This is an interview done by Galloping Ghost’s superstar and International Video Game Hall of Fame inductee Pete Hahn with World Champion Galaxian player, David Lyne.
Pete Hahn: First of all, congrats again on your awesome achievement! How long was your entire entire 2 million+ point run, and how did you maintain concentration for such a long period of time?
David Lyne: Thanks a lot, Pete! It’s been just over a week since I streamed the run and I still can’t quite believe what happened! The game lasted just over 7 hours 21 minutes – about 270K per hour. That’s a fairly conservative speed. I usually play Galaxian more recklessly (more fun!), but for the record I slowed my game a little to attempt to minimise the end wave swarming behaviour that can be extremely dangerous. It appears to have paid off!
As with most games, concentration really is the key to a good score. This is especially important in games with a finite number of lives like Galaxian. I’ve tried different methods for keeping concentration during a game. Chunking the score into manageable goals such as 50K is useful for me, as is trying to only think of safely clearing the current wave. It’s really anything that helps stop idle thoughts. If that happens you’re done. Nothing of course beats hard practice.
PH: How did you feel right after you beat the score? You lasted quite awhile on your last ship, was that the adrenaline keeping you going?
DL: I was in complete disbelief! The game had started out really well. Great first life but I was a disappointed with the next two. I wasn’t really in an ideal position having scored a little over one million with just one life left. It wasn’t looking too good if I’m honest. Of course, I knew I could potentially score heavily with one life so I wasn’t about to give up. When I passed my old personal best of 1,327,800 that was when the adrenaline must have kicked in. I knew then that if I could hold it together for another hour or so, the record would be mine. As the score crossed 1.6 million I knew I was getting close. It then suddenly dawned on me that I couldn’t remember Aart’s exact record! In hindsight, this may have actually helped me. Once I was certain I had passed his score, the pressure was off and I was away. Still didn’t think I’d reach 2 million.
PH: How long have you been trying to get this particular score, and what is your practice regimen you used to get yourself to such a high level of play?
DL: I’ve been playing the game casually over the years on MAME only reaching maybe 70K or so. Less than a couple of years ago, a classic arcade (Arcade Club) opened up in the back of a computer shop a few minutes from my house. Result! They had a really nice Galaxian cabinet which I played much more than the other cabs on offer. I recall scoring 121K on my first night there. Within a few months my score was approaching half a million. It was around then I first thought I may have a chance at the record. So I’ve been trying for roughly 18 months.
At first, I was just playing full games. As the scores grew this became increasingly impractical as games could last 3+ hours. I had to think of ways to maximise my time with the game to improve. Sometimes I would play around 15 or so waves, then see how long I could last by dodging without firing. At times I would restrict the Galaxip movement to the edges of the screen to make the game deliberately more difficult. Other methods included only shooting attacking enemies and one life games. Anything that could offer solid practise but condense the time required.
PH: Many people thought Aart Van Vliet’s score from 2009 would stand the test of time…do you have any plans to try to increase your score? Do you see it standing for a while?
DL: Including me!! Aart’s score was, and still is, “out there” and took me a fair amount of dedication to get anywhere close. Galaxian is quite a low scoring game so it’s been an uphill battle. A very fun battle, though often frustrating. I’d like to think that I could push the score higher, but by how much I’m unsure. With only four lives and barely any break in the action, it gets pretty draining after 7+ hours.
Do I see the record standing? Hmm…maybe you should ask Aart that question!
PH: Do you have any advice for gamers looking to make their mark on the Classic Arcade Gaming scene?
DL: Hmm…I’m not sure I’m the most qualified to answer that question fully, as I only have one record to date…
All I can offer is to play for fun. That’s what they were designed for. Well that, and to empty your pockets of coins. Eventually, a game will surface that you like and excel at. Keeping the motivation going is the hardest part. Scoring progress rarely increases smoothly. You’re scores will stall, even drop occasionally, which can be really disheartening. You need to like the game you’ve chosen a lot to persevere.
PH: What drew you Galaxian in particular? Do you plan to chase other World Records in the future? Any games you play casually, just for fun?
DL: I’ve got vivid memories of playing the game on holiday when I was about ten (quite a while ago now…), so I guess its part nostalgia. Aside from that, the games appeal to me is its pureness of gameplay. No cut-scenes, no bonus rounds – just unrelenting action. I still think the graphics look really elegant.
There are a few games that I may consider chasing eventually. One that springs to mind is Up’n Down by Sega. Not particularly well known, but it’s quite unique and I love it. I’ll keep the other games close to my chest for now.
I play lots of game for fun. I particularly love Asteroids and Q*Bert, both of which I can score in excess of a million points. Other games I’m drawn to include Joust, Outrun, 1942, Scramble, Amidar and Centipede.
PH: Your gamer tag “CharlieFar” – how did you come up with it? I didn’t know your name was David, I had assumed it was Charlie.
DL: That’s a long, involved story that would take ages to tell…err, hang on, no it wouldn’t!
In a moment of uninspiration when deciding on a forum name years ago, I settled on my pet dog’s name, Charlie. We used to call him Charlie Farlie sometimes for some strange reason. Can’t remember how it got shortened to Far.
For better or worse, I think I’m stuck with CharlieFar now. I kind of like the confusion it causes!
PH: Thanks again for taking the time to answer these question, and good luck to you in your future gaming endeavors!
DL: No problem at all, Pete! I’d like to take a moment to thank Andy, his family and staff at Arcade Club, Bury, UK for providing such a fantastic arcade for the community. Also to Shaun Holley and Victor Marland of the Ten Pence Arcade Podcast for all the shout-outs and encouragement. Most of all to my wife and family for putting up with me!
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts on Galaxian. Happy gaming!!