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Platform Tour v1.0.4 with WAVs (VB.NET 2003) 452 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 80MB Project Page
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Guide on How to Use the .NET programs on my website.

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Iceplug News

Sep 14, 2020, 22:42
Terrible Storm With An Underwhelming Name
About a month ago, Iowa was hit with a terrible windstorm that caught everyone by surprise. Around 11am on Monday, August 10th, I observed that it was becoming incredibly dark outside and that dark ominous clouds were building up overhead. This was a bit surprising because the weather forecast five hours ago did not make any mention of extraordinary weather. I had preserved the daily forecast at 6am, which only mentioned that there was about a 50% chance of rain; no severe weather warning, tornado warning, high wind advisory, or anything else. The weather that would occur over the next hour until about 12pm would be nothing short of extraordinary. Notably, while there was a considerable amount of rain, the winds were nearly a hundred miles per hour. I observed the Internet becoming unavailable, thus ensuring that I would be unable to get a weather forecast more recent than the one from 6am. The electricity followed soon after, leaving me with little to do other than to observe the fury of the storm that I suddenly found myself in. I observed transformers exploding, large tree limbs falling off, debris being thrown into people's yards, and the sounds of structures being put to the test. The shed in my backyard would never be the same. The weather was very similar to a hurricane, something that I have already lived through, thanks to Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. Differences, however, were in the duration of the storm (only two hours tops, versus Hurricane Katrina which lasted at least six hours), the windspeed (slightly less, based on what I remember from how the trees looked from being hit with the wind), and the lack of warning (a hurricane allows people days of preparation beforehand).
After the storm hit, my house was without power for the next three days (compare to Hurricane Katrina, where I was without electricity for two and a half weeks). Power would be sequentially restored to areas of the city, but I wanted to have electricity to charge my laptops and phone. After about three days of no electricity, I realized that the electricity would probably be restored to the university's Electrical and Computer Engineering areas, so I went there and charged my laptop. Unbeknownst to me, the electricity to my own house would be restored an hour after I left home. Well, that's fortunate. I never lost my water after the storm and Internet access returned along with the electricity. Contrast with Hurricane Katrina, where we lost water for five days and Internet access was not restored with electricity.
After getting the Internet back, I immediately search for what just hit us. It happens once every five years and it's called a "derecho". At this point, I'm upset: we just got hit with cataclysmic windstorms and someone named these after the Spanish word for straight/right? How underwhelming. Someone should have renamed these things "Vientos Mortales" or "Perturbaciónes del Inframundo". "We got windstorms that look like straight lines. What should we call them? 'Straight Line Winds?' No, that's too basic. Make them sound exotic. Oh, I got it! We'll say them in Spanish because that's not a common language!"

Aug 3, 2020, 23:00
I got myself tested for the Coronavirus this weekend after experiencing a few cardiopulmonary oddities. Essentially, I felt pressure on my heart, my lungs felt partially filled after a deep breath, stomach and back pains, and a little bit of a cough and sore throat. Fortunately, my COVID-19 test came back negative and suddenly most of those problems disappeared. It's the weirdest thing!

Apr 22, 2020, 11:48
I Finally Beat Final Fantasy 7
Yesterday, I beat Final Fantasy 7 for the first time. It is not an exaggeration to say that the hype for the remake raised some inspiration for me to go back and finish it off. So, before I'm completely engrossed in the FF7 Remake, I want to talk about the original.

This entry contains spoilers for the original Final Fantasy 7 and contains no spoilers for Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

First off, FF7 is not my favorite Final Fantasy. On a good day, FF7 would be in my top five, but more often than that, it's not. FF7 competes with FF4 and FF9, but is definitely above FF5. Of course, simply saying that FF7 is not my favorite Final Fantasy doesn't really mean much, but there's a reason for it, and that's what I'm going to talk about here.

My biggest contention with FF7 is that it always seems juvenile. It embodies the spirit of a child that is trying to be edgy and doesn't quite understand the world it's living in.
Granted, I did not play FF7 when it was released in the late 90s. In fact, when I was in high school, my friends mentioned that they were playing FF7 on their Sony Playstation, whereas I purchased a Nintendo 64, under the faulty assumption that all of the series on Super Nintendo would naturally continue over onto the N64. I wouldn't get around to playing FF7 until 6 years after graduating high school. I suppose that, if I played FF7 when I was still in my "formative years" (13-14 years old), I would look back on it a little more fondly. (It would have then been either the second or third Final Fantasy that I would play, in close contention with FF1, which was only $10. Granted, this would require me to have a Playstation 1, which was a no-go, as video game consoles were almost unaffordable -- the N64 would be enough.)
Regardless, I played FF7 at the age of 22, well after graduating college, being accustomed to the internet, living in the world as a self-sufficient adult, and after already playing through numerous FFs (at this point, I had played FF1, FF4, FF6, and FF8). I approached FF7 expecting improvements on FF6 and knowing that it will be a little less refined than FF8. I was well-aware of the blocky character models but otherwise kept myself unspoiled on FF7. I was not prepared for the other oddities that FF7 would present.

-Swearing-
For starters, one of FF7's notable features is what felt like gratuitous swearing. FF7 stands out between FF6 and FF8 as having a lot of swearing. Most of it felt unnecessary. Yes, FF6 had the one #$&@# that you had to look for, and FF8 was grown enough to at least keep itself uncensored. FF7's swearing immediately came across to me as pathetic Internet fanfiction or a Jerry Springer show, where I wanted to ask, "Why is this presentation like this? Have the inmates taken over the asylum?" All of the swears made sense for the most part, but that's not the point. It would take me several years to understand that the reason that FF7 reminds me of "pathetic edgy fan fiction" is actually because this fan fiction is modeled after FF7 rather than the other way around. Nevertheless, the overreaching edginess of FF7 is one of the first things that tainted the FF7 experience for me. I find people who write favorably about FF7, describing the swearing as 'endearing' and making note of how vulgar each particular character is in the game. I'm definitely not one that will look at swearing with great excitement. The swearing in the game is, however, decipherable, for the most part. There's one line, in particular, in Rocket Town, where it looks like Cid's cat just walked across the keyboard (seriously, it's like 15 symbols and then there's a 'T' in there).

-Barret-
Again, coming off of FF6, with its fleshed-out magical beings (races) such as Moogles, Kappas, Chocobos, and that one Sasquatch, FF7 features its own magical beings. And then, there's Barret. My reaction to Barret was sort of a slide from relief to disbelief. My reaction to Barret over the course of the game went something like this: "Oh, Barret is black. Well, at least they're putting the black guy front and center this time." (This is, because FF7 came in between FF8's Kiros, Laguna's voice of reason, and FF6, which had a relatively homogenous cast of humans.) Then Barret started swearing and yelling, and I thought, "Oh, cool, he's already angry." Then Cloud and the rest of Barret's group AVALANCHE (why is AVALANCHE in all caps?) are ridiculing Barret, and I thought, "Oh, cool, he's not even to be taken seriously." Then I found out that Barret has a gun for an arm and I thought, "Oh, cool, he can be permanently perceived as a threat." (*) At this point, I wondered if there would be any aspect of Barret that's not just a complete stereotype of a black man. Will they have Barret dance or eat chicken and watermelon (the answer is "no", by the way, probably because it would be a bit much at this rate).
The story of Barret gets interesting with the introduction of Barret's noticeably not-black daughter, Marlene. My next question is, "Okay, how did Marlene happen? Please don't tell me that Barret is also aggressively procreating." Again, this is at the bar 15 minutes into the game. While you don't see that many people in the game at this point, it's still very noticeable that there aren't that many black people wandering around in the game. In fact, I wouldn't see another black person for essentially the entire game. Yes, there are a few black people in Wall Market (**) and then there's the antagonistic Rude, but neither of them are as black as Barret are (perhaps, for artistic purposes), and are still few and far between. Even when you get to Barret's hometown, you still don't find any of Barret's family. Naturally, Barret gets wrongfully convicted of a crime and gets thrown into prison with the entire party. (This part of the story questionably works well, but I in my first playthrough wasn't entirely thrilled about this part and even in subsequent playthroughs, this part still bothers me. Perhaps its because Barret is mistaken for definitely-not-black Dyne, even though Dyne has already been in prison for long enough to decide who gets to leave prison somehow [someone please help me understand this part].) After the events of Corel Prison, Barret's familial relationship reaches the point at which it will be for the rest of the game.
Again, I saw people write favorably about Barret: "This is the only black man in FFs history" back in 2006, emphasizing that this is not only how Final Fantasy thought to represent its first major black character, but also how people would relate to black characters of Final Fantasy. FF8's Kiros is an afterthought and, while equally familyless in FF8, at least lives in a world with more than two people of the same race. FF10 prominently features antagonistic, but well-intentioned, Dona, among other black NPCs. But yet, everyone's favorite game contains my least favorite character archetype and I have never been able to look past it (* big stars here *).

-Side note-
In fact, it's still strange in retrospect how Barret is the only major character in the game that lacks a family. Throughout FF7, you see Cloud's mom, Tifa's dad, both of Aeris's parents, both of Nanaki's parents, and even father's of Yuffie and Vincent, to some degree. The only other characters that seem devoid of family are Cait Sith (through cognizance of Shinra Spy Reeve, although you won't ever learn enough about him until late in the game) and Cid (perhaps it's too late for Cid to start now). To note, not a single black character in Final Fantasy will ever have a visible family member until FFXIII.

-Gameplay and Story Conflict-
Known generally as ludonarrative dissonance, where one word almost never exists without the other, FF7 features two general cases of this.
The first one works questionably well: how is Cloud an Ex-member of SOLDIER, one of Shinra's elite fighting agencies, equally as capable of dispatching Shinra troops as almost completely untrained members Barret and Tifa? This gets more pronounced as the Kalm flashback clearly demonstrates Sephiroth easily dropping four-digit damage on any single enemy: why doesn't Cloud join your party dealing most of the damage? Other Final Fantasy games have happily had people join your party several levels behind and unable to contribute to battle until dozens of battles later after a few levels up. Perhaps it is a good indicator that Cloud isn't quite the person he claims to be. It struck me as odd that Cloud had so much qualification in battle for being not terribly remarkable, but it didn't register to me that this could be part of the narrative. Even in retrospect, having Cloud start the game off at, for instance, Level 45 would be a little much, so I still can't rationalize making Cloud more competent at the beginning anyway.
The second instance is Shinra's combat capability. The machines that Shinra employs are all progressively harder to defeat as an individual unit. Consider that Air Buster is a relatively dangerous machine with tons of explosives and guns mounted onto it and the party completely vaporizes this machine. Hundred and Heli Gunners attack from the questionable location of *the adjacent elevator* rather than on the party's actual elevator, but otherwise goes down just as quickly as other machines to this point. Motor Ball, aside from a very stylish entry, slowly inconveniences the party with fire attacks and maybe attacks with its considerably weaker *spiky wheel base*. Your party leaves Midgar and otherwise avoids conflict with Shinra for almost a whole disc worth of battles until we get to the Huge Materia mission, where we, after destroying a few things that are questionably Shinra's machines, get to fight Shinra's ultimate wartime robot, Carry Armor. At this point, we've been mopping the floor with Shinra's machines. Carry Armor, on the other hand, has the special ability to *grab your characters*, which renders them completely helplessly in combat. In addition, it now owns the singular skill Lapis Laser, which deals an unprecedented amount of damage. Why didn't Shinra make machines this competent in Midgar?
Of course, one may say, "Well, the game would be impossible if Carry Armor guarded the first reactor and just held your party to death." Firstly, Guard Scorpion isn't the only Shinra machine the party fights in Midgar. A mechanical boss battle at some point in Midgar that even was able to be made more annoying with Slow, Stop, or Paralysis would possibly indicate this. Secondly, Carry Armor represents Shinra learning how to best deal with your party. Shinra unconvincingly making a machine that suddenly is able to unilaterally incapacite your party members would make more sense if it could have been derived from an earlier machine. For instance, if Carry Armor inflicted a stronger version of Reno's Pyramid, then it would reflect things learned from Reno and Midgar a lot better. (Side note: why does Reno stop using Pyramid after the top of the Sector 7 Pillar? Reno becoming significantly less vicious in battle sort of make the Turks seem a lot more ridiculous than perhaps the "cool" that they were going for. Rude is still pretty cool and well done. Side Side Note: I always registered Rude's movement for what was supposed to be adjusting his sunglasses as either pointing upwards or deadpan fist pumping; alas, you can only do so much with FF7 PS1 graphics). As it stands, it seems completely ridiculous that Shinra made a machine that can grab you to the point of incapacitation and there's nothing that your party can do about it. (Side note: you can argue that Carry Armor is analogous to the Tentacle boss in FF6. That battle is different in two ways: firstly, Tentacle is an organic boss, not a machine, and secondly, Tentacle cannot unilaterally grab your characters. Tentacle must first slow your characters before a second Tentacle can successfully Seize your characters. A character wearing the RunningShoes is consequently incapable of being Seized. FF8 features no such enemy that can unilaterally incapacitate your party members, perhaps reflecting a lesson learned here.)

-Cait Sith-
Cait Sith, the Shinra spy, meets your party in Gold Saucer, and essentially forces itself into your party. One can only wonder why or how Cait Sith got there, but don't worry about that. Cait Sith then gives the Shinra Turks the key to the Ancients very openly at Gold Saucer. The party cannot do anything about it because Cait Sith has Marlene hostage. While the party's actions are acceptable at this point, why does Cait Sith out himself very openly to give the Turks the Keystone at Gold Saucer rather than at the Temple of the Ancients? Why are we treated to this sentimental scene with Cait Sith grabbing the Black Materia as the privilege of being the only mass-producible entity at this point? More importantly, why is Cait Sith no longer used by Shinra after the Temple of the Ancients to, for instance, steal the Huge Materia? It seems like this point was thrown away just to cast suspicion on Cait Sith and put Marlene back in the story.

-Yuffie-
To be honest, my first playthrough ended in Wutai after recruiting the optional character Yuffie and taking the Tiny Bronco to Wutai island only to have my materia stolen(?) and to have to search for Yuffie in the city on the other side of the island. While I could leave at any time, I reacted unfavorably to having to do this quest when I wanted to explore the world that was just opened up to me. I saved over my only file in Wutai and, upon realizing I was stuck, I stopped playing for several months. My second attempt avoided the entirety of Wutai like the plague (although I still recruited Yuffie, she also stayed out of my party). It was only this most recent playthrough where I completed the story. I realized essentially while walking to Wutai that the payoff was almost certainly not going to be worth the hassle as my past memories were coming back.

-Game control issues-
Targeting during battle is pretty rough for the first 3D Final Fantasy that Squaresoft would release. Selecting an target is based on their locations at the time you press the button. Most battles are set up with the enemies on the left and your party on the right. However, given that enemies and friends alike dash across the battlefield to their target, this means that *sometimes* pressing toward the desired team will target the wrong team. I've got several bullets shot into Tifa because I wanted to have Barret shoot an enemy in the backrow, but Tifa somehow appeared in between two enemies in that short amount of time. Fortunately, FF8 reverted this back to enemies' initial position and that this was largely unnecessary in FF6.
I also played the game on fastest speed with Battle Mode Active. It made a lot of battles very difficult; items were mostly a no-go, as the in-battle Item Menu only shows three items at a time (I had to memorize where the Phoenix Downs were after every Item sort so as to not get completely killed by the enemy). I turned on Cursor Memory, but it resets after each battle(?). While I acknowledge that Battle Mode Active with maximized Battle Speed was probably a self-inflicted handicap, selecting items from the Menu with so few options available was a bit of a challenge.

Good Parts.
-Music-
One of the strongest parts of the game undoubtedly. The battle and theme songs are all well-placed. Several of these songs I heard of well before I played the game the first time, even back in ~2006. Some I remember hearing in this most recent playthrough that I forgot were in the game and was pleasantly surprised to hear them again. There're a lot of songs that only play in one very specific part of the game (those are the ones that I forget are in the game). Some of my favorites are the JENOVA theme and the music in the Northern Crater. I'm also a big fan of the Battle Square music (although, that song is one that I've listened to a lot outside of playing FF7).
One thing I really liked that I don't see in a lot of other games is Mt. Corel, which features very sentimental music playing while walking through an incredibly hostile area. It sets a mood that is hard to describe, but it is a very unique feeling that has stuck with me through many years.
The only gripe I have with the music is that the town music seems uninspired (like, Rocket Town needs its own music, given that other fairly important towns like Costa Del Sol, Upper Junon, and Nibelheim all have very unique songs, but Mt. Nibel and Sector 5 Slums have the same song). Wouldn't it suck to live in a town with the generic town song? Despite this, FF7's town music diversity does fit pretty nicely between FF6 and FF8.

-Materia System-
Final Fantasy 7's materia system feels a lot like a more refined upgrade to FF6's equipment-magic leveling system. In FF6, a lot of somewhat mundane skills are blocked off by endgame espers that you won't get to until it's too late (in particular, you get Flare after defeating Doom Gaze, which requires a considerable effort even to fight the first time, much less the second time when you're actually able to considerably damage the thing before it runs away). In FF7, on the other hand, your characters can theoretically learn Bolt3 before ever leaving the first stage. Another thing to note is that the AP costs work really well. Despite having these materia for the entirety of the game, I learned top-tier magic at a point in the game that would reflect a somewhat natural time to have them. The daunting nature of seeing that you need 24000 AP to learn Life2 is completely lost when you learn it in the final level (assuming you've had it equipped this whole time).
In addition, Materia opens up a lot of possibilities in FF7 that is unlike any other game. Sure, maybe the All materia is a bit contrived (you had the ability to select multiple targets at the beginning of FF6), but then you have Elemental and Added Effect (in FF8, these each split to Atk-J and Def-J variants, learnable only by getting AP on the correct GF), not to mention the more out-of-control Materia that you get near the end of the game (Steal as Well, what in the world?; Mega All, what in the world?; Master Command Materia, lol). And then you have the Underwater Materia.

-Storyline Events-
As much as I discussed the issues that I had with the story, it is still a good indicator of a story how thoroughly you can go into specific points. For instance, I can only discuss how strange it is that Cait Sith outs himself as a Shinra Spy unless there was enough of the story holding it up to that point. My first playthrough was vaguely cognizant of a rich storyline that I wasn't terribly interested in while playing. However, there were a few points which really brought out the FF7 storyline.
Aeris's death is pretty obvious. I played FF7 relatively spoiler-free, so the surprise of seeing Aeris's death caught be completely by surprise. Seeing the party naturally get enraged at Sephiroth and solemnly carry Aeris off to her burial (at sea?) was pretty powerful. Another, not often mentioned portion of this fight, is that you fight a somewhat nasty boss while you're still reacting to Aeris's death. This, in my opinion, is a concept that hasn't been touched on in any other Final Fantasy. A boss battle juxtaposed directly while your characters are "progressing through the stages of grief" to serve as a "keep your wits about you" is superb narrative construction and I always look forward to that point.
Other points are Elmyra discussing how she became Aeris's guardian is presented in a very stylistic fashion. Part of what makes the presentation work is how it is presented in what I would call a 'fairly PS1' manner. It is essentially the only part of the game that is presented like that. There are other points which reflect it a little bit, but the Elmyra-Aeris scene is still pretty standout.

That's essentially all I have about FF7. Replay value for FF7 for me would be based on fighting every enemy and leveling every Materia. My first playthrough (2006), as mentioned earlier, ended with me stuck without my Materia in Wutai when I wanted to explore the world. The second playthrough (2006) died to Safer Sephiroth. I remember watching Super Nova and I'm pretty sure I died shortly afterward. My third playthrough (2013?) just ended out of disinterest after getting to Icicle Inn. My fourth playthrough (2020) would be the one that ended in success. For comparison's sake, it took me three attempts to beat FF8, and it's hard to pin down the number of FF6 attempts, mostly because I rented the game a few times, but I would say that it took 2-3 times to finish FF6. Regardless, I'm glad I finally played it and added some closure to this point in my life. Carry Armor sucks. I'm sure your opinions are different than mine, but I wanted to give you reasons as to why I feel the way that I do.

My favorite Final Fantasy list is something like this:
FF10, FF6, FF8, FF12, FF4, FF9, FF7, FF5, FF13 with the other Final Fantasy games being too different to really group in with the others. Maybe FF9 and FF7 are in fluctuation, possibly with FF4, but I definitely like FF12 more than FF4, FF9, and FF7. FF5 is definitely lower than FF7. FF13 is in the position that it is mostly because I haven't played it recently. I avoided the online Final Fantasy games (FF11 and FF14), I have played neither FF3 nor FF15, and I have not finished FFX-2. FF1 and FF2 are their own games.
Asterisks in the above list are indicative of things that the FF7 Remake is taking in a different direction.

Feb 19, 2020, 9:22
The topic of "strat hiding" came up again so I wrote a little bit about it.

What is "strat hiding"? There is a simple definition of "strat hiding", which is simply 'hiding strategies from the community'. Naturally, there's more to it than that, because while a lot of communities are looking for strategies to improve their run, at some point the community gets so big that they're almost certainly not scouring every single run to find the fastest strategy. One could, in this regard, "hide" a strategy effectively in plain sight, but this isn't how "strat hiding" is used. Rather, "strat hiding" is implied as more malicious and self-serving, where a runner intentionally keeps their strategies to be secret. But why would runners keep their strategies secret from the community?

The simplest reason is to get world record. While the rest of the community is perhaps stuck in a mindset where a particular route must be the fastest, one runner redefines the route to finish the game faster than anyone else and obtain the world record. There are a few things to pull from this. The first is that the runner is going for the world record while his community is effectively in the dark. It puts a spotlight on the community's failure to develop the fastest strategy. It demonstrates that the community's general speedrun routes are fallible. But more than that, it demonstrates the distances that some are willing to go just to get the world record.

It's easy to ridicule someone for wanting the world record, but it's naive to assume that having the world record has no value. If you, with an interest in speedrunning, look up any video game, the first things that you find are 1) on Youtube, usually, the person who ran it at the most recent GDQ and 2) almost anywhere else, the person who has the world record in this game. Let's look at, for instance, Super Mario World:

On YouTube, you find "Super Mario World by mystakin in 1:37:40 - GDQx 2019" (this isn't the most recent run, as SMW was run as "One-Mind" at AGDQ2020); on Google, you find "The current 96 Exit speedrun record of Super Mario World is held by speedrunner Lui". (Thanks, Wikipedia.)

This information shouldn't be terribly surprising, given any amount of time being involved in speedrunning. It also shouldn't be surprising that some may try to lie, cheat, and steal their way to the top (see any number of videos involving spliced runs getting WR). In this regard, "strat hiding" is small fish compared to cheating. Nevertheless, "strat hiding" is still a way to get world record with demonstrable effort.

If it's so bad, how can "strat hiding" be mitigated? For starters, since "strat hiding" is (not by definition) done in order to get world record, the idea is that one could diminish the importance of getting world record to diminish the effect of "strat hiding". This is possible, but not nearly to a viable extent. One example that comes to my head is Super Mario 64. Everyone knows about cheese having the world record, but let's not forget that cheese primarily runs the 120-star category. There are other categories that exist in Super Mario 64, but I don't hear about them nearly as much as I do about the 120-star record. 120-star isn't even the most popular category if you go by number of runs - 70 Star and 16 Star all have more runs, with 16 Star having a staggering 2000+ runs. Who's got the console world record in 16-star? Maybe you know, but I had to look it up: the current record holder is Dowsky. Hard efforts don't seem to equate to high-visibility event scheduling or organization on your behalf in these realms. Now, it's unlikely that the community intentionally made it that way; this subordination of categories are, more than likely, just an effect of having one or more really popular people playing one category, in particular.

Secondly, from simply a prospective of self-worth, giving your community a strategy is much less likely to lead to anything of merit than getting a world record. What incentive is there to give your strategy to the community if your community will just separate your name from your discovery and give your strategy to the "rightful" world record holder, who will then demonstrate your strategy on stage at any speedrun marathon without any reference to you. One positive counterexample is the run of Control by Bryonato at AGDQ2020, where he makes numerous references to members of the community who discovered specific tricks (see 33:33). Despite this, Control is a game that was released less than a year ago and definitely has fewer runners than perhaps most games on the GDQ games schedule, so it's easier to know who to accredit for any given strategy. What can be said of games that have been released more than five years ago with more than five years of speedrunning strategies developed? How easy would it be to note who came up with the strategies that were important five years ago in Super Metroid? Is it easier to know who came up with the strategies five years or is it easier to know who had the world record in Super Metroid?
Unlike the previous suggestion, giving more self-worth to people who come up with strategies to encourage them to share is a lot easier: devote more resources and acknowledgments to them, list the tricks discovered in a speedrun with the people who discovered them, and/or give people reputations for discovering good and efficient strategies. One of the examples that comes to my mind is sockfolder, who is seemingly the only person well-known in the speedrun community simply for coming up with strategies. There are certainly other sockfolders within the community that are cast by the wayside because no one credits them for their discovery.
How often do you see people on stage at speedrun marathon that just present the game speedrun as if they came up with everything? I'm guilty of this as well. Once the discovery is separated from its discoverer, there's almost no way of reassociating the two. Community historians are essentially occupied only by keeping up with who had the world record and possibly *when* strategies are released, all celebrations of the handful of people who ground WR attempts on the unnamed discoveries of the community until they got their world record.

Thirdly, even the name 'world record', devoid of any context, implies that it is the ultimate goal of speedrunning. I don't think it is much of an embellishment to say that most people get into speedrunning with the goal of getting a world record (and ostensibly to make friends along the way, despite the fact that "strat hiding" and straight-up "cheating" exists). At this point, however, it would be essentially unfeasible to rename 'world record' to something else. If the speedrunning community had simply called them 'fastest runs' to begin with, then we probably wouldn't have this issue. Such is the folly of having years of established precedence. That isn't to say that no one has tried. The label "Fastest Known Time" never really caught on, perhaps for having three words and a less-than-desirable acronym, but is more representative of what speedrunners are going for. Personal Best is a humble title, but it is still personal and not presentable by the game's community as a whole.

I bring this up because, personally, I find the entire idea of strat hiding as evidence that communities operate a lot differently than mine, perhaps at these high levels. To me, if someone in my community comes up with a strategy that is faster than other strategies, then sure, let them have world record. Let them partake in victory recognition. Once your "strat hider" has world record, their strategies are still clearly visible (save for a few world record holders that made their world record private after getting it verified, which is, perhaps, grounds for immediate verification revocation), so if you're really committed to "forwarding your community", you observe and reclaim the world record for yourself. It wouldn't be like me to sit atop the community world record throne of popular decree, have one of my community servants fetch me a strategy that will let me keep the world record, and then take all of the credit for myself.

Jan 10, 2020, 20:19
I've been a little behind in uploading to the site recently. I've been preoccupied with schoolwork and research. Honestly, it feels like I'm about to end in disappointment. Nevertheless, I can't give up. We've also made it into the year 2020, where hindsight reigns supreme. Now, don't do anything this year that you might regret!

Oct 8, 2019, 9:54
How To Get Further Into Speedrunning
I remember the common answer to the question, "How do I get into speedrunning?", and the answer was to just pick up your favorite game and a timer and play it.

So, what does this entail? Simply play your favorite game over and over, in hopes that, as you start completing it with faster times, you will somehow "get into speedrunning". This then raises the question, "What does it mean to get into speedrunning?". Well, if we follow the expected results, "getting into speedrunning" simply means that you have started speedrunning as a hobby. This didn't really require any advice though; it's simply emulating what you see others do. More than likely, an individual gets into speedrunning by watching the big events like GDQ, et al, and is wondering, "How do I get into speedrunning so far that I can perform a run like this one at GDQ?"

Getting someone just to do speedrunning is incredibly simple that it should go without saying that you're just going to play the game over and over until you can do it quickly. Leaving all of the important details in between "playing the game fast" and "playing on the GDQ" stage would naturally cause runners to think that you can just submit the game once you're going fast enough.

At this point, you hit the GDQ wall: you have perceived a need to submit to GDQ to continue your quest to get into speedrunning, but it's so hard to get accepted into GDQ. How people make this jump: submitting directly to GDQ as if it's the next step in speedrunning, get rejected, and then quickly stop speedrunning?

To stop from losing these runners, it would help if we gave them some guidance on what to do once they've started speedrunning and getting times that they're proud of. Instead of submitting to GDQ and getting your hopes up, why not submit to one of the countless other marathons that exist? These smaller marathons are both more likely to accept your run and more likely to establish some sort of community inclusive to new runners.

GDQ is a very big marathon; even getting a run in doesn't necessarily lead to finding community. Yet, there's an undeniable appeal to getting a run: demonstrating what you've spent years working on to 80,000 people, raising money for charity with your work on the GDQ stage, and, perhaps most importantly, having the work that you've done be validated by the most scrutinous speedrunners. This validation is, I believe, the most salient part of "getting into speedrunning". It often gets conflated with "having a lot of viewers" or "making lots of Twitch bucks" by more dismissive personalities, but getting your hard work validated is an important step that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Smaller marathons are a great way of building up to that point. GDQ rejections are six-month period of introspection with little guidance over what to be introspective on. Smaller marathons are happening every time, with varying levels of turnaround. Some marathons will take your submissions and, within two weeks, you'll know if you're in. Since the turnaround period is so short, you'll probably have fewer other runners to compete against and you'll have a better chance of getting in.

Sadly, the only way of learning about the existence of other marathons is usually by hearing other speedrunners talk about them, and there's not that many speedrunners that talk about marathons during their submissions period. The end result is that you don't learn about them or you learn about them too late for submissions, so you have to wait for them the next year around.

So, I'm going to try to combat this, despite the fact that my message won't reach to most new speedrunners, since they'll probably be checking people from the nearest GDQs. Every Sunday, to make people aware of marathons, I have a listing of marathon submissions periods, begin dates, and end dates. The difficulty here is that most of my information comes either from Twitter or Speedrun.com, and there are still other marathons that slip my radar.


Note that I am not opposed to GDQ. It is important to note that GDQ is essentially the forefront of the speedrunning community; the appeal that speedrunning has is almost always based on people and things that occur at GDQ. There are, of course, a few exceptions, but by and large, GDQ is the place to go to see what speedrunning will become. I believe that it's important to observe what speedrunning can be rather than to try to hold it back with what you want it to be. That being said, GDQ doesn't need me to defend it.

I'm also not opposed to having people submit to GDQ. Some people are, however, unnecessarily critical of GDQ submissions, though, and I spoke out about this last time. People will submit to GDQ for a number of reasons: acceptance, money, fame, or charity, and you can't really blame people for trying to get something that GDQ can totally give.

The smaller marathons also need attendees. Sure, they're not GDQ, but they're better for new speedrunners than being stuck in the cycle of having a good speedgame but nothing to do with it. Smaller marathons are essentially in the same boat as smaller streamers, looking for visibility, but ultimately getting ignored by the more influential presences within the greater speedrunning community.

Toxic Positivity pushing people into failure cycles. I couldn't think of a good word for it, so I settled for toxic positivity. The idea is that people are always encouraged to submit to GDQs despite the fact that they're at a noticeable disadvantage. With brand new speedrunners going head-to-head with seasoned speedrunners in competition for acceptance at GDQ, there will definitely be a lot of rejections. Being positive and encouraging them to submit greatly underestimates the affect on their morale when they inevitably get rejected by the definitely-less-positive GDQ selections board. At this point, they're more than likely wondering what the next step is: should they continue playing this game or will they have better luck playing a different (better*) game. The feedback they're looking for isn't given to them. Of course, I'm not advocating for toxic negativity, but speedrunners also need guidance after they're told "Just pick a game that you like and a timer and play it a lot".

*This, of course, leading to self-doubt. If I can't pick a good speedgame, maybe I'm not cut out for speedrunning.

One wonders if this part is purposefully left ambiguous to make the community more niche.

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The story of Iceplug:
Iceplug - sting ray (NOT A MANTA RAY!) that swims in cold waters, usually near the poles, though mostly in the south, near Antarctica. The average babies are born at about a foot long and wide (they look like squares) and are usually a light orange and translucent. After about 6 months, they become more opaque and start to take on a bluer color. Their tail can grow to almost 5 feet, and the adult Iceplug grows to about 25 feet. Not to be outdone, most adults create stashes of coral in their homes and forge them into tridents (which are actually quite effective weapons).

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