Author Topic: Speedrunning  (Read 264 times)

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Offline Proxima

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Speedrunning
« on: February 22, 2021, 03:38:26 PM »
Speedrunning the Lemmings games has been getting quite a bit of attention on the forum and Discord lately, but I don't think we have a topic for speedrunning in general, so this feels like a good time to start one! :thumbsup: So... who else here has experience of speedrunning other games? Anyone have any achievements or anecdotes to share?

I know we have at least one speedrunner in our community: Simon is (at the time of writing) the world record holder for Jazz Jackrabbit, and has posted about his experiences in this topic. Of course, trying to go fast is still speedrunning no matter at what level, so please don't feel you have to be a world record holder or contender to participate in this topic!

Some games have time as the sole metric for scoring or competing, so I suppose that my introduction to speedrunning was trying to surpass my personal best times in Minesweeper, which occupied a lot of my free time when I was in college. My best achievement, and my first introduction to the thrill of setting a good time, was an 18 on Intermediate -- my best score on Expert was a much less satisfying 76.

Around the late 2000s, I discovered that my all-time favourite game series, Repton, had been remade for PC, so I bought all three games, completed them within a month, and then started to compete for best scores. In Repton 3, your score has three components: in-game score (diamonds, monsters and crowns); lives bonus (1000 per life remaining after each level); and time bonus (900 minus time taken in seconds). However, if you complete a full scenario (8 levels) in one sitting, then the in-game score will always be the same, since all its components are required for completing the levels at all; lives bonus will always total 24000 for a deathless run; so the difference in two scores will always equal the difference in times. In other words, Repton 3 scoring is speedrunning, just without an explicit statement of time in minutes and seconds.

When I first started scoring Repton 3, the online high scores were dominated by Chris Paul Andrews, except for the "Prelude" scenario, where Peter Van Ek's score was top. I remember that at the time, I felt Peter's score might be completely impossible to surpass -- the Repton games are entirely grid-based, so there are much more limited options for what you can do to improve a time, and the "Prelude" scenario doesn't have the luck-based elements that some other scenarios have -- for example "Egyptian", where on Level 5 one monster must be killed by fungus, which grows randomly. Still, I persisted with working out better routes, eventually surpassing Peter's score by 36 seconds, and claiming first place on all 32 scenarios, with a total score beating CPA's by just over 10,000 points (almost 3 hours!)

The trouble with Repton 3 scoring/speedrunning was that I never really had any competition. My friend Jonathan also did runs (and beat CPA's time on "Oceans" before I did, so he briefly held a world record), and Matthew Thompson was a spirited competitor, but neither was a serious threat. It's now over ten years since I improved any of those scores, and all my records are still standing. I have half a feeling that I'd like to submit the Repton series to speedrun.com so that I can motivate myself to play them again, but without the factor of competing with others, I'm worried that it would feel like drudgery and I'd lose interest quite quickly.

Recently, I've gotten a bit more into speedrunning through Steam achievements. Both Legend of Grimrock games have an achievement for completing the first level under a set time -- LOG 1 gives you four minutes, which is very tight; LOG 2 gives you six, when four would be about the same difficulty as it was in the first game.

But by far the game I've spent most time on is Hollow Knight. Again, my interest was kicked off by Steam achievements: there is one for beating the game in 10 hours, one for 5 hours, and one for 20 hours with 100% completion. The first and third of these are trivial to achieve on a second playthrough when you know where everything is; the 5-hour achievement is the interesting one. That may sound odd, considering the world record is a mere 33 minutes. But Hollow Knight is a metroidvania, with upgrades all over its map. The WR achieves this time by skipping everything that can be skipped -- which makes the boss fights extremely hard. In order to make the 5-hour achievement doable, I had to plan out which upgrades I would get, and what order I would get them in so that every boss in the run would be within my ability with the upgrades I had available. This was a very puzzle-like challenge, which I enjoyed immensely. I intend, if I am ever able to afford a faster computer that can cope with recording HK, to make a video showing the route I constructed, so I have continued to practise on the same route, and got my time down to 2:49. I believe that with my current skill level, I could get my time down even further by skipping some of the upgrades, but again, I don't feel motivated to work on this right now when I am unable to record my progress. I have also done a 100% run in 6:54, which is far above a good leaderboard time, but serves as a starting-point for bringing my time down.

Well, that's my wall of text :P Anyone else want to take a turn?

Offline Nessy

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Re: Speedrunning
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2021, 10:14:14 PM »
What an excellent idea for a thread! :thumbsup: I'll take a turn next.

My relationship with speedrunning is actually kind of interesting. I LOVE the concept of speedrunning and I am constantly following a lot of different speedrunners that also talk about the science behind the speedruns of many different types of games. Believe it or not though, I kind of dislike speedrunning myself... the keyword being "kind of".

So here's the thing: it's not a matter of time or skill but I just seem to dislike having to play a game over and over again in order to grind for a better time. I know that's kind of stupid because that's what speedrunning is all about. You get on the grind so that you can get better at the game and get a better time, but it's just not fun for me and I would often times just get frustrated and unmotivated with it. Considering that I do this purely in my free time, I decided to hell with it. I'm going to have fun going through a game as fast as possible, and everything else will be secondary.

So that's exactly what I did. I would look up some speedrun strats in a game that I could realistically do in a run that are at my level, practice them a little bit, and then just go for it. Sometimes I have a LiveSplit timer going to track my progress but sometimes I don't even have a timer and just being able to beat an entire game in one sitting using cool looking, unintended strats is satisfying enough for me (the latter is actually more rare because I like having some type of idea of how fast I went).

One of the first games I tried to speedrun was the Any% categories of Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2, but I never came back to them. In the first SMB game I think I got something around a 5:35 with a successful 4-2 wrong warp which made it more of a highlight for me. However, given how short this run is having to play the first level hundreds of times after a mistake was just annoying :P I might try doing a Warpless run in the future though. The SMB2 speedrun is one that I actually did stream once, but once again I just got tired of playing the same levels again and again and wanted to just take a break but I ended up never coming back to it after that stream.

A recent one I did try to speedrun last year was Super Mario Bros. 3 in the Warpless category (Warpless because Any% was too many autoscollers that weren't balanced with the non-autoscroller stages in Warpless). I ended that run with a time of 1:26:52. I actually really liked that category and I might actually make a more serious attempt at it in the future. The movement of that game can be extremely fast and fun especially when people can master it.

Another area I dipped into was speedrunning Mega Man games, mostly the first two games of the classic series and some fangames. Those speedruns would start off extremely fun but then become extremely unfun towards the endgame given the insane difficult of the later stages of these games. My solution to this was actually simple: I would only speedrun the robot master stages. This would also allow me to throw in the extra challenge of running multiple games in a mini-marathon where I must destroy all the robot masters of, let's say, the first three games. This was way, way more fun for me and something I will probably do A LOT more of in the future.

This idea of playing through multiple games but not all the way through is actually an idea that came to me recently after watching a race where speedrunners had to play through 20 NES games but instead of playing them all all the way to the end they had to complete certain objectives in them. For example, in the Legend of Zelda all they had to do was clear Level 5, in Metroid they needed to get 6 energy tanks, and in Super Mario Bros. 3 they only had to clear three fortresses. I loved this concept. It's something right up my alley and something to consider in the future!

Offline Dullstar

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Re: Speedrunning
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2021, 07:38:38 AM »
So here's the thing: it's not a matter of time or skill but I just seem to dislike having to play a game over and over again in order to grind for a better time. I know that's kind of stupid because that's what speedrunning is all about. You get on the grind so that you can get better at the game and get a better time, but it's just not fun for me and I would often times just get frustrated and unmotivated with it. Considering that I do this purely in my free time, I decided to hell with it. I'm going to have fun going through a game as fast as possible, and everything else will be secondary.

So that's exactly what I did. I would look up some speedrun strats in a game that I could realistically do in a run that are at my level, practice them a little bit, and then just go for it. Sometimes I have a LiveSplit timer going to track my progress but sometimes I don't even have a timer and just being able to beat an entire game in one sitting using cool looking, unintended strats is satisfying enough for me (the latter is actually more rare because I like having some type of idea of how fast I went).

I totally feel this. When I "speedrun" (I use quotes since my times aren't even close to competitive), what I generally do is just go for minimal resets (generally no resets, but if either a whole bunch of early stuff goes wrong, or one thing goes really, really wrong early on I'll at least consider resetting - but I'm not going to reset over something like taking a few attempts to get the early super missiles in Super Metroid, for example). I could probably get better times in SM if I actually tried to grind it out, but I just don't feel like doing that. At some point I should also properly time out how long it takes me, since the in-game timer doesn't count stuff like door transitions, but the last time I tried doing that I forgot to plug in the device I was using to time it and the battery died approximately 15 minutes before the end of the run.

Offline WillLem

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Re: Speedrunning
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2021, 09:37:26 PM »
The elusive sub-30 minute goal for New Super Mario Bros. Wii still awaits me... :)

Offline 607

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Re: Speedrunning
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2021, 12:44:31 PM »
I have half a feeling that I'd like to submit the Repton series to speedrun.com so that I can motivate myself to play them again, but without the factor of competing with others, I'm worried that it would feel like drudgery and I'd lose interest quite quickly.
Chances are that if you start a leaderboard at SRC, there will be other players submitting runs at some point.

One of the first games I tried to speedrun was the Any% categories of Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2, but I never came back to them. In the first SMB game I think I got something around a 5:35 with a successful 4-2 wrong warp which made it more of a highlight for me. However, given how short this run is having to play the first level hundreds of times after a mistake was just annoying :P I might try doing a Warpless run in the future though. The SMB2 speedrun is one that I actually did stream once, but once again I just got tired of playing the same levels again and again and wanted to just take a break but I ended up never coming back to it after that stream.
Are you talking about the American or the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2?

Personally, I've been interested in speedrunning for a while, not sure since when. I do know I've watched GamesDoneQuick since SGDQ2014, so it's been at least six years. I used to think I wouldn't like it myself, though, because I like to play different games, and actually make progress in them. In speedrunning, you're playing the same game for a very long time, and once you're above a certain level it is hard to notice any improvement; in fact, over a half hour session there might not be any kind of progress at all. I did actually route three games: Dizzy - Prince of the Yolkfolk for 16-bit systems, Ice Age for GBA, and Barbie Ocean Discovery for GBC. I enjoyed the routing aspect, and finding tricks and strategies, but I did not enjoy having to memorise lots of things and having to get consistent at tricks.
I've also noticed this when doing time trials in Mario Kart Super Circuit, a GBA game which I've played a lot: when I start playing a track that I haven't played since I was at the level I'm at now, I really enjoy finding out what shortcuts to use, where to drift, et cetera. I'm also improving my time at least once every 5 minutes. However, after 30-90 minutes, depending on the track (this might be divided across several sessions, that does not matter for my experience), I will be at a level where to improve my time I either need so much consistency that I'd have to grind for it, or I'd have to include shortcuts that are so difficult that I keep having to reset because of failing them. Then I quit, and I don't pick up the same track again.

Offline Proxima

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Re: Speedrunning
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2021, 05:57:18 PM »
First ever Repton 1 speedrun (and current WR :P )



This was really just a practice run to set the pace, since I haven't played the game for years -- all things considered, I remembered the level layouts surprisingly well, though I did forget some diamonds! A death on "Sidewinder" was costly, since I had to go back and lure the monster out to get the diamonds it guards; I failed the Repton shuffle on "Octopus" and had to restart the level with a password. But the worst mistake was leaving a diamond in the lower-left of "The kraken", which was impossible to go back for, so I had to restart after almost completing it, losing about 2 minutes.

A competitive time would be around 21-22 minutes... not sure if sub-20 is possible, but once I've de-rusted, that is definitely the target!

Offline Proxima

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Re: Speedrunning
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2021, 07:54:02 PM »
A competitive time would be around 21-22 minutes... not sure if sub-20 is possible, but once I've de-rusted, that is definitely the target!

Repton 1 speedrun in 19:02

Didn't expect that much improvement so quickly, but having the level layouts fresh in my mind made movement much more fluid throughout the run. No big mistakes this time, but "Iguana" was very sloppy -- there is a shortcut that I didn't open in my first run, so I was trying to work out a new route on the fly.

The time can definitely come down a bit more, but 18:00 is probably out of reach.