TASVideos

Tool-assisted game movies
When human skills are just not enough

Generic Tips

Tutorials

Description Link Platform Game Author
Subpixel precision: wall clipping YouTube NES Super Mario Bros. 3 andymac
TASing in Gens with Sonic HUD script YouTube Genesis Sonic 3 & Knuckles Aglar
Use of frame advance and RAM adress to trigger a glitch YouTube SNES Super Mario World bobmario511
TASing in Mupen64 YouTube N64 GoldenEye 007 Rising Tempest
TASing in DeSmuME YouTube DS Contra 4 paul_t
Finding and using RAM addresses Ustream NES Super Mario Bros. adelikat
Rerecord session played back in real-time YouTube PSX Chrono Cross Bisqwit
FCEUX TAS Editor live session YouTube NES Battletoads & Double Dragon feos

Note that these tutorials also apply to the emulators, such as for NES, that are used on this site.

Using emulator functions well

See also: EmulatorResources/Using

You should check out the emulators that you use, to see if there are any useful features.

Savestate levels and slots

You should have one savestate which you use extremely often (termed "quicksave" although any savestate is arguably a quicksave). There should be a 2nd savestate trailing the quicksave that can be used for backup. Other savestates are for replaying your movie and/or resuming recording at some point. You should have at least one savestate around the beginning of the level that you are on. Here is how experienced TASers use their savestate slots.

How do I replay the movie?

Use the Movie Replay option with Read-Only checked (so the emulator replays the movie rather than record on it). It will replay from the beginning. If you just want to see the level you are working on, load one of the savestates (make sure read-only is on).

How do I resume recording at a specific point?

Replay the movie up to that point, make a savestate, turn off read-only (Shift+8 is default in most emulators), then load the savestate.

This is especially helpful if you decide to change something that occurred before your quicksave, or the run desynced, or you made a quicksave by accident.

If you just want to resume after quitting a session, play the movie, turn off read-only, and load the quicksave as normal.

I loaded a previous savestate by accident; what do I do?

Load your quicksave, or the most recent savestate that works.

This is a feature called bulletproof rerecording, which protects your movie.

Frame advance

Frame advance allows you to input controls frame by frame at your pace. Simply hold down all buttons you want inputted, then press frame advance. Frame advance can be held to advance quickly with the same input.

It is a more precise version of slow motion than fixed-rate slow motion, where the emulator runs at a fixed speed (between 1% and 3%).

Controls

Assign keys so that one hand takes care of directional input (up, down, ...), the other hand common button input (A, B, ...). Assign keys that are rarely used out of the way.

The frame advance button should be close to the hand that is least involved (usually the hand using directional input). The quickload button should be close to the other hand. The quicksave button can be anything as long as it is not easy to press by accident. All other savestate buttons should be out of the way.

Avoid assigning keys to the control keys on your keyboard.

It is recommended to change the frame advance key once in a while, unless you are fine with wearing that button out.

FractalFusion uses, for example:

  • Directional input: Numpad 8, 2, 4, 6 for up, down, left, right.
  • Common button input: N,G, and possibly H and nearby buttons.
  • Other input: Usually [ for select and ] for start.
  • Frame advance: Page Up (could use a better button)
  • Quickload: T
  • Quicksave: Shift+T
  • 2nd savestate: F3 for load, Shift+F3 for save
  • 3rd savestate: F5 for load, Shift+F5 for save

Game choice

See also: Guidelines

While you aren't limited about what you can do for fun, it is important to remember that not all games are created equal. Some games are good choices; others are bad choices.

It is important that you choose a game which is capable of showing something interesting (and it should be TAS-interesting, not just game-interesting). Even if a game is popular, it does not necessarily mean that it would make a good TAS.

Types of games that could be good choices:

Note that whether a game is repetitive or becomes repetitive due to TAS weighs on the entertainment factor.

It is not recommended to TAS games that have already been TASed to death, unless you know what you are doing.

Making the TAS

See also: Guidelines

Safeguards

Always make backups of your movie as you make it. Label backups to avoid confusion.

It is recommended to place a backup copy on the internet (e.g. Microstorage) or on a portable disk such as a floppy or USB drive. Computer crashes are not unheard of.

Periodically verify that your movie plays back correctly. Desyncs may occur, depending on the game and emulator.

How to speedrun tool-assisted

You are expected to know the game which you are TASing. You can't make a good TAS without knowing the game. It is highly recommended to play (actually play, not TAS) the game at least once. If there are existing speedruns or TASes, check them out.

The first thing you should do is plan your route. The route can make or break a run. Do many tests for route, as it is important. Check out FAQs (http://gamefaqs.com/ is a good source).

If the game has optional but important items, consider whether getting the items more than makes up the time needed to obtain them.

When making the TAS, look for shortcuts, even small ones. Optimize your movements, as that may save a lot of time. Find ways to beat bosses faster.

How much should I optimize?

When starting out, you should not look for things like unnoticeable pixel-perfection or other tedious frame optimizations. You should only look for important things. Become accustomed to the character's movement and try to find the quickest way for the character to move and act. Try to find the best way to defeat bosses. As you make the TAS, you gain experience. Don't overdo anything, though.

You should make a test run first. Try not to spend more than 3 hours of TAS-making per 5 minutes of gameplay on a test run. Don't be sloppy, however. After you make the test run, you may try a second attempt, which is more optimized than the first. You should spend a while on the second attempt, but not forever.

Do not overdo an attempt to pull off a shortcut or improvement. If it seems impossible or unreasonably improbable after testing, move on.

Possible things to look out for:

  • Avoid bumping the character on a wall that he is jumping over.
  • Avoid stopping unnecessarily.
  • See if jumping into a shaft (that you need to go down) is faster than just sliding off the edge.
  • When faced with an enemy, try to go around or through it, or kill it, without stopping.
  • See if performing some action changes the way a boss or enemy behaves (if this is a micro rather than a macro effect, this is known as "luck manipulation")

How about RPGs and luck-based games?

RPGs deserve a huge amount of testing and route-planning and often are or become repetitive, so it's usually not recommended for beginners. However, if the game mechanics (specifically the random number generator, often called RNG) work to your favor, and you know how to plan quick routes that have a reasonable chance to succeed, you would do well to try.

Test runs should be based entirely on route and strategy. All long dialogs in a test run should be cleared using the emulator's autofire buttons. Try to work out the game mechanics so you know whether delaying button presses changes whether attacks are critical hits, or misses, or such. Try changing previous button presses if attacks don't change because sometimes the results of attacks are determined further back.

If the RNG hates you (e.g. nothing changes no matter what you do), give up. Not all games are created equal.

Once you have worked out the game mechanics, carefully construct the route through the run. The strategy is often going to change, depending on the circumstances. Try not to be too committal, although that might work sometimes. You may have to create backups and branch the movie to test two different strategies. The important thing is that you know why such strategy can work.

Try to shoot for uncommon or better, but not rare, probabilities. Assuming delaying button presses changes attack results, 1/10 is huge for a TAS. 1/20 is not far off. Generally, the lower the probability, the greater the justification. If you obsess over 1/100, it should be very worthwhile. Probabilities worse than 1/300 shouldn't even be considered, unless you know what you are doing.

Do not overdo an attempt to pull off a strategy. If it seems impossible or unreasonably improbable after testing, alter your strategy and move on if possible.

What about entertainment?

Most of the entertainment in most games is derived from speed. However, there may be places where it does not waste time to move around or do something other than standing still. Don't be excessive, however.

Be exact in all actions. Make short jumps, kill enemies quickly, do not miss shots, and do not use more shots on a enemy than necessary.

Feedback

You may seek feedback by posting in the TASVideos forums.

To share input files, use User movies. It has a 4 MB size limit, but you can upload compressed input files if your movie is bigger than that. Alternatively, you can use Microstorage. It has a 2 MB size limit, so if your input file is bigger, compress it with GZip. Bear in mind that not all site-submittable formats are supported by Microstorage.

For embedded images (you may or may not need this), use Imgur.

For code files, use PasteBin.

For any other files, such as AVI, use MediaFire, FileFront, Savefile or RapidShare.

Remember to copy the link to the movie.

When posting at the forum, check if there is a previous topic on the game — it is recommended to use search. There is nothing wrong with bumping old topics as long as you have something useful to say.



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GenericTips last edited by Mothrayas on 2017-07-13 07:31:32
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