Tomatoanus, one of the best Fallout speedrunners on the planet, will be playing at January’s Awesome Games Done Quick under a different name after reaching an agreement with organizers.
He’s actually already played at six Games Done Quick events in the past under the name Tomatoanus, but several of those had not displayed his runs publicly because it was thought that, hey, at an all-ages event for charity, maybe having a name with “anus” in it wasn’t a great look.
Grand Theft Auto games are huge, which makes speedrunning them a time-consuming proposition. A complicated new trick discovered for San Andreas has shortened a run that normally took almost four hours to under 30 minutes.
The new trick—whose name, “Arbitrary Jump In Skip,” could honestly use some work—is only doable on the Windows Store version of the game. It’s similar to a technique used by Grand Theft Auto: Vice City speedrunners, and it allows players to skip straight to San Andreas’ climax via several intricate steps. According to details shared by current world record holder Powdinet over on Reddit, starting a vigilante side mission at a certain point during the early “Ryder” story mission makes San Andreas jump to a random line of script code that’s determined by how much time has elapsed since the game started.
The current world record shows how the game skips to the final mission using this trick around the 16:12 mark
Naturally, things must line up just right to pull this off, which can be a difficult feat in the living world of San Andreas. Can’t find a police motorcycle to start the vigilante mission within a strict time frame? Reset and try again. Can’t find a drug dealer to waste for an extra $2,000? That changes some of the steps further down the line. At one point, the convoluted setup causes San Andreas protagonist Carl Johnson to lose the ability to enter vehicles. But time everything right, and it’s possible to make the game think you’re on the final segment of the final mission. From there all runners have to do is complete the story as normal.
Since this discovery was made public last Saturday, the fastest time in which folks have been able to complete San Andreas has been reduced dramatically. The enormous potential of this technique has caused the community to separate runs that utilize the Arbitrary Jump In Skip from those that don’t. The current world record without using this trick stands at 3:52:07, whereas Powdinet recently managed to beat San Andreas in just 25:52.
Over the years, speedrunners have been responsible for some of the coolestdiscoveries in videogames, and this San Andreas trick is just another example of their ingenuity. Expect to see a lot more runs of San Andreas pop up as folks try to push the time even lower.
What do you do when a goose is on the loose? Your best bet, according to Untitled Goose Game, is to try and go about your daily business despite the knowledge that society’s rickety scaffolding will soon crumble in the wake of that most foul of fowl. But what if that goose can defy the laws of physics and fences alike? Then, my friend, you are well and truly doomed.
Because it is the year 2019, people are already turning in record-shattering speedruns of Untitled Goose Game, which just came out last Friday. The current world record belongs to Seji, a French player who managed to beat the sociopathic bird game in just three minutes and 46 seconds. For comparison’s sake, it took me two and a half hours. So, how’d he do it? Simple: by showing a total and utter lack of regard for fences.
All throughout the run, Seji physics-glitches his way through select fences, bypassing multiple major chunks of the game in the process. As a result, he doesn’t need to complete any actual objectives in the garden area and skips the neighborhood and backyard areas entirely. He then glitches past the tavern as well and immediately enters the game’s final sequence. From there, it’s literally smooth sailing, largely because he uses another fence glitch to sail down a river he shouldn’t otherwise be able to access.
It’s impressive, though also fairly one-note. It’s also a little depressing, given that Untitled Goose Game is meant to be a canvas for the most depraved, asshole-goose-like parts of our minds. Seeing somebody speedrun it is like watching a comedian go up on stage to do a standup set, only to read through all their jokes as quickly as possible and then teleport through the ceiling. That last thing would actually be incredible, but you get what I mean.
I wouldn’t be shocked if Untitled Goose Game’s developers patched out these particular fence glitches, if only because they seem easy to access and make for fairly straightforward speedruns. Time will tell, however; developers often walk a difficult tightrope with speedrunners, attempting to both fix their games and leave favored speedrunning avenues open. The coming days and weeks will decide if these fence glitches are a bug or a feature, a duck or a goose.
The act of finishing a video game as quickly as possible, or speedrunning, is an iterative process that evolves quickly with the contributions of a large community. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has seen numerous updates to its speedrunning strategies in just two years, and the latest technique has the potential to be a massive step forward for players that gotta go fast.
Until now, Breath of the Wild speedrunning has revolved around two techniques: stasis launching and bullet time bounces, both of which utilize careful movement and physics manipulation to send Link soaring through the sky. The one drawback to these tools, however, is that their specific setups rely on using objects and enemies in the game world that, at times, don’t always cooperate like they should.
A new technique known as “bomb impact launches” opens up additional possibilities for speedy travel. According to Breath of the Wild speedrunner Zant, bomb impact launches were first demonstrated by Twitter user Satougashi020, whose original video showed the technique being used to launch Link into the air and quickly finish a shrine on September 5. After some experimentation, the speedrunning community realized that this trick could be used outside of shrines as well, giving them a powerful new tool to traverse the game’s huge open world.
“Up until this point in Breath of the Wild speedrunning, Link essentially had to rely on third parties to launch him around the world,” Zant explained in his own video. Stasis launching requires that Link find a nearby object, while bullet time bouncing required an enemy character. “But now that Link can simply pull out two bombs and fly across the map, we can take more direct routes than ever before between objectives,” he added.
The most consistent way to perform bomb impact launches is known as the “double backflip method.” First, the player needs to find something a little taller than Link that he can jump off in order to activate the slowdown that occurs when he pulls out his bow in midair. After lining up with the object and doing two backflips for consistent spacing, players then place a square bomb on the ground in front of Link.
Then, while still aiming, players need to walk forward and climb onto the item from which they plan to jump, with the square bomb situated behind them. After backflipping off this object and entering bullet time, players then need to drop a round bomb, timing it precisely so that it drops when the stamina bar is one-third empty.
At this point, quickly swapping to and detonating the square bomb will launch the round bomb, which will be sped up thanks to bullet time manipulation. If everything is done correctly, Link will be shot into the air by the round bomb, allowing him to glide to his next objective.
While bomb impact launches don’t travel the same distance as other tricks, they are much more convenient than both stasis launches and bullet time bounces because Link always has his bombs available for use. Speedrunners that skip directly to Hyrule Castle will likely stick with old techniques for their routes, but there’s definitely a place for bomb impact launches in runs that hit every main quest or complete all the dungeons. Further experimentation by the speedrunning community is sure to come up with tons of uses for this powerful trick.
“I seriously cannot understate the versatility of this trick,” Zant said. “We have more routing freedom than ever with this game, and I seriously can’t wait to see where it goes with speedrunning in the next year or so.”
Grand Theft Auto V speedrunner FriendlyBaron recently released a video comparing how different GTA V speedruns are today compared to the first world records set back in 2014. Like older games, such as Super Mario 64, GTA V speedrunners have learned new and improved ways to complete sections of the game. But unlike those older games, GTA V has been updated over the years and this had led to some significant changes to runs.
For example, in the original version of GTA V players could drive their car super fast into a fence to trigger an early mission. This had some hilarious results but was also extremely fast. However, in the newer versions of GTA V this no longer works, so players had to figure out a different method which involves grinding the side of the fence and parking quickly.
Other changes in the speedrun come from players learning how to better use vehicles or finding better routes to get to objectives. One common way players save time in 2019 compared to 2014 is by not always searching for or returning to a faster car. While that might seem like the best way to shave off a few seconds, it turns out skilled players can use advanced driving techniques and routes to save more time by just using the crappy van or truck they already have.
The full video is a great overview of most of the missions in GTA V and how speedrunners approach them differently after years of practice, testing, and discoveries.
A popular Mario speedrunner and Mario Maker level creator said Tuesday morning that Nintendo is once again deleting his Mario Maker levels, this time targeting his popular Super Expert course in Super Mario Maker 2 for the Switch, called “Pile of Poo: Kai-Zero G.”
“I am at a loss for words and extremely sad about this,” said the creator, David “GrandPOOBear” Hunt, in a Twitter thread.
Hunt is well known in the Mario Maker community for his streaming, speedrunning, and creating some of the series’ most challenging levels. Kai-Zero G is one of those. Part of a tradition of “Kaizo” levels that are known for being incredibly difficult and breaking the normal rules associated with official Mario levels, Kai-Zero G is set in Mario Maker 2‘s new low-gravity setting, forcing players to make meticulously-timed jumps, catches, and throws, generally while slowly falling into an open pit. It blew up in Super Mario Maker 2 shortly after Hunt released it, with videos of other people playing it garnering hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Now the level is gone, and he has no idea why.
According to a screenshot Hunt shared of an email from Nintendo he received earlier today, the course violated a prohibition on “inappropriate and/or harmful” content. But Hunt says there was nothing offensive in the level that he can think of. “It contained no inappropriate words, pictures, etc. It contained no glitches,” he said on Twitter.
He also believes that the problem does not lie with the word “Poo” in his online alias or in the level’s title. “’I’ve been told specifically by people at Nintendo that it’s not due to my name being Poo multiple times,” he said on Twitter, noting that the “Poo” part of his handle comes from a character in the game EarthBound. (Additionally, Hunt’s display name is simply “GPB” in Mario Maker 2.) That said, the phrasing “Pile of Poo” in the level’s title is certainly suggestive of something other than a fan-favorite EarthBound character, which might have triggered Nintendo’s famously opaque moderation regardless of what Hunt has been told in the past.
One person on Twitter suggested that it might be the result of other players erroneously reporting Kai-Zero G, rather than Nintendo targeting it specifically. Hunt called that “the most likely scenario,” although it doesn’t change the fact that the level is now gone. A Mario Maker 2 level that Nintendo boots from the servers cannot be re-uploaded, even if the creator makes changes to it. While he could rebuild it from scratch, he’s not sure it’s worth the effort, considering Nintendo might delete it all over again.
This isn’t the first time Nintendo has deleted Hunt’s levels. Back in 2016 the company deleted all of Hunt’s levels in the first Mario Maker, a body of work that cumulatively took him over 100 hours to construct. At that time, it did not tell him why it deleted the levels. At the time, Hunt told Kotaku that he felt like Nintendo was going after him specifically for having called out some of Nintendo’s policies with regard to the Mario Maker community. Nintendo, at that time, did not respond to Kotaku’s request for comment.
While the email that Hunt received from Nintendo said the decision about removing Kai-Zero G was final, Hunt has attempted to appeal to the President of Nintendo of America, Doug Bowser, on Twitter for help on reversing the decision.
“if there is something that Nintendo could point me too that caused this, I would gladly fix that given the opportunity,” Hunt said. “But it keeps happening despite me following their rule sets. I don’t know. I don’t want to create this conspiracy around me and Nintendo but it’s starting to feel that way.
Nintendo did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Hunt was reached for comment by Kotaku but was unable to provide further details beyond what he had already shared via Twitter.
I don’t know if I’ve ever been fully conscious for an entire David “Dog” Caero Twitch stream. The Hearthstone personality (and now inaugural Masters Tour champion) lives in Nevada, which means that when he hits the internet, it’s already twilight in my Brooklyn apartment. There’s nothing to blame but human chemistry; Hearthstone is a sedate viewing experience, and Caero maintains a placid, even-tempered tone through any curveballs the game throws his way. It can be downright narcotizing, if you’re already horizontal.
Caero, of course, never intended to serve as a bedtime siren for a sizable portion of his audience, but they still thank him for his soothing generosity every day. You can understand why, initially, the streamer didn’t know how to respond to those who celebrated his ability to knock them out more efficiently than anyone else on Twitch.
“I used to find it insulting. When I first heard about it like, ‘You fall asleep to me, OK? Thanks dude.’ But I’ve started to fall asleep to streams myself in the past year or so,” he explains. “I’m good with it now. After all, it [leaves the stream] on.”
There are ASMR Twitch channels, piloted by ASMR auteurs, who gently massage velvet patches and crinkle plastic bags in order to trigger all the delicate, aestheticizing comforts perfected by the corresponding ASMR YouTube scene. Dog’s stream is not that. He is who he always wanted to be: a man who plays video games professionally. But as Twitch continues to usurp traditional entertainment venues, our own personal rituals have begun to morph. A generation of Americans nodded off to Johnny Carson every night, and while Twitch streamers haven’t yet breached that level of monoculture ubiquity, they are, increasingly, the only thing worth watching at midnight.
“It’s definitely something I’ve done as long as I’ve owned an iPad,” says Will Bindloss, a fellow Hearthstone streamer, pro, and journalist. “I like how certain Twitch streams are quite calming, offering just enough stimulation to take your mind off whatever’s been keeping you awake but not enough to prevent you from nodding off.”
The people I spoke to who use Twitch as auditory diphenhydramine all have their own tastes and proclivities for what conks them out. I prefer Hearthstone, for its metronomic pacing and thorough lack of heated gamer moments. Bindloss, on the other hand, says he normally tunes into speedruns. “Pokémon speedruns, specifically,” he clarifies. It’s an interesting dichotomy, considering the massive amount of intensity and virtuosity necessary to stick the landing on a GDQ-level performance, but there is a magic in the repetition of the craft that he finds spellbinding. “What I shoot for generally is a womb-like atmosphere,” he explains. The serene precision of the speedrunner imbues the viewer with a shared outside-the-Matrix euphoria, and I understand how nice that feeling can be at bedtime.
More surprising are the streamers who play games on the complete opposite end of the tonal spectrum: first-person shooters, MOBAs, and battles royales, which are filled to the brimmed with explosions and ammunition. They too report plenty of fans who use their craft to fall asleep, which is vexing for Brian “Kephrii” St. Pierre, a Twitch personality known best for his professional-level Widowmaker play. Like Caero, St. Pierre operates in the witching hours, and he wasn’t sure how to process the fact that people were coming to his stream to pass out. How do you nod off in the middle of an Overwatch match, when the fireworks are blaring and 12 different Ultimates are popping off at once? St. Pierre says he has never altered his posture on camera to be more adaptable to those who are already comatose, which can lead to some rude awakenings around 3 a.m.
“I find sometimes when a jumpscare happens in a game, I’ll yell or shout and a handful of viewers will mention how I woke them up and scared the hell out of them,” says St. Pierre. “They always come back though.”
It’s a reality that gets funnier and more surreal toward the end of his stream, when the clock strikes bleak digits. On Twitch, streamers often “host” other Twitch streams after they themselves go offline. Essentially, they redirect their viewership directly into another personality’s feed as a way to give them a free boost in viewership—similar to how CBS might slap a nascent sitcom at the end of their Super Bowl broadcast. St. Pierre is happy to host, but he always makes sure to give whoever he’s working with a disclaimer. “I have to warn them that 70 percent of the viewers are probably asleep,” he explains.
Monte “Dreads” Doebel-Hickok, a Los Angeles native who streams Hearthstone in his current home of Canada, tells me the anesthesia-streamer gimmick can be a useful tool in any streamer’s arsenal. The later the show goes, he says, the more sedentary the people tuned into the broadcast become—simply because it’s difficult to exit a browser when you’re already asleep. That can be a powerful ruse on Twitch, where metrics are king no matter where they come from. The fellow streamers he hosts have absolutely no qualms about performing to the audience’s subconscious, as long as the red number in the corner of the screen stays high.
“When I host someone at 10 p.m., those viewers are going to be way more active than if I host at 1 or 2 a.m. There might be more viewers in the channel at 2 a.m., but some people have passed out at that point,” he says. “I don’t think [the people I host] really mind. Anything that props up their total viewer count is a positive.”
Doebel-Hickok thinks that streamers have some version of the absentee advantage no matter what time they’re on air; Twitch is passive entertainment, and it’s easy for someone to forget to close a tab before leaving for work. He is more than OK with being anyone’s white noise—as Bindloss said, there’s value in being a personality that’s interesting enough to enjoy watching, and boring enough to ignore when you’re distracted by something else. Doebel-Hickok says that while he likes to wind down at night by watching Netflix, he tends to mark bedtime with a Twitch stream. “If I miss five or 10 minutes because I’m zoning out, it’s not a big deal. You can jump back into a Twitch stream at any time,” he says. “If they have a peaceful voice, it just allows you to get into that zone before going to sleep.”
St. Pierre thinks the appeal is the idea that there’s someone else in the room. A comforting sense of presence, the feeling of not being alone, which is one of the core things most human beings need from bedtime. Doebel-Hickok agrees with that and mentions the tight-knit communities in Twitch chat, explaining that collective hibernation could begin to feel routine.
As a generation, our sleep habits have been weaned on video games. Before I discovered ASMR, Zzzquil, or any other sleep aid, I had my friend Ryan, marathoning his way through Metal Gear Solid 4 till the hint of dawn peaked through our windows. Sometimes, I recall our legendary World of Warcraft benders, endless juvenile summer nights carving through a campaign, cemented to the bedroom floor. To this day, I associate a delectable, stress-free drowsiness from the sound of a Warrior stance change. It was my favorite way to kill a night and, for a very long time, my favorite way to fall asleep. It only makes sense that we’ve created a system that captures that feeling in its fundamental essence. Twitch is so many different things, but elementally, it’s a guarantee that someone, somewhere, will be playing Goldeneye all night long.
Luke Winkie is a writer and former pizza maker from San Diego, currently living in Brooklyn. In addition to Kotaku, he contributes to Vice, PC Gamer, Variety, Rolling Stone, and Polygon.
The various Rainbow Road tracks that have appeared in every Mario Kart game are some of the most famous tracks in the entire franchise. They each are unique in their own ways and have attracted a large number of talented speedrunners, all hoping to set the fastest time. YouTuber Summoning Salt has put together a wonderfully detailed documentary going over each version of Rainbow Road and how different speedruns strategies and rivalries formed and changed over the years.
Since 1992, hundreds of speedrunners have set faster and faster times using their skill and a combination of various techniques, bugs, and shortcuts. And or each version of the famous and colorful track players needed to figure out new ways to shave seconds and milliseconds off their records.
For example, one of the most popular Mario Kart games, Mario Kart 64, is surrounded by rails. To find shortcuts and score faster times, players had to figure out points in the track where perfectly timed boosts and turns could allow them to leap over the guardrails and onto different parts of the track. One of the most famous skips on this version of Rainbow Road is known as the “Spiral Jump” and can shave off 10 seconds off your final time.
In one game players had to do some hardware modding. This happened in Super Mario Kart for the SNES, the first game in the series. Players found that the bottom of the D-Pad had small rubber nubs which prevented two directions being pressed at once. If these nubs were shaved down, players could boost in the game more effectively. This modification of the controller was considered fair and in fact, was seen as a way to level the playing field. The idea is that over time these nubs would naturally rub off, meaning some players might have an advantage over players using newer or lesser-used controllers. Though for purists there are leaderboards that track times completed using non-modded controllers.
In fact, nearly every version of Rainbow Road has multiple leaderboards, often splitting up runs that used shortcuts and runs that didn’t. Other leaderboards are split between country and version.
Even if you don’t play Mario Kart, Summoning Salt does a great job adding tension and drama into some of the runs and really explaining things in a way players unfamiliar with speedrunningwill understand.
You have not truly lived until you’ve watched speedrunner MitchFlowerPower play through Grand Poo World 2, one of the most brilliant and devious takes on Super Mario World I’ve ever seen. Mitch’s genius platforming was just one highlight of this year’s excellent Summer Games Done Quick marathon.
Summer Games Done Quick 2019, a week-long speedrunning extravaganza, ended yesterday after raising $3 million for charity. As usual, it was chock full of top-notch video game playing (and breaking). Here are some of the highlights.
Grand Poo World 2 by MitchFlowerPower
This is just an astonishing speedrun, made remarkable by the precise level design, MitchFlowerPower’s incredible skill, and commentary from the game’s developer, Barb, who’s sitting on the couch the whole time. If you can watch only one speedrun from SGDQ 2019, make it this one.
Invictus by Dode
Ever think you’d see a Super Mario World ROM hack with wall-dashing and double jumps? Just like Grand Poo World 2, this run is a combination of tricky platforming, great design, and couch commentary from the developer.
Super Mario World blind ROM hack relay race – One Tile Men vs. Lunar Magicians
If you’re not sick of watching custom Kaizo Mario speedruns just yet (and how could anyone ever be?), this blind relay race is another must-watch. The only thing more precise than the platforming is the runners playing musical chairs as they go.
Chrono Trigger – puwexil
Puwexil is one of the best RPG speedrunners on the internet, and if you watch him play through all of Chrono Trigger you’ll see why.
Half-Minute Hero by dowolf
I think it’s fair to say that Half-Minute Hero was designed for speedrunners.
Super Mario Bros. 2 by coolkid
When I was a kid, I could barely even make it past the first world of Super Mario Bros. 2, so watching someone beat the entire thing in less than half an hour is pretty damn mindblowing, not going to lie.
Rockman 4 Minus Infinity by Kuumba
I’ve gone through the entirety of this Mega Man ROM hack speedrun and I still don’t fully understand what’s going on, but I do know that it was a whole lot of fun to watch.
Minecraft by illumina1337
Speedrunning Minecraft might seem like a fool’s errand given the level of randomness involved, but illumina1337 makes it look like a blast, random number generators be damned.
Link to the Past + Super Metroid Randomizer by Andy and Ivan
If you haven’t yet had the experience of watching the fiendish crossover of Link to the Past and Super Metroid, with all item locations completely randomized, give this one a watch. It can feel a little grueling—just imagine playing it!—but runners Andy and Ivan are entertaining enough to make this a great run.
Summer Games Done Quick 2019 has been a huge success and earlier this morning it was announced that the event had raised $3,003,889 for the charity Doctors Without Borders. This easily beat last year’s total of $2.1 million and is a new record for the popular SGDQ event.
The week-long event showcases a variety of speedruns of different games, all streamed across the internet. Fans can donate money to get certain games played or interact in other ways with the streamers, like to name characters or save games.
SGDQ 2019 received over 50k individual donations over the week, with the average donation hovering around $60.
If you missed any of the speedruns, you can catch up on the official Games Done Quick YouTube channel, where streams are still being uploaded so fans can watch later on.