02/04/12 Minor Edit: I caught a passage where I make reference to avoiding both GB and NES Tetris due to rapid tapping requirements. Little did I know at the time that NES has autorepeat perfectly suited to its design, haha. It wouldn't fit a modern game, of course. I've been an avid NES Tetris player for at least a year and a half now, so I struck out that reference in the text.
04/16/10 Edit: Tetris Friends has been updated to include unlockable autorepeat speed adjustments and Initial Rotation/Hold Systems. The autorepeat settings are preset values, but they're quite speedy. Delay and rate options can be selected separately as well. It'd take quite a long time to get the full set of options for free, but they can be had at quite a reasonable price: $5 dollars covers purchasing three of the four options completely, and $7 gets the lot but leaves you with some surplus. (I consider this price to be "buying the game," more or less. It isn't too bad a price considering Tetris Splash was $10 for less functionality, albeit with better multiplayer... at time of writing, anyhow.) All in all, it is a pretty nice step forward for mainstream Tetris.
(First posted June 7th, 2009 on Tetris Concept)
As things currently stand, the speed of autorepeat is unduly limited. If TTC has some rationalization for imposing this limitation they'll have to voice it; I'd be hard pressed to come up with one. I assume it has something to do with it being "better for newer players," but they'll have to elaborate a bit more on that. If TTC wants the autorepeat to be anything other than a way to get to the walls quickly, then they're missing the point. We already have tap shifting for making precise column placements without traveling the full distance to the wall. Trying to balance the autorepeat so it is less specialized for travelling to the wall makes it not exceptionally useful for anything. You can't make it precise for in-field column placements without making it "GB Tetris"-spec molasses slow. Even then, it can never be as precise as pure tap shifting. Since tap shifting already covers that role, offering a slow autorepeat as an inferior alternative is illogical on the whole.
I don't know if TTC grasps the full implications of this design choice. With a specialized, fast autorepeat, the focus is placed efficiency. With developed finesse, no placement under low gravity will take more than two tap shifts. Since they only offer a slow autorepeat that is easily surpassed by tapping, they've shifted the focus to physical performance -- rapid tapping. Perhaps they initially started with the intent to make the game more accessible to casual players, -- what logic is behind this I can't understand -- but they've ultimately created a new barrier to execution that lies outside the scope of the game itself. I don't know about anyone else, but I don't feel physical endurance is something a puzzle game should need to test. Tapping is why I don't play GB
or NES Tetris anymore. Why is such a dated design making its way into a supposedly modern Tetris game? Sega got it right in 1988.
Say someone does indeed prefer a slower autorepeat. Why can't we make the logical compromise and provide autorepeat _options_? I don't know what else there is to say here. On April 18th, 2008, I was told the next build of Tetris Friends would have these options. I have yet to see them.
I think it is worth mentioning that -- in some cases -- it isn't even remotely difficult to make decisions that are fair to both the casual and hardcore. One semi-recent and majorly baffling development was the the decision that Initial Rotation and Initial Hold somehow were not consistent with the guideline and needed to be removed. Their removal killed some simple optimizations for players of intermediate level and above while doing no greater service to new players. I'd be shocked if even one player found that the game was more comfortable to play after they removed on account of unexpected behavior when they were included. The only thing I can even imagine they were thinking was that they were somehow simplifying things for new players by making this change since they wouldn't necessarily know about them going in, but I don't imagine that new players have a particularly deep understanding of things like autorepeat or hold on their first play either. (I suppose hold is just the panic button when you first start using it anyhow. *shrug*) Anyway, I still find this change unfathomable and would love it if someone could rationalize it for me.