Top 5 Speedrunning Tools
There exists an array of different tools and applications that can be highly useful when it comes to speedrunning.
There are endless possible additions you can make to improve the quality of life in your setup – and maybe even gain a competitive edge! From Low Latency Monitors to foot pedals, we will be covering a wide spectrum of different options.
1. Tracking your Progress with Splits
Keeping a close track of your progress is very useful when figuring out where you can improve. With splits software like LiveSplit, you can customize what sorts of information you would like to monitor. Ranging from a simple timer to more complex tools.
For a quick-start guide to Livesplit and how to get it all set up, take a look at our Quick LiveSplit Setup Guide For Speedruns.
Possible Time Save
The Possible Time Save shows how much potential time save there is for each segment in your PB compared to your best segment times. This segment monitoring is really handy for determining just how much time you are gaining or losing per section in the game.
Sum of Best
Your sum of best shows you what the combination of all your best segments put together equals. Think of it as the best possible final time you could achieve if you played “perfectly” for the whole run.
Graphs can be useful for streamers, as they show the run history more concisely than a set of splits can. This can be useful for viewers too if they are joining the stream late and want to find out how the run has gone so far.
This is another engaging way of showing exactly where you are in relation to your personal best. You can sync up a recording of your personal best and effectively race against yourself.
Foot Pedals – The Hands-Free Approach
Having to reach over for a key on your keyboard to split can prove troublesome in some cases.
With a foot pedal, you can keep your hands on the controller at all times. This also opens up opportunities to split more freely, rather than having to wait until there’s enough downtime to reach over for your keyboard.
2. Low Latency Devices – React Faster!
Low latency can be extremely beneficial for games that require fast reaction. There are so many different options that it can be a headache to figure out how exactly to achieve the lowest latency with your setup. However, there are some key devices out there that will help reduce your latency.
‘Retro’ TVs can have lighting fast refresh rates due to the way the cathode-ray technology within them works. The general rule of thumb when selecting an effective CRT television is to distinguish what input sources it accepts. If it has an HDMI port, chances are it has *slow* response times due to the inherent upscaling taking place.
Unfortunately, obtaining a functional CRT in today’s era is becoming more and more difficult, as no new sets are being manufactured and parts are invariably going to fail. This is where low-latency upscalers and line multipliers, such as The RetroTink can be effective.
Upscalers and Line Multipliers
These devices allow for older consoles that are typically unsupported by modern TVs and Monitors, to function properly.
They take the low-resolution signal from older 240p and 480i consoles and resize them to an aspect ratio that modern screens can recognize, such as 1080p.
Line-multiplication devices such as the RetroTink and the OSSC are particularly effective at cutting latency due to how rapidly they are able to repurpose the signal. By keeping to integer factors, they negate many of the latency-reducing pitfalls that upscalers such as the Framemeister introduce.
3. Emulators – The Key to Efficient Speedrun Practice
When it comes to practicing your Speedruns, emulators are a vital tool. They allow you to use Save States to better practice specific parts of the game, as well as track extra information, like how many frames (units of time), have passed.
Another extremely useful thing about using an emulator like Bizhawk is that you can download and playback Tool-Assisted Speedruns in TASstudio. Here you can view every input and its duration, which is amazing for studying how tricks work. You can even TAS things yourself to compare different strategies and figure out which route is fastest – it’s really not as difficult as it appears on the surface!
For a deeper delve into the world of emulators and speedrunning practice, take a peek at our How to Practice Speedruns Efficiently article!
4. Taking Care of Your Health
Breaks and Stretches
One thing I find is all too often neglected in speedrunning spaces is self-care. Taking regular breaks and stretching your hands are crucial practices to implement when spending so many hours actively using your hands. Because even just a brief few minutes of a stretch session every hour will go a long way in reducing hand pain. And doing so will allow you to keep enjoying your session unimpeded by nasty pains.
Wrist straps can be a useful tool for reducing strain on your hands and arms. Breaks and stretches are of course the best preventative measures and ideally, you wouldn’t need to use supports. But for long runs with little downtimes, sometimes you have no choice but to implement other methods of coping with the strain.
Chairs with good support are really important when sitting for a long time at your desk or in front of your TV. Often times additional supports like Lumbar cushions can really improve your posture. Subsequently, this will increase the amount of time you can sit and play comfortably too.
Gaming Chairs or Office Chairs?
A big problem with “gaming-focused” chairs is there is a lot of hype and misinformation surrounding them. You have to do a lot of research to find a good-quality one. Gaming chairs often tend to go with gimmicks and brashness. Often times the more subdued ones are more worth your time.
One reputable brand for gaming chairs is Secretlab, which has collaborated with countless e-sports figures. This chair comes with a customizable integrated lumbar support, which is fantastic for lower-back support.
When it comes to office chairs, ergonomic mesh chairs like the Herman Miller line-up are held in high regard. These chairs place ergonomics first. They might not look premium in appearance, but in terms of comfort, many people swear by them. Of course, there are not the only brands out there worth a try, but they should certainly send you in the right direction when deciding what type of chair will ultimately be right for you.
5. How to Record your Speedruns (The Right Way)
What’s the point of throwing hundreds of hours into speedrunning a game if you don’t have it recorded cleanly, ready to show to the world?
Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is an open-source application that is always adding more and more features.
Furthermore, it is the go-to application used by streamers, and for a good reason. It’s free, it’s feature-rich and the community is continually updating and improving the software. With OBS being open source, there are plenty of additional features you can opt to implement. There are dozens of OBS Plugins you can download and add to your existing OBS build to further enhance the user experience.
Not only is recording your speedruns locally a nice failsafe for any potential internet issues (see also ‘Best Ethernet Cable For Gaming‘), but you can also tweak both your quality settings and what is visible on-screen too. With OBS, you have the option to segment apart direct sources like your video feed and audio sources. This is perfect for removing distracting notifications or talking from your recordings.
Conclusion to the Top 5 Speedrunning Tools List
Ultimately, speedrunning is an open-ended activity. There are so many often overlooked tools waiting out there to be implemented.
Speaking from personal experience as someone who has tried countless tools, I can say they are well worth looking into. Sitting in a supportive chair, and stretching regularly have made a night and day difference in my comfort. Learning how to use TAStools has taught me how to optimize speedruns to a whole new level. Using more Livesplit features has shown me precisely the places I need to focus on more in practice.
So try experimenting with different tools and quality of life upgrades – they might just make things more engaging for you and your viewers!
Callum is a Speedrunner & TASer of underloved games, hoping to give them more recognition.