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Suppose a game comes with a collection of different quests/storylines/sections, each of which is mostly self-contained, but you can import a character between games, acting as a sort of newgame+.

As I understand it, it's uncontroversially legal to start a game of one quest, save it, start another game of the same quest, and import the character from the older save into the newer save, as this is all actions within the game that the game engine supports. I also believe this is a newgame (not newgame+) category, as everything done is done on the same timer starting from a blank file.

My question is this: suppose I do the same thing, but between different quests; I start a game of one quest, then I start a game of a different quest, and import a character from one to the other (starting from entirely blank files in every quest). Is this a newgame run, or a newgame+ run, or just illegal/cheating?

(The reason I ask: in Neverwinter Nights, it's almost certainly faster to complete the game like this, than it is to complete the game entirely within one quest, because the starting levels of the quests differ, and nothing prevents you starting a quest designed for high-level characters in order to produce a high-level character, then importing the high-level character into a quest designed for low-level character and curbstomping everything. I get the feeling that this really shouldn't be allowed in any%, but it's nontrivial to explain why.)
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Edit history:
LotBlind: 2016-12-26 08:50:02 am
IMO to keep it simple, we'd probably have to make it so it's NG+ if there's any form of importing taking place, with some reasoning like "you're supposed to be running one quest at a time". Anything that's self-contained is NG. It sounds exactly like one of those gray areas where SDA is happy just to stand aside and let runners choose what seems the most legit/sensible. But you could also see it from the viewer's POV, from which someone might well protest if you do what you described, because it feels really cheeky.

I'd like to think the runs are more interesting without that stuff anyway aren't they? That way the NG and NG+ are a maximal distance apart too and NG runs aren't so trivial.

Now that I think about it, I think importing has always resulted in "NG+", the only difference being this time it's from the same game and same session. It would obviously count as NG+ if you took the character from a different game (and you couldn't really even do that during the run so it wouldn't even be timed). Doing what I suggested keeps to this logic.

Oh, and finally, there's even the question of DLC and base game always being separate: I know some of those extra stories are from the DLC (perhaps the ones you meant?), and so you can't use DLC to run NG on the main game because we never want to force people to buy the DLC just to be able to run their games. There's an argument for not allowing to even do a main game NG+ run using DLC characters, because of the same reason. Again, this would also make the runs more distinct from one another, which is a good way to approach it whenever there's no clear yes or no.

I hope any other active runners will see this.
In Neverwinter Nights, original campaign with DLC content is a different category from original campaign on the original engine. (Basically what happened is that when the DLC was released, the developers released a free upgrade to the game engine at the same time (we call this the "Diamond" engine in the community, after the most readily available source of it). This contains a subset of DLC content, including basically all the content that's useful in an original campaign speedrun, and also made a number of bugfixes to the engine; most of them shut off speed tricks, but one of them fixed a bug in speed stacking, which means the speed cap in Diamond is much higher than the speed cap in unpatched, despite Diamond otherwise being slower. So the two play differently enough that they have to be different categories anyway.)

I agree that the runs are more interesting without reimporting characters (it's a pain to do, feels like cheating, and somewhat trivialises the runs), so it's probably best if it's banned. That said, I think in general (not in relation to Neverwinter Nights) that starting a new game, making progress in it, then starting another new game and importing data from the first save, is something that should be allowed. Making it legal to do that from one campaign to another is a bad idea, though, just because it trivialises the run in a fairly unintended way, and that probably extends to using pregenerated characters intended for one campaign on another. So I guess that probably the best solution is a NWN-specific rule (built into the category definitions) that states that a campaign must be started with a character that (according to the campaign's documentation) is level-appropriate (1 for the original campaign and SoU, 15 for HotU).
So I think it comes down to whether the Diamond engine is available (legally) without buying the DLC: if it is, you could consider it simply a different patch version and it wouldn't be tagged "DLC". Does having the DLC make the campaign work differently though? I guess we could just call it DLC anyway, and this would neatly split the campaign into two categories of runs, one of which abuses anything you get from the DLC itself.

The latter case where you import data into the same campaign sounds like it would mostly be allowed, yes, especially if the game was RTA timed already. NWN represents a pretty free-form game and genre where lots of things are left up to the player so it's difficult to see what's cheating. What if there was a character creation utility provided with the game? That's when you gotta decide based on other factors, and usually "no holds barred", if not too easy, becomes the second category.

Home of the Underdogs is a NWN campaign? :O
The Diamond engine is (or at least was; I don't know if the download servers are still up) legally available if you own only the base game. I don't think the Diamond run of the base game uses a whole lot of DLC content (although I might be wrong about that); there is DLC content, I'm just not sure that it's actually useful on a speedrun. (The main thing I'm unsure about is whether Expeditious Retreat is Diamond engine content or DLC content; if the latter, that makes a big difference in the earlier stages of the run.)

It's actually fairly easy to rig your own character creation utility using the map editor and just placing scripts to change your character. If you're going down the "stupid exploits" route, I doubt that'd be faster than simply abusing HotU's auto-level-to-15 and importing the character into a different campaign. (It should be noted that both the original campaign and HotU have an infinite experience glitch near the end of the first major section of the game, so any exploit you used here would probably only be useful as far as that point.)

(Also, the campaign is called Hordes of the Underdark.)
HotU was my joke: I've just come to associate that so closely with that site.

Can you play the base game with DLC without it being automatically updated to the Diamond engine? It at least doesn't sound worth having the intermediate category of Diamond no DLC, and it wouldn't be allowed anyway because based on what you've said it's not the fastest patch version (which we'll call it since it is/was freely downloadable). If you've bought the DLC/Diamond edition/whatever then you use everything it came with.

Anyway the principle is just to make reasonable categories that don't overlap too much. I don't think you can be allowed to use any editors to alter the game files unless if it was the only way to create a character, say.
Quote from LotBlind:
Can you play the base game with DLC without it being automatically updated to the Diamond engine?

i don't think so. You could probably find a version of the engine pre-Diamond that worked, but it wouldn't be the same one as the original game, and that'd require trawling shops to see if any of them still had CDs dating from the early days of the expansions.
Edit history:
LotBlind: 2017-01-05 11:42:51 am
Well that makes it simple then: either play the base game, or play DLC which in itself implies Diamond engine. You can import during the same session (or during a segmented run) which means it's NG. I'm not quite sure if we time the menuing in a segmented run while you're switching from the first game to the import game, but I'll find out if need be.

EDIT: (prepare for the menuing actually being timed so leave it in the segment)
Right. I guess that that rule, plus a "you can only start the game with a level-appropriate character" rule (both to prevent HotU→OC and HotU→SoU imports, and to prevent the use of pregenerated level 15 characters outside HotU), seems to cover pretty much everything.

My guess is that importing characters doesn't save time under these rules. There are certainly routes that only become possible as a result of character importing, but I don't think any of them are fastest (although I have a backup strategy in Chapter 3 which involves exporting the character into a new game and then re-importing it back into Chapter 3, if I have to use it it normally means the run's in trouble anyway, and thus such a run is unlikely to be a record).
I highly recommend including a summary of the categories on the Strategy Guide front page. In fact that's the present-day standard formatting for the guides (see e.g. the Thief 2/Contra/SiN pages). Technically the stencil also has a sub-page for every category (to sort irrelevant info out I guess) and some meta stuff.

I'd mention importing on the front page anyway in case someone thinks of something clever. I like your routes page BTW! Almost as good as some of my guides. (shots indeed)
I have a question as well. I have 2 emulators which I use primarily for speedrunning: Fusion and Nestopia. Are they both Legal to use? and if so, how do I upload the files?
DS Dictator
Quote from GateCrasher:
I have a question as well. I have 2 emulators which I use primarily for speedrunning: Fusion and Nestopia. Are they both Legal to use? and if so, how do I upload the files?

Emulators and Virtualization: We will generally not accept speedruns recorded on unofficial emulators (ZSNES, VBA, etc.). Emulators commonly allow for recording games frame-by-frame and then playing back the input at normal speed. Emulators also give the player access by default to features not present on the original consoles, such as RAM-watch or the possibility to use, for example, keyboard as input device. Finally, many emulators have minor inaccuracies in timing and slowdown that inhibit accurate comparisons between runs. Note that an exception is made for officially sanctioned emulators such as the Game Boy Player, the Virtual Console, and the GameTap. Due to problems with many official emulators, we will place them in separate categories if the known differences make comparison with runs made on other platforms difficult. For the purpose of this rule:
- DOSBox can be used for SDA-submissions. It has seen very widespread use for re-releases of DOS-era PC games in the past years and is frequently the only reasonable choice for playing and recording those games.
- Virtualization software (VMWare, VirtualPC, etc.) is permitted for games that wouldn't otherwise run natively on a modern operating system.
- Programs such as WINE that attempt to replicate the Windows system calls and structure on Unix systems are not allowed.
- Flashcarts (such as Everdrive) are a grey area. In many cases there is no possibility to distinguish between the use of a flashcart and an original cart, in which case there is no reason not to accept them. However, if any differences would be discovered in the future, applicable runs can be expected to be removed from the site.

Fusion and Nestopia are not legal to use for submitting runs to this site.