AGDQ 2021

Well now friends if you’ve been checking your clocks you’ll realise that it is Awesome Games Done Quick, a week-long speedrunning event, making this honorary Speed Week, a high holy week for Speedrunning community afficionados. How do you know this is Speed Week? Well, thanks to Game Pile and Story Pile, two of this week’s posts won’t be about speed at all, meaning we’re going to glitch through this 7 day period in only five days.

Don’t know what Speedrunning is? Okay, I got you covered. A demon with two tongues tore a hole through my mirror to feast on the illusion of me in the surface, and while she was here, she left behind this FAQ about Speedrunning that you can check out to get up to speed on it if you’re not already there. With that in mind, and with the spirit of the week underway, let’s get you a real quick summary on why I like Speedrunning and what experience it might scratch for you.

I used to try to follow cricket, because it was a subject to talk about with my dad and because we were, at the time, setting competitive records and I say ‘we’ like it was me who had the determination and skill and drive to play for Australia like the arsehole antagonist character in The Parable of Glen McGrath’s Haircut but the important thing is that there was a time when I tried to track cricket, and what about that I found interesting was watching a thing that had been seen as the best ever get steadily and steadily more and more impressive. I was watching a number go up and all I needed to follow for that was to occasionally check in on a sport which took five days to finish one game and where the majority of the time was taken up with literally nothing happening.

Watching competitive sports is a thing that we can derive pleasure from, and if you’ve ever seen some of that  as being captivating but can’t connect to the pace or the style of game, speedrunning is a lot like that kind of competitive communal game experience. The things being shown in the game matter just as much as if it’s a leather ball or a havok engine crate, and because speedruns events are about introducing an audience who aren’t necessarily informed, it’s a perfect time to get to see and learn the rules of a lot of different types of speedrun.

Just like with more conventional sports, there’s demonstrations of remarkable skill, including things like being able to map complex processes blindfolded, competitive forms where two people have to try and execute a run racing one another, performances where players are explicitly disrupted and deprived of foreknowledge, performances that are even automated to show an absolute limit on difficulty. Some runs are short, and fast, and messy, and about being as skilled as possible at executing every skill in the game in a potentially random list, and some are about perfect operational execution of a long-term plan. Some are about forcing the game to let you roll a dice so you can try and roll three sixes in a row – there’s a Diablo speedrun where the world record is an hour and the Tool Assisted Speedrun with perfect luck is twelve minutes. Some are personality driven, some are technical, and some are about waiting for something terrible to go wrong.

Speedruns have a lot of different types, they are fun and cool and they are a genre of content, not a particular form. This event is a perfect time for you to want to check the genre out. People will be talking about it, they will be tweeting and they will be sharing the experience on discords. You can totally find people to hang out with now to watch these events and learn about them now. Where am I going to be doing it? I’m going to be tweeting about it, so you can see my thoughts there.

What am I looking out for? Well, as of right now, here’s some stuff on the schedule I’m looking at because I think it’ll be interesting.  As always, check your schedule here and everything that’s already been run in the past twenty hours is, uh… off the schedule.

Here, then are some games and runs I’m looking forward to:

Sonic Mania. As this goes up, Sonic Mania is in three and a half hours, being run by the Scottish runner Argick. Argick is an active runner in the European Speedrun Assembly, and even when I don’t watch his runs (Fox watches them all) I am always happy to hear them. Argick is funny and charming and runs his mouth at a million miles a minute playing Sonics ranging from the good (Mania) to the very bad (the phone version of 4).

I fuckin’ love Argick runs. Please don’t be a milkshake duck.

Dishonored 2. This is going to be on at lunchtime for me, which is great, I like to watch it then. It’s a half hour run and it’s of a game with a lot of fun movement, but also tends to be done in-bounds. At any%, I don’t know, it might have all gotten a bit weird. We’ll have to see!

Diablo 3 (Cooperative run). An hour and a half is a great duration for a speedrun in my opinion, it means you have enough time to get involved in the texture of the game, you can learn the rules for how it’s going to work and the runners have time to establish a presence. And cooperative runs tend to come with two people explaining things, and Diablo games are really wildly random. This is a run where ‘perfect’ is almost impossible, so you’re going to see players playing really well for a prolonged period.

Metroid Prime, 100%. This is a two hour run which is an FPS game where you have to correctly remember to scan every single thing in the world. Lots of proper execution of move-and-shoot mechanics and extremely thorough exploring the world!

Carrion. This game rules and the speedrun for it looks a lot like ‘just playing the game,’ with only a few moments of wiggling skips to avoid entire chunks of the game.

Golden Sun. I’m not going to catch this run while it’s live, it’s four hours long starting at midnight my time, but JRPGs are typically good for settle-in and enjoy the style kind of game. Odds are good you’ll learn some interesting ways to exploit the way a game’s combat mechanics and movement mechanics work, but not watch the game turn into a pile of spaghetti.

Yoshi’s Island 100%. This game rules, the 100% speedrun is full of all these really impressive high-velocity perfect executions on a really refined route through a complicated game. Really good game, the speedrun makes the game even more impressive.

Alwa’s Legacy. This is a retro style throwback game, it’s very short, and it looks charming and the run is only 15 minutes. This is the kind of game where if you go play it yourself you’ll have to take a few hours to get good enough to finish and route it fast – and that makes the 15 minutes even more impressive.

Majora’s Mask: Speedrunning science has done things to this run. This is a game that looks extremely like the kind of thing that you’d hear made up in a school playground. At this point this game is breakable with the most preposterously deep level of code malarkey, and that means that watching this game get broken is an insight into how games work on a level that looks legitimately like magic.

Super Mario Sunshine: Great game, great run. This run is largely made up of points where you have to just play the game really well, but then spends time skipping exploring and wandering.

Beat Saber: This isn’t going to be a ‘speed run’ per se, but it’s going to be a performance of a rhythm game. It’s going to be seeing a hard game, played the best possible way – a sort of ‘perfect mode’ of the natural play.

TASBot plays Freedom Planet. Freedom Planet is a sonic-like game, TASbot is a robot that can give perfect inputs, this run will let you see how completely robots with perfect luck can transform the ways games can be treated as behaving.

Pokemon Blue: Catch’Em’All. Now I don’t know how well this category will do, because I don’t know if it’s going to allow for arbitary code execution. If it does, it’s a little less cool than I thought, but if it doesn’t, it’s going to be about watching someone route a very efficient map all across the world, retrieving weird things in weird orders and using the best of speedrunning science to do it.

That’s the stuff that I know I’m looking forward to in this AGDQ! Hopefully, if you look at the schedule, you’ll see some runs that similarly excite you. This is such a fun event, I hope you check it out.

 

 

 

 

Oh and hey, this whole thing is a charity stream? And it raises like a million dollars for good causes multiple times a year?

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