Post Verdict Dispute Discussion: Jeremy Young - Arcade - Donkey Kong - Points [Hammer Allowed] - Player: Billy L Mitchell - Score: 1,062,800

  1. 10-05-2019, 05:24 AM
    In fact here's one post from that forum where a poster says he called Billy and Walter to discuss an .INP file in 1999, the post is about Track n Field but it shows they were well aware of MAME early on: http://www.marpirc.net/viewtopic.php...270c17693#p620
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  2. 10-05-2019, 06:31 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by NickWalker View Post
    Just my 2 cents as someone who has used emulators for a couple of decades -- I think Billy must have had help from someone who knows a thing or two about MAME. In the dispute thread it was pointed out that any CS student could have commented out the lines in the source code and I agree with that, but that is only part of the story.

    Tool-assisted superplays were in their infancy in 2004, I'm not even aware of any arcade runs from that time, the few videos that existed back then were all for the NES using an emulator called Famtasia. You'd have to be totally brazen to even attempt a TAS with the early versions of MAME, considering 1) MAME used samples for the audio up until version 0.116 in 2007 so that would be a giveaway; 2) the timing was slightly off, which would also be obvious to competitive players; and 3) MAME did not support re-recording until 2010.

    MAME did have save states early on but they were not perfect, if you tried to string together a series of states into one input file there was always the chance it would desync, you could edit the .INP in a hex editor but again that's not something I'd expect Billy to be able to do on his own. If I were trying to make a high score run using the tools from back then I'd probably opt for splicing the video segments together digitally rather than trying to build the perfect .INP.

    At any rate I'm wondering if Billy or one of his pals ever reached out to anyone on the MAME development team (or maybe the MAME Action Replay Page?) to ask how to make MAME look more like a legitimate arcade performance. For example the site forums.marpirc.net has posts on recording MAME input files dating back to 2002, from the name I'd presume there was also an IRC channel back then. I'd be very curious if any of the people involved in recording DK ever got an e-mail or message back then because I just can't see Billy or any of the people in his circle figuring out on their own that they needed to set the refresh rate to 60.6 or underclock the CPU.
    I suspect there's a broad consensus that Mitchell had help, including cooperative techs and referees, and I don't think it would be controversial to hypothesize that this kind of help would extend to MAME. Whether people within his circle or outside his circle helped with MAME, it's hard to speculate since we don't know the full scope of people that he's come in contact with, and whether any of the obvious actors have familiarity with optimizing MAME set-ups. If you're interested in seeking if the forums.marpirc.net might offer clues, I'd recommend consulting the Donkey Kong million point timeline - you could at least initially target your search around key dates around his scores, or even the earliest likely date since it's feasible that it was set up once and configured the same way at least until the Boomer score.

    http://donkeykongblog.blogspot.com/2...d-history.html

    EDIT: just saw your post, great research!

    On a related note, I wanted to see if @RTM or others recall the second arcade tournament at Funspot in 2000 and the account contained in the following magazine

    Tips & Tricks magazine (August 2000) no. 66

    "Fun spot 2000 Classic Video Game Championship

    The second annual Funspot Classic Video Games Championship was once again the site where players could show-case their skills and set new world records in 100 different classic video and pinball titles. The tournament took place June 1 to 4 in Weirs Beach, New Hampshire. For the first time in history, three Ms. Pac- Man players scored over 800,000 within minutes on three separate machines: Rick Fothergill of Canada, Chris Ayra (the current Ms. Pac-Man World Record holder from Miami) and relative unknown Darren Harris from Long Island. Harris surprised everyone by picking up the Ms. Pac-Man Funspot tournament title. "Player of the Century" Billy Mitchell was praised by Walter Day, the head of the Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard, in an awards ceremony following the tournament. Mitchell was honored once again for becoming the first person to play a perfect game of Pac-Man and for breaking his own Donkey Kong world record of 874,200 (set back in 1982!)."

    There's a typo with the 1982 score (should be 874,300), but does anyone recall the score that Mitchell apparently achieved? It doesn't appear on the donkeykong blogspot timeline, sounds like it was overlooked. On the blogspot timeline, Tim Sczerby is credited with achieving a score of 879,200 on 17 August 2000, verified by video on 23 April 2001 by TG. It would be interesting to confirm if Mitchell presented a "new" score that just squeaked past Sczerby at the 2000 Funspot tournament, although I should point out that the tournament took place in June so it wouldn't be a "direct response" unless there was word a "new guy" was closing in on his old score . According to the blogspot timeline, Mitchell surpassed his 1982 record in 2004 at the Midwest Gaming Classic with a score of 933,900. The final caveat - I was pointed to a 2009 thread at CAGDC about this question, where PL suggested that the report about the new high score didn't occur at Funspot, that the reporting might have been wrong, but "perhaps a video tape was brought to the tourney." (tongue in cheek). No one who was there chimed in to clarify, I'm hoping someone might remember here.
    Last edited by The Evener; 10-05-2019 at 08:49 AM.
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  3. 10-05-2019, 08:16 AM
    Turns out I was wrong, concerns over cheating with MAME to create fake scores go back further than I'd thought. A few posts:

    October 30 1999, discussion of a closed-source MAME fork to discourage INP file cheating:
    "I now have a preliminary version of MAME 35 Final, where the
    major flaw I referred to is now impossible to do. The file format
    of the INP file has been alterred, the INP files created with
    this version will only playback with this version."

    "I'd like to see Ben Jos play this version for Donkey Kong, and
    German to play Frogger also, only to show the nay-sayers that
    their games were for real. I'd also like to see Phil Lamat play
    League Bowling and get a perfect game with this version...
    only to confirm their great skills are for real."
    http://www.marpirc.net/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=2663&p=2663&sid=a06db915a7253 0116fd4a7da5b6a1f8d#p2663

    June 8, 2000, another mention of Billy (playing at Funspot):
    "Donkey Kong Bill Mitchell 655,200"
    http://www.marpirc.net/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=4537&p=4537&sid=a06db915a7253 0116fd4a7da5b6a1f8d#p4537

    March 10, 2003, discussion of using AlphaMAME to prevent cheating:
    "The vote is here because everyone should have a say in how it is to be done. For now, we can't think of a precise way to award more bonus leaderboard points to different mame versions, because the math just gets too complicated. But it is possible (and most importantly easy for zwaxy) to give alphamame recordings a stronger stature and to award a player for using a mame that is impossible to cheat with the currently known cheating methods (slowdowns, rerecording, pausing)."
    http://forums.marpirc.net/viewtopic....blocking%20mac

    October 10, 2003, how to handle cheaters:
    From p. 3:
    "The problem for cheating at a level where you are fudging an inp file is where MAME is an open source project, any kind of utility could be written to fake this or that in an inp....including cutting/splicing segments together etc. from separate inps

    Anyone that seriously wants to cheat that badly to take steps that tedious and extreme just to cheat will find a way to do it regardless what you do to MAME to try and make it secure.

    What happened to alphamame is a perfect example of this.

    In most cases if MARP just had a requirement that for anyone where cheating has been proven, they will have all of the regular mame recordings deleted. Only their alphamame and wolfmame recordings will remain with a requirement for that player to always use alphamame or wolfmame for future submissions."
    This thread also has several mentions of players changing the speed to cheat, they did it to slow the game down to make it easier to play but it shows underclocking was already a common practice.
    http://www.marpirc.net/viewtopic.php...d4a7da5b6a1f8d

    March 1, 2004, a DK thread that mentions Billy:
    "I think BJW did not stay up "maximizing" points jumping over barrels, as I saw Billy M do."
    http://www.marpirc.net/viewtopic.php...d4a7da5b6a1f8d

    March 5, 2004, a thread on editing INP files to fix desyncs:
    http://www.marpirc.net/viewtopic.php...d4a7da5b6a1f8d

    September 24, 2004, a poll on what's considered cheating, includes save states:
    "The question about save states being cheating was actually raised at the Twin Galaxies panel discussion at California Extreme 2004. My answer was that I do not consider it cheating. It is simply a quicker way to learn how to play a game. It is definitely an advantage over playing a game over and over in an arcade, although games which have a rack advance dip switch (eg, Pac Man) can be learned in a similar manner as saving state."
    http://www.marpirc.net/viewtopic.php...d4a7da5b6a1f8d

    Summary: Discussion of INP file abuse for Donkey Kong goes back to 1999. Billy and Walter were contacted about MAME INP files on January 21 of that year. In 2003-2004 there were multiple discussions about cheating with MAME, including save states and re-recording. The Twin Galaxies panel at California Extreme 2004 was held on August 7-8 (http://www.caextreme.org/2004-show/index.html). By the time Billy's first million point DK run appeared, the idea of using MAME to put together a high score was already well documented and he and Walter were already familiar with the process.
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  4. 10-05-2019, 08:35 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by NickWalker View Post
    Tool-assisted superplays...
    ...also known as 'frankenscores'.
  5. 10-05-2019, 12:15 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by NickWalker View Post
    You'd have to be totally brazen to even attempt a [Tool-assisted superplay] with the early versions of MAME...

    What are the tools that would be used in this brazen attempt? I'm super interested in the mechanism by which the contested tapes were produced, so I want to understand what you're proposing as a means to accomplishing that superplay.

    3) MAME did not support re-recording until 2010.

    I'm sorry I don't recognize the term "re-recording" in the context of MAME. Is that referring to the playback of an INP file?

    Edited to add:

    https://code.google.com/archive/p/mame-rr/ says "MAME Rerecording is the rerecording version of MAME with many customized features designed to aid in recording movie input files." Is a "movie input file" the same as an INP file?
    Last edited by grinder2112; 10-05-2019 at 01:54 PM. Reason: more info
  6. 10-05-2019, 01:27 PM
    It might be of some interest for you to see what I meant by "easily edited code" in my earlier comments. Below is the routine in which some code can be commented out, nixing some file access messages. Those messages would otherwise overlap gameplay needed to be captured for a fraudulent tape.

    Name:  do_Loadsave.png
Views: 220
Size:  22.3 KB

    You can quickly find this routine in usrintrf.c by searching "Save to position" or "Load from position"--the text from the targeted messages. The computer takes a lot more time to compile mame.exe for the first time than it takes to setup the compiler environment and type MAKE into a command line.
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  7. 10-05-2019, 02:03 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by grinder2112 View Post
    I'm sorry I don't recognize the term "re-recording" in the context of MAME. Is that referring to the playback of an INP file?
    http://tasvideos.org/Glossary.html#ReRecordReRecording

    Basically, you can be recording an input file with no breaks, which is usually easy enough to program and having it working without issues Re-recording is when you are able to load a movie save state during the progress to re-record the movie from that point. This could often be an issue with the movie file not syncing afterwards, if all the emulator and in-game values aren't saved properly in the save state you made.

    Many emulators could have a feature to record input files, but this alone isn't useful when it comes to TASing, as it needs the re-recording feature to work properly. Quite often, for any casual gamers/runners, this feature isn't neccesary, and it can be a real struggle to get it working properly, so it's often just ignored.

    People at TASVideos made their own re-recording version of MAME: http://tasvideos.org/EmulatorResources/Mamerr.html Both this and the re-recording version of FinalBurn Alpha are being used to create Arcade TASes for the site.

    Just some random stuff...
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  8. 10-05-2019, 03:08 PM
    I knew that people were doing TASs using MAME-rr so that's where the 2010 date came from, but I was wrong on that because as the MARP forum shows concerns over re-recording go back much earlier. If you're able to save and load save states to build one .INP file then you don't need to edit anything in the MAME source because it won't display messages during playback.

    I had never even seen the MARP forum until today, I just found it while Googling WolfMAME. Since people from there were in contact with Billy (one mentions a 2 hour phone call on .INP files) he must have been aware it was possible to put together a MAME run using save states.

    So far I have not seen anything on setting the refresh rate to 60.6, I am wondering if I'll find something on that if I dig through the MAME changelog or the forums on mamedev.org. Even if that wasn't well documented at the time, anyone who had both a copy of MAME and a real arcade machine could put both side by side and realize MAME is running slightly faster, and the practice of underclocking the games via the CPU settings was already common as mentioned in the posts.

    If you were trying to pass off a MAME run as direct feed I think it makes sense to actually create a direct feed to see if it's feasible, plus then you'd see that it's easier to capture the video than the audio, which is just too convenient because now you have an excuse to leave out another piece of evidence.

    So you add it up, you have the knowledge of how to create an INP file with save states, you figured out to underclock the CPU to match the timing, you have the perfect excuse not to include audio, all that's left is to record to a few generations of VHS tapes to add some good old fashioned analog distortion, even if there's an anomaly you just blame it on the recording setup. It's like the perfect hoax.
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  9. 10-05-2019, 04:46 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by NickWalker View Post
    So you add it up, you have the knowledge of how to create an INP file with save states, you figured out to underclock the CPU to match the timing, you have the perfect excuse not to include audio, all that's left is to record to a few generations of VHS tapes to add some good old fashioned analog distortion, even if there's an anomaly you just blame it on the recording setup. It's like the perfect hoax.

    Looking quickly, an INP file created with MAME 0.71 appears to be mostly a snapshot of the button states, packed in bits, at a fixed sampling rate. Also understood, perhaps wrongly, is that DKONG does not seed its pseudorandom number generator. So, from a reset ram, it should always generate the same sequence.

    That's pretty interesting. I still maintain that it takes no Brainiac to cut and compile a little code, but INP stitching might have its efficiencies as well. Thanks for responding.
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  10. 10-05-2019, 05:01 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by grinder2112 View Post
    Looking quickly, an INP file created with MAME 0.71 appears to be mostly a snapshot of the button states, packed in bits, at a fixed sampling rate. Also understood, perhaps wrongly, is that DKONG does not seed its pseudorandom number generator. So, from a reset ram, it should always generate the same sequence.

    That's pretty interesting. I still maintain that it takes no Brainiac to cut and compile a little code, but INP stitching might have its efficiencies as well. Thanks for responding.
    There's no randomness when you boot up MAME, the same .INP will produce the same movie every time (provided you use the same version of MAME). That's why some of those threads had discussions on hex editing the .INPs to work with other versions e.g. MacMAME or creating utilities to convert them, but if you're not sharing the files with anyone else then it doesn't matter.

    The non-standard refresh rate of Donkey Kong is listed in Nintendo's operation manual, see the bottom of p. 17, it lists the crystal at 61.44 Hz (I don't know why I kept thinking 60.6, I guess it was in the previous thread).
    https://www.arcade-museum.com/manual...s/D/dkong1.pdf

    Here's a MAME config file from 2003 where someone is using that exact refresh rate for some games, although just looking at the command line I can't be sure if it's for Donkey Kong. Either way the idea of manually setting MAME refresh rates was already documented.
    https://sourceforge.net/p/advancemam...=200302&page=2
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