John McAllister Joust Marathon World Record
Start Time: 2:26 pm Wednesday October 20 2010
End time: 8:15 pm Friday October 22, 2010
Total Hours of Game: 53 hours 51 minutes
John McAllister - Born on April 4, 1968.
Now living in Seattle, Washington
John McAllister was inducted into the
International Video Game Hall of Fame
John McAllister Video Game Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonoy
IVGHOF Ceremonies were from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. August 7, 2010 -
Bridgeview Center Ottumwa, Iowa
Location: Chris Mansfield's Home Arcade, Seattle, Washington
John McAllister JOUST Marathon Interview by Paul Dean
John McAllister beats James Vollandt's 1985 Joust World Record Score
John McAllister playing Joust during his Marathon Game
Chris Mansfield - Joust Home Arcade, Seattle, Washington
Chris Mansfield (IVGHOF - World Record Holder of Kicker -
Joust Score Completed at Chris Mansfields
Home Arcade, Seattle, Washington)
Subject: Joust World Record some questions for John McAllister
Date: Friday, October 22, 2010, 11:32 PM
Paul Dean = (PD) Paul Dean Questions
John McAllister = (JM) John McAllister Replies
Paul Dean = (PD) Paul Dean Questions
Paul Dean & John McAllister in IVGHOF August 7, 2010 Life Magazine photo Reinactment
Main Street, Ottumwa, Iowa.
On July 8, 1985 James Vollandt completed the world record score of
107,216,700 on Joust which is an important score and game in the video
gaming marathon world because this score was a result of the 1985 famous
Iron Man contest at Johnny Zee's Family Fun Center, Victoria, BC Canada
which lasted 67 ½ hours and it is considered the longest game play that
any one has ever played with an extremely high score, and done live in
front of Twin Galaxies referee's with major money to be won to anyone who
can go 100 hours during that marathon.
This score was not challenged until October 20 2010, when John P. McAllister
stepped up to Joust and plyaed non-stop for 53 hours and 51 minutes for a new
world record of 107,301,150 points.
My Conversation with John McAllister:
(PD): Hi John,
(PD): I have some questions about your great Jousting accomplishment Marathon
World Record - I'd like some thoughts from you regarding your accomplishment
for my site if you don't mind.
(PD): So here goes, and thank you in advance for your answers!
(PD): John McAllister - Some Joust Questions
(PD): Congratulations on your marathon this is a great accomplishment in classi
gaming! It is great to see so many games being challenged so many years after
the release of these games. There seems to be a new interest in playing these
classic games and mastering them. Why do you think that is?
(PD): Joust is an arcade game produced by Williams Electronics in 1982, and ported
to numerous platforms in which the player controls a knight armed with a lance,
mounted on either an ostrich (player 1) or a stork (player 2). Since this is a
one player game, your steed is the ostrich with the yellow jouster on top.
Unfortunately, I don't think you have a choice of choosing the player 2 side on
a 1 player game. Do you prefer playing on the first player side or second player
side when playing Joust Doubles, any preferences?
(JM): Well I've never thought about it, whenever I was going to play doubles I
would just go up and pick a side. I don't know what side I have chosen the most.
(PD): What was your start time and day and finish time and day? How many hours
total was your marathon?
(JM): Start time was 2:26 pm Wednesday. End time was at 8:15 pm Friday for a
total of 53 hours 51 minutes
(PD): Is Joust 100 waves in which the counter starts back to the first wave,
with 40 levels
(JM): The wave counter starts at 1 and goes to 99. After that it repeats a 0-99 wave.
There is a ten wave pattern that repeats.
(PD): Joust Multi-Player questions:
(JM): This is a fun game in its social aspect as you can play a two player game
with a friend and either attack them or support them with specific gaming strategies.
What do you prefer, single player or doubles and what strategies do you play in doubles?
(JM): I like doubles, it's always fun to play with someone else. Usually when I
play doubles it's a quick game and we play slam joust, which is kill your opponent.
It's been a long time since I played team joust and don't remember any strategies
that we used.
(PD): What is the furthest you have gone in doubles in hours and score? Have you
played doubles recently and would you consider doing a doubles TG high score either
on marathon or tournament settings?
(JM): Probably the longest I ever played doubles was for a few hours at max and I
don't recall the score. When at Funspot earlier this year I tried to play some
TGTS with Donald Hayes but the player two side wasn't working very well so we gave
up. As far as regular doubles goes that would be up to someone else that wanted
to play and then I would do it.
(PD): On July 8, 1985 James Vollandt completed the world record score of
107,216,700 on Joust which is an important score and game in the video gaming
marathon world because this score was a result of the 1985 famous Iron Man contest
at Johnny Zee's Family Fun Center, Victoria, BC Canada which lasted 67 ½ hours
and it is considered the longest game play that any one has ever played with an
extremely high score, and done live in front of Twin Galaxies referee's with major
money to be won to anyone who can go 100 hours during that marathon.
(PD): At what point did you think you could beat this world record and decide
that you were going to go for it?
(JM): Over the summer I thought about what I wanted to do as far as marathoning
another game. I'm thinking about trying to do 3 Williams games. I started
thinking about which would take the least amount of time. I asked some questions
about the scoring rates on Williams's games. It sounded like Joust could have
the best scoring rate and take the shortest amount of time. I still don't think
that I can go much over 55+ hours so I had to choose the shortest time game.
I decided to go for it about 3 weeks before I did it.
(PD): Did you know about the iron man contest back in 1985 and were you following
high scores back then?
(JM): I was in another whole world so to speak. I was playing video games a lot
back then but I just didn't keep track of what was going on outside of my life at
(PD): Did you ever meet or have contact with James Vollandt in the past or during
the live stream?
(JM): Never new the guy. I have only learned of him in the last year or so when
I started playing games again. Luckily he joined that chat and was a pleasure
to chat with.
(PD): Did you know about Twin Galaxies in the 1980's? How were you introduced to
Twin Galaxies and when did you start submitting high scores to this organization?
(JM): If I did know about TG when I was younger I didn't really care, it just wasn't
my thing back then. A few of my friends that also played video games back then
and were some great players, were giving me a bad time that I didn't have any
records and they did. I found out about TG and looked up some of their scores and
decided that I wanted to have some of my own. I started submitting to TG in Feb
(PD): Some questions regarding Joust and your Marathon Game:
(PD): What do you like about Joust that you decided you needed to go for the record?
(JM): It's a William's game of course. I like the sounds, colors, and game play.
(PD): What do you think about James Vollandt's 67 ½ world record in Joust an
it's longevity as being the longest played coin-op game ever marching towards
the 100 hour mark and this mark not being challenged.
(JM): You should talk to James and get some of the story behind his great
accomplishment. While in the chat on the stream he told some of his story and
it's an interesting story that should be told. That 67.5 hour mark will be
very very tough to break and I don't think that it will be
broken by me.
John P. McAllister (Asteroids World Record - 41,838,740)
John P. McAllister (Asteroids Deluxe World Record - 3,333,360)
(PD): What is the longest length of time you played a marathon game? Asteroids
and Joust seem to be some of your longest marathons.
(JM): Asteroids 57+ hours
(JM): Joust 53+ hours
(JM): Star Castle 34+ or so hours
Twin Galaxies Leader board for John P. McAllister link
John P Mcallister
Game Score World Rank
Asteroids 1979 41,838,740 First
Asteroids Deluxe 3,333,360 First
Cloak & Dagger 1,497,744 First
Defender 1981 264,450 Second
Jr. Pac-Man 1984 [Turbo Speed] 179,990 Second
Lost Tomb 1,384,810 First
Robotron: 2084 Tournament 1,236,950 First
Section Z Nes 2,222,210 First
Star Castle Easy Chip 10,001,110 First
Hard Chip 29,800 First
Super Sprint 17,020 First
Xybots [Single Player Only] 450,000 First
Joust (Marathon) 107,301,150 First (Pending TG Verification)
(JM): I'm hoping that I can increase that time and at the same time I'm hoping
to stop marathoning a game for that long, the pain and suffering is a lot to put
(PD): How do you prepare for a marathon, do you exercise daily and eat health
foods or try to stay awake for long periods of time getting used to the idea
of being sleep deprived?
(JM): Exercise I think is very important before a marathon. I don't really
know much about nutrition but I'm sure it helps. I really didn't do any other
training or effort to prepare for the event, just the extra exercise.
(PD): While playing do you stick with tuna fish sandwiches and water, are
there other things that you eat? How often are you eating and drinking during
the marathon and do you try not to consume too much food as this will mean you
have to take more breaks?
(JM): I ate more than I normally do during the marathon. I tried to eat every
3-4 hours and not full meals. Too much food will just sit in your gut and make
you sleepy. I went through 2 loafs of wheat bread, consisting of chicken, tuna,
and peanut butter sandwiches. I ate a chicken roast from Safeway, 6 bananas, 3
apples, 5 pound veggie plate no dip, and Gatorade mixed 50/50 with water.
(Note: Sugar was to be avoided because it spikes and then there is an energy drop)
(PD): At one time during your marathon at the 43 hour mark around 9:45 am you
said that everything tastes salty or had a tingly sensation. What do you think
was happening at that point with your body?
(JM): I'm not sure but I know I didn't like it. My tongue seemed to swell up,
dry out, went a little numb, and was sore. Chris Mansfield brought me another
chicken sandwich and I started eating them and noticed that I didn't like it.
I sampled the bread, chicken, cheese and by themselves all seemed ok but the
2 or 3 of them together just wasn't right so I had to find another food to
eat. Chris had some chilly and it was the best meal of the event:) I had a
cold a week ago, it has now come back some, so it could just be the body not
being able to fight the cold while I was staying awake and not getting any sleep.
(PD): Do you have a break schedule?
(JM): I usually go until I have to pee or eat. Usually it's around 3 hours
or so until I have to take one though.
(PD): What do you think about drinking power drinks with marathons containing
electrolytes like Gatorade or Propel - Would it be useful?
(JM): I think that they are important and probably are.
(PD): What is your high score from the 1980's and how long was your marathon time
(JM): The most that I can remember ever getting on Joust back then was maybe around
5-7 million. Most of that was pterodactyl hunting and then playing the game.
(PD): Was this one of your favorite games in the 1980's, what were your top 5 you
liked to play?
(JM): It was not one of my great favorites.
(JM): Defender, Asteroids, Robotron, Super Sprint, ????
(PD): How much time did you spend in the arcades in the 1980's and how old were
you when you started to master these games?
(JM): Sometimes I would be in the arcade for 30 hours straight but only a couple
of times. In the late 80's is when I started to really play a game to conquer it.
(PD): Did you get your basic strategies all on your own or did you have a group of
friends that worked on it together?
(JM): The group of friends that I played with were a little older and a lot more
competitive then myself. I learned a lot from them back then. Today I have to
come up with new stuff on my own to get better or break records.
(PD): What or who pushed you to get very good at these games? Did you have
serious competitors which would push your scores higher in order to be the top
score on the high score table?
(JM): I wasn't very competitive back then. Today it's just enjoyment and
satisfaction that I can smash a game.
(PD): Are you in touch with the players you played with back in the 1980's?
(JM): I lived with one for 10 years until he got married again just this year.
Two others I have been in contact with but we don't play games anymore.
Pretty recently I have met up with one and we hang out when an arcade party
(PD): Do you miss not having an arcade to go to these days to play the
classic games or are you satisfied with the home arcades and MAME?
(JM): If people were still going to the arcade I would be hanging out with them.
But as we all know most people don't see what us gamers see.
(PD): Do you play the modern games in the arcades like Dave & Busters or home
console games like Wii, Xbox and the first person shooters available?
(JM): The last computer game that I was into was Warcraft II. That was the best
game that I have ever played in all my gaming. I've played some Quake III,
some Xbox games, loved super Mario 64, and a few others but not much.
(PD): How often do you play classic coin-op video games per week? Do you take
weeks off and then come back to it?
(JM): I mostly play on MAME, takes up very little room; I can play any
game I want. I don't have enough access to the stand up arcade game, or I
would be playing them a few times a week.
(PD): Do you play on your own alone or is there a group of people that get
together as a social event at different home arcades in the area?
(JM): Mostly home alone :( When a get together happens though I go, I love
playing with other people and having a good time at arcade parties.
(PD): When did you stop playing Joust in the 1980's and when did you pick it
back up and decide to seriously go for the world record?
(JM): I only played when I was a teenager. If I went to an arcade I didn't
play much Joust if any. I played Joust again for the first time about 2-3
months ago. The first thoughts of playing Joust again were because of a
goal to have the top scores on 4 Williams games. Those being TGTS and
(PD): What is the most amount of extra men you have had in storage in your
(JM): On Star Castle I had 1300 extra lives. Asteroids doesn't let you get
much over 70-80 before it slows down or starts behaving different. Joust is
another story, some say 255, others say unlimited. I think that I probably
hit the 255 limit in Joust if there is one.
(PD): What is the least amount of extra men you had in storage?
(JM): I lost a couple of lives before I had men in storage. During the game
for the first 60 million or so I mostly just kept building them up towards
the 255 mark. After that during a few breaks and my body shutting down I
probably got down to the mid 100's.
(PD): How do you keep track of your extra lives, what formula do you use?
Do you or does someone else write down lives lost lives or do you just memorize
it while playing and subtract it from the known amount of free men per a certain
(JM): Our tracking technique was pretty simple. From the beginning I would
just keep track in my head. So every 10 lives I lost I would make a chicken
scratch and at the end of 20 million we would total it out. So after 20
million I had made 90 marks, 20 million equals 1000 lives gained. The difference
was 100 extra lives gained. After around 60 or 70 million that became a little
harder to do so we switched to another method. At this point Chris mostly
did the tracking. We stopped keeping track of men in storage and switched to
just knowing if I was losing or gaining lives during a period of time. If
I was losing men I would switch playing styles to a more conservative style
that would build up men but would slow down the scoring rate.
(PD): What is the most times you have died on one wave?
(JM): While not on break I think around 20-25 lives when I was confused or
had lost track of what I was doing.
(PD): What is the most amount of stages/waves you have gone through on one man
(JM): I probably made it through 5 or 6 waves a few times.
(PD): Do you ever feel like your in too much physical pain or emotionally don't
want to continue, and how do you build yourself back up to finish your accomplishment?
(JM): Yes pain was bad a few times and made me want to stop. It never got so
bad that I didn't want to continue though. I just keep telling myself that I
don't want to start over and that it's just a little longer to go.
(PD): I understand your thumb was getting sore from hitting the control panel,
did this effect your play or did anything else effect you play?
(JM): The thumb thing only bothered me a few times. Nothing else that I can
think of hurt my game play.
(PD): How do you psych yourself back up when you are having a bad stretch in a game
and dying a lot?
(JM): I think that when it happened I would get upset and worried. When it
seemed that I couldn't do anything to stop it I would then get upset and angry.
I would start talking and prep myself up.
(PD): What do you do when you start to lose focus on the game to get back into
the game and have you ever started to hallucinate after playing for many hours?
(JM): It takes awhile for me to realize that I lost focus. After I notice I
just make more of an effort to concentrate, and I talk to myself. I've started to
see things late in both marathons, nothing major but just little things that seem
to pop in and out.
(PD): How much pain was there in playing your marathon game, I know that there
is a chance of fingers cramping up, neck hurting, back hurting etc.
(JM): In the past my hands would start to hurt inside of 5 minutes and then go
away in the next couple of hours. This time I had no pain until later in the
first day. I had pain in my wrist, neck, and then later in my back. As time
went on things got better except for my neck.
(PD): How do you work out your restroom breaks, as this seems to be a necessary
part of marathoning, and how many are allowed?
(JM): You can take as many bathroom breaks as you want. As long as the break
is very brief 1-2 minutes there's no problem, taking longer than that and you
might disqualify yourself.
(PD): How many men do you have to sacrifice to take a restroom break?
(JM): It seems that 4-5 on the low end and sometimes up to 9-10.
(PD): How long does it take to build up your reserve after a restroom break?
(JM): If I'm just going to the bathroom then it only takes a few minutes to
get them back. If I'm taking an extended break it might take an hour to get
(PD): Is Joust an easier game to marathon than others because it takes awhile
to kill off all the extra men?
(JM): If it's just based on how long it takes to lose lives while away from
the machine then Joust is pretty easy. Based on all the other factors it's
not the easiest.
(PD): At what wave does Joust become at its hardest?
(JM): You can view that two different ways. It starts out easy, ramps up in
difficulty, and then it gets easier again. By the game standards it's hardest
is around 100-110th wave.
(PD): At what wave do you only have Blue Shadow Lords to fight and no more red
Bounders or silver Hunters on the levels?
(JM): I'm going to go with wave 57.
(PD): What are the main differences and similarities to your Joust Marathon
compared to your Asteroids marathon?
(JM): I don't know how to answer this question. Id like to skip it :)
(PD): If or when the Asteroids or Joust marathons are beat will you come back
and try to take back the record?
(JM): I said earlier that I would take back the Asteroids if someone beat it
within 2-3 years but after this last attempt I'm not so sure about that anymore.
(PD): Joust Strategies:
(PD): Would you call Joust a pattern game to an extent or how would you explain
your game play in setting up each round etc?
(JM): You start the wave at the same spots but as you hit or miss things will
change so you can only start a wave with a pattern. It comes down to more
of a basic strategy to clear the wave.
(Note: The double finger flap technique is used in order to get more speed.)
(PD): The egg wave seems to be the easiest for you. What are your strategies,
do you like to start from the top or bottom, left or right sweep and do you
purposely let spawning occur to get the extra points of killing a few extra
blue shadow lords after they spawn?
(JM): I usually start at the top middle and go left and through the screen
down towards the bottom. I'll let certain eggs hatch to get a few extra points.
(PD): Could you explain some of your strategies in playing Joust and doing so well.
(JM): Well the main strategies I used for this game was for scoring rate per hour
most of the time. I tried to find the best method of clearing the wave as fast
as possible with the least amount of deaths. During times of confusion in my
game play I would switch to a more cautious style of game play to preserve lives.
(PD): Do you prefer playing Joust on the top or the bottom of the screen? Blue
Shadow Lords are hard to kill, what strategies do you use in killing them?
(JM): The bottom strategy is slower scoring rate per hour but you don't die as often.
The top is great for a higher scoring rate per hour but you are going die more
often and lose control of the wave. When you lose control of the wave it seems
to slow down your scoring rate so only when I feel good do I try to go to the top.
The best strategy for killing the shadow lords is to have them sweep down from
above and find where their apex is going to be and jump up so that they fly into
(PD): When you play top is there a preferred position you like to hover in or
a preferred area you prefer to be in for a gaming advantage? Also for the bottom
is their a preferred area you like to be located in?
(JM): I like to be left or right of the center top platform and it doesn't always
work. As for the bottom I like being a little left of the bottom center platform.
(PD): Pterodactyl hunting. What strategies do you use to kill the Pterodactyls?
How difficult is it to lance the pterodactyl once you lose control of the board?
(JM): Hanging out at the end of a platform works great. The pterodactyls don't
dive or move fast when they are bouncing on the platforms so they don't move up
and down much so you can line up for the kill.
(PD): How much greed vs. caution do you use when playing this game?
Are you usually in control of the board? How long does it take to get back into
control when you lose board positioning etc?
(JM): Greed will kill you as we all know, but sometimes it's worth it when your
in control of the board. As I lose control of the board I'll use more caution.
Once I've lost control of the board it becomes decision making time. If it's
crowded and slow I'll go to the top, if its just a few left then I'll wait at
the bottom for them to kill themselves off or wait for them to swoop under me
(PD): Would you ever go for the marathon record of Joust 2: Survival Of The
(JM): That was mentioned to me earlier and I'm not sure. I hated the game when
I was younger, it wasn't a very good sequel.
(PD): What was your hourly scoring rate? Where you happy with it? Did the scoring
rate get quite a bit worse during the second day and third day?
(JM): I had some good hours in there. For the first day it was close to around 2.2
million an hour with breaks. The second day it started to slow to closer to 2 million.
The 3rd day it got down to 1.6 - 1.8 million an hour.
(PD): Do you ever wonder in the back of your mind what you would do if the game
crashes either by power failure, monitor failure or board failure? Would you try
again the next week?
(JM): That happened to me on Star Castle 18 hours into the game. I just went
to bed and waited a couple of weeks to a month before I tried again. If the
game crashes it's just bad luck and a moment of sadness. If it happens and
I'm within hours of a record though I'm going to start another game and finish
(PD): Where you correct in your scoring rate estimate in figuring out how long
you would have to play in order to get the world record on Joust?
(JM): I made up a piece of paper with hourly scoring rates and how many hours
it would take at that pace. I was slightly ahead of what I thought I could do.
I estimated it from 85.6 - 94.8 million after 48 hours.
(PD): Last thoughts? Is there anything you would have done differently in either
preparation or game play for this marathon, or for the next time you decide to
do a marathon?
(JM): I Need to rest my hands a little more before playing. I keep telling
myself to make notes on a piece of paper describing events and milestones of the
game but I forget. I have to get things set up and tested the day before, doing
it just before you start just doesn't cut it.
(PD): Anything unusual happen with this Joust marathon that you didn't expect?
(JM): My wrist hurt, usually it's the fingers. Most everything else went as
(PD): Some notes: Do the numbers below look correct? Any last thoughts about
the marathon or anything in gaming in general - some words of wisdom? How does
the future look for your next world record?
(JM): Numbers seem reasonable.
(JM): Always have a helper or partner to do the marathon with. Without a helper
it's not as fun or easy.
(JM): I have to do some serious thought on doing Defender. I might stick to some
games that take 40 hours or less, going over 50 is really tough.
(PD): Thank you !!!
(PD): 95 million started struggling until 96 million - a break through and a
(PD): 200 guys in storage?
(PD): World record holder asteroids all time high score
(PD): At 8:00 pm 107 million
(PD): 53 hours 47 minutes
(PD): 104 men in storage at end of game.
(PD): JOUST New World Record!
(PD): John McAllister - 53 hours 35 minutes
(PD): Final score: 107,301,150
(PD): Thank you!
Edit from top Answer: (JM): Start time was 2:26 pm Wed. End time was at 8:15 pm Fri.
For a total of 53 hours 51 minutes.
(JM): Thanks Paul for taking time to do these interviews with me. I like the work
and effort you put in for our community.
John McAllister beats Scott Safran's 1982 Asteroids World Record Score link
CAGdc Forums Post: Paul Dean Q&A with John McAllister on his Joust Marathon link
An interview with James Vollandt who's 1985 Joust world record
score was beat by John McAllister however James Vollandt still
has the longevity Joust World Reocrd - a James Vollandt interview
by Paul Dean link