This TAS of Dungeons and Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun saves 23,554 frames (17499 in-game; 6055 from correct ending input) over the currently published run by Jesus Fan. A variety of optimizations were made, as well as utilizing some new tricks (one of which I discovered, myself). Hope everyone enjoys!
- Emulator used: Gens_11b
- Takes damage to save time
- Uses a game restart sequence
- Heavy glitch abuse
- Heavy luck manipulation
- Genre: RPG
'HIDDEN' ABILITY PROGRAMMING OVERSIGHT
Originally discovered by SDA member 'Arp Gren'. You can view a tutorial video of his explaining the glitch here (commentary starts at 11:58): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xybySf-mUIc&feature=youtu.be
This is an exclusive ability with the Thief class. Basically, while in the 'Hidden' state, you will be able to do a one-time 'sneak attack' against an enemy for massive amounts of damage. It works correctly while in the over-world, as you'll immediately come out of it once you make an action in combat. However, in dungeons, the ability never cancels - allowing your Thief to inflict an indefinite amount of deadly attacks in combat! Combine this with a ranged weapon, and your party has the equivalent of a machine gun. Combine this with a solo-run, and you have the perfect recipe for a TAS :D
AZCAN OVER-WORLD FIGHT SKIP
I believe I am the first to discover this trick! Normally, this is the game's only scripted battle that you're required to fight. As you ascend up the pyramid, Azcan Warriors spawn both at the top and at the base of the stairs, enclosing you. In order to skip this, you have to save & reload the game on TWO SPECIFIC FRAMES. These occur just before the game restricts input and triggers the enemy spawn points. Saving and reloading on these frames effectively 'nullifies' the battle and renders the event flag completed. The fight will not re-spawn at all after this point, allowing you to freely enter and exit the pyramid, at your leisure.
For reference sake, I've included two screenshots showing exactly when you have to enter the menu to save/reload.
Beginning of the game: The Duke's Castle
3102 frames saved
Like the previous run, I also started out with the default party since a Thief is already included. Absolutely nothing is needed for me inside the Castle walls, including hidden items such as the Healing Rod and Lightning Wand. I simply exit and head out into the valley as quickly as possible.
Overworld -> Oltec Passageway
457 frames saved
Throughout the over-world walking sections, I collectively saved hundreds of frames by focusing on one simple principle: Every frame moved diagonally saves two frames, otherwise. Jesus Fan's route, while straightforward, didn't take enough advantage of areas where you could move and cut around in a diagonal manner. After closely studying the map, I believe I have truly optimized all over-world walking routes in the game. Also (as a recurring feature in my other runs), I occasionally sync my walking to the current BGM to provide a more entertaining atmosphere.
Once in the Oltec Passageway, I shoot straight into the Dragon's den to pick up the +1 Bow and the 'mound of jewelry'. The +1 Bow is the best ranged weapon in the game and adds about 2 more damage to the Thief's attack roll vs. the Sling. I took the jewelry in order to pay for a Caravan route back to the Beastman Caves, later on. I now kill off my other party members and proceed to go solo. For entertainment's sake, I spent about 24 extra frames, total, making feeble attacks toward the Red Dragon and Fire Giant.
Beastman Caves -> Return to Castle
644 frames saved.
Getting the Thief's 'Hidden' ability to activate was a chore to figure out. I actually spent about two hours during play testing trying to figure out it's RAM address, to no avail. The ability also doesn't appear to activate, at all, while inside dungeons. As a compromise to my sanity, I settled on getting it to activate within three consecutive castings (my previous best was six). Successfully activating it on the first try would end up saving a couple of seconds (which is noted in 'Possible Improvements', below).
Once activated, however, the solo Thief becomes an efficient killing machine. Overall damage output is on-par with the Lightning Wand, with the further benefit of not having to wait for its lethal charges to fizzle out. I began by making very quick work of the Beastman Lieutenants and Uklangor before heading back out toward the Duke's Castle. Similar savings were made on the trip back due to my optimized route.
Beastman Caves Part II
1745 frames saved.
Here's where going solo really starts to shine. Using one character has the advantage of not having to cycle through three other people every time I make an attack. I can strike about every 20 frames, or so, in combat. This saves large amounts of time in comparison to firing off the Lightning Wand and backing away in time to dodge the magical kickback. Along with these savings, I also rush past most of the Troglodyte reinforcements on the way back, instead of fighting them.
Overworld -> Azcan Caverns
651 frames saved
Slightly new route here where I travel directly East through the Valley, as opposed to South along the river. I also save a little more time by cutting up above the middle mountain and through the foliage, instead of below.
Jesus Fan's route in the Azcan Cavern was almost perfect, save for at the very end when slipping past the last Sabre-tooth Tiger. Optimizing this last part saved around 100 frames before continuing on into the Azcan Jungle...
2407 frames saved
The Azcan fight skip saved a bunch of time here! (I wonder if it would be possible to execute this trick in real-time...?)
While play testing, I initially discovered a different method to avoid the scripted battle by getting into a random encounter just outside the pyramid entrance. From here, you would have to be able to outrun the monsters enough to race up the steps and choose the 'flee' command in the menu. However, this method turned out to be useless since the Azcan Warriors would immediately re-spawn upon exiting the pyramid.
5464 frames saved
This was where I saved the single biggest cluster of in-game time. One of the primary time savers was using the Thief's ability to disarm traps. Especially on the 3rd and 4th floors, disarming traps allowed me to continue racing down the Temple's hallways, instead of detouring into hidden doorways and fighting more enemies. On the bottom floor, I zipped past the Azcan ceremony and snatched only one Ring of Fire Resistance, instead of outfitting my (long dead) entire party. I then immediately took out the Azcan Wokan while slipping through the attacking sentries, afterward. I ran low on HP on the trek back, so I alternated between disarming traps and taking damage to save time.
Backtrack to Overworld -> Oltec Tradeway
1396 frames saved.
Going back through the Azcan Cavern, I had use a slightly slower strategy (around 25 frames) in regards to getting past the Scorpions huddled along the middle hallway. By firing a steady stream of arrows, you can often force a group of adjacent enemies to back away enough to slip on through. I do this a few times throughout the run in order to save on time.
Another variation in the previous over-world route saved just under 200 frames. I chose to head South across the bridge (with the Beastman territory BGM) instead of backtracking the other direction toward the Beastman Caves.
Slight oversight when entering the Oltec Tradeaway due to only possessing one Ring of Fire Resistance. The programmers probably didn't consider the odds of someone entering with just one ring. Otherwise, more time-savers due to optimized battle strategies. Perhaps due to better RNG, I was able to sneak past the Red Dragon without being attacked. No Lightning Wand, again, saved considerable time in close-quarters. Killing off all the Ghouls on the 3rd floor was also quicker than trying to rush past them.
Ruined Castle -> Elven Underground
1119 frames saved
Once again, optimized walking routes became the biggest collective time-savers. Faster combat, as expected, further added to the total. Funny how you can't leave the Castle grounds for 15 minutes without its inhabitants going crazy :p
The Schattenalfen Elven Realms; Elven City
651 frames saved
Jesus Fan's strategy was optimal in the first cavern. I couldn't find any improvements, save for my quicker attacks in battle. After taking out the Elven Warriors, I shot a stream of arrows toward the Elven Wizard in order to break through the ranks and advance.
Big improvements in the Elven City. I shot straight down the Eastern hallway, instead of snaking around Northeast toward the Cavern entrance, taking on the full Elven command - consisting of Captains, Lieutenants, and Wizards. Neither one stood long against my barrage of deadly arrows, opening the more streamlined pathway to the Burrower within the Immortal Caverns.
The Immortal Caverns
209 & 6055* frames saved
I took a slightly different route early on, making the first left and blitzing through the Efreeti. The first Fire Giant was impossible to slip past without getting killed, so I baited him to move over before advancing and taking out the Chimera. In my opinion, my run is a little more interesting here due to my engaging in close-quarters with a variety of elite monsters. I gained a level-up, which allowed me to take damage and save time against the second Chimera, before dashing down the last hallway. The final guardian before the Burrower (Pyro Hydra) was taken out with authority. Time to summon the T-Rex!
The last giant chunk of frames saved was due to my ending the movie on the last decisive input; which is advancing the dialogue screen when the summoned being Ka speaks to you. The previous movie unnecessarily continued input through the entire ending, even skipping a congratulatory speech given by The Duke. My movie restores this dialogue and ends with the correct ending input.
- I had a crazy time trying to figure out how to manipulate the 'Hidden' ability to activate as early as possible. Three attempts was the best that I could get. By my calculations, getting it to work on the first try would save 283 frames.
- There were points where the previous run simply had better RNG in regards to enemy movement and turn order. Instead of being able to slip past some enemies, I had to either fight or bait them into moving around, instead. Ideally, perfect RNG in all such cases, I'd imagine, would ended up saving a few seconds.
As the goblin army makes their last push into Duke Barrik’s castle, the sky is ripped open and both armies are sucked into the void. Duke Barrik's castle is transported to a valley enclosed with impossibly tall cliffs and a brilliant red sun overhead. The Duke requests that the four player characters explore this strange environment in order to find allies.
ars4326's run builds upon the groundwork laid by Jesus Fan, improving the prior run by nearly 5 minutes due to various optimizations and new tricks. The Thief now operates as a solo killing machine, rapidly mowing down enemies due to a programming exploit which allows his class-exclusive 'Hidden' ability to inflict continual deadly attacks while in dungeons. Also, the only required scripted battle in the game is now completely bypassed due to a frame-dependent trick that involves saving and reloading the game while ascending the Pyramid in the Azcan Jungle.
- http://opusgames.com/games/wotes/wotes.html - This website belongs to Doug Lanford, who was one of the original programmers for Warriors of the Eternal Sun. His page contained invaluable map data as well as some interesting insights during game development.
- SDA member 'Arp Gren' for providing information on the Thief exploit and inspiring me to make this improvement! Maybe, in time, this will inspire someone to make a worthy RTA of this game.
If possible, I would like to include 'A Jesus Fan' as a co-author. Overall, his run was the "blueprint" in making mine. I used some of his battle strategies and considerable parts of his walking route, throughout. With this in mind, I feel it would only be right to recognize his groundwork by including him.