. My wish to do this is halfhearted. I like the idea of it, more than I can appreciate the grind itself. Easy A2 is largely to blame for this. Not only in the record for that already amazingly high, but it is simply not that interesting of a category to play. Normal A1 is a bit like this as well, but I'm not entirely sure just how good the record for that is yet, since I've barely played it. Extra, on the other hand, is both amazing and a very fun category to play, so that is certainly a record I no doubt DO want to go for.

I find it very important that the records I do have have reached a high level as well, so of course I'll probably spend much more time improving my own scores than trying to get he few records I don't have. Some individual targets: 105 million in A1 (maybe 106?), 118 in A2 (maybe 119)), 104 million in C1, all Lunatic. I'd like to try to get A1 and C2 higher than my current B1 score, the latter should be no problem, but I'm dreading A1.

Perfect Cherry Blossom: Highscoring, probably on Lunatic. I really think 2016 is the time for me to try to get into this!

Misc games! I want to clear more arcade games, and I want to do highscoring in the more easy-ish clears. Here's a small list of some of the games I will try to make time for, either just to clear the whole game (so two loops in the case of Psikyo, Cave) or to get a highscore.

Gunbird 2
Strikers 1945 II
Dragon Blaze
Ketsui (Omote)
Sexy Parodius
Mars Matrix
Raiden Fighters Jet

The lower 4 games being easier clears, will thus focus more on scoring. The higher 5 I'd primarily want to clear, although I can't keep myself from going for highscoring in Dragon Blaze, heh.

It is very possible I won't focus on any of the misc games after all, but I had a lot of fun learning Strikers 1999 even if I didn't stick with the game, I think I could do that sort of thing with some more games soon.

I thought I'd do something different at the end of this post and not just talk about myself or my own runs or goals for once, so now I'm going to mention some of the other players I've had fun keeping an eye on during 2015.

Japowpow: I thought it was amazing how he was working on, and ultimately achieved, UFO LNB when he was JUST starting out. I can't say I followed that closely because I'm not into survival, but then he branched out into PoFV and GFW scoring and It's been so fun to see his progress there. I really hope more people will pick up GFW scoring.

Yu-Suke: This dude's just beasting it like always and pushing that ReimuB Lunatic score. I hope he eventually even gets the privilege of allowing ReimuB to have the overall record.

Everlasting: Even if I'm less interested in survival I somehow can make myself interested because Everlasting is just that charming and, clearly a force to be reckoned with. If I'm not mistaken he also has not played for that long but he already achieved SA and UFO LNN. He talks about how he does want to move on from LNN goals in the future and that GFW scoring is one of the things he's interested in. Obviously I will watch over him like a hawk!

Ia: A bit different because I ultimately know nothing about Ia and they don't stream (to my knowledge) so all I can really do is look out for the replays they put out. Even so 2015 seems to have been a bit of a resurrection for Ia who barely submitted anything the last few years. This year there's several amazing Shoot the Bullet replays produced by them and the quality is undeniable. In particular the 8-8 and 8-7 ones totally blew my mind, and now there's a ridiculous 9-5 one as well. Some of the others are probably amazing but I don't really understand 3-7 or 10-7 well enough for example.

My final word to you all is: play Great Fairy Wars! Since it is by far my own favorite game, obviously the rest of you are just wrong for not feeling the same way about it xD

There's still time to fix that!!!!