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News from January through March, 2014. [Newer | Older]

Sunday, March 30, 2014 by Breakdown

There was something I used to do...

Yeah, it's been a while. But let's skip the pleasantries; I have runs, lots of runs.

I remember a few years back posting funkdoc's run for the original Castlevania and stating something to the effect that it was a healthy improvement to a run I thought was really good to begin with. Well, here we are again. Runner 'kmafrocard' went in hard on this game and chopped 18 seconds off the incumbent time, grabbing the final orb at 0:11:48. So yeah, a healthy improvement to a run I thought was really good to begin with. Check it out.

Let's keep the classic Castlevania train rolling for one more paragraph here. The black sheep of the original trilogy, Castlevania II: Simon's Quest has been getting some attention from the community as of late, and as a result we have the inaugural submission for the deathless category for you today from runner 'FuriousPaul'. It takes him 0:43:48 to reassemble and then again disassemble Dracula, defintiely worth a watch.

Moving on, we've got probably my favorite game of the last decade in Super Meat Boy. Runner John De Sousa brought no small amount of innovation to the any% category on this one, and has done on the PC version what only a small handful of people have done in pretty much any game: cut the Exo, and by a healthy margin no less. His time of 0:18:24 is a full minute's improvement over the previous run, and that run blew minds when it hit. So yeah, pretty good to say the least.

We'll move on to the only actual new game being added to our list today, and it happens to be another one my favorites of recent years. Though in runs, my favorite part of playing Bastion casually (the narrator) is decidedly minimized, the large skips category more than balances this out with letting you see the game get broken all to hell. Runner 'Vulajin' is very adept at breaking this game all to hell, as evidenced in his 0:15:09 run on the PC version. Not bad for a Kid.

When the first batch of games based on Jurassic Park were being planned out, somebody at Sega definitely demonstrated good judgment when they threw out the idea of "Let's let them play as the dinosaur!" Truly, the Raptor mode was the big draw of the Genesis version of the game when it came out, because who would rather play as a middle-aged paleontologist over a big, fast, scaled death machine? Count runner 'Lecorbak' firmly in the big, fast, scaled death machine camp as he liked the mode enough to run it. He blazes through the Raptor stages in a very quick 0:02:50, over forty seconds faster than our previous run from way back in 2005.

As long as we're on the subject of the obsoletion of really old runs on the site, we're retiring another one today from all the way back in 2004. Road Runner's Death Valley Rally was one of Tom Votava's early barrage of submissions back when SDA made the jump from Quake running site to speedrunning site ten years ago. A handful remain on the game list to this day, but this is one more being picked off, this time by runner 'Lenophis'. It's a healthy improvement as well, just over two minutes faster than the incumbent time, clocking in at 0:23:40.

I'll be honest, I don't have much interesting or witty to say about Crash Team Racing. It's a kart racer, you go fast, you get power ups, there are cool shortcuts and glitches, and it makes for a pretty interesting run. Davy 'Lechanceux100' Menan demonstrates this with his single segment Adventure mode run on the European version of the game, crossing the final finish line in 0:56:53.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 by ShadowWraith

Update? Update.

Hey it's me again, and I've got some more sweet speedruns for you today. Take a look!

I love Devil May Cry. While the plot may be paper thin and the voice acting questionable at best, the combat is fluid and fun and the artwork and enemy design are top notch.. 'ahuynh' has shown himself to be an absolute monster at the game, with this segmented normal difficulty improvement to our old run from 2005 joining his previously submitted SS Super Dante run on the site. He saves a little under 17 minutes, with a final time of 0:41:33. That's right, I said 17 minutes. Go watch it.

Anodyne is one of those pixel art style indie games that are all the rage these days. This one is a top-down adventure game involving a dream world, Zelda-esque puzzles and combat and - if the speedrun is to be believed - walking through walls into random jumbles of textures. Pretty brave gameplay decision right there, and Darren 'lifning' Alton makes the most of it with this 0:04:51 single-segment run through the game. Oh, wait, you mean the clipping isn't intended gameplay? Well bugger me. Who'd have seen that coming?

I've wrote a couple updates for Resident Evil games before, and I always have trouble with them. It's not that the games aren't compelling at all, it's just that I have no idea what goes on in them, and Resident Evil 2 is no exception. Zombies, evil megacorporations with questionable names, terrible voice acting and knife combat abound in this run by 'Carcinogen'; a single-segment run using Leon on the 'A' story in 1:06:51. What else can I say about this game... the final boss looks scary? I guess that's pretty cool.

If any of you have played the original Prince of Persia game, you'll know how bloody hard it is. The combat was clunky, the traps were fiendish and the level design baffling at times. The remake cleverly titled Prince of Persia Classic alleviates some of these problems and adds a little more depth to the gameplay, and is actually quite fun to watch. 'Jaguar King' went ahead and did this 0:12:46.02 single-segment run for us, and having watched it myself, I can say that the play quality is pretty darn high. You don't need to take my word for it though, the link's right there.

Final Fantasy IV (Final Fantasy 2 for us non-Japanese chaps) is a game I find myself drawn to. From a speedrunning perspective, the only downside to it is the rather lengthy block of grinding towards the end of the run (which has been cut down quite significantly with recent strats, thankfully), and the fact that the end boss is a colossal jerk. That said, I'm clearly not the only one with some affection for this game. Shawn 'obdajr.' Nakashima is probably the best FF4 speedrunner I know of, so I'm sure you guys will find this run a treat to watch. It's 3:24:33 long, by the way, so make sure you set some time aside for it.

Next up, Secret of Mana. A game that is apparently based around trading weapons back and forth between party members and then hitting things for 900+ damage. This run is a single-player single-segment affair, with resets, in 3:16:24 by a fellow named 'Crow!'. I wonder if he wants people to vocalise the exclamation mark at the end of his name? Hmm.

Finally, Dragon Warrior, the game that spawned the JRPG genre. It's almost 30 years old at this point, and people are still playing it today. Kind of blows my mind to think about it. At any rate, Eric 'Lhexa' D'Avignon adds the game to our listings with this segmented 4:47:36 run through the game. Good stuff.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 by nate

from father to daughter

in the late summer of 2003, we were trying to skip the boost ball in metroid prime. my friends and i were trying to beat the game without collecting this item - just to see if it could be done.

there were still three places where it was required to progress. the game's developers hadn't intended for boost to be skippable, so there was a lot of doubt that someone would solve those problems.

kip said, "i think it will happen if it's pushed hard enough."

"if it's pushed hard enough" - as though anything were possible in this world if it's pushed hard enough.

and then it was.

i was looking at the list of marathons on sda's wikipedia page this morning when i remembered something mike uyama said recently: "we raised the big million for PCF, which I didn't think we would hit when the event started," "the event" of course being awesome games done quick 2014, sda's most recent marathon. the total raised from this event was more than the total from all of our previous marathons combined.

this has been a thing for agdq. but i think there was a lot of doubt this year about whether the exponential growth would continue. after all, in this world, there are some things that just aren't possible.

the answer given to me in the summer of 2003 was to build our own world. in other words, boost wasn't skipped on its own. it took people pushing. a million dollars didn't appear on its own. if you took part in the event - organizing, running, watching, donating, spreading the word - then you were pushing. you created this world in which a million dollars was raised in a week to prevent cancer.

who knows what will happen now. i'm told that we raised enough to fund several studies. in the past, one study like this found a new vaccine.

but i think a lot of us did it just to see if it could be done.

we will keep pushing.

Monday, March 10, 2014 by UraniumAnchor

Chapters and Volumes

It's been just under a year since I made a news post for the front page, one in which I said that I looked forward to the day that one of the community's charity events surpassed the 7 digit mark for money raised. Two months ago I got to sit in a room packed with spectators witnessing the finale of AGDQ2014, where the million dollar mark was hit during the final half hour of the final run. You couldn't have scripted a better ending. And with SGDQ2014 less than four months away I can only imagine where these events will take us in the future. I've had the good fortune of being able to attend all but the original *GDQ, and helping run the events are consistently high points of the year, even if they do leave me exhausted for days afterwards.

I'm a somewhat newer face to this site, having only registered on the forum some time in 2008. I don't recall exactly when it was that I started visiting the site, but I do know that in the years prior to that, I got a chance to watch a speedrun of the original Castlevania in 13:13 (still available on Archive!). That video stuck in my memory for quite some time, and while it's since been surpassed by quite a margin I consider it the first real speedrun video I ever watched, and it stood for quite some time. These days competition for well known games (and even some not so well known games) has ramped up to the point where runs previously thought nearly unbeatable can be improved by significant margins, either through the discovery of new tricks or simply grinding out attempts until your fingers bleed.

The speedrunning community continues to grow larger, more and more gamers are joining the fold. Inevitably some leave, but that's just how things are. The community fosters friendly competition, or simply assistance in finding and refining new tricks for whatever somebody's favorite speedrunning game might be. New tricks are discovered even on some of the oldest games, and sometimes there's a mad scramble to be the first to figure out if it's something that can drive the time even lower.

Ultimately, though, video game speedrunning is all about the enjoyment of seeing just how low you can push it. Whether you have a dozen viewers on your 3am stream watching you grind out an obscure NES title or hundreds or thousands of people watching you try to shave off those last few precious seconds, or even frames, the common thread is seeing those green splits finally turn blue when the timer stops. Or whatever color scheme you happen to prefer.

Here's to ten more years, and maybe a few more after that.

Sunday, March 9, 2014 by Flip

Never hurts to offer

I discovered SDA back in 2006, after being linked here from GameFAQS. I'm ashamed to admit that for months I thought the name of this site was "Speed Demons Archive." I've always been a bit of a speed runner, even if I didn't really know what that meant before stumbling into this little corner of the internet. I was fascinated that this many people shared my hobby of playing games fast. I'm serious, folks, dozens of people were posting on the forums every day!

I was immediately sucked into all of it. I couldn't get enough speed runs. I finally submitted my first in 2008. Initially it was a big deal - the first multiplayer console speed run on the site. Before that, multiplayer speed runs only existed in the Quake section of the site. I was led to believe that old people lived there and I wasn't to go sniffing around. Only a joke. Well, mostly a joke.

Despite having a run accepted, I was still hungry to contribute to the site in whatever way I could. I looked for ways to help out, and found an opportunity in the Trading Post board. I offered to create a Master List of all the offers in all the threads (back when this was relatively do-able), and Mike green-lighted it and made me a mod over that board. All I did was offer to help where I thought I could.

That action, the offer to help, really defines the rest of my time here. When updates were getting scarce and people were calling for more staff, I just let Mike know that "Hey, I've got some free time on my hands, and I know quite a bit about games" and voila - next thing I know I'm helping write updates and alleviating some of the pressure on then-updaters Breakdown and dex. This went on for some time until Mike let us know that he planned to step down from his administrative duties (submission through verification). Nobody seemed eager to jump on it, so again, "I've got some free time, I'm on SDA basically all day anyway, and I wouldn't mind learning a new job." As most of you know, that "free time" I advertised was not to last, so eventually puwexil was brought on to take some of the weight off of my shoulders, and I focused purely on verification for some time. In all of my time here, I was never motivated by power or fame or the killer salary, I just wanted to help my favorite website be as great as it could possibly be.

Nowadays, that "free time" is a luxury I don't have nearly as much of, so I kick back on the sidelines and watch SDA unfold before me. It blows me away how far we've come and how much we've grown in the time I've been here. I'm so proud of all of the administrators and all of the users of this site for cultivating a welcoming, open community for new speed runners to find their legs and learn to love this strange hobby we all share. Although my time here may one day been seen as simply a flash in the pan, I'm very proud of my small part in helping the site grow, and I'm so excited to see where it's going. To everyone who has ever been a part of this site, thank you for an amazing ten years.

Saturday, March 8, 2014 by Vorpal

Progress

I wasn't sure what to write when Mike asked me to say something. I wasn't sure whether I would say anything, since I'm not an admin anymore. I was a bratty teen when Radix's 1:37 metroid prime 100% was posted. It's been 10 years, and I'm still bratty, but I've progressed from arguing over whether TASing is cheating to actually speedrunning. That's a pretty big improvement, so maybe I should say something after all.

I've been around for longer than I want to admit, but I haven't been running for that long. I mostly just watched videos. I did a couple bad runs, ultimately I think just to prove to myself that I could. One of them has since been beaten by 17 minutes, so you can tell I didn't find the process rewarding.

Now? This particular competition slash performance art has finally got an audience, and it turns out that playing to the limit of your ability is kinda fun. Speedrunning has matured to the point where impressive videos get streamed every day like it's nothing, and I've met some pretty cool people along the way.

Thanks for the memories. I hope my actions at SDA helped people enjoy the hobby. As for the next 10? Surprise me.

Friday, March 7, 2014 by LLCoolDave

A Decade of Speedrunning

Most of you probably don't know much about me outside of these updates and a couple of slightly awkward and unnatural camera appearances at AGDQ events. Despite not being a well known public figure of our community I've still been around for almost 12 years now, witnessing the rise and growth of this pastime activity from a barely known aspect in the gaming world to something that can glue a hundred thousand of you fans to the screen for a week twice a year. This is my story of how we and I specifically have come to be where we are today.

The year is 2002 and the release of Metroid Prime is on the horizon and my anticipation for what would ultimately turn out to be my favourite game of all time created some new found interest in what is arguably one of the best games of all time: Super Metroid. It's a game I had some great memories of from my childhood but ultimately never owned myself and the friend I used to play it with had moved away a year ago. Lacking a local store that dealt in retro games (and yes, the SNES already was a retro console a decade ago. Welcome to feeling old.) I turned to something I had discovered fairly recently: Emulation, which had brought me many afternoons of intense Tetris Attack multiplayer action in between Windows ME freezing for no good reason during the previous winter. It's hard for me to tell whether I first discovered all the sequence breaking and knowledge about the game preserved on the GameFAQs message board (when GameFAQs wasn't the desolate wasteland it has now become) or Smokey's ZSNES input record files of his speedruns, but those two were my first real exposure to speedrunning.

The times Smokey achieved were in the 0:37 game time range, some of them with saves, some of them in a single segment setting, and all of them riddled with playback and syncing issues. The concept of short time attacks on racing games and the likes was not new to me, and I had just recently picked up competing in the single player stadium events on the freshly release Super Smash Bros. Melee but running a full half hour game was still an impressive feat to me at that point. It took another half a year for me to meet what would eventually become the core of metroid2002 and the modern day SDA as the EU release of Metroid Prime was massively delayed compared to the US release. By the time I finished enjoying the game all by myself and got into the sequence breaking aspect of it most of the major things about it had been discovered already. Nevertheless, #metroid-online was where I first started getting into contact with nate, Radix and a lot more other people you probably don't know or care about I could namedrop right now.

Although Radix' 1:37 100% run is often credited as being the first speedrun with widespread exposure people seem to often forget that CalFoolio made a couple of newspapers and online gaming media sites with his any% half a year prior to that. The next part of the story is probably best told by nate himself. It's hard for me to tell if the recent exposure of specific speedruns had brought people to record runs of games they liked or if it just had gotten people who already did so more attention, but it's probably fair to say that early 2004 is where speedrunning started to take off. There's a lot of contributing factors to that. For one, the recording of game footage for private use had started to become both technically feasible and popular, with PC's becoming powerful enough and video encoding sophisticated enough to use Fraps without massively straining the CPU and HDDs any more, capture cards becoming affordable and DVD recorders starting to gain a foothold in private households. On top of that, the spread of broadband internet was in full swing and made sharing video files on the internet a realistic proposition.

As much credit as we attribute to the early pioneers of our hobby we shouldn't forget that influence the general environment had on its success. It's not like speedrunning popped out of nowhere around 2004, in fact a lot of games have a heritage that reaches back further than that. Before that point in time though both the production and consumption of speedruns required a considerable amount of dedication from people, resulting in fairly isolated communities around individual games with a relatively low focus on audio-visual content. Once those external factors shifted and SDA provided a generic, non game specific meeting point for speedrunners in 2004 is when things started to flourish. Nevertheless, the speedrunning scene was considerably different back then.

For one, high quality video files were a rare sight in 2004. YouTube and Google Videos were still a year out in the future, and it probably took another 2 or 3 years before their general video quality started to be comparable to early day SDA encodes. Most gaming videos back then were relatively blurry, low framerate encodes to squeeze down filesize in an era where the word megabyte still had a meaning on the internet. This is arguably the major contribution to SDA's success in the early days: A focus on high quality, not just (and looking back at the early content, some may cynically say none at all) on gameplay but especially on the actual video recording of the run. This is the first time speedruns became consumable by the general public. Although there were leaderboards for various games before then and TwinGalaxies tracked speed records for all kinds of games, part of what made them disappear since then is the fact that the service they provided was ultimately useless to anybody not actively involved in the competition. The mere statement of fact of a certain time being achieved is irrelevant if you don't understand the context of it. The recording of speedruns finally managed to provide a context to the general public by making the record relatable. Watching the run unfold made it easy to compare it to your own experiences playing the game and draw your own conclusions about the run. In a day and age of watching 1080p YouTube videos on your laptop tethered to your mobile phone on a train this may seem very distant to some of you, but trust me, hosting high quality video files free of charge on SDA was a big deal back in the day.

Speedruns themselves were also rather different then. Outside of games with a dedicated community most speedruns were single person efforts, where all the research was frequently shouldered by the runner himself. Contrast this with today, where even games with only one active runner frequently have a group of people who contributed to it in the background with routing, glitch hunting and the general benefits you gain when multiple views can converge on a single product. The time commitment to speedrunning was also often times a lot smaller than what we are used to today. It wasn't unheard of for SDA submitted runs back then to be completed in two weeks, from conception through trick finding into practice and the actual recording and segmented runs were mostly the norm. If your standards of gameplay quality aren't as exceedingly high as they are today and you are only willing to commit so much of your time to finishing a run, splitting it into smaller chunks is certainly the most efficient use of your time and will overall lead to a better run within these constraints you set for yourself. The view that the mere act of segmentation should require a significantly more polished execution was something that only developed over the course of the last decade, originally it seemed that taking a save point was widely regarded as a worthwhile cost if the time lost was reasonably easily offset by spending less time perfecting a much longer section of the game. Speedruns weren't solely optimized over purely ingame mechanics, the meta aspect of the effort put into it played a much larger roll than it still does today.

As a result of this, that was the age of very prolific runners. With a relatively small community and a lower standard of effort expected in a speedrun, this is where some of the runners with the widest range of games and speedruns popped up. Today most runners are mostly known for a game or two, but in the early days of SDA it was rather common for people to simply be known as speedrunners, with a wide range of titles and runs under their belt and on the gamelist. The run I want to highlight today is from this era by one of the speedrunning pioneers named SnapDragon. There are a lot of worthwhile gaming feats he achieved that still stand up even today, but for some reason the one thing that always stuck with me in the back of my head was something that very much doesn't: His 2:09:56 run of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. If you haven't watched that run, please be aware that I can't recommend it. That time has been beaten by over 20 minutes at SGDQ 2012 and the run really doesn't hold up on any standards today. More on why I picked this run in particular if I don't want you to watch it later on.

As the community grew, so did the expectations of execution in the speedruns it produced. Once there was a critical mass of speedrunners for actual competition on more games to become a common thing the effort put into a speedrun grew exceptionally quickly, and by proxy the standards for non competitive runs rose in accordance. For games with save features we entered an era of very optimized hyper segmented runs and changes to the SDA rules with regards to death abuse and out of bounds tricks opened a whole can of new categories and tricks to be explored. Strangely, this is also when my personal enjoyment of actually running a game started to plummet. At first I thought this to be caused by me simply not being good enough or dedicated enough to produce a high quality speedrun, but I think I understand this issue in a much different light today. Again, more on this later.

Then streaming happened, and it changed everything. Not only did it lead to our now bi-annual Games Done Quick marathons, the largest exposure of speedrunning to the uninitiated public these days, it also massively influenced the way we consume and produce speedruns. Before people started to stream their speedruns, what the consuming part of the community got to see in the end were finished products, meticulously crafted paintings in a gallery, carefully arranged, all the false starts and poorly composed ones cast aside to a garbage bin where nobody would ever see them. With streaming, viewers could watch the painters in their atelier for the first time as they carefully placed their brush on the canvas, slipped and started anew. The focus shifted from the mere finished product to the process of creating it, with all the uncertainty and excitement of what was still to come being shared by the runner with their audience right as it happened. This definitely started to cast a different light on our hobby. As a result, the types of runs that were desirable to learn and produce shifted. Segmented runs make for a bad streaming experience, with constant resets over seemingly negligible mistakes, a rather short segment that's being played over and over again with small variety and a seeming lack of progress for the viewer. Suddenly, long single segment runs started to become the de facto norm of speedrunning a game and these days segmented runs are a rare sight for the most part. Live streaming leads to different types of runs being popular amongst viewers, and so the focus of the community has shifted rather dramatically in the past 3 years.

There's another interesting development that streaming brought upon us. The years leading up to the rise of twitch.tv had seen a stronger and stronger focus on more and more optimized speed runs as that's ultimately the only thing the audience got to see and experience. With live streaming and commentary being an integral part of our community now there is room for people who can act as entertainers that use speedrunning as a mean, not the goal of their performance and several of the more popular members of our community these days have grown famous more so for their commentary and interaction than solely the gameplay they produce. Speedrunning has been lifted from a passive form of entertainment where the runner and audience are mostly disconnected and only interact through the medium of the speedrun itself to a performance art where runner, audience and the speedrun interact and intermingle in ever more exciting and interesting ways, and this is where I feel we stand today.

Speedrunning is art. There's no other way for me to view it, as it serves no direct function or purpose, it doesn't directly improve any aspect of our lives and the final product isn't particularly useful in and of itself. The only use to be gained out of it is the experience felt while watching or producing a speedrun itself, whatever that may be for each individual. Although most of us probably view it as a fairly low-brow form of entertainment instead of a high art I still feel there's quite a bit to be gained by viewing it through those eyes for a moment. What I find to be particularly curious is the relationship between artist and art in speedrunning. There is no doubt that speedrunning is a very constrained canvas for expressing ones thoughts and ideas, even more so than just regular gaming. Not only are the things one can do in the game fairly limited themselves, the overall goal of doing things as quickly as possibly strongly constrains the artist even further. What a speedrun expresses is then mostly on an emotional level. The excitement, anxiety, uncertainty, relief, pressure, surprise and sheer panic runners frequently feel throughout the course of their run are relatively easily projected onto a viewer through the mere actions of playing the game and a mutual understanding of the general context of those actions. Furthermore, given their own experience with the game in question a viewer may feel all of these and many more emotions at potentially entirely different points in the run than even the runner did. Frequently, people who have spend time running a game themselves get excited at very different points in a run than viewers that have never seen a speedrun of that game before. It is in this contrast and conflict of experiences and emotions of the artist and experiences of the viewer where I see most of the artistic value in a speedrun and where I personally seem to gain most of my enjoyment of them.

Realizing this is what got me to understand my discontent with speedrunning I felt a couple years ago. The strive for more and more optimized times got me to focus on the entirely wrong aspect of speedrunning for myself. I was so obsessed with producing a nearly optimal run that I stopped enjoying the process of potentially getting there. Speedrunning had stopped being about myself and was focused on some abstract concept of a perfect speedrun. No segment I did was good enough, no jump precise enough, no frame lost considered acceptable. What I had completely missed was measuring my progress on myself, not the frame counter in VirtualDub. The act and goal of speedrunning, I feel, is ultimately about oneself. I think we should try to see the competitive nature of speedrunning less between runners and more about the runner with himself. What good is it really to be able to say 'I am the best at this relatively meaningless task'? What good is it to measure exactly how many frames off an optimal run we achieved? We should stop tracking our progress as our failure to live up to these tasks and rather treat it as the advances we have made in ourselves. Don't try to be the best runner at a game the world has seen, don't try to produce the most optimized run imaginable. Try to be better than you were a day ago, a week ago, a month ago. Try to think positively about the experiences you gain in the progress, both for speedrunning and in more general terms. And try to share those experiences with others so they can gain from them as well. This doesn't just hold true for speedrunning but life in general: Don't try to be the best person one can be, be the best you can be and then go out there and improve on that even further.

This is why I picked that particular run earlier. When I first watched that Prince of Persia run it certainly impressed me, mostly due to the low standards surrounding it at the time. I was impressed by the dedication of playing through a relatively hard game in a continuous 2 hour chunk while remembering what to do almost everywhere along the path. Granted, most of that was because I hadn't really seen much quite like it at the time, but the run stuck with me for entirely different reasons. It's not very optimized at all, it even contains a rather costly death right at the end (a rather impressive feat in a game where you can rewind time) and a lot of mistakes along the way, it misses several tricks that were probably rather easy to discover even back then if one had spent more time looking for them and in general it seems rather sloppy from today's point of view. Even as a product of its time it really doesn't stand out as something remarkable when viewed on this axis alone. What it is though, is entirely unmistakably SnapDragon's run, and his personality and experiences with the game shine through at every point. He choreographs fights not in the most theoretically optimal way but rather the way that works best for him. The execution clearly shows parts that he is rather good at and parts that cause him trouble. It's a very personal experience, and I can always compare that to my experience with the game and gain something from that. It is very much a work of a specific artist, with all his flaws and insecurities and strengths and knowledge being projected onto a 2 hour movie file.

Contrast this with one of the runs I am well known for showing a dislike to: the Half-Life Half-Hour run from a couple of years ago. Disregarding the issue of using scripts that are no longer allowed on SDA and mostly disliked in the community as a whole the run is also very heavily segmented. The average length of a segment is less than 10 seconds, and probably considerably less once you factor out the parts where nothing much happens at all. And where there is action, it is chopped up in chunks so small that there is no room for any aspects of the runner to sip through. The entire product is shaped by the merciless dictation of objectively being the fastest possible run and as a result feels very much lifeless to me. In a sense, it doesn't much matter who ultimately ended up recording the segments on that particular route because you would be hard pressed to tell the difference anyway. That's the curious curse of the speedrunner: The better a run becomes objectively, the less important the artist himself seems to be. This is part of the reason why I think streaming became so popular, in both the producing and consuming parts of the community. The live performance of a speedrun allows more room for the run to be personal and gives a better canvas for transmitting the contrast of experiences and emotions I consider so important for the enjoyment of a run from a runner to their audience, and via immediate chat feedback there's also a path in the other direction.

So this is the thought I want to leave you with today: A faster time doesn't always make for a better speedrun. Strive to challenge yourself with your speedrunning goals, not others. There's so much more to our common interest than the mere objective time displayed at the end of a run and if there wasn't, SDA surely wouldn't have grown to be what it is today. And with that, off to another ten years.

Thursday, March 6, 2014 by dex

We should be able to make some candles out of all this wax

I got introduced to this site by a happy accident, back when I was a 14 year old. Yes, I'm basically a baby. I read a column on SDA in a Polish gaming magazine. It was around the time of the 15 minute Morrowind run being released. I vividly remember visiting the only friend that had any sort of a broadband internet connection - also a Morrowind fan - and blowing his mind by showing him the (in retrospect rather bland) intelligence stacking trick to make incredibly powerful potions. I was instantly hooked, though I wasn't really too active until I managed to nab an actual internet connection in my own home. That is not to say I wasn't doing speedrun related stuff at the time - the update before the Morrowind one was the old Deus Ex run. I remember sitting there and thinking "hey, I think I can do this better!" About three weeks later I did a 1:10:xx run for my own enjoyment, and then promptly decided never to publish the subpar-quality recordings. Only after taking a plunge into Quake running a year and a half later did I decide to actually record something that people would actually enjoy watching.

Because that's what speedrunning means to me at its core: making something that others will enjoy first and foremost - the nerdiest artform imaginable. It's a display of ability and capability, of patience, of cunning and, yes, of improvisation and efficiency, and my favorite runs always combined all these into a seamless, evocative video. There are of course a lot of other great aspects to speedrunning as a whole - the thrill of the fight for improvement; the cheer of achieving success - that make it an amazing hobby, but it always went back to the entertainment aspect for me. That is, until the Marathons showed that not only are we amazingly fast, but also amazingly kind. It's been a pleasure to help this site along and be a small part of something that grew to being so amazing, and all thanks to you, Dear Viewer and Dear Runner.

I have been asked to pinpoint some runs that embody speedrunning to me, so here goes. I must mention the Quake speedruns, for some of them are truly spectacular. Any run by the likes of Thomas Stubgaard, Jozsef Szalontai or Mathias Thore is a marvel to behold, but the prize must, in my mind, go to Peter Horvath's e1m3 all kills+secrets easy run - one minute of what can only be described as poetry in motion; or a tapestry intricately woven with bunnyhops and perfectly placed grenades. I really love the European version Extreme run of Metal Gear Solid, it is insane how good it is for a single segment run. I also enjoy the runs of the Metroid series in general, though I probably would point to Hotarubi's Super Metroid run from 2006 as my personal favorite.

I may be mostly inactive nowadays, but I still keep a watch on the main site, and hope to see even more fantastic runs. And thanks to everyone for sticking around with us.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 by ShadowWraith

No slowing down.

My introduction to speedrunning was completely unrelated to SDA, and in retrospect, about as unlikely an introduction as you can get. One day back in 2004, I was looking at the torrent-serving website Suprnova and stumbled across a torrent for a speedrun of Doom II, which completed the entire game in 14:41. It blew my mind, to say the least. Doom II is one of my favourite games, I played it regularly with my friends over LAN way back when, and watching this guy completely demolish the game was like sweet ambrosia to me. After a solid google, I then stumbled across the archive.org page for Speed Runs. I ate that shit up like I was a starving man at a free buffet. It still wasn't enough for me. I started dabbling with my own speedruns, completing two of a custom mission pack for Unreal Tournament (the video files are still out there on archive.org somewhere). It wasn't until two years later, when someone actually started competing with me over this completely random mission pack that I found out that SDA exists. The rest is history.

What started out as a hobby I did to entertain myself has turned into... well, it's still a hobby and I still do it for entertainment, but SDA means so much more to me than that. It's an amazing community with amazing people, and almost every single interaction I've had with it has been amazingly positive. Now, following on from what the other updaters have done, I thought long and hard about what I thought would be the best run to highlight for you guys to show you what speedrunning means to me. It's not really a hard choice for me. Drew 'stx-Vile' DeVore's Doom II Nightmare SS run in 0:29:56 is probably the most impressive run on the site for me. Nightmare is so much harder than Ultra Violence (for reference, I'm pretty good at Doom II and I've never beaten the game or even gotten past level 4 on Nightmare without dying), and watching this run almost 10 years after it was made still gives me chills at how well played it is. It may not be the world record anymore - it was beaten by 17 seconds by Henning Skogsto in 2009 - but to me it still embodies everything I view speedrunning to be.

If that's not to your tastes, then there's also former updater dex's realistic difficulty segmented run of Deus Ex in 0:43:20. It's also pretty old and the route is outdated at this point, but it's an incredibly optimised run and the amount of research and time dex put into the game produced something very impressive to watch. It may not have the overt in-your-face difficulty that the previously linked Doom II run had, but the tricks that are included made me shake my head in disbelief the first time I saw them.

Happy anniversary SDA. I hope the future years will continue to be as amazing for you as they have been for me.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 by Breakdown

Has it really been that long?

I became aware of SDA and speedrunning in general back in 2006. While randomly surfing around the GameFAQs forums I stumbled upon a link to a speedrun of the original NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The time of 19:32 has since been beaten, but this was the run that opened my eyes to the concept of speedrunning. I was already into things like RPG challenge quests and other limiting way of playing through games to breathe some new life into assorted titles. I viewed speedrunning similarly, but as something that could be applied to just about any game out there. I took to it quickly and never really stopped. Over the next few years I had three runs accepted to the site (one of which still stands) as well as few done on emulator either just for the heck of it or through one the tournaments run on the forums over the years. It's a hobby I've had trouble explaining to people outside of it, but one I've enjoyed immensely. SDA as a whole is largely responsible for that enjoyment, and for that I am grateful.

A lot has changed from 2006 to now. The community was a fraction of the size of today with nearly all communication running through the forum. It was a time when if a game had two people playing it, that was considered heated competition, and nearly all gameplay was done in the privacy of your own home while hoping your VCR didn't eat the tape that had The Run. And as for The Run, the lack of competition on most titles made the standards largely depend on the individual's definition of "good enough." Now, the community's grown exponentially, top games have seas of players and trick finders constantly pushing the times down further and further, and we've reached a point where doing attempts without streaming just seems odd. Things have changed to say the least. This hobby's been pushed more and more into the spotlight, and the attention its receiving is awesome to see. Millions have been raised for charity, stars have been born, hell, a few people are currently successfully making a living off of this. Ten years back, that all would've sounded crazy, but here we are. Really makes you wonder what the next decade holds.

While it'd be foolish to solely attribute the current state of things to SDA, it would be equally foolish to deny the role the site has played in speedrunning reaching this point. For years, we were THE destination for speedrunning, no other site out there had such a similar and narrow focus. These days, other option exists, but SDA still fills a unique role as a center for speedrunning knowledge and home to an ever increasing library of high quality game footage. And with that library rapidly approaching a four digit games total, we're showing no signs of slowing down.

Happy anniversary SDA, here's to ten more.

Monday, March 3, 2014 by mikwuyma

From a small start

I've been a part of SDA since September 2004, and to say a lot has happened since then is an understatement. The games covered on the site have gone from less than a 100 to over 900, two console generations have passed, and we've managed to raise over 2 million dollars for charity.

Speaking of two million, I remember the goal for our first charity marathon, Classic Games Done Quick, was a lofty $5,000, an amount that many people doubted we could reach. This amount might seem tiny, especially compared to how much the marathons have raised in four short years, but this was before Twitch existed, and this was our first marathon. When we ended up raising $11,000 for CARE after 50 hours of gaming, we were ecstatic, not only because we smashed our goal, but we actually managed to pull off a marathon.

I would like to highlight Jonas 'Hurblat' Martinsson's Contra III: The Alien Wars hard mode run because I used to run this game, and I considered my 0:14:59 hard mode run one of my best runs and thought no one would be crazy or stupid enough to try and beat it. Stage 1 kills over 90% of attempts alone. Well Jonas not only beat my run, but beat it quite handily, using new strategies that I never thought of, and had even tighter execution than my run. Seeing this run was when I realized that almost anyone run can be beaten, as long as someone is willing to try (and attack aggressively!).

Sunday, March 2, 2014 by Radix

A word from the founder

Hi folks. This week the updates at Speed Demos Archive will be a little different. We wanted to have some thoughts from the people who have volunteered their time to work on this site over its many years. It's been 10 years since the oldest post on the old news of the main page.

Before the main page was the main page though, SDA was accepting runs on the great game Quake and it continues to do so. Although the submissions have certainly dwindled from its greatest days, last week we received a demo from Daniel Magnusson. He ran the entirety of the shareware episode, Dimension of the Doomed, on Nightmare skill with 100% kills and secrets. The previous submission in this category was nearly 10 years old, also by Mr Magnusson. The new submission is a time of 11:14, a 17 second improvement. This download is only a demo file which requires Quake to watch, but you can just download the shareware version if you don't already have it.

SDA began its movement beyond Quake 10 years ago when I posted a small selection of speed runs on "other games", that I'd gathered over the previous months. I opened up submissions at that time, and the verification system began. Now we have runs on 972 games and many more in the queue to be posted soon. I don't have to be a math whiz to calculate that's 97 new games per year on average.

These days you can find dozens of people streaming speed runs at all hours of the day on twitch or other sites, and some may wonder why bother submitting to SDA, when you'll just stream a better run tomorrow? Personally I think it's because SDA is a superior site. You won't find any ads here or poor quality videos. I don't like browsing youtube when I want to watch something, I prefer a site I can trust. Thanks to all the runners who have made this site what it is, and thanks to all the future runners who will help make it what it will be.

Here's to the next decade - thank you.

Thursday, February 27, 2014 by ShadowWraith

There are games about sheep and I wasn't informed?!

Continuing with our theme of more-than-the-usual-number-of-runs-per-update... Yeah, no more explanation needed.

So, first off, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance. Probably my least favourite of the GBA Castlevania offerings, mostly due to the music being somewhat painful to listen to (though I am assured that I am somewhat alone with that opinion). The gameplay is kind of stale too, BUT! There are some things about the game that make it pretty good for speedrunning. Things such as being able to rebound off of a wall-mounted candle and clip through the floor. Unsurprisingly, the ability to do this allows for some interesting shortcuts when navigating this particular incarnation of the castle. Tobias 'Charleon' Nerg is someone with a more tolerant (or more discerning, I'm not sure) sense of hearing, and he has braved the awful screechy music to bring us this rather glitchy mess of a run. It's using the Maxim character, using large-skip glitches (i.e the candle bouncy wall clippy stuff) and it aims to kill all of Dracula's boss lackeys, and it does so in a rather impressive 0:14:09. Just enough time for his buddy Juste to walk in, notice the carpets don't match the upholstery and walk out in disgust. The big pansy.

Vigilantism is somewhat of a hot topic. On the one hand, we have the unfortunate situation in Mexico (current events woo), on the other hand, it gives us wonderful game concepts; such as Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. Hot on the heels of the run from last month, 'Kotti' has brought us a single-segment run of a similar category - Dead on Arrival using Resets - for a final time of 0:38:42.

Continuing with the topic of vigilantes, there's no more famous than Batman. Indeed, the Caped Crusader/Dark Knight/Poncy Git In Rubber is possibly the most successful less-than-legal crime fighter, so what better way to celebrate his achievements than to speedrun a game about him? Jason 'honorableJay' Feeney seems to have the same idea as me, plowing through the ranks of the felonious and the lawless with his trusty batarang, fists of steel and poor sense of style, in the somewhat lackluster game Batman Returns. Oh well, they can't all be winners, however don't let that stop you from fanboying/fangirling over the run we have for you: a slick 0:13:01.

I'm a big fan of the Terminator films. Watching the T-1000 melt into puddles of a mercurial substance and then reform into the badass robot we know and hate captivated my imagination like not much else has. That's why I'm tickled to bring you this run of Terminator 2: Judgement Day for the Game Boy. 'iast' has proven himself a worthy ally of the human race, demolishing the game in a fairly brisk 0:08:02.

Sheep, Dog 'n' Wolf (also known as Sheep Raider in NA, a far more amusing name if you're from Wales) is a game I am completely unfamiliar with but the name strikes me as an incredibly bad idea. For one, wolves tend to eat sheep, and for two, dogs don't really like wolves eating sheep, so you end up with a giant mess of terrified sheep, hungry wolves and angry dogs. Regardless, Dan 'DanE' Söderhäll manages to make sense of the madness in this game, with this IL table totalling 0:56:59 across 18 levels. I might have to check this game out just to see if it can live up to the expectations the name provides me.

We're not done with 'DanE' yet though. Him and (I'm assuming) his brother Martin 'J.Y' Söderhäll teamed up on the PAL version of the game Spec Ops: Ranger Elite. Using teamwork, friendship, possible help from animal compansions based on the name of the game, and a good amount of segmenting (11 of them), they completed this 0:20:54 run of the game. (Note: Run probably doesn't include animal companions. Unfortunately)

Last, but not least, Wario Land 3. Wario decided to crash his plane somewhere in the woods, get sucked into a music box and it's up to Mike 'mike89' McKenzie to get him out of it. Spoilers: He does. You can watch him do it if you click on this IL table totalling 0:42:52 across 25 stages.

Well, that's it for me for today. Stay frosty.

Friday, February 21, 2014 by LLCoolDave

Ceci n'est pas un titre

Update: The Mighty Bomb Jack Best Ending run now features audio commentary as intended.

Apparently the larger scale updates of the past month have not helped us much in clearing out the queue so we'll handle this the only way we know to: Continuing to throw runs at you guys seven at a time until we finally catch up on the backlog. Without further ado (which is quite frankly a rather odd phrase as it is usually followed by explaining intent instead of actually getting to the action the statement intends to move on to as quickly as possible, dragging out the expository part even longer than it has any right to be and delaying the thing it tries to focus attention on even further), let's move on to the runs.

David Heidman Jr. has become well known for his love of Contra and quirky Indie platformers. It's the latter that gets him on the frontpage today with a submissions of Super Ninja Warrior Extreme ... no wait, that was 3 weeks ago. This quick return to the news post by Mr. Heidman is due to his submission on Super Adventure Island, a title which classifies as neither Contra nor Indie. Unfazed by my previous, erroneous classification of his skills he beats this game in a quick 0:17:39 and thus earns prolonged exposure on the front page.

The current SDA run on Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins has stood for over 8 years. It is no surprise that a lot has been found in the game since then. 'LaPlacier' demonstrates the current state of the game with a well executed 0:26:37 improving on the old time by over 5 minutes.

The Fancy Pants Adventure is a game most of you will probably remember from playing on a school computer years ago, if you managed to access any of the Flash game portals back then. Despite being coded in an era where Flash games were most known for being rather poorly made (as opposed to today, where good Flash games exist but probably should not have been made in it in the first place) the game is surprisingly solid in its mechanics. James 'cooopercrisp' Mernin plows through the first World in a quick 0:02:30.30 and straight on through to this news post.

Castlevania games have a strong history in speedrunning, but there's a classic title in the series that is very easily forgotten. Haunted Castle is an Arcade only entry into the series that received a very late, Japanese only PS2 port that is essentially just an emulator wrap. 'Jaguar King' fills this Castlevania gap on SDA with a time of 0:11:55 in a rather impressive manner. Unfortunately, there are still more titles in this series that are missing runs, including the MSX2 only Vampire Killer. So get to it, this update is suspended until you finish a run of that game.

Due to the temporal disconnect between me writing this update and you reading the previous paragraph, I unfortunately have no way of verifying that you've actually finished the task I set out. As such I have to politely ask you to stop reading until you've recorded a run of Vampire Killer. Everything else would be cheating! Moving on we have an improvement to Little Nemo: The Dream Master by 'HavocProdigy' with a new time of 0:24:44. Pedantic readers may notice that this time is higher than that of the old run, but after accounting for differences in cut scene length between the otherwise identical Japanese and North American releases of the game the new run is about 30 seconds quicker in actual gameplay.

Mighty Bomb Jack is, in fact, the mightiest of all Bomb Jacks. Unfortunately, that's probably the most remarkable thing about this game as it has otherwise squandered good mechanics with very uninspired level design. This didn't stop Dag 'ktwo' Cato from running the game and giving us two runs to post today: First there is the Best Ending run in 0:12:06 and in addition we also have a pure any% run in 0:06:57 for those that prefer a shallower story experience.

Let's end today's update with a word association game. I say speedrun, you say ... Harvest Moon? That wouldn't have been MY first choice, but Alex 'Anwonu' Morinaga seems to think differently and provides us with a run of Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon which at least features swords in addition to hoes and plows and taming wolfs to bypass walls because clearly that's how farming works. The end result is a 0:54:08 with large skips.

If you got to this point in the update without submitting a Vampire Killer run I'd like to reiterate that you are a cheating cheaty face. Cheater.

Saturday, February 15, 2014 by ShadowWraith

Speedruns all the way down

Hello to you good gentlemen and, indeed, good ladies. I've had a hard weeks procrastinating but it's about time you guys had some new speedruns to peruse. So be better people than I and don't put watching these off for several days, would you kindly?

As the title of the update suggests, we have some Turtles games for you. First up, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, for the NES. A presumably smooth gentleman known as 'Whitman_Price_' decided it was time to update one of the dusty ancient runs (2006, Darn. I feel old now as I remember when that was posted) we have in our game list, obsoleting the Death Abuse category for this game by a little over a minute, for a final time of 0:18:21. Of course, it's single-segment as you would expect from this game, and I'm going to assume Shredder gets what he deserves in it. You don't need to take it from me though, the video is right there. Go on, you know you want to.

Enjoyed that? Good, because we have some more Turtles for you. TMNT (the 2007 game) is a game that didn't get the best reception on launch, but that didn't stop Nicholas 'Sir_VG' Hoppe from speedrunning the challenge maps, and indeed, did not stop him from improving his previous submission! I've created another handy dandy bullet point list of the improved times for you guys to click on.


Not the largest of improvements, certainly, but every frame counts, especially with level times this low. This brings the final time down to 0:04:41.34.

So. Tables. You like them? Good, have another. 'Freezard' is back with more StarCraft: Brood War IL updates for us, which means you get another table to look at.

For Terran:

And for Zerg:

Some rather significant savings in this table. This brings the final time down to 2:21:59, almost 18 minutes faster than before!

With those HTML monsters out of the way, I'm happy to present to you a run of my favourite games. MDK is a game where you have a sidekick dog with six arms that flies a bomber spaceship, you have a parachute made out of whips and there are such items as the World's Most Interesting Bomb and the World's Smallest Nuclear Bomb. If that doesn't sell the game to you, I don't know what will. Regardless, Romain 'Spocky' Picot saw the virtue in this rather silly game, and has done us a great justice in submitting this 0:39:17 run, featuring out-of-bounds skips aplenty. In fact, the first thing I'm going to do when I post this update is watch this run, and if you have any taste at all, you'll probably do the same. Probably.

For a more traditional speedrun experience, you could always try this run of Resident Evil 2. Zombie horror games aren't really my thing, not enough six-armed dogs you see, but if flesh-eating mutants and titanic constructs of flesh and teeth are your thing, this will probably be yours. 'FierceKyo' chose the Claire A game mode on the GCN version for his run, finishing with a time of 1:08:46, an improvement of 0:07:39 over the PS2 version of the run.

Gothic is a game I can only describe as 'broken'. I remember doing an update for the 100% run, with a final time of almost 3 hours. The any% run I have here for you is considerably shorter, a mere 0:16:28, featuring as you might expect from such a short run of such a long game, large skips and resets.

Finally, a less broken addition to our game list. Divinity 2: The Dragon Knight Saga, the sequel to Divine Divinity (what a name), is a reasonably standard action-RPG that reminds me a little of Drakan mixed with Diablo. Also you can turn into a dragon, which is pretty cool. Anyway, not much else to say about this run, other than that the runner is Patrik 'Pafi' Varjotie and his final time is 2:17:53, single-segment of course.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some more procrastination to procrastinate. Until next time!

Friday, January 31, 2014 by LLCoolDave

7/7 would watch again

Quick question: What are the 7 best things about this day? I'm fairly certain that being woken up at 8AM by your flatmate sorting glass bottles won't quite make it but I have seven more suggestions that might just get on your list.

David Heidman Jr. has become well known for his love of Contra and quirky Indie platformers. It's the latter that gets him on the frontpage today with a submissions of Super Ninja Warrior Extreme, a game so underground that it doesn't even have its own Wikipedia page. As my extensive research capabilities are exhausted by plucking a game name into a search bar I now have unfortunately run out of things to say about this title so I'll just have you ponder something entirely different while I announce his final run time. 'Penguin Sandwich'. 0:08:12

Journey to Silius has long been on the list of games that deserves a proper marathon run and NTSC SDA submission. Luckily, 'ZakkyDraggy' delivered on both of these with a 0:11:17 run clocking in a mere 9 seconds faster than his marathon run earlier this month. If you're a fan of 8-bit run-and-guns this is certainly something you need to watch.

Gone Home is one of these first-person interactive story games that have been popping up in the past couple of years which are closer to visual novels than traditional games. 'your name here' (No, this is not a placeholder. If you want your name to appear here you have to submit a run of your own.) apparently didn't get the memo and treated the title as an ordinary game to run. As a result, he manages to completely ignore the entire storyline while still managing to spoil it for anybody that hasn't played it yet, all in a mere 0:00:48, which might be a new upset fans/minute record for SDA.

Tabletop RPG players unanimously agree that the Ravenloft campaign setting is one of the most intriguing places in the lore of D&D. 'gammadragon', however, seems to disagree as he skips past the entirety of Ravenloft: Stone Prophet to finish in a whopping 0:00:58. There's a reason there is no speedrunner class in AD&D after all. Roleplaying is just no fun if you don't bicker about the exact number and lengths of ropes to buy in a shop.

The Resident Evil series has devolved into games with incredibly silly plots, good controls and bad settings. I'd like to take some time to remind you of where it originally came from: games with incredibly silly plots, bad controls and good settings, such as Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Jake Tabor has taken the task of narrowly evading zombies to the extreme and produced a highly optimized run on the PC version in 0:45:10, over 4 minutes quicker than the old run while increasing the difficulty to hard. I'm slightly concerned Jake himself has been infected with a performance enhancing virus, so if he asks to bite you you should politely decline, just to be safe.

Sean 'MURPHAGATOR!' Murphy has started to take up a regular spot in these updates, usually accompanied by some 8-bit beat-em-up game you quite frankly should not play for yourself. This time he has branched out slightly with Wurm: Journey to the Center of the Earth, a 8-bit cross genre game you quite frankly should not play for yourself. In his own words, 'Wurm attempts to be 4 games in one, and falls flat on its face in all 4 game types,' so if you want to watch the tragedy unfold in all its glory, you'll have to expend some 0:27:54 of your time.

While we're on the subject of 8-bit beat-em-ups, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game is something that's actually worth playing and so 'Whitman_Price_' did just that. And he did so fast, improving the old time by almost two minutes to achieve a 0:33:59. COWABU-... What? I have to pay how much to licence that?

Now I'm left with a sudden inexplicable craving for pizza.

Monday, January 27, 2014 by ShadowWraith

The Little Push

As LLCoolDave mentioned in his previous update, one of the downsides to having a marathon is that while the site sleeps, speedrunners don't, and we inevitably build up a significant backlog of runs we need to post. Hence, the next few updates will be heavier on the run count than previous updates have been. Rather than bore you with more verbiage about why this update is larger than its brethren, I'll just get to the part where I throw runs at you.

Patrick 'PJ' DiCesare appears frequently on our front page, and for good reason, as he seems to be one of the few speedrunners that doesn't suffer from chronic procrastination, seeing as he tends to actually complete his projects. His newest addition to our game list is Castlevania: Harmony of Despair, playing as NG+ Charlotte on Hard difficulty. His IL table totals 0:11:01.30, which is fairly quick considering that Charlotte is one of the two characters who does not possess a jump kick, in a game where jump kicks are 90% of the movement tech. Maybe we'll see some other characters pop up soon? Maybe?

Another gentleman I have had the pleasure of posting several runs for is Evgeny 'anarki' Gladkiy, and he has brought us some more Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne related deliciousness. This run in particular is a Dead on Arrival single-segment run, with a final time of 0:43:08, over 3 minutes faster than his previous submission. If vigilante angst is your thing, this is the run for you.

Call of Duty was the first in a line of realistic military first-person shooter games that have unfortunately come to dominate the FPS market. However, while the newer incarnations of the series are all the same recycled pish released year after year to milk people with no taste out of their hard earned money, (opinion mine) the original couple games were actually pretty fun to play. 'gndz' has completed a single-segment run on Greenhorn difficulty, with a final time of 1:43:48, which is about as much time as it took me to decide the recent games weren't worth playing.

RPG speedruns are an interesting breed. They're either an endurance test where menu skills and rote memorisation are king, for single-segment runs, or a demonstration of just how badly you can break the game over your knee if you reload enough times, as in segmented runs. First off, a single-segment run for you. Kingdom Hearts is fairly interactive as RPGs go, so execution is definitely a factor, and Daniel 'Sonicshadowsilver2' Tipton nails it with this 5:33:35 monster of a run.

As far as segmented RPG runs go, a perfect example would be this Final Fantasy 7 run. 'Kynos' has spent what I can only imagine to be a significant amount of time pummelling this game into submission (literally), cutting nearly a full hour off our previous best time with this 54 segment 6:44:49 showing. Whichever you may prefer, it is my solid belief that both types of run are worth watching.

To round out today's update, I present to you two runs of Blaster Master by our very own Benjamin 'UraniumAnchor' Cutler. UA continues his domination of the game with improvements to both the deathless and death abuse categories, with times of 0:38:49 for the deathless run and 0:32:53 for the death abuse run, improvements of 2:34 and 4:06 respectively. Sophia would be proud.

Speaking of which, for those of you who might have missed the awesomeness that was AGDQ, or those of you who want to relive those magic moments, UraniumAnchor has been hard at work getting high quality encodes of the marathon runs up for you. They're popping up HERE, and there's already a decent number of them available. So what are you waiting for?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 by LLCoolDave

Sleep

Let's start today with a small riddle. What does the SDA queue have in common with the SDA staff in the past two weeks? It didn't sleep. There's tons of runs to be posted and most of us are still recovering from the two least relaxing weeks of vacation days in our years. As such, my usual thematic(?) updates are on hold until there is time to actually write them again. Instead, today's update comes with a 5th bonus run bundled in for your pleasure. Let's get right to it.

Mike 'mike89' McKenzie is a well known name around these parts. Gaining fame as 'English Mike' at CGDQ this Australian has vowed to quit speedrunning at least twice now. Considering his comeback features an excellent 0:15:18 full game run of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 as the titular Sonic alongside an improvement to the Wing Fortress IL with a time of 0:01:44 I can hardly wait for him to quit again.

The Tomb Raider series has always been an excellent choice for speedrunning as every single instalment to the series is broken beyond belief. However, the speedrunning scene for those games has always been a bit isolated from the rest of the community. I hope that the recent exposure of Tomb Raider II can change that. Not only has the game been featured in the most recent AGDQ, 'MMAN' has also finished up a new Glitchless Single Segment run with a time of 1:43:56. If you want to see what this game looks like when a runner lets it behave roughly the way it was intended to, this is just the run for you.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past has become a rather popular game for speedrunning and a lot has changed since we last featured it on SDA. Anders 'adde' Hed blesses the front page today with a Single Segment time of 1:26:19. When the runner himself describes his route as 'skipping all extra safety' you know you're in for an hour and a half of butt-clenching fun.

Pokémon Puzzle Challenge is the pointlessly branded GBC release of the Panel de Pon puzzle mechanic of shifting around blocks until you are three hours late for work and the pizza in your oven has set your kitchen on fire. Chains and Combos have to be carefully planned out to beat each foe in the fastest time possible, and 'CardsOfTheHeart' has done just that, clocking in at 0:16:06 on intense difficulty.

As our final entry for the day we return to the recently featured Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. Japanese runner 奥村 'jibupo' 亮 decided that having a single run for Luigi on the game page just wasn't enough and added a 0:37:58 run through all the levels of the SNES version to it. The Lost Levels is famous for turning the basic mechanics of holding right and jumping occasionally into something that is surprisingly hard to beat but 'jibupo' makes it seem like the easiest thing in the world.

On that note, it's time for me to go back to AGDQ recovery by going to bed at 2PM. I'm not quite sure yet how that's supposed to fix my sleep schedule, but it seems like a very reasonable idea to me at the moment.

Thursday, January 16, 2014 by Radix

Another awesome event!

Awesome Games Done Quick 2014 has concluded, and what a success. We raised over $1,025,000 for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. As is tradition for us, this more than doubles last year's number.

A huge thanks is due for the more than 18000 donors, the hundreds of runners and fans who attended the event, and the dozens of folks who helped with setting up and run the event. We couldn't have done it without you.

Although it will be some time until we have individual encodes of the runs from the event, you can find the videos at our twitch archive in the meantime.

On a personal note, for a long time I thought maybe speed running could achieve the kind of popularity that deathmatch had back in the late 90s. I had visions of stages of players competing in races while an audience watched in awe. Last week at AGDQ 2014 I walked into the room about to start a Mega Man X race and my jaw dropped. The room was packed, full of people waiting to watch two runners do exactly that. I didn't expect one of them to be shirtless... but the rest was pretty spot on. Thanks again everyone, for making that vision I never told anybody about, come true.