Hey guys time to do a little reflecting. Grab your popcorn because it's going to be a long one.
So the new news is I finally scored a million points (1,022,700) last week with my second killscreen. Yay! Pretty big! It took me 16 months to go from my first and only other kill screen to get the million. A big thank you to everyone who rooted for me and congratulated me. The DK community makes playing all the more fun and exciting. Also, through a stroke of luck, the same day that I scored the million, later that night, at Retro Arcade Night in Ft. Lauderdale, I got to take a thumbs up picture with Billy Mitchell congratulating me on my score. That was a real thrill and quite a day!
I want to mention here a bit about why I play DK. To start, I began playing DK because of KoK and the nostalgia I had from playing DK as a kid. I continued to play DK for two reasons. One it is fun and second and more importantly to me is that it is an extremely difficult challenge. I think that there are other classic games that are more difficult (I always think Defender) but DK is certainly very difficult. So today the main reason that I play is the personal challenge to raise my skill and score. I am trying to stress personal challenge. It's not about the world record, or prizes, or wanting attention. It's because I stubbornly (donkey) refuse to give up. I think of it like mountain climbing, like I am trying to climb Mount Kong! I never wanted to be the best, but I've always wanted to be one of the best. If you read the beginning of my blog, I mention that, I think it was 2011, I was ranked 19th on TG with 535k. At that point I thought I was one of the best and was content to stop playing, especially because there was no community like the DK forum back then. A few years later, and until now, I clearly was not one of the best and was ranked 68th on the forum around 2013 with that 535k. Somehow that lit a huge fire under me to keep improving my game. I would not be happy until I felt I was one of the best again. That's just how I looked at it and what has motivated me. Even with my first killscreen, as time went by and tons more players were playing, I had dropped back down to the mid 60's rank.
So I'd like to recap the last 16 months. First off, as soon as I got my first kill screen I was immediately asked what my next goal was and if I was going for a million. Honestly, I felt like getting the killscreen was such a major accomplishment and I didn't really have any further goals. But I had come to really love DK and I didn't want to stop playing. My KS was 837k and I knew that to get a million I would have to do something that I didn't really want to do. Point press. I used to see the top players point pressing, and I just thought that they were crazy and I didn't want to do it. So I spent three months doing nothing but practicing lvl 5 bottom hammer on MAME save state. I thought that I would go back to my cab, add in the bottom hammer, and achieve another high score. But that's when things fell apart. I had become 'rusty' in playing a full game. Even though I had a ton of experience, I spent the next several months basically sucking at the first four levels. It took me even longer than that to fully get my wild barrel skills fully under control. Then overall I had major issues with a couple of things. First, the various combo barrel jumps during 'transition' was killing me. When you run the board to the top you're mainly avoiding combo barrel jumping issues but after incorporating the bottom hammer, the transition game just opened a whole can of worms that took a lot of time and experience to work out. Another flaw I had not worked out was bottom hammer fade timing and also what I'll call 'barrel alignments' prior to transition. So I continued to work on these things but something else continued to happen. Basically, for many many months, I just kept finding like a million different ways to randomly die. Many of these deaths were not related to a particular skill set or strategy. It was just always some small momentary mistake and it seemed never ending. I turned off many many games and quit because I died on lvl 5 or 6 for some stupid reason. For quite a while I was playing at a 975k pace but could not stop making random mistakes. The minute my first man died due to a random mistake I would become very upset. A lot of times I would quit the game after the first or second mistake. Around this time I began to add barrel grouping to my game. I had already practiced grouping on MAME and understood the basics so in a game when I would die I would keep playing but add grouping into the game since I figured my game was over anyways. As my grouping skills became more solid (I still have flaws), I began always grouping and noticed my pace had improved to over 1 million. But I still continued to make random mistakes. I couldn't stop making mistakes. It was becoming increasing frustrating, especially when I was putting so much mental effort into it. We had the last online tourney and I continued to make mistakes. All my games I played through would end up around the 500k range. So honestly guys, I started to feel really embarrassed about my scores. I had recently met a bunch of people in the community IRL and I was just embarrassed that with so much effort I was still on 'fluke' status with only one killscreen. But I started to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Even though I was very disappointed that I didn't score well in the online tourney (the last for a qualifying spot for the kong off), I had been spending extra time playing DK and my first man score had been greatly improving. This was a big sign that all the pieces of my game were coming together. I was getting close. I began to feel confident in my skills and instead of fearing the inevitable mistake, my feeling was that I didn't expect to die. Then one other thing happened worth mentioning. When I play DK, I assume because of some sort of mental anxiety (plus the florida humidity), my hand gets sweaty. All this time I have had a golf towel and after every board I wipe my hand and the joystick so my hand doesn't slip. Well, in my last game of the tourney, on my last man at around 600k, due to my hand being sweaty, my hand flew off the joystick and I died. I was tired of dealing with it, and it had just cost me an important score, so I decided to do something else about it, and went out and bought a golf glove. Problem solved. It worked great. I didn't have to worry about my hand slipping any more. Then a few weeks later I had a 600k first man on lvl 13 (game ended at 700k). I felt very confident after that game and I knew I was getting close. Then shortly after, last week, I finally scored the million. It's funny that I was just soo thrilled. I had spent so much time and effort into it, banging my head against the wall, disappointment after disappointment. It was such a relief to have achieved my goal. I managed to become the 20th person to get a million on a cabinet and I am currently ranked 23rd overall, 18th on a cabinet. That makes me happy.
So here I am today and now the new KS, the new million, is 1.1. It's never good enough is it?! Haha! Honestly, before my first KS, I never thought I'd get a million. But I continued to put one foot in front of the other and stubbornly (donkey) refused to quit. I definitely never had intentions for 1.1. I really never even thought about it. But... I found some motivation looking at the scoreboard. First, I notice that for quite a while in my game I was playing at about 1.05 pace, and I realize that I steered a lot of barrels away and also that I stopped grouping at 17-3. So... I think if I could improve my start score a bit (109k isn't good enough), manage to group the entire game (extra man in the bank), and I steer less barrels away (jump more), AND I modify my bottom hammer strategy (don't grab hammer when fireball comes up early), then there is a chance I could get 1.1. Now, that is all far easier said than done. Although I do have confidence in my game, I am fully aware of the luck factor and the difficulty in what has eluded me, consistency. But what I'm thinking is that for the skill level that I am at, it is still a matter of baby steps, one foot in front of the other, that could get me there. The other motivation is the Kong Off. IF I were to score 1.1 (top 10), I believe that would earn me an invitation to the Kong Off and that would be very exciting to be able to compete at that level. Not there yet! Some other scores such as 1.05 or 1.075 would also be fun for me as it relates to Billy, Steve, and Corey. As of today, I am planning on going either way because I realize that getting to know people in the community is actually more fun than playing. And I don't have to feel embarrassed about being on fluke status anymore! Maybe if they have a walk up bracket I could play but either way I would enjoy being there. I kind of regret not going last year when I was offered the last spot kind of at the last minute due to drop outs. I didn't want to go and not be competative but I think now that was a mistake because I missed out on a lot of fun.
Last note is that I took out my high score save kit out of my cabinet because it doesn't save scores over 1 million. I won't have to worry about verification plus it's no fun it didn't save my score.
P.S. It's Superbowl Sunday. Go Pats!!!