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Thread: Donkey Kong Plateau Help

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    Donkey Kong Plateau Help

    Alright so I'm looking for advice to what I should do for DK in terms of progression:

    Basically I think I'm "ok" enough at pressing to where I should be able to get 950k + if I can actually survive a full game, that being the big "if". As of right now my PB is only ~225k

    Some of my PB stats:

    1-1: 11.6k
    1-2: 21.9k
    Level 2 46.1k

    I feel as though I should be improving my score, but I'm not ( probably trying to press boards too much).

    To all you DK masters out there: Should I just focus on playing through the game more, maybe just grabbing top hammer so my scores will improve to give me more confidence? Or just keep plugging away with pressing so when I do actually get a game going i'll end up with 950k+

    Cheers.
    Craig Rout Gallant

    Current verified TG WRs: 58

    My Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/CraigARG
    MAME World Records channel: http://www.youtube.com/MAMEWorldRecords

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    Re: Donkey Kong Plateau Help

    I am no DK master by any stretch as my best is around 500k but what I did on DK Jr is get to the ks first and then after that work on all my point pressing. Seemed to help me.
    Currently Playing: Front Page Sports baseball '98 (PC) (with custom built 2017 rosters)

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    Re: Donkey Kong Plateau Help

    Hey Craig, good to see you're looking to put up some good scores on the game.

    If you're getting 225k while point pressing, that's a good start.

    As for where to go from there, it's probably a personal preference more than anything else and it also will have to do with what your goals are. For most players, reaching the kill screen is their main goal as that is a very significant and noteworthy accomplishment in classic gaming. Obviously, if that is the main goal then point pressing is unnecessary. But if you are serious about getting scores over 950k then at some point you'll have to finish a game with some amount of point pressing involved.

    My personal opinion, which is different from most people, is to just begin point pressing now and keep playing the game that way so that when you finally complete a full game your score will be high. This takes some perseverence though and of course if you quit your quest before you get there your final PB will likely be lower than it would have been with the conservative progression approach. I found that point pressing from the early stages of your progression really helps your overall game and reinforces the aggressive attitude that you'll need and there are less bad habits to overcome later. I believe that it's difficult to learn to play the game conservatively, have success, and then try to adjust your game from that point to become more aggressive.

    Now, the thing to remember is that when it comes to point pressing, there are several different degrees of pressing. Meaning that with different strategies and techniques you can add more and more calculated risk in order to create opportunities for greater reward. As your skills improve, it should be acceptable to take on more risk because with your improved skill the chances of making it to the end of the game should remain about the same.

    As for your question about progression, I would recommend trying to follow a strategy that should yield 950,000 points first, then try to move up to 1,000,000 and keep increasing your goal by 50,000 points at a time, which will require significant strategy adjustments each time. Make sure that you follow a pace chart so that you know if your strategy is yielding enough points to hit your goal with a full game. Easy benchmarks to remember are:

    950,000 = 100,000 + 50,000 / level
    1,000,000 = 107,500 + 52,500 / level
    1,050,000 = 115,000 + 55,000 / level
    1,100,000 = 122,500 + 57,500 / level
    etc.

    You may want to start out by "skipping" the first four levels worth of barrel stages before beginning your point pressing so that your games in the beginning have a chance to last a bit longer and so that you begin to get a feel for pressing Level 5.

    For 950,000 points pretty much all that you should have to do is to take the bottom hammer on Level 5+. Therefore, try these strategies:

    ... On the first four levels, skip the bottom hammer. Consider skipping the top hammer also -- the main point here is survival and getting to Level 5. On Level 5+, wait around by the bottom hammer just long enough to let a few barrels get onto the screen. If the fireball gets anywhere NEAR the right side ladder or begins to climb the middle ladder, immediately grab the hammer and priority #1 is to smash the fireball. Get to the left side and steer the barrels downhill -- you're looking for 6 - 8 smashes here and a high degree of safety. Do a lot of steering of barrels away from the action, especially when climbing from the 4th to the 5th platform -- really go out of your way to open up a huge hole before climbing up and getting the top hammer. All other screen types are pure survival: Skip all prizes on elevators, take the free pass on the pie factory or finish extremely conservatively, staying FAR away from the fireballs at all times, try not to get screwed on the rivets.

    To get to the next level after that, you need to add certain things into your game: Work on improving bottom hammer efficiency, work on top hammer efficiency. Learn basic grouping techniques (but don't wait for the fireballs to come up too high), get 2 out of 3 prizes on the elevators, get more aggressive about point pressing the pie factory. Keep adding little things like this until it looks like you are maintaining the pace for your new goal and then keep playing with this added risk until you get a full game.

    Good luck on your quest. Keep us posted on your progress.

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    Re: Donkey Kong Plateau Help

    Quote Originally Posted by up2ng
    My personal opinion, which is different from most people, is to just begin point pressing now and keep playing the game that way so that when you finally complete a full game your score will be high. This takes some perseverence though and of course if you quit your quest before you get there your final PB will likely be lower than it would have been with the conservative progression approach. I found that point pressing from the early stages of your progression really helps your overall game and reinforces the aggressive attitude that you'll need and there are less bad habits to overcome later. I believe that it's difficult to learn to play the game conservatively, have success, and then try to adjust your game from that point to become more aggressive.
    I just want to echo Dean's idea here. This was recommended to me by Lmdave as well, with the reasoning being if you just "race to the killscreen," then that means you'll need to improve your endgame after the fact. You're essentially training your muscle memory to do one thing, that later you'll need to change if you want to aim for a World Record.

    What's interesting is that once I started seriously points pressing and recording my games on the arcade machine, that I sometimes "zone out" and accidentally grab the bottom hammer even if I didn't intend to. What I mean by this is that maybe I'm on my last man, and I'm trying to play more conservatively, but I forget to skip it. With this in mind, if you were to train yourself to "race to the killscreen" without points pressing strategies, the same might happen where you forget to points press because you're just following your muscle memory and doing what you're used to.

    ...

    There are many times where I've felt like I probably could have killscreened DK by now, if I would only quit points pressing and focus instead on completing the level safely. I feel, though, that if I'm going to do something I want to do it right -- "Go the distance," so to speak. So if I killscreen, I'd like it to be a 900k+ game. When I play, I tend to start at a 1.05M pace, which gives me some breathing room for mistakes, and more conservative play towards the endgame if I lose men early.

    All this considered, you're clearly playing really well and aggressively and I wish you much luck in your DK games.

    Cheers,

    -Shaun

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    Re: Donkey Kong Plateau Help

    I've always thought the same as Dean said.

    There are only maybe a handful of games I am really good at, but I almost have a manuscript of notes, on specific things to do, or look out for. Ideally, I wouldn't want to finally get to the goal, and then have to start all over and reinvent the wheel.

    Also, I really don't believe in Plateaus, only "break throughs". Maybe it's been alot of games since you've beaten your best score, but your always an X number away from finally breaking through a tough stretch.

    Maybe you've just developed bad habits, or need to discover new tricks to get over the hump.

    My very first high score (not yet official), I think it took 20 tries to beat the final level. To beat it a second time, it took an additional 50+tries, so it seemed that I got worse somehow through all that torment, LOL.

    A few months later, another website ran a contest on the same game, and I no deathed the game after just a handful of tries, and beat the TG record.

    I remember thinking back before I had even finished the game, looking up the high score here, and thinking how freaking incredible it was, and how I would never be that good of a gamer.
    Well, after doin just that kind of haphazerdly that's what got me hooked and how I ended up joining TG.

    Not trying to brag, just an illustration that we all really don't know what we are truly capable of.

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    Re: Donkey Kong Plateau Help

    So I have a somewhat different opinion from Dean and Shawn. I would recommend that if you want to improve as fast as possible you should stop doing any kind of point pressing. There are a few reasons for this.

    Firstly, getting good at donkey kong requires a mastery of all 4 screen types. The number of barrel screens is much higher than the number of each of the other screen types (especially at L5 and beyond), so you are already getting more practice on barrels than any other screen. Also, at your stage, your skill in donkey kong will be determined by your skill at your weakest screen. So point pressing barrels may increase your barrel skills but it is counterproductive since point pressing causes you to spend even more time on barrels, which is already the screen you are getting the most practice at, and less time on other screens, and you will be dying more on barrels and less on other screens which will cause you to improve more slowly on the other screens (one of which will most likely be your weakest screen) and so you're overall progress will be slower. Usually when you first start playing donkey it is the elevators that cause people problems so they should be spending as much time as possible on elevators and not spending more time on barrels by point pressing. Later once elevators are mastered it's usually rivets and pie factory that cause the most problems so once again you will want to spend as much time as possible on those screens and not spend extra time on barrels.

    The second reason is that in general I think the best way to learn the barrel screen is to increase your level of point pressing only once you are comfortable with the current level that you are at. Most likely you are not yet fully comfortable playing the barrel screen without any kind of point pressing so that is the way that you should still be playing. As long as you are still not totally comfortable and are still dying while playing without point pressing, you are still learning. As soon as you feel comfortable and deaths are becoming rare it indicates that there is not much more for you to learn by playing with your current style and you may want to consider stepping it up to the next level, even if you have not yet reached the end while playing with your current style. Increasing the level of point pressing prematurely will increase the level of discomfort and will increase the number of deaths but that doesn't necessary mean that you will learn faster, in fact it can cause you to learn more slowly. Trying to force yourself to learn the vast set of skills required for effective point pressing before you have learned critical foundational skills can overwhelm you and cause slower progress. This could be part of the reason for your plateau. It's true that when you look at someone who is just races to the top of barrels and compare it to someone who is doing maximum barrel point pressing the two playing styles have very little in common, however, when you are playing by just running to the top without point pressing you are learning basic skills, such as ability to time jumps, ability to steer barrels, learning when it's safe to climb a ladder, ability to focus on multiple things happening on the screen at once, getting in the habit of avoiding the many stupid ways you can die, etc, that ultimately become the foundation for future point pressing on barrels. You can't learn to play the piano by starting with flight of the bumblebee or learn to juggle by starting with 7 balls. You have to start with the basics and work your way up.

    The third reason is that it's probably more enjoyable to just race to the top of barrels and try to get as far in the game as possible rather than bashing your head against a wall trying to point press the barrel screen before you're ready for it.

    If you are going to do any point pressing definitely do not point press until L5, not even just to taunt DK on rivets. Doing so is just a waste of your time since you need to be gaining as much experience and practice as possible on L5 level difficulties. Taunting DK is particularly useless since it requires no skill and will only artificially raise your score without the accompanying skill that normally comes with higher scores. Consider even putting a savestate at the start of L5 and playing games from there for practice.

    Good luck!

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    Re: Donkey Kong Plateau Help

    Thanks for the responses guys.

    Well I decided to lay back a bit on the pressing and was just grabbing top hammer: Had a few really stupid deaths, but no spring or pie deaths!

    Old PB: 225k
    New PB: 338k

    :D
    Craig Rout Gallant

    Current verified TG WRs: 58

    My Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/CraigARG
    MAME World Records channel: http://www.youtube.com/MAMEWorldRecords

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    Re: Donkey Kong Plateau Help

    I had meant to mention a couple of more things in my last post that Shaun and Jeff have just covered.

    First, there is the idea of being aggressive at the beginning of your game and then changing gears and becoming more conservative as you try to make it to the end. This can be a very effective point pressing strategy in those 950k - 1M range scoring goals. When I have done this in the past, I would typically choose a different strategy for each of my 4 men. So, "skip" levels 1 - 4 and try to get to L5 on the first man. Then, start into your most aggressive point pressing strategy that you are at least somewhat familiar with. This will allow you to improve your overall skills quickly and will give you the experience of "pushing the envelope" just beyond your comfort zone and to do a little experimenting during a real live game so that you get familiar with taking risks under pressure. However, once you lose your first man, take it back a notch and play more safely. On your 3rd and 4th men play even more safely so that your games last longer and you get more experience on all screen types and also you get the experience of dealing with the physical and mental fatigue that can become a major obstacle on longer games. This can also put you well ahead of your pace on your pace chart, enabling you to subconsciously relax and get more conservative towards the end of the game if you have a potential kill screen game going.

    A quick example of this might be:
    1st man: Barrels -- Both hammers, Some grouping; Pie Factory -- always press with the bottom hammer; Elevator -- get 2 prizes; Rivets -- Try for a lot of smashes

    2nd man: Barrels -- Both hammers, no grouping; Pie Factory -- Free Pass or bottom hammer; Elevator -- get 2 prizes; Rivets -- Normal play

    3rd man: Barrels -- Top hammer only; Pie Factory -- Free Pass or conservative survival; Elevator -- skip all prizes; Rivets -- Conservative Survival

    4th man: Barrels -- Skip all hammers; Pie Factory -- Wide Open Free Pass or conservative survival; Elevator -- skip all prizes; Rivets -- Conservative Survival

    The other concept that I would expand on is the use of save-states to practice. This is a phenominal tool that can greatly speed up your progression. Spending a couple of hours on a save state for elevators, for example, will vastly improve your play on that screen. I would recommend creating many save states, including, at minimum:

    L5 barrels
    L5 pie factory
    L5 elevators
    L5 rivets
    L4 pie factory
    L3 pie factory
    L4 barrels
    L3 barrels
    L2 barrels

    Make sure you actually use these save states frequently -- spend a half-hour on a single one and do some experimenting. Develop various strategies for each screen type. This cannot be emphasized enough -- this is how you will improve your game the fastest. I wish I had done more of this while I was improving my game.

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