Reasons why Cultris II didn't profit from the NES Tetris hype

7/13/2021 11:48:08 AM
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Reasons why Cultris II didn't profit from the NES Tetris hype

In the past 5 years the views for the Classic Tetris World Championship exploded on Youtube. As a result, a lot of players began to play NES Tetris which can also be seen in the demographics (the younger generation was taking over). Unofficial clients can also profit from the hype of an official game. For example, Jstris had usually less than 10 players in its default room, then Tetris 99 came out introducing the Battle Royale format, and boom Jstris suddenly got above 50 players in its default room. From the unofficial online clients, Cultris II resembles NES Tetris the most: no hold, 1 preview, a very similar randomizer. Still, even Tetrio profited more from the NES Tetris hype. Here are some reasons why:

1. Cultris II can't be played in the browser. New players can try out browser games more easily. Thus the hurdle to join is much lower in browser games. I guess this can't be changed in Cultris II.

2. Cultris II uses a different rotation system. If you are accustomed to one Tetris version, any change will throw you off ("Tetlag"). A NES player will know how many sidewards movements (and rotations) are needed to make a certain placement in NES Tetris. But that same amount of sidewards movements will usually result in a misdrop in Cultris II, forcing the player to slow down by a lot. Cultris II allows players to customize piece colors and spawning orientations which is quite nice. However, more is needed to make Cultris II more NES-like: In NES Tetris, the 3-wide pieces will spawn one column more towards the right (righthanded vs lefthanded spawnings) and S, Z and I pieces will have only one vertical (and horizontal) state.

So, I would prefer to see the following customizability in the Block Options menu: a checkmark to switch between lefthanded and righthanded piece spawnings (L,J,T,S,Z spawn one column more towards the right), a button representing the vertical state configuration of I,S,Z pieces: 2 vertical states, only left vertical state, only right vertical state. Each of the 3 pieces should have its own vertical state configuration (for example in TGM/Sega Tetris the S piece uses only the left state whereas the Z piece uses only the right state). Note: Using righthanded is neither an advantage nor a disadvantage; using only one vertical state is a disadvantage because it weakens kicks and results in worse finesse (keys per piece average increases). Most NES players will not be able to configure the spawning system to their liking but maybe players will begin to make guides.

3. Cultris II lacks a Marathon-like mode. Such a mode would be useful both in singleplayer as well as multiplayer whereas in multiplayer no lines are sent between the players (they just play side by side and the player with the higher score wins; in Tetris Effect Connected a player has 2 minutes to close the score gap after the opponent tops out). Marathon-like mode could work like this: the room owner can choose the starting level but it has to be an odd number; level n is reached after clearing 10*(n-1) - 5*(m-1) lines whereas m represents the starting level; higher level means higher gravity but also higher score multiplier; on first level a Single | Double | Triple | Quadruple is worth 1 | 3 | 6 | 12 points.

Some words regarding the lock delay in Cultris II: As far as I understand, the locking of a piece is delayed a little but this delay isn't reset when the piece falls down a row ("step-reset") or moved/rotated ("move-reset"). Nothing wrong with that behaviour in my opinion. I just wanted to point out that this lock delay makes it too easy to play infinitely. Thus the lock delay must also decrease in the later levels (e.g. in the first 10 levels only the gravity increases, and afterwards the lock delay will decrease as well). PS: I would prefer Cultris II to have a little longer lock delay (not much, just 50 ms or 100 ms).

4. Cultris II rewards speed & Singles. In versus multiplayer speed is the key. And Cultris II rewards speed overproportionally because of 2 mechanics: time-based combo system (higher combos will have a better efficiency regarding sent lines per cleared line); combos sending more and more lines once you have sent 100+ lines in total (I guess it's there to reward aggressive play). Let's say two players make the same placement decisions but one player is 30 % faster than the other player. Then the faster player will not just send 30 % more lines. Nope, it will be rather 50 % more lines thanks to higher combos (due to time-based combo system). And if those 2 players play in a FFA room, it will be rather 60 % more lines (sending 100+ lines due to longer rounds). From my experience, it's always the same people winning in FFA rooms (all players receiving the same piece & garbage sequence is another factor). And players with a speed below 100 BPM top out early and are not competitive enough to continue playing (usually you won't see anybody playing online with less than 100 BPM although those players should exist). Now towards Singles: In NES Tetris, the goal is to clear multiple lines at once whereas 4 at once is the ideal case. On the other hand, in Cultris II the most valuable clear is the Single. A Quadruple is just not worth the risk. This will feel weird to NES Tetris players (or players who played Versus mode on GameBoy or SNES).

How to overcome those 2 problems: Make a second Versus mode that doesn't use the time-based combo system. Players will send the most lines via clearing Doubles, Triples and Quadruples. Clearing lines with consecutive pieces (combos in other Tetris games) can still be supported but the main focus should lay on clearing multiple lines at once with one piece. Some years ago, I have explained such a mode in more detail in the beta testing forum.

5. Cultris II is too fast for most NES players. Yeah, there are players who can play on level 29 speed in NES Tetris but usually the pace is much higher in Cultris II because Cultris II has harddrop and super fast autoshifts. Newer players can't make up their mind quickly enough and thus have a tremendous speed disadvantage. The only protection for those players is to set up a speed limit / join Rookie's Playground. I think there should be a way to slow down the gameplay. Personally, I am no fan of input-ignoring delays (spawn delay, line clear delay) though. I think the best way is just to slow down the autoshifts.

I would like to see a room option that automatically lowers the "repeat speed" (autoshift repeat rate) to 5.0. Note: This option wouldn't touch the autoshift "delay" (DAS), and it will influence the time-based combo system. Another thing I would like to see is a room option that replaces harddrop with an autolocking softdrop (i.e. the piece will need some time to reach the surface of the stack but then it will lock immediately). The autolocking softdrop could be implemented like this: the player presses the hard drop button. Then an input-ignoring animation will happen no matter if the player released the harddrop key or not: The piece will fall towards the ground, it can't be rotated or moved sidewards anymore, and once it reaches the ground it will lock, and the next piece will spawn. Note: Autolocking softdrop isn't suited well for a time-based combo mode but it would still be a good option for a Versus mode as described under point 4.

 

 

7/14/2021 5:21:29 AM
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Re: Reasons why Cultris II didn't profit from the NES Tetris hype

I have a faded memory of playing Cultris II on browser. I think it was possible at some point.

Anyways, I don't think Cultris was ever meant to resemble NES Tetris. I'm not familiar with Jstris or Tetrio but I'd say they become famous because of Tetris 99. They're Guideline games after all.

I agree an integrated Marathon mode would be nice. For now we'll have to conform with simply being in a room with all players playing in the same team. You cannot choose starting level, and theres a cap on gravity, but hey. About lock delay, I don't know if you meant to say that step-reset or move-reset should be incorpored to Cultris. I don't think it would even matter since lines come progressively. In any case, i think it's perfect as it is. You can do all the spins you need to with it, and it allows you to go fast even while spinning. I think increasing the delay would hinder me and many veteran Cultris players, while not adding anything of value.

About points 4 and 5... I don't know. I feel like what you need is some other Tetris clone, not to modify Cultris II. A gamemode without time-based combo system than rewards Tetris, Triples and Doubles is the opposite of Cultris II. Would be down to try such gamemode, but such gamemode isn't fit for Cultris.

If you want to play matches with Repeat Speed 5.0, ask on the Lobby! I'll (probably) be glad to play with you.

In my opinion, even if these modifications were to be made, and even if these modifications were to bring new players it would only make a Cultris community divided in two very different styles! NES Tetris players are gonna have trouble playing modern Tetris games, be it Cultris, Tetrio or Jstris (can't imagine playing these without instant repeat speed). These games shouldn't modify their core gameplay to adapt to NES players. If a NES player wants to play Cultris, it should be them who makes the effort!

7/14/2021 11:59:26 AM
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Re: Reasons why Cultris II didn't profit from the NES Tetris hype

Regarding browser version: Yeah, it was once possible but IIRC the whole game had to be downloaded (~30 MB) each time you started the browser version. But the even bigger problem is that users have to overcome security hurdles to run Java applications in a browser. AFAIK developers have to pay Oracle to verify the Java applications to make them work in browsers. Downloadable Tetris-like games also have a problem with visibility because The Tetris Company can take them down from platforms like Steam (see Tetra Online), Microsoft Store and Google Play (see Falling Lightblocks). So, browser games are the way to go nowadays. AFAIK The Tetris Company didn't even try to get rid of Jstris and Tetrio (the devs come from Czech Rep & Denmark).

Regarding Jstris & Tetrio: I think you wanted to say they didn't become famous because of Tetris 99. That's true for Tetrio. However, the user base of Jstris tripled when Tetris 99 came out, and Jstris was already a few years old at that point. People wanted to play in big rooms because of the Tetris 99 hype and Jstris made that possible on PC / smartphone. I follow the Tetris Reddit and each year after the CTWC videos get uploaded to Youtube people ask where they can play "classic Tetris". Most people asking that question don't even know that they are referring to NES Tetris but this proves that a multiplayer browser version of NES Tetris would get a lot of players.

Regarding lock delay: I prefer entry-reset (the current system) over step-reset or move-reset. I just tried to point out that the lock delay has to decrease in later levels to make it tough enough. Currently, the gravity maxes out after ~6 minutes but I have no problems to play for ~20 minutes (if there aren't any opponents).

Regarding a "classic" Versus mode: I think it's similar enough to not split the community. Players will prefer one Versus mode over the other but they will still play the other mode from time to time. I think adding a room option for hold feature or bag randomizer would be a bad idea because this would make two very different communities clash against each other. And personally I prefer to play with 2 previews but I think this (as a room option) would be no good idea as well because it would increase the speed gap.

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I want to emphasize my points regarding skill gap / speed gap. I've followed the Tetris community for over a decade and I have made the following observation: A skilled community scares away new players. I would say 90 % of the people, who play Cultris II online, have done so for many years. So, Cultris II managed to hold its player base but it never managed to attract a lot of new players. I am a top 50 player but I barely manage to win games in FFA because there's almost always at least one top 20 player around. And I wonder how <100 BPM players feel in the FFA room. If they don't play with friends, there is no room for them to go, except Cheese room maybe. My point is that some of the skill gap is artificial. Cultris II rewards speed overproportionally because of the time-based combo system. And faster players will be the first ones to reach 100+ send lines in which case even small combos will begin to send a lot of lines (from my experience I tend to win only the shorter rounds when I am up against a faster opponent in a FFA 1vs1). To clarify, I think time-based combo is a nice system to make combos work in Tetris games without hold feature. But it has its drawback. Another observation I've made: A skilled community is always against changes, especially when it's about slowing down a game. For example, Jstris would attract much more players, if it had an option to limit infinite fast autoshift repeat speed, but the community strongly opposes such a change nonetheless.

The best option to protect new players in a super-fast client is zoning. For example, Tetris Friends divided players into 4 classes (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum) depending on their rank; players were only allowed to play a room matching their current class or one class below. And there are a lot of games that use zoning via 1vs1 ladders (e.g. Puyo Puyo Tetris, Tetris Effect Connected, Tetrio): Instead of joining a specific room, players click a "join league" button and the game will automatically choose the next opponent, depending on ranking (and last opponent) whereas the range of opponents is increased the longer you wait. However, those zoning mechanics only work well, if the user base is big enough. So I think, currently the best thing Cultris II could do is reducing the skill gap via room options, either slowing the game down (because this will result in less percentual speed difference) or decreasing the effect of speed (or making the outcome of a round more RNG based).

7/15/2021 5:09:45 PM
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Daniel.

Re: Reasons why Cultris II didn't profit from the NES Tetris hype

I think Cultris II is on the surface level a very similar game to NES Tetris, especially if you are a newcomer to C2. But the problem is combined with many factors including with speed differences, combo ability, stacking skill, timing skill, etc... C2 is a multiplayer game and NES Tetris is still singleplayer - James Clewett's style back and forth tetris sending. Keeping composure is the same in both games, but to lose over and over again in C2 as a new player is no fun, if a bunch of people starting playing C2 magically, maybe a group of 80-100 regular new players then it would attract even more, the problem is consistency, not the game's style. People might be put off with the combo system too AND then speed, speed I think is not as big a problem vs newer and slower players if they have good downstacking abilities from NES, it just takes time and practice and most importantly PATIENCE. I do think Zoning is a good idea. The 'Rookie Playground' room is a bad attempt at this IMO. 

The biggest question I have is, are regular C2 players who have been playing for years now doing so because they once played another tetris game beforehand and then stuck with C2 because of friends from said game(s) coming over and joining with them on C2? If so then I can see the polarity of newer players from NES not wanting to progress further in C2 by putting in time, effort and practice. They have no reason to. No friendly opponents, just FFA destruction and domination is their only welcoming. I do think the offline and online challenges are a good way to build up your experience and skill before joining FFA, but that takes at least a year. There needs to be zoning, TETR.IO is the best example I can think of with the matchmaking searching... system. I also prefer the ranking system there, also the availability of more stats, replays and more features. Something to keep players competitive with each other ACROSS ALL LEVELS, but also to have fun with but still have some motivating factors through these features and stats.

 

Thoughts? Let's keep this conversation going and hopefully come to a conclusion at least on why C2 player base is stagnant and how to increase it while keeping new players active! :)

7/22/2021 6:51:31 AM
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Re: Reasons why Cultris II didn't profit from the NES Tetris hype

Maybe we can try allowing the 60BPM room to be ranked? It's the easiest way to provide some kind of zoning. which I agree is a big hurdle for new players.  It's not even a matter of not be able to win rounds for them. They literally are NOT PLAYING because they die in a few seconds and then have to wait a few minutes for another round.

I think NES tetris and Cultris 2 are quite different games. It's like saying Marathon or Ultra is like guideline multiplayer.  It seems many NES Tetris players are not interested in Multiplayer tetris and vice versa.

From what I understand the influence of C1's player base really enjoyed the combo aspect of the game and is probably the most defining thing about cultris,  not that it's one preview /no hold / non bag randomizer which it shares with NES tetris.

There are a bunch of old tetris like games whos playerbase c2 did have success capturing:
Tetrinet, blockbox, quadra, blockles, Leila and bigfish came from some swedish tetris game, and recently there was a group of players from cyberjeugos (a mexican tetris game).

In general, I'm not too in favor of adding more options to the game:

1. More modes tend to split the player base, we want everyone to be playing the same game and some of the change suggestions like changing the combo timer to something else, makes it a very different game.

2. Some of these options cause balance issues, and not new player friendly (eg the I piece spawning vertical vs horizontal).  Tbh more and more players just stick with SRS, with very few exceptions the other rotations and orientations are only there for the legacy players.

tweaking the combo table / timer can probably lower the advantage of playing purely for speed vs good decision making.
For example: reducing the amount of combo time loss overtime and increasing the amount of combo time loss for dropping a block puts more emphasis on decision making while still keeping the game relatively the same.

The userbase for mobile gaming far exceeds desktop browser / client and should be something to consider.

7/22/2021 12:49:43 PM
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Re: Reasons why Cultris II didn't profit from the NES Tetris hype

Maybe we can try allowing the 80BPM room to be ranked?

If there was a second ranked score, then ranked 1vs1 would make more sense - maybe as matchmaking / ladder.

It seems many NES Tetris players are not interested in Multiplayer tetris and vice versa.

Interest is not the big issue here. The issue is that most NES players don't really know multiplayer Tetris. Honestly, NES players aren't very knowledgable of Tetris. Most of them don't even know the SNES version (which has multiplayer and uses the same rotation system). If they know multiplayer, then from official games which are fundamentally different.

A thing I want to mention because it kinda fits here: Fan-made games tend to be clones of existing games. The only competitive modes in guideline Tetris are multiplayer and 40L sprint. So, the creators who come from guideline Tetris community focus their games around multiplayer and sprint. Their main goal is to create a lagfree and faster version (because faster sprint times). But otherwise the creators copy almost every other aspect of guideline Tetris (SRS, hold, bag randomizer, many previews) and miss chances to add good singleplayer modes beside sprint (except cheese - dunno why cheese is not part of official games). Similar holds for creators who come from the TGM community: Their main goal is to make an accessible version of those Arcade games. They often try to replicate the rules of the original games to the smallest detail (although some rules don't make much sense, e.g. because of the rotation system you usually have to rotate a piece before it spawns or otherwise it gets stuck) and miss chances to add a good multiplayer mode or singleplayer modes that weren't in the original games. The NES Tetris community is still too young to have produced fan-made games but Tetris Effect Connected has a replica of how NES Tetris is used in the Classic Tetris World Championship. 

So what I tried to say: Guideline fans only make guideline clones and don't care about adding a good marathon mode. TGM fans make only TGM clones and don't care about adding a versus mode. And NES fans will make only NES clones and don't care about adding a versus mode. The lack of classic-like Versus games isn't caused by a lack of interest. It is caused by the narrow mindset of creators of fan-made games.

Some of these options cause balance issues, and not new player friendly (eg the I piece spawning vertical vs horizontal).  Tbh more and more players just stick with SRS, with very few exceptions the other rotations and orientations are only there for the legacy players.

Different spawning orientations cause balance issues regarding top out and playing under high gravity. So much is true. But I am still a big supporter of that option. I originate from Multris, a now defunctioning online game that used to have vertical spawning orientations. For that reason I still play Cultris 2 with vertical spawning orientations to this day. There was already Cultris 2 when I discovered the existence of the Cultris "franchise". Nonetheless, I had played Cultris 1 instead of Cultris 2 for over a year, until there were not enough players left. And that for two simple reasons: Cultris 1 was not as resource hungry and I could play Cultris 1 with the same rotation system as in Multris (L,J,T,S,Z pieces spawned righthanded in Multris & Cultris 1, like they do in NES Tetris).

The userbase for mobile gaming far exceeds desktop browser / client and should be something to consider.

The thing is that Tetris doesn't work well on smart phones. I have tried to play mobile Tetris with on-screen buttons, one-touch mechanics and swiping but all these input methods suck beyond repair. I also don't like to play Tetris with a controller. For me, the ideal multiplayer Tetris client is a downloadable PC game that is also available for browser (Tetrio acquires most of its users via the browser version but the experienced players will use the downloadable version because it is not as resource hungry).

7/23/2021 1:34:23 AM
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Re: Reasons why Cultris II didn't profit from the NES Tetris hype

Are there any signed hardback or paperback copies available?
7/24/2021 10:44:51 PM
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Re: Reasons why Cultris II didn't profit from the NES Tetris hype

I might be the NES player who loves Cultris 2 the most (but certainly not the only one who plays).

I actually try to get NES players into this in a nearly evangelical way with almost no success ever.  It might be the need to download a thing and our average age just seems to make that too much or something, I dont really know i sure want this game to be amoung the premire tetris games out there.

I honestly would not change anything about this game in terms of its mechanics and rules, I love the ways its simialr to NES but love the ways its different too, so I dont have much helpful to offer, haha

7/28/2021 12:33:52 PM
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Re: Reasons why Cultris II didn't profit from the NES Tetris hype

The only other NES player I am aware of is JakeGames2 (with just 260 games played online). What's your take on SNES Tetris multiplayer? What do you like and dislike about it compared to Cultris 2? And if let's say Tetris Effect Connected had "Classic Versus Battle", would you play it as much as "Classic Score Attack"?