In the wake of damning information provided by a former Twin Galaxies Referee, a formal decision has been made in the Todd Rogers Dragster dispute which has resulted in his total removal and banning from Twin Galaxies Scoreboards.
On August 11, 2017, Twin Galaxies member Dick Moreland introduced a dispute of Todd Rogers Atari 2600 Dragster score based on the TAS model built, fine-tuned, and submitted to TASVideos by Omnigamer on May 21, 2017. Twin Galaxies Editorial took part in its own investigation of the dispute, discovering in an interview with Dragster designer David Crane that, although there was high faith in Rogers’ record from the creator of the game himself, he had no evidence or proof of it. In addition, it was discovered that evidence for video game records such as Rogers’ that were submitted to Activision were likely destroyed. “As far as I know,” Crane stated, “none of those were saved for much more than a few weeks - certainly not 35 years. Photographic evidence definitely existed at one time, but it has most certainly been lost for decades.”
Now, the Twin Galaxies Adjudication and Administration team has concluded its lengthy investigation of the Todd Rogers dispute and reached a decision. According to their official statement, not only will Rogers’ Dragster score be stricken from the Twin Galaxies database, but all of his scores will be removed and Rogers will be banned from further participation in the Twin Galaxies Scoreboards.
(Editors’ Note: Twin Galaxies Editorial and the Adjudication Team are completely separate entities. Although the Editorial Team investigated on their own, the decision lies entirely on the Adjudication Team and is not influenced by Editorial.)
Twin Galaxies Adjudication released its official decision at 8:30AM EST today, January 29, 2018. The decision followed shortly another statement contributed by MAME specialist and former Twin Galaxies Senior Referee Robert T Mruczek. Mruczek holds several video game records himself in various MAME games and came under scrutiny himself in the past, but repeatedly proved his scores not only possible, but beatable by the community around him in various instances.
In A Former Twin Galaxies Ref’s Own Words
In his statements, Mruczek confessed that while he holds Rogers in incredibly high regard and did believe in many of Rogers’ records, the insider knowledge Mruczek had of being a Referee for Twin Galaxies from 2001 to 2006 and recent “empirical evidence” shook that belief. It led to a point where Mruczek felt it necessary to go public with his information and viewpoints, even at the cost of a more than twenty year friendship with a Rogers, whom Mruczek refers to as the “brother [he] never had”.
While Mruczek never directly fact-checks Rogers’ Dragster record, his statement does shed light upon numerous other scores, some of which managed to survive in the Twin Galaxies database until recently. Mruczek describes Rogers’ Kaboom! Game 1A score as easily the most implausible among all of them.
“In this challenge, Todd claimed a score of 960,001 points which is beyond insane,” Mruczek explains. “There are multiple 1M point players out there - I am one of them - but that is at difficulty ‘B’. Todd claimed [this score in Game] ‘A’ where the paddle width is maybe half to as little as a third of the standard paddle width. The problem with the score, in addition to how high it is, is the logistics of getting this specific score.”
Mruczek goes on to extensively describe several scenarios to attain the score, all of which end with consistently doing very poorly at the game “after 5 hours of stellar gameplay”. Despite this, Mruczek gave Rogers the benefit of the doubt, asking him to provide just a brief clip of video proof that Rogers accomplished the Kaboom score he provided.
“I sent Todd a Senior Referee-to-Senior Referee email discussing my need to see proof or about 6-8 scores and I promised - swore, actually - that I would give my 100% support and full confidence in all of his scores in the Twin Galaxies database if... if... he presented me with proof of the [records].”
Mruczek continued to ask. Dick Moreland may have opened the dispute only a few months back, but Mruczek, as a Twin Galaxies referee, was allegedly pressing Rogers on the matter for a much longer time.
“After multiple requests spanning several years, my request for proof was rebuffed at every turn. The reason cited was always the same...that the tapes were buried amidst hundreds of tapes and he had to find them, then make copies, and just did not have the time.”
Rogers never delivered proof to this day. Of particular note, Mruczek went on to describe his frustrations associated with Rogers’ Atari 2600 Superman score, on which he himself had done his own extensive research.
“Todd has a claim of 47 seconds… I calculated years back, from start to finish, that 45 seconds would be the absolute pinnacle of achievement on the title, keeping in mind that the outcome is random, but if certain key elements were met in an optimal layout then conceivably 45 seconds was possible. Bottom line is Todd claimed 47, just 2 seconds slower. [By] cheating, I was able to do 58 seconds, but that was still when I did not know [a] shortcut… which would have shaved off nearly 10 seconds, so cheating it is do-able to get 47-49 seconds. Todd claimed 47... and without cheating.”
This weighed heavy among the many records for which Mruczek asked for proof and Rogers never provided.
The Final Decision…
Based on the information provided by Mruczek regarding his time as a Twin Galaxies Referee, his personal relationship with Todd Rogers, and his various personal research into many of the scores provided by Rogers, it could be concluded that this didn’t just strengthen the case studies provided by analytical voices like Omnigamer and Ben Heck. It also brought the same level of legitimate concern to an alarming many of Rogers’ other scores. This reasoning likely led to the decision provided by Twin Galaxies Adjudication to remove all of Rogers’ scores from the Twin Galaxies database, instead of just the Dragster score.
It’s worth noting that the Dispute System in place at Twin Galaxies is fairly young, only having been released around halfway into 2017, but this stands easily as the highest profile result of it thus far, having officially put an end to what was literally considered by sources like Activision and Guinness World Records to be the longest record kept in video game history at just under 35 years as of this writing. Again, Twin Galaxies user Dick Moreland introduced the initial dispute in August of 2017, which garnered response, debate, evidence, and valid input from all corners of video game communities and even garnered responses from Omnigamer, who created the model on which the dispute was raised, and Todd Rogers himself, who was called on to prove himself.
Though Twin Galaxies Admin admitted to some level that the investigation could have been “handled better”, its statement also stressed the importance of thoroughness in the matter and even extended thanks directly to Omnigamer, the Speed Run community, and others who ultimately aided in the final decision. Twin Galaxies' Jace Hall has expressed to Editorial in the past that "if it's valid, it's valid... if it's invalid, we need to make sure to remove it." This sentiment is echoed in the final decision on Todd Rogers.
“Twin Galaxies [Adjudication], as part of a comprehensive process and in its position of authority must ensure due diligence,” the statement explains. “Our public documentation of our processes and conclusions are intended to satisfy scrutiny for the long term… Thanks again to all who contributed time, effort and expertise to this case. This dispute is accepted.”
In addition to the records being stricken at Twin Galaxies, Twin Galaxies Admin have already reached out to Guinness World Records about the ordeal. This is likely to redact the World Record of 5.51 in Dragster, but also Rogers’ “World’s Longest Standing Video Game Record”, which, at time of publishing, sits at 34 years and 215 days. Any other records that Todd Rogers has under Twin Galaxies that he has earned records for are likely to also be removed from Guinness in time.
With this, easily the highest profile of disputes in the Twin Galaxies system settled, all players who had submitted their 5.57-second runs in Dragster to Twin Galaxies through tightened acceptable means have now become the circle of first-place champions in the game. An often-questioned legacy has come to an end. It wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last, but it falls to Twin Galaxies Admin to continue to bring thorough scrutiny to all questionable scores in its long-running database while continuing to boost legitimate players and their achievements. The conclusion of the Todd Rogers dispute may shine considerable light on things to come in the current era of Twin Galaxies Adjudication.