Tool-assisted game movies
When human skills are just not enough

Submission #4635: slamo's DOS Commander Keen 4 "paddle war" in 00:01.66

Console: DOS
Game name: Commander Keen 4
Game version: unknown
ROM filename:
Branch: paddle war
Emulator: JPC-RR r11.8 rc2
Movie length: 00:01.66
FrameCount: 99
Re-record count: 80
Author's real name: MRT
Author's nickname: slamo
Submitter: slamo
Submitted at: 2015-04-01 05:30:44
Text last edited at: 2015-04-04 10:06:34
Text last edited by: Mothrayas
Download: Download (2343 bytes)
Status: decision: rejected
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Author's comments and explanations:

(Link to video)

This movie uses Keen 4 v1.4, which can be downloaded for free on the 3D Realms legacy site: http://legacy.3drealms.com/keen4/index.html

  Tracks: 16
  Sides: 16
  Sectors 63
  Total Sectors: 16128
  MD5: dd5f0aba8d13c390b209f7a9a6ba494c
  Entry: N/A            N/A                                       7 /
  Entry: 19900101000000 125c93a549a3e5b2ab4c6c6ec1ad3e7d      33325 /AUDIO.CK4
  Entry: 19900101000000 af43c120c2c322e2bd4e1e7cad7678f2       5375 /DOPEFISH.ANS
  Entry: 19900101000000 e38064818169e365bcff61dbaec55aef     520581 /EGAGRAPH.CK4
  Entry: 19900101000000 9e1811deb429f7edc6bffa5bb786ebb4      99040 /GAMEMAPS.CK4
  Entry: 19900101000000 56de6f7f48300a0774e194f7ed98811d     105108 /KEEN4E.EXE
  Entry: 19900101000000 063d3bfda9c014b6395c1aa952ad2f8b       5714 /ORDER.FRM
  Entry: 19900101000000 241452c154120ce6b06d21479e4dc188       7459 /VENDOR.DOC

Paddle War is a mini-game available through the menu in Commander Keen 4 through 6. It is essentially a pong clone where the first to 21 points wins. Many Keen players have fond (or frustrating) memories of taking breaks to play this little game. Matches can be intense and may require good reaction times and precise movement. In this TAS, I demonstrate that none of these skills are necessary.

The Goal

While it might be intuitive to just win a match quickly through precise movement and a sound strategy, I prefer a less pragmatic approach. I want to end input as early as possible. Ideally, I would just start up the game and not move at all, but a small amount of that pesky "effort" may be required.


Randomness manifests itself in this mini-game through ball spawning directions. There are three possible spawns: slightly to the right, straight ahead, and slightly to the left. These spawn directions are very important, since without movement the maximum amount of spawn directions that will result in contact is two, with the other being a guaranteed score for the CPU. Luck manipulation is not viable since the RNG only advances upon a ball spawning, although I wouldn't want to do manipulation anyway because that requires effort (and inputs). The only viable way to change results is to affect the initial RNG seed by adjusting the initial RTC time. To quote the great turska:

The Position

The final position of the paddle is the key to winning without movement. We want a position which will result in favorable contact on two out of the three possible spawn directions. There are a few possibilities here, but moving only two units to the left is ideal. A spawn straight ahead deflects the ball to the right corner and is almost a guaranteed score, and a spawn to the left has a possibility of scoring if the CPU is in a bad position. And because of the limited CPU paddle speed, a score in the corner guarantees yet another point on the respawn since the paddle can't get back to the center in time, and perhaps an additional point if we're really lucky with the second respawn. One begins to see how an effortless win is possible with enough fortune...

The Results

So yeah, I won 21-20 without moving the paddle past the initial two units. I don't want to mislead anyone on the amount of time this took and the rarity of this event: I got this result within the first few RTC times I tried. I would roughly estimate about 20% of RTC times I used resulted in a win. Strangely enough, after many attempts to get a faster victory, I got this exact same result several times, as well as many identical losses. There is a bit more of a pattern to the RNG than I initially thought.

Suggested Screenshots

Mothrayas: Clever idea, but turska showed the run is slower than real time records with the same strategy. (Given the brevity of gameplay input, I'd also argue the category is insufficiently different from unassisted gameplay in general). Rejecting.

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