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Who runs SDA?
The main man behind SDA is Nolan 'Radix' Pflug. He founded SDA in April 1998 with the merger of two Quake sites, then expanded it with his Metroid Prime 100% 1:37 run in November of 2003, and opened it to all games in March 2004. Nathan Jahnke joined in Summer 2004 with his valuable capturing services. He encodes all runs submitted on DVD (about half the site's content). With the site's popularity increasing and the existing staff's free time decreasing towards late 2006, Mike Uyama was drafted in to take over the contact and verification process. Alastair 'DJGrenola' Campbell took over the updating and site maintenance duties. When the hard-working Alastair encountered too much stress working for SDA, he left the site in January 2008. In October 2008, dex was brought on board to update with Quake encodes, to give that side of the site more exposure. In August 2009 he started updating with PC runs exclusively. Kevin 'Enhasa' Juang signed on to take his place. In January 2010, Enhasa left the site and Classic Games Done Quick standout and forum regular Chip 'Breakdown' Vogel took the helm as the primary updater. In the summer of 2010, Michael 'Flip' Dix was also brought on staff to help with updating. In May 2011, Mike Uyama decided to spread out his duties, and so Flip took over contact and verification duties, while forum regulars Daniel 'moooh' Wikell and John 'VorpalEdge' De Sousa were brought on staff to work on game pages and help update, respectively. Nowadays Radix makes infrequent appearances, mostly to delete bot posts and yell at the people who responded to them.

How can I help the site?
Just doing runs is one option, but you can also volunteer to help verify a run. A topic on the forum keeps track of the list of runs needing verification.

If you're feeling generous, you can use PayPal or just a credit card to send some spare cash to SDA using the donate button below. If you would like to donate to individual staff members, please contact them privately to do so. Keep in mind that none of this would be possible without the hard work and vision of Radix.

The run of game X is great! May I link to it?
Feel free to link to the individual game pages, the news, threads on the forum, etc. However, please do not link directly to the download pages or the movie files themselves. This way, visitors can read the runner's comments and explore other areas of the site.

Could you host videos that show all the cutscenes, plot, tricks, glitches, or sidequests?
Sorry, but exhibition videos are not SDA's focus. If a game allows cutscenes to be skipped, then we require runners to skip them, and they are probably not interested in watching them for the hundredth time either. Depending on the game, you may catch some of these aspects in a run if you're lucky.

Could you please do a run of game X?
Most of our runners speedrun for personal reasons and not because someone else wants them to do a run. If you really want to see a particular run, however, feel free to put a bounty on its completion. Naturally, the more money you are willing to place on a bounty, the more attention it will attract. Of course, SDA does not officially endorse these bounties, and transactions will be negotiated solely on a private basis between the runner and the person who offered the bounty.

What if I don't want to click on lots of segments or individual levels to download a run?
Some segmented runs (usually for PC) have multiple segments appended to one file, but many runs are available as multiple smaller files. We do this because not everyone wants to watch an entire run. Maybe they only want to see boss fights, or maybe they have dial-up and don't want to wait a week before they can watch anything. We recommend downloading multi-segment or individual-levels runs using a good download manager such as DownThemAll.

Do you post everything that's submitted?
Obviously, cheated runs or runs with inconsistencies such as missing segments are rejected. If a run's video quality isn't good enough, such as a run captured with a webcam, that's not posted either. Finally, if the verifiers think that a submission could be a lot faster, then the run is rejected. Note that it is possible for a run to be faster than the previous run in the same category and still be rejected. Perhaps the runner used a faster system, but otherwise the play quality was worse.

Do published runs stay on SDA forever?
No. Whenever a run in a particular category is improved upon, the old run is obsoleted and removed from the game pages. However, they are not gone from the Internet. In addition to SDA, we also upload our published runs to archive.org. Even when a run is obsoleted from SDA, you can still find it there.


What types of games do you accept runs on?
Any computer or video game that was ever distributed by a third-party retailer (i.e. not homebrew, shareware, pre-release copies, etc.). We now accept runs of flash games as well. Be warned that if you run an extremely obscure game, your run might have trouble finding verifiers. Please note that we have many dedicated gamers at SDA, and if the game has even a single review at GameFAQs, it is not too obscure. Our policy is to look for verifiers before a run is actually sent in to SDA. If you're still uncertain, utilize our forum to gauge interest and get an idea of how many people will be able to verify your run.

Not every game is fit for speedrunning. A game has to be able to be beaten, so something like The Sims or World of Warcraft obviously doesn't qualify. Some games are just too long; most people don't want to watch a 20 hour "speedrun" of mostly cutscenes (like Xenogears). The soft limit for a run is 7 hours, but at our discretion we will stretch that limit. Another issue is the type of game itself. We used to ban certain genres like fighting games for various reasons, but now we will accept any game where the speed of a speedrun is faster than that of experienced, normal play. This means that games such as fixed autoscrollers or rhythm games are generally not acceptable.

Many games are available on multiple systems. You may produce your run on whichever system you prefer, but many people would rather watch runs on their original systems. If the differences between game versions are severe, they will be counted as separate categories. For manually timed runs, if the only difference is in loading times, those will be factored out to ensure fair comparison between runs on different systems. If a game has been patched and there are multiple versions, it is recommended to use whichever version makes for the fastest run.

What are the different categories like any%, low%, 100%?
In general, there are three types of runs. The first type is the any% run, where you do whatever it takes to get to the end of the game as fast as possible, acquiring or ignoring items as you see fit. This can be considered the "default" category.

Next is the low%, where you get the bare minimum number of items and upgrades necessary to complete the game, and still try to go as quickly as possible. This can be subjective, so ask Flip or discuss on the forum if you are unsure what constitutes a low% for your game. A low% run does not restrict the usage of items you are forced to obtain. A good example is in Mega Man games, where you always collect a weapon from each robot master or Maverick. You shouldn't minimize the use of your weapons or your run will be rejected. The low% run will almost always be slower than the any% run, but sometimes skipping everything possible might be the fastest method. In this case, the two categories are functionally the same, and the run will be listed as low% since that is more restrictive.

The third type of run is the 100% run where you collect "everything" in the game. How to define 100% for any given game is usually quite subjective unless the game tracks percentage, and some games just don't lend themselves to a 100% category. Because of this, it is imperative to ask Flip or discuss the 100% definition on the forum. Generally, we prefer concise, non-arbitrary definitions (instead of "comprehensive" laundry lists) that allow enough differentiation from the any%. A good example is "all stages." A bad example is "all items" in an RPG. Do you need max of each? What about dummy items? Mutually exclusive items? If we're getting all items, why not all skills? Max levels? Max playtime? And so on.

What about unlockable rewards and alternate modes?
If a game has an unlockable character, bonus weapon, etc. that you collect as a reward, or other such alternate modes, a run on this mode will also be treated as a separate category. We used to only allow alternate mode runs when there was already a completed new game run for that game, but now this is just a recommendation. Keep in mind that the new game category is typically the most popular, and most people would prefer that such a run be available.

What about games with more than one playable character?
If the characters have differences that would affect a speedrun (different abilities, paths, etc.), the characters will be treated separately. If they're the same other than cosmetic differences, they are considered equal.

Can I do a multiplayer speedrun with some of my friends?
Yes, but be aware that your play quality will only be as good as your weakest link, and that multiplayer runs are harder to coordinate. Multiplayer runs are a separate category much like the idea of single-segment vs. segmented: you may use whatever number of players you find optimal, and a faster single-player run will obsolete your run. You should exploit as many multiplayer-exclusive strategies as possible.

Why do you allow glitch X to be used but not glitch Y?
We strive for a universal set of rules that apply to all games, to avoid explicitly laying out rules for every game. In practice though, some games need rule adjustments, and there isn't anything that can be done about it. Things like the "4 minute" Zelda glitch aren't allowed because Radix doesn't like them.

Why do you allow glitches but disallow cheat codes and tricks like crooked cartridge?
Using glitches is simply trying to use whatever is within the rules of the game to your advantage. When you use a cheat device or outside alteration, then you're breaking the game's rules. As for cheat codes and debug codes, they differ from glitches in being intentionally programmed, so they are naturally outside the rules of the game as defined by the designers.


How are runs timed?
If a game displays a time upon completion, and this time is tested to be accurate, then the timer will be used. An example of an inaccurate game timer is one that doesn't display the exact time when a player saves, such as Star Ocean 2's timer, which drops seconds when saving. Some game timers don't count time at pause/inventory screens, dialogs, cutscenes, etc., so the time can be significantly less than the video length. Some games have a timer but it can't be seen at the end of the game. In most of those cases the timer will be ignored. For some games like RPGs, however, such timers are displayed in a menu screen that you would be looking at before the final battle; that time will be noted and real time from that point added on.

For games without timers, a simple real-time measure is used. When the player first gains control of the game's character, timing begins. At the end when control is lost, even if that's long after the final battle, the timing stops. Possible movement that can occur during or after the ending credits does not count. For segmented runs, timing for a segment stops at the first system-dependent activity, usually the actual saving. When loading, the timing resumes at the point when the game was saving or displaying the password. For runs over three hours, the seconds are dropped because slight variations in recording speed can become significant.

For games that let you save anywhere (i.e. without save points), a half second save penalty is added for each save. This is designed to discourage someone from potentially using thousands of segments in a run. We do not restrict segmentation in games with save points because the save points themselves are already a form of restriction. The half second penalty applies to both regular saves and quicksaves; menu time isn't counted for regular saves. However, autosaves incur no save penalty since the runner cannot avoid them.

How do I record my run?
For PC games, you'll need software that captures your playing. Commonly used software for newer games include Fraps, Camtasia, and CamStudio. Unfortunately, there's no reliable way to record older DOS-based games yet, unless you output to a DVD recorder.

For console games, the recommended method is to connect your console's output to a DVD recorder and record it. Webcam or digital camera recordings are not allowed. You should use XP or SP speed for the best quality. For Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games, use the Game Boy Player add-on for GameCube: set the screen size to Normal with the filter set to Sharp, use picture frame 20 (the blank one), and do not stretch the image to full screen. Once you have recorded your run to disc, you must finalize the disc so that computers can read it.

To send us the video, you have several options. The simplest method is to mail the finalized discs to Nate. Alternately, you can copy the VOB files from the discs to your computer and use BitTorrent to send those files to Nate's computer. When you contact him, Flip will give you the necessary information on how to send your run to Nate.

If you wish, you can also try to encode your run by yourself. Please read the Knowledge Base for detailed instructions on how to do it. You should be prepared to post a one-minute quality test file in the Tech Support forum before processing the entire run. Runs with no sound, horribly loud or overpeaked sound, or mixed-in music are unacceptable.

May I pause while recording? What if the telephone rings or I need to go to the bathroom?
If the pausing is beneficial for your speedrun (e.g., speeding up boss fights in Mega Man), it is recommended to do so. However, don't try to manipulate the timer. We will switch to manual timing in that case, and you would only be hurting your time. Extraneous pausing will not be factored out of your time, and your run will probably be rejected for poor play quality. Thus, before you begin running, it is probably a good idea to go to the bathroom, turn off your cell phone, and eliminate any other possible distractions.

I'm using a DVD recorder, and the single-segment run I'm about to attempt is over two hours. Am I allowed to switch discs?
Yes, you are actually supposed to pause and switch discs, for the sake of good quality video. As long as you point out when the disc switch occurs, it will be factored out of timing, so don't worry about switching DVDs quickly. Many runners will intentionally pause at a location that is difficult to reproduce, to demonstrate that they could not use the disc switch as an opportunity for segmentation, but this is not required.

Yay, I've recorded a great run! How do I submit?
Read the submissions page and contact Flip.

What format should I submit my run comments in?
Please submit your comments as plain text. If you wish to have greater control over how your comments are formatted, or if you want to save the SDA staff a little work, you may include basic HTML tags, but no inline images please. Feel free to use our CSS file (place it in the same folder as the HTML) and look at currently published runs to get an idea of how your comments will look on our site.

There is an important mention I need to make about a chicken in a bun in my run comments. How should I refer to chickens in buns?
As of August 2011, any run comments that mention a chicken inside of a bun must refer to it as a "chikin sammich", or else SDA will not accept the submission. However, in some cases Flip might be nice and edit your comments so that this rule is followed and you do not have to re-submit the run. Although many people may refer to these sandwiches as "chicken patties" or even "chicken burgers", SDA's official title for the food will always remain as the "chikin sammich" and we will not condone any other names you give it. Yes, even "poultry puck" is not allowed, as awesome as it sounds; that would suggest the chicken is frozen, anyway.

 

 

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