Post subject: Speed TAS competition for AGDQ 2016
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Greetings, Per the AGDQ 2016 preparation thread, I am yet again organizing a speed TAS competition that will run on Saturday, January 9th during AGDQ 2016. The exact time of the competition will depend on a few factors, but here are the details:
  • The competition will officially start at a somewhat variable time on Saturday, January 9th, currently planned to be directly before Crash Bandicoot; keep an eye on the official schedule for the exact time of that run, but as of this writing it is somewhere around 10:00 AM EST. If circumstances force this to change (especially due to game setup delays at AGDQ 2016) this bullet point will be updated.
  • At the time the competition starts, a .zip file containing the game, a guide, and other instructions will be posted on the http://tasvideos.org homepage.
  • Competitors will have roughly 4 hours to complete the game and submit it using a submission form that will be available for the entire duration of the competition, ending with an announcement that will be made during Mario Kart 8; this final cutoff is subject to change pending the AGDQ 2016 schedule and will be announced at the start of the competition.
  • The game will be an NES game created specifically for this event (this thread is the first time this has been publicly announced).
  • The competition is targeted at the QuickNES core of BizHawk. You are allowed to use FCEUX or use the NESHawk core ofBizHawk but we suggest using QuickNES as it is the most tested to run on real hardware. For best results, use QuickNES on BizHawk 1.11.14; if you decide to use FCEUX we cannot guarantee we will be able to convert the movie. The official instructions will state to use BizHawk.
  • The game is nonlinear and *will* require nearly as much time researching and routeplanning as actual TAS'ing.
  • Working in teams is expected and encouraged.
  • Breaking the game completely is highly encouraged, so long as the winning condition is met.
  • Said winning condition will be announced and clearly documented in the instructions. The run that meets the winning criteria in the shortest time will be represented by dwangoAC during a race scheduled at the beginning of the TAS block.
  • Tompa will be participating in the competition but will submit his file directly to micro500 who will represent him; I will not know what Tompa's run looks like and Tompa and micro500 will not have access to the winning submission.
  • Two human runners will be participating in the race. They were privately made aware of the game choice weeks ago and have had ample time to practice and routeplan but will be playing in realtime without the aid of tools.
  • The resultant 4-way race will be commentated live by one of the developers of the game.
  • A framewar following the event is encouraged.
If you have questions, please don't be shy about asking them. I will update this post (and include a changelog) with any changes. Happy speed TASing! Update, 2016-01-11: The event is over! Thank you to all who participated. The game will be officially posted soon, but in the meantime it can be found at this temporary download link. More updates as soon as the dust settles. Changelog: 2016-01-05: Initial post - ask questions to fill this in! 2016-01-09: Noted QuickNES is the correct core to use in BizHawk 2016-01-09: Hardened BizHawk requirement due to lack of time to test 2016-01-11: It's over! Download links coming
I was laid off in May 2023 and could use support via Patreon or onetime donations as I work on TASBot Re: and TASBot HD. I'm dwangoAC, part of the senior staff of TASVideos as the Senior Ambassador and BDFL of the TASBot community; I post TAS content on YouTube.com/dwangoAC based on livestreams from Twitch.tv/dwangoAC.
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I'm ready to save the frames! Going to be fun =D.
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I'll also be up for it again. May or may not be in a team this time around :)
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So, when you say "working in teams in encouraged", does that mean the final movie submission can be put under multiple names? Or is it still individual entries, just with people working together to find strategies and exploits?
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kaizoman666 wrote:
So, when you say "working in teams in encouraged", does that mean the final movie submission can be put under multiple names? Or is it still individual entries, just with people working together to find strategies and exploits?
You should appropriately use the author field in the movie file as this is the name we will be using. It would be nice if each team cold submit their run only once but we can detect duplicates so it isn't anything we are worried about. How competitors organize is up to them.
I was laid off in May 2023 and could use support via Patreon or onetime donations as I work on TASBot Re: and TASBot HD. I'm dwangoAC, part of the senior staff of TASVideos as the Senior Ambassador and BDFL of the TASBot community; I post TAS content on YouTube.com/dwangoAC based on livestreams from Twitch.tv/dwangoAC.
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Expect a brazillian team working on it ;)
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PM me the game so I can get a 4 day head start kthx. (sign me up)
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arandomgameTASer wrote:
PM me the game so I can get a 4 day head start kthx. (sign me up)
Nice try, but you will just have to wait until the competition. I am not yet sure if I will be available to compete because I don't know my personal schedule for Saturday yet. However, if after the competition is over, it is chosen to further optimize the winning TAS so it can be published, like with Streemerz, then I am definitely up for that.
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rchokler wrote:
...However, if after the competition is over, it is chosen to further optimize the winning TAS so it can be published, like with Streemerz, then I am definitely up for that.
I am fully expecting a series of frame wars to ensue as people find different strategies through the game. :)
I was laid off in May 2023 and could use support via Patreon or onetime donations as I work on TASBot Re: and TASBot HD. I'm dwangoAC, part of the senior staff of TASVideos as the Senior Ambassador and BDFL of the TASBot community; I post TAS content on YouTube.com/dwangoAC based on livestreams from Twitch.tv/dwangoAC.
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Pwn Adventure Z looks like Spiritual Warfare. It would be an accomplishment just to figure out how to finish the game within four hours. This gaming genre requires the most careful planning and testing, so why choose it for a four-hour speed TAS competition? And then the guide overtly discourages most people with the exploit discussion. Some programming wizard is going to figure out how to total control right to the credits, so why try? I was hoping it would be a straightforward, speedrun-friendly, Metroidvania-style game where the challenge would be in maintaining forward movement, making precise jumps, speed/damage boosting, and fighting bosses.
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Arc wrote:
Pwn Adventure Z looks like Spiritual Warfare. It would be an accomplishment just to figure out how to finish the game within four hours. This gaming genre requires the most careful planning and testing, so why choose it for a four-hour speed TAS competition? And then the guide overtly discourages most people with the exploit discussion. Some programming wizard is going to figure out how to total control right to the credits, so why try? I was hoping it would be a straightforward, speedrun-friendly, Metroidvania-style game where the challenge would be in maintaining forward movement, making precise jumps, speed/damage boosting, and fighting bosses.
You're making a very bad assumption that the expert method is faster. You are encouraged to routeplan and find your own way through the game. There are some suggestions in the instructions on where to look and you can read some of the existing writeups of routes to get ideas of where to start. We did several testruns with several people and most of them were at least able to complete the game alone. We have high confidence that teams of competitors will be just fine. Join #tasvideos to discuss as you feel led, and best of luck!
I was laid off in May 2023 and could use support via Patreon or onetime donations as I work on TASBot Re: and TASBot HD. I'm dwangoAC, part of the senior staff of TASVideos as the Senior Ambassador and BDFL of the TASBot community; I post TAS content on YouTube.com/dwangoAC based on livestreams from Twitch.tv/dwangoAC.
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rchokler wrote:
I agree with much of what Arc is saying here. For a Speed-TAS competition with a 4 hour time limit, the best game choices are ones that would be accessible to TASers of all levels of experience. The game chosen this time looks like it makes the competition be accessible mostly for only some of the best TASers on the sight, which is a minority of the player community. In contrast, I think that Streemerz, which was used last time, was a great example of a game for this kind of competition.
I completely and utterly disagree with this belief. This run does not require precise TAS execution, merely good routeplanning. It requires completely different skills than Streemerz intentionally. :) I think what might be happening is it seems too intimidating and people are giving up before they even start, but for anyone who takes the time to read the copious documentation already available about how to complete the game using fast strats it's possible to complete it within 4 hours even as a solo player. I will *definitely* concede that there is a certain amount of luck, however - it's possible some will try a method that won't pan out as well as they had hoped and will be out of time, and that's a definite risk with a game of this type. Expect different kinds of games in future speed TAS competitions, however. Best of luck to the competitors, as of this writing you have a little less than an hour of time left!
I was laid off in May 2023 and could use support via Patreon or onetime donations as I work on TASBot Re: and TASBot HD. I'm dwangoAC, part of the senior staff of TASVideos as the Senior Ambassador and BDFL of the TASBot community; I post TAS content on YouTube.com/dwangoAC based on livestreams from Twitch.tv/dwangoAC.
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This competition doesn't feel like a TAS competition, more like a route-planning competition. I really was looking forward to it, but once I saw the game I was demotivated. I was expecting one where there's route-planning while TASing, like choose between two different paths througth a room. The game is probably is fine if people already knew how big the team needs to be it and there would be better recourses for newcomers, but I find like Arc already said it's not very newcomer friendly when contestants are encouraged to look at the asm code to figure stuff out and complicated glitches. That's to much to expect from a newcomer. Why aren't the map asm's converted to actual maps that everyone can easily understand. Looking at the asm's is usually faster than playing, so people who can read the asm's have a unfair advantage in time.
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TASeditor wrote:
This competition doesn't feel like a TAS competition, more like a route-planning competition. I really was looking forward to it, but once I saw the game I was demotivated. I was expecting one where there's route-planning while TASing, like choose between two different paths througth a room. The game is probably is fine if people already knew how big the team needs to be it and there would be better recourses for newcomers, but I find like Arc already said it's not very newcomer friendly when contestants are encouraged to look at the asm code to figure stuff out and complicated glitches. That's to much to expect from a newcomer. Why aren't the map asm's converted to actual maps that everyone can easily understand. Looking at the asm's is usually faster than playing, so people who can read the asm's have a unfair advantage in time.
Err, the ASM code is there if you want to look at it, but the intent is that people read the instructions file or the player guide, or specifically one of the linked writeups. I'm getting the impression a few people are trying to make this a bit more difficult than it needs to be. :) Having said that, I absolutely recognize that this type of game isn't a favorite for everyone, but we had complaints about the "Run Right For Great Justice" nature of Streemerz because it was effectively completely linear so go figure. Due to schedule constraints at AGDQ 2016 the announcement of the conclusion will occur directly following Mario Kart 8. You'll need to have your submission in by the second the interview block cuts off. Best of luck to the competitors!
I was laid off in May 2023 and could use support via Patreon or onetime donations as I work on TASBot Re: and TASBot HD. I'm dwangoAC, part of the senior staff of TASVideos as the Senior Ambassador and BDFL of the TASBot community; I post TAS content on YouTube.com/dwangoAC based on livestreams from Twitch.tv/dwangoAC.
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If anyone has notes and similiar content suitable for the wiki, I can aggregate, clean up and in general post them on the wiki.
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This wasn't as cool as Streemerz. The game being nonlinear is good and all, but being so dependent on RNG and not knowing where to go is not. Also, I spent the first hour reading and being confused at the guides. In the future, I would prefer the reading to be its own time span before the game can be downloaded. The fact that total control was hinted at and explained also discouraged me a lot. I only ended up participating after joining with other people.
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Personally, I was sort of overwhelmed by the way the documentation was presented. Speaking about total control even being plausible made me feel that: a) This isn't the kind of run I'm interested in regardless. b) If I won't be able to do the really technical stuff, what's the point? c) I won't be able to create something of even decent quality in the timespan allotted. I probably didn't give the game the chance it might deserve, only tried it out for about 15-20 minutes before giving up. But I was so immediately demotivated right away by the apparent scope of the task. Not to say the game choice was actually poor, but it really wasn't for me :). I'm sure the players enjoying this are busy trying to finish their runs.
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I agree with the previous posts that this was not a good game choice. I was really excited to this TAS race, but when we saw the game, it was kinda disappointing. Especially when we found that there are ways to glitch to the end and that we were supposed to do it (of course we could just play normally, but not only 'Breaking the game completely is highly encouraged', we also received instructions specifically saying how to do it. I think it is a mistake to spoil glitches in the instructions. This was done exactly because it's impossible to find these glitches in 4 hours but the submissions were supposed to apply them. I'll tell how our team worked and unfortunately failed in the end: When we read the articles about the game, I actually got kinda scared. I had no idea how to follow those instructions and beat the game that way, and I'm sure that scared and discouraged every less experienced TASer that wanted to give it a try. After a while we could understand what we were supposed to do - getting 20 sticks, buying a fuel can, crafting them into a campfire, getting a sniper rifle and putting the campfire in a specific place to warp to the boss and kill him with the rifle. That's pretty much written in the instructions. Getting the sticks (and money to the fuel can) was a pain because it was solely item drop manipulation. It depends on how you enter the room and how, and in which order, you kill the zombies. That's heavy luck manipulation, not really something suitable for a TAS speed race. Route planning was also pretty annoying. When we got the fuel can, we moved to the cave in which there was a chest with the rifle, despite we didn't even have 10 sticks yet. As we spent a lot of time understanding and executing the campfire glitch, we had only a few minutes left in this moment. I rushed to the cave failing to get sticks, and when I opened the chest, it just didn't give me the rifle. It turned out that what the chest gives depends of luck, and you can't really manipulate it inside the cave, we would have to change the whole run. So we just gave up there. The TAS speed race is supposed to be fun, and this was not fun at all, at least for me. Streemerz was a much better game for this, in my opinion. If there are so many people saying the same thing about this, there might be some true in what's being said. DwangoAC, you did an awesome job managing the speed TAS competition again, please just take this as a suggestion for next time. I'm sure this can be really fun with a proper game. I suggest trying any platform game with some window for optimization and for route-planning, that would already be great.
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I agree, I would like a game similar to Streemerz used next time. I think that the best games for the speed TAS competition are ones that , though not familiar to the competitors, are much more oriented on just knowing how to TAS games well. If a game uses complicated maze-like map(s), it would be great if one of the files packaged with the game is a file with the map(s). Otherwise, we must draw the map(s) ourselves, relying on luck, hoping we are taking the best route right from the start. That consumes a lot of precious time that we could otherwise be using to optimize the character's movement, considering that the best expert TASer's will submit TASes so well optimized that other TASers stand very little chance to do better.
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I ran out of time myself. In my opinion, this was a great game choice with great technical documentation, but poor casual play documentation for the allocated amount of time. After getting familiar with the documentation and basic playtesting for 30 minutes, I figured I would never win going with the wrong warp + sniper rifle through wall strategy since I don't have much experience in TASing in general. However, since the source code and symbols were provided along with one known ACE strategy, I tried doing that instead given my skills. My plan was to execute 3 bytes of code using the torches room, since it seemed well documented and that other methods I could thin of didn't seem reliable enough. I decided to go with STA 0x0322 and hope that the accumulator happened to have a non-zero value by luck, and if that didn't work hope to have enough time to hex-edit my input file to try something else. Since this is 8D2230 in byte code, it was just enough bytes to encode using the torches. After figuring out which torch corresponded to which bit in memory (the 8 left torches are stored in 0x0302, middle in 0x0303 and rightmost in 0x304, with the least significant bit of each group in the top-left corner, increasing from top-to-bottom, left-to-right), I ended up with this torch pattern:
10 00 01
00 11 01
10 00 00
11 00 00
Note that I also considered executing STA 0x0300 since it was faster input, but I believe it would have lost time for reaching the winning condition, since the game would have needed to wait for the dying boss counter to decrease enough times. On a side note, while researching the torches room, I stumbled on a page that wasn't included in the documentation and that explained the solution to the torches puzzle with a video. (It's returning an HTTP 403 Forbidden error right now, not sure why.) Figuring out and planning all of the above took me 2.5 hours. That left me with 1.5 hours to plan my route from the start to the torches room, then to a shop to execute the inventory overflow glitch, and go back to the first screen to trigger ACE. This is when I realized that money would be a bigger issue than I expected due to the price of the SMG. I then took 30 minutes to find and analyze the drop tables and figure out which enemies dropped what. I figured that zombies are good to farm early on for item variety and crafting, while spiders are good for sell-able gems. I then started my initial route to the torches room and towards the closest shop. Including decoding the map using mapcreator.html, getting familiar with how to optimize input decently and doing so, this took me an additional 30 minutes. This is when I realized that I had much fewer drops than I expected. I re-checked the drop tables only to realize that there aren't enough item drop types to fill my inventory, even after crafting all items, buying all the unique items from the 2 easily-accessible shops and using the gun duplication glitch twice, and that I lacking much more money than I thought. With only 30 minutes left, all I could do at this point was going in a wild-goose chase around the map hoping that I would stumble on some amazing loot at a scripted location, since I didn't have enough time left to analyze the code. I failed horribly in doing so since all the chests I found had nothing of interest. Only then did I learn about the time extension, but even with the additional 45 minutes I still couldn't figure out where any of the good stuff is in the game or extract that information from the source code. I used the remaining time to check if I could figure out some kind of money underflow glitch and verify if the Konami code was disabled correctly without success. In the end, I wasn't able to get enough resources, I still don't know where these resources are (including the sniper rifle and any of the keys), I didn't had the time to consider analyzing the RNG even though it was simplified for the competition, I'm still don't know if my strategy would have worked since I could not test it and since the item to use for the overflow glitch wasn't documented, and I feel that I would have needed all the allocated time just for a casual playthrough and even more to document my findings. My impression is that almost all entrants will have picked the sniper rifle + wrong warp route, while a handful of remaining entrants will be teams composed of a strong reverse-engineer and at least another person that were able to find a good ACE route in time. My conclusion to all this is that while it still was fun for me most of the time, it would have been a much better competition if the following would have occurred: a) A complete strategy guide for casual play would have been provided. b) The competition would be in split categories or limited to a single category. I'm looking forward to the final results. My bet is that the human players will win if they don't make a major mistake due to their greater knowledge of the game. EDIT: Whoa, I can't believe I already missed it while writing this post!! I will need to watch the VOD.
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I tried for about an hour before realizing I really needed a team to make anything decent. I guess I should have taken that suggestion in the opening post a bit more seriously! One other point I'd like to make besides the ones listed above is that one utility of this speed TAS competition is to give ANYONE a decent chance of being able to submit a run, even if not high quality, kind of like an outreach opportunity. This one though was definitely for experienced TASers only. But hey, this was only the second iteration of the contest, gotta climb that learning curve somehow! Still great work with the organization of everything. I did like the format of expert TAS team vs human runners, but perhaps that is better as a seperate item to the speed tas competition.
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It turns out that speed-TASing a game with like 400 rooms, 30 items and RTA-friendly (aka time-consuming) RNG by using already documented glitches isn't all that fun. It turns out that watching a not self-explaining, completely new game isn't all that fun.
Warning: Might glitch to credits I will finish this ACE soon as possible (or will I?)
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Masterjun wrote:
It turns out that speed-TASing a game with like 400 rooms, 30 items and RTA-friendly (aka time-consuming) RNG by using already documented glitches isn't all that fun. It turns out that watching a not self-explaining, completely new game isn't all that fun.
I'll be honest, this basically sums up my feelings as well. The game choice was underwhelming from a TASing perspective, and it was more frustrating than rewarding to run. The "RTA-friendly" RNG really killed it. And using a basically predefined route with pre-documented glitches was not at all rewarding. The end result TAS also appeared underwhelming, as it did literally nothing the RTA didn't do except be a few seconds faster.
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Personally I found the race interesting because the RTA had a chance at winning. If TASers are complaining, you did a good job Dwango, lol. I was asleep when it was announced so I wasn’t able to participate.