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What made Tetris special?

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Ive been playing alot of my glassic games lately, trying to figure out the details of why they're better than other games. While playing Tetris,I couldnt really put my finger on it. Why has tetris been a staple in the puzzle genre so long, and why arent other puzzle games anywhere near as popular? Does anyone have any ideas? Im thinking theres some psychological link to the way the pieces fit together; we like it because our brains understand it subconciously

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You've probably hit the nail on the head by saying our brains subconciously understand it. It can be played instantly without 'learning',has strong shapes and colours that we recognise from a young age and it's addictive!.

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definitely the simplicity of the game was the selling factor.

i mean imagine a fighting where all the special moves and regular moves were accessible with one button push and combos were executed with two button pushes. simplicity is where it's at my friend [smile]

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In most popular games, there are the action packed scenes that require the player to use all of his/her skill. Then there arte the other scenes where the player gets to relax. This happens in tetris without any extra programming. When the player makes a mistake and the blocks build up, the player is forced to be skillfull or s/he will loose. Once the player clears most of the lines, the player gets a break. I think its this blend of ease and diffaculty that makes it a good game.

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Original post by chaosgame
In most popular games, there are the action packed scenes that require the player to use all of his/her skill. Then there arte the other scenes where the player gets to relax. This happens in tetris without any extra programming. When the player makes a mistake and the blocks build up, the player is forced to be skillfull or s/he will loose. Once the player clears most of the lines, the player gets a break. I think its this blend of ease and diffaculty that makes it a good game.



You're right! I've never thought of that, but it makes alot of sense.

Thats another thing about tetris that confused me. I liked it alot, but its really repedative (at least on the surface). 99% of repedative games I play, I never play again.

I wonder what other similiarities to action games Tetris has.

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True, you keep doing the same thing over and over again; fit the pieces together to make a line. But the order that the pieces fall in are random, so despite the same old rules, you still have to deal with the unexpected. And, to me, that's where the challenge lies.

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Tetris is the purest abstraction of a game. It's all gameplay. The idea of tetris does not depend on the hardware, software. 2D, 3D, it's still the same game. It also has no correlation to the real world; ie. pong = tennis. I think that's why it's regarded as such a masterpiece.

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Original post by vnillabrent
It also has no correlation to the real world; ie. pong = tennis. I think that's why it's regarded as such a masterpiece.


Lies! I can't think of a day going by without using my powerful knowledge of Tetris helping me!

I never really did like Tetris, I guess i just 'missed' that band wagon. Although my generation is the shoot 'em up, must have super 3d graphics! (What you say? No realistic eye brow simulation? Is that even a GAME?! hehe) generation so.. maybe thats why. It's you old people and your love for wishing you were kids again! :P

-Limb

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Original post by Oluseyi
Uh... Nintendo GameBoy™.

The Nintendo GameBoy was cheap, portable, long-lasting, and came with Tetris. Between them, they made each other pop culture phenomena. The rest, as they say, is history.

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Sorry that stupid random logout problem erased part of my post, I meant to ask what was the first system Tetris came out on as a kind of pop-quiz. (Hint: not the gameboy)

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Original post by zarthrag
Sorry that stupid random logout problem erased part of my post, I meant to ask what was the first system Tetris came out on as a kind of pop-quiz. (Hint: not the gameboy)


The computer. As to which one I am too lazy to find out.

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Original post by Oluseyi
Uh... Nintendo GameBoy™.

The Nintendo GameBoy was cheap, portable, long-lasting, and came with Tetris. Between them, they made each other pop culture phenomena. The rest, as they say, is history.


I think the Gameboy helped, but i dont think that the gameboy is why Tetris is the number 1 most copied game in the histopy of games. There are countless Tetris Clones. Also, most people that arent realgamers havent played the gameboy, yet most people have played a version of tetris.

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Original post by Garmichael
Ive been playing alot of my glassic games lately, trying to figure out the details of why they're better than other games.

While playing Tetris,I couldnt really put my finger on it. Why has tetris been a staple in the puzzle genre so long, and why arent other puzzle games anywhere near as popular?


Does anyone have any ideas?

Im thinking theres some psychological link to the way the pieces fit together; we like it because our brains understand it subconciously


Talk to someone woman, she will say "why?mm.. cause its easy, it have colors and it have a nice music ^^". In fact, you still can see people (specially women) playing Pacman or Puzzle Booble and both are best sellings.

And tetris is popular because it *can* be ported in almost any console, pc, arcade, cells, calcs...

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Original post by Garmichael
I think the Gameboy helped, but i dont think that the gameboy is why Tetris is the number 1 most copied game in the histopy of games. There are countless Tetris Clones. Also, most people that arent realgamers havent played the gameboy, yet most people have played a version of tetris.
You're missing the point. The GameBoy and Tetris became icons together, which helped popularize the idea of Tetris sufficiently for it to become the most popular game of all time. After the GameBoy, we started to see specialized handhelds that played nothing but Tetris. This was 20 years ago, just in case you're lacking the necessary perspectival distance.

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Original post by Oluseyi
Quote:
Original post by Garmichael
I think the Gameboy helped, but i dont think that the gameboy is why Tetris is the number 1 most copied game in the histopy of games. There are countless Tetris Clones. Also, most people that arent realgamers havent played the gameboy, yet most people have played a version of tetris.
You're missing the point. The GameBoy and Tetris became icons together, which helped popularize the idea of Tetris sufficiently for it to become the most popular game of all time. After the GameBoy, we started to see specialized handhelds that played nothing but Tetris. This was 20 years ago, just in case you're lacking the necessary perspectival distance.

Certainly Tetris became so incredibly popular due to the GameBoy (and vice versa), but that isn't the only element involved. Tetris is a very special game on any system, in a way that, say, Columns never was. I've seen two people compelled by Tetris that didn't realise the object was to complete lines. They thought the goal was to build a big wall without destroying any by making a line.

I can't quite explain that, but it's obviously a powerful game on some level. I do know that it is extremely finely tuned: Pajitnov spent a long time testing out possibilities, and although there are variant versions, anything that deviates from the seven tetronimoes and and a pit ten squares wide by twenty deep isn't really compelling.

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I'm not a great fan of tetris, but here's a couple of thoughts.

Quote:
Original post by Garmichael
Thats another thing about tetris that confused me. I liked it alot, but its really repedative (at least on the surface). 99% of repedative games I play, I never play again.


Then again, even though tetris is repetitive, no two games are exactly the same. You could argue that this holds for most other games, but tetris doesn't "waste" your time by making you watch the same old cinematics every time you play, you don't have to read through the same dialogues every time, etc. Even though it fundamentally doesn't have any additional content to enhance replayability, it doesn't have the additional, fixed content which hinders replayability like in many more complicated games. Two game sessions (one session meaning here playing from the beginning to the point where you lose) of tetris feel (in my opinion) less repetitive than, say, two sessions of Neverwinter Nights, as in Neverwinter Nights you have less control over what is going to happen in the world — no matter what decisions you make, you still cure the plague, kill the big bad guy etc.

Also, if you don't mind repetition, tetris is fun even when starting a new game after losing. One game session won't take days or months (at least I'd assume most players won't last that long), so when you lose, it's not really all that much you lost. Heck, tetris has "permadeath", but no one complains about it. That must mean starting from beginning in tetris is not as painful as in, say, rpgs? And the gameplay of rpgs can be just as repetitive. All in all, tetris has great replayability.

Tetris doesn't enforce you to certain ethics. You don't have to live in a world where killing is right or wrong because of all sort of questions on valour, honour, and the like. In other words, tetris has no implicit opinions (unless you really really try to find them, like the preference of number four to other numbers or something like that). Tetris is also non-violent.

Tetris has the ultimate suspension of disbelief — there is nothing to disbelief. As vnillabrent already stated, tetris is about as abstract as you can get. The rules are simple enough to understand and to accept. There really is no frame of reference to the real world on which to base accusations of "non-realism".

Tetris is also a game where you don't need to think (at least if you play it long enough) but rather rely on your reflexes and intuition.

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I'd say it was the heavy communist undertones. Notice that despite the fact that the blocks came in many shapes and colors, they where all "equal" (you couldn't make a line out of less blocks just because one shape or color was of a higher class).

Quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
Uh... Nintendo GameBoy™.

The Nintendo GameBoy was cheap, portable, long-lasting, and came with Tetris. Between them, they made each other pop culture phenomena. The rest, as they say, is history.


With a set of batteries, the blue/red plastic headphones, and a link cable. I got that 15 years ago when it first came out...

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Original post by Michalson
I'd say it was the heavy communist undertones. Notice that despite the fact that the blocks came in many shapes and colors, they where all "equal" (you couldn't make a line out of less blocks just because one shape or color was of a higher class).


Incorrect - there is a very distinctive hierarchy in tetris.

long thin > L shaped > square > zigzag

The long thin block gets you maximum payoff, allowing you to clear four lines simultaneously, provided you're prepared to take the risk.

The L shaped block is the next most valuable. Slightly less risky to use, can offset some of the risk of the long thin block strategy, also works well with itself, and with square blocks. Probably the best all-rounder, and potentially allows you to clear 3 lines at a time.

The square is fairly crap, but at least it's easy to use. Maximum payoff, two lines. Overall, the square is a bit 'meh'.

The zigzag is the black sheep of the bunch. There are the odd occasion where it's the most useful piece, but usually only because you've been mucked up by a previous zigzag block. You can get at most two lines out of it, and usually less. In short, the zigzags are crap blocks.

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Wow, theres alot of good ideas here about why Tetris is set apart in a genre that is 99% crap. Most puzzle games dont hold people's attention for more than a week at the most.

What Sandman said about the heirarchal structure is true.
Adding to that, it seems that each of the pieces is a character of sorts. Each piece plays their own role in the game. If you have a long pit thats only 1 square wide, you need a Horizontal line. If you have a pit onthe side of a wall, you need either a zigzag, an L, or a T to slide in. If you have a two spaced gap, you need either the L or the Cube. Really, as you're building your lines, there are specific pieces that you need that cant be substituted for other pieces. It causes problems if you put a zigzag in 2x2 pit, because you create a hole thats covered.

Like Sandman said, each piece has its individual measurement of how much it can help you. The most usefull piece is the Line, then the T, then the L, then the ZigZag, and finially the square. Also, each piece has a measurement of how much it can HURT you, too. The square has the most potential for making holes and pits, then the zigzag, then the L, then the T, then the Line has the least potential for hurting. Coincidently, the list of helping potential is exactly backwards from the list of hurting potential.

I think the shapes have a big role in what makes tetris. Remember Tetris 2? Its just not as fun. They cahnged the rules, but had the rules been the same - but different pieces - then i still doubt it'd be as fun.

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