Dispute: John McAllister - Arcade - I, Robot - Points - Player: Dave Ryan - Score: 1,383,959

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  1. Dispute: John McAllister - Arcade - I, Robot - Points - Player: Dave Ryan - Score: 1,383,959

    08-18-2020, 04:59 AM
    Arcade - I, Robot - Points
    Score Track
    https://www.twingalaxies.com/scores.php?scores=3319
    Rules
    8 Toggle Switch on CPU PCB (At Location 5E)
    1-8 = ON
    8 Toggle Switch on CPU PCB (At Location 3J)
    1-8 = ON
    Note: The above Dip Switches, are not only the FACTORY DEFAULT settings, but are also the correct Twin Galaxies Tournament Settings for this title and will provide the following settings;
    Demonstration Mode: On
    Difficulty: Medium
    Minimum Game Time: 3 Lives
    Lives: 3
    Bonus Life: 20,000
    Special Rules: You may use the Warpzone on Level 1 to freely warp to any level permitted by it.
    Player Name
    Dave Ryan
    Original Adjudication
    N/A
    Verification Method
    Referee
    Verification Date
    1986-06-26
    Disputed Score
    1,383,959 (Rank 1)
    Disputed By
    redelf
    Dispute Evidence / Rationale
    I'll let the expert fill in all the details of why this score isn't possible.
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  2. 08-18-2020, 10:28 AM
    I guess that's my cue and thanks for starting this dispute John. I am still putting together some videos to show things better but the primary issues are :


    1. Bonus Timer/Space Bird Leeching:

    In Demo Mode you can infinitely leech the bonus timer at the end of mazes or use this built in feature to stay on one maze scoring points for as long as you want.

    All you have to do is press both Player 1 and 2 buttons at the same time and the bonus timer jumps to 9900 (occasionally for some reason it goes over 10k too that often results in it counting down from 9999 to zero and then back to 9800 again before it hits zero a second time). You can keep doing this at the end of any maze to set whatever score you want very easily by resetting it to 9900 before the countdown reaches zero over and over as the score keeps adding up.

    You could use this Demo Mode feature to infinitely leech the Space Birds on Level 1 for as many points as you want. Leech birds until the timer gets near zero, rest the timer to 9900 and then continue hunting birds on this easy level to set high scores well beyond what any player could do via "normal" game play.

    Demo Mode also allows you to warp to Level 79 for 780,000 points from Level 1. It's fairly easy to add enough points to that score using timer leeching/Bird Hunting to match or beat the WR of 1,383,959 points at the end of Level 79. You could do the same by ignoring the first warp coils, leeching birds/bonus timer on Level 1 and then warp to Level 79 for another 780k @ Level 2+.


    2. Accidental Bonus Timer Reset:

    Even if players were not abusing this built in feature of Demo Mode it is hard to avoid pressing player 1 and 2 at the same time when trying to dodge the "view killer" enemy that starts to appear on every maze from the second loop of 26 mazes+.

    In order to avoid being hit by view killers you have to use the player 1 and 2 buttons to change the angle you are viewing the maze at fairly often to avoid this enemy (which also spawns randomly). It's pretty easy to accidentally press them both at the same time while doing this which would reset the maze bonus timer to 9900.

    The highest the bonus timer normally goes is 8000 for the tricky Level 25 maze while the rest of the mazes are around 3000-4000. I would think doing this even once would invalidate a performance for the extra points you can easily grab this way in a fairly low scoring game.


    3. Backwards Warping:

    In both Factory Default or Demo Mode you can ignore the warp coils that appear on the Level 1 maze and save them for later use. You just have to avoid running into them on later levels then use them to warp backwards to Doodle City which is treated as Level 0. In the "special options" available in Doodle City you can then resume play again at Level 1 with the same score and number of lives you had before warping backwards. The difficulty is the same as it was when you started the game.

    When playing under Factory Default a second set of warp coils appears at the start of Level 25 that allows a jump back to Doodle City/Level 1 restart (or forward two levels). A third set appears at Level 50 allowing the same backwards warp/looping trick to level 1 (and same 2 levels forward option). These only appear when playing from Level 1 and also do not appear if you use infinite lives cheats for some reason. You won't see them if you warp directly to these levels either via Demo Mode. They also appear again if you play from level 1 to 25 allowing for infinite looping of the "easier" mazes in the first loop.

    In Demo Mode there seems to be some other factor that causes them to appear because I have seen them at least once on Level 25 but it does not happen consistently like Factory Default does for reasons I do not understand yet. Either way in Demo Mode you can at least loop back to Level 1 once if you save the warp coils for later (after building up your score via bird hunting/playing easy levels in the first loop of 26 mazes).


    4. Limited Extra Lives + Scoring Averages:

    The game stops awarding extra lives after 800,000 points (@ extras every 20k). You also cannot get more than 4 extra lives from scoring or collecting all the I,Robot letters on space waves. I have tested this out up to 2 million points using the Demo Mode timer leeching after a warp to Level 79. No extras are awarded from 820k forward for reasons still unknown.

    Average score for the first 26 mazes getting most of the 2500 point bonus timer/space wave scores is about 280,000 points. I have been able to score around that for the first two loops of 26 mazes but from the third loop forward Level 53+ that average is going to drop because of the Eye opening and closing faster with more difficult to beat maze and space bonus time goals. It's simply not possible to get those bonus scores in many instances later in the game by design (both mazes and space waves).

    Even at an average of 280k per 26 mazes the 1.3 million point+ WR game if played from Level 1 would have taken around 4.9 loops or more of the 26 mazes which is around 130 mazes.

    If they started the game from Level 1 and used the highest warp available to Level 79 for 780,000 points they would still have another 603,959 points to score which translates to about 2.1 loops at 280k average which again would likely be less by tens of thousands of points because of the higher difficulty factor. That would mean they had to clear from Level 79 up to around Level 131+ to set this score this way (more than 52 mazes at the highest level of difficulty for the game).

    They would also have to do so in either of these scenarios with only 4 extra lives in the bank and no more extras after 800k which I find pretty hard to believe considering point #5 below.


    5. Atari Anti-Marathon Measures:

    This game was clearly designed to make sure people could not marathon it. Most of the maze enemies spawn randomly like the Space Birds on Levels 2, 4 and 12 of the first loop of 26 repeating mazes. Space Birds also drop "eggs" that home in on the player on every maze they appear in from Level 27+. Those eggs do not always obey collision detection like whether they run into a raised maze wall or not so there are no safe spots to hide from these (Level 28 and 30, 54 and 56 etc in later loops). You can also run into a situation where a Space Bird keeps spawning in your way when you try to jump to the last red square at the top of the maze on Levels 30, 56, 82 etc. You end up jumping right into them as they keep spawning in your way but you are unable to shoot them.

    The Soccer Balls that home in on the player also spawn randomly on Levels 6, 10, 15, 20, 21, 22, and 24 (and in later loops of the 26 mazes of course). They have a random starting spawn point and don't always come out at the same rate. While you can use a "pattern" to clear most of the mazes you cannot always do it at the same speed/timing because of this enemy's random factor.

    Due to their random spawning/behavior the Buzz Saws on Level 12 and the Rings on Level 18 occasionally force the player to die at least once to get through these mazes. Sometimes the Buzz Saws block you at the start from jumping up to the top of the maze to clear the hardest red squares first. Then later they won't group up at the bottom of the maze to allow a clear path to get to the top last red square before time runs out. The L18 Rings will sometimes spawn in such a way that the player cannot make it to the far top of the maze to clear out those red squares there before the timer runs out (which you need to do via a long jump on the far left or right side). Or if you are able to jump up there early enough they spawn in such a way that you cannot get to the rest of the red squares that are left in time. This gets worse from the second loop of 26 mazes forward where both of these mazes have less time to clear them and the eye opens/closes faster.

    The worst RNG offender by far is the Floating Head found every 4th space wave. You have to shoot the spikes that it spits out or they loop back around and kill the player from behind. From Level 12 forward the Tetras also will loop back and kill the player if you miss them. Sooner or later whether you try to avoid shooting the head to force it to spin round, or if you are doing that as well as you can to control it somewhat, eventually the head will be spitting spikes in one direction while a Tetra goes the opposite way. You will die.

    The floating head also seems to have more than one "personality" meaning that sometimes it spits out spikes aggressively and other times it only does so occasionally. It also seems to be more or less likely to rotate on it's own and at a slower or faster rate depending on it's internal "mood" settings. To add to this it can also be more or less resistant to your shots as far as how many it takes to turn it around. Sometimes one shot to the side of its face will spin it around other times it is clearly fighting your shots and you can only hold it in the same place.

    Normally it spits spikes out for the most part when it is facing forward within a 180 degree field. But occasionally it will spit a spike or spikes out while it is facing away outside that field and while turning which throws it to the far left or right side screen while a Tetra is traveling away from the player on the opposite side.

    I've found that I die around an average of 4-5 times in a 500,000 point game due to this which is totally out of the players control as far as I can tell.


    Summary:

    I have played many games now from Level 1 almost through the end of the second loop of mazes to Level 52 (512-560k). I have also gone through the first 78 levels one at a time using Demo Mode warps to see how hard they are to beat with one life and whether you can get the 2500 point bonus for both mazes and space waves.

    With all due respect to Dave Ryan, who I understand has passed away and won't be able to defend this score, I find it hard to believe the current arcade WR of 1,383,959 points was done "legitimately". To me this means playing level to level either from Level 1 forward and or taking advantage of the last warp to Level 79 which the rules allow and then playing many more levels to set this very high score with no extra lives after 800k.

    From what I can tell it only seems possible to play up to and maybe through the third loop of the game which would be well below this WR score (Levels 53-78). I doubt anyone could make it from Level 1 much farther than into the 4th loop of 26 mazes where you would run into the no extra lives after 800k wall (Levels 79-104). Yet somehow the WR would seem to require gameplay up to or well past Level 130 whether you did that from level 1 and or warped to Level 79 then played that far (warp bonus is close to what a good scoring game would get you anyway).

    It just does not seem possible to score over 1.3 million points without using some combination of resetting the bonus timer, leeching birds, backwards warping and then jumping to Level 79 for 780,000 more points (where you could also leech the bonus timer more to top off the score to whatever you wanted it to be).

    I will be posting some videos next to show some of the techniques I have been talking about as well as to confirm you only get 4 lives/no more after 800k.

    Whether you think this score is legit or not at a minimum Twin Galaxies should strongly consider closing/archiving both the MAME and Arcade tracks that allow Demo Mode because of the infinite bonus timer reset/leeching alone.
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  3. 08-18-2020, 10:31 AM
    Here is footage of my 512k game under Factory Default settings playing from level 1-50 so you can see what the difficulty is like as well as all the RNG issues especially with the Floating Head waves. This also makes clear you cannot get more than 4 extra lives :

  4. 08-18-2020, 10:33 AM
    Here are the first 78 levels played one at a time in Demo Mode to give you a sense of what the difficulty is like from the third loop of the game forward (Levels 53-78). The 4th loop is even harder (level 79+).

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...uNP_sGVJNbLbdD
  5. 08-18-2020, 10:39 AM
    I made this video a few years ago to show how a player could easily abuse the Demo Mode bonus timer reset feature to leech Space Birds on Level 1 for 600k+. Then I leech the bonus timer at the end of Level 1 up to 700k. I play level 2 normally then use the warp coils on Level 3 to jump to Level 79 for another 780,000 points to top the arcade WR of 1.3 million points without much effort. Final score was 1,495,207 points.

  6. 08-18-2020, 11:44 AM
    In this very boring example I show how you can sit on Level 1 and keep resetting the bonus timer at the end of the maze to score over 1.4 million points without much effort:

  7. 08-18-2020, 11:53 AM
    In this example I warp to Level 79 then kill off a few lives before leeching the Bonus Timer at the end of Level 80 up past 800k to show no more extras being awarded all the way up to 1.4 million points+ :

  8. 08-30-2020, 05:27 PM
    Another barrier to playing very far in this game comes up at Level 54 which is the 2nd of the repeating 26 maze cycle (third cycle).

    The Level 2 and even Level 28 version of this maze are easier to clear because they eye opens and closes at a slower rate than it does from Level 54 forward. (There are no view killers or bird eggs on Level 2 as well). This allows the player to make several back to back big jumps across the maze much easier than you can later in the game between the eye closing and reopening again.

    But from Level 54 forward the eye opens and closes fast enough that it makes the big jumps across the maze between the far left and right pairs of squares very difficult to time right with the bird eggs homing in on you horizontally (and you can only make 2 big jumps across at a time max). If you don't make the big leap across the maze timed exactly right with the opening and closing of the eye you have to stop and wait before you make the next jump(s) while the bird eggs usually home right in on you trapped in a corner with nowhere to go.

    Even if you do time it right the random spawning birds that move faster at this point in the game often leave you no good gap to get across. You often have to choose between getting killed by a bird egg homing in on you, getting zapped by the eye to avoid the eggs or running into a bird as you try to jump across the maze.

    You can see for yourself how hard this is to clear in Demo Mode by giving Level 54 and/or 80 a try in just one life (3rd and 4th cycle of 26 mazes). See how many times you can do that consistently if and when you manage to do it in one go.

    It took me MANY attempts to record the videos below in one life and I still don't feel any kind of comfort factor about doing this consistently whatsoever let alone 4 or more times from Level 54 forward to beat the questionable 1.3 million point WR this dispute is about. I also don't think there are any other tricks or methods to make this any easier let alone consistent.

    Here is an example of the riskier method I use to get by this maze :


    Here is the slower and "safer" method I have come up with :


    I have gotten to Level 54 multiple times with 2-3 lives playing from level 1...but failed to get by this tough maze because the random spawning enemies/eye timing was totally against me. Luck with the random spawning, where and when the birds spawn and how their eggs come after you plays a huge factor well above any skill the player brings to the table. View Killers also force you to stop and change views to survive instead of going for the very narrow windows of timing to make these big jumps across the maze safely.

    This maze is even harder from Level 80+ because the eye opens and closes faster. Even if I cleared Level 54 and then made it to level 80 with 4 lives in the bank...that's right around the 800k+ no more extra lives zone so I would have to play near perfect for two more loops of 26 mazes including two harder version of this maze later somehow not to mention all the other tough parts of the game.

    If the 1980s WR is in fact "legit" then they had to get through at least Level 80, and two more harder versions of this maze across at least two more loops of 26 mazes after that if not more...and with no extra lives after 800k somehow (whether playing through Level 54 from 1 or if they warped right to Level 79 at some point past it).

    This maze is just one of many places where players will very likely lose some of their very limited supply of potential extra lives (4 max) on the higher levels where they would also have to worry about the 4th maze of each cycle with the added bird eggs to deal with that often pass right through vertical maze wall sections into you, the 11th and 18th mazes that can block you out from completing them in one life sometimes, the floating head waves that throw a tetra one way and spike the other about 4-5 times every two loops of 26 mazes, and make no crash landings on the faster space waves.

    There are just too many ways to die in this game that even the most skilled player has no control over especially after they hit the no extra lives after 800k wall. I don't see how anyone could have scored 1.3+ million points playing level to level without abusing the bonus timer reset only found in Demo Mode somehow to do so.
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  9. 08-30-2020, 05:49 PM
    Wow that has been some effort getting all this evidence into video and written form. Great job providing all the evidence David.
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  10. 08-30-2020, 09:58 PM
    Here are some examples of what I call "unavoidable" deaths on the Floating Head waves.

    From Level 12+ if you miss a tetra or spike that the floating head shoots they will come around behind the player and follow you until you die. The only way to avoid this is to get a meteor between the player and either of these deadly objects before that happens (then they explode on contact). This is of course very hard to do in normal space waves let alone floating head ones where there is only one occasional meteor at a time on screen from the Level 12 floating head wave forward.

    These are instances in just one game example where the position, speed and or rotation of the floating head causes the spikes to be in one place while the tetra you also needs to shoot is in another. I suggest using the YT speed playback function to see this better (try 0.5).

    Level 16 (19:28)

    I go for shooting the tetra that has just appeared to the left...just as the head turns and starts spitting out spikes to my right. Not enough time to get back to shoot the spike that kills me (which takes two shots to destroy btw). Maybe I could have waited to shoot the tetra because the head started to curve back towards it as I was killed off but I would have had to follow and shoot all the spikes and then hope this lead me back in front of the tetra moving away to the left before it slipped past me.


    Level 36 (47:51)

    This is a clear example of having to choose to either shoot the stream of spikes to my left or the tetra coming in on the right. I was already committed to shooting the head as it moved and rotated to the left....just as the tetra appeared moving away from me to the right followed by a stream of spikes from the head to my left. If I had moved back to the right to get the tetra I would have been too far to the away to get the spikes coming at me from the left.


    Level 36 (48:03)

    This time the head was not shooting spikes for a moment so I moved to the left to go for the tetra just as it appeared...but of course the head decides to start shooting spikes to the right away from the direction I just committed to. At slowed down speeds (like .5) you can see I immediately try to give up on shooting the tetra to cover shooting the spikes...but I just don't have enough time to shoot the first one twice before it kills me. I shoot the tetra only by luck.


    Level 49 (1:06:17)

    The head shoots spikes out to the right side of the screen as the tetra literally goes off screen to the far left. No way I could shoot both to survive.


    This is just how things go with the floating head whether you try to just shoot the stream of spikes and avoid manipulating the head by shooting it to keep it from turning around or not. I've seen a pretty steady average of about 4-5 of these types of deaths on these particular space waves over the course of two loops of the 26 mazes (Levels 1-52). I would also add that I also die at least a couple of times outside of these deaths by failing to shoot both parts of the spike (top and bottom) sometimes when it makes tricky curving patterns I don't expect which is hard to handle with the rate of auto fire (which you need to use one way or the other).

    As I have said earlier according to my rough math it would take playing about 4-5 loops of all 26 mazes to score 1.38+ million points if you played from level 1 forward without any warps. You would have to clear at least two+ more more loops of 26 mazes if you just warped to Level 79 from level 1 and then played that far to the same score.

    In both cases there are no more extra lives from 800k forward which is around Level 80 either way you play it. So if you can only bank 4 extra lives and at a minimum you have to play somewhere between a 2-4+ loops of the 26 mazes whether you warp or not...how do you avoid getting killed 4-5 times every two loops or so by the floating head issues shown above AND make no other mistakes at all for so many levels with all the other issues I have brought up?

    It just seems to me there are too many ways for the game to steal more than 4 lives that you cannot replenish after 800k between the unavoidable floating head deaths and other factors I have discussed.
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