Saturday, January 23, 2010

Small Update

Over the past two weeks, the Defender has had a working set of buttons. Today, they decided to not work, so I swapped over to Stargate.

Some details I haven't posted: After the New Year, I've had a ton of distractions. All of them were good, so no real complaints. I wound up taking a week or so off in the middle and just started again a couple of days ago. The break made a difference.

I suppose it's like "training" for everything else. You start to dissect your training and begin to eliminate anything that may be a waste of your actual practice time. It's damn precious, so you want to get the most out of the time you're actually doing the work.

Most of the time when I'm considering the 'game,' I am thinking of strategies that have worked for me in the past. I am trying to take those and meld them in with a couple of new ones. Right now, I'm having the most luck with not spending so much time worrying about losing humans to landers. Heck even killing them to prevent a mutation is becoming less shocking. Sorry guys, it's the survival of the species, not individual blood lines. :\

So the results of adding some new strategy (letting more of 'em die) for Defender hasn't yielded anything extreme yet. I am now easily making 100k+ on each game. That's a good sign. Trouble is that I haven't broken 200k yet. I believe this is just the next barrier. Then we'll start aiming for 300k. What's weird is that these plateaus are never easy to predict. The game's difficulty advances pretty evenly, but it is relentless. Combine that additive difficulty with the randomness inherent in this game and it's just brutal.

Stargate is another story entirely. Today I was able to top 180k, which in my opinion is really within striking distance of the record.

This was made possible by having a good couple of starting waves, where I racked up all the pickup points I could on wave 1 and 2, and then warping from 3 to 6, 6 to 9, and 9 to 12. That left me in pretty good shape to do some good. I made it through a few waves there before I had to start using Smartbombs and Inviso. I fricking hate Firebombers! However, there is one trick I've been using that relates to the not caring about the humans at the bottom. I just blast the FBs even if they are around the humans because I am not trying to save 100% of them all the time - I'm trying to NOT LOSE SHIPS. It's a whole new mindset. I think I'm getting my head around it.

I even tried to stay in wave one just picking off Baiters and Phreds, etc. as they tried to rush me. That lasted for about 1000 points. There may be something about trying that later as I start trying to squeeze every point out of this machine.

More later!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Strategy Changes?

So, I have been trying all sorts of ways to improve my score just in case my brute force go as fast as I can strategy isn't going to bear fruit at the higher levels of the game.

5 ships and 5 smart bombs is not a lot to start with when you are trying for 550k. Right now, I can break 100k with regularity, but that's not nearly enough.

The way things are breaking down are distinctly divided into two speeds: waves 1-4, and everything else. At wave 5, it seems that the Landers crank up their desire to eat humans. This is just the way the game seems to play. So I'd say there's the "short game" and the "long game."

The short game (waves 1-4) breaks down into trying to make as many points as possible off of catching and landing humans, and making a lot of points to start off with. By wave 4, you have 4 Pods starting at beginning of the wave, so you'll have a bunch of Swarmers to deal with once you pop those open.

The long game (waves 5+) consists of trying to beat the crap out of everything without smart bombs. End of story.

My regular technique, when playing with extra men every 10k (the default of the machine), is to use at least one smart bomb every wave and trying to save as many humans as possible. The key to racking up a ton of points is keeping 10 humans alive to the end of a wave (that's 5000 points) and then smart bombing the pods (1000 points per pod, plus the points for the ~1-6 swarmers inside, which weigh in at 150 points each). This covers the 10k needed for a smart bomb, wave after wave and even with a little irregularity, the remains of a wave can make up the difference. All you have to do is use 1-3 ships a wave and you're essentially playing forever. That's easy to say when you've played a ton, but once you have the rhythm and motion down, that's the way it goes, score-wise.

So... This technique breaks down heavily when you don't get to rely on smart bombs and you can't expect to lose a ship or two each wave.

There are many ways to approach play, but all of them have one common result... No matter what you do, the game knows you're reaching the end of the wave and it starts throwing Baiters at you to 'hurry you up.' Those little sumanumbatches are just deadly and they get in the way of taking your time at the end of the wave. Plus they are frustratingly chaotic. I'm still trying to work out all their moves to this day. Maybe someone can enlighten me to the surefire way to deal with 'em.

The approach I am trying now is something I abhor: shooting all the humans so the landers can't make mutants out of them. This is the first time since I have started playing that this was something I'd try. So I'm giving it a week or two to get used to it on the off chance it has some positive effect on my play. I'm not sure that it's really making any improvements besides making me hate the fact that those are my men I'm killing! And at the end of the wave, there's only one little guy there. He's SO lonely!

I can't help but mention that the 5k I should be receiving for keeping them all alive isn't getting added to my score.

Once I go through this style of play, I think I'm going to try a happy medium, where I just let some of the landers get away with mutating. It's a bitch trying to stop them all, but when you're talking about 500 points for a catch and 500 for a safe return to land AND the bonus points at the end of a wave (not to mention that those men are with you for 5 waves), you are talking about a lot of points that you're essentially throwing away in exchange for some sense of security.

The thought I have had through all of this is that I'm setting every type of difficulty in front of myself so that it will all add up to a damn good game when the time comes.

When I started out learning Defender, there were just score plateaus that you hit and then you would burst to the next one and get stuck there for a while. I think there was some type of strategy / reflexes / thought process that you had to go through for a while before you broke through it. I remember this specifically because Sagness kept track of it and gave me that roll of quarters each time I hit the new plateau. Sometimes it took weeks or even months, but it was always achievable. Once we got to a million, we had arrived and the rest was just tweaks.

We'll see how things go for the rest of the month. I'll keep updating here and I'll keep updating the pics on Facebook. If you're enjoying what you're reading, leave me a note. I read 'em!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

My Current Scores versus Current World Records

The Defender's controls started working a bit tonight, so I got in a few games.

I suppose when I best my own scores I should post 'em here. Maybe that'll make it more interesting? Here are today's top scores:

Defender 142,200 points
Stargate 164,525 points

If these had been refereed, taped, etc., and accepted, they would be:
- 8th in the world on Defender (543,950 is #1)
- 4th in the world on Stargate (284,975 is #1)

Going back and forth on each machine, I notice that Defender has a higher rate of (laser?) fire than Stargate. With no Firebombers, I think that once I get my groove back, Defender will be much easier than Stargate.

Playing Stargate without Smart Bombs and Inviso

Thought I'd also add one new thing - my current high score on Stargate without using Smartbombs / Inviso is 74575.

I have been trying to post pics up on Facebook for a while now. I took 'em on my phone but I didn't like the way they looked so I wanted to take 'em into Picasa to adjust them and my PC locked up. I'm installing the newest version to see if that helps. Ah, the trials and tribulations of trying to share everything here for those that may be interested. Okay the 'newest' version locked up as well. Maybe it's something else - I tent to run like a million things at once. Time for Windows 7.

When you see the pictures, the scores that are marked AAA are ones that I played with no Smart Bombs or Inviso. I thought I'd make a distinction for ease of visual sorting. :)

Pics without visual editing (I gave up for now) are available at:


Minor Setback...

On New Year's Eve, the Defender's controls stopped working. Very frustrating. I am almost certain it's the connector from the controls into the board, but there's no way I'm touching it. I'm putting in a call today to S&B Amusements as they guaranteed their work for 90 days, top to bottom on the machine, so I'm not worried about getting it fixed - I'm just anxious to get it back running!

Stargate has now been the focus of my play since then. I've gotten up to 127k on it, but I'm getting stymied by fricking Firebombers. My regular style of play is to use Smart Bombs and Inviso to take 'em out, but there's just no way to save enough of it to make a serious impact on a world record run.

Today I decided that I needed to play without Inviso or Smart Bombs because that's what's going to happen once I get up to the higher levels to make the record happen. My new style of play is to just waste them all as the first wave starts. No crutches!

Other interesting facts I've noticed while playing Stargate for this record:
- When I warp from Wave 1 to 4, if I have caught all the humans and carry them through the Stargate for the warp and only leave a firebomber behind, I can get around 37k points.
- I average 100k when I warp all the way to the Firebomber Showdown.
- Firebombers SUCK.

I am having a lot of problems with the Firebomber Showdown, particularly when I don't have or use Smart Bombs / Inviso. I know I could just finish wave 7 and warp from wave 8 past the FBSD, but I want to get all the practice I can in shooting those dogs down. If I come up with some sort of strategy that works well, I'll let you know.

Interesting Stargate Trick - if the last thing alive in the wave is a Lander, and they are doing a pickup of a human, you can shoot the Lander, you will notice that the wave does not end. It allows you to catch the human. If you catch the human right at ground level, you get 2k and a cool visual prize!

More when there's an update. Oh yeah - my high score right now on Stargate is 127075. New pictures will be loaded up to my Facebook account soon.

Rock on!