hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

How casual speedrunning can help you enjoy games more

4:00 PM on 01.13.2014 // Chris Carter
  @DtoidChris

You don't have to be a pro to have fun

Awesome Games Done Quick 2014 has wrapped up, and it raised over one million dollars for charity. If you haven't checked them out before, they basically hand pick a bunch of games to "speedrun" through and complete, with different parameters for each title. Some runs may use glitches or exploits, some may be more open-ended, but the ultimate goal is to master each individual game.

I've never crossed over the professional line, but I've been a speedrun enthusiast for over 10 years now. Here's my story on how I got started, and how you can get involved.

For those of you who are wondering what sparked my interest in casual speedrunning, it's mostly due to one person. I have a friend named Steve that I run games with, and given our competitive nature, years ago we started "racing" each other in certain games -- usually Mega Man titles. It's pretty much the perfect storm, as we're both retro enthusiasts, we both own nearly every major console, and we live close enough where we can race games simultaneously.

Although we have been doing the "dual console, dual game, dual TV" setup for years, we've recently starting taking advantage of the Wii U's convenience of not having to hook anything up to a TV, and just playing eShop titles on the GamePads. We don't just plainly race games however, as we often set up certain parameters to modify the game completely.

For instance, we might do "no cape races" in Super Mario World, where we are forbidden to pick up a feather power-up or otherwise use the cape in any way. The Mega Man X series gives us a lot of leeway, in terms of "buster-only," "100%," or "as fast as possible with whatever gear you can grab" runs. We have a lot of fun with it, and over the years, a good amount of people have asked me how to get started. Even without a friend, it's actually pretty easy!

Find some friends or start a stream:

One of the easiest ways to get into speedrunning is to get together with some friends locally and have a get-together. Pick some games you're all interested in, start running them, and share your secrets. In turn everyone will share theirs, and together, you'll start working towards a more efficient run.

But you don't have to go local to start speedrunning. You can do it completely on your own, track your times, and either start a small community or join an existing one. Before you know it you'll find friends to compare times with, as well as tips. Speedrunners are generally very polite, and are eager to compete as well as show newcomers the ropes (more on this later).

Runs are also a ton of fun to share with people, so consider setting up a stream if going solo isn't your thing. The PlayStation 4 or any standard capture device these days makes streaming a fairly easy endeavor, and even if you only have a few people in your stream, strive to keep them entertained and explain what your goal is, and any pertinent information on your run to educate them in turn.

Pick a game:

When choosing your first ever game to speedrun, it's important to pick something you have a bit of experience with in the past -- so you have some idea of what to expect, and don't get too frustrated. It helps to learn some secrets and do your homework -- for instance, if you're going for a specific type of run in Ocarina of Time or Mario 64 (in this case, you might go for one that allows glitches or exploits), you want to look up and practice how to do some of the key ingredients for a successful run first. 

Learning the basics will give you the tools you need, and learning the "tricks" of the scene will help you tremendously. Think outside the box --  like the fact that dashing or double-jump in some games may be a more effective method of travel than walking or running. Knowing facts like that going in will help, and assist in turning your time into a record-like status. If you need more examples, this four-way Super Metroid race with commentary is a perfect case of what to expect (the announcers explain everything you need to know to start a basic speedrun). Leaderboards in modern games have made it easy to judge how well you're doing on a base level too, should you need more guidance.

Pretty much anything is capable of having a speedrun if you know the ins and outs, including 3D platformers like Super Mario 3D World, or even FPS games like Portal. If I may recommend a title, Kirby's Dream Land (the first Kirby game ever) is one of the easiest games to speedrun. It's also very easy to find, since the cartridge is relatively cheap (under $5 used) and it's on the 3DS eShop. Here's a list of the most common titles that are ran in the professional circuit.

Choose your ruleset:

As a general rule, I'm a fan of beating games without tools or emulator manipulation. Those types of runs are referred to in the community as "tool-assisted speedruns," or "TAS." These "tools" may refer to manipulating the game in some way, like slowing down the actual framerate, or allowing for save states if you "mess up." Many people use tools because they want to divine the "perfect run," as playing a 2D platformer for over 45 minutes only to die on the last stage and botch up your run can get extremely frustrating.

That may be all well and good for a specific type of speedrun, but of course, you're free to make up your own rules. Want to go for the world record for a Mirror's Edge "no gun" run? Go for it! Like I previously mentioned, one of my favorites is the "no cape" run in Super Mario World, which utterly changes the way you approach the game. Other variations include "no power-ups," "as quick as possible," or "100% completion including all of Star Road." You can go as wacky or as strict as you'd like -- as long as you're enjoying yourself.

Here's an example of me running the first level in Mega Man X with the "no damage, non-TAS" parameter.

Have fun:

You're not going to become an honorary member of Awesome Games Done Quick overnight! Choose one game that you're particularly skilled at, and can finish rather quickly (one of my favorite speedrun titles is Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers for the NES), that way you won't get bored of playing it over and over.

You'll have more fun if you're playing with others, whether that's locally or by way of streaming, because of the moments of tension speedruns bring out nearly every time. That one jump that you'll need to make to shave off a few seconds could mean the difference between a world record and a good run, and you'll get better each and every time you play.

Who knows? Maybe one day you'll get so skilled at a particular game that you'll submit a top time to the Speed Demos Archive participate in a Speedrunslive event, or join another community. You'll never find out if you don't try. If you don't strive for that goal though try mixing up a game you've played for ages ever so slightly, and you might find it to be a completely different experience that you'll enjoy for years to come.



Chris Carter, Reviews Director
 Follow Blog + disclosure DtoidChris Tips
Chris (Magnalon) has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! -----------... more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
My hair's done did and my Teddie cosplay is officially ready for next weekend's Comic-Con! Do I impress you, Sensei? [img]http://i.imgur.com/ZNlOmMf.jpg[/img]
ShadeOfLight avatarShadeOfLight
Replaying Tales of Symphonia for the first time in years, I only just now realized how random the plot is. Our goals are decided at Lloyd's whimsy, while we get major revelations just 'whenever'. Still a good game, but I'm proud to be #TeamBatenKaitos.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
Question Time! What's YOUR MGSV Helicopter music?
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Today at work, I made a reference to the DK Rap in one of my news pieces. Any day that I get to do that is a good day.
gajknight avatargajknight
Everyone's playing MGSV...and I've just arrived in Skellige in The Witcher 3. At this rate, I'll get 'round to MGSV when the PS7 arrives.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Currently learning Little Trinketry from Valiant Hearts: The Great War on piano. [youtube]http://youtu.be/40fulS_olU8[/youtube]
Retrofraction avatarRetrofraction
MGSV is literally the Skyrim of stealth. 15 hours 3%... #Sneaker'sdelight
ThinMatrix avatarThinMatrix
The Kickstarter campaign is now live for Socuwan – the quirky indie MMORPG created by the community, for the community! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1465468930/socuwan-the-community-driven-indie-mmorpg
ScreamAid avatarScreamAid
Excellent video game OST's for the week (no particular order): 1) Super Stickman Golf 2 2) Lethal League 3) Crypt of the Necrodancer
DanteKinkade avatarDanteKinkade
Final season of Continuum is on tonight, featuring time traveling solders in power armor. I can't wait! https://carl9000.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/c15.jpg?w=842
Kallo avatarKallo
That moment when you look at your backlog of games...and it looks back and you and says "What the hell man? you have over 100 games on this list!". I feel guilty...
Steven Hansen avatarSteven Hansen
Idris Elba needs to be James Bond & heck to anyone who thinks otherwise
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
We need a Dtoid RPG that stars Mr Destructoid, Gardevoir, Macho Man Randy Savage, and MATT DAMON. The hub zone will be Nekro's dungeon.
Cynic without a Cause avatarCynic without a Cause
In the middle of discovering a bunch of Hirasawa Susumu's non-film related work. Currently listening to Planet Roll Call. Fantastic album!
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
*Looks at Battle.net* League of Storm Heroes. Magic: The Hearthstone. Diablo. Starcraft. World of Warcraft. Oh, pay $10 to unlock Tychus. ...Guys, is Blizzard evil? I mean really, despicably, EA-level evil?
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Do you enjoy MOBA games such as LoL, Dota 2, or HOTS? Why or why not? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
The Witcher 3 is 30% off on GOG.com, if you thought it was a bit expensive at launch. You get store credit too.
Flegma avatarFlegma
Realized I've turned on my PS3 in the past month or two only to watch Mario cartoon DVDs. I really need to get around to playing something - anything - on it.
Perro avatarPerro
Listening to Studio Ghibli Collection at work https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_WbO_LPXDo Reminds me that my dad really liked Howl's Moving Castle. He's retired military and serious most of the time but rather enjoyed its fanciful world.
Terry 309 avatarTerry 309
Sorry for my inactivity... I've been lacking motivation and have nothing on my mind right now so i haven't blogged in a while. Still playing Grandia 2 anniversarry, getting annoyed by mount and blade warband's phantasy calradia mod and other shit...
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -