GameSpite Quarterly 2, #48: Tetris

It looks like people are beginning to receive their copies of GameSpite Quarterly 2. My own copies won’t arrive until next week, since I’m also receiving all the subscriber bonus books along with them and they presumably took a while to print up. And I’m a cheapskate who used the slowest shipping option. But, should you be one of the fortunate few who has received their copy, please feel free to talk about how awesomely awesome it is here. Or, you know, just pick on the few typos we didn’t manage to kill off. Meanwhile, have some more content:

The first of the deluxe edition bonus articles to hit the web deals with Tetris, which of course we discussed last time as well. The contents of this issue were determined by reader vote, see, so some redundancy is inevitable. In each case, though, a new author has taken up the cause and provided a fresh perspective. Because we care: about games, and about you.

10 thoughts on “GameSpite Quarterly 2, #48: Tetris

  1. Great article. Tetris stayed in my Gameboy Brick longer than anything else, Super Mario Land notwithstanding. It really does have a sort of ineffable quality of “awesome” that’s really hard to put in words.

    Speaking of Gamespite, did you ever have a chance to go through the writing submissions for future Gamespite authors, Jeremy? Enlightened self-interest aside, I’d love to know who’ll be bringing us articles like this in the future.

  2. Ah yes, Tetris.
    Back in high school, I had a group of friends in Math class who absolutely loved programming on graphing calculators. After we got confident with the capabilities of our little TI-83s, we tried to do a programming competition.

    We had a month to code a version of Tetris. Best and most playable version won $40 and bragging rights. I myself went with the “Do 2×2-pixel blocks” method. It worked, but it was unbearably slow (due to the fact that you had to redraw the falling blocks quite constantly AND allow for constant user input).

    About half of the group tried a matrix to keep track of the blocks. I never could understand matrices, but it was another aspect of the competition. One guy tried to program the game around using the calculator sideways (due to the screen’s resolution of 62×94) but ultimately failed due to that speed issue I ran into.

    The winning entry was a matrix-based version with a pixel-per-block kind of resolution. Keeping track of things visually was pretty hard since each tetromino was only 4 pixels in size, but due to the decreased refresh rate and increased game area, it was not only faster but also more fun and challenging.

    Ah yes, Tetris on a graphing calculator is a staple of all modern geeks’ high school years in mathematics.

  3. Tetris is fascinating for mathematicians for two reasons: It’s an almost-perfect game (the only way to create a situation which makes the game “impossible” to win, under the somewhat hilarious assumption of perfect, instant reflexes and a semi-random stream of the “right” blocks, is to receive a number of z-shaped blocks and stack them in a very peculiar way – and yes, there was a published paper on this, in the early 2000s) and it started as a rudimentary simulator for a study of objects of a particular shape and size (all contiguous shapes made out of four identically sized blocks).

    As the legend goes, Pajitnov created a very early version of this simulator – without gravity or any other ‘game’ components – and had so much fun playing with it instead of using it for research that he decided to turn it into a game. And thus was born the oft-imitated and sometimes-beautiful “shit keeps falling” genre.

  4. Honestly, the sheer number of writer applications I received was completely overwhelming and I’ve been afraid to even start looking at them. Even if I just went with people I know are good writers from having seen their work, I’d be way over my intended quota of two newcomers… and I’d like to give less experienced writers a shot, too. It is a little crazy.

  5. It’s a sign that people really dig this place. Not that that wasn’t self-evident, but it’s always good to have reinforced!

  6. “Clearing lines in Tetris” is oddly redolent of “doing lines of coke,” proving once and for all the narcotic, addictive quality of games.

  7. Terribly sorry, I was the guy up above who wrote the wall of text about the Tetris on the TI-83s.

    I like the placeholder name so much that I’ll commandeer it for any online comments-but-no-registration systems, like the one on this site. Thanks.

  8. By far, the version of Tetris I’ve put the most time into was the shockingly good version I had for my TI-83. I would play it at home, in lieu of playing or watching other things.

  9. Great article!

    One day back in third grade, after dutifully sending off three cereal box tops and five dollars or so, my Tetris watch arrived in the mail. Until the teacher took it away, I was by far the most popular kid in class.

    Tetris is truly universal. Even my mom loves Tetris, and she hates video games.

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