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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
Platform Tour v1.0.4 (VB.NET 2003) 6.61 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 80MB Project Page
Power II: The Island Demo (VB.NET 2003) 3.41 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 40MB Project Page
Blocks: Extended Renderer Version (VB.NET 2003)137 KB Windows XP, Vista, 7 No DirectX RAM usage: 20MB Project Page
Quadrill v1.1.2 (VB.NET 2003) 1.57 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 70MB Project Page
Quadrill v2.1.2 (VB.NET 2003) 1.42 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 80MB Project Page
Quadrill v3.1.1 (VB.NET 2003) 1.17 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 120MB Project Page
Quadrill v4.1.1 (VB.NET 2003) 2.88 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 180MB Project Page
Quadrill 4 Full (VB6) 4.52 MB Windows XP Uses DirectX 7 RAM usage: 80MB Project Page
Quadrill 4 Demo (VB6) 1.41 MB Windows XP Uses DirectX 7 RAM usage: 80MB Project Page
Jump-Cross (VB.NET 2003) 109 KB Windows XP, Vista, 7 No DirectX RAM usage: 20MB Project Page
Quadrill 3 full version (VB6) 530 KB Windows XP Uses DirectX 7 RAM usage: 50MB Project Page
Quadrill 3 map editor. (VB6), 200 KB
Syntax Highlighter (VB.NET 2003), 23 KB
Guide on How to Use the .NET programs on my website.

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Iceplug News

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).

Feedback? E-mail me (Iceplug) at blackout119(at)yahoo(dot)com. Be sure to include a descriptive subject, and the first seven characters of the subject must read Website, otherwise I may move it into the Spam/Junk folder. I strive to reply to all e-mails at the end of the day, but I definitely respond to them at the end of the week.