Submission #4415: ars4326's Genesis Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun in 22:15.22

Console Sega Genesis Emulator Bizhawk 1.7.1
Game Version USA/Europe Frame Count 80245
ROM Filename Dungeons & Dragons - Warriors of the Eternal Sun (USA, Europe).md Frame Rate 60.09880034571133
Branch Rerecord Count 12345
Unknown Authors ars4326
Game Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun
Submitted by ars4326 on 8/30/2014 3:55:07 PM

Submission Comments
This updated TAS of Dungeons and Dragons WOTES saves an additional 2,611 frames from my prior cancelled submission back in June. Better RNG manipulation, movement optimizations, and new time-saving strategies are included throughout. As for the current publication by Jesus Fan, this run obsoletes it by 26,165 frames (20,110 in-game & 6,055 from correct ending input).

Game objectives

  • Emulator used: Bizhawk 1.7.1
  • Genre: RPG
  • Heavy glitch abuse
  • Heavy luck manipulation
  • Uses a game restart sequence
  • Takes damage to save time
Tricks Used
Originally discovered by SDA member 'Arp Gren'. I've linked a tutorial video of his going over the finer details of the glitch here (commentary starts at 11:58):
The ability in question is called "Hide in Shadows", or Hidden. Normally, the function of this Thief exclusive ability is to grant a one-time critical hit towards an enemy in combat, dealing major damage. In the game's overworld areas, this works correctly as your Thief will come out of this state as soon as he/she initiates an attack. However, in the dungeon portions of the game the ability never cancels, effectively making the Thief class a one man army!
The game's main plot requires your party to visit the various dungeons scattered throughout the Valley in search of allies to trade with. You're intended to explore these locations in a lineal order to advance the story. One of these locations in particular, the Swamps, can be skipped entirely. Possibly due to another programming oversight, the passageway leading into the swamps is scrawled with an illustration of a door combination, which gives your party access to the game's next location: the Azcan Jungle. This makes the Swamps an entirely unnecessary area to visit, as you only need to approach this doorway in the Beastman Caves, receive the confirmation message, and backtrack your way out.
Throughout Warriors of the Eternal Sun, there are a series of 'fixed' overworld fight encounters as you progress through the story. Due to sequence breaking, the only one you're technically required to fight occurs during the trek through the Azcan Jungle, where a squad of Azcan Warriors ambush your party upon climbing the pyramid steps to raid their Temple. To skip this storyline battle -- and any overworld battle in game -- all you do is simply enter camp and SAVE & re-LOAD as the enemies become visible on screen. This can easily be done in real-time. After the game reloads, any monsters on screen will vanish, and the event flag for fixed battles will be completed (such enemies won't respawn).
Previously, I mistakenly thought that this trick was frame-dependent (lesson learned: don't forsake thorough play testing!).
This one is a tad tough to explain, and is still a bit of a mystery to me. The game's second major dungeon, the Azcan Temple, contains multiple floors littered about with fixed traps. Some of these traps are capable of inflicting upwards of 3-6 damage per shot, which would decimate any real-time party attempting to power their way through. The Thief class, however, is able to disarm these traps -- provided the RNG is favorable during the particular frame you land on a trap's tile.
This is where my WIP was at a frustrating sticking point. In my cancelled run, my Thief was able to easily disarm traps by simply waiting for the right frame until a successful disarm could occur. As most TASers can relate, this meant "burning through" frames until you could manipulate the outcome you wanted. However, I was perplexed to discover that, during the making of my new run, the Thief had lost this ability to luck manipulate traps. No amount of waiting or "burning frames" produced a different trap result. The only way the RNG would change was if myself or an enemy took damage in combat, which is unacceptable for any speed run.
The solution to this problem was even more perplexing. During the last portion of the Beastman Caves, you have to rush past a horde of Troglodytes in order to backtrack your way out. Once past them, if the last Troglodyte happens to attack and miss you -- BAM! -- your Thief now suddenly has the ability to easily manipulate traps again. Not entirely sure why this is the case (perhaps enemy misses add to a memory value in the RAM, granting this ability??).
To sum all of that up: Trap manipulation was a very important part of making this run, and contributed to saving the biggest chunk of time over Jesus Fan's published run.
Those with a critical eye will notice two things during my treks through the overworld: the occasional group of monsters that appear and give chase, and how my party will briefly turn away from their current direction while traveling; as if I made an error in movement. The latter is due to manipulating random encounters from appearing, as these would force me into a battle. The ones I allowed to appear didn't cause me to lose any time, so I left them in to provide more of an atmosphere during the run.
This last trick is a bit ingenious and can also be performed in real-time. Most enemies in WOTES's dungeons are programmed to be aggressive toward you as soon as you step into their attack range. In particular, if you step into its range and then immediately back one step away, that enemy will most likely follow you in pursuit. This can be exploited in open hallways by immediately turning to either side and backing away as soon as you come into range, as there is a small delay in the monster's movement. During this delay, you can slip past through and avoid combat altogether. Especially in the game's final dungeons, I use this trick a lot shave seconds off of my time.

Stage comments

Beginning of the game: The Duke's Castle

Right off the bat, talking to Marmillian is unnecessary. I was also able to activate Hidden on the first attempt (one significant time saver from my cancelled submission) as I'm leaving the Duke's throne room. Nothing is needed for me to do or get inside the Castle, including hidden items such as the Healing Rod and Lightning Wand. I simply exit and head out into the Valley as quickly as possible.

Beastman Caves 1

A brief note on movement optimizations. Many improvements were made over Jesus Fan's run due to both better routing and moving my party diagonally as much as possible. Some trees and bushes in the overworld can be walked around, which is not immediately obvious by just looking at them.
I forego entering the Oltec Passageway early on to gather money and equipment. Instead, I head directly to the Beastman Caves and manipulate Uklangor and his subordinate Beastmen to kill off my other party members. After discovering the entangled passageway, I collect a dropped +1 spear (from Uklangor), and a loot pile consisting of two more +1 spears to sell back at the Castle to pay for a Caravan Route back to the Caves. Back inside the city, I also purchase a standard Bow in order to perform ranged attacks (and other manipulations) in combat.

Beastman Caves 2

More time was saved by less fighting as I worked my way towards the passageway to the Swamps. In total, I forewent fighting the Carrion Crawler, two Tuataras, and the Phobosuchus from my previous submission (biggest saver here). After discovering the combination and backtracking, I spent a small amount of time manipulating a miss from the last Troglodyte in order to activate the Thief's ability to easily disarm traps (explained in the 'TRICKS' section).

Azcan Temple

The Azcan Caverns in Jesus Fan's run was almost perfectly optimized, save for a 100+ frame time saver at the very end where I slipped past the guarding Sabre tooth Tiger. Once in the Jungle, I ascend the Pyramid steps and wait until the Azcan Warriors spawn before using the SAVE/LOAD trick in order to do away with them. Alone, this fight skip saved over 30 seconds from the current published run.
Inside the Temple, I made additional improvements to my cancelled submission by skipping a fight on the 3rd floor and discovering a new shortcut on the 5th floor on the bottom. Instead of fighting my way into crashing the ceremony, I sneak through a hidden corridor loaded with hidden traps. This shortcut saved around 4 seconds from my last attempt to grab a single Ring of Fire Resistance.

Oltec Tradeway

After another improved route change in the Valley, I made a few marginal improvemens once reaching the fiery Oltec Tradeway dungeon. These were mostly due to quicker battles (as it's been throughout the run) and being able to slip past the guarding Red Dragon at the dungeon's entrance.

The Schattenalfen Elven Realms; Elven City

The first portion of the Schattenalfen Elven Realms is pretty similar to Jesus Fan's. The only difference to note was at the end where I fought my way through the Elven Warrior squad and manipulated a miss from the Wizard. Major improvements were made in the Elven City portion. Instead of snaking northeast toward the Immortal Caverns, I shot straightforward down the eastern hallway, blitzing through the Dark Elf chain of command.

The Immortal Caverns

The strategy for the game's final area involved fighting as little as possible. Even with rapid-fire critical hits, I occasionally could not take out an elite monster here without it counterattacking (and killing me!) during playtesting. I slipped past as many as I could, while manipulating a timely miss from a hiding Chimera within a corridor. I had much better RNG this time around, as both the Medusa and final Chimera had no attack initiative as I rushed past them.
As I mentioned at the top, the last chunk of frames saved was due 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 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.
Possible Improvements
Getting better RNG (as in most cases) would be the key to getting an even better time in this game. While in dungeons, some monsters have a random chance of getting 'first strike' on you as soon as you step into their range. Even using frame advance, you wouldn't be able to act first if a monster was programmed in this way. Even though I had much better luck in this run, there were still a few instances where I had to manipulate a miss from monster groups due to them having 'first strike'. A better manipulated run could easily save 3-5 seconds if such manipulations were done perfectly.
Suggested Screenshot
Suggested Description
During the prolonged campaign known as the Goblin Wars, the Goblin Army gathered one night to amass a final assault upon Duke Hector Barrik's Castle. In the middle of this decisive battle, however, both armies were suddenly interrupted by a great earthquake as a vortex violently manifested itself in the midnight sky. Friend and foes alike were sucked up and taken into this void. On the other side, the Duke's Castle and its inhabitants mysteriously found themselves deposited within a hollow valley, securely guarded by impossibly high cliffs illuminated by a flaring red sun, overhead. Per the Duke's urgent request, four adventurers are summoned and commissioned with the task of exploring this strange new land, in hopes of finding allies to establish trade with.
In ars4326's run, the ground work laid by previous TASer JesusFan is improved upon in this 7+ minute improvement. Most notably, only a single Thief is used throughout due to a programming exploit which allows him to inflict waves of constant critical damage while fighting in dungeons. In addition, a newly discovered reloading trick is used to skip the game's only required overworld fight in the Azcan Jungle. Also, new route strats and movement optimizations are featured, throughout, in this updated tool-assisted playthrough.
Finally, the ending input has been corrected to showcase the game's entire ending upon completing the final dungeon.
Special Thanks
Quite a few people to thank on this one!
  • - This website belongs to Doug Lanford, who was one of the original programmers for Warriors of the Eternal Sun. His webpage 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! He still occasionally posts in the WOTES SDA thread, and appears to be in the process of making an RTA of this sometime in the future.
  • Those who encouraged me with feedback in the forums: Fellow Genesis TASer Aqfaq; fellow members Truncated and Scepheo for encouraging me to find a solution to the Thief's "trap RNG" dilemma, and Feos for his willingness to help dissemble to game's RNG (it ended up not being necessary, but it was still appreciated). Finally, a shout-out to Solarplex, for his work in encoding peoples' WIPs and submissions!

feos: Fixed the system. Judging...
feos: Accepting this improvement... to Moons!
RGamma: Publishing...

Last Edited by on 1/1/2022 6:13 PM
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