SPEED-RUNNING is the art of finishing games as quickly and as cleanly as possible. There is a very large speed-running community that has grown and grown with the invention of Twitch – a website that people use to stream games and such from their homes – and it involves thousands of people playing an almost endless variety of games. The most impressive and interesting are shown at Summer Games Done Quick or SGDQ for short. It’s a week-long event where the speed-running community comes together, for charity, to show off their expertise live with their chosen game in front of a room of people and tens of thousands of Twitch viewers on the internet. On top of all that, they also commentate or have friends to commentate for them, wherein they discuss how and why they use certain tactics while playing the game. It looks nerve-racking, particularly when some of the speed-runners aren’t used to physically being on camera while they are playing.
I have watched so many speed-runs of a huge assortment of games and have come up with a general overview of the strategies that speed-runners seem to use and boiled them down into two categories:
- Pure speed. This is where the runner finishes the game through finding a way to go as fast as humanly possible through the levels by memorising the enemy placement, the level layout and as a result moving incredibly quickly through the game. It is very impressive just seeing people turn the game into an art.
- Glitches. The speed-runner exploits the bugs and mistakes in the game left by the developers to finish the game very quickly (often with insane results). These can range from going out of bounds of the level to using the physics of the game to climb over parts of the game that are scripted to begin cut-scenes (and thereby skipping them entirely) to, most impressively, coding in-game and warping to the end. These types of runs are the most bombastic of the two as you see some crazy shit going down onscreen as the runner has to make sure the game doesn’t lock up. It’s literally game-over if that happens, all while stretching the code in the game to the very limit.
What makes this entire thing interesting isn’t the ‘will they, won’t they?’ that usually comes with any time-based event because it is more than likely that they will finish before then, the speed-runners are that good. The hook is just how the gamers will reach the end of the game in some ludicrously short amount of time. Quite simply, it’s very cool watching people destroy games that took you hours to finish in a fraction of the time.
Watching speed-runs isn’t for everyone obviously and I will admit some games and speed-runner combinations work better than others live, but if this little article on speed-running has piqued your interest then go here:
http://www.twitch.tv/speeddemosarchivesda and check some of them out. All the runs are also eventually archived on their youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/SpeedDemosArchiveSDA
The speed-runs that are either my favourite for personal reasons or I feel epitomise the best of the speed-running community are as follows:
- MadWorld on Wii
- Halo 1 on Xbox Original
- Pokemon Gold & Yellow on Gameboy Color
- Goldeneye on Nintendo 64
- DOOM 64 on the Nintendo 64
- Spyro The Dragon 2: Ripto’s Rage on Playstation 1
- Metroid Prime 2 on GameCube
- METAL WOLF CHAOS on Xbox Original
- Half Life 1 & 2 on P.C.