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kakka_rot: 2014-03-31 09:43:15 pm
kakka_rot: 2014-03-27 12:00:18 pm
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kakka_rot: 2014-03-25 10:53:41 am
kakka_rot: 2014-03-25 10:44:59 am
Remember your mantra.
Hello everyone, this is my recent attempt to document the proper protocol of routing a run. I am sure many of you are already familiar with this process, but some beginners may enjoy this information. If anyone would like to suggest additional sections to be added, or other things to be considered, leave a comment and I will include it in the redraft. With that, I hope you enjoy.

http://pastebin.com/WTzB0BBa


The Basic Protocol of Routing a Speedrun

              by

Max Sterling 'Kakka_rot' Young

Think of routing a speedrun, like reading your Grandmother's cookbook. While there is a strict protocol you should follow, there also is a certain amount of freedom, fun, and adventure you should have with the process, when hoping to make your attempts a success. In this essay, I will review what acts you should perform, while choosing, planning, and performing the game you hope on becoming great in.

Section 1 - Choosing Your Game

This is a common question that often occurs of it chats of big streamers, by aspiring speedrunners.
"Mr. Streamer - I want to start speedrunning, but what is a good game for me to begin with?"

The answer is simple: a game that you love, preferably a nostalgic one, that you know you can play for hours on end, without becoming bored. With repetitive casual play throughs, a game will always eventually become boring. The beauty of speedrunning, is it unleashes new aspects of the game previously unimagined, that will allow for improvement, and thus, excitement, and new trials for you to complete.

At the time of this essay, I have routed and completed runs of fourteen different games, twelve of which I initially played during my youth. The importance of this lies in familiarity, in that, you already have an 'internal map' of the game, and know what is going on.

Primarily, this was important to me because I love them. Secondarily, these games are more opportune because I was already very familiar with them, familiar with they're layout, physics, engine, and the end goal (at least on a basic level.)

For example, if you want to speedrun a game you've played briefly, you're going to want to acquire, what I call, an 'internal map' of the game, or rather, being able to run from any Point A to any Point B without having to 2nd guess yourself. This will also develop over runs, but you'll spend less time in this area if you're already aware of your surroundings.

When playing casually, if you ever get 'lost' and run around for 30 minutes stuck and annoyed, there is a bright side - you're at least learning the lay of the land. If you constantly consult a gamefaq, you're not learning naturally, and won't be as familiar with your surroundings. For this reason, I cannot stress enough casual, natural gameplay.

Metal Gear Solid 2 was the easiest game I ever routed - not because it was easy, but rather, I had been playing it casually years before I even knew what a speedrun was. So when it came time to route, and perfect, I knew what was going on.

In contrast, Babysitter Bloodbath, one of my more recent runs, is a 2013 title. So after hours of playing through it casually, I had a rough idea of what was going on, but the learning process still took much longer.

Both scenarios are entirely possible, but the former is significantly easier than the later, and also guarantees higher enjoyment, and generally better performance. To be fair, I don't discourage a run of any game, new or old. What is important, is that you are absolutely familiar with the games format, in a casual sense, before you advent on a speedrun - which leads me into my next topic.

Section 2 - Casual Play before Speedrunning

Let me begin this section with a short story:

A close friend of mine was once holding a small-time marathon, which was intended for lesser-known speedrunners to gain popularity. At this time, Cosmo was gaining popularity for his Wind Waker runs, and many other Speedrunners were taking inspiration, and running that game.

One of the featured runners in this marathon chose Wind Waker, however, he had never played the game casually, and had only ever watched the run. So about two hours into the run, when a necessary glitch was failed, trouble was a brew. The runner could not attempt the glitch a 2nd time, and if he wanted to progress, he would have to do so naturally, which he never had done, and thus left him lost and confused. This put the run at a stand-still, where he gave up, because he didn't know how to naturally get the Boss-Key that he was trying to skip.

I know, it may seem a little silly, but in all seriousness: YOU DON'T WANT THIS TO HAPPEN TO YOU. Chances are, if you're in a marathon, big or small, you know your shit. But this guy did not, and it really bit him in the butt.

If you find a game that you enjoy, and find it suitable for speedrunning, do yourself a favor, and play it through casually, slowly, and enjoyably, at least twice. During this time, you will develop an internal map of the game, learn the lay of the land, find some extra items you 'may' need, and overall, develop a crucial understanding of the games structure.

Your internal map is important to develop. In most speedruns, if something bad happens, you reset; but even still, come worse case scenario, you want to be able to complete the run, or at least have a quick fix if something goes awry. In short, know your map, know your game, and know how to get out of a sticky situation, should one air its ugly head.

Section 3 - Do Your Research

I have another funny story:

I started speedrunning Digimon World in May of 2013. At this time, the SRL community was uninvolved with the game, and most action was ancient on the SDA forums. Beginning in early 2013, before my involvement, about four runners began discussing how this run might work. The first claimed WR (World Record) was a bit over five hours. By the next month, it was taken down to four hours, then 3hr15, then 2hr45, before finally someone announced the grand supreme holy speedrun of 2hr15, which everyone thought was amazing. The runner in mention had a real hard-on over this time, and his peers were basking in his glory.

The thing is, none of these runners ever taken the time to look up "デジモンワールドRTA" on Japanese streaming website, Niconico. When a close friend of mine eventually did, he posted his results within the thread, along with a link to a 1hr50 run, which had been performed in October of 2012. To everyone’s dismay, none of them had ever held the WR, causing a plethora of butthurt amongst the western Digimon World community.

My point in all this being, if one of them had went to the effort to look for a run of this game, before proclaiming WR, they could have done a lot of good for their community, both in progress, and personal embarrassment.

So here is the standard protocol for research:

1: Check out SDA. First, look for a run on the actual games page. That should at least give you a starting point. Thing is, as much as I love SDA, their videos have a habit of being erroneously outdated, so don't stop there. From here, go to their forums, which is where the best minds in video games collaborate on skills, routes, and strategies. If the game is popular enough, you should have hours to read of interesting innovations, progress, and advancements regarding your favorite game. If, by chance, the game you're interested does not have a thread - start one of your own! Pen it nicely, and hopefully, you may make a nice friend to help you run the game. Believe me, a partner is always nice to have. I have had a partner in several games (shoutouts to Zeroshift) and believe me, their assistance has been extraordinary.

www.speeddemosarchive.com

2: The TAS. These can be much more rare, as, believe it or not, a good TAS can take more effort to produce than a speedrun, but it will give you some insight. Be warned, often a TAS will do things you can never hope to, but it will at least show you what is possible. Also, if you're really doing your homework, please read the TAS notes, which are available on page and written by the author, so you can be made aware of which strats are TAS only, and which are only optimal for a human speedrun.

www.tasvideos.org

3: As previously mentioned, please, consult the Japanese speedrunning community. Even if you do not speak Japanese, it is not difficult to find the game you’re looking for. Go to Wikipedia, look up the game, find the Japanese name for it, copy+paste, plug into google, followed by RTA (Nihonjins mostly use this term for a speedrun) and see if anything comes up. The Japanese community is very talented, and even if you can't understand their commentary, I promise you will still learn a thing or two, or, if anything, the goal time you’re aiming for.

www.nicovideo.jp

In brief refection: Look up the run on SDA, then check out the thread, find the TAS, and then check out the JP community. After reviewing all these runs and information, you should have a decent idea of what you'd like to achieve. In addition, assuming you're running a popular game, other runners on SRL may be willing to help you. If they can, then great, hopefully you've made a friend. However, if you're running a more obscure game, then steps 1 - 3 are even more important.

The last addition I will mention here is: Find a Friend. For example, the only game I have WR in is Fatal Frame. The reason I do, is Zero_Shift, a close friend I met on the SDA forums, helped me. We competed, shared ideas, and grew together. If it was not for him, I would have a much slower time then I do now. Remember, competition is healthy; they should be your friends. Look for runners to oppose, befriend them, and train with them. It will help you extensively in the long run.

Section 4 - Practice Makes Perfect

Boring as it may sound, you will notice improvement with every run you perform.

Sure, some runs will be shitty, and you will develop high standards, but this is all part of the learning process. Without those annoyingly high standards (and, hopefully, competition) you will never improve. Competition and personal accomplishment is what is needed to drive you and your peers forward, thus creating new PBs and WRs, leading the community forward. Even if you are not the best, try to make your way there. At your goal, you will find a sense of accomplishment that will drive you even more forward.

This is probably the most tedious process, but is also, the most rewarding. All of your favorites did not make it there over night, but rather, after many painstaking hours of practice.

In this area, if you already do stream, please consider: Do not be afraid to practice offline. Trust me, I know. Even if you consider yourself a reputable streamer, playing games offline is fine. There is a different zeitgeist between the two. When you're streaming, it is obliged to be somewhat entertaining. However, if you're by yourself, no fucks need to be given. This is not always where you will hone skills, but rather, get in essential, boring practice, that no one wants to watch. Also, you won’t be worrying as much about the show you’re providing, but rather, you'll be thinking of your personal improvement. This is important, and even if undesirable, essential. Please consider it.

Section 5 - Repetition

Get used to it.

If you have successfully committed yourself, and enjoy the game you run, get used to playing it. This should not be seen as a chore, but rather, an exercise. Have fun with it. If a run dies, don't cry, don't instantly reset, but run around, maybe back track, and process what ruined you for future reference. Speedrunning is, while competitive, supposed to bring personal enjoyment. This is about fun. If you spend your time bitching at yourself, and crying over lost runs, you're going to have a bad time.

Section 6 - In the End

Take the time to grow, and in moments of defeat, realize your strong points, exercise them, and strengthen your weak aspects. We all have places we've strong, and places we're weak. The point is to balance between the two, eventually becoming optimal, and perfecting ourselves.

In the end, this isn't about your viewers, this isn't about getting some arbitrary WR; this about personal improvement, accomplishment, and enjoyment. Have fun, explore the game, and mostly, destroy it beyond what your previous self ever imagined. This will create the most enjoyable experience for your viewers, our community, and most importantly, for yourself.

With this, cheers, the best of luck, and happy speedrunning.



Acronyms:
SDA - Speed Demos Archive  (www.speeddemosarchive.com)
SRL - Speed Runs Live (www.speedrunslive.come)
TAS - Tool Assisted Speedrun (www.tasvideos.org)
WR - World Record
PB - Personal Best

And my stream - www.twitch.tv/kakka_rot

Thanks for reading!
Thread title:  
Get over here!
Great read! Smiley
Caution: This user contains Kana ^_^
Quote from ShadowDraft:
Great read! Smiley

qft

I hope you don't mind me noticing a minor typo … At the end of section 2 it should be 'your map' and game.
Edit history:
J.Y: 2014-03-26 10:01:45 am
Quote from kakka_rot:
In the end, this isn't about your viewers, this isn't about getting some arbitrary WR; this about personal improvement, accomplishment, and enjoyment.

I agree 100% on that. It seems as many newcomers are mostly in it for the whole "WR" thing, or getting a lot of viewers on their stream, rather than producing great speed runs.
Waiting hurts my soul...
Quote from Alko:
Quote from ShadowDraft:
Great read! Smiley

qft

I hope you don't mind me noticing a minor typo … At the end of section 2 it should be 'your map' and game.

While we're at it...

rout = route
routs = routes
array = awry
incite = insight

copy+past -- missing an 'e'
"slower time then I" -- use 'than'
"places we've strong" -- use 'we're'
"know you're map, know you're game" -- use 'your' in both cases

I point these out to make the document stronger. Great read, thanks for writing this up and including your personal experience/history.
Edit history:
kakka_rot: 2014-03-27 12:00:51 pm
kakka_rot: 2014-03-27 11:52:17 am
Remember your mantra.
@Zenic, Shadow, and Alko - Thanks! That is what peer editing is for, it can be difficult catching mistakes in your own writing. I appreciate your input, and glad you enjoyed it.

@J.Y - I'm glad you share those feelings. I feel the term WR is thrown around so much it has lost it's meaning. From what I've observed, this this risen with the popularity of streaming, and creates for unhealthy motivation. On the bright side, also fuels competition, which in turn can create some pretty good runs, so we've got that going for us, which is nice.

Thanks everyone!
That's all common sense, don't see why you felt to type it out. The interesting stuff like how to find glitches on your own is missing.
SEGA Junkie
There's no such thing as common sense to someone new who doesn't know what is considered common. Smiley It's not directed at folks like us who have been doing this for years.
Quote from :
Ahh I love when fixated deep-seeded autistic manchildren sperg out like this.

Great post OP. Don't forget to take your medication!


Quoted for history. These people are on the internet, never forget.

(Point of interest - they can't even log into a SDA account so we can find out who this is. Yep...)
<(^_^)>
Quote from :
Ahh I love when fixated deep-seeded autistic manchildren sperg out like this.

Great post OP. Don't forget to take your medication!


Wonder if this is the same guy that's been spaming autist comments about me? :^)

Quote from mike89:
There's no such thing as common sense to someone new who doesn't know what is considered common. Smiley It's not directed at folks like us who have been doing this for years.


This. I have had people in my stream during practice where (sometimes, obnoxious, to be honest) they keep bugging me to do full runs; a lot of viewers don't realize that practicing individual parts is very important (Although full-run practice is very important as well; you need both).
Remember your mantra.
Thank you everyone for your comments. I don't go back to uni for a couple weeks, so this mostly was written to keep myself busy.
Also, most of it is indeed common sense, but mostly Section 2 is something that plenty of people skip out on, and I cannot stress enough.

@kirbymastah: ehh, perhaps. There is one fellow who regulates srl streams and makes autistic jokes at everyone. My personal theory is there is an office somewhere in the middle of the desert in Navada, where a couple dozen monkeys sit at a cople dozen laptops, who have been specially trained to run around the internet trolling. An alternate explanation is it could just be some dbag.

Thanks everyone for reading, and posting! Smiley
unfortunately it's probably a proxy. probably not tor though.
While I do like the text and idea, I feel like your missing your own point. This was supposed to be a post about how to effectively route a game from someone with lots of experience, but instead I'm reading about everything indirectly related routing.

Pick a game you like, make sure to understand it, do your homework and practise.

Well when do we get to route it? What is a good general way to optimise routes? Could you share some experience in how you found a glitch and then incorporated it in a run? What about analysing a game on a more technical level? What tools and programs are good to use? What is generally important in routing a platformer or RPG etc? How do you use TAS emulators to do research?  What is a good method to use in finding out more about the technical aspects of a game without using RAM watch? How do you write down notes for glitches and routes for yourself and others in a good way?

Just a few suggestions. I liked the essay but it didn't say much about routing.
<(^_^)>
I forgot about the title of this thread, but it seems more like an overall guideline to speedrunning rather than a routing essay (Which that in itself isn't a bad thing; it's pretty well-written) Tongue
Edit history:
kakka_rot: 2014-03-31 12:35:01 am
Remember your mantra.
Hmm, I believe I may want to retitle this to "The Basic Protocol of Routing a Speedrun"

@Timpz, those are some very interesting suggestions, but many of them are far too advanced for what the vast majority are willing to contribute in their initial efforts. My intention of this piece was to provide a guideline for those new to the trade. My absence of glitch discussion has been addressed several time, which is something I left out intentionally, because 'Glitching Hunting and Application' would be another humongous essay on it's own, and this here already exceeded 2000 words.

Also, I honestly would not be the best person to write that, sounds more like Sockfolders expertise. Most of the games I run are for PS2, which, to my knowledge, does not have a decent TASing application (though I have seen a MGS2 Tanker TAS, now that I think about it.) Practicing runs with save states could be a nice addition, though it would probably just be a couple sentences in Section 4.

Glitches are a whole other story; many (but of course not all) runners who use glitches did not discover them, but rather, heard of them through peers and resources. I've noticed a stigma in lurkers/fans of our community, towards 'vanilla' runs, or rather, those of games which have not been broken on a technical level. This is a shame because some vanilla runs can be very interesting and impressive. Don't get me wrong, everyone loves a neat glitch, and they're even more impressive if they're actually time saving, but if they're unavailable in the game you're playing, I wouldn't start crying.

tl;dr - You have some nice suggestions there, a few of the simpler ones I will likely address in a future redraft, but the majority will be discussed in a completely separate essay somewhere down the line. Thanks for your suggestions, I appreciate them.

@kirbymastah - You feel me, thanks homie.


I am glad this is fueling discussion. Thanks everyone for contributing Smiley
Edit history:
TimpZ: 2014-03-31 11:43:18 am
Perhaps some of those suggestions are a bit advanced for a beginner, sure, but many of them are important in the aspect of properly routing a game. A guideline for those new to speedrunning? Sure! Great! But this essay is called "The protocol of routing a speedrun", not "the beginners guide to speedrunning". Glitch hunting is an essential part of routing and however much text that would require, it can't be left out for a document directed at beginners trying to route a new game from scratch. Most of the time people ask "how do they even find something like that?" and while sometimes glitches get found by accident, many useful for speedrunning have been found through a directed, insightful effort. In no way do you describe any form of modus operandi in an actual routing process.
Caution: This user contains Kana ^_^
Quote from kakka_rot:
but the majority will be discussed in a completely separate essay somewhere down the line.

Oh nice! I encourage you to write more of these, because this is nicely detailed and a good read. Of course, it's up to your time Wink
Remember your mantra.
@TimpZ - I'm coming to the conclusion you and I have very different personal opinions on things. If you would like to continue this discuss, just send me a PM, we can continue this conversation in that medium.

@Alko - Thank you very much. My next essay will probably be an analysis of viewer counts on twitch.tv / SRL - as that is a topic I've wanted to discuss for a long time. I know it's a little arbitrary, but it's just something I've always found interesting. Then "The Do's and Don'ts of Speedrunning" - which in intended to be more silly. Maybe I will get another idea, but those are the main topics I would like to discuss atm.

On my twitch I have another essay about starting a stream, but I think I am going to redraft it before posting it here.

Cheers!
It's weather time!
Just another minor typo to point out is at the end of section 3 after the nicovideo link, it says "In brief refection" which I'm guessing is supposed to be "reflection".

Regardless, this is still a good read (though admittedly, not information I didn't already know) and I think the emphasis on learning and finding every available resource would be extremely helpful for any new runners.

As much as some people like to disparage TASes, they've helped me to think "in frames" while routing every game I run; examining what I think may be fast and comparing it any way I can to any other conceivable strategy I can come up with until I find the fastest one possible (even if in the end it does only save frames). It might seem a bit advanced to think on a frame-level (for lack of a better, or indeed, real term) but the sooner you start thinking of little time-savers here and there while thinking about how it leads up to "the big tricks", the easier I feel routing can become as a whole.
I have to agree with TimpZ that this is not a very good title for what you are trying to convey.  The essay is much more applicable to just general getting into speedruning, rather than the specifics of routing.  You suggest finding a run on a few different resources, but you don't specify what to do with that information.  Are you supposed to copy the route? Ignore it? There's no guidance what to do with it. Then you jump to suggesting they practice and get used to repetition. Wait what? Where was the routing part, so far we've casually played the game, found another speedrun video, and now we're doing speedruns. Where was the routing?

I know there's only so much you can suggest without having a game specific example to talk about, but there are some general guidelines you can provide.  Is it faster to do different routs?  Time it out.  Is it faster to use different abilities/items?  Time it out.  What kind of glitch hunting should be done?  How can you apply known glitches in the best manner possible, maybe how to tailor them into other glitches.

Your essay provides useful information to a complete newbie to speedrunning, but nothing to someone looking to actual route a game.
Edit history:
kakka_rot: 2014-04-02 08:03:52 am
Remember your mantra.
Quote:
You suggest finding a run on a few different resources, but you don't specify what to do with that information.  Are you supposed to copy the route? Ignore it? There's no guidance what to do with it. Then you jump to suggesting they practice and get used to repetition. Wait what? Where was the routing part, so far we've casually played the game, found another speedrun video, and now we're doing speedruns. Where was the routing?


I like that. I think sometime this week I am going to redraft and address some of these points that you and TimpZ have brought up.
Or keep this essay, change it to a 'Basics of starting off' or something, and write a completely new essay.

My only concern right now is how to go about doing this. I feel like it would be easier just to divide it up by genres, as routing a platformer is worlds apart from routing a RPG, as is routing a 3D survival horror game. Sure, they're are underlying basics that apply to all genres, but the depth divides beyond that.

As I've mentioned before, I am not going to address Glitch Hunting at all. I will of course cover usage, application, and further testing, but I am the first to admit I am not personally knowledgeable enough in the area of discovery, and that project should be done by someone with more expertise.

I mostly wrote this for all the new kids on the block were inspired during AGDQ14 and don't no where to start. I think I will leave this one as is, change to title to something more appropriate, and move on to complexities in separate papers when I can. That being said, I will likely add a few paragraphs and maybe an additional section to this paper, but I don't want to drown them when they're just getting started.

I like your suggestions; thanks for them and thanks for reading.
Waiting hurts my soul...
I can definitely see another two essays coming off the topics Timpz and Thehealbus bring up.

Routing
- Write out the goals from start to end (getting from A to B to C)
- Explore shortcuts (can I get from A to C)
- Explore equal options or branching paths (If C only requires A or B, which is faster, include power-ups, extra levels, etc.)
- Add in information from other sources (speedruns, FAQs, glitch videos, single level demos)
- Safe strategies and RNG manipulation safe routes for live one take events (marathons)

Glitch Hunting (Not my cup of tea, so others should chime in as I'll miss something)
HELLO!
One could do a whole write up just on the use of TAS tools for routing, testing, glitch-finding, hitbox-drawing, and more.
check your pantry
Well said! Lots of good advice here. Mind if I link this to some friends OP, so long as I accredit you?
Remember your mantra.
^ You're more than welcome, I wrote this for sharing.
Thanks everyone for your help and interest!