MIT junior Justin Yu crashed “Tetris” thanks to the game’s recent “Space Race.” MIT News

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Fans of classic “Tetris” have a lot to celebrate right now: On December 21, 2023, player Willis Gibson (who plays under the handle bluescotty) went so far in a game of “Tetris” that the game froze. : Achievement in a new classic game, played on the Nintendo Entertainment System console. gibson’s The victory made national headlines and a Video of his shocking reaction The game instantly went viral on screen.

But readers be warned MIT News Learn about another player who pursues “game crashes” — MIT junior Justin “Fractal” Yu, a computer science and engineering major from Dallas, Texas, whose 2023 Classic Tetris World Championship Victory Last October he became the top ranked player in the world.

In a recent interview, Yu revealed a fascinating “space race” behind the scenes of Gibson’s achievement: Yu and Gibson were not only aware of each other’s attempts at the record, but they were also in active competition at the time of the victory. Were. To top it off, Yu revealed that he had successfully equaled Gibson’s feat on January 3, becoming only the second person to crash “Tetris”. UK race livestream More than 600,000 views have been viewed on YouTube, and congratulations have poured in from both well-wishers of the close-knit classic “Tetris” gaming community and casual observers who remember the game from childhood. We sat down with Yu to hear his take on the competition, which pushed both players to the limits of their game.

Why: Congratulations on the game crashing! How long have you been working on this?

A: I think the real answer is: for five years, since I started playing the game. But after the World Championships, I took a day to try a lot of offline on my own, which got me about 1,100 lines — or, about 70 percent of the way to a game crash. After the semester ended and I had free time, I decided to go for this purpose. So, I went home and started my first stream attempt, and just 10 minutes later I got news that a new player, Bluescooty, had broken a different world record. I didn’t know at first that he was actually working on the long game, and he didn’t know that I was, but now we both were. So, we started talking afterward, and decided, hey, we should make it a competition.

Why: Did anyone else know about this race?

A: It’s one of those stories you won’t hear from traditional news outlets, but I think we were both 100 percent going forward because there was a threat of another skilled player who could accomplish the feat before you. I think the all-out press lasted about two days, but there’s one point where I briefly took the record for highest score, and then died at about 1,400 lines because there was A level that was incredibly dark I felt as if I was blind for a moment. The problem was completely preventable. My family didn’t have a universal remote controller at home, so I couldn’t increase my TV’s brightness settings to maximum. The next day I went to Walmart and bought a universal remote, set up the monitor, and was getting ready for my game… and then I heard that Bluescotty was up to a thousand lines. And this is where his game crashed. You can see my reaction in the game. I felt like the race was over before it even started – but it was one of the most intense, focused efforts either of us had ever put into the game.

Why: So, is this a long-term goal that you both have been working on for a while?

A: Yes, but we also play and get better at a lot of other modes, so when we return to playing longer games, we’ve made big progress. The thing about long games is that you are encouraged to play with as few risks as possible. However, now that the pressure of being the first person to crash a game is less, I might want to be the one to try something different. On my stream, after calming down a bit, I gave a huge list of possible achievements – but I think the one that would be most interesting is to go beyond game crashes. BlueScooty and I both used very specific setups that were guaranteed to give us crashes at the same time; But there are also situations where theoretically, at least, you can reach level 255 and beyond.

Why: How will this happen?

A: Levels are stored in single bytes – so the game doesn’t crash when you add a level more than its capacity; Rather, the counting mechanism for the levels fails and the level returns to zero while your score remains as high as it was.

Why: is it like that Y2K “Tetris?”

A: Yes; Basically, the game goes completely to zero. But it’s very hard, because starting at level 249, the game starts throwing everything at you. Each piece you place can represent an accident unless you do some really crazy things. But we’re not even halfway to this point yet, so there’s a lot to do in the meantime.

Why: Why do you think all these achievements are happening now? Do you think BlueScooty’s game, as well as other milestones, are due to the rolling technology you described in our previous conversation?

A: It is rotating; But it is also true that we decided to go for this feat! I think there are many people in our community who have been able to do this for over a year, but the idea of ​​playing continuously for only 40 minutes doesn’t appeal to most players. So, there was the fact that two guys at the same time decided to go for it and we started competing, and we got the most media attention we’ve ever gotten – now I think more of our top players. Will be inspired to try things.

Why: Do you consider the media attention positive for the community?

A: I guess that remains to be seen. I’m not sure “this game is finally lost” is the best message to new players, because it feels like, “we’re finished!” But I’m hoping to be proven wrong on that one. There are still many other achievements to be achieved. For example, there is the idea of ​​”the perfect game of ‘Tetris’”. So in a normal game, the maximum possible displayable cores is 999,999. (Incidentally, there are two scores: 999,999 and a separate, true score that goes into the millions. The game can’t display the true score, so streamers like me add it to our videos after the fact so you can see how we Are’ re-scoring after reaching the maximum.)

People have been able to reach the maximum score for decades, so doing it as quickly as possible became a challenge. Tetrises – clearing four lines at once – gets you the most points, but no one has been able to maximize their score by only getting Tetrises. It will take both almost flawless play and almost flawless luck to get along in the game. You will only play on slower levels, but every move must be perfect. In contrast, when you go for the long game, you play at faster levels, but you can make many moves that are “good enough”.

Why: Bluescooty is very young, just 13 years old. Is this typical of new players in this field?

A: He’s a little younger than you expect. Many great talented players would have been 13 or 14 years old when they started playing. I’m on the older side of people ranking higher; This has been happening like this for years. Playing consistently and improving technique is an investment of time and effort – it’s staying in shape! But I think the best thing about watching Bluescotty play is that it’s clear he really loves the game. This is the true secret for us: you practice because you want to, and you get better because you want to; This doesn’t feel like work. This is the goal you want to reach. It could be “Tetris”, but it could also be anything else you choose. If you find that, it’s a really good time.

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