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Tuesday, September 12, 2023 by LotBlind
Reports of my Lotsa Stuff are Greatly Exagge-not-the-Case-at-All now that I Think About It
The precious statuette side (Jade Falcon campaign) of MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat has been subject to further chiseling. We catch 'PROX' green-handed adding extra engravings in the little shack behind the local fake ancient relic parlor by the ruins of the mysterious city of... Incabamba. With 23 seconds of felonious flakes all over his person, there's no doubt he's the guy forging ahead with these forgeries!
Arkham Bridge down 7 to 0:01:41.
Bone Machine down 5 to 0:01:30.
Plum Wine down 1 to 0:00:39.
Rust Heart down 3 to 0:01:12.
Iron Piston down 7 to 0:01:38.
Wait, there's more suspicious sand pouring out his pant legs like Leslie Nielsen's prison baseball! It just keeps coming... enough to turn home base into an expedition target for mountaineers at 41 more seconds for 1:04 total savings. Woot woot!
Trial 1 down 9 to 0:00:43.
Trial 2 down 9 to 0:00:39.
Trial 3 down 12 to 0:00:42.
Trial 4 down 11 to 0:00:41.
The complete table is accessible through the following link, doubling as information on what it would put you back seeing all of them: 0:26:42
Quote of the Run: "Better mashing on both tanks can save 0.3, a more aggressive duck can save 0.2, and a slightly better UFO kill can save 0.1."
Someone's not pleased with the overly agreeable waterfowl but must surely be satisfied overall with a second WR ownership in some old run & gun called Contra. That's quite the underachievement! And yes, I mean under-achievement considering what we're dealing with here. 'K1ngK0opa' has limbered up limbs for the evening limbo jamboree, cause that low% is all about bending but not breaking: bending the limits of rapid, well-timed bursts of inputs on the B button, as well as something a bit more elaborate and recondite on the others. Recondite meaning "hard to understand". Why can't I just say "hard to understand"? "Cause I get bored", she said and snored (( _ _ ))..zzzZZ
Despite the bar being set increasingly low, the One True King impresses the convivial crowd with a 0:10:57, 18 seconds off the previous SDA-submitted time... and did I mention the WR thing? That's WR by 15 seconds ahead of any competition ever. In Contra. The way the bases blow up wholesale after you've punched through to enough of their provocatively positioned funny bones reminds me of those toys designed to come apart at the joints when taking a critical hit in the abdomen (which, let's face it, is just a physical euphemism for the groin and whatever they've got going down there). This expediting contrivance only somewhat subdues the manliness inherent in refusing to augment your armaments in case you get cooties – which, by the by, is what low% means in this game: no weapon upgrades – and the manliness inherent in your badge of honor count incrementing mid-mission. I'm guessing those icons up top left are more like your continual self-evaluation for the performance review.
"I sure dun well, cap'n!"
- "No good, I wurn't watchin'."
"Well darn diddly doo, railroad tracks."
It's a-me, the name is Tour. James Mario Golf: Advance Tour.
Okay, that was dumb enough for a paragraph break.
Heck, it was dumb enough for two! XD I was invited by 'carterferris07' onto a "golf"* safari outing deep out on the veldt. Golf, as he explained, is the tribal religion of the local inhabitants. My first object of inquiry at the destination was the soundtrack roaming its natural haputtat. Motoi Sakuraba's** appeasing audio accessory is evidently the apex predator of the golf soundtrack ecosystem. It feeds on all the lynxes and tigers like they're to-be-chopped liver to it. Rolling in the deep... I mean in my Jeep, with roof hoisted as means of insulation from the wind, the rain, the lightning, the beastly appendages... wading through the shoals of the protracted intro sequence, I spotted a congregation of natives on their approach to the primary house of worship, the one known to them since time immemorial by the sacred name... the Club House. Inside, when briefed briefly on the coming trials, the sacred words are received with solemn reverence, as they will underpin all actions taken by the participants from this point onwards. At the crux of it all lies one holiest mantra, which I managed to record and decipher as follows: "To become the strongest golfer, you can't afford to waste any time." (That's right, this is officially a speedrun game first and foremost. If you see what I did there. And when I said "underpin". Did you catch that one?)
* This may or may not be the first golf game anyone's ever run for SDA but it's certainly the first that has "golf" in the title.
** This man is responsible for other killer soundtracks too! Think the Tales series, Star Ocean, Valkyrie Profile... and obviously (yeah yeah, I'm getting to it...) Earnest Evans.
The natives, having advanced with emboldened hearts and exalted spirits forth onto the undulating and mottled sacred mettle-testing grounds, will exhibit the curious habit of swinging their "four irons" like detached helicopter blades to effect an exceedingly ungainly but like for like character-building forwards momentum of their countless little bleached globoids, perhaps a dried fruit or nut of some local flora. The entire act I presume to have purely ceremonial significance, given they could, with the full accedence of physics, simply pick the globoids up... and carry them in their hands. Once set foot on the hors d'oeuvre (the first course, hors durr!), it is imperative, despite being expected to send one's globoid up again and again in lofty, majestic arcs, never to allow one's fancy to follow into the birdie's-eye view, wherefrom the shapes the courses assume are not always appropriate for the sincerity of the ritual.
This somewhat commercialized safari tour sacred not-exactly-mystery in full swing, the globoid is self-defeatingly deposited inside, then withdrawn from the ritualistic round orifice wherein once stood the pin (yes, that pin from that pun, now do you get it, finally?). Across the 0:46:30 span of the ritual I observed, altogether, several dozen iterations of this Sisyphean chore, and the character erects like soybean curds in China. On occasion, a course is given a token try, then turned a cold shoulder, perhaps in a futile attempt to curry favor with the spiteful seirei spirits that keep blocking the balls at the final approach. That's life! Balls will be blocked. Like if this update was to just
Sunday, May 14, 2023 by LotBlind
360° into Darkslide into Butt Slap into Darkslide into Spaz Gas into Darkslide into Brass Jazz into Darkslide into Darkslide
Quote of the Run: "Buttslaps have been a powerful tool for speedrunners since Tony Hawk's Underground 1, and they are at their most powerful in Project 8."
When you launch a modern console, the home screen is referred to as the dashboard. I've never launched a console newer than a PS2 so how would I know? It evokes a joyride in your pimpmobile compared to the dreary old PC "desktop", which in turn sounds like you're about to get behind the mule, spreading some sheets or editing a dumb news post. Things that happen at an alarming frequency! What took me by storm is the apparent fact updates to the dashboard software implemented between production runs can have a dramatic impact on the handling and acceleration of your joyride ride. I always thought consoles gave the same cookie-cutter experience to every Tom, Dick AND Harry unless you do something funky with 3rd-party peripherals like an SSD, but turns out that's far from the case with XBOX 360s at least.
Yes, the 360. Sounds like the optimum choice for games where going for one is never a bad idea or not conducive to your goals. I suppose the dashboard should just have been called "Skates", not "Blades", for Tony Hawk's Project 8 to nestle in perfectly. "Getting their skate[s] on" we have 'ThePackle' who uses the journaling method (read: "has written awesome commentary filling a void on the gamepage") to guarantee this "joe" skater a Chris Rea upwardly mobile freeway through the ranks of wailin' jazz artist wannabes. And I mean it is like free jazz a lot of the time isn't it? But as with at least the most recent epoch in the history of music, more notes in less time is seen hereabouts as virtuous and virtuosic. And thus ThePackle causes a daring debacle on the gamepage by yanking out over 10 minutes of largo parts from the last record (yowza, that's more than 20%!), letting the tumultuous trombone tootings shred your reservations about what is and isn't musical in just 0:37:24 – like a spiny desert succulent to a wedding gown. Like try this bad boy on for size, Ariel-with-legs!
Now how do you write "There isn't much to talk about that isn't already self-explanatory" in your comments, ThePackle? How?! Is this a "if you have to ask, you'll never know" kind of situation that we're in? Really?
Quote of the Run: "The game, at least to my knowledge, only has one checkpoint, the start/finish line."
Imagine you've been tasked by your agency with headhunting for future speedrunning talent. In keeping with the times, you're sent to try out 4–6-year-olds that haven't yet had their entire lives programmed for them. Now how do you go about that? Simple! Walk into your nearest kindergarten (Waldorf ones are good), make sure everyone's got crayons and an age-appropriate picture to color in with like a princess or a castle or a hobo or something. You're looking for someone that colors in EXACTLY NOTHING within the lines... and EXACTLY EVERYTHING outside of them. If it's in a Waldorf 'garten, there's less chance they'll step in to interfere with das Experiment.
So yeah, if you want your speedrun to look like one, you'll have to have at least one of those kids in your team. And I think that might have been the case with 'arielus05' and his cohorts making short work (literally) of Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity's Heroes Story fork with, if you squint and turn your head, some subtle large-skip glitches included. It's about 0:08:04 in the chronometer and the run is indeed very... meta, which isn't me saying it, it's the game itself breaking the fourth wall like it's from the Silent Hill continuum. :P I couldn't have thought of a better word for it though. Not much help from your master's thesis in formal logic in trying to pin down any sound arguments about the game from this headless chicken dash alone. I think there must have been a leak from a secret military warehouse of some wacky gas that makes you go temporarily guano. Batshit, that is... and that shit somehow ended up in the Heroes team locker room right before the starting gun went "bingo-BANGo-bongo!" I think Knuckles was dozing right by a vent, the poor devil. Echidnat've been any worse for him. If you insist there's any method to the madness here, you may turn to arielus' run comments for confirmation biasing that to your satisfaction. I'm keeping a safe distance!
BTW: I definitely didn't plan out the Ariel-arielus connection but this run's most certainly also got legs, legs for days. Don't think anyone's come close to challenging it so far. And talking of bats, would you believe there's a genus of bats called Arielulus? HAHAHAA! I'm very close to rewriting this to make it look like I did plan it out like one brachiosaur of a brainiac. My god!
Given only a few measly letters separate the last two titles appearing in today's update, and both are 'RockoSonicFan' to thank for, I thought they'd be happy sharing a room without a privacy screen. There's something of a... RUNNING THEME... to this update as we pile on more Sonic Sonic Sonic. The two games in question are both simple Flash miniatures without the luxury to partition off any collateral categories either: there's Sonica finished in 0:01:41 and Sonic Xs in 0:00:08.26. That's two more Flash games down, and like a gazillion to go, but while the front page fanfare might not be as resounding for short 'n' simple... fan fare like these two, that doesn't mean they're not worth speedrunning. Gotta go fast and all that.
Sunday, April 9, 2023 by LotBlind
Frags [High-]Strung[-Out?] Together at the Payne Factory: Yourene for One Hell/Heckuva Treat (1/3 Sugar, Kuz You Only Rive Once)
There's a special category of 2D games where you're looking at the finished product but you can't unsee the editor! Like you can tell exactly how the levels were built, like seeing the individual tiles of the mosaic but not the picture they're supposed to congeal to. I know I've had that feeling when playing Jazz Jackrabbit 2 at least – but not the first one – and also not e.g. when watching Abe's Oddysee runs. I don't know what causes that but I suspect the lack of legitimizing lighting effects may be a tributary. It's a bit tough to make a game like that immersive. Many of these Game Maker type of games are like that.
The premise in Honeycomb Factory Frenzy is you're in the factory where they make the Honeycomb cereal... and you get a little frenzied because ADHD is your God and ADHD demands things of you! And you hurtle into a meshuga sugar rush down the long abstraction of a production line and you win when you... reach the... other... end. It's like one of those childhood "race to the X" kinda affairs except this kid is self-ADHD-motivated in his extracurricular excursion into where his cornholio-o's come from. And that's all fine! We love everyone equally here. But did you not see Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, my little pumpkin pie? I'm pretty sure it took less than 0:06:59 for the first little angel to get... urm... angel'd in that one. There's gotta be a dope Wonka game out there for you to run later, 'RockoSonicFan'. Wonder what kinda skip you'll find in the creepy boat ride. Maybe you just set it on fire like ancient Roman naval warfare. Bitch, I seen Ben-Hur!
While I do not and never have endorsed drug usage of any sort (mmmkay?), I just can't help but think this silly game offers the perfect experience for the stoners even more so than us no-ners.
Quote of the Run: "A few months ago, the runner 'pirohiko' posted a speedrun of this game showing "alternative exits" of some doors. These are reached by pressing down (instead of the standard method of pressing up to enter a door)."
So you hear about that time* when scientists (yes, scientists!) drilled a hole through the earth to a depth of kilometers (yes, kilometers! They work in SI units.) and ran into a surprising cavity down there. Then they lowered a thermometer and a microphone (yes, microphone!) into the hole and found out it was really extra death pepper hot (you know, infernally so) and it sounded really really bad, hellish almost (yes, hell-ish, hellish screams, probably from something burning, e.g. eternally, as if, say, human souls in some hell-like location, which is a location known (known!) to be found somewhere within the bowels of the planet, which is exactly the sort of locale they (those scientists!) had been scouting out at the time... That's quite the coincidence!). Well while all of that (all of it!) really happened of course, they did get some of the data (data!) corrupt and it was only quite recently that they went back and cleaned (cleaned!) the tape properly before playing it back again and whaddya know, it turns out it was actually identical to whatever the heck (yes, "heck"! that's another word for "hell") Nebulus, if you have the wrong sounds setting, emanates at the unsuspecting young players with all the unreasonable rancor of the sun from Super Mario Bros. 3.
Doesn't sound familiar? Well, maybe cause you know this cosmopolitan of a game by one of its other titles, such as "Kyoro-chan Rando", which is the version run here again by 'ktwo'. I have tremendous difficulties myself deciding if the game is ultimately more "nebulus" or more "rando". The wrong sounds setting in question is the RIGHT sounds setting for speedrunning and thus you're all severally invited to tweak the volume in your individually chosen media player to moderate the levels of pain to match your personal "UNGH" threshold and any recent underruns in self-flagellation. This time dip of 47 seconds down to 0:13:19 is largely off the back of the incorporation of one of the stranger sorts of shortcuts I've seen. You just hit a different key at certain doors and... shortcut! It feels like step 2 is missing like gnomes and underpants but hey, the profit is demonstrably there!
* Source, of course.
The last run for this next one was in the Friday, June 25th, 2021 update, and that's one you will want to get revised up on to prep for this one, because it definitely feels like one of those "standing on the shoulders of giants" moments. Only the giant was You, Yourself and Yourene. You can strike that paradoxical pose in Portal you know! Yourene, AKA 'fearZZz' amasses the winning scoreline, increasing brawl-by-brawl, in a spellbinding Tchaikovsky-esque ballet of death across all the 26 pit-like enclosures. It's such a rapturous synthesis of knowledge, stategy and skill to slay the stochastic leviathan that is Quake III Arena! The irony here is you end up seeing maybe 25% of said arena in the average case... This is the kind of game you must be fully warmed-up, brain and body, to play on the kind of level you get with the 0:21:49.46 continuation claim.
So to clarify, these ILs are for the hardest difficulty. The run comments complement those from the easy difficulty from before and introduce you to some of the subtleties of the Nightmare grind. Especially the very last level is one that holds your face down to the pavement and grinds it until it bleeds... until the pavement does, that is. On this difficulty, the bots have superhuman hitscan aim the kind you can only really counter by moving like electricity moves along greased copper wires (but not in a straight line towards or away from them!), or hoping for "if I can't see you, you can't see me" to hold more true today than it did the last 9999 days. Also they're more resilient, the damned vermin, spawning with more "stack", i.e. health and/or armor, meaning the days are long gone when you could erase one with a single rocket or rail. So watching these runs for all of us who remember strapping ourselves into the passion play that is this game's highest difficulty (feeling precisely like an out-of-shape crash test dummy... about to be more out-of-shape than ever) is to take vicarious revenge at it – the best medicine, let's not forget – and coming from the easiest difficulty is to "increase the dose from least to most" to quote some Eminem lyrics here as we often don't. But ought to.
High high up on the list of my personal first-world peeves is the misfortunate gaping hole in my game-sume between Max Payne and Sam & Max Hit the Road (it's organized thematically). The omission is that of the second in the Remedy series, which is probably sufficient so you can understand which game I'm referring to but I'm legally obligated to include these three given links per game in these updates so, here we are! Link numero uno: Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. Links numeros dos & tres: 'Koci' & 0:17:05.80. The former slightly compressed the New York Minute ILs table time down to the latter, with the poeLEES Station level being traitorously stuck up for 3.03 seconds' worth of Dunkin' donuts. This inside job – and the next link is BECAUSE I LOVE YOU – would therefore clock in at 1:26.90 roundabouts.
Tuesday, March 21, 2023 by LotBlind
Trundle through the Jungle; ya Hear it Rumble? My Storm is Frontal, your Base will Crumble, I'll make you Humble, I'm Contrapunt
Quote of the Run: "Fall damage kicks in at 3.5 blocks and will gradually reduce your health as you fall, making it possible to die before you even hit the ground."
It was a dark and stormy night (in some part of the world) in 1985 when this thing came out on an old desktop data-doodling machine that British school kids of that era will remember more or less fondly, the BBC Micro. Back then you had about ten bytes of RAM and enough CPU to redraw maybe seven pixels out of the 24-ish your monitor could even keep tabs on without crashing and burning. That's why it was fashionable in those days to limit the play area and incorporate static or mostly static elements in your graphics. You can tell Night World is assuming nothing about the player's rig when the collision checks are as primitive as they are, although I have an alternative theory as to why everything seems so infirm. It's also assuming nothing about the player's holding any interest in seeing the majority of it, as evidenced by the decades-long wild goose chase it led its nocturnal suitors on until the first report was finally filed of puncturing that wall of darkness. More on the fascinating details of this daring endeavour in the links provided here by someone who was amongst those who kept their eyes on the glinting prize long enough to allow them to adjust to the lower 'Lum'inosity. Yeah, girl, that's only the first of a potentially endless number of puns on your name! Didn't think this through, did ya?
What's my theory? Well, you all may have seen that scene where in one of the more recent Star Wars debacles a bunch of half-fledged torsos sink into quicksand... and then out of quicksand. :/ There's a cave / macguffin showroom in there having the compact convenience of a Swiss army knife with attached surgically fine-motoric neuro-interfacing robot arms. I put forth THIS game was the necessary predecessor of that location. And I put forth that all the walls are embedded with electromagnetic generators. And I put forth that the sandy material of this subterfuginous subterrane is magnetic. Could be made of something along the lines of... you know... some lunar basalt, some kinda titanomagnetite like, obviously ulvöspinel springs to mind... or just like some honest-to-goodness franklinite. What's wrong with franklinite? AND I put forth that this is how the world of Night World can remain so paradoxically unsound and sound all at once. For good measure, I'll throw in that's how they built all the pyramids, too. Those ancient aliens did.
The amount of tenebrific this game is, it's difficult to shine any light on what constitutes a brilliant speedrun of it in any other sense than the visually verifiable perpetuity of progress inside this network of undiscernible chambers the likes of which served to inspire Sanctum. You just have to accept THIS 0:05:35 is a Banksy. THIS ONE's a van Gogh (The Starry Night perhaps?), an Edward Hopper (Nighthawks maybz??), a Nat Jones (okay, hear me out... there's an American artist by that name who drew the cover art for both some Dark Souls comic book, a Dark Ark one AND the same name appeared in my search for who the Night of the Living Dead poster from '68 was by even though there's no basic chance he's connected with it cause he probably wasn't born yet. Thank you for listening! And also you'll thank yourself for listening to the runner's dulcet and finely calculated audio commentary track.)
'PROX' has kept whittling away at mission completed time stamps and we're keeping pace with him (well, we're doing our best!) on the MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat gamepage. Here's all of the latest and greatest improvements:
Jade Falcon campaign:
Quote of the Run: "boss that is random and sometimes gives you an impossible pattern"
So this next game was last brough up on Thursday, May 28, 2020 (by LotBlind). In that update, I lured you in with something about Contra, then sucker punched your boxing shorts off with Contra III like you're King Hippo from Punch-Out!!. A different king in the ring today, though, and 'K1ngK0opa' to be specific, and I guess you could define this brave 0:09:47 spectacle as "boxing" in a fairly loose sense. Just-attended-four-different-advanced-yoga-classes-while-toked-outta-mah-mind kind of loose. There's not a lot of loose time to shake the any% 1-p category down for (in case there is for any of them) so just 6 seconds are given the boot (punt-all, remember?) and WR it is! In case you didn't know Contra, it's not exactly like yoga. It's not exactly boxing either. It's more like the game equivalent of a 500 kg (1100 lb) deadlift. It's the only passable excuse to pass by gym day. Supposin' something like army service makes you a man... Contra will scale you right up into Overman! Yeah, that Nietzsche Übermensch thing, with no ties to the Nazis preferrably.
It's sort of customary around here to pun around this game's name (and I wrote this part before the title and I've committed enough deletions already) so... I think I'll just quote the English nursery rhyme "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary". AHEM!
"Mary, Mary, Quite CONTRAry..."
etc. etc. cause it has "contra" in it. Inside the word "contrary". The first six letters. I could easily have written that into the text organically but I'm DONE with being judged on the basis of how neatly I can knit things together like a... like a damned old maid. Punster not a spinster I tells ye. Punt-ster. Done with knotting things together like a scout or a sailor or something. And I'll have you know I'm burning this bra too. Burn baby burn! Gee, that would have been even more fun with a flamethrower.
*proceeds with disgruntled dark web searches and keyed-up hardware store visits for the rest of the day* <3
Monday, February 6, 2023 by LotBlind
The Most Maniacal Manhunt for Morticia in the Mansion of Macabre Millionaires
Quote of the Run: "The biggest mistake in the run happened in the kitchen... This cost ~0.7s."
In their hit single Black no. 1, parody of youthful identity-seekers of a specific hair-dyeing strain, the late great Type o Negative sap the anthem's sincerity with mocking interspersals of materials from BOTH the 60's main gothic goof-ons, the one being The Addams Family, the other The Munsters. This includes not only the verbal pointer to the matron Lily, but musical mimings of both their merry theme songs as well. The two shows aired alongside each other between '64 and '66, but with The Munsters achieving a higher so-called Nielsen rating (i.e. more views I guess) which must have had to do with factors other than the show's quality. (At this point I'm going to crank the "contrast" setting of my opinions to a setting one higher, but only one). The Addamses had the freakier freaks and odder oddities. AND its satire was more pointed. AND it had actually funny lines and gags like in the first episode when the truant officer is trying to convince Gomez they ought to send their children to school, saying "I was referring to more formal learning... Reading...", and Gomez replies with "What is there for a 6-year-old to read?"*. AND it doesn't repeat itself as much. And can we even begin to measure the stark luster-lack of Lily Munster against the unearthly pulchritude of Carolyn Jones' Morticia Adams? Can we? We... no, we can't. We just can't.
* Try this exchange from episode 3, 16 minutes in, if you're in the mood of doubting the Addamses could pack a comedic whollop. Honestly the comedy of errors that follows that scene is A-tier as well!
While any convictions you had that this was all segueing – with all the grace of a freerunner through the market district of Agrabah – towards Apogee's '93 DOS title Munster Bash (if you see what I did there) would have been justified to the degree of having to award the same points as for what it said on my cue card, there is in fact a different horrorfest setting up stalls in this metaphorical town's metaphorical market district today! Aside from all of the above, there's one last decicive cause as to why the speedrun-planney-outy lobe in runner 'ktwo''s brain, barring a concussive head injury, could not, between the two shows, ever have quantum collapsed into running a Munsters-themed video game. The Munsters video games suck. Let me try that again. The one The Munsters video game sucks. The Addams Family for the NES does not suck. As much. Maybe it does? What money-grubbin' mountain-of-a-man Mr. "K2" does in his 0:11:16 is to Dennis Moore the family's own mansion for virtually every last lupin (this is just required, it's not a 100% run), then reclaim "Tish" from the clutches of a few bozos that didn't know about the clandestine canoe conduit. The sampan circumvent if you will. The gondola go-around if you won't. By this fancy footwork, ktwo not only obsoletes his old PAL w/ deaths run (by about 20 seconds effectively) but also overshadows another w/o deaths effort also by His Truly. So for now, this is the king of the hill. Of the K2 mountain.
BTW: Do check out the Knowledge Base guide linked in ktwo's comments. Up top of the guide, you'll see a very neat diagram showing how open-ended the game is!
Wednesday, October 26, 2022 by LotBlind
Career Enemy Harrier, Lay on the Fear from the Rear of the Area, Tappin' the Apnea to Cap Deer that Hap Near Something Something
Quote of the Run: "Make a mockery out of it. This is fun."
We've been there, done that (low attention span) with MechWarrior 2 but we haven't been anywhere or done anything with the third big Mech power fantasy since 2008, a year most inductive to escaping reality. MechWarrior 3 has the player, his can-tank-erous task group and supplies make slapstick landfall after their tentative dropships come under fire from clan Smoke Jaguar's friendly automated greeting system. A system hailing their frequency from planetside with special futuristic communication lasers that encode friendly messages into super-concentrated packages completely unambiguous to any receiving entity including hiveminds and races from QuasiSpace. Thinking of the topology here, is that more like "coming over fire" then? You can't tell which way is up on planet Exegol! Oh wait, this planet's called "Tranquil", which ends up being like if Venus was called "Chilblains". From there on out, aside from ganging up with the surviving allies for a stadia-packing comeback tour, the player is expected to stop making excuses and start making lemonade with the unaltered general orders. There are Places of Interest in the vicinity in spirit not unalike where Arthur Dent holds residence at the start of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (primed for demolition, that is). Along the way, whenever the player makes contact with the clan that designed the greeting system, new friendships are forged for life. Only they're not a long-lived type of people, or one resistant to skull-boring. (Am I describing a friendship here, I have basically zero experience?)
Whatever parts are spared in each destined mech disassembly become spare parts for the player's mean menagerie to avail themselves of instead. Even completely serviceable vehicles are recoverable, which seems to be a standard in warfare these days. In the 0:30:44 run, also wisely disassembled into parts (part-wise you might call it), this fact is never lost sight of by Cmdr. 'Falconer Gray', nor are other avenues of avid exploitation. But what exploitation could you possibly be referring to, LotBlind?
There's really a similar knotty optimization problem here as something like Megaman Network Transmission, with the fastest mechs being far from always the breadwinners. The many interweaving systems leave those aching for realism and immersion – and exciting speedrunning applications – sitting neck-deep in a balmy 19th century Parisian hydrotherapeutic bath. It... just... makes... sense! There WOULD be bits and pieces left over to repa[r]triate. There WOULD be concerns about the heat produced by the mech's components and that heat WOULD rapidly dissipate when entering a body of water, take said hydrotherapeutic bath. The player WOULD be able to delete targets from the next mission early if the missions play out in the same neighborhood. Oh, and the enemy WOULD blindly attack arbitrary points in the terrain in the present because you've suggested to some squad mates to go hang out there and have a cold one sometime in the future. Wait, what?
So yeah, while this run on the whole doubles as a demonstration of what our recent MechWarrior 2 runs might have looked like in the developers' minds, there are still quirks left over to quip about. More quipping I'll leave to Falconer now and his objective multi-angled coverage he's broadcasting in his comments like the one-man band of independent news crews. Like this is really one of those times I could hardly even think of anything the runner could add to what their commentary had already intimated. And good job redoing the whole run after a watermark first got in the way! Remember Aalyah's immortal words: "Cause if at first you don't succeed... dustoff and try again!" Did I mention this run dusts off the gamepage in a big ol' way? As in beats the crap outta it and shakes it down for over 12 minutes of loose changeS in strategies. 28% of the old segmented run time winnowed off. Winn[ow]ing!
I lied some about being done with MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat. 'PROX' brought another IL down a second, making it dangle unesthetically just below the round 1:10 mark. We still prefer it that way! Here's mission 11 of the Wolf campaign, Aquiline Fire (meaning "eagle-like"), in 0:01:09, total down to 0:30:41.
Quote of the Run: "I guess the developers never ever foresaw that people would try shooting him immediately."
You know mountain bike racing? The nerve! The thrill! The verve! The... hill. A careening precision sport so adrenaline-injected and holistically engaging as to wipe all memories of bothersome physical ailments. The ones you got mountain bike racing. Next, do you know hobby horsing? No, not hubby nursing. No, not Habbo Hotel either despite being the brainchild of the same evil / misunderstood geniuses of the north. As this article has it, "the sport is still largely a grassroots, DIY activity in its native Finland. There’s no official rulebook or governing body[.]" It's the great equine equilizer; anyone can afford a stick with a horse head stuck to it like that weird stables-and-quidditch-related nightmare I've been having since that ill-fated Harry-Potter-but-also-The-Godfather movie marathon...
Okay, so that's your comedic setup and heeeeeere's your payoff: You combine the flawless ache-relieving drift of the one with the lawless make-believing thrift of the other and whaddya get? Why, you get speedruns of Sniper: Ghost Warrior of course. I mean, look at it! Isn't it kinda like mountain bikes but your budget ran out before the mountain bikes? There's traverses like show jumping if you watch closely – at one point you can see the hobby horse hobbyist 'ImEliteGlitches' vaulting a live crocodile. That and countless fences, crates, barrels... nothing's off limits here and even the objectives are willing to flex. And like the bikers shoot through the dirt of the race track, so does the sniper shoot bullets through the dirt BAGS of the... race track. I mean, that's what it amounts to. A-mountain-bikes to.
Don't believe me? The sniper dude's called "Razer" but also "Raser" depending on how they felt like spelling it in each cutscene and briefing. That's clearly a subconscious pointer towards the word "racer". "Change your position! Change your position!" barks the overwatching officer at the pro racer person in one of the missions. This is doubly insulting as the game is telling both the sniper and the speedrunner their jobs. To be honest, only one can save their face here and it ain't the bush wookie! There's always a fearsome paradox when speedrunning a game that's politely asked you to "enjoy your STEALTH action I said, Sir or Madam". After blowing through an enemy military camp in what can only be described as Thomas the Engine's clickety-clack approach to a 90-yard touchdown run if Thomas the Engine was also asked to channel Mr. Bean from that Snickers commercial, it doesn't escape you the hilarity of the stone-faced "Fuck! I've been compromised" at the sound of the clickety klaxon. More or less all of the stealth left standing in the single-segment 0:36:43 trumping even the old ILs table by a whole 1:42 is solely a merit of solitary principled scripts, like in school when there was just one guy busting their ass on the assignment and hard-carrying everyone else's. And if you think that's perversion of tacit rules a-plenty, think again! Mr. Glitches scores a second six-pointer with a complete overhaul of said ILs table (down to 0:33:38) – aside from one asinine mission that, like the future when you lose at Chrono Trigger, refused to change. Your immutable future is to consume both runs and tell your friends / neighbors / complete strangers about them and tell us how that affected the net number of friends. I'm taking notes.
Something I can't say I noticed at all was apparently they re-used the same areas multiple times by making consecutive missions show the same events from varying points of view. Try and catch what I couldn't.
Saturday, July 2, 2022 by LotBlind
"Spies Spilling into the Speakeasy! Split those Sparsely Spaced Spurious Spelunking Speciesists into Splattery Spareribs!"
Wednesday, March 30, 2022 by LotBlind
Sniff 'em out, Snuff 'em out, Stuff 'em Stiff (and hang them on your wall)
In case you hadn't beheld it yet, Earnest Evans is one of those sights apt to being done that with. My ten-word summary of the protagonist might come to something like "profane crossbreed of Indiana Jones and the reptile he despises". Whatever the inspiration for the eldritch sinusoidal motions, that inspiration needed to be reserved for things like Contra bosses. Even the whip is better clutched by Terrence, the Underworld Lord from Area 8 in Blaster Master. What, you didn't know he was called Terrence? Evans should have all his limbs amputated and be repurposed as a bowling ball and/or pin. Or just one of those boulders he's getting harassed by. That's kind of rough but... no I'll give you that's rough. Poor Evans.
Sunday, March 13, 2022 by LotBlind
Blind Guessing #2: Volunteering pt. 1
Last time's post, which I felt my duty to post about at least somewhere else as well, obviously resulted in a great big cackle... speedrunners are a sub-type of gamers after all, and few games train you in the finer points of interlocution. There was a great heap about what the post DIDN'T say and not a heck of a lot on anything it DID say, unless it was to take offense at it. Sound familiar? Now that doesn't quite summarize the totality of the emerging chatter and I would love to take another look at the less odious comments later. As an unpaid volunteer, diving into lengthy discussions doesn't always feel hugely rewarding, doubly so if it's with people who won't give you an inch of that benefit of the doubt slack. Seriously, please read at least the phrase's dictionary definition. You don't have to agree with what someone is saying, but you should try to remember miscommunication is often a two-man show. There are so many situations where the fools will rush to connect dots in the only way they know how to, forgetting we come from different angles and my truth (what's important or likely to come to mind for me) can differ wildly from yours. That doesn't make me, or anyone here, insincere.
Speaking of unpaid volunteers – and the tautology notwithstanding – what I do want to dive into in a few of these haphazard "BG" columns is just that: what, if anything, has happened to volunteering through SDA's history, and in society as a whole. What especially ties the topic to SDA is the number of cries echoing in its metaphorical hallways about how "SDA had the HR to pull it off, but IT JUST DIDN'T WANT TO", about 5 to 8 years ago let's say. "Pull it off" here means "stay relevant", of course. You don't know what "stay relevant" means? Me neither... Just exactly how many users doing what exactly is enough to have "stayed relevant" is anyone's guess. We might be talking about stuff like making all the obsoleted runs directly accessible (currently you have to go to archive.org, stick in the URL and most of the time the run you wanted will be there, but it's a semi-chore and not everyone will realize it's possible); like changing the appearance in this way or that; like adding mobile support (but people spend too much time on their phones already as we're going to establish later); like what many people, self-evidently, wanted to see: those full-blown leaderboards that ended up emerging on speedrun.com. But even making it more apparent what kinds of tasks are available for volunteers, and then explaining how to do them... requires a volunteer to do that.
Here's what it seems to look like from the outside (source):
"Make [the site] responsive to volunteers. Every single time there's a thread about the future of SDA, people come out of the woodwork to volunteer. Don't give me this lack of manpower jazz. There's manpower. There's simply no leadership to take advantage of it, and there hasn't been since Uyama moved on. There are people willing to put in many hours for this site. Find the next ktwo, and the next, and the next, and you'll work wonders for SDA."
Here's what it seems to look like from the inside:
"no one ever does anything. that goes for people coming from outside who had never submitted a run. the more successful track seems to have been people like mike uyama or dex or ua who were submitting runs and then got roped into doing site updates and sometimes even more. –– afaik that rule about outsiders versus insiders hasn't changed since the very beginning. at least as far back as 2008 i remember having high hopes for people coming in from outside and redesigning stuff and it never happened. eventually i became 100% skeptical but i didn't let it stop me from dumping info on new people since you never know."
If you want a sample of the kind of pain inherent in developing sites like this, you can head on over to this thread. As I understand, DJGrenola was a keen web developer and "dreamer of dreams" (more tautology notwithstanding) over on SDA for a substantial while, obviously quite skilled in his art. While his pet project, "SDA 2.0", ended short of tangible fruition with, as I gather, healthy helpings of burnout and disillusionment in the mix, early users knew him well for the updates he posted, which were done at a time when none of the relative luxury us pun[n]y whipporsnappxors are cod[dl]ed with could help you cut any corners (quote). Back then, to cut anything, you started from the raw bit porridge of the untamed wilds (more tautology there, by Jove what a hack I am). Grenola was basically an American Pioneer of Freedom of the kind that doesn't misappropriate native spaces, just like all the OGs around here are, carrying the torch (first having made it of course) through what I fully accept were "the Dark Times" (quote). The site as you see it today was ultimately coded by radix, nate, gammadragon, UraniumAnchor, dex and anyone who's not on that list but ought to be. To get a site like this up-and-running, then keep it up-to-date with Stone Age equipment towers above coming along later to write a few updates when someone else paid those 4000 food and gold to boost you right into the Imperial Age with all those blast furnaces, block prints and... umm... hand cannoneers.
SDA Queue v. 3
"the site backend is a deceptively difficult problem. it's not enough to know software and database design. you have to also enjoy week after week of thankless grunt work importing data since no one who volunteers ever actually does that work."
Of course the bit porridge is not the only kind of raw materials. It's just the least visible... and also the most visible, actually. After beaching at this palmy resort in and around 2012 on one of the giant waves launched by the earth-shaking early GDQ marathons, my first acts of recompense were in verifications. I was drawn to those since I got to use my critical thinking and creativity which I found could even trump those of the runners' in many cases, despite my apparent ignorance on the subject matter (most games aren't rocket science). The next frontier was these front page updates. At some point I started doing that dread PRC as well (that's when you look over a fully encoded run's A/V one more time before release, which used to be very arduous before certain later concessions). And finally, in 2016, I was knighted Sir LotBlind the Tautologous to take over retiring moooh's seat for gamepage duty, the shouldering of which was something it took probably half a year to say I was feeling anything like comfortable doing.
Now here's a paragraph all about hands! By that time, I had already taken charge of the front page as well by virtue of my delicate scribe's hands. Behold the mystique of fecundity! The feduncity of mystique! Like check this out: What's first thrown up, then thrown up again, only to be thrown up once more if it's NEITHER lutefisk NOR haggis? By the time I'd settled into that Round Table seat, I had started to pick up on those same gestures in prospective volunteers' hands: first they're raised up to show interest, then they're thrown up as a sign of defeat, then they're stuck high in the air again at the party they figured they'd rather hit. Let me be clear here. Are you listening and taking notes? I'm talking about 90+% of all volunteers that have approached me or a colleague on the two websites I've worked for. You handshake with enthusiasm, you talk them through some hand-picked options for what they could be doing, you make sure to hear out their own preferences, you hand them something seemingly quite easy-to-hand-le, you hold their hand over that initial hump with your handy advice... and then you're left empty-handed, time and time again. And that makes it a net LOSS of resources given the time off your own hands. I've tried being more hands-on with these "helping hands". I've tried being more hands-off too (though I admit as a fast typist, I tend to exuberate, if only in the name of giving a lot to go on, also what does "case in point" mean?). I've tried to ask them if they prefer simpler mechanical handiwork or to be given free hands. I'm handsome.
"you might think with thousands of people visiting the site, you would feel like your work was more appreciated. well, yes and no. i've noticed that some people are better than others at focusing on the positive. when you do all this work updating the site and then people file into the forum to start complaining about a million tiny things being wrong, or not how they prefer them, it gets discouraging. you wonder 'i did all this work? for these assholes?'"
What's that? Oh, so that's what "case in point" means? Thanks! Well in that case, allow me to share just one such individual occurence with you. I want to preface this by saying I'm NOT here to pick on anyone and I'm only using this particular example because it's fresh in memory and particularly illustrative. Not long ago, I was contacted by an archivist. Does Speed Demos Archive... actually have any use... for an archivist? Why yes, turns out it does! Here's an abridged and slightly paraphrased but accurate-in-spirit retelling of the tale:
"I'm a trained archivist, with a vested interest in speedruns. I'd love to help however I can."
"What kind of time commitment are you thinking of and do you think your situation is likely to change?"
"I could conceivably do 14–20 hours per week, two to three hours a day. My situation is not likely to change. SDA and GDQ have given me a lot over the years in terms of entertainment and joy so I'm just happy to be able to give something back if you guys are in need.
"14–20 hours is a lot already! I hope you're not burning yourself out."
Then I write three paragraphs about an overdue task that looked spot-on for their skillset. The message ends with: "Do these in whatever order seems smartest, and at your own pace."
"I was looking for something to do over Christmas break and this works out perfectly. I'm just someone who likes to stay busy, I don't know what to do with myself sometimes if I don't have enough things that I'm working on. This is fun work, trust me. I'm going to start working through point A, that shouldn't take me long, maybe a day or two." (In hindsight, this starts to sound an awful lot like I was getting trolled the golly gee out of, but I don't think that's ever been the case.)
"Sounds great! Keep us updated..."
Fast forward a few weeks.
"You know, this is actually harder than..."
"It looked good until...
"There are some problems with..."
Now those three highlights from their post-holiday status report are an incomplete summary to be sure. They do represent the only parts of the message with any obvious explanatory power, however. With 14–20 hours a week, it having been over a year now, we expect to see some incredible progress along this particular archive-o-logical roadmap, right? Like we should have the whole archive archived in an archive so we can archive while we archive, no? And not just some scattered notes on what its present state is and a couple of links, right? Right?
I want to be extra super crispy clear, I'm not barking up this person's tree here. Things probably didn't go the way they intended either. I don't know what the reasons are they had a change of heart/circumstances (hit by lightning for all I know) and I'm not about to start speculating. Not in this update or about any individual cases. We're only going to be happy to see them back if ever this should transpire and we can resume where we left off, no hitches. I included this story here because it demonstrates so usefully why the part that's publically visible (well, not in this specific instance), the first of those three ritualistic manual up-thrusts, is necessary... yet almost completely meaningless. And that concludes today's lesson.
(The unmarked quotes are from nate.)
Friday, January 14, 2022 by LotBlind
The Fore and the After