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VorpalEdge: 2010-10-05 10:12:06 pm
VorpalEdge: 2010-10-05 10:03:55 pm
VorpalEdge: 2010-09-23 09:43:20 pm
VorpalEdge: 2010-09-23 09:33:34 pm
VorpalEdge: 2010-09-23 09:15:28 pm
VorpalEdge: 2010-09-23 09:06:26 pm
VorpalEdge: 2010-09-23 09:02:41 pm
mikwuyma: 2010-09-23 08:53:03 pm
mikwuyma: 2010-09-23 06:14:04 pm
mikwuyma: 2010-09-22 04:46:47 pm
welcome to the machine
I have control of the first post now!  The most recent revision of the rules is below.

At Speed Demos Archive (SDA), we publish high-quality speedruns, which are fast playthroughs of video games. As with any competitive undertaking, there has to be a standard set of rules to ensure fair play. This page establishes rules and expectations for runs submitted to SDA.

We only publish the fastest runs submitted to us. Players are expected to use every method at their disposal, including glitches, to minimize time; side issues such as entertainment are secondary. To be published, a run must be fast enough, show no evidence of cheating, and have good audio and video quality. We also highly encourage attempts to improve upon currently published speedruns. If a player submits a run faster than a published run, the faster run will replace the slower run provided it meets the above requirements for acceptance.

Not every game is fit for speedrunning. A game has to have a definite ending, so a game like <i>The Sims</i> or <i>World of Warcraft</i> doesn't qualify. Additionally, it's impossible to speed up some games. Fixed autoscrollers or rhythm games, for instance, are generally not allowed, because speedruns would not be any faster than normal playthroughs.

Submissions must have direct-feed footage of the entire run from start to finish. Some players prefer to just post a final run time, but we publish speedruns, not records. For more information about recording your run and our standards for audio and video quality, see the documents at our <a href="">knowledge base</a>. For information about submitting a run, see our <a href="">submission page</a>.

When a run is submitted, it is distributed to verifiers for peer review. Verifiers check runs for things such as cheating, mistakes that cost time, missing footage, and bad audio/video quality. A more detailed explanation of verifiers’ duties and the exact criteria for judging submissions is available at the <a href="">verification guidelines</a> page. When verifiers finish reviewing a run, their notes are posted at the <a href="">verification board</a>. If a run is accepted, it is timed and eventually published on the main site.


There are two main sets of categories: the single-segment and segmented categories, and the completion percentage categories.  Most runs will be either single-segment or segmented and have a completion percentage.

Speedruns that beat a game in one sitting without loading save files or quitting are single-segment runs. Loading a save file is only permitted in single-segment runs for games or categories (such as New Game +) that require doing so to progress. If the player saves and then retries multiple parts of the game individually, the run is considered segmented.  Segmented runs are expected to be faster than single-segment runs in return for the ability to retry parts of the run multiple times; if a single-segment run is faster than a segmented run, the single-segment run will obsolete the segmented run (but not vice versa). For some level or track-based games, such as racers, segmented runs are replaced by an Individual Level table where the time for each track or level is displayed separately. If an individual level table does not exist for a game, the first submission of individual level runs must complete every race or level in that table's category.

There are also three completion percentage categories. The first is the any% category, in which players do whatever it takes to get to the end of the game as fast as possible. This can be considered the default category.

Next is the low% category, wherein players collect the minimum number of items and upgrades necessary to complete the game. What counts or doesn't count can be subjective, so check the [link]low%/100% definition thread[/link] for more information. Note that the low% category does not restrict usage of items players are forced to obtain. For instance, Mega Man always collects a weapon after defeating each robot master or maverick in a Mega Man game. Since players are forced to collect these weapons, runs that do not use them when they would save time will be rejected. Lastly, since low% runs are defined by the number of items and upgrades they pick up, a run that picks up fewer collectibles will obsolete a run that collects more, even if the new run is slower as a result.

Finally, there is the 100% category, where players collect "everything" in the game. As with low%, how to define 100% for any given game is subjective unless the game tracks percentage, and many games do not have a 100% category. Therefore, it is recommended to check the [link]low%/100% definition thread[/url] and ask questions if necessary. We generally prefer concise, reasonable definitions (instead of "comprehensive" laundry lists) that allow for enough differentiation from the any% category. A good example is "all stages". A bad example is "all items" in an RPG. Do you need max of each? Mutually exclusive items? If we're getting all items, why not all skills? Max levels? And so on.

Some games are designed in such a way that multiple completion percentage categories may apply to the same run. For instance, skipping all optional items may be the fastest way through some games, while other games might require you to fulfill 100% conditions to beat them. In these cases, the overlapping categories are identical and such runs are treated as any% runs for simplicity.


Besides the basic categories, there are several other categories runs could fit into, depending on how they were performed. These include:

Major skips: Some games have particularly egregious glitches or skips that deserve a category of their own. Examples of these are select warping in <i>The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening</i>, or summon warping in <i>Castlevania: Circle of the Moon</i>. Unfortunately, it's impossible to create a solid definition of major skips that works for every game, so major skips categories are tailored to each game that warrants it.

Game-dependent: These categories include things like different difficulty settings or game modes, or even multi-player runs. As a side note, multi-player runs are not distinguished by the number of players; only single-player and multi-player are categories, and single-player runs can obsolete multi-player runs.

Version differences: Many games are available on multiple systems. Players may produce runs on any of these systems, but many viewers would rather watch runs on their original systems. If the differences between game versions are severe, such as the differences between the NTSC and PAL versions of many older games, they will be classified as separate categories. If a game has been patched and there are multiple versions, we recommend using whichever version is fastest for running.

Deaths: For games in which dying significantly lowers the final time and changes the strategy throughout the run, runs with deaths can be categorized separately.


We prefer to use consistent in-game timers wherever possible. If an in-game timer isn't available, a simple real-time measure is used. Timing begins when the player first gains control of the game's character, and stops when control is lost after the final event in a game. For segmented runs, timing for a segment stops at the first system-dependent activity, usually the actual saving. When loading, timing resumes at the point when the game was saving or displaying the password. For runs over three hours, seconds are rounded down to the nearest minute in the final time because seconds are insignificant.

For games that let players save and reload anywhere, a half-second penalty is added for each manual save. This penalty counters a common problem where games drop frames immediately after a load and discourages players from potentially using thousands of segments in a run. The half second penalty applies to both quick-saves and saves made through a menu, but menu time is not counted when saving in a menu. We do not apply a penalty for segmentation in games where saves can only be performed at save points or in games where players warp to a predefined location upon reloading, since only being able to save at save points or reload at warp points is itself a restriction on segmentation.

Some games have a timer that can't be seen at the end of the game. In most of these cases the timer will be ignored. For some games, however, such timers are displayed on a menu screen that would be visible before the final event in the game; if this is the case, that time will be noted and real time will be appended from that point.

For manually timed games with an existing run, improvements must save at least one additional second. If a run is over three hours long, the minimum improvement allowed is one minute, because seconds are less significant past the three-hour mark. Improvements smaller than a second are only acceptable if a game has a visible timer that measures fractions of a second.


First, and most obviously, NO CHEATING. Only fairly produced runs are accepted. Ask on the forum if there are any questions about what we permit. If there is no answer on the forum, then try asking <a href="">Mike</a>. We also reserve the right to reject any run for any reason (including, but not limited to, suspected cheating or objectionable content, such as pornography).

Things that are banned include:

-Cheat devices: Game Genies, Action Replays, and similar devices are banned.

-Hardware modification: Players may not modify their systems in any way (e.g. overclocking it to reduce lag). The only extra hardware allowed are mod chips and boot disks used for playing imports, video mods to allow old systems to output higher quality audio/video, and official add-ons, such as the Nintendo 64 expansion pack. For example, the PlayStation 2 HDD is allowed, whereas the HD Loader is not. Additionally, to answer a commonly-asked question: since glitches that involve pressing left and right or up and down at the same time require pressing buttons hard enough to break or circumvent the crossbar underneath d-pads, glitches that involve pressing these buttons at the same time are banned. This section only applies to consoles; PC players can feel free to bump their graphics settings up as much as they can.

-Game modification: Removing or altering a game's internal files or hardware is forbidden. This rule includes things like mods or using the crooked cartridge trick in <i>The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time</i>. Mods may be accepted as runs of a separate game at staff discretion.

-Third party controllers: Third-party controllers are allowed, but players must only use features present on controllers that were officially bundled with the system. Thus, turbo-fire is not allowed, except on systems such as the TurboGrafx-16 that come with official turbo-fire controllers. If a game provides a turbo-fire option, it may be used. Players that display very rapid firing in runs may be expected to show video camera proof of their button mashing ability.

-Virtualization: We will not accept speedruns recorded on emulators (ZSNES, VBA, DOSBox, etc.) or other virtualization software (Wine, VMware, etc.). Emulators commonly allow for recording games frame-by-frame and then playing back the input at normal speed. Also, most emulators and virtualization programs have minor inaccuracies in timing and slowdown that prevent accurate comparisons between runs. Finally, it is illegal in most countries to obtain ROMs. Note that an exception is made for officially sanctioned emulators such as the Game Boy Player for GameCube, Virtual Console, or GameTap. Due to problems with some official emulators we prefer that players use original hardware whenever possible.

-Codes: Using a beneficial cheat code is not allowed. This includes codes that give more lives, reduce damage, and so on. Codes that are only cosmetic, like suitless Samus in <i>Metroid</i>, are allowed. A code that increases the game's difficulty, such as <i>Donkey Kong Country 3</i> 105%, may qualify as a separate category.

-Scripts: Many PC games allow players to use scripts or macros to automate certain actions. These are banned. In the past, scripts were not explicitly banned from SDA, so there are currently a few runs that use scripts. However, no further submissions using scripts will be accepted.


Q: I want to do a single-segment run of a game, but I’m forced to quit at a certain part. Does that make my run segmented?
A: Exceptions to the no-quitting rule for single segment runs are made for games where quitting is required, provided there is video camera proof to show that the run isn’t segmented.

Q: I'm trying to record a single-segment run, but the run is too long for one DVD. Is it okay if I switch DVDs?
A: Yes, but be sure you switch DVDs while the game idles at a pause screen or another screen without much action.

Q: I’m trying to manually time a run for comparison purposes, but SDA timing ends earlier than I expected. Where did the discrepancy come from?
A: Timing ends when a player loses control after the final event in a game.  This means that time isn’t counted if a player regains control later on (perhaps for an interactive ending or credits sequence).
Thread title:  
This seems like a solid replacement. Though it seems to me like it might still be beneficial to have a separate FAQ page (or the intro page you mentioned) covering information concerning watching runs instead of doing them and other information about the site, since the FAQ page has a lot of things that aren't covered in this revision.

Long as we're updating pages though, how about the submission page? Specifically, it still says you have to submit your real name, which hasn't been required in a pretty long time.
My feelings on The Demon Rush
Yes, I'm going to revise the submission page too, but that only requires minor edits (like changing the bit about your real name).
Edit history:
VorpalEdge: 2010-10-15 04:55:27 pm
welcome to the machine
I would just be glad that groobo's still around.

Mike put it pretty roughly, but everyone knew something was going to eventually give with regard to scripts.  rayvex pointed that out pretty clearly in the recent half-life topic that got locked.  Grandfathered categories do suck.  Actually, the motivating factor behind me volunteering to do this rewrite was DJGrenola's leaving.  I don't say his name to imply that he endorses this rewrite or anything (I don't think he would), but my personal goal was to make it as hard as possible for rule blowups like that to occur again.  Some of the cruft needed to be cleared off the page, and a lot of the rules could be simplified or deleted.  That made this the perfect time to ban scripts once and for all.  Ironically, this creates the opportunity for more blowups now... but, if they're going to happen at all, we might as well get them out of the way as soon as possible.  It's most important to have a good document going forwards.

Plus, the page really did need a rewrite, and nobody else was doing it.

The other minor changes are:
-Savewarping and deathwarping are no longer separate categories.  Honestly, ever since they were allowed to begin with, I can't think of any run that's explicitly avoided using them.  I tried going back through the old news to see what runs would be affected, but the first few pages are basically 30 new metroid runs being added and obsoleted a month, so that didn't work out.  It kinda sucks to do something like this without knowing exactly what it would affect, but it needed to be done.
-This line: "If a low% run is not significantly different from an any% run, the categories are identical and runs are treated as any% for simplicity."  It used to be the opposite.  I'll just say that low% runs should have to go out of their way to skip items to count as low%.
[edit]-Mods.  Mods are now allowed as separate games, but only at staff discretion.  If you wish to submit a run of a mod, please pick a really good mod that has little connection to its base game, such as total conversions.  Game X E-Z Mode mods won't make the cut.

And beyond that, a lot of things that were discussed on the forum but never documented were included, like the ban on left+right/up+down glitches and so on.

This post is a lot of writing for a few changes, but I'll also go on the record as saying that I think having an actual organizational structure on the page helps for the goals I outlined above.  Really, the page is a lot longer than it seems like it should be, but that's how things turn out.  If anyone finds a sentence that's unclear or that confuses them, or that they think could be worded better, please point it out.  We've already been notified of one confusing sentence and we'd like to clarify things while it's easy.  Similarly, nobody involved in this rewrite is fluent in any languages besides English, so if the way things are written is hard to translate then please point that out too.

Paraxade: The next page I'm going to tackle (that is, the other page that I think needs a major rewrite and not just minor changes) is the verification guidelines.
games which have only save points, does the half second penalty get applied or not? Its still confusing: regular saves = save points?
welcome to the machine
"For games that let players save anywhere, a half second penalty is added for each save.  This penalty is designed to discourage someone from potentially using thousands of segments in a run.  We do not restrict segmentation in games with save points because save points are already a restriction."

So no, save points don't have the penalty applied.

I do see what you're talking about though.  I guess we shouldn't use 'restrict segmentation'.  Actually, looking at it now, we just have to make one distinction between 'anywhere' saves (we wouldn't use that term, obviously) and autosaves/save points.  As it is, the paragraph talks about the save penalty, then save points, then goes back to talking about what the save penalty applies to, then talks about autosaves.  That's unnecessary; one back-and-forth should be sufficient.

Edit history:
ExplodingCabbage: 2010-09-22 06:33:08 pm
ExplodingCabbage: 2010-09-22 06:01:02 pm
ExplodingCabbage: 2010-09-22 06:00:34 pm
ExplodingCabbage: 2010-09-22 05:59:18 pm
ExplodingCabbage: 2010-09-22 05:58:20 pm
Quote from d_arnold07:
games which have only save points, does the half second penalty get applied or not?


Its still confusing: regular saves = save points?

Regular saves here means saves through the menu. Perhaps this phrase should be used instead of 'regular saves', which is unclear.

Also, I think it's slightly inelegant that the paragraph starts saying, without qualification, that 'a half second penalty is added for each save' and then later says that autosaves are exempt from the penalty. You're basically saying something that's wrong and then correcting it. I think the following tweak fixes both issues, and the one VorpalEdge just posted:

For games that let players save anywhere, a half second penalty is added for each manual save.  This penalty is designed to discourage someone from potentially using thousands of segments in a run. The half second penalty applies to both quicksaves and saves made through a menu; when saving through a menu, menu time is not counted.  However, autosaves incur no save penalty since the runner cannot avoid them. We do not apply a penalty for segmentation in games where manual saves can only be performed at save points, since only being able to save at save points is itself a restriction on segmentation. (paragraph edited multiple times, because I'm never happy.)
Maybe something else can be added about the codes section. I'm not sure if this is game-specific, but I'm sure other games out there have stuff like this. In Halo 2, if you play on Legendary difficulty, you have the ability to pick up "skulls," which each contain an added benefit/hindrance. The two used in the Halo 2 Done Segmented project are Envy and Sputnik. Envy allows for cloaking ability and sputnik allows for more powerful explosions. These were picked up during the run so it was allowed. But if they were picked up prior to the run and then used from the first level onward, it wouldn't be allowed. They are basically cheat codes but they can be obtained during the run.

Not sure if this is a game-specific case or if it needs to be stated as a general rule.
Edit history:
ExplodingCabbage: 2010-09-22 06:14:41 pm
ExplodingCabbage: 2010-09-22 06:13:14 pm
ExplodingCabbage: 2010-09-22 06:11:59 pm
K, just finished reading the entire document. Looks pretty good. Are there plans for a further more detailed rules FAQ with a collection of all the little rulings that've been made over the years, and explicitly clarifying stuff like OOB glitches being allowed? Back when I was talking to Mike about doing the rewrite (sorry for never getting round to it - I suck), he seemed to have such a thing in mind (or at least wanted to stick all such things on the end of the FAQ). If there aren't, I might write up such a thing myself.

Oh yeah, one thing that's probably important enough to belong in the main rules document is that loading screens aren't counted for PC games, but are for consoles.
Visit my profile to see my runs!
I'm really sorry to even ask this so early in the thread, but: Does 'game modification' include mods?
Edit history:
ridd3r.: 2010-09-22 06:57:16 pm
we have lift off
So what's going on with scripted runs already on the site? From the way Mike put it, it seems like a decision hasn't been made. At the moment there will suddenly be a bunch of runs that basically can't be beaten without scripts. If they are moved to some kind of hall of fame does that mean that all runs with scripts are essentially not officially on SDA anymore?

Also, I take it DemonStrate's Portal run will be accepted as it was completed a fair time before all this?
Quote from ridd3r.:
Also, I take it DemonStrate's Portal run will be accepted as it was completed a fair time before all this?

Already mentioned this to Mike on IRC. He wasn't aware when he created this thread that the run had already been completed months ago. I'll let him post a decision on whether to accept it or not but I'd be very surprised if the answer is no; it would be perverse and unfair not to accept it now.
Just a boy and his digimon
All looks very good. But I'm afraid that this sentence had me a bit confused.
For instance, Mega Man always collects a weapon from each robot master or maverick in a Mega Man game. Since players are forced to collect the weapons anyway, runs that refuse to use the weapons would be rejected.

I'm not sure if I understand this correctly. Do you just mean that, if someone were to collect all of the required weapons, but only used the starter weapon, then they couldn't call it a "low% run"? Or is there something else there that would actually cause it to be flat-out rejected that I am missing? Would it be rejected on the grounds that the run could have been done faster if they used the other weapons they were forced to pick up?
As in, refusing to use weapons/abilities at your disposal that would make your run faster will get your run rejected.
Edit history:
Paraxade: 2010-09-22 08:04:32 pm
Paraxade: 2010-09-22 08:04:27 pm
Hrm, so what about games where you can save through a menu anywhere but you get savewarped to specific spots? I don't think the save penalty applies in those instances but the rule makes it sound like they are. I suggest changing the first sentence to: For games that let players save and reload anywhere, a half second penalty is added for each manual save.

Or am I mistaken and the penalty does apply in those cases? Confusing. :s
Edit history:
arkarian: 2010-09-22 08:20:54 pm
arkarian: 2010-09-22 08:18:20 pm
arkarian: 2010-09-22 08:10:16 pm
the main thing i saw that i don't like is

SDA only publishes the fastest speedruns available.

this isn't true, since there are some runners who choose not to submit to sda. iirc goldeneye is one example. so maybe change that line to "SDA only publishes the fastest speedruns submitted."?

also, this line sounds pretty weird:

Since players are forced to collect the weapons anyway, runs that refuse to use the weapons would be rejected.

the runs don't refuse to do anything; the runners do. also, this makes it sound like the weapons must be used even when they wouldn't help.
my suggested rewrite:

Since players are forced to collect these weapons, runs that do not make use of them when they would help will be rejected.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to create a solid definition that works for every game, but we only create separate categories for glitches or skips that need one.

i think that should be "it's probably impossible" because no one knows if it's possible or not. it just hasn't been done yet.
Edit history:
cyghfer: 2010-09-22 08:33:23 pm
out of curiosity, is there an example of a recent run (published in the past year or so) whose time includes the half-second segmentation penalty? i thought that rule was dropped awhile ago.

also, agree with arkarian's points above.
Edit history:
VorpalEdge: 2010-09-22 08:39:03 pm
welcome to the machine
scurty: I'm reluctant to include a ruling that specific on the rules page.  It seems pretty game-specific, and I get the impression that no matter what gets written people would have to ask for clarification on the forum anyways, since games implement things like that so differently.  I mean, is it a cheat or is it just a really good powerup or unlockable?  That sounds like the type of thing that should be noted elsewhere.

InsipidMuckyWater: yes.  Runs of mods might be submittable as runs of a separate freeware game, but for the purposes of running game x, game x cannot be modded.

re: OOB, mention of it was specifically avoided.  There's no reason to bog down a fresh document with references to deprecated rules.
re: minor rules collection: this subject never came up, but I always thought that the right place to note things like that would be those rules' respective game pages.
and re: loading screen differences, noted.

Jukebox_Hero: If you can't actually skip the item or ability outright, then you need to use it if it saves time.  A run that only uses the starter weapon but is forced to collect others would be in the same category as a run that uses those other weapons, and the one that uses the weapons would obviously be faster.  Only using the starter weapon is pretty arbitrary.

arkarian: but that's the same thing.  If they aren't submitted to us, they aren't available.  Since you bring it up, I'll append 'to us' after available, though.  About the weird wording, noted.  And about "it's impossible"... we've talked about this before, and my position stands.  If it's not impossible, do it yourself. :p  It won't be done for the exact same reasons that nobody can define what a glitch is, or isn't, and what the developers intended, or didn't intend, and a few more reasons besides.  I'm not going to undermine the ethos of the document without a better reason, sorry.

About what will happen to scripted runs, I can't say anything definitively, because I'm not staff.  As a regular SDA user, however, I expect they'll stay on SDA as they are now.  The half-life ep1 run was accepted a couple days ago because SDA had promised that the category was open, despite the rules decision being made internally before the run was formally accepted.
Edit history:
arkarian: 2010-09-22 08:42:07 pm
Quote from VorpalEdge:
arkarian: but that's the same thing.  If they aren't submitted to us, they aren't available.

er ... no? isn't there a goldeneye site out there with a bunch of runs that are faster than those on sda? there's also youtube, etc etc.

basically i think it should be made clear that sda doesn't consider itself some kind of authority (unless it does now and i've missed that notice). it doesn't host "the fastest runs available" it hosts "the fastest runs people submit to sda". there's a huge difference.
Edit history:
VorpalEdge: 2010-09-22 09:22:06 pm
welcome to the machine
I always just assumed there was an implicit "to us" after the word available, where 'us' is SDA (I made a point of referring to SDA as 'us' or 'we', btw).  I mean, it's not like SDA can go out and steal runs from everywhere else, right?

Anyways, rereading that paragraph I have to agree.  'Submitted to us' is the phrasing to use.  I decided on 'available to us' in my last post because I think that phrasing is aesthetically better, but in context submit is definitely more meaningful.  Thanks.

Paraxade: savewarps don't get penalized.
yeah i guess when reading this i try to think like a newcomer to sda since those are the only people these rules are really written for. everyone who's already here already knows them.
What a silly thing to argue about. Tongue

So I didn't notice anything about deathless vs. with deaths runs as different categories. Was this left out on purpose, meaning the distinction no longer matters? (If so, cool.)

I also have a question about saving. The new writeup states there is no penalty for using save points and the time in the menu doesn't count. Does this mean timing stops on accessing the menu and resumes in the next segment when the player gains control? I'm assuming that the menu time still counts in games that count it and the in-game timer is used. I don't think the rules need to include something more specific about this, but I've always wondered, so if anyone knows, I'm interested to hear the answer.

Thanks for the rewrite VorpalEdge!
Visit my profile to see my runs!
Quote from VorpalEdge:
InsipidMuckyWater: yes.  Runs of mods might be submittable as runs of a separate freeware game, but for the purposes of running game x, game x cannot be modded.

So, a run of "They Hunger" (a Half-Life mod) would be accepted [if approved] as a run of the mod.  Okay, nothing new there then.  But, the way you've written the faq, it sounds like mods such as "They Hunger" are just banned outright.  Your explanation in the post is more clear.
Fair enough, Vorpal, just trying to cover all bases so you don't leave stuff out on accident. I'm not exactly sure if it's a cheat or a really good power up. It seems more like a cheat because the effect stays with you the entire game (even on other levels) until you turn your Xbox off. Regardless, it is game specific.
I'm still mildly upset about turbo controllers (and now turbo scripts) being banned - nothing to go ape shit about, though.

On the other hand: I'm running dangerously low on cigarettes, so I probably need just a couple of hours to return with an opinion.