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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mouth of Madness, Revisited

When you're level 80, you can top 1200k easily. Why 1200k? Because my vid a bit over 3 months ago got 1200k in a game, and that was considered high at the time.

Because I don't like playing repeat boards, and April Fool's is coming up, I'd like to have a bit of fun and give people a small challenge. Given that most players can get somewhere between 1m and 2m at lvl 80, and they wanted to figure out how to get those very high scores, I present the following:

NOTE: The following challenge involves cheating (use of speed hacks) to attain the highest theoretical score possible in a game (which can be reproduced in a normal ZB replay).

If you do proceed, I strongly recommend you do NOT save your scores (quit the game immediately after it says 'Zuma' at the end). This challenge is designed to discover the best ways to get high scores for a given board, not to get all the way to the top of the leaderboard.

Challenge: Find a way to get at least 10 5 million points on this board using any means necessary. (3 million for people for lvl 65 and below) You may slow down the game to help complete this challenge. If you do complete it, comment on this post with a link to the video.

Note on Game Slowdown: A separate program is used to do this; there is a link on one of the comments if you want it. Take note: You might have the reflexes of a pro player but you really need a strategy to complete this challenge. (TIP: you will need to set up double gaps on this board.)

Life's a Beach

Following the return from DCON 2011 the last weekend, a new board shows up. Feeling tired and worn from the long trip back home, I needed a break, but couldn't really get one.

I also realize that LSSP was going to be announced, which is the Large Scale Service Project in Virginia, where you're in a hotel and it's on a beach. Just wanted to point that out. Anyways...

TIP: Double gap on 6x/7x multiplier, Normal gap shots before that. The lower curve will roll slightly faster than usual due to its longer path; fruit is harder to get as a result. Consequently treasure chests appear a lot more often (around 1 every 8 games).

Getting double gaps on this board is tricky. For some tips on doing that on this board, see Sliding Gap Rule.

NOTE: Initially when you start the game after midnight today you start with a black screen. Using a debugger shows that the game didn't load a playable map, hence the black screen (and you can't use the reset button to quit either). Early April Fool's, perhaps? (Don't worry, I still have my joke to put over here later on this week.)

EDIT: Several users reported that the game DOES work in Safari. They did load another map b/c of this problem, but it's not the one in the Tiki Talk.

EDIT 2: This map is playable as of Apr 5, 2011.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Claw Game 2.0

Found this while driving back from LA.

It's a normal claw game, but they upped the prizes a bit. By attaching money to smaller prizes, they've increased the incentive to play by a lot.

Fun Fact: This game actually received a citation because one person considered it gambling, and it was temporarily removed, but was put back but there was no proof of it being luck only. It's nothing more than (considerably) raising the value of hard to grab stuffed animals.

DCON 2011

This is DCON 2011 (Cal-Nev-Ha DCON in Burbank). In three words: Informative, Fun, and Unforgettable. Featuring various workshops, performances, and lots of spirit.

Though it was fun, our team of eight people could not do much spirit wise, and my original thoughts about DCON were proven wrong here. I need to be back for another year to fully enjoy this.

Which is why I have decided to go for (the newly created) Tech Chair. And being the district committee sounds nice... I might go for that one.

This was our group of eight that represented our Circle K Club.

Full Album on Facebook (privacy set to 'everyone' and anyone can comment for up to two weeks after the event so that people in at DCON who don't have any mutual friends with me can see the entire album / comment.)

NOTE: If you know anyone in any of my pictures, feel free to tag them.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy Sad Board

(Drops two coins into the bucket)
I'm happy because there's a new board, and DCON is coming up this Friday. And...
(drops two more)
I'm sad because I was unable to make the top 3 in the leaderboard (I was off by around 100k), and because I didn't win treasurer position. (Erika will probably not be impressed with this statement.)*

And now our daily tip: The margin of hitting gap shots on the top is very small, even when firing two in rapid succession, so practice your timing. Here's a color coded guide on how to determine what color balls you will hit behind the gap. Or, you could wait for the bottom, but who doesn't?

Color Guide: If you fire two balls in quick succession without moving your mouse, it shows where the first and second balls will (at full speed) hit at 1:00 game time (red), 1:30 (yellow), and 2:00 (green), so plan accordingly.

This screen below I consider a happy/sad situation: Frog died but high score at the same time.

*This is a reference to my Circle K club, which does happy/sad coins. No relation to the game though, so keep playing on.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Secondary Job... in Rapping

I learned a lot of things from Mrs. Langone (my chemistry teacher) back in MCHS, but I never knew she had a second job... as a rapper.

NOTE: I did not record this video; another student did this.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Death by Curve Clear

Outtake: Death by Curve Clear

Curve Clear! 130k!
(Balls roll back to end)

Lesson Learned: Don't spam curve clears on a board with a short trail.

Arches / St. Patricks Day Board

It's internally called Arches, but you probably wouldn't know since they didn't do a Tiki Talk this week. The board is shaped somewhat like a three leaf clover.

It's also the first board I played through that is NOT symmetrical on the ball trail. I got disoriented at first when the balls were coming out of the right side of the board.

TIP: Gap shots before the 2nd minute of gameplay should focus on the lower right hand corner, then on the top as they get too fast. Fruit can appear on the lower track in the loop in the first curve, directly north of you, and on the top left.

Friday, March 11, 2011

So... Malware in Zuma Blitz?

Many people have claimed this, so I used Fiddler to debug the web connection process when running the game with ads showing. This has been verified.

It appears to work by doing some cross-site scripting on one of the ads in the form of a iframe. A cgi file then redirects to two other sites (not Popcap and not of US origin) before initializing Java and installing malware. It's also possible it's using an SWF exploit to do this as well. (Oh, it also redirects to twitter part of the way through, which explains what some users are experiencing)

Luckily, it's injected as part of the ad, so any ad-blocker such as AdBlock for Firefox should prevent this problem from occurring.

To be safe, I'll be off the game for a while and will not pursue anymore high scores for the remainder of the week until they get it fixed. (I am in 3rd for the time being, and 2nd after recently getting a 5m score.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Quick Guide to Game Recording

This is specific to Zuma Blitz but this can be used on any flash game. On a Core2Duo at 2.33Ghz with a standard (Geforce 9700 or better) video card, the game can be recorded smoothly at 20fps.

  1. Install x264vfw and Hypercam 2 before doing any of the below steps.
  2. Run Hypercam
  3. on AVI File tab, set Framerate to 20 (Record), Key frame every 100 frames
  4. Video compressor: Select x264vfw - H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec
  5. Hit 'configure this compressor', on the left drop down box select Single pass-Quantizer-based, and set the slider to 24. Press OK
  6. on Sound tab, check 'record sound'
  7. on Screen Area tab, press select region and (while the game is open) draw an area around the game window (click on the top left of the game screen and then the bottom right of where you want to record)
  8. Round up the width and height to a multiple of 4
  9. uncheck 'show rectangle around recorded area'
  10. check 'Hide hypercam window' (if it's blocking your game screen)
  11. Before starting the game, hit F2 to begin recording and F2 after the game is over to stop recording.

imo, x264 is the best compressor I've seen: Small file sizes for quick uploads, while having very good quality.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Zuma Blitz Playthrough: 4.7 Million

Playthrough @ Level 80 with Chrono Balls + Multiplier. Total score: 4,727,790. Treasure Chest obtained with 8 Idol win.

Three months ago, I did a 1200k run. One month ago, a 2 million run was done. Today, this one.

1:52 extra time
Speed: 423,140
Special: 381,130 (331,200 Hot Frog, 49,930 from Crit Hits)
Chain: 70,200 (max chain: 16)
Combo: 315,000 (max combo: 4) 
Fruit 734,000 (collected 8 fruit)
Gap Shots: 2,435,160 (done 65 times)

I got very lucky on this game. One for getting enough time balls for a high score, and another for the game not freezing on an 8 idol win.

Above and Below

Board Name: Above and Below
Date Board was Introduced: March 7 - March 14, 2011
Blog Author's Highest Score: 5,090,270 (Lvl 80)*
Highest Recorded Score: 6,291,190 by Liang Hsu (Lvl 80)

Above and Below. When I saw the name of the board I originally thought they might put a bit of 3d perception effect into it.

Anyhow, circled areas indicate fruit locations. They are slightly harder to get to than the snakes board a couple of weeks ago, so you might want to not use the Epic Fruit powerup unless you're good at getting them while going on gap shots.

TIP: Sorry, no board specific tip here, but a few points to make:

  • As you approach the two minute mark the balls will be at twice the initial speed so you'll need to lead your shots (one or two balls ahead down the track from where your intend to hit).
  • If you have to wait at least 2 seconds to wait for a ball to move to just the right place for gap shots (or anything else) you should use that other ball and make other matches / openings while you're waiting.
  • If you want the highest scores, you need to rely a lot on luck that enough time balls will appear in order to get a high score. I have noticed that the highest scores I've seen was because they got 1:44-2:00 in extra time, and during the last four weeks of game playing, I have never gotten that much extra time. (I have now. On the very next video post.)

On a personal note, I find the competition harder - need at least 4 million on this one to even get a medal at all.

Monday, March 7, 2011

2x or 3x Mojo?

Many users have asked whether or not the 3x mojo introduced today (for 30 idols) is a better deal than the 2x mojo potion (15 idols). They said it's overpriced and costs more with less benefit. So let's work this out. Ascii Art Style.

 ####                            #####          ####  ####        ##          ####
## ###                          ##  ###         ## ## # ##                   ##  ##
   ##  ##  ##    ####  ## ###      ###  ##  ##  ##  ##  ##  ####  ##  ####      ##
  ##    ####    ##  ## #### ##  ##  ###  ####   ##      ## ##  ## ## ##  ##    
###### ##  ##    ####  ##        #####  ##  ##  ##      ##  ####  ##  ####      ##

Assumed: Lvl 80 with 900 mojo gained on each game, without potions.

== Comparing 3x Mojo Potion Options ==

(Each bar = 3 games)        0    15   30   45   60   75   90
                            |    |    |    |    |    |    |
3x Mojo 12 Games - 10 Idols ||||                           (21,600 total mojo from potion)
3x Mojo 90 Games - 65 Idols |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| (162,000 total mojo from potion)

3x Mojo 24h      - 30 Idols ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| >
                            |||||||||||| More cost effective than 12 game pot after 36 games
                            |||||||||||||| More cost effective than 90 game pot after 42 games 

== Comparing 2x and 3x Mojo Potions ==

                    (Assuming you play 60 games in 24 hours)
                    (Blue Color = Time when potion is active) 

                    [Day 1 (24h) of Gameplay]      [Day 2 (24h) of Gameplay]      [Total]
                   / 60 Games | 108 000 mojo       60 Games | 108 000 mojo     \   216 000 Mojo Gained
                   / 54 000 mojo gained normally   54 000 mojo gained normally \   108 000 Mojo gained normally
                   / 54 000 mojo from 2x potion    54 000 mojo from 2x potion  \   108 000 from Mojo potions
2x Mojo - 15 Idols   ||||||||||||||||||||||||      ||||||||||||||||||||||||     
3x Mojo - 30 Idols   ||||||||||||||||||||||||      ||||||||||||||||||||||||  
                   \ 60 Games | 162 000 mojo       60 Games | 54 000 mojo      /   216 000 Mojo Gained
                   \ 54 000 mojo gained normally   54 000 mojo gained normally /   108 000 Mojo gained normally
                   \ 108 000 mojo from 3x potion   (no potion used)            /   108 000 from Mojo potions

As you can see, you get the same amount of mojo in a period of 2 days (48 hours). It's if you actually have the incentive to play through the 2nd half without the use of mojo potions. (Note that it amounts to the same idol usage since you're using the x2 potion twice for a total cost of 30 idols)

By normally gained: The mojo gained without potion use. That is 900 mojo * 60 games = 54 000 mojo.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spring Break

It's finally here for me. In addition to a few projects to finish up, I've completed a lot of goals since the last update: (It's been a long time since I've done a post regarding Day Zero Project goals. Those pages will be updated soon)

Classic Day Zero Project

  • 26. Fully play out a game of Civilization IV. (Completed)
  • 48. Create a distinct HDR image using an SLR Camera. (Completed)
  • 49. Learn PHP
  • 56. Watch all the episodes of South Park [update: 9 seasons completed]

Day 1001 Project

  • 6. Acqure a ooVoo / Skype account OR successfully get into a video conference. (Completed by suggestion by friend)
  • 15. Reach 400 total friends on any site that counts friends. (Increased by 50)
  • 46. Create a Vector Art picture or diagram. (Completed, not the best imo)
  • 78. Watch a movie in the Pacific Theatre (Completed - Watched Iron Man 2)
  • 80. Get a HDTV (Completed. Watching shows in HD never looked better.)
  • 83. Successfully host an event. (does LNL count as one? I think so.)
  • 96. Reach max level in two FB games and then quit playing them. (Completed - Pirate Clan stopped after reaching a set level of 1000, and Social City after reaching lvl 44, last unlock).
  • 100. Ask 50 Formspring Questions. (up to 25) It's unfortunate that all of my friends (and most who are friends of friends) have stopped using it. I managed to get my # of questions asked to 25 though, which the 25th one was marked with a smile. Time to search elsewhere...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spiral Orbits

This week's board is called Orbits, which some people have said is just as hard as last week to gain a lot of points, despite the fact the devs are expecting some higher scores.

I've gotten 3.2 million so far, but I ran out of mojo and need to refill. I do know that 4+ million is possible on this board though (maybe 5m). Thankfully I've got an entire week to do this. (Also, thought of a powerup idea in mind that might solve mojo problems for high level people and take the place of a daily bonus)

TIP: You might want to wait a bit if you're going for mass gapshots. To save some mojo, epic fruit may be removed as a powerup.

Tip 2: Towards the end of the week, they added new potions, and raised the multiplier for mojo gains to 3x. They did double the idol price of 24-hr potions, so make them count. (Use this if you are a slow player and can play more than 40 games in that day.)