At Speed Demos Archive (SDA), we publish high-quality speedruns, which are fast playthroughs of video games. As with all competitions, there needs to be a standard set of rules to ensure fair play. This page establishes the basic rules and expectations for runs submitted to SDA. A more detailed version can be found on the Knowledge Base. Feel free to contact a staff member if there are any questions regarding these rules.
We only publish the fastest runs submitted to us. If a player submits a run faster than a published run, the faster run will 'obsolete' and replace the slower run. Not every game is fit for speedrunning. A game needs a definite ending, so games like The Sims or World of Warcraft don't qualify. Finally, we generally do not allow fixed autoscrollers, rhythm games, or other games where speedruns are no faster than normal playthroughs.
All runs must have clean, unmodified audio and video and meet a recording quality standard. For information on recording your run, see the recording page.
SDA distributes submitted runs to verifiers for peer review. Verifiers check runs for cheating, play quality, missing footage, and so on. For more information, see our verification guidelines.
We reserve the right to reject or remove a run for any reason, including (but not limited to) suspecting cheating or objectionable content.
SDA hosts many different kinds of runs.
A run is either single-segment or segmented:
- Single-segment: Beats the game in one sitting. Resetting or using save&quits midrun are allowed, but may be a separate category if they speed things up significantly.
- Segmented: Uses saves or passwords to play parts of the game individually and then combines the 'segments' into a full run. We may instead host runs of each level in an “Individual Levels” table if the game is split into levels and nothing transfers between them.
Runs can also complete games more or less thoroughly. These categories tell you how much of the game it completes:
- Fastest completion: beat the game as fast as possible. Also known as 'any%'.
- Full completion/100%: beat the game while collecting all key items or upgrades and doing everything important. For more information, see the low%/100% thread.
- Minimalist completion/low%: beat the game while skipping every key item or upgrade possible. If skipping everything is the fastest way to beat the game, there will not be a minimalist category separate from fastest completion. For more information, see the low%/100% thread
There are other categories that don't fit into a group:
- Game-dependent: Different difficulties, game modes, multiplayer, etc.
- Major skips: SDA approves of glitches, but some games have particularly game-breaking glitches or skips that deserve a category of their own. Examples include Zelda games in 5 minutes or Pokemon Red in a minute.
- Version Differences: Different regions or releases of a game with significant gameplay differences are separate categories. This does not apply to patches; use whichever patch is fastest. Should optimal patch versions be inaccessible, a separate 'latest patch' category may be established if differences are significant.
- Deaths: Using many deaths to significantly decrease run time may be a separate category.
We prefer to use ingame timers. If a reliable one isn't available or if the ingame time isn't displayed at the end, we use realtime. For realtime, timing begins when the player first gains control of the game's character, and stops when control is lost at the end of the game. For segmented runs, the timer pauses when saving and resumes after loading.
NO CHEATING. SDA only accepts fairly produced runs. If you have a question, ask on the forum (no registration required). The following things are considered cheating:
- Cheat Devices: Game Genies, Action Replays, etc, are not allowed.
- Emulation & Virtualization: Emulators are generally not allowed, unless they are official rereleases of games such as Nintendo's Virtual Console library. DOSBox is considered an official emulator due to its widespread use in the industry in this regard. Virtualization software (like Virtual PC) is allowed for games that don't run natively on a modern operating system.
- Hardware Modification: Console games must be run on official hardware. Official mods like the PlayStation 2 HDD are allowed, but unofficial mods like the PS2 HD Loader are not. We do make two exceptions: you may circumvent region-locking, and you may mod your console to output higher-quality graphics or sound. This section does not apply to PC games, as they have no stock hardware.
- Software Modification: Removing or altering any part of a game is forbidden. Examples include software mods, the crooked cartridge trick, or disk streaming. Editing config files and console commands for PC games beyond the scope of the ingame settings are only allowed for purely cosmetic changes that grant no gameplay advantages.
- Input Modification: Console players may use third-party controllers, but may not use features not present on controllers bundled with the system. For example, auto- or turbo-fire controllers are banned, except for the TurboGrafix-16 where stock controllers have it. Pressing up and down or left and right simultaneously on a dpad is not allowed as it requires hardware modification in order to do so. PC gamers may use any reasonable input device and remap keys, but may not use macros, scripts or programmable keyboards to automate button-presses.
- Codes & Cheats: Beneficial cheat codes of any kind, such as invincibility codes, debug or console options, and so forth, are not allowed. Codes that increase the game's difficulty may be allowed as a separate category. Codes that are merely cosmetic may be used at the player's discretion.
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