This Underground Side of Gaming is Awesome!

This Underground Side of Gaming is Awesome!

I’ve been watching Awesome Games Done Quick for a few years now. This fantastic gaming marathon has raised millions of dollars for charity simply by having some of the best speedrunners in the world complete their favorite games as quickly as possible. However, the marathon may be a bit intimidating to anyone who has never seen if before. There are a lot of inside jokes, callouts, and terminology that might make your head spin when all you want to do is see someone beat Super Mario Bros. 3 in three minutes. Luckily, we are here to break it down for you. So consult our quick guide to get right into the speedrunning fandom.

First of all, you’ll notice that the announcers keep calling out for donation incentives, while reading out donations that are going toward something or other. A good part of the content of the marathon is “locked” so to speak, behind donation doors. If there is a particularly fun game to run, or a game with amusing new running techniques, the guys at AGDQ will ask people to donate a certain amount of money toward that run. You can specify this when you donate, and it’s never all that much (usually hundreds or thousands of dollars while the marathon itself pulls in over a million) but it’s a great way to have some control over the marathon schedule and to make it last a little longer. In addition, there are donation incentives for variable like difficulty or character used, as well as silly things, like character and file names, and sometimes sing-alongs by the speedrunners. Don’t worry though, these donation incentives never interfere with the more traditionally run games, like Super Mario World and Super Metroid . Also, if you can’t decide what to put your money toward, you can always say it goes toward runner’s choice to make sure it’s going toward something that will enhance the marathon.

These donation incentives are totally separate from prizes. Anyone who donates a certain amount will automatically be entered into a drawing for a variety of different swag, from posters to t-shirts to classic video games to even a full PS4 console! These prizes are completely separate donation incentives and everyone gets entered into the drawing, so don’t say that your money is going toward the prizes.

You may hear people talking about donating toward “saving or killing the animals.” This is a reference to the end of Super Metroid , one of the most classic speedrunning games that really fostered the pastime. In the end of the game there are a variety of trapped space creatures that you can save as the planet blows up. Unfortunately, doing so costs extra time, and this is speedrunning we are talking about. Doing so also doesn’t add anything to your completion percentage, so technically it is not required to 100% the game… according to the game at least The only thing it does is slightly change your ending. There has been a bit of conflict about whether or not saving the animals is required in a 100% run, so the marathon just lets you decide!

This Underground Side of Gaming is Awesome!

Speaking of 100%, you have probably heard that terminology in the speedrunning community. A 100% run means you have to do everything the game has to offer. This means collect every item, complete every sidequest, max out every upgrade, so on and so forth. The flip side of that is Any%, which means that the speedrunner is simply attempting to reach the end screen of the game as quickly as possible. There are a lot of categories in between these two, such as glitchless, which is a run that forbids glitches, or warpless, which forbids things like the warp whistle in Mario 3 . You can also find people doing IL or individual level runs, or runs that end after a certain point in the game, usually used for races only.

There is a lot of other jargon that the speedrunners will use over the course of the marathon which is useful to know. RNG stands for Random Number Generation. Most things in video games aren’t random, even when it comes down to enemy A.I. This allows you to exploit the game’s predictability. However, some things are tied to a random number generator, which cannot be predicted, and thus make the speed run a little bit harder. RNG can sometimes end whole runs prematurely simply because of a poorly spawned enemy or attack.

If a speedrunner is playing an arcade game and mentioned a 1CC, that stands for One Credit Clear, a speedrun which involves never having to put in an extra quarter, if you were playing on an actual arcade machine that is.

If a speedrunner mentions going “out of bounds” this usually refers to going outside the normal interactable area of a game. Usually this is done via clipping errors or otherwise somehow getting yourself caught between stage boundaries. A special kind of out of bounds is “zipping.” Sometimes, when you get yourself caught out of bounds in a game, the game attempts to push you toward the closest valid area. Depending on how the game is programmed, this can make you move really fast through out of bounds areas. Mega Man is perhaps the game most famous for zipping, allowing you to skip whole portions of stages by moving through walls.

Perhaps the most boring parts of the marathon are “auto-scrollers.” Auto-scrollers are portions of levels that move at a set speed, no matter what you do. Essentially, there is no way to speed these levels up through skillful gameplay, making them unfun to watch and play.

If you hear a runner mention “damage boosting” this means the runner is purposefully taking damage to go through a level faster. Sometimes this is just because it is easier to take damage than fight whatever enemy is in front of them. Other times, taking damage will push them in a certain direction and if this push is quicker than a character’s walk speed, it can do a lot to decrease a speed run’s time. You also might hear runners talk about “Death Warping” usually used in games with checkpoints that require backtracking. This is basically what it sounds like, dying and respawning because doing so travels you faster than walking.

Finally, I want to explain what the runners mean by TASing a game. TASing stands for Tool Assisted Speed Running. Essentially, it’s not a speed run done by a person, but rather a speed run done by a program. Runners use tools to slow the game down frame by frame and make their inputs absolutely perfect, allowing for runs that are far more perfect than possible in real time. Not only that, but TASing sometimes allows people to flat out break a game. For example, this year they used glitches in Super Mario World to program a working version of Super Mario Bros. 1 into the game. No… really. Check it out!

Hopefully this has taught you a bit more about AGDQ and speedrunning in general. Be sure to tune in at www.twitch.tv/gamesdonequick and consider donating. All donations go to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, so it’s a great way to use gaming for a good cause. Happy running everyone!

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