TODO: Revisit and see what is redundant on the parent TASingGuide page.
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.

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 MovieRules 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. Consult the help pages for the emulator you're using is a good place to start.
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) and choose the appropriate option to begin recording a movie. 'Be sure to select 'start from reset' or 'start from power-on' or similar; the run is unlikely to be accepted if it is started from a savestate.'
Once you have begun recording, you should take the time to familiarise yourself with the two most important tools available to assist you.

Frame advance

The frame advance feature of an emulator allows the game to be played one frame at a time. For many 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 move the game forward frame-by-frame, allowing for the greatest possible precision.

Save states (re-recording)

The emulators accepted 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.)
Experienced TASer's have different workflows for how they 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:
  1. Save a state well before it is possible to advance the screen (this can be as early as starting to record the movie).
  2. 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.
  3. Load your earlier save state.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. By repeating the above, narrow down the range of frames using a binary search 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).

Other techniques

The method above is the traditional repetitive process of holding down the buttons you want to press on that frame and then tapping the frame advance button, chorded-input style. An alternative method is to use an input editor, sometimes called a piano roll editor, assuming the emulator you're using supports it. FCEUX has a stable input editor with good documentation on how to use it.
Depending on the kind of TAS you're making you may find the input editor / piano roll editor method is a more intuitive interface.

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

More information

Other useful pages for new players:



Advanced techniques

Run planning


TASingGuide/TASHowTo last edited by Samsara on 8/22/2023 4:48 AM
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