Donnerstag, 3. September 2020

Further route improvements & analysis

I continue to play Imperishable Night extra with Youmu. Compared to April, the route has not changed that much but some potential changes and actual changes were found and made. 
Let's start chronologically in the stage:

 It is possible to enter the midboss with about 3,000 graze more than what I currently do. I don't graze these bullets for cancel convenience, but doing so would be a fairly significant improvement in the route, as this is before even the first boss pattern in the stage. I did the math before, looking at how many bullets each pattern has and we're looking at 7m-8m score improvement, more or less. This is obviously not accurate as cancels will be different here and there since the amount of bullets when you cancel a pattern doesn't always have the same amount of bullets onscreen. The improvement in undeniable however. Doing it would increase the number of resets tremendously though, so I opted out of it for my current goal. 

Next up we have Keine's first spell. In the last blog post I mentioned how I hadn't been able to find an improvement for it. This changed not long after. The improvement seems fairly small with 50-80 extra graze, but this is deceptive. This small graze improvement gains me 2m-3m score, due to the extra time gained keeping the spell bonus of the spell higher than it would otherwise have been. On a spell like Xu Fu or Honest Man's Death where you cap the spell bonus either way, this kind of gain isn't very large but for both Keine's first and her third spell, this doesn't apply. This new strat is also more consistent than the old one, even if it's harder in execution, because it removes the RNG element the spell had. You can find it here.

Next up is not a route improvement, but simply a vastly improved practice PB for Ichijou. Since 2015 (!) my practice PB for Keine's second spell was 2827 graze. Earlier this week however, I beat it and got 2892 graze on it. 65 graze doesn't sound like a lot but it's a significant improve at that level and also confirms that 2900 is definitely possible; something of which I wasn't certain before. This raises the theoretical maximum of the stage by roughly 2m score. I have uploaded it on Youtube as well. Additionally, I personally feel like my average went up its fair share, albeit my consistency suffers a bit in return. I'll have to practice this a bit more extensively in the near future so both things work out for me.

The last improvement I have to note since the last blog entry is that I managed to break 50m spell bonus for Imperishable Shooting. This is already some time back, and I have beaten that first 50m already, with my current highest spell bonus being 50,080,000. You can watch my first 50m replay here.

What follows is not actual improvements but rather some analysis I did on some things. I'm putting this here mostly for documentation purposes as I don't think this is particularly interesting to most people.

The first thing I want to talk about is xu fu. I've mentioned before that it is an incredibly difficult pattern to optimize. This obviously hasn't changed but for a long time I hadn't actually looked at the pattern more closely. It turned out that my practice PB (the only replay I have that is over 15,000 time) ends up making larger strides than I anticipated, also on parts I didn't expect. This replay is also 5 years old at this point and the break I took starting in 2017 certainly didn't help my memory. Armed with this new (old?) knowledge, I can try and aim for a much higher average, I believe. This may have felt obvious but knowing how much the grazing can be stretched per cycle is actually quite important and I had apparently forgotten. 

The last thing I want to talk about is not in regards to a specific pattern but in regards to Youmu's time gain in attacks where Mokou's phoenix has a hitbox. Technically speaking, in those attacks, Mokou has three separate hitboxes, two of which do not have a collision box. These are the two wings and Mokou herself. However, what is important is how the damage is distributed and how the time gain work for these when shooting unfocused. I wanted to find out which way of shooting those three hitboxes would end up gaining the most time. The reason this might be problematic on Youmu is that her option deals half damage when hitting the same target as the main shot, which leads to lower time gain as that's tied to damage dealt to a target. My testing ended up suggesting that shooting the wings gains the most time, but that it also makes no difference whether both shot hit the same wing or whether I angle the option and hit the other wing with it. The time gained was identical. If my testing was accurate (which I believe it was), that means that the wings and Mokou are all linked in terms of damage/time gain, rather then being entirely disconnected hitboxes from each other. This is different from familiars, who have their own health, which in turn in linked to the boss HP. A familiar having their own health means that Youmu's option deals double damage to it, gaining more time. This not being the case with the wings is an incredibly important discovery because that means angling Youmu's shot if there are no familiars on the other wing is pointless and just makes it unnecessarily harder. Additionally, getting more time by shooting the wings rather than Mokou herself is proof that Mokou takes less damage from her wings, but the difference in time game is not nearly as large as it is for familiars. A familiar transmit 50% of the damage it takes to the boss, whereas the wings transmit I assume 75%. 

This discovery means that shooting angled on attacks like Flying Phoenix or the final three non spells, which all spawn no familiars at all, gains no score compared to just hitting one side of the wing. This is obviously different for spells like Iwakasa or Phoenix Tail, which have familiar spawns. The pattern I tested it on was the final non spell, and instead of ~700 time, I gained just under 900 time. This means potentially ~600 more time from the final three non spells at a high level. This is significant at a level higher than what I play, and will play a role in the future if someone tries to get a score of 3.3b. 

As it stands right now, the theory maximum of this stage lies somewhere between 3.33b and 3.35b. I'd have to do the math for something more precise, but this is not quite enough leverage to get to 3.3b itself, unfortunately; even at the high end of 3.35b. I will continue to play and hopefully raise the potential of this extra.

Thanks for reading.

Freitag, 10. April 2020

Past the point of stupid

To the two people maybe reading this: you're good guys, but you waste a lot of time checking dead websites.

So my last blog post was almost three years ago. It wasn't long after that I ended up quitting Touhou altogether. I indeed ended up never PBing again, which means that even to this day, my Imperishable Night extra PB is standing at 3.15b. It is, at the same time, for some reason still the world record.

In February of this year, I restarted playing with the only category I really know - Imperishable Night extra. There have been numerous improvements in routing since January 2016, and even more improvements since I restarted two months ago. As it stands right now, the theoretical maximum score for Youmu should lie somewhere between 3.31b and 3.32b. I don't doubt that this will go higher eventually. Maybe in some years someone will actually produce a run that scores that high - when grazing is more optimized, spell strategies are improved and stage routes are better than they are now. 

However, this is not my goal. Right now, I'm simply looking to improve the world record by just over 40m, meaning I want to get a score that lies in the 3.2b range. This is definitely possible as I've improved on many things and the only place where I should notably lose score is Keine's second spell Ichijou as that was simply incredible in my PB. What I want to do with this blog entry is take everyone reading this through a potential run that would not die anywhere. I may also describe the reason for the improvement if it's worth mentioning.

 I'll start by saying that the eventual score could be anywhere from just barely reaching 3.2b to as high as 3.24b, depending on how well things go.

We start the stage with some pretty boring stuff, the furballs, the frame perfect cancel I never hit and the big fairies. Afterwards, however, we have three of the hardest cancels in all of Imperishable Night. The thing is that in the extra, familiar killing isn't a huge issue compared to the main game - unless you're playing at a high level, or in my case try to. The two five fairy cancels and the ten fairy cancel all combine very precise damage control, timing and positioning. The ten fairy cancel in might just be the most complicated and precise cancel in all of Touhou that isn't just RNG based. I never counted frames on these cancels so I don't want to name some random frame numbers. Just know that the window for the best cancel is not only dependent on the right frames but also your positioning. If your position is bad, then their spawning bullets will have an awkward angle, which will translate into less time for your cancel. This reason for that is, despite the familiars coming in at the same angle, is that you have only a small window in which you can actually cancel those bullets with the slightly trailing familiars (they're shot at the same time but the bullets' spawn movement is much faster). That means that your positioning needs to be far away from the fairies that you want to kill for clearing the clusters, but you can't just sit in the corner. Because for all three cancels, you want to basically cancel out the remaining clusters with the second waves of familiars shot. Important to note that if you damage control was not on point here, you will break familiars and greatly reduce the potential time gain. With teams, this can obviously be mitigated as you can just bypass the familiars but doing the cancels in human form is optimal. If every cancel up to Keine was absolutely perfect, I estimate Youmu could gain anywhere from 15,100 to 15,300 time. This will basically never be reached but it should be noted. The world record gets 13,800 time entering the mid boss, so this is a big point of improvement. you can calculate about a million score gain per 100 time for this point. As the cancels are overall pretty difficult, I usually end up with less than 14,300. 

Keine's first spell has actually not changed since 2016. I sometimes looked at it again to try and see if there was an improvement but I haven't been successful yet. Maybe I'll find something eventually but I don't think it would be a good idea anyway. It would just be connected with more precise positioning and repositioning. This extra stage is already tight enough as it is, if you ask me. This spell has basically no variance either so it should always give around the same amount of score. 

Keine's second spell obviously did not change either, but this time, there is a lot more variance to it. On a good day, I can match what I gained in my PB (over 2700 graze) but on bad days, I might go as low as 2450 or so. I already mentioned that this is where I will take a score loss, but not that big. My aim for this spell is around 2600 graze, more is welcome of course. This amount of score loss amounts to about 3.5m per 100 graze. That means if I mess up and get only 2500 graze, it's over 7m score lost compared to the world record. It's a very precise spell at that level. The important thing to note on this pattern is that it slowly rotates on itself, but there is some RNG involved in the starting position of the rotation. Some starting positions allow for very easy grazing (the one in the world record is basically optimal) and some are very hard to graze. This graze can be separated into three stages, if you will. Because the pattern rotates on itself, the way you have to move also changes slightly. You start out going into the gap between 2 lanes and 1 lane. I move to the right so the 2 lanes are on my left. This lasts only a very short time because the most profitable movement is what comes right after and I jump into it earlier than is recommended. In this phase you're basically moving along the ball of bullets. Basically that's where the graze is - the difference between 2500 and 2700 graze is how much time you spend hugging that ball. You want to do this as long as possible. You'll have to move out of the way of the bubbles that Keine shoots though. The final phase is going between the 2 lanes sets. This phase is worth the least because you spend the most time away from the ball. You want to try and keep that one very short. It is possible to get over 2800 graze on this spell, but I don't think that 2900 is very realistic for human play. Maybe with perfect movement or something. Incidentally, Youmu has an advantage on this pattern because you need the time gained from the graze to be able to push you to full human for the item collection. As Youmu goes from -50 to 50, instead of -100 to 100, this is much easier with her. If you're new to the extra stage and play a team, capping the spell 2-3 seconds earlier might be useful for the collection. Alternatively, you can use the time from the spell capture to give you full human, but it will obviously lose some spell bonus (and time, of course) on the following pattern.

Now for the black sheep of this mid boss. God, what have I done to this. Let me start by saying that this is one of the biggest improvements I have in this run and it's also a very consistent improvement that doesn't have a big graze fluctuation on a normal capture. What my PB does is very old at this point, but also incredibly easy. In 2016, t1100 showed an improvement worth about 10m to the spell, but it ended up being much harder. Basically they stream the jellybean bullets higher on the screen and therefore graze both streams of bullets, rather than just one as it used to be the case. This means that you have to reposition yourself every wave at a certain vertical height and you only have very weak visual cues like the moving pale rice bullets. However, as they are moving and seeing how you are not always moving the same, you will sometimes not have the correct height and die while streaming, which is why I consider the visual cue to be weak. At some point you develop an intuition of sorts as to what will work, but it's never truly consistent for that. Gut feeling can take you only so far. However, this was not all there was to the attack. It was in the end possible to improve it a bit more, which is what I did. In the section between positioning yourself for the streaming part of the spell, when Keine spawns the pale rice, I changed the route a little bit. Rather than just trying to almost touch all the small pillars, I try to sniff Keine's skirt. The area where I sit for just a little bit is quite small and disappears quickly. It is truly an improvement that fits into this extra stage thematically. I find that scoring in this extra can be summarized as very precise and this improvement is part of that now. It's become a very difficult spell and currently I'd put it on the same level of difficulty as Ichijou. It is probably harder to get a full timeout of this spell now than it is for Xu-Fu. It is not as difficult as Honest Man's Death or Imperishable Shooting though. My consistency on this may be worse right now but I'm much more practiced on the other extra spells. This spell now gains around 15m more score compared to the world record. If you have not seen the new spell route yet, I uploaded a video of it here

What follow is the second half of the stage portion, which is easier than the first half on a technical level. The only actually dangerous section here are the purple jelly bean fairies. With Youmu it is possible to collect a lot of items without using her bomb. In fact, Youmu has to since her bomb is pretty bad for this section. You can match the item gain from the bomb just by doing it without it. That means that sometimes you will die if you mess up the movement on this section. But normally this shouldn't be a problem once you have learned how to move. For those interested, hugging the fairies for the pale jelly beans is actually very easy. I will fail it once out of 500 times. That kind of easy. The part after is another five fairy cancel but these fairies have less health than the ones in the first half of the stage portion. Basically nicking them is all you need to do to set up your cancel. Be careful though, if you miss one of the fairies with items, you may as well reset your run. Sometimes the one second from the right will run away, but it fortunately doesn't carry any items. Nicking that one's health isn't easy, and it's more important to concentrate on the whole cancel, rather than that one fairy. The death fairy is static and always gives 2200 time. A good second half for the stage portion will yield about 11,000 time and 343+ items. Do remember that every 2 extra items increase every following time orb by 10 score. This may sound completely insignificant, but then also remember that I gain about 80,000 time orbs on Mokou. Together with the score from the item (about 900,000 in the second stage half) and the end game bonus (items * 50,000 * 2) makes every extra item worth almost 1.5m extra score on average, only actually taking effect with every 2nd extra item though. 

Now comes the boss fight. The opener is well known for spinning. A good opener will gain 4000 graze, but Youmu will not get all that in time because she starts at -50% gauge and first has to come to full youkai, which takes a bit longer than with a team or a solo youkai. Usually you can consider 3800 time to be successful. However, what is theoretically possible is to graze the wave you're usually grazing as well as grazing some of the bullets in front of you by dashing forward unfocused and then going back immediately to continue with the regular lane. This is not super difficult to do per se, but the problem here lies in the gauge control. Getting 4300 or 4400 graze with the strategy is possible and quite doable. But getting 4100 or 4200 time (minus 200 for the transition) is very difficult. So difficult in fact that I don't even consider it as a potential improvement. If I got a fantastic opener with this strat and gained 4400 graze with 4200 time gain, it would be an improvement of over 4m, maybe 5m. But more likely is that I'll gain that extra 400 graze at less than full youkai, so it's only like 1m extra score. A very tiny improvement considering you're risking your life with Youmu's unwieldy unfocused speed. Do note that this isn't trivial to do thanks to Mokou's hitbox. It's a vertically oriented rectangle that extends past her sprite. It's so large that it can kill you even in normal scoreplay. Always beware of fat bosses. 

Iwakasa is a very uneventful spell that a player with a high powered shot should have a capture rate of over 90% on. I angle my option to hit the familiars on the right for a time gain. If I remember correctly, it was actually 200 to 300 extra time compared to just shooting her as the world record does. Considering that the spell lasts insignificantly longer this way, this is basically a free improvement of about 1.5m-2m. 

The second non spell used to be an easy and free pattern but shortly after the current world record was set, it was suggested to me by Arf and Chirpy that I try spinning spinning it. At first I thought it was a stupid idea but as I fiddled around with the starting position and the pattern, I realized that this is actually a huge improvement. The spinning start above her and goes anti clockwise. The problem with this pattern compared to the opener is that if Mokou gives you bad movement RNG (vertically), then you can not continue spinning and are forced to quit. It is possible to reenter but I consider it to be a bit too risky to be worth. The good thing about this movement RNG is is that it is predictable when it is too dangerous to continue as Mokou will always move when you're below her. If she moves too high on the screen, with maximum height being certain death and close to maximum being RNG, you should stop. Another thing with this spin compared to the other one is that the lanes are messier and you have to actually move though a single lane of red amulets (exit and reenter) during the pattern. That might kill you. With Youmu, you need to be at full human going into the following spell or else you will lose significant spell bonus. So for Youmu, and most team shots as well I imagine, it is important to get back to full human on this non spell. What I do is that I spin the first 30 seconds of the non spell and take the rest of the time to go full human again. If RNG allows for this, I gain somewhere between 800-900 graze. With 800 graze, it's an improvement of just over 10m overall. And even if she doesn't allow for a full 30 seconds, it will still be worth more than doing what the world record does. 

The route for Flying Phoenix hasn't changed since 2009 and I don't think it will for solo humans and teams. I tried a few strats where I grazed it, but the time gain was too low. I lost too much spellbonus and it was really hard too. It might be worth considering for solo youkai shots but even then, spellbonus loss might just be too much. For Youmu the cancel timing is important. You want to aim for a big bullet cancel. Fortunately with Youmu's power, this is quite easy to do quickly.

Third non spell is completely uneventful. Milking it for graze unfocused gives around 1m worth of score but I don't do it. It's too little for 40 seconds extra dodging, trivial as it is. I don't need to increase my chances of failing a pattern even more. Incidentally, you could start to spin this if you start on her left. Going anti-clockwise you gain around 90 graze. This is stupid and improves the run by literally less than half a million score. Pretty funny though. 

Flawless Shrine is similar to Iwakasa in the sense that you should rarely fail it. Sometimes it will happen, but it shouldn't. I also angle my option here for ~100 extra time compared to my PB. It is not a big improvement but it's worth doing. Unlike Iwakasa though, this pattern lasts a bit longer because of this so if you're uncomfortable with this pattern for some reason, you might opt out of doing this.

The fourth non spell is what really starts the run. It is not a very difficult pattern to dodge and it has always been milked. Unlike on the second non spell, staying full youkai here is the good play, as obviously Xu-Fu comes after it. There isn't much to it other than not dying to bad movement, which occasionally happens.

Xu-Fu is a difficult pattern in some ways and a fairly easy one in others. The easy part is that once you understand how you have to move, the capture rate is going to be rather consistent for such a long pattern (a whopping 90 second for some reason, all other spells until the survival have only 70-78). The amulets are static and the red rice is not going to be in your way with correct movement. Which means that gaining 11,000 to 12,000 time is going to be very consistent even at the start. The hard part of the spell is the optimization. It is possible to gain over 15,000 time on this. That's up to 1000 graze variance compared to someone who just learned it properly. The highest time gain in any properly uploaded run I've seen is ASL's Youmu run at 13,600 time. The world record gains 13,000. I speak in time on this pattern on purpose because the cancel for the spell has huge variance to it. Sometimes you will gain 1200 or 1300 time, and sometimes close to 2000. Quite frankly, I haven't looked into the cancel enough to be able to tell when the optimal cancel timing is. Just know that it is significant. However, as the world record has a rather poor Xu-Fu, this spell should by all means be an improvement points. In practice, I tend to be somewhere between 14,000 and 14,300 time for this spell. At the lowest that means (with 1000 time) a gain of over 9m, and over 10m improvements are definitely going to be on the table here. But how does this huge difference come from? It's obviously in the movement - when you move towards the edge of the screen, hitting the corner of the swastika gives a fair bit of extra graze. On top of that, you need to make sure to hit the red rice rings, and whenever you're moving towards the left on the pattern, make sure you graze the dropping blue amulets as they open up the way for you. These are all small factors that individually don't lose you that much score but it accumulates during this long spell. The first thing to look for if you want to optimize this spell is the left movement with the blue amulets, because those are the biggest of the three. The edge of the pattern is next. Overall, this is the second hardest spell in the extra stage from a pure optimization standpoint, because it's not always clear where you lost graze.

The fifth non spell is much like the fourth non spell, except harder. I've died to this a lot in recent times. So much in fact that I considered not doing it, but at the same time, it is unfortunate but a full milk on this is 5m score. I can't really pass up on it. My score goal doesn't allow for that much leeway if the run is overall below average. 

Honest Man's Death (HMD for short from here) is infamous for its difficulty and is probably the #1 thing keeping people away from this extra stage. It is stupid looking and is stupid to play too. It is, however the thing that gives the most score in all of IN. Doing this pattern is a whopping 250m score (spell bonus included). Obviously the gain is influenced by your height, up to a certain point. This can be clearly illustrated with three numbers: ASL's 5300 graze, the world record's 6000 graze and my practice PB gaining 6700 graze. There is an incredibly large difference between the amount of graze you can gain from this. What most people might not realize however, is that most of the score does not come from the blue tentacles, but the small black bullets aimed at you. Optimally, you should be grazing all of them (the TAS does do this and gains over 8500 graze). This also proves the tentacles aren't as important because when you are that high, you gain no graze from them at all. This is obviously not human viable but the principle still applies for the most part. In current human play, you will try to graze 5 lines at of them at all times, with the tentacles brushing against you too, effectively. At the height I'm doing (with Youmu's head stuck in the phoenix' tail), inaccurate taps lose graze from the tentacles (geez, so they do matter after all!) but also from the black bullets as you will only be grazing four lanes for a short while. This, again, adds up even if individually not big. At this point in time, I will stick to my current height without trying to increase the lanes I'm grazing - but this is a potential point of improvement if 3.3b should be reached at some point. I think by going up more, you may end up being able to graze 6 or 7 lanes at once. Would have to test if those are worth more than the tentacles overall though, as you'd basically get nothing from them anymore then. Furthermore, you would have to make many more taps. Currently I move after every 5 bullets, but any higher, you'd have to move after every 4 bullets, which would be another reason why the spell would become more difficult. My typical graze here falls between 6200 and 6500, which is anywhere from 6m to 15m. A potentially big increase. Incidentally, the cancel timing on this spell has a variance of ~300 time. But considering how fast the bullets are moving, and how difficult this spell is already, I don't think it's something to worry about for now.

The non spells following HMD are very random. It would be more optimal to milk them, though a cancel in full human is required for all of them. The 6th non spell is actually still very doable but can be quite scary. I'm not good at dodging so I only try to finish it off unfocused. Youmu's time gain is still very good, after all.

Woo used to be a spell that gave me a headache. I died to it a lot 6 years ago. But fortunately not anymore. You want to kill it as quickly as possible, which can be done with Youmu when she is shooting the many waves for a second time. Optimally, you want to kill as there are 9 familiars of the screen but 6 is also acceptable for me. Wouldn't be if the goal was higher but that is irrelevant for now.

7th non spell is the 6th but harder. The red amulets actually really reach you and can cause some chaotic dodging when you have to get away from purple amulets too. It's potentially a very dangerous pattern, but it doesn't last very long so that's fortunate.

Phoenix Tail is a big improvement over the world record for two reasons: The first one being that in my PB, I actually go above full human and stop gaining time from shooting, which obviously loses a lot of spell bonus and PiV. The other reason is that I again angle my shot. Optimally I basically don't hit Mokou directly at all, killing the spell by only shooting her familiars. My past calculations resulted in me gaining 6-7m score on this compared to my PB if I don't mess up. This is a huge increase. It does make last the spell twice as long though, so dying on this attack is a very realistic possibility, especially for me.

The final non spell is so hard to me that I'm probably going to bomb it. A bomb here is 11-12m score lost, but my skill level doesn't really allow for the risk of capturing it. It's akin to some guy who can't 1cc EoSD trying to force a book capture for his first 1cc. Complete nonsense. I'll make the decision whether to bomb it on the fly in every case but I assume most of the time I'll end up using one. It's just too hard.

Fujiyama Vulcano is the easiest attack in the second half of this boss fight, and in fact the only one I would call easy since Flawless Shrine. Important to note is, however, that there's a big score increase in this pattern too. I've talked about my cancel like a hundred times already, but let's do it once more: What is commonly seen is people killing the spell when Mokou shoots a single explosion. What is much better, however, is killing the spell when she's shooting her multiple explosions just before. It is important to know that you mustn't kill it with more than 2 explosions on screen (10 familiars each) because otherwise you will lose you point items. This stupid cancel has huge variance to it, obviously. Because there are very many fast moving bullets onscreen when you cancel, the bullet cancel can have variance on over 4m. However, even at its lowest, it still gains score. Not to mention that you also gain more time. A more or less perfect cancel with the common strategy ends the spell with 100-200 time less than a good cancel with the dumb strategy. I call it dumb because the optimal window is like 2-3 frames thanks to the disappearing explosion bullets and the arrowheads, which leave the screen very quickly. Not to mention that if you're early with the cancel, you lose 45 items, each worth 1.5m at this point. However, this cancel gains 6-7m score. You gain a much bigger bullet cancel, more time and since you finish the spell earlier, your spellbonus will be higher. You need to deal enough damage before you get to that point, though. If your damage output wasn't high enough, resorting to the common cancel (like the world record) is necessary.

I don't think the route for Possessed by Phoenix has ever changed. It still hasn't. It's still the same. A bit of care during the tapping and you can capture the spell. Be careful not to ram into anything while you're shooting the familiars for time.

Hourai Doll is a personal run killer. Or used to be. I haven't actually gotten there on a live run since 2016. The spell is somewhat precise if you want good numbers, but the variance is not nearly as high as on other spells. A normal capture will gain about 3000 graze, and my practice PB isn't even 3300, although 3300 is definitely possible. This isn't a spell where I'll gain any score, I don't think but I also shouldn't lose much if any. For those wondering: When dodging, your main focus will not be the red/blue balls or the arrowheads but the yellow bullets. Those are random so you have to pay attention to them, while the rest is easily sidestepped since it's all aimed. It's certainly nerve wrecking this late, though.

Imperishable Shooting (IS) is probably my favorite spell in all of Touhou. It's also the most difficult spell in Imperishable Night (main game included) if you want it to be. The route used in the world record is obsolete and very bad. The current route looks very different and uses the screen much better. It also stretches the gauge more, making it easy to drop out of full youkai. In 2015, 2016 it was well accepted that any practice PB over 40m was really good, and that 41m spell bonus was incredible, so getting 38m in a run was great. Then the route was completely revamped by st. st used team shots, so they had an easier time with gauge management (as they gain youkai gauge by grazing focused). His results ended in the area of 45m, his scarlet capture was 46m spell bonus. When I saw those replays I was really excited. I spend thousands of attempts polishing his route into what it is now. I adapted some movement to adjust for Youmu's faster unfocused speed, changed some minor things to allow for more graze and managed to raise the spell bonus to over 49m in practice with 50m definitely being possible. Explaining the route in detail is pointless and very hard to visualize because it will mostly be "I go in circles", which is why you can watch the replay of my current practice PB here. It is an immensely fun spell, even if it is difficult. I don't think st rerouted the spell for the routes to be used in full runs because it's so difficult but such thing will eventually happen to any pattern improvements. For full runs, my goal spell bonus is anything over 46m. That translates to around 1500 graze, I believe. The improvement is obvious, as it would be 8m in spell bonus alone. It's 1000 extra time, and each orb is worth 5300~ score (plus 2000 endgame bonus), so that's another 7m. The graze also gives around 1.5m, which means a 46m Imperishable Shooting would gain me 15-16m score compared to the WR. And more is always possible (as is less, of course).

Putting all that together, it is easy to see why the potential variance for my next PB (if it ever does happen) is so large. Some patterns could give me more than expected (like Xu-Fu being 14,700 time, rather than just 14,200), others could give me less (Imperishable Shooting being 44m spell bonus). I could decide to not bomb the final non spell and suddenly have an unplanned buffer in my score or I could lose score by not being able to spin the second non spell for the full 30 seconds. All sorts of things could happen, which is why I have a window of about 40m score. In a good run, the improvement compared to my current PB would be somewhere over 75m (resulting in over 3.23b), but realistic is at the very least the ~12m loss from using the bomb. To give a more accurate prediction, I should probably be somewhere between 3.21b and 3.22b with my final score. 

However, the current problem is that I am not a good enough player to execute the route with any consistency. I will have to do a lot more practice and improve my skill level. Naturally, this includes a plethora of credits. My earliest estimation would put me somewhere in fall 2021, so in about 18 months. I don't expect to get a PB before that. This extra stage was already very difficult to begin with and I've changed some things to be multiple times as hard as they were in the world record (Keine third, HMD, IS, 2nd non spell, Xu-Fu) and I think it's possible that I will change even more things to make it even more difficult (like, say, I figure out how not to mess up the gauge on Mokou's opener). Arrogant as it may sound, a score of 3.2b in IN extra is so difficult that it would take even the best players serious dedication to get it (although they'd obviously not take 2 years of actually playing). I changed the route enough that I think I've gone past the point of stupid improvement but this is what I need to do not only to make 3.2b a reality but to also facilitate entry to 3.3b (which I think will be achievable with human play eventually). Because if I don't do it, no one will. 

I've tried getting people to play this extra stage with memes, by being honest about it and by trying to point out the good things about it. I'd always be willing to offer help, too. At this point, I've given up on getting people to seriously attempt to push it. I've come to accept that it is unpopular and I can see why potential players would want to avoid this extra, as unfortunate as it is for me. I think better scores could be achieved, since other players think differently and would be able to find thing I didn't even think about. It is lonely all alone.

Thanks for reading. Sorry if it was boring

Dienstag, 23. Mai 2017

"I'm too lazy to learn new categories" adventures

People who read this blog (why you would even check a blog that never gets updated is beyond me though) will know that I have been playing Imperishable Night extra for a long time and it has been my main project since Autumn 2014. I have occasionally played other things in the meantime (like IN normal or Phantasm) but did not manage to get good or consistent at any other categories. My fixation on this extra stage has a few reasons:

1. In the days and weeks after I got my current high score, new strategies emerged and quite a lot of smaller improvements. Some found by other players (mostly t1100), some found by myself and others were suggested to me as possibly being possible so I tested and found those guesses to be accurate. Some of these strategies were slight tweaks in what was done before, others were complete overhauls compared to the previous ones and then some were simply new things no one had done before. In light of all those discoveries, it is very easy to see that my run is simply lacking in a lot more departments than previously thought. As a result, I feel the need to improve my score.

2. Learning a new category is a tremendous effort. Learning a new category to the point where I would satisfied with my results is even more difficult. There have been attempts as previously mentioned which failed and there are categories on my mind which I would like to attempt to learn but I don't know if my interest in Touhou as a whole is strong enough for me to actually invest the time necessary to sufficiently learn a new game, especially knowing that the category I am thinking of is very difficult already. Aside from interest, I am also going to start working, which naturally reduces the time I have to even play in general. 

3. I am not a grind heavy person in general. It is a bit of a miracle I have stuck with any category for as long as I have with this one, to be quite honest. I recognize that a lot of practice and many resets are necessary for good results, which is why I don't whine about this issue like other people do. This however does not mean that I like doing it and my play times reflect that. They are very low compared to other good players. Honestly speaking, the most fun time I have with Touhou is when I practice something completely new until I have learned it. The time I spent learning the new route for Imperishable Shooting, Yukari's final spell or Yu-suke's strategy for Reflowering were among the most fun times I had in Touhou. At the same time, once I learned how to do a pattern, it becomes a grind for consistency and I don't particularly like those but they are as important as learning the trick in the first place. This point is important because even if I had all the time in the world, it is questionable whether I have the dedication necessary to learn everything in a new category. My laziness is also the main reason why I am uncertain that I will actually ever beat my high score in IN extra.

That's it for the game related parts. This entry will now go into community meta so it's probably best to just skip this part because no one cares about it.

Let me preface this by saying that I do not hate all of you. There are individuals I dislike, some strongly. My biggest problem, however, lies with what individuals act like within a community. To put it simply, many Touhou communities have a strong emphasis on being fake. Whether it's heaping fake praise on someone or being artificially nice as to make sure not offend someone. You can't be honest anymore without there being some sort of backlash by people who firmly planted some feel-good philosophy into everywhere they go. Though the communities are very split and there is much segregation between certain groups, this kind of behavior I have noticed happens independently across many of them. This disgusts me on a personal level because I believe honesty is important. Of course, there is a difference between being honest and being rude. I've been called honest many times but it's more a mix of frustration at this fake behavior and honesty that make me sound as it does. It's led me to contemplate just leaving them behind as a whole because I believe that even those largely unaffected by these fake niceties will eventually have the same issue. 
Naturally, as one who knows me would expect, that is not all. Many other things also annoy me. People argue about inane nonsense all the time. They complain about the smallest thing, e.g "oh no I lost a run to pattern x after all this hard work of 4 credits". They make weird excuses for when they're not good at something or failed something in a run. They cry when they don't get as much attention as they want for their runs. Weird stances on how they view the game. In the end, it is a bunch of children seeking validation and attention from those they feel are their elders in the communities. So much so, in fact, that the more I thought about everything, the less I cared about being part of these communities.
I want to take the chance and prevent any fingers pointing at me. I know I am not excluded for all of these things. I have been in pointless arguments before and there were times where I was facetious to keep the peace and did not say the truth. I apologize for those times. It will not happen from now on.

Of course these faults don't apply to everyone. There are people I enjoy talking to and I think there're respectable individuals even among new(er) players. However, it's not worth it to me staying in environments so full of shit on so many levels just for those select few, especially since I can just talk to them privately anyway. Thanks for reading.

Samstag, 18. Februar 2017

DRC adventures

This entry will get updated daily for the following two weeks, sort of like a badly written diary, starting today. Contents are going to be about the seventh round of the Dodging Rain Competition. Each individual day won't be very long but as there are two weeks worth of content, I hope that in the end the entry size will be acceptable. The contents may also be very dry in nature but I hope you will be able to understand that this is merely a sort of outlet for me. I thank you for your patience.

Day 1:

Dear diary,

I started with some spell practice, because if I don't practice everything first I'll die to each spell at least once before I capture it. Makes no sense but that's how it works, somehow. I was really shit at Keine's third spell today but everything else was bearable. Bearable in the same way as you might be able to bear having your hand in the door when someone else tries to slam it shut with all their might. That kind of bearable, you know. In short: The results weren't encouraging.

But it was all irrelevant anyway. When I started credits, I didn't get to do any spells anyway. Endlessly resetting due to either shit cancels or death was something I knew would happen so I wasn't bothered by it. Very occasionally I'd make it to Keine albeit getting past her was impossible for me on this day. How did this really bad meme go again? C A V E D

Result of today's battle:

Day 2:

Dear diary,

today I had a run which entered keine with 14.4k time and 207m score. I've had that much time before but not very often. The score was an all time best, I believe. One might think that this is a reason to be happy. I got an all time best! How amazing is that? Well, play on Keine on that particular run might have suggested that I was trying to die (which I obviously also did). I think due to not having played much in recent times, my ability to work under pressure are near an all time low. Surely I haven't been this bad all this time I was playing this stage. Then I remember I have had failures worse than anything that happened today and I can only concede that, yes, I have always been inconsistent poop at every pattern this extra stage has to offer. My goal for tomorrow is not to get a good run or anything. My goal for tomorrow is to make it past Keine. Just make it past the mid boss. But I wonder if that's not asking for too much.

Result of today's battle:

Day 3:

Dear diary,

allow me to preface today by saying that, yes indeed, I got past the mid boss. Twice, in fact. So on that front, I was satisfied. I had reached my goal I set for myself. What went beyond my wildest imagination, however, was that I even got to Mokou and furthermore got to Honest Man's Death without failing anything (albeit not with optimal strategies). Funnily enough, the only spells I failed where the ones I practiced before doing runs. Actually that's not quite true. I'll touch on that in just a minute. First I want to say some general things about the run I actually ended up finishing:

It was a very bad run by my standards. Bad grazing, cancels and items meant that I was actually slightly worse than my PB entering Mokou. That is ridiculously bad as I should have at least 1000 more time and 10 million more score. Therefore, to me, the run was shit to put it simply. Of course, being just slightly behind my run entering Mokou meant it was actually still potentially a new personal best but it would not be satisfactory run no matter how it ended. On top of that I did have the competition in mind and as a result decided not to do everything as I would in a serious attempt. This meant no spins on the second non spell and it also meant not going crazy on the grazing and other milks. I won't go into some hypothetical numbers as to what the run could have been because that's pointless, especially given that I wasn't truly serious. 

To give a short summary: I failed Honest Man's Death with less than 10 seconds left as well as Imperishable Shooting somewhere in the middle. Now to elaborate on this whole "only failed spells I practiced". I did capture Fujiyama Volcano but in an unfortunate manner that cost me its items. Those were the three really big mistakes I made. Either way: I have a run that is very likely to win me my match and from here on I can set my normal standards and do everything without having to worry about not being in time. 

Result of today's battle:

Day 4:

Dear diary,

I did not do any runs today. The urgency of putting credits into the category was given due to the competition, which for me is secondary at this point. Instead, I tried to identify parts of the stage with which I had particular troubles. This self reflection boiled down to three different attacks: Mokou's second non spell, Honest Man's Death and the final non spell. There were other, smaller, issue spots which I'll also practice but those are the main three. The time I want to dedicate solely to practice is the remainder of this week. On Monday, I will start doing runs again and hope that the practice will have helped in some shape or form. 

Result of today's battle:

Day 5:

Dear diary,

I did not play today. Good start to my "intense" practice week.

Result of today's battle:

Day 6:

Dear diary,

I played today! It started really well with the final non spell. I got a lot of captures in very little attempts but the longer I played, the worse my rate became. This leads me to assume that I just got lucky, good RNG, both or that I become worse the more I practice. I have yet to decide which it is. I'll see about it. Maybe tomorrow will bring some light on that.

Result of today's battle:

Day 7:

Dear diary,

I just got lucky yesterday. Today I tracked my capture rate through 100 attempts. Ended on 19/100, which is pretty shit. When next week is over and with it DRC, I will extend my practice period, I assume. Having capture rates this low on more than one or two things is not acceptable. I want to raise my chances as much as possible. Fortunately I've been feeling really good about Imperishable Shooting recently. Maybe consistency improvements can still be made for everything. But certainly, I am bad at dodging.

Result of today's battle:

Day 8:

Dear diary,

today's results were slightly better. I did another 100 attempts and finished on 24/100. 30 to 35 out of 100 is the goal. of course, I'll take anything higher than that, too but I do not believe more to be very realistic for me. I think my main issue with the pattern is my sloppy movement, rather than my reading abilities. I'll have to try and work on that. 
Furthermore, I also did 100 attempts of Honest Man's Death. That was pretty straining. Ended on 29/100, which surprised me, if I'm being honest. I expect to finish somewhere around 15/100. This is a pleasant surprise but the spell is very form dependent  so I do not know if I was just in good form today and therefore got "lucky" or if today was truly average form. There is also the matter that I have to change of how I evaluate the pattern. Recent changes in movement have shown that the spell is actually far harder to do than I ever anticipated - not because of dying but because being pixel precise actually gains more graze. Naturally, height is still a big factor and it varies a little bit every attempt. However, I've noticed a difference of several hundred graze due to not being precise with my taps. It's entirely possible that I might get 6500 or even 6600 graze and gain a lot of score over my PB, or I could get only 6200 graze and gain only a little. To give a picture, 100 graze is 3 million score, so missing 300 graze is 9 million, roughly. Since this is IN, some people might think this isn't so bad but for me that's a lot. I want my future run to be as good as possible and this really doesn't help me. I can only practice and see what happens.

Result of today's battle:

Day 9:

Dear diary,

I really don't want to talk about today. Let's just say today's results were extremely discouraging. I'm actually a bit disgusted at myself.

Result of today's battle:

Day 10:

Dear diary,

due to sleep deprivation and yesterday's disaster, I decided not to play today.

Result of today's battle:

Day 11:

Dear diary,

I did not get past the mid boss today. It wasn't a good day of play. I'll try harder tomorrow.

Result of today's battle:

Day 12:

Dear diary,

I did not do any runs today. I did some more practiced. The daily 100 last non ended on 22/100. That's not very good. I've been having problems sleeping so maybe that affects my play somewhat. Depending on how sleep will be tomorrow, I might not play for the third time in these weeks. Most likely I won't be able to submit a new, better run before the deadline.

Result of today's battle:

Day 13:

Dear diary,

Sleep was not good. I did not play today.

Result of today's battle:

Day 14:

Dear diary,

I did not play today either. This was not due to sleep. I was busy all morning until afternoon and did not have the energy nor the motivation left to actually play. This also confirms that I will not play at all during the remainder of DRC which is half a day until tomorrow afternoon for me. 

Result of today's battle:

Day 15 or 14.5:

Dear diary,

as already mentioned in my aforementioned post, I did not play. This is due to my brother celebrating his birthday and I could say no to delicious cake. I was there until very late in the evening. This concludes DRC which my team won anyway. I'll try to play more often than I have in the coming days but I will neither track those nor promise anything. At this point in time I believe it to be fairly unlikely that I'll ever PB again due to low play times. The route is too hard for that but it doesn't really matter. I don't want to pressure myself into playing so much that I end up disliking the category. Only time can tell.

Result of today's battle:

Thank you for reading. Sorry for a boring entry. Then again, the same goes for all the others. 

Donnerstag, 28. Januar 2016

World record adventures

Earlier today my culminated effort for Imperishable Night Extra bore fruit and I broke the overall world record for it by 55 million points. I have played this category more seriously starting October 2014 and played it for much of 2015 until today. To start out with this blog entry, I will go through the replay step by step more or less; I won't go into detail for every grazed bullet and will kind of skip over simple attacks that went as they should but you get the idea. I may refer to ASL's run for comparison in terms of time and maybe graze (but probably not graze). The run is available here.

Ignoring the opening furballs, the stage starts with a frame perfect cancel which I miss as I was 2 frames early. The desired time after it is 750, but I got 658 but anything over 600 is alright to me at this point. Following this is killing the fairy that spawns together with the one I just killed. My method for it is slightly different from everyone else for it: I shoot the fairy directly at the right side of the big fairy that spawns as I go for the kill which cancels bullets from the big fairy. This allows the familiars to spread out more as opposed to killing the fairy by shooting the familiars it spawns. My way is slightly more optimal but only marginally so.

The three large fairies that follow are very simple. I delay killing all of them a bit (for the first and third I misdirecting my option whereas I stop shooting for the second). This allows for bigger cancels on all of them due to more bullets having been spawned. For the fourth and last large fairy, I once again stop shooting after dealing appropriate damage to allow the furballs to shoot their pellets and cancel them for a cancel twice as large as if I had just killed the large fairy on its own. After this section my preferred time count is 6,500 (ASL reaches 6,150), which I reach comfortably.

The following cancel has several parts to it. The first part is position myself properly (horizontally is more important than vertically, but too high or low can cause some time loss) as well as deal some damage to the middle fairy and the right fairy that spawn without killing them. Part two of this cancel is as follows: they shoot their familiars, I move over to the left side of the screen and kill the leftmost fairy. I killed it a few frames (two or three at most) early so the familiars didn't cancel out as many bullets as they should have, which cost some time. The damage dealt to the middle and right fairy wasn't perfect either so I destroyed familiars on both of them before actually killing them. The third part of this cancel simply entails killing the two fairies that spawned later. In total this can be done for 2,300 time in my experience, but this time I got just below 2,000, leaving me with about 8,500 time thus far (8,250 for ASL). Preferred time here would be 8700 but I decided that 8,500 was enough to continue.

The next cancel is very similar to the previous one but tighter with the timing as all five fairies spawn at once. The angle for my option is different this time and the angle to directing the familiars has to be steeper but the procedure in killing the fairies is quite close to what I did before: After they shoot their familiars at me I move over to the left side and kill the two leftmost fairies. Just like before I now have to kill the middle and right most fairy, leaving the fairy second to the right alive. I kill it afterwards. In total, this cancel can give as much as 2,700 if everything was perfect (positioning, damage control, timing and RNG for the bullet density) but in my case I get about 2,300 which brings me up to 10,850 time (ASL has 10,600 here). The time I want to have at this point is 11,200 but again, I wasn't so low that it warranted a reset.

The last cancel before Keine is the hardest in the stage and a complete mess to be honest. This part spawns a total of eight fairies, all of which spawn the first six familiars, whereas only five of them spawn the second set of familiars and this cancel aims to kill six of them with familiars spawned. Unlike the previous cancels, I start at somewhere around the middle on the screen in height and aim my option towards where the rightmost fairy is going to spawn. As soon as they start shooting I tap down to have my option sweep toward the third fairy on the left. I now move over immediately to kill the three rightmost fairies. After they died I move back to the left side of the screen to kill fairy number one, three and five from the left with the second set of familiars spawned. Unfortunately my damage control was bad so the fifth fairy dies as I go back, which it shouldn't. Moreover, my failed damage control also led to some familiars being destroyed where they should not have. If this cancel is done perfectly, as much as 3,500 time is possible but I only got 2,850 in this run, which is pretty bad. However, my total time was over 13,800 which is the minimum I want to have when I enter the midboss (ASL has 13,400). So in that sense, the run had the worst possible stage portion before Keine that I would have accepted. My goal to reach for this is normally 14,000 time because it's a round number but what I really would like to have here is 14,200-14,300 as that was as much as I had in my previous high score.

Previously, Keine's first spell was a speed kill where the only thing worth paying attention to was the cancel but recently I looked into the attack and found a profitable way to graze it. The graze nets me slightly over 1,000 graze and a total of 3,700 time due to the fact that I start the spell at -50% but can quickly go to 30% on the gauge as well as the slightly larger cancel as opposed to 2,200 time (and like 100 graze) compared to what was done before. Comparing the strategies, grazing the spell is this manner is worth over 12 million points but there doesn't seem to be much room for optimization. Small cute detail: I go from 50% to -50% with the time gained by the familiar cancel to collect the items and then switch bad to 50% with the time gained from capturing the spell so I can immediately start grazing the next spell. After this attack I had 17,500 time (ASL has 15,600).

Keine's second spell went rather well in this run. My goal for Ichijo is to get 8,000 time if at all possible (ASL gets 7,400) and in this particular run I managed to get as much as 8,200 which is pretty good even by my absurdly high standards. The highest I have gotten is 8,500 time so this run didn't have bad grazing here at all. Upon finishing the spell I have 25,700 time (ASL has 23,000 roughly).

Neither ASL nor me actually use the best strategy for grazing the third spell. But I have a good excuse: I didn't know about it. It was only after I had gotten this replay that I saw a new replay uploaded by the player t1100 who improved on this spell by an additional 300-400 time compared to me. But be that as it may be, my way is a slightly tweaked approach to ASL which isn't a huge improvement but it translates into 350 more time if done properly. My gain on this spell is 4,200 in this run (ASL gets 3,850). In addition to the time and graze, my spell bonus is 1.3 million points higher, which makes this improvement somewhat sizable overall. I finish the mid boss with 29,900 time (ASL has 26,850 at this point).

Following Keine is a cancel identical to the very first cancel of the stage with the same idea behind it, too. The only difference is that I now have full power - so of course I mess it up. I actually never took note of how much I gain from those two fairies in total but it was 1,100 in this run; so about the same as it is in the beginning of the stage if done badly. And just like in the beginning of the stage, what follow are four big fairies. This time I do not stall for extra bullets to spawn because that would kill me. Each one of them is 1,200 time if no familiars are destroyed and after this section I have 35,600 time (ASL has 32,500). I personally would like to have 36,000 here but that doesn't really add up with my wanted numbers everywhere else so I'm satisfied with anything over 35,500.

Now comes the only part in the stage where every player loses items. How many differs depending on how many fairies escape. Taking ASL run as a basis (who enters Mokou with 668 items), I let three fairies escape. The highest item count realistically should be 671 or 672 but only if you really get everything realistically possible which doesn't happen very much if you're me. This PoC section is pretty annoying because of that because I sometimes had great run dampened by a really low item count. My average is 666 items entering Mokou. I'm a mischievous child.

The cancel before the final big fairy is identical to the cancel where five fairies spawn at once, except they have less health now for some reason, which makes this cancel easier than the other one if you have found a working approach. It goes well in this run too; the large fairy before Mokou also always gives the same amount of time. I enter Mokou with the following:

Score: 776,264,850
Graze: 8,575
Items: 665
Time: 40,541

Score: 766,936,560
Graze: 8,780
Items: 668
Time: 37,904)

The reason why I have less graze is because before the cancel before Keine there are some furballs which shoots tons of pellets like in the opening and ASL grazes those unlike me, who instead sets up for the cancel.

Overall this run is very average if I put together everything individually. The cancels in the first half of the stage weren't very good but I made up for it with a good Keine fight and the second half wasn't particularly bad or good. As far as time entering Mokou goes, I could get as high as 42,000; maybe more. But that's also only if everything is really good. I didn't have any gripes with the run and had no qualms continuing like I would have on a bad run. So I did.

The first non spell was good. I got 4,000 graze; 3,800 time because I have to start it at -50%, which is as much as ASL also gets. Depending on Mokou's vertical movement, it's possible to lose a bit of graze but it fortunately wasn't the case here. Iwakasa went by without a hitch.
For the second non spell, I actually included spinning around Mokou into my route and have to start the attack above her but I was somewhat absentminded and forgot to position myself. This lose me a fair bit of graze worth up to 1.5 million points, albeit slightly alleviated by the fact that in return I got to shoot Mokou with her armor for some extra time instead. It doesn't quite make up for it but makes the loss less painful. I still milk the attack for the whole duration for graze. Flying Phoenix, much like Iwakasa, went by without trouble or problems.
Much like the second non spell, I milk the third non spell just for graze. Unlike the second non spell, I did not forget to position myself for this because there are no spins for this attack. And again, the spell following this non spell, in this case Flaw of Forgiving Shrine, was all okay. Following these three non spell and spell cards, my time is at 51,259 and my graze at 14,559 (ASL is at 48,720 and 13,503). As far as time gain is concerned, there isn't any big difference between us, considering the fight so far has been quite uneventful for this point.

The fourth non spell sort of heralds the start of the great milks for time. Of course, neither the fourth nor the fifth non spell give all that much graze but the spells in between do. For me, xu-fu is the hardest spell to match ASL on. It has quite difficult optimization and it took me a long time to be able to actually match him. I did well this run as far as grazing is concerned but my mind blanked out somewhere in the middle. This is problematic because at one point I just "woke up" and heard the counter and just finished the spell in a hurry, which was one swing too early. This missing swing lost me about 100 graze. I do believe the cancel was worse than it would have normally been but I'm not convinced about that part. In the end, my time gain on Xu-fu was 13,000 (as opposed to ASL's 13,600). My personal goal for Xu-fu is always to at least match ASL. This was not good and one of the more annoying mistakes to me because it was a brain fart and nothing more.

The fifth non spell is just a slightly harder version of the fourth so I'll leave it at that. Honest Man's Death is my biggest improvement in this run and is also the biggest improvement I had in theory. The reason is very simple and obvious: I'm much higher on the screen than ASL and graze a lot more bullets. My practice result indicate that as much as 20,000 time is possible on the spell (ASL gets 16,200). Of course as this is a run I don't go balls deep and settled for a reasonable height. Obviously as everyone knows this is the most difficult spell in the stage so whether something is actually a "run" to me depends on whether or not I capture this. Much potential has been lost for me at this spell but this time it went well. I finished this spell with an extra 18,900 time (and anything over 18,700 is fine to me). After Xu-fu and Honest Man's Death I have 84,679 time, 25,339 graze and my score is at 1.547 billion (ASL is at 79,869 time, 23,583 graze and 1.513 billion score). Already my score advantage is very large.

Starting with the sixth non spell, I don't milk then anymore for graze but just finish them as quickly as possible. As I always make known: I can't dodge so this part of the run is very scary for me. Until after Fujiyama Volcano, every attack has dodging of some kind and it's freaking me out every time I get this far. I was fortunate that the RNG didn't force me to do anything wacky on this non spell.
I was pleasantly surprised by this Woo, to be honest. It rarely goes so cleanly. I don't know if this is RNG or me becoming better at the spell but I have died to the parts I refer to as RNG in it less often than I used to which is nice.

Seventh non spell was very nice to me just like the sixth, which I was very happy at. Phoenix Tail on the other hand wasn't. When I started the spell I contemplated whether I should just shoot Mokou's wings by angling my option and all. This is actually surprisingly profitable and nets up to 500 more time but makes the spell last notably longer so I didn't do it. But the RNG in this spell forced me to dodge a lot in quick succession which ended up forcing me above -30%. This was actually a quite large loss as I lost around 3 million from the low spell bonus alone. I don't know how much time it was that I lose but it was rather substantial I assume. Even after watching the replay I don't really see how it could have been avoided other than looking into the future and knowing I would be forced to dodge that way. The only alternative I can think of would be to just dash to the side unfocused but there is a high chance I would have hit something on the way. An unfortunate incident.

Following Phoenix Tail is the hardest part as far as dodging is concerned and I'm always scared on the last non spell that I just die to something I didn't expect to die to. Fortunately the RNG was forgiving in this run so I was able to capture it. Incidentally, this is my first capture on the attack in a run so that's a quite funny coincidence.
Fujiyama Volcano has two viable ways to cancel it. I've talked about this before. My cancel is a big improvement for something so short, and if done on one of the two best frames it may be a 5 million improvement with my graze. There is a risk though: If you cancel too early you lose your items (45 items at a bit over 1.5m value each). If you're a bit late then it doesn't matter much. The score increase is just going to be a little smaller when compared to the optimal cancel. Now, I don't care about the risk but I need Mokou to cooperate a little bit with her movement in order to deal enough damage so I can comfortably choose the cancel timing. She unfortunately didn't do it this time which left me with no choice but to go for the scrubby cancel everyone else uses. Unfortunate. After I captured Fujiyama Volcano, my time was at 96,431, my graze at 26,289 and I had a score of 1.951 billion (ASL was at 91,903, 24,697 and 1.916 billion). My score advantage increased a bit more but I lost a lot of points due to the mishaps in Phoenix Tail and Fujiyama Volcano.

At this point in the run, I was rather nervous. I had visions of failing the streaming in Possessed by Phoenix but then I remembered the spell is free. It was an okay capture too.
Hourai Doll is the spell that has killed most potential new high scores and I was understandably worried it might happen again. That actually led to me avoiding graze in the beginning. But as I saw the bullets fly past me, I remembered the horrible grazing on my previous high score and recollected myself a little. The grazing still wasn't good in the end but let's use the word acceptable here. Some euphemisms are necessary. my desired amount of graze for Hourai Doll is 3,000 but I ended up with 2,850 this time (ASL does get almost 3,000. He's at 2,980 or something).

Imperishable Shooting is the final spell and at this point I knew I was going to get a new high score but to have a chance at a satisfying score I needed to capture it with not horrible grazing. I think I managed that well. I finished the spell with a spell bonus of over 38 million. 38 isn't good for me if it's in spell practice. I usually aim for over 40+ then. But I was a nervous wreck and couldn't really go for it somehow. Bullets scared me. However, this wasn't spell practice and there was actually something to lose this time if I failed the spell so I think 38 is adequate. The final numbers of my run are as you can see in the screenshot. An overall 55 million improvement over what was a very long standing world record.

That's the run in a more of less detailed manner. I have difficulties saying how I felt when I got it. Predominantly, I was quite happy. This is my best score by far and saying I'm not proud of it to some extent would definitely be a lie but the same goes for the mistakes I made. I can't say they don't annoy me at least to some degree. But still, I think this is the kind of score one could be satisfied with in the long run and just leave the category behind. I have spent many fun hours in this stage, learning new things and improving upon them. Understanding the nuances of certain cancels better than before and improving upon the grazing. Those were very fun aspects. Also trying out new grazes was fun. I didn't find very many new things on my own (The only thing I found by myself are Keine's first spell graze and the wacky Fujiyama cancel), which is somewhat unfortunate but I'm not very creative I suppose. Overall I believe scoring this stage as seriously as I did has helped me improve as a player on some levels (precision and understanding mainly) but I can't really be sure about that until I've tried other things. And that's what I plan to do now. My next main project is going to be Phantasm with ReimuB. Along with it, I will continue to play EoSD lunatic as a secondary project. I do not know how far I want to push either but I hope I can enjoy them enough to get somewhere kind of relevant. However, this does not mean this category is dead to me. I will come back to this more likely than not and then try to improve this score further. More people should play this stage for score in my opinion. The step to a really high level score is steep but starting it is quite pleasant in my opinion (compared to like SA, let's say). Looking at how new things are still being found (by other people mostly), I think 3.18+b would be nice as a final score.

So please wait warmly. Girls are preparing.