Pacing : Your score is built by more than just one match at a time. Quick, whip up a motivational poster!Edit
Pointman is all about pace control. It's important to know the distinction between pace control and block control. To make a direct comparison to Pusher here is perhaps a faulty approach; while Pusher can technically move a block anywhere but from one far side to another, there are also deeper restrictions than that. Since you are not forced to gun for board clearing matches and their setups, you can really dig into the almost artistic side of the puzzle game. Not only can you choose when to start and end matches, but you can also modify their composition, through focused and deliberate non-matching deposits. I debated putting this first, because it is honestly the most difficult and complicated part of the section. However, it is also the most significant, and the rest of the strategies are built around it. So suck it up, valued reader.
A given song might have, say, 105 red blocks. These red blocks might be present in large bursts, strewn throughout in small pockets, or even seen in single exposure. Their net value relies upon their distribution. If the 108 red blocks are all used in matches of 3, 105 of them are worth a base of 10,080 points. If they're all used in matches of 21 per, the same 105 blocks are worth 50,400. This is exactly 5 times more for the same amount of blocks. Most characters are enslaved by the original position of these little buggars. The point capacity red blocks offer is mired in grid availability and matching conditions. But you see, Pointman is quite the magician! He can cast off these oppressive numerical shackles, or at least loosen them enough to have the upper hand. With careful placement, a Pointman player can gather red/yellow blocks on the grid without actually matching them away. Then, when the time is right, harness them with another pocket of high value blocks to produce strong matches otherwise impossible. The process itself is beyond simple explanation, and subject to context. However, once understood, it will change the way you play Pointman and unveil a whole new dimension to the puzzle game.
[Tactic 1] PrimingEdit
Most of the time, you will be consolidating high value blocks with some variation of a process arbitrarily labeled 'priming.' This is a very complex objective, and can be tricky to spin into an actual benefit. Plus, accelerants can be hazardous. Do not practice this technique near an open flame. It is absolutely worth learning, though. The goal here is to grab up high value blocks that are present in small numbers, and put them in a structure that can easily be matched away at the will of the player. This technique is best harnessed at times that you are unable to produce a large value match with your current flashing blocks. Since you have a limited supply of total matches to work with, you want highend blocks to be in as many of them as possible, in as high a number as possible. It's not an end-all solution to higher scoring. Priming requires that grid spaced be essentially locked away for some period of time. If too much space is taken for too long, you're not really getting any benefit from the stall. If you're in the middle of a big match, and are going to be able to fill the grid further with upcoming blocks, don't bother to waste space with unrealized primer blocks.
The term 'priming' encompasses anywhere from 1 to even 5-8 unmatched blocks. 1-4 more can be stored in the holding queue. As you can see, at its extremes, priming can create gigantic high value matches that no other character can produce with the same conditions. Generally, though, the effect per execution is more subtle.
The easiest and most common way to prime blocks is to place two in each bottom corner of the grid. This saves 4 high value blocks that can be scored together in several directions.
Pimp my match Youtube -- A prime example of how this process can improve later matches and total score.
When running a song, it is often (but not always!) ideal for a match to be comprised of 3 parts. A primary color, a sync/secondary color, and a primer/setup. The proportions of these three parts are variable to the circumstances, and there should be no primer (proportion 0%) in many cases. An example chain of matches might look like this:
Match 1 - blue primary, purple secondary, red setup Match 2 - green primary, purple secondary, no setup Match 3 - purple chain filler Match 4 - yellow primary, green secondary, red setup Match 5 - red primary, purple secondary, no setup Match 6 - green primary, blue secondary, yellow setup
As you can see in this case, high value blocks encountered early were stored and used to produce bigger matches when that color was the primary color for a later match. This consolidates the presence of high end blocks and increases score potential over time. See the clip after the scatter gather description to get a feel for what this process is.
Again, you should not always be priming something. If you have a big match going with a yellow primary, and the choice is between 2 more yellows and 2 red as a primer for a yet unrealized red match, you should just get the yellow ones. You aren't going to know every song well enough to prime perfectly, so just be opportunistic about it and try to work it in when you can. Also, particularly in low traffic songs, priming altogether may be a hindrance. If there are all of 5 red blocks in the upcoming minute and a half of traffic, there is no reason to be wasting your grid space and complicating white removal. Eventually, it will be pretty easy to see within 1 run whether the song is conducive to priming strategies.
Bonus tip: Priming can be done with both yellow and red at once. In areas with very few good blocks to match with, one color can be stored on top of the other, offering decent potential matches of either one. This is good to use if you are not sure what color you will have the opportunity to use next.
Undeclared Youtube -- There isn't much available for good matches in this section, and I'm not really sure what's up ahead. Thus, I stock up on both teal(8x) and red(5x) blocks to see which one I can match away. As it turns out, this is a good opportunity for both, and I end up with one wicked Match21 in just a few seconds.
[Tactic 2] Scatter GatherEdit
For lack of a better description, this is the process of wrapping up high value blocks in a lesser match, simply as a means of consolidating them for a bigger, successive match. There isn't always an opportunity for this in a given song, but it's good to know how to use it if you run into one. The idea is employed when you have a series of (for example) reds coming up, and you'd like to boost the total number of them in preparation. Starting the good match now would require too much grid space to keep the match active while you approach the next burst, so you delay it with a weak match of whatever is lying around. This is best used in a situation that you have already primed, and intend to match up on the next opportunity. Generally, the blocks gathered here will be matched as soon as the blocks in the scatter gather have cleared.
How it's done Youtube -- Here is a collage of pacing examples that build on themselves to produce several strong matches. Instead of using merely the blocks available in a one match frame, available blocks are overlapped to improve score potential. While imperfectly executed, this is the essential goal of pacing strategy- to waste as few good blocks as possible in low volume matches.
Bonus tip: The 'zipper' match referenced in the basics section is a very good way to scatter gather. Fill the middle column and enough of the sides to prevent matching for now with whatever crappy color is all over the area. Once it clears, you'll have anywhere from 5-10 of your primed blocks falling into place and ready to go, still leaving an open lane for any white blocks.
Whew, okay, break time, have a snack. The hard part is over, sort of! I'm impressed that you've read this far. In fact, end your sentences with an extra period in this thread so I know where to concentrate my adoration!.
Sidelining: Keep white blocks out of the equation as much as possible.Edit
White blocks are an important part of Pointman's potential. Pusher is forced to skip many of them due to clearing restraints, but there are only a few occasions where a properly handled white block can be detrimental to Pointman. But that's just the trick, isn't it? Proper handling. You need to create as few complexities as possible in regard to white blocks, or they will trap you in ways you did not anticipate.
Sidelining is a tactic used to minimize the obstruction that white blocks can produce in their lifetime on the grid. You already have to simultaneously monitor your grid space, memorize your holding queue, dodge or gather traffic, and scan ahead for opportunities or obstacles. Having to contemplate white block removal is the proverbial back-breaking straw. No, I wasn't likening you to a camel, I'm just saying that white blocks can be troublesome.
The best way to sideline whites involves keeping an empty column in the grid for as long as possible in any given match. This would allow you to dispose of white blocks immediately without wasting grid space or cutting off match lines. However, doing this works directly against priming, and pure open columns can't be expected in most scenarios. As a compromise, one good principle to follow is to (as much as possible) place whites in open lanes or on flashing blocks. This will assure that the block will be scored soon and be out of the way without any further babysitting. If you end up stuck with a few bad blocks around a trapped white, just take a few seconds and quickly match away the area. Sacrifice 1 big match instead of portions of the next 3-5 of them, don't let your cluttered grid snowball. While you don't need to clear the board, you want as much space as possible for the bigger match opportunities.
Unnecessary example Youtube -- Here a couple of white blocks are placed exclusively on flashing blocks, then are taken out of play for the next match, which turned out to need the space.
Holding vs. Tagging: Why must I make all the decisions?Edit
This is more of a procedural thing, but it must be done with the understanding of the other concepts listed in this section. In songs with faster traffic, you need to reduce the amount of user action as much as you can, or your match speed will be bottlenecked by it. This means that you don't want to be picking up every block that you match with. Deciding what to do with each individual block, though, is a perilous venture. There are some general principles here that can help you know when to just tap blocks.
- Primary color blocks during a match - When you're hovering over a sheet of one color, most blocks of that color will be free to fall where they may, and still be included in the match.
- Lines of 3+ of a single color - Unless you're priming, you really don't want to be filling your queue with one color. They take awhile to release, and can cause you to miss more important things or hit unwanted blocks. Like most of these guidelines, there are regular exceptions to this.
- You're holding a block of the same color as the block you're about to hit. This most commonly occurs during a match, and is a good time to drop the block you're holding, placing matching blocks on the grid at the same time. This can also be used in a more general sense as well, with opposing colors that for some reason should be together.
Wait, do over! Youtube -- High traffic songs are where you'll be needing to tag blocks without using the holding queue. If you don't, you run a very serious risk of getting lost in the processing or crashing into unwanted blocks. In this clip, the blocks are coming too fast to grab them all. I think all 3 of the above reasons to tag are featured here.
Advanced Chain Delay: Say, what's this orange flashing 'E' all about?Edit
Let's face it, Pointman can be tough. There's a lot to learn, and a lot to multi task. But every so often, a song will remind you why it was worth it all. As Pusher curses the heavens, and DVE catches their breath, you'll be riding the glorious tide of your hard-earned chain bonus. Let's be sure to actually stay on the surfboard!
The match and chain windows are subtle beasts. While I doubt anyone has taken a parser and counted the frames, there is a noticeable difference in your matching window as the size of the match increases. As it turns out, the chain window following that match is also increased by the size of its creator. This can be used to boost the amount of time you can run on fumes, as it were.
The Force was with me Youtube -- What I just said, but with a clip by it!
However, there is an even more efficient way to use your holding queue in a long pause. As we're aware, there is a time window for pickups, drops, matches, gravity, and post-match chaining. If you're clever, you can string these together and navigate rather expansive seas of black.
Gravity is a force too! Youtube -- This clip is the same piece of the last song, but using gravity matches to boost the timing of a short match window.
There are lots of ways to do things like this, some more practical than others. This is part of what I was saying earlier about each song being a potential puzzle. Pointman gives you the tools to be creative in maintenence of the chain window. Your score potential will be rewarded if you can put them to use. And no, token indolent forum warrior, one's 'skill' is not somehow diminished by using time or effort. No one is impressed by your apathy. Quite a gem of a game Dylan has brought together, to be this nuanced without hand crafting the tracks.
While this is more often a Pusher device, it can still be of use to Pointman in some circumstances, and quite useful in extremely high traffic.
Occasionally, you will want for your match to end quickly, but still be able to grab incoming blocks. If you wait for the match to time out, you'll miss one or more of them. This is bad! Fortunately, it is easier than ever to end a match on cue, with the stipulation of a column being full. Well, I guess there's a further stipulation that some of the blocks in the full column need to be flashing, or you'll just lose the song, but by this point you're probably aware of that.
The most common place that I have used force clearing is when I have made an error, and want to fix it as soon as possible. I'll whip across the columns and drive into a string of blues/purples, so I can clear that match and fix whatever problem I have unearthed. Another is a situation where I'm holding 2-4 of some junk filler color, and want to start a new match to get rid of them or set them as the secondary color for the next match. There are probably other reasons to do this maneuver on the fly, but none that I can think of and define out of context. You'll be well served to use this a lot in extremely high traffic, for various reasons.
On with it! Youtube -- In this clip, I'm basically done with the current match, and want to dump the purple blocks I've accumulated as chain filler. This way, I don't have to fly around dodging while I wait for things to settle themselves.
Warning: Work In ProgressEdit
So that's all I can come up with for now. I've been playing Pointman quite a bit lately, and thinking about the scoring behind it. But that's all this is-- one person's experience and suggestion. There might be far better methods that I'm missing entirely. So help this guide out, and speak up if you have some better options, or a clearer way to explain things. (Be prepared to show your work!) Spread the Pointman gospel and get some more competition in here! Let me know where to be more succinct or elaborate. Thanks for the time, happy surfing :)
Full song gameplay videosEdit
Here are some example vids of my play while developing this guide. Purposes include learning, entertainment, bandwidth consumption, and rickroll bait. Let me know if any of the links or vids do not work properly. Strats are not executed perfectly, I'm still practicing. Also, some problem in my cpu/memory/HD/registry/windows causes Fraps to really chop up my in game fps, so high traffic areas especially will not be that great. I wish I could play with the smoothness of the recorded vid =(
Eve 6: Amphetamines -- A decent enough run of what is probably a Pusher song, I don't actually remember recording this. But it would seem I did, so here you are!
Dishwalla: Moisture -- Song I used for some of the technique clips. If I used it for reference, I must have done something 'right!'
The Refreshments: Birds Sing -- One of my best recorded runs, Fraps was being very kind to me up until the last minute or so. Surprised that so few(in fact, it might just be me, lol) have played it.
Third Eye Blind: Wounded -- You know the drill. I liked a song, and then recorded a run. Now it's here. Gee, I wonder what time period I was most influenced by mainstream music!
Green Day: Jesus of Suburbia -- That's right, all 9 minutes! This song is always tricky for me, I think it's the rapidly changing tempo and strange block distribution. Still one of my favorites to play through.
Cold: Black Sunday -- Good fundamentals on this one. Lots of priming, whites are mostly handled right.
Obligatory TTFAF -- Wanted to get a high density song in here, TTFAF is pretty much the standard. Not my best score, and certainly not my best play, but I think it's the best I'm gonna get with the rather significant Fraps impairment I've been getting. ~5'30'' to ~6'15'' is a good example of how to dig yourself out of a mess of unwanted blocks, while hitting more unwanted blocks =( Note that priming is abandoned for much of the song as matches can easily fill the board. It's still probably technically best to use it here, but it's too fast for me to process as of yet.