Speedruns

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The goal of completing a game or a part of a game where time is the most essential measure of success.

Many games, e.g. racing games, depend on completing some activity as quickly as possible. Even so, after one has manage to be the quickest one can try to be better than one was previously or quicker than others have been in other game or play sessions. Similarly, if one has managed to complete a game or a section of a game that didn't depend on time one can have a new challenge in trying to solve the same part quicker. Such attempts are called Speedruns.

Note: Although it is common to differ between the voluntary speed challenges of Speedruns and those required by rules in racing games, this pattern make not distinction between the two as the design options between requiring or encouraging them is minimal.

Examples

Skilled players of the arcade version of Pac-Man managed to reach what has turned out to be the maximum score due to a software bug. The first such perfect score took about 6 hours, but players have found challenges in trying to do this quicker and in 2010 the time has been shaved to less than 4 hours[1].

Racing games such as the Need for Speed series and the Mario Kart series let players try to beat previously time lap records, and so does the 'parkour' game Mirror's Edge. For the Mario Kart series, players can in the Time Trial mode compete against the ghosts of others players' (and the developers') performances and for internet connected versions even download performances to compete against.

The number of stars collected for completing a puzzle in Cogs depend on number of moves and time. Since the unlocking of new levels only depend on total number of stars, players can proceed to complete all levels and later return to fully complete specific levels as a form of Speedrun.

A wiki devoted to Speedruns, Speedrunwiki, exists. Wikipedia also as a page for speedruns[2].

Using the pattern

Speedruns requires the setting of Time Limits for some other goal. These can be explicit set by designers which works well with making them parts of Goal Hierarchies (as in Cogs) or Handicap Achievements (as for the Bridge over Trebled Slaughter Achievement in Left 4 Dead 2). Another solution is to make them depend on the players own previous performances, which can provide a form of Smooth Learning Curves since inexperienced players only need to beat the performances of inexperienced players and let them gradually develop Gameplay Mastery.

Real-Time Games are a prerequisite for Speedruns. This since minimizing time consumption in games that have other ways of measuring times, e.g. by counting turns use in a Turn-Based Games, is more accurately described as a Puzzle Solving activity. Portal is an interesting case for this since it can be seen as an example of both these cases - players can try to solve Levels as quickly as possible in Speedruns but also try to solve Levels in as few steps or portal uses.

Like other cases where players performances are used to create Gameplay Statistics, the pattern require Dedicated Game Facilitators to ensure that completed Speedruns are trustworthy for people not present when the Speedruns occurred. Replays can be used to let others view the Speedruns whenever it suits them as long as means exist to share them.

Player Augmentations make Speedruns easier and may be seen as cheats if the execution is seen as a primary component of performing a particular Speedrun (as compared to finding out how it can be made).

Diegetic Aspects

Replays in the form of Ghosts are a way of making the challenge of Speedruns have presence in Game Worlds as Geospatial Game Widgets. When these Ghosts are downloads of other players performances this makes the games using them into Massively Single-Player Online Games.

Narration Aspects

Speedruns are at conflict with Predetermined Story Structures for the simple reason that they are used to motivate players to replay parts of games several times, something which typically is difficult to combine with a sensible unfolding of a narrative. However, successful or interesting Speedruns are typically Narration Structures worth retelling so this pattern does create Narration Structures.

Consequences

Speedruns are Meta Games in the form of Races - either trying to beat one's own or another players times or trying to complete a part of a game giving a certain Time Limit. Being a pattern dealing with trying to meet Time Limits, Speedruns also cause Time Pressure and very likely Tension as well. When they contain whole game instances, they provide Time Limited Game Instances and help create a lower bound for Negotiable Game Sessions.

Given that Speedruns are built upon completing a goal better than before, they pose Optional Goals to players. Further, since Speedruns motivate players to try to replay games improve their own performances, the use of this pattern also promotes Replayability and development of Gameplay Mastery. In fact, since Speedruns typically are executed to show one's Gameplay Mastery, it is typically done by players wishing to engage in Bragging at some level. This means that the Value of Effort for doing Speedruns are increased if players have the possibility to themselves initiate Extra-Game Broadcasting of the activities or Replays of them. In this way, Speedruns are nearly always done to be able to retell them later as Game Instance Stories.

When Speedruns as instantiated by using previous player performance, these earlier performances are examples of Trans-Game Information used as Gameplay Statistics.

Relations

Can Instantiate

Bragging, Gameplay Mastery, Game Instance Stories, Gameplay Statistics, Goal Hierarchies, Handicap Achievements, Meta Games, Narration Structures, Negotiable Game Sessions, Optional Goals, Races, Replayability, Smooth Learning Curves, Tension, Time Limited Game Instances, Time Limits, Time Pressure, Trans-Game Information

with Extra-Game Broadcasting

Value of Effort

with Ghosts

Massively Single-Player Online Games

Can Modulate

Levels, Real-Time Games

Can Be Instantiated By

Ghosts, Replays

Can Be Modulated By

Dedicated Game Facilitators, Player Augmentations, Replays

Possible Closure Effects

-

Potentially Conflicting With

Predetermined Story Structures

History

New pattern created in this wiki.

References

  1. Wikipedia section on perfect plays of Pac-Man.
  2. Wikipedia entry for the Speedrun concept.

Acknowledgments

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