How Communities Help Speedrunners Achieve the Impossible

Collaboration is Key

The opportunity to connect, compete, and collaborate with others may be one of speedrunning’s most appealing aspects. With the success of the Games Done Quick fundraising events, it’s it has lead to extensive coverage from major news outlets. We continue to recover from a pandemic that has disrupted our daily lives. So it is not entirely surprising that individuals would increasingly turn to the internet for some much-needed social interaction.

Yet the history of speedrunning reaches far beyond the pandemic.

For many, its appeal is not rightly described as a mere distraction from the trials of daily life. More than just a “social” activity, speedrunning is exemplary among internet communities. It provides an environment where people pool their talents to achieve goals once thought impossible.

From TAS makers to glitch hunters and to Twitch subscribers. Numerous individuals can be said to have paved the way for the achievements of the most successful speedrunners. Examining popular and lesser-known communities alike, this article highlights just a handful of the remarkable contributions. These contributions were made by people who not only love speedrunning but who love to help others get the most out of the activity.

Super Support for SM64 Speedrunners

Super Mario 64 boasts one of the largest and most energetic speedrunning communities out there. It features talented runners who often secure primetime slots at GDQ events. More generally, among speedrunning fans, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of the iconic Backwards Long Jump. Yet the SM64 speedrunning scene would probably look very different if not for the robust network of support runners receive from the larger community. You may already know how something like the BLJ glitch became such an important part of the 64 speedrun. But the BLJ is only one trick among many.

The complex movement that seems effortless for some top-level runners is the result of years of trial and error. Numerous players built on others’ ideas until a reliable (and reliably fast) strategy emerged.

Documenting the Collaboration and History

A Google site called SM64 100% Credit is an impressive archive of this collaboration. This site is hosted by a community member named circumark994. SM64 100% Credit is a place where SM64 runners and anyone else interested can upload their latest ideas. These uploads can range from movement to routing along with other elements of the speedrun. Novice runners will benefit greatly from links to helpful tutorials and guides. There are countless guides, such as this breakdown of the infamous “Salt Cannonless” strategy.

Various Cannonless strategies are very difficult series of movements known for ending countless SM64 runs. And the trick is done before the runs really get going.

Using the documentation new runners can get a deep understanding of the speedrun within a shortened period of time. Furthermore, veteran runners who have done their fair share of grinding can try out a wealth of relatively unexplored strategies. And perhaps they even could discover a major timesave in the process.

Of these veteran runners, one stands out. Former SM64 120-star world record holder Simply recently praised circumark for a rather odd little timesave that lends itself to some crass jokes.

The discovery has since been implemented in top-level attempts by some of the game’s biggest runners. At the beginning of his video on the topic, Simply is very clear about circumark’s importance to the SM64 community. Simply explains that “a majority of the time that has been saved in Mario 64 speedrunning is due to this man.”

For the Love of the Community

At Speed Gaming News, we put a heavy focus on helping the community. When considering what to write next, our first thought is what we should write next. And how we determine that is based on what we believe will be most helpful for the readers. We want to provide utility to new and veteran speedrunners or gamers alike.

It’s because of this we’ve built out helpful resources, such as a complete guide to setting up the Livesplit speedrun timer. If we believe it can benefit one person in the community, then we also believe it to be worth our time. But as for YouTubers, they are also making big strides in building the community.

Summoning Salt and Making Speedrun History

You may have heard of this YouTube creator that has famously sought to document the history of various speedrunning achievements. Summoning Salt has become something of a “household name” among fans of speedrunning. As many speedrunning fans will already know, the making of these videos has expanded into a genre of its own. “History of” or “world record progression” is now being documented by runners and viewers alike. Many creators try their hand at the investigative and creative work required to make an engaging story out of a sequence of leaderboard times.

Despite differences in creator, topic, and storytelling style, these videos tend to have one element in common. They all highlight the recursive process by which speedrunners improve on previous best times. Not only through improved execution, but also through mutual innovation and collaboration.

Let’s turn our attention to a lesser-known but truly “epic” video. The history of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey speedruns.

Any One Speedrunner Can Make A Difference

Speedrunner and YouTube creator MKarma documents the contributions of a community member by the name of Aceprune1. Aceprune became legendary for his discovery of several massive timesaves. Aceprune may not be as interested in running the game as the more dominant players. But nevertheless, they’ve played a huge role in driving down the Any% world record.

Their impact featured some truly game-breaking out-of-bounds movement that made previously tricky sections a breeze. For MKarma, at least, it seemed clear that Aceprune did not contribute his findings for the purpose of fame.

This was a community member who loved to innovate for innovation’s sake.

Of course, it should also be noted that the work of creators like MKarma and Summoning Salt reveals collaboration on another level. They both emerge from the support of the community and attract further collaboration from newcomers. In a Reddit post MKarma announced the completion of the almost 3-hour-long video. Within the post, MKarma reiterated that his work is meant to give back to the community. The same community that gave him so much.

Technical Difficulties

Not all of us have a deep understanding of the systems that make video games work. And so it is to the great relief of technologically inept people (such as myself) that community members are willing to use their knowledge of code and programming for the benefit of speedrunners. While not always as celebrated as the people who discover crazy timesaves, technically included individuals have contributed a great deal to the continued success and growth of speedrunning communities.

To contrast the more “localized” fame of innovators like circumark and Aceprune, in one particularly interesting case, the person who stepped in to help on the technical side of things was already “famous”. An unassuming message at first glance, a December 2021 reddit post by u/dansalvato sought to provide a more readily understandable breakdown of the mechanics behind the movement in the Super Mario Bros. game.

Increasing the Accessibility

Building on the work of another major project to disassemble the entirety of the game’s code, Salvato’s simplified flowchart aimed to make this specialized resource more accessible. Especially to those who lacked a programming background. With some surprise, commenters on the post soon recognized the original poster. They recognized them as the mind behind 2017’s genre-defying thriller, Doki Doki Literature Club.

Although this was not Salvato’s first contribution to the speedrunning community, his post was nevertheless a special moment for some r/speedrunning users. They seemed both shocked and delighted to see an established, highly regarded game developer sharing original content for the benefit of SMB speedrunners.

Community and Speedrunning

Anyone who has seriously tried to speedrun a game will understand how big of a role the community plays in the pleasure of the activity. In the past year, a close friend of mine was able to build a relationship with another runner passionate about the mobile game Wayward Souls. The two ended up frequently watching each other’s streams and excitedly sharing all their latest discoveries.

Personally, I have always been shocked at the generosity of community members. Many people involved always seem willing to explain a topic in depth to a novice like me. And considering the way the internet can sometimes train us to focus only on ourselves, the collaborative, communal focus of speedrunning is a breath of fresh air.

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