SDA logo

News from January through March, 2012. [Newer | Older]

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 by dex

Jumpin' Jack Flash

Fans of (recently relatively rampant) retro releases will undoubtedly enjoy our first game today, the laudable Super Meat Boy. Even more laudable than this magnificent death simulator are the speedrunners we received a couple single-segment (!) runs from. Cody Miller was the first to get in on the meat craze and made a run on the Xbox Live Arcade version - 0:22:15, an awesome time by the standards of even the most strident pieces of jumping flesh. Nevertheless, Niklas 'Exo' Nierling decided to add a little PC pizzazz to the page with his 0:19:24 of the PC version. They're both runs of the Light version of the levels, and they both are amazing in their own way, go watch now!

David 'Weatherproof' Streeter likes to live on the edge - the Mirror's Edge, that is. This parkour game with a title suspiciously resounding of Lewis Carroll and stylistics suspiciously reminiscent of Orwell has long been a favorite of speedrunners thanks to its time trial mode. Despite that, we had to wait for Mr. Streeter to step up to the SDA standard and grace us with a proper run. And I dare say, it's been worth the wait - a single segment of a game so notoriously unforgiving of even the slightest mistakes, and especially in only 0:57:32, is a commendable achievement. On the PC, by the way.

To round this update off, we have a run of a DLC map pack, specifically Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood DLC, The Da Vinci Disappearance (now there's a mouthful; also, that's a silly title, since it merely means that something from Vinci disappeared and everything even remotely about Leonardo released lately does this and arghh). Franテァois 'Fed981' Federspiel flew through all eight Memories available in this quite extensive pack, and filled the IL table with runs combining to 0:28:05. Check it out, it's every bit as enthralling as the machines attributed to the great Leonardo, so check it out even if you haven't played the DLC.

That's all for today. See you soon.

Friday, March 23, 2012 by Vorpal

Astronomical

I would like Mass Effect 2 a lot more if it were possible to replay it without getting really frustrated. The past couple days marked me starting up a new game for three hours on higher difficulties and then ragequitting because I'd seen it all before and enemies had way too much health and all I want to do is play around with some things I didn't get to play around with on my first playthrough and where the eff is cutscene skip and aaaarggh

SDA is sometimes cathartic. In any case, this run here also features ships blowing each other up in space, but it isn't quite as cinematic (probably to its benefit). Ares, the Mac OS 9 game, makes a triumphant entry on the site today, and Nathaniel 'NMS' Stalberg is the man responsible. NMS has supplied you with a set of individual level runs for all chapters in the game, which comes out to a stellar 1:01:03.

Panic!, also known as Switch! in some territories, is a short enough run to fit in an individual level table, and when the author's comments start with "If Clue and You Have To Burn The Rope can make it on SDA, why not Panic?", you know it'll either be really good or really bad. One way I've heard the game described is "by druggies for druggies", so probably the former. Elijah 'scaryice' Miller refuses to panic and concludes this run in a short 0:04. Fortunately for Clue, that's four minutes and not four seconds.

In another effort towards proving that p's are prominent, Adam 'puwexil' Dunn chimes in with a run of Parasite Eve. It's not often that you see SDA staff complete a run, but puwexil has an excuse: it was completed before he signed up. He blazes through New York City in a swift 2:25:17, powered by 22 segments. I've been stuck in traffic in New York for longer.

PS1 classics are in vogue this update, and what better to continue the trend than a mascot mostly known for his early Playstation appearances? Spyro 1 gets an update today, and joining the current single-segment is a complimentary 100% single-segment in 2:01:34. Thank Matt 'Crash41596' Leblanc for providing you with this excellent run.

Finally, in a revert back to the space-based theme I was originally going to write this update in, you may recall that we recently posted a Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War: Dark Crusade: Almost as Many Colons as Shin Megami Tensei run. Today, we have a run of the base game. Dawn of War is in, and 'Sinochek' purges the heretics and various assorted plant life in 2:06:57, all on hard mode and arranged as an individual level table. Disclaimer: no innocents were tainted by chaos in the making of these movies.

See you around.

Thursday, March 15, 2012 by Breakdown

I can stop anytime I want, really

Yes, this update is late. Yes, it's purely my fault, and for that I apologize. I'm sure most of you believe this is because I'm a busy guy with a lot going on in my personal and professional lives and nothing at all to do with me finally joining the current console generation and bouncing from game to game like a kid in a candy store. Well if that's the case, I'm not about to disillusion you. But anyways, speedruns, we've got a bunch of those today.

Kicking things off we have a brand spanking new IL table for San Francisco Rush. Runner Wouter M. 'WMJ' Jansen blazes through each of the game's seven tracks taking all the corners tight and making sure the wind is always his back, cruising to a total time of 0:34:26.55.

For those who prefer less cars in their IL tables, we've got something for you too. The PSN game Hamsterball also got the level by level treatment courtesy of runner Tom 'slowbro' Batchelor. According to his comments over 1000 hamster were killed in the making of these runs, so give them a moment of silence as you watch the ones who lived traverse the game's 8 levels in a total time of 0:02:51.90.

Moving away from ILs, but staying in the downloadable realm of things, we have an inaugural run for Contra Hard Corp: Uprising. Runner Todd 'Mecha Richter' Foreman gives this title a place on our game list with his run of the Rising mode using Sayuri, clocking in with a final time of 0:36:25.

It's been close to ten years since Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes has received any sort of update on SDA, but of course the only reason I'd be mentioning that fact is if it were about to change. Well, this is indeed the case as we now have a normal difficulty single segment run to go along with the extreme mode run from 2004. We learned at our last marathon that the man behind the controls answers to many names, but he most commonly goes by Caleb Hart, and he blitzes his way through this game in a time of 1:03:07.

Closing things out today, we have an improvement to a game that has seen several updated runs as of late: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. Nothing's being replaced in with update, rather we're adding a segmented run to our catalogue from runner Niklas 'Exo' Nierling. If the time of 1:05:52 alone doesn't make it apparent, the segment count of 54 should speak to the level of optimization and crazy tricks that are put to use here. Check this one out.

On a final note, we now have each and every run from the last Awesome Games Done Quick available for download. The links haven't changed (schedule page/archive page) so if you haven't already go pick up the last few. Again, huge thanks to UraniumAnchor for his work on the encodes and numerous other for helping to synch the two feeds.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 by dex

An attempt at an aimlessly alliterative appellation

Our first game today is one of the PC classics, the venerable Max Payne. Continuing his complete domination of that game page, Nigel 'ridd3r' Martin adds a spanking new category: to complement his speedy single-segment on the hardest difficulty, he added an even speedier multi-segment. And I dare say, it's a run well worth watching - without wrecking too much of the surprise, I'll say the difficulty level name (Dead on Arrival) is incredibly apt considering one of the used glitches. Even the most veteran of the New York Police Department should find the new tricks mindblowing. The timing is 0:42:41 in 78 segments. If you want to hear explanations of the more amazing shortcuts (I bet you will), Mr. Martin provided an audio commentary track with the run. Go get this, now.

Sticking with the 'PC classic' theme, we have a bunch of improvements in the individual-levels table of Starcraft. And by 'bunch', I mean that a person going only by the name of 'Freezard' decided to improve every single one, save for Terran 03 for some reason. Curious decision nonwithstanding, Freezard's considerable contributions combine to chop 45 minutes off the clock, yielding a total time of 2:28:55. It remains to be seen whether the last level to remain standing will also be conquered by him - I sure look forward to that happening. Complete destructions of IL tables are always impressive.

Speaking of IL tables, the proud spiritual successor to Marble Madness, Marble Blast Gold got a little lifting of some of the levels. Remy 'Dushine' Dushime, Pascal 'Xelna' Lafrance, Jonathan 'Sporlo' Hynes, Ji Hoon 'iMacmatician' Chun and Matan 'IsraeliRD' Weissman all did at least one improvement each - I believe the total number of improved levels is 54! For obvious reasons, those savings stack, shaving several seconds from the previous time, specifically 42, giving us the final time of 0:14:32.307. Audio commentary tracks (on the AllLevels video) and bloopers (1, 2 and 3) are also provided for extra entertainment value.

Lastly, the Relic Entertainment RTS in the familiar Warhammer 40,000 world, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Dark Crusade (an expansion to the original Dawn of War) gets a super-low-segment run by 'Sinochek' - only 4 of those in here! And it ain't a quickie, either - the time taken to trash through the campaign by Mr. Sinochek is 0:28:47. Here's hoping he decides to do the other expansions next!

That's all for today. See you next time.

Sunday, February 26, 2012 by Vorpal

Update*5

Apologies for the long wait. There was an unexpected bottleneck in the queue, but it's resolved going forward.

I start you off today with a shorter, more sparse game. Cursor*10 is a short flash game that involves using the first few of your eponymous 10 lives to manipulate the field and clear the way for your later lives to reach the goal. And since it's a weird flash game, you know James 'Aftermath' Downing is the man behind this run. Cursor*10? Closer to Cursor*0:01:48.

On the opposite end of the game size scale, we have giant RPGs. Before he started spending days at a time trying to single-segment Final Fantasy 10 on stream (I'll be honest: I have no idea how he does it), Tristan 'Caracarn' Helwig took the black sheep of the Final Fantasy series and made it beat itself until its stats went up. Or in this case, down. The game in question is of course Final Fantasy II, the Origins version to be specific, and Caracarn rushes through it in a swift 2:32, with 73 segments.

The original Metroid historically had lots of competition, but not so much recently. jprophet22 has corrected this deficiency, at least for the time being. As it stands none of the three existing runs uses up+A warps; that changes today, and Mr. J Prophet's 0:15:35 skips a lot of backtracking with the handy tool. No word yet on whether his high standing with the supernatural helped with missile luck manipulation. A quick note: this run doesn't have audio commentary, even if the statid says otherwise. The run was self-encoded when there were plans for a commentary, but they fell through, and jprophet elected not to bother reencoding the video to remove the notice.

This next run was completed way back in February, but it's only now, one year later, that it makes its way to the site. Finding verifiers can be tricky for some lesser-known games, but when you see that the game in question is Skull and Crossbones, a heinously awful Tengen NES 'port' of an arcade game, you won't be surprised. I can't say that I, or anyone, is proud to have this game on the site, but hopefully being greatly amused will suffice. Legendary bad game aficionado Josh 'the funkdoc' Ballard completed a run while blasting through a whole bunch of terrible games, depriving the bad game exchange of fodder but providing you with a speedrun in 0:10:53.

I'll close out with a run that's been a long time coming. You may know smooth-talking Michael 'Tigger77' Welle from Link's Awakening runs and just generally being awesome at marathons, but you may not know that he has an equally-skilled cousin, who goes by the moniker of -M2-. Tigger and M2 teamed up to take on one of the current generation's biggest sleeper hits, Valkyria Chronicles. After a solid year of painful luck manipulation, the time is in: 2:41:44. Anyone who's ever tried hitting a tank with a lancer at long range before is going to appreciate this. Enemy lancers, on the other hand, are free to headshot you twice in one round if my experience is any indication窶ヲ

That's the last of the runs, but not the last of the videos. One of the reasons for the delay in the queue is that people were busy with marathon videos instead, so that you might have days of footage to enjoy all over again. Last time the majority of runs had been uploaded, this time it's the vast majority. There's just a couple left; there'll be a torrent and such when everything's done. Until then, enjoy, and give a shoutout to UraniumAnchor and everyone involved in synching and encoding for being awesome.

Monday, February 13, 2012 by Breakdown

All sorts of stuff

All the other updaters got a chance to put in their two cents on the marathon, and I must say my compatriots covered things pretty well in the last two news posts (in fact, I'd say Vorpal's marathon wrap up was about the best piece of writing to hit the front page ever). I feel I should chime in with my thoughts, but I'm afraid I don't have much to add. Let me just say the Awesome Games Done Quick 2012 was truly an amazing thing to be a part of. Though really, I shouldn't need to tell that to most of you reading this as you were a part of it as well. Most of you weren't there in person, no, but many of you were viewers, chatters, donators, and/or promoters, and it was all of you good people who really made the event what it was. Sure, those of us on site had a schedule of events, played the games, and had a few surprises planned, but a lot the event's flavor came from outside. So to everyone who made a thread on their message board of choice, to everyone who tweeted about us, to everyone who donated (whether you commented or not), to everyone in the chat, and hell, to everyone who's only interaction with the event was pressing play on the stream window, I thank you. Awesome Games Done Quick 2012 wouldn't have been what it was without every one of you, and what it was, to me, is quite simply the best marathon we've put on yet. Even discounting the massive donation total (even with a month to reflect on it, the total of $149K is still mind-blowing), something about this year just felt right, and I feel it's to everyone's credit, on site and off, that I'm left with this overall impression. Once again, my deepest thanks to all of you.

Now after reading the above most of you are probably experiencing a wave of memories from the marathon while those of you missed it completely (a mistake I would not recommend making again) are wondering what all the fuss is about. Well, we have a little news both groups should find interesting. The majority of the encodes from the marathon are now ready for download, so you can catch up on what you missed or revisit your favorite moments. The links can be found on the schedule page as well as on their own dedicated archive details page. Huge thanks to UraniumAnchor for working on these encodes, as well as a long list of people for helping to sync the gameplay and commentary footage. The remaining runs should be up in the weeks to come, but what's available now should be more than enough to keep you busy for quite some time. Enjoy.

While the marathons have become an important aspect of SDA in these last few years, we do still primarily pride ourselves as a hosting site for the runs that are produced in more than one live attempt. We do have several of those for all of you today.

For starters, we have a new game hitting our catalogue. One of the less heralded Rare NES titles, Digger T. Rock, makes its SDA debut today with a run from Wes 'Arrow' Fathauer. Making use of warps and some skilled shovel wielding, Wes blazes throw a title that upholds Rare's reputation for difficult 8-bit games in a very quick 0:03:41.

It wasn't very long ago I was talking about how the original Ninja Gaiden is one of the more fought over titles on the site. Well, I'm mentioning it again, as we have another improvement for it today. Runner Kevin Carstensen enters the fray on this title in flying form, taking down Jim Henson's run by a margin of seven seconds. The new mark stands at 0:12:32, and if you though the old one was ridiculous, wait until you see this one.

Finishing things off today, we're knocking the dust off of the Resident Evil 2 game page. It's been nearly seven years since the page has seen any activity, but that changes today with the efforts of runner 'Carcinogen'. He's provided us with a healthy improvement to the US version's Leon A A-rank category, dropping over 5 minutes off the incumbent time, finishing in 1:14:18.

That's it for runs, but we do have a few other points of interest to address. First off, English translations for a couple runs' comments are now available, so for those unable to read Japanese or French, you may now know the thought process behind the runs for Infinite Undiscovery and When Pigs Fly respectively.

Lastly, we have a little something to supplement our live streams page. SDA has recently registered itself as a team on twitch.tv. As such, we now have our very own team page. As with w00ty, this page lets you quickly see who on SDA is streaming, but it also allows you to see any clips highlighted by team members as well as giving you the option to follow all members of the team with a single click. Just one more tool to make it that much easier to find some speedrunning goodness to watch. Give it a try.

Friday, January 27, 2012 by dex

I'm sorry, I think I have something in my eye

I know that Vorpal, in a cunning strategic move that was totally not a random occurence, was the first to update after the marathon was over and already summed the whole shebang up pretty succinctly, yet I would like to ask you to allow me to write a couple words straight out of my heart.

Back when we started this year's marathon, Mike Uyama wanted to set our goal at $80k, but then decided that the first goal should be around $50k, so that we'd be relatively sure to meet it safely. I mean, $50k? That's damn respectable, and it would be close to the biggest haul we ever had on a marathon. We secretly hoped for the aforementioned $80k, of course, but the pesky 'realist' in us kept telling us that might be wishful thinking.

And then you guys proved that 'reality' and 'realistic predictions' have no place in the speedrunning community. That our 'wishful thinking' goal would be met around the halfway point of the marathon. That you guys are amazing enough and determined enough to raise money sufficient to fund a two year cancer research grant in 5 days. That your capacity for kindness exceeds your considerable speedrunning prowess.

That, if you'll forgive a personal touch, is absolutely amazing to me. And, more than that, it fills me with pride to be able to honestly say I'm affiliated, even in the tiniest of ways, with such a superb bunch of people. The people here have a track record of pushing the envelope beyond the impossible, and I'm proud charity is no exception. You've shattered all my most optimistic expectations (one hundred fifty thousand US dollars!), and for that, I thank you. You can count on me raising a toast in your honor sometime.

But you didn't come here to hear me get all emotional, you're here to watch some speedruns. So, the first one is the speedrun of the PC version of Final Fantasy VIII. Not joking. Dave 'Sush' Rochefort chose an unorthodox platform for the famous Square franchise, but that doesn't get in the way of having a great looking run. 7:58 is the time Mister Rocherfort managed to achieve in 36 segments. Word on the street (okay, actually his comments) is that he ran into some glitchy PC trouble at the end of the run, trouble which required a lot of finagling to fix. Clearly, a lot of effort was put in, so you should go watch it.

Our next game is the post-apocalyptic NES platformer 8 Eyes. Mark J 'Cornshaq' Davis ran this one single segment, and manages to fix the jewel problem in merely 0:21:15. It's a short one, but guaranteed to keep you entertained, so go and download it. I mean, 20 minutes has to be watchable in any schedule.

Speaking of shorties, the rest of the games are pretty short Flash games, so I'll just rattle them away here. James 'Aftermath' Downing contributed two runs: a 0:00:13 run of a pet simulator called Can Your Pet, and a slightly longer (0:05:09) run of the artsy platformer Coma. To add to those, Bart 'TheVoid' de Waal adds to his collection which includes YHTBTR with a 0:00:40 run of a tower-defense-kinda game Age Of War 2. Short, but sweet.

I hope you enjoy watching this, and once again: you rock. See you next time.

Monday, January 16, 2012 by Vorpal

We need a new word for surpassing expectations

It seems to be my place to close out marathons. It's a good place; I like it here.

You may remember our previous marathon retrospective (a little ways down the page, on Aug 14) detailing how successful they were. The grand total was $111,761.20 before AGDQ '12 rolled around.

That got smashed in rather spectacular fashion. The total this time comes out to a round $149,044.99, all towards the Prevent Cancer Foundation, eking past our final target of 145k and nudging 150. That number counts most everything, including shirt sales from fangamer.net (which came in as a $1056 donation not long ago). There simply aren't enough words in the English language to express how amazing this is. The initial goal was indeed $50k, but internally we'd estimated that we'd make around $80k. That would have been a fair increase, and furthermore $80k is enough for the PCF to fund a full study. It'd be a good goal to hit, and we could go home happy.

And then everyone got together and decided to nearly double that. You all do that a lot, but as these numbers get bigger and bigger it gets more and more unbelievable.

I'm loath to credit that increase to anything we at SDA did. Sure, we'd like to believe that this last marathon was bigger (which it was), and better (we certainly hope so), with more prizes and so on. But nah, I can't really see that accounting for us raising 50% more than all of our previous marathons combined.

I had the misfortune of not being able to attend personally, so in my spare time, as a break from pining in my room, I checked on how the marathon was being received. I knew Flicky was plugging the 'thon at TeamLiquid (go ESPORTS!), so I mosey on over there and hey, 35+ page thread. I finally find out that the reason everything seems to be named Lunk is that it's a Something Awful thing, so I roll on over there, and hey, there's dozens of pages and even some people summarizing upcoming games and what to expect. Mad props. Check NeoGAF on a whim, and I don't remember there being a thread there at all last year, and if there was it definitely wasn't this big. SRK's events have always been great to watch, so I'm glad y'all enjoy ours. The Prevent Cancer Foundation itself promoted us, sending out emails and, well, check out our company on this page. It goes on, and that's just in the language I can read. eLive brought us French during Sands of Time, and there are undoubtedly other communities who supported the marathon and PCF but which I am simply not in a position to know about. Don't feel forgotten! I may not know you directly, but your efforts make themselves known.

You all made this marathon bigger and better, and you all helped prevent cancer. Our spiffy new donation tracker shows 3193 unique donators, who made 5869 unique donations, with an average of $25.38 per donation. That's not something SDA could do by itself. We don't have 3193 regulars. That number is the crowd buzz, the result of everyone talking about it at various other websites, generating viewership and a reach SDA simply did not have before. Even if you didn't or couldn't donate yourself, simply talking about it and watching it helped.

This is you. Yours. Your accomplishment. I said that before, and it's still true. Almost $150k over 5 days to defeat cancer. The direct results of your generosity include a two-year cancer research grant and continuing education, advocacy, and outreach. Be proud.

Let's understate things and say that the prizes were pretty popular this year. As an unforeseen problem, there are simply too many prize donors to list off at the end of a news post like I did last time, even if I cull the list to just people who take commissions. So I won't. Here's a link to the list of prizes. While people wondering how much money the community as a whole puts into running these things may shudder at travel costs, what many people also don't realize is that 99% of the prizes are donations from the community. This list represents a significant donation to charity on behalf of many people, all of whom deserve recognition out of scale with this small space in a news post. If you would like to commission something from the many people who make things, this thread has a list of them if you expand the "people/stuff to plug" header. Please consider thanking or at least appreciating these people, who donated fair amounts of money (and in some cases large amounts of money and time) towards defeating cancer.

Also, marathon videos are on their way. It'll take a little while, since there's quite a lot of footage, but UraniumAnchor and others are once again working overtime on those. You'll be seeing them soon.

The last marathon-related thing I want to talk about is the twitch.tv ad revenue. Our stream has class-upped to Partner status, and as such we get back some ad money. This comes out to around $432. It's not included in the total since we don't actually have it yet; we'll get it sometime around mid-late Feb. As it missed the cutoff for the chipin anyways, we're considering hanging onto some or all of it, and using it to pay costs for future marathons (like buying prizes, paying for shipping, etc). We'll keep you updated on what we decide to do with it. On a similar note, Serious Time t-shirts are still available from fangamer.net if you missed your chance at the Yetee's promotion and still want some SDA merch, but the chipin is closed and PCF isn't getting a chunk of the profits anymore.

That's about it for marathon stuff. Thanks for helping to make this event such a success. Seriously, $149k? $260,806.19 total? Don't ever stop surprising me or cancer. But that's not all I have for you. This site also happens to host speedruns, and I've got a few of them for you today.

First up is Castlevania Chronicles. Nicholas 'Sir VG' Hoppe, who you may remember from the marathon and his prolific SDA portfolio, has improved two of his times on the IL table. This marks the second improvement for each of these stages. Stage 1 has been cut down to 0:02:15.2, and Stage 4 has been reduced to a slim 0:02:38.9. Grab them while the night is still young, lest ye be crushed by chandeliers.

This next run is living proof that the marathons are not only good for charity, but also help the site itself. Every so often I see a comment on the forums that goes "well, too bad people are doing marathons instead of speedrunning now", or some such, and I just shake my head. Nah, it doesn't work like that. Anything that gets people playing games helps, because then you have people running new games, and getting hyped for speedrunning, and hopefully getting hyped for speedrunning new games. Enter Andrew 'RaneofSoTN' Melnyk, who closed out AGDQ '11 last year with a clutch run of Final Fantasy 4. He's back, and this time he slaughtered Zeromus in a single-segment 3:35 and change that would not exist if he hadn't volunteered to run FFIV for the marathon. Be sure to name all your files until the next update "Rane".

In what may become the standard rather than the exception, Mega Man 10 receives its first run today, also due to the motivating factor of the marathons. Russell 'duckfist' Wright marks his first appearance on the main page of SDA, and he brings with him his single-segment 0:23:03. Included is an audio commentary, so be sure to listen to that. This comes full circle with his recent marathon run of MM10, so I have to say: congrats, duckfist, and I hope to see you around!

Last but not least, we have a game that a couple people have toyed with running, but that hasn't appeared on SDA for one reason or another. Until now. Dylan McMahon steps up to the plate with his inaugural run on SDA, flipping through P.N.03. His run, a segmented run on easy, comes in at a fair 0:36:35. Dylan, obviously a man of good taste for playing this game, is hopefully someone we'll see again.

That's all, folks. Seriously, $149k? If you want to see more speedrunning in the meantime, you can check the streams link at the top of the page and watch the runners themselves. It's good stuff. Until next time.