TODO: Revisit and see if this page is exactly needed? A lot of this looks redundant.
So you're interested in creating a TAS. Great - you've come to the right place! This page is intended as a guide for those new to the process of creating a TAS to achieve the best results possible with the least hassle possible.
Table of contents
- Before you begin
- Selecting a game
- Setting up the emulator
- Starting to record the movie
- Applying the tools - the title screen
- Other techniques
- Getting feedback on your run
- More information
Before you begin
The welcome page is intended to provide you with an idea of what a tool-assisted speed run is and the basic idea behind how it is created. If your eventual intent is to submit the run for consideration of publication, please read the Movie Rules and Guidelines for an idea of what constitutes a good run on the site. If those don't make a lot of sense to you at this point, don't worry; the more important points there are covered in this page.
At all stages during this process, it is a good idea to visit the forum.
We also have a Video Tutorial Series with good information on how to create a Tool Assisted Speedrun.
Selecting a game
Not all games are necessarily well suited for a tool-assisted speed run. A game should have the potential to be both technically interesting and entertaining (VotingGuidelines provides information on how our users and viewers generally consider these criteria).
Most importantly, the game must be playable within an emulator supported by the site, without which you will not be able to generate an input file in a usable format.
The game should be well-emulated; that is, playing the game within the appropriate emulator should resemble playing the game on the actual console.
Once you have a game in mind, please check to see if there are any other relevant runs of the game in question, whether in the currently published movies, past submission history, or hosted at other sites - if a previous run exists and you are planning a run with similar goals, the movie must beat those records to be considered acceptable.
For a first TAS, it is a good idea to choose a game with which you're already familiar, and also to choose a game for which a run already exists - it gives you an easy standard to which you can compare your run.
If you need ideas, consult the List Of Ideas.
Setting up the emulator
Once you have a game in mind, you will need the appropriate emulator to be able to produce the run. This process varies strongly from emulator to emulator; once again, asking on the forum is the best place to go if something goes wrong.
It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the game in the emulator before proceeding to the creation of the run.
Starting to record the movie
Once you have the game loaded in the emulator, pause the game (such that recording starts paused) choose the appropriate option to begin recording a movie. 'Be sure to select 'start from reset'; the run is unlikely to be accepted otherwise.'
Once you have begun recording, you should take the time to familiarise yourself with the two most important components of tool assistance.
The frame advance feature of an emulator allows the game to be played one frame at a time. For most emulators, this is bound by default to the \ key (look in the hotkey configuration to see if this is what the key is). By holding down the keys representing the input for that frame, you are able to determine the input frame-by-frame allowing for the greatest possible precision.
Save states (re-recording)
The emulators in use on the site allow not only for save states, but to allow for preservation of input within the movie being recorded up until the point where the state is saved (this is known as re-recording). By using save states as normal during the recording process, you are able to undo mistakes that you have made at will.
(If you load a state earlier than a good segment you have recorded, do not worry; most of the emulators support the notion of 'bullet-proof recording' where the input leading up to a save state is stored within the state itself, allowing you to just load the later state and proceed as if nothing had happened.)
Here is how experienced TASers use their savestate slots.
Applying the tools - the title screen
Most games have a title screen requiring you to push a button (in general or a specific button) to advance to the main menu or to the game itself. As an exercise in basic tool-assistance, try to find the first frame at which pushing a button will advance the game in this fashion. This works as follows:
- Save a state well before it is possible to advance the screen (this can be as early as starting to record the movie).
- Run the game (frame advance or otherwise) until it is clearly possible to advance. Using the frame number display, make a note of that frame number.
- Load your earlier save state.
- Advance until shortly before the frame number you found earlier and try to cause the game to advance past the title screen by pushing the appropriate button and advancing a few frames to see if it will fade out.
- If this works, make a note of the frame number, reload your earlier state and proceed as above. If it doesn't work, note the frame number and try a later frame.
- By repeating the above, narrow down the range of frames until you reach the desired target frame.
Use of more save states during this process is encouraged, as it can help things go considerably faster.
Much of TASing can be boiled down to this basic procedure - repeating a short segment over and over again until the best possible result is achieved. Here the desired input is relatively trivial (finding the best frame at which to push one button).
TODO: other useful ideas
Getting feedback on your run
Once you have completed a TAS, if it is your first time submitting a TAS it is strongly recommended that you post your input file on the forums prior to using the site's submission feature; this allows our expert players to give feedback on your run and point out flaws that you might have missed. Every player makes mistakes now and again, and it is a lot easier to do this if you do not have as much experience creating runs to the site's standards.
TODO: more justification for submitting to the forums first, and more on submission process
Other useful pages for new players:
- Newcomers' anticipated questions - Other questions from new users.
- Movie Rules - When making movies and submitting them, you must read this page first.
- Guidelines - Good ideas for things to do and not do with your run.
- Submission instructions - When submitting movies, read this page first.
- Common tricks - Some tricks that work in many games. Good general education.
- Luck Manipulation - How to manipulate favorable outcomes in a game.
- Boss fighting guide - Boss tactics.
- Memory search - How to find interesting values in the RAM and use them to your advantage. Many games have useful addresses that can be downloaded as .wch files for the supported emulators. And you can contribute your own.
- Input file editing - How to edit early parts of the movie without destroying what comes after that (does not always work, though).
- List of ideas - Any idea which movie I should create next?
- Game resources - Tricks, glitches, and password generators for Mario series, Mega Man series, Rygar, Metroid, Umihara Kawase, and others.
- Route planning - A small guide for the making of a route or course a game.
Tutorial & Live TAS Videos
- LiveStreams - User made tutorial videos and live TASing
- Works in progress - runs currently being worked on by other players.