Dec 16

A Funeral Dirge for Blocks Gone By

NOTE: Direct links to SDA Forum posts don’t work all that well. When linking to one of those, I’ll also note the post I intend to link to with “User X’s post that begins ‘blah blah blah…’”

So, it’s over. Minecraft is cut (Romscout’s post, beginning with “The major change made to the schedule…”) from AGDQ 2015. Now, I have no opinion on Minecraft as a game one way or the other; as a speedrun, I can say I watched the run done at AGDQ 2014 and enjoyed it well enough. I also have no opinion on GiantWaffle and Bacon_Donut as people outside of “They are very popular Let’s Players with no stated speedrunning experience”. Rather, these are some thoughts about how it ended up at this point, and why emotions ran so high (On both sides, though mainly the “anti-Minecraft”* side) about this run in particular.

I’ll preface this by saying that overall, the Games Done Quick events are amazing. The staff behind them do a far better job setting a schedule for them than I ever could (“Golgo-13-a-Thon” is a running joke regarding my game selection abilities), and the events themselves are a ton of fun to watch and to participate in. That said, there’s a balancing act that goes into putting one on, which has some unfortunate consequences.

Speedrun Event? Or Charity Event?
In the name of raising as much money as possible for the charity of choice, all games are not created equal. Certain games (Super Metroid is a literal automatic in, having been in every Games Done Quick so far) and certain runners (ZZT and Castlevania 64 probably don’t get in if Not-Cosmo submit them) have a leg up on others. From that perspective, if you think of a Games Done Quick event as “Charity event first, speedrunning event second”, then having two incredibly popular personalities do a run of a mega-popular game is a logical endpoint, even if they have no previous speedrunning experience (“They’re just Let’s Players” is a bit disingenuous here–a number of speedrunners started out as Let’s Players, and I had beaten Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a grand total of one time when I volunteered it (My post, beginning with Uyama’s quote about “Battletoads (Emptyeye will be here)”) for CGDQ). Frankly, it’s surprising that this is the first instance of it, or at least the first one that caused such an uproar.

That said, a lot of the hostility started here. There were plenty of worthy speedruns that were rejected from AGDQ2015 (The hot-button run this year was Final Fantasy Tactics), in favor of a play purely designed to raise donations. Despite this, I think the anger over this would have subsided had the two put in at least a token good faith effort at practice. But…

We’re Talkin’ About Practice!
Time passed, and to put it charitably, GiantWaffle and Bacon_Donut did not make that good faith effort to practice. One of the forgotten aspects of the genesis of Games Done Quick was the aspect of “We can do better than The Artists Formerly Known As The Speed Gamers“; to that end, “PRACTICE YOUR GAME!!” has been a rule since Classic Games Done Quick. Despite that, while Minecraft was setting up to be a trainwreck, it wouldn’t have been the first time. The Halo run from AGDQ2011 is Legendary for its being awful, The Minish Cap from either SGDQ2011 or 2012 is the reason the “Practice your game” rule is now “No, really, practice your entire game”, and there’s still a part of me that thinks the co-op run of NSMBWii I did with Mrs. Emptyeye for AGDQ2013 is the worst run in GDQ history. The good news is that as streaming has become more, well, mainstream, and the GDQ events themselves have increased in popularity, Mike Uyama and Co. have gotten better at detecting and heading off a lack of practice before it infects the event itself. Except…

SDA:IDIDNTHEARTHAT
To recap: Two incredibly popular personalities submitted a run of a mega-popular game. Since they have no speedrunning experience, it stands to reason that they were only accepted due to their popularity. They did almost no practice after getting accepted, which upset (Bismuth’s post, starting with “I’d like to mention that…”) even people who had initially defended them (Bismuth’s post, starting with “I’d like to say, first…”). Several people pointed this out (A number of posts on that page, but starting with Naegleria’s post, beginning with “what about the Minecraft…”), albeit more sarcastically than they could have. Mike’s response?

“Minecraft: As Deuceler pointed out, they’re working on it” (Mikwuyma’s post, starting with “So I completely forgot…”).

Deuceler was actually pointing out (Deuceler’s post, starting with “Naegleria they have been getting after it”) the exact opposite in a sarcastic manner. This, from my perspective (And to me, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back), was confirmation of some people’s worst fears–Mike figured “But donations!” and was going out of his way to avoid the reality that the run was not going to be good. Which, if “donations” is the primary goal, then fine, although at that point, you’re drifting into the event becoming “Games Done Quick and/or By Famous Let’s Players”. If that isn’t the primary goal, though, then there was little logical reason to ignore the issues that were presented, at least publicly (One reason I could think of would be if Mike had spoken with them in private, and they had showed tangible progress in some kind of private session. There was no reason to believe this was the case).

Luckily, there were some extenuating circumstances–Mike has been sick of late, and when some of the GDQ tasks were publicly** delegated, it turned out the concerns were being taken seriously. While GiantWaffle and Bacon_Donut did get some practice in, it wasn’t enough, and the run was ultimately cut. It was the right choice, and no doubt made a lot of people happy, but I admit that I kind of wanted the run to work. Regardless, what’s done is done, and the replacement, Vanquish, is going to be a pretty amazing watch.

-EE

*- I’m using this as shorthand; more accurately, this would be the side that was “Anti This Particular Minecraft Speedrun Which Had a Bunch of Factors Intertwined With it”.

**- There are always people helping out behind the scenes, of course. Typically, though, Mike has been the “face” of any AGDQ communication. Romscout, Sumichu, and others posting in the last few weeks “On behalf” of AGDQ is the first time I can remember that happening.

Dec 01

Vote on the Next Suffering Saturday!

Suffering Saturday hasn’t gone away, I’ve just been doing my own thing with it while I prepare for the 2500 Follower Special/donation stream. Rad Racer is tough without the continue code.

Anyway, it’s time to bring back the poll. I’m going to be doing something a bit different this time–there will be a week lead time between the closing of the poll and my playing the game. I figure this will give me time to promote it/find fansites of the games/etc. (I managed to get an Ecco the Dolphin fansite interested when I played that without even trying) We’ll see if it works or not.

Speaking of Ecco, joining incumbents Iron Tank and Arcade’s Revenge is the sequel to Ecco, Ecco: The Tides of Time. I’ve heard this one is a bit easier than the original, namely due to the lack of a Welcome to the Machine type level. Our other new game is also a sequel, Vectorman 2, starring our favorite hero made entirely of balls.

One disclaimer is that it may be a bit before the next Suffering Saturday–next weekend (The 6th/7th) is the Follower Special, and the weekend after that, I’ll be helping my wife at a craft show early in the day, and may or may not move Suffering Saturday to later on that day.

In any event, vote vote vote!

-EE

What Game Should I Play For Suffering Saturday #16?

  • Iron Tank (NES) (55%, 6 Votes)
  • Spider Man and the X-Men in Arcade's Revenge (SNES) (36%, 4 Votes)
  • Ecco: The Tides of Time (Genesis) (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Vectorman 2 (Genesis) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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Nov 15

The 2500 Twitch Follower Special Poll

So yesterday, I reached 2500 Twitch followers. This is a pretty big milestone for me, as it’s probably the first set of 500 followers I managed to get without cheap follows on a team page, or as a result of being featured in a Games Done Quick marathon. As such, that means it’s special time!

First of all, the special will be a weekend-long event. The special will take place on the weekend of December 6th and 7th. The content on December 6th will be determined by a poll later on in this post. The Sunday portion of it will be a donation stream. You can click here to donate, and any $6 or more donation means I will play a game of your choice (Within reason) for a half hour. Any $10 or more donation, and I’ll play it for an hour. If I somehow get enough donations, I’ll go through the backlog on later streams.

A note about the donations: It will take roughly $1200 for Mrs. Emptyeye and I to get to AGDQ. If I fail to raise that much, I’ll use the money for paying other bills (Mortgage, etc).

For now, though, vote on what I do for that Saturday!

What Should I Play As Part 1 of the 2500 Follower Special?

  • The 2D Metroid-a-Thon (Metroid, Metroid II, Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion, Metroid: Zero Mission) (56%, 59 Votes)
  • SNES 1-in-5 (I go through my SNES games 5 at a time, you pick one, I play it for 15 minutes) (11%, 12 Votes)
  • NES 1 in 5 (I go through my NES games 5 at a time, you pick one, I play it for 15 minutes) (10%, 11 Votes)
  • Super Meat Boy (XBox 360) 106% (8%, 8 Votes)
  • Attempt I Wanna Be The Boshy and probably get nowhere (8%, 8 Votes)
  • The Suffering Sampler--a Selection of Previous Suffering Saturday Games (7%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 106

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-EE

Nov 01

Vote on the 11/8 Suffering Saturday!

Since I successfully conquered both Ironsword (Albeit with some password shenanigans) and Gradius (100% fairly!) today, that means two new games step in to fight for your Suffering Saturday love.

First up is Spider Man and the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge for the SNES. This was in the Awful Games block of AGDQ2014. I’m not sure it deserved its placement there, but everyone agrees that it’s “balls hard”. I don’t think I’ve beaten even one of the Cyclops levels, for instance.

Our second new contender is Zombies Ate My Neighbors, also for the SNES. This is a top-down game where you try to, well, keep zombies from eating your neighbors. Like many other Suffering Saturday games, it’s quite difficult–I got about halfway through when I was younger.

Choose my destiny!

What Game Should I Play For Suffering Saturday #12?

  • Zombies Ate My Neighbors (SNES) (40%, 21 Votes)
  • Spider Man and the X-Men in Arcade's Revenge (SNES) (36%, 19 Votes)
  • Iron Tank (NES) (13%, 7 Votes)
  • Rad Racer (NES) (11%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 53

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-EE

Oct 27

Vote on the 11/1 Suffering Saturday!

Having successfully defeated The Legend of the Mystical Ninja (Yes, that first “the” is actually in the title), it’s time to resurrect the poll for this upcoming edition of Suffering Saturday. We have an all-NES edition this time, as joining poll mainstay Rad Racer are three new entrants:

Gradius is one of the original “Shmups”, and is also noteworthy for “Gradius Syndrome”, which amounts to “The game gives you lives, but no one is quite sure why, since you’ll use them all after your first death thanks to being incredibly underpowered.”

Ironsword: Wizards and Warriors II is the sequel to a pre-Battletoads Rare game. The music is great, and…not much else about it is that great, honestly. I’ve gotten to the final boss in the past, but could never seal the deal and beat it.

Iron Tank is by SNK, and you take control of a, well, Iron Tank during D-Day. I never got that far into this as a kid.

In any event, choose my fate!

-EE

What Game Should I Play For Suffering Saturday #11?

  • Ironsword: Wizards and Warriors II (NES) (40%, 12 Votes)
  • Gradius (NES) (37%, 11 Votes)
  • Rad Racer (NES) (13%, 4 Votes)
  • Iron Tank (NES) (10%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 30

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Oct 19

The 10/25 Suffering Saturday Game: Legend of the Mystical Ninja!

This past Saturday, after 4 and a half hours or so, I successfully defeated Vectorman. I’ll eventually write about it for Games I Beat In 2014, but for now it’ll suffice to say I enjoyed it more than I would, given how it started, and given I was apparently playing it wrong the whole time.

In any event, because last week’s poll was so close, in lieu of a poll this week, I’m simply going to make the 10/25 game Legend of the Mystical Ninja. This is a game I never beat as a kid, although “punishing of mistakes” is probably a more accurate descriptor than “hard” per se. In any event, it’s a fun game, and it should be enjoyable for everyone, myself included. Tune into my stream on the 25th at noon EDT to see how I do!

-EE

Oct 13

Vote on the 10/18 Suffering Saturday Game!

Suffering Saturday took some time off this past weekend, but it’s back, with two from the previous poll and a couple new entries! Joining Cosmo Tank and Vectorman this week in the poll are Fatal Labyrinth and Legend of the Mystical Ninja! Click on either name for a quick gameplay primer if you’ve never heard of them. Fata Labyrinth is a Roguelike that, oddly, gives you continues, while Legend of the Mystical Ninja is a quirky Americanization of a game in the Goemon series.

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo, choose my game, go go go!

-EE

What Game Should I Play For Suffering Saturday #9?

  • Vectorman (Genesis) (39%, 30 Votes)
  • Legend of the Mystical Ninja (SNES) (38%, 29 Votes)
  • Fatal Labyrinth (Genesis) (18%, 14 Votes)
  • Cosmo Tank (Game Boy) (5%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 77

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Sep 27

Vote for the Second 10/4 Suffering Saturday Game!

I’m continuing to work my way through Ecco the Dolphin. No, after 12 hours of play, I still haven’t beaten it, but I have made it to the infamous Welcome to the Machine level. I even managed to complete it a few times, but I sadly died on the final boss, which meant I got re-welcomed to the machine. All five minutes of it. Each time.

Since I hopefully will break through and beat the boss one of these times next Saturday, I’ve started a poll for what the next game after that should be. Traditionally, I’ve just started the second-place game, but we’re doing something different this time. This time, to make up for the lack of poll this past week, you get to pick which game I’ll be kicking off upon the completion of Ecco. And for the first time, you have four games to choose from!

Joining Rad Racer and Cosmo Tank this time are two newcomers. Vectorman for the Genesis is a game I don’t know much about other than A. It’s hard, and B. There was a contest upon its release where you could win $25000 for, I think, being the first person to beat it. Kid Icarus for the NES is “The not-that-good game created on the Metroid engine”. It’s also hard. It has multiple endings, but what you have to do to actually get them is pretty arcane, and involves at least one “score” the game keeps track of that you can’t see.

Choose my 10/4 fate!

What Should the Second Game for Suffering Saturday #8 Be?

  • Kid Icarus (NES) (50%, 25 Votes)
  • Vectorman (Genesis) (34%, 17 Votes)
  • Cosmo Tank (Game Boy) (10%, 5 Votes)
  • Rad Racer (NES) (6%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 50

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Sep 14

Vote on the 9/20 Suffering Saturday!

With another week of suffering came another game defeated. I managed to get through all of Snake Rattle ‘N Roll, so that means it’s time for another game to take its place in the poll.

Joining Cosmo Tank and Rad Racer as your voting options this week is our first Genesis game. That’s right, it’s Flipper for my generation, Ecco the Dolphin! If you weren’t a Genesis kid, click here for a gameplay primer. Ecco the Dolphin involves aliens, time travel, and most infamously (And the main reason it’s a Suffering Saturday candidate), a five-minute-long autoscroller named after a Pink Floyd song that you have to re-do if you die on the final boss.

Anyway, I have a feeling I already know what’s going to win, but it’s not up to me. Choose my fate!

What Game Should I Play For Suffering Saturday #6?

  • Ecco the Dolphin (Genesis) (51%, 25 Votes)
  • Rad Racer (NES) (27%, 13 Votes)
  • Cosmo Tank (Game Boy) (22%, 11 Votes)

Total Voters: 49

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-EE

Sep 07

Vote on the 9/13 Suffering Saturday!

First off, thanks to everyone who’s been voting so far. The voting totals are climbing, which makes me happy. We broke 60 votes for the first time with this past poll!

This past week, I managed, with many continues, to defeat 3-D Worldrunner. I then beat it twice more instantly. So that means a new game gets swapped into the Suffering Saturday poll rotation (If you’re curious, I got to race 5 of 8 in Rad Racer with the rest of the time I had.)

Joining Snake Rattle N’ Roll and Rad Racer is our first Game Boy game, Cosmo Tank! Check out a brief gameplay primer here, but Cosmo Tank is a genre-blending game by Atlus that combines overhead and first-person tank action. You’re trying to save a solar system from some evil aliens, or something (It’s been a long time since I played it). Similar to Blaster Master, it really needed some kind of save system; starting over from the beginning every time was not fun.

In any event! Choose my fate!

-EE

What Game Should I Play For Suffering Saturday #5?

  • Snake, Rattle 'N Roll (NES) (40%, 17 Votes)
  • Cosmo Tank (Game Boy) (33%, 14 Votes)
  • Rad Racer (NES) (27%, 11 Votes)

Total Voters: 42

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