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Classic Games (Games) Games

After 27 Years, a New High Score For Asteroids 193

Posted by kdawson
from the toothpicks-for-eyelids dept.
blair1q writes "In a marathon 3-1/2 day session, John McAllister, of Portland, Oregon, has broken the 27-year-old high score for Asteroids, set in 1982 by Scott Safran. The attempt was broadcast via webcam."
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After 27 Years, a New High Score For Asteroids

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  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @04:23AM (#31758978) Homepage

    I have a whole new appreciation for the awesome, interesting things I do with my life.

    Thanks.

    • by addie (470476) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @04:41AM (#31759060)

      For anyone who hasn't seen The King of Kong [imdb.com], a documentary about shooting for the world record in Donkey Kong, I highly recommend it. It's a bit disturbing to see what goes on in the minds of these types of gamers, and at some points it's hard to believe it's a documentary. However it's an excellent movie, and a lot of fun.

      That said, it's easy to criticize someone like this. But hey, we all have our hobbies and talents right?

      • by beh (4759) * on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @05:31AM (#31759262)

        That said, it's easy to criticize someone like this. But hey, we all have our hobbies and talents right?

        As my sister puts it about me (though - luckily (for me), not about old arcade games; and not meant in a creepy fashion (I hope)):

        My brother does not have hobbies. He has obsessions!

        And somehow I feel, here on slashdot, I am not the only one for whom this statement is true...

      • by Thaelon (250687)

        According to the guys at twin galaxies [twingalaxies.com], most of that movie is carefully edited to be sensational and is factually wrong on a number of important points.

        • Which would of course have nothing to do with the fact that the documentary revealed them to be something of an insider's clique not above a bit of favoritism to their own, disdain, suspicion and skepticism of others and their claims?
      • by lyinhart (1352173)

        For anyone who hasn't seen The King of Kong [imdb.com], a documentary about shooting for the world record in Donkey Kong, I highly recommend it. It's a bit disturbing to see what goes on in the minds of these types of gamers, and at some points it's hard to believe it's a documentary.

        Actually, like many other so-called "documentaries" The King of Kong was apparently full of all kinds of inaccuracies [wikipedia.org]. E.g. Billy Mitchell wasn't really trying to avoid Steve Wiebe, and Wiebe actually held the high score title for a while. It was still a cool film though.

    • by Pharmboy (216950) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @07:47AM (#31759936) Journal

      The question is, is his "a life well spent" or "a life, well, spent".

      • by Arccot (1115809) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @11:51AM (#31763152)

        The question is, is his "a life well spent" or "a life, well, spent".

        I absolutely hate quotes like this. It stinks of elitism and moral authority. No one knows the purpose of life, so by what right does one person judge another's success or failure in life? If a person led a life they personally are happy with, how can anyone say it was wasted?

        I'm not aiming this at you personally, but people that watch/listen to these type of stories and then spend any time to comment that it's a waste of time makes me run in the other direction. Just in case a black hole of hypocrisy swallows them up.

    • He makes playing WoW feel like being an overachiever.

  • Score (Score:5, Informative)

    by kickme_hax0r (968593) <simon@welsh.co.nz> on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @04:24AM (#31758982) Homepage
    For those too lazy to read the article, he scored 41,338,740, with the previous high score being 41,336,440
  • NOT THREE DAYS (Score:4, Informative)

    by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @04:27AM (#31758998) Homepage Journal

    It took approximately 58 hours, not over 72.

    LESS THAN TWO AND A HALF.

    When you repeat old news, it might help to GET IT RIGHT.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @04:35AM (#31759032) Homepage
    [Previous record holder Scott Safran] died in 1989, due to injuries sustained when he fell from the roof of his Los Angeles apartment. [wired.com]

    Perhaps he has a son to avenge him.

    Hmm. Or given his geek credentials, more likely not.

  • I can beat that ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Qbertino (265505) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @04:41AM (#31759058)

    Just had the idea: Wouldn't it be a sort of cool project to build a robot that plays Astroids? I mean the actual arcade version? Shouldn't be that difficult. Such a device could beat the world record, no? ... In fact, it could probably play endlessly.

    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @04:49AM (#31759088) Homepage Journal

      I spent 75 aud on a robot arm kit from Jaycar. 20 aud on an atmel atmega8 and about 20 aud on transistors, etc. That and about a weeks work got me a robot which can feed my fish when I am away from home.

      Staying with the atmel idea I could build an eye to detect spots of light with a mechanically scanning photodiode. Then the robot arm just has to push a lever left and right.

      The main limitation is that the plastic gears in the robot arm are not good for continuous operation. I have considered squirting lubricant into them but I expect their life is limited.

      Maybe this could be an offshoot of my sexbot construction project.

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        This one ?
        http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.asp?ID=KJ8916 [jaycar.com.au]
        I have seen a few of these kits and they look all too slow and imprecise for doing even a simple thing like playing an arcade game. I don't know this one, is it different ? Do you think it could change a joystick position 2 times per second during 10+ hours ? If so, I think I have to make a participation to Australia GNP...
        • by mhajicek (1582795)
          Instead of using a motorized arm, mount solenoids to push the stick from the four directions. You should achieve a fast response time and long cycle-life.
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        I spent $13.25US on a robot to feed my fish when I was gone AND when I was home. Slit in the fish food can, Hobby servo, Pic and some junk from the trash.

        It spins twice a day and with the huge can of food on the thing, I'll refill the food in about a year. Fishies are happy, Nest up, automatic water changes! I already have a automatic water make up with a float valve from a toilet.... and I dont need to clean the glass, I found that snails are far easier to get than making little robots to clean the gl

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        The main limitation is that the plastic gears in the robot arm are not good for continuous operation. I have considered squirting lubricant into them but I expect their life is limited.

        Maybe this could be an offshoot of my sexbot construction project.

        Way too much information.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      different game, but you might be interested in a computer playing Super Mario World [joystiq.com]

    • The German computer magazine c't held a contest [heise.de] (German link) for the best Asteroids-playing artificial intelligence - it wasn't mechanical, but merely transmitted virtual keystrokes to a server that was running the game.

      I suppose adding a robotic element would add additional complications such as the reaction time of the limbs, and recognizing the playing field via optical sensors.

    • Just had the idea: Wouldn't it be a sort of cool project to build a robot that plays Astroids? I mean the actual arcade version? Shouldn't be that difficult. Such a device could beat the world record, no? ... In fact, it could probably play endlessly.

      If they can built Auto Guitar Hero [autoguitarhero.com] then Asteroids should be a breeze

  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @04:54AM (#31759126)
    ...when is he expected to be visited by Centauri?
  • First, props to the quality of old time hardware. Do you think you could still play games on contemporary machines, almots 3 decades in the future?

    And second, bathroom break almost costing him the title? There's a REASON these machines were found near the bathrooms in the bars where they have been propped up back in the days! Not to mention that there are other ways to make sure you don't waste a life just because your waste ... well, throws an interrupt. Fffft, amateur! :)

    • by mccalli (323026) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @05:20AM (#31759214) Homepage
      First, props to the quality of old time hardware. Do you think you could still play games on contemporary machines, almots 3 decades in the future?

      Another detail about Asteroids - it's a game you really can't emulate without specialist hardware. Yeah you can load up the ROM in MAME and it plays nicely enough, but the true Asteroids machine had vector monitor hardware. This really makes a difference to the feel of the thing and those beautifully glowing intense bullets look vastly better on the real thing than when played on standard raster hardware.

      I have a MAME cab and an ArcadeVGA adapter to power a Hanterax 20" screen - it makes even 320x128 look fantastic. But Asteroids is something it simply can't get right - without a vector monitor, you're stuffed.

      Cheers,
      Ian
      • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @05:50AM (#31759328) Journal

        If you want to get vector hardware for the home, there's always the Vectrex. A Vectrex in decent condition can be had for less than $100. The built-in game is Mine Storm, an Asteroids-like game, plus with some flash memory you can build a multicart with lots of games.

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          It's not hard to make a regular TV tube a vector one anyways, it's just the phosphor mask that makes it a PITA to get crisp lines. I screwed with that back in college, I had a couple of sweep generators powering the X and Y fields on a color TV tube making some really cool designs before I fired some of the TV electronics.

          Oh and scanning OUTSIDE the mask was bad, with enough voltage you can bend the beam too far. What I loved was finding cracked flybacks that had a visible blue aura around them..... tho

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lowrydr310 (830514)
        My uncle had an Asteroids cabinet complete with a vector monitor and all I remember is WOW those lines were bright! I couldn't imagine playing that thing for one hour straight, let alone for 58 hours.
    • by KlaymenDK (713149) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @07:26AM (#31759788) Journal

      First, props to the quality of old time hardware. Do you think you could still play games on contemporary machines, almots 3 decades in the future?

      Nope, because the DRM servers will have been shut down 29.5 years earlier...

  • After all who but the Buy More crew has the best nerds ;)

    ("Chuck" reference :)

  • Flash version (Score:2, Informative)

    by trACE666 (731643)
    For those too young or too old to remember, there is an almost authentic Flash version of the game available over at Atari. http://www.atari.com/arcade/arcade.php?game=asteroids [atari.com]
  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @05:17AM (#31759198) Homepage Journal

    I bet he has to fight the chicks off with a shitty stick.

    • by s-whs (959229)

      I bet he has to fight the chicks off with a shitty stick.

      Of course: all the chicks want to play with his joystick.

      Note: The bigger your joystick, the better you can play...

  • by bigpistol (1311191) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @05:52AM (#31759334) Homepage
    An Oregon man named Bill Carlton settled in for a marathon session in 2004, which ended in failure when his machine broke down after 27 hours of play. He had scored more than 15 million points, placing him 15th in the record books.

    Oh dear lord - and I thought it was bad when my mouse packed in half way through a CS match!
    • by vitaflo (20507)

      John almost bit it at the end as well, though not because of power. I watched it live on this web stream. With about 500k left he took a bathroom break. He had racked up a ton of free ships, so it wasn't a big deal. Or, it didn't *seem* like a big deal. Having sacrificed maybe 10 ships on the bathroom break, he came back and was not on his game. He kept dying to little errors. When he was 300k from the record, about 58 hours into his play session, he was down to only two ships left. It was fairly te

    • by garcia (6573)

      I recently watched a "documentary" on Hulu about a dude (possibly this guy, I'm too lazy to look at the video) who set out to break the Missile Command record. He set aside several three day weekends over the course of a year and each time the machine was the culprit--breaking down 10s of hours into the attempt. The documentary ended with him not breaking the record.

      I have an original 1982 Ms. Pacman cocktail. The video reminded me that I need to get a new monitor for it, something which is becoming rare ap

  • Strategy. (Score:5, Informative)

    by shippo (166521) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @06:10AM (#31759412)

    The strategy behind the game is to clear the playfield of all bar a handful of small asteroids, and then wait for the flying saucers to appear. If you're moving fairly quickly up or down the screen you can avoid the saucers with practice. As the game awards 1000 for the small saucers and a bonus life every 10,000 points it's a somewhat easy task to rack up many extra lives. Once the last asteroid was eliminated, the game would restart, increasing the number of large asteroids at the start up to a limit of around 12.

    Early versions of the game were even easier as broken game logic resulted in an area of the screen that rendered the player immune to attacks. There wasn't even any means for making the game harder by setting the game's dip-switches - these only controlled the initial number of lives and other sundry settings such as language and coin count. Suffice to say experienced players could easily play the games for hours at a time.

    Atari later released Asteroids Deluxe which was somewhat harder. This included a second type of saucer that split into components which homed in on the player, as well as amendments to other parts of the game logic.

  • So who would you rather have defending us when an asteroid with our name comes around, him or Bruce Willis?

    I think he's probably got better eye-hand coordination and his stamina... did he get bathroom breaks?

    * deliberately misspelled like the movie which I haven't seen yet, is it any good?

  • Once you master the basics, Asteroids is simply a game of endurance: Can you keep from falling asleep? And if you can, will the arcade cabinet you're playing on stay glitch-free and powered up for three days straight?

    So it's incredibly easy to master the basics, and all you need to then do is keep from falling asleep and hope your lucky enough that the machine doesn't crash.

    So you are saying this isn't a very impressive feat huh? It's definitely not a very interesting one.

  • Spheres of Chaos [spheresofchaos.com] is the Asteroids clone I grew up with. There's now a freeware release for Windows and Linux.

    This is no usual Asteriods family member, SoC is the difficult nephew. The one with all the good albums who stayed out late and got that girl into trouble back in school. Those particle effects? You can recognise the family traits as being present and correct, but somewhere in the past you can see some Minter has entered the bloodline.

    For those unable to afford even the smallest portion of crack, Spheres of Chaos will dilate the pupil of your third eye and give you change from a fiver.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The real killer on Asteroids is the 8 bit life counter, meaning every couple of hours you'd suddenly find yourself with no spare ships. The rules we played forbade suicide to keep the ship count down, otherwise we could just have kept the lives at around 200 and stopped worrying.

    On casual days, we'd rack up 240 lives or so, hand the game over to any passing stranger then take 50min off for lunch. The same game was always still going when we came back!

    It really is a trivially easy game, so easy we had to inv

  • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @07:01AM (#31759632)

    if he beat the record set for the Tron arcade game...

  • by RemoWilliams84 (1348761) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @07:21AM (#31759756)

    Cousin Dale: "Ya' got Asteroids?"
    Rusty: "Naw, but my Dad does."

  • Sometimes a record stands the test of time because none can approach it, other times it stands because nobody feels like bothering to try.

  • There is a documentary called "High Score" it is about a guy named "Bill" who tried to get the high score on Missile Command and attempted Asteroids.

    It's pretty interesting.

    http://www.hulu.com/watch/135697/high-score [hulu.com]

  • I wonder if he listened to the old Buckner & Garcia classic the entire time.

    Asteroids all over me, don't know where to run,
    I'm somewhere between the moon and the sun
    I'm in the three ships and there's more on the way
    I'll be faced again, I can really play!

    Hyperspace, Push on the button and I'm back in the race,
    Hyperspace, Shootin' my rockets all over the place,
    I'm invisible now, but I'll be back again,
    Kickin' the thrust, 'cause I just gotta win, I just gotta win,

    There's a ship on the rise and he's shootin' at me,
    I rotate my ship on the count of three
    I fire and shoot and blow him out of the sky
    Push on the buttons and wave bye-bye

    Hyperspace, Push on the button and I'm back in the race,
    Hyperspace, Shootin' my rockets all over the place,

    I'm invisible now, but I'll be back again,
    Gonna kick in the thrust, 'cause I just gotta win, I just gotta win,

    Hyperspace, Push on the button and I'm back in the race,
    Hyperspace, Shootin' my rockets all over the place,

    I'm invisible now, but I'll be back again,
    Kickin' the thrust, 'cause I just gotta win, I just gotta win,

    Hyperspace, Push on the button and I'm back in the race,
    Hyperspace, Shootin' my rockets all over the place,

    I'm invisible now, but I'll be back again,
    Gonna kick in the thrust, 'cause I just gotta win, I just gotta win,

    Asteroids all over me, don't know where to run,
    I'm somewhere between the moon and the sun
    I'm in the three ships and there's more on the way
    I'm a space cadet, I really know how to play!

    Hyperspace, Push on the button and I'm back in the race,
    Hyperspace, Shootin' my rockets all over the place,

    I'm invisible now, but I'll be back again,
    Gonna kick in the thrust, I just gotta win, I just gotta win,

    Hyperspace, Push on the button, push on the button
    Hyperspace, Shootin', shootin' all over the place,

    I'm invisible now, but I'll be back again,
    Gonna kick in the thrust, I just gotta win!

    Hyperspace, Shootin', shootin', shootin', shootin'

    Hyperspace! I don't know where to run
    Hyperspace! Gonna kick in the thrust, I just gotta win!

    Hyperspace!

    • I am delighted to discover that the album this song is on is available on iTunes! If you're feeling nostalgic, or just wondering what the song above sounds like check it out! [bit.ly] Warning: link launches iTunes
      • Just keep in mind that it's not the original recording. Buckner & Garcia weren't allowed access to the master recordings so they re-recorded it. It's not any worse than the original... just slightly different in parts. The song "Mousetrap" is the most glaring example, as they didn't have access to a Mousetrap machine so they used stock sounds of a dog, cat, and bird...

        Hope this helps...

        • Oh, that's a little disappointing. I can still hear the sounds from Mousetrap in my head, so that would be immediately noticeable. I used to listen to this on my mono tape player/recorder repeatedly back in the day!
      • Warning: link launches iTunes

        That's one helluva nasty exploit.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @11:30AM (#31762726)
    Setting the high score for desert bus [wikipedia.org].

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