I've been vaguely aware of speedruns for years now, but it wasn't until AGDQ 2013 (more on that later) that I was really turned on to it and I've been hooked ever since.
What is a speedrun?
As the name suggests, a speed run is a game being played as fast as possible, using almost any method available in order to do it, including tricks, exploits, and glitches. Cheats are usually not used. Just about every genre and era of game has or can be run, although certain games and genres lend themselves better to the concept than others. Speedrunners demonstrate a very high level of skill, dedication, and knowledge of the games they play. What was once a very small community has opened up to something of a spectator sport due to streaming and marathons, which brings us to...
Where can I watch people speedrun games?
The speedrunning community originally revolved around a site called Speed Demos Archive
, which hosts recordings of world record runs for a variety of games. SDA is pretty out-of-date and isn't a comprehensive collection of records, but does feature a number of very impressive speedruns, some of which still stand as world records today. However, most speedrunners gather on Twitch.tv
and Speed Runs Live
. Japanese speedrunners are often found on Nico Video
. The biggest draw of watching speedruns on Twitch and Speedrunslive (SRL for short) is that they are done live, with the casters streaming and interacting with viewers as they play. There is a small collection of speedrunning "celebrities" that stream regularly and pull anywhere from 100 to 5,000 viewers at any given time. There is even a webshow on Thursday and Saturday nights dedicated to speedrunning. TAS speedruns can be found at TAS Videos
It's a very lively community, and marathons like the aforementioned AGDQ have drawn more and more attention to the hobby each year.
AGDQ (Awesome Games Done Quick) is a yearly event that is streamed over Twitch.tv aimed at raising money for charity. Its lasts for roughly one week and features the best speedrunners from around the world playing games and giving out prizes. AGDQ 2013 raised $448,423.27
in a single week and drew 30,000+ viewers at any given time. A smaller sister marathon, Summer Games Done Quick (SGDQ), is set to start in late July. There are many more marathons, some big and some small, that happen fairly regularly.
TAS vs. non-TAS
TAS stands for 'Tool Assisted Speedrun' and refers to a speedrun in which the game is advanced frame by frame and TASers enter inputs. While this is often seen as lacking any kind of skill, in reality TASers are the ones who have extensive knowledge of the games they play, often down to the code. They are usually the ones that discover glitches and tricks which are (if even humanly possible) then copied by non-TAS runners. TAS records are almost always a great deal faster than non-TAS runs, although there are quite a few outdated TAS records that have been surpassed even by people who do not use tools.
If you spend any time at SRL or Twitch, you'll see a lot of terms thrown around, usually defining what category the game is being run in.
- Any% refers to a run in which the game is completed as fast as possible, completing only what is necessary in order to finish the game. This is in contrast to 100% and low% runs.
- 100% is an odd category because each game defines its own rules as to what consitutes 100%. Some games have an in-game completion display, which is what is used. In games that don't, the term varies greatly. Much of the time it simply refers to all levels and collectibles.
- low% is a category where the speedrunner intentionally
gets the lowest completion percentage possible - Metroid games are famous for this - and is often accomplished by what is called sequence breaking, where the player plays the game out of the intended order. As previously mentioned, there are a number of tricks in Metroid games that allow for sequence breaks where entire portions of the game are skipped entirely.
- Single segment is a category where the game is run in a single, uninterrupted session, and there is no quitting and restarting the game (this is important, as many games have save & quit abuse tricks that are faster). In single segment runs, the player cannot die or reload a save file.
- Segmented is a category in which the game is played in separate segments. This is unique because each segment can be played over and over until the optimum time is reached. Segmented runs are most often used in long games such as Final Fantasy games, but many players are beginning to run longer games in single sessions.
- RTA stands for Real Time Attack, another single-session category in which everything (saving, loading, dying, etc.) is taken into account for the final time. This category allows for save & quit/reload tricks that aren't available in SS.
I want to start speedrunning, where do I start?
If you've picked a game either you believe you can run or you know has been run, the best place to start is by checking out SDA, YouTube, and if all else fails Nico Video to find an existing run. It's usually the easiest way to learn the route and the tricks/glitches. There are also websites and wikis dedicated to certain games (the Zelda games have one and there is a small wiki for the Ninja Gaiden games). If you're really desperate you can go to the SDA forums and try to bring some runners out of the woodwork. Just because a game doesn't have a big community or a recorded run doesn't mean there aren't any existing speedrunners.
I want to start streaming
I'm not the man to ask, as I don't do it at the moment. Streaming requires special streaming software, the two most common being XSplit
. XSplit requires you to buy a license while OBS is free. Another important piece of software is a timer, one of the most common being WSplit, which along with XSplit and OBS can be found on this nifty page here
What this thread is for
This thread is for general speedrun discussion, from the hobby itself, streamers and streaming, to running your own games. I'm hoping it can be a comprehensive thread for people to begin engaging in the hobby, even if it's just to watch.