Derek Sevcik - the road to perfect a pac-man timeline.
I’ve seen thousands of games of Pac Man. I’ve met and watched so many amazing players over the years too and none more so than Derek Sevcik from the USA. His recent journey to perfecting Pac Man is simply incredible. You can read all about it below from Derek himself, but I would like to congratulate him on this truly amazing accomplishment. He truly deserves his place amongst the very best Pac Man players in the world.
Jon Stoodley 9 times freehand perfect Pac Man live. First European perfect game.
First game was played in 1980, when I was 5. I remember playing it and my mom and dad telling me that you have to eat the monsters when they are blue. I went right after Inky, he was blue to me. I doubt I scored more than a thousand points.
In the 83-85 time frame, my friend who lived a few houses down the street had a pac-man cocktail table. His dad was an arcade tech and would bring a lot of games home for months at a time. I couldn’t get very far, maybe peach. There was also a Pac-Man machine at the hockey rink and I do remember someone playing that would try to group the monsters. I hated it because he would be at the machine a really long time. I remember another kid that knew some patterns – I think they were full completion patterns, but not monster eating.
Still in the 83-85 timeframe, I saw a few pac-man books in my elementary school library. One of the books had some patterns. I would study the patterns over and over again, breaking them down into sections. After remembering them I would go down to my buddy’s house and try to see how far I could get on the cocktail table. I distinctly remember getting to galaxian boards, but not sure I ever got to the bells, definitely not the keys.
2021 – January, yes, that’s a big gap, but it’s true. I never thought of pac-man much and saw more Ms arcades. I liked Ms because of the different boards, and I thought it was a nice achievement to get to the fourth unique board. Multiple tunnels too, those were cool to me.
Anyway, in Jan 2021 my family was trying to decide on a house we would stay at the lake in June. Big text group and I kept voting on the house that had a PAC-Man machine in one of the photos. I’m sure it was a multi cade, but I thought that would be fun. We didn’t end up choosing that house. Coincidentally, the house we did pick us a cocktail multicade, but the joystick wouldn’t turn up.
February 2021 – my wife, after hearing me wanting us to stay at the Pac-Man house at the lake, bought the 40th Ann 8 in 1 arcade 1up. I laughed and said a Ms game would have been better and she asked if she should go back and get that one. I declined but was still lukewarm about it. I finished assembling the game on 2/19. Here’s a photo of my wife and my youngest daughter playing.
Over the course of the next several weeks, I played and got to around 85k, but I wasn’t really satisfied. I noticed the monsters would do certain things (reversals, go a certain direction based on where I was, etc). I watched a few YouTube videos by Jamey Pittman, and was able to get 30k perfect through Strawberry. This photo was from March 14. This was also the moment I told my family that I think I could get better than the midget from Pixels… I was half serious.
I understood things better now, but Jamey’s method of waiting at the top of the screen for Pokey to join the group seemed awkward to me. I began to search for other people’s videos and also read Ken Uston’s book. I believe it was around this time I found Jon Stoodley’s perfect from Margate. His style made so
much sense to me. I also read about how people who use patterns are ok, until the pattern breaks down, and they don’t know what to do.
By April 3rd, I got a perfect through 1st Peach.
On April 12 I broke 100k, only playing freehand
On May 2nd I achieved perfect through first Apple freehand.
Before Twitch, I kept track of progress with the spreadsheet below. I don’t remember the last time I updated it. I wish I had the first version, that had checkmarks, notes and other indicators on it in pencil.
I quit taking photos of perfect board achievements because I had my spreadsheet. On June 5th I got to 370k.
My youngest daughter asked how high of a score I could get, and my goal was 400k before we went on vacation at the end of June. I failed. Around this time though I was watching so much video of Jon, Billy and Dave Race. I was only playing freehand, even on Cherry. I also was doing other research and found out I could get a better joystick for the Arcade 1up. I got a microswitch from Tornado Terry. Keep in mind the Arcade 1up only had 3+1 settings and you couldn’t rack advance. I was spending 1-2 hours during sessions and would always struggle on the 2nd Bell . Once I would die or lose my perfect, I would keep playing freehand to see how much farther I could get. I still hadn’t been to the desert.
The first time I started to freehand, before watching anyone’s videos, I’d had a few drinks. Seriously, after what felt like 5 minutes I realized I wasn’t running from the ghosts anymore, and I felt like I was playing with them. I must’ve done this for two hours, I would die, but I just kept going around, waiting for them, I’d grab an energizer, but I felt like I was baiting them – “hey, come chase me instead of me running from you”.
July 18th – first day I broke a million. There were a few games in June/July that I had made it to the desert, but I’d crash and burn really quick. Since I was only playing freehand, I didn’t fully understand pre-turns. I had also achieved 2 perfect scores thru board 20, all freehand. At this time, I was using Bazo’s pattern, the same one Jon uses. I was struggling with it though, and always wanted to go up the S channel where the dots were remaining as you’re supposed to go past them and get them at the end. Seeing those dots though was throwing me off, and I decided to try Bill’s pattern (well, the one he uses, don’t know who created it.)
I also began to Twitch so I didn’t do as many screenshots. August 11th I hit 1.7M, about a week later I just crossed 2M, but I didn’t record the 2M. It was around this time that I realised I was spending too much time freehanding the 1st 20. I needed to get to the desert quicker so I began to watch and memorise Neil Chapman’s patterns.
On Aug 20-21 I watched Jon do a perfect live game and I chatted with Jake a bit. I had stumbled onto the UK Pac-Man site and read his article, so it was perfect timing. Jake watched me play on 8/22, when I got to 2.4 million on factory 3+1 settings.
This was the day everything changed. The next morning I had all of these new followers, I was amazed! I was also invited to the Discord group and that’s where I was convinced to get an original arcade, which I purchased on 9/4.
I needed to hook up the PCB I bought on eBay since it was a Ms machine. The grommet was shot and I replaced that and did a complete cleanup, lube and adjustment of the leafs, oh, and I even learned to solder!
It took a while to get used to the leaf switch, but on Sep 19th I hit 2.8M on 5+1 settings. I didn’t honestly like this score. All of my other scores were 3+1 and I felt the two extra lives was a form of cheating. From everything I read, the 5/1 setting was for perfect scores only, not a way to advance with 2 extra lives, non-factory settings. Still, I advanced farther than before and learned from my mistakes.
On October 2nd I hit a level I didn’t think was possible – split screen and 90 points shy of a perfect. I survived chaos successfully 4 times, but died at 2.98M after taking a bathroom break and dying after leaving sit spot. Despite being devastated, I was equally pleased. I sat on my laurels for a few weeks with minimal practice.
Last weekend of October Jake shared his trading cards and I began to get the urge to finish my mission. I played like crazy on Halloween and had a nice perfect going, but had a lazy turn just past 1M.
November 7th was my new target date, I had 4 different sessions until the magic kicked in and I got to 2.1M. Unfortunately, I must’ve slightly missed a turn and died.
November 13th – went freehand on 18 of 20 boards, was feeling great and then my WiFi went out at 500k. I couldn’t get it rebooted and I burned 20 minutes trying to get back online. My focus was toast and I died quickly after I started back up.
November 14th I got the webcam up and running so I was guaranteed to have the game recorded in case something went awry. I wanted to be able to watch football and I lost some time getting the webcam going so I decided to do a lot of patterns ,15 of 20 were patterns. I was in a groove and well, I think the rest is history 😀
A total of 267 days from the day i got the Arcade 1up to perfect. 71 days from the day i bought an original Pac-Man caberet arcade machine.
Article written & photos by Derek Sevcik.