AGDQ2018 or How I stopped worrying and learned to love Speedrunning


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Zerst going for that high score

After not getting tickets to SGDQ in 2017 I made a point of doing my best to give it all I got and put my bid in to get a ticket to the January event. When I actually got tickets, I kind of sat there in my chair and thought, “OK, I got in. Now what?” I thought that because I had no real idea what games were going to be played or if any of my friends’ runs would be accepted. I had to give it time and wait. I waited too long and missed out on a chance to get a hotel room on site so I was forced to book an Air BnB a bit off-site just to sleep.

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The Cool Club at AGDQ 2018

I keep hearing people say “GDQ’s were better before 2013” or something to the effect. I can’t speak to that as I was only watching those at home and not at the event itself. I would safely say being there has its own set of advantages as well as negatives. However, GDQ’s are events that are designed to celebrate Speedrunning and working towards raising money for a selected charity. They really don’t have anything else behind the scenes that you would find at a regular convention because the event is the main draw. So there were really no artist alley or merch booths that you would expect at other cons. There was a booth set up that focused on the charity itself so you could learn more about where your donations were going and if you wanted to keep supporting the charity they could give you more information. Nice.

A wild Omnigamer and PJ appeared!
Pho time with Omnigamer and PJ

I checked into the event on early Sunday morning and since I was travelling alone I asked PJ very nicely to meet up with me at the event so I wouldn’t feel as awkward waiting for my Air BnB to be ready later on in the afternoon. He totally didn’t have to, but he said yes and because he & Omnigamer were kind enough to let me tag along with them for a few hours I gave out a bunch of PJ stickers I had lying around from when I made him the Feature Streamer in my Dank Zine. I had no run in for this event and besides seeing a few choice runs I was mainly there to find people to write about. I had my own agenda and it involved Zines, burgers, beer and watching a lot of games.

One of the important things I wanted to do that week was to catch Aquas’ run as I always try to watch his stuff when I am at home watching this event and seeing it in person would be a great kick. His run was around 8 am on Monday and Mr B & I both woke up early to go to the event with him. We met up with one of Aquas’ streaming friends Figbird and to our excitement Aquas said it was alright for all of us to sit on the couch for his run. First GDQ & already on the couch. I was glad I was as Aquas made a very touching speech before his run about his dad who passed away because of Cancer and he wanted to dedicate his run to him. I kept getting so many alerts on my Apple Watch during this that I just switched it to Do Not Disturb for an hour so I could focus better on his Contra III run. Lots of you were all tweeting “I see you on the couch!” Which was very nice, but since I had one of the best views in the house I didn’t want to comment till it was over. Aquas had a very good run, it wasn’t deathless, but it was still something to watch as this guy plays like a beast when he needs to bring it. Check out the video from the event:

My time was spent hanging with people, being social, and playing games in the set up arcade that was on site. There was no pinball this year which was kind of depressing, but there was a Neo Geo multi-cart in the room which I sat on most of the time with my pal Zerst and together we clocked in a lot of hours on Money Exchanger. Zerst also got the Donkey Kong 3 machine to its max score which was fun to watch as I love that game myself and it is always exciting to see someone master a game you like. I also met up with a few of my friends from Macaw45’s chat to play a bunch of dank games in the practice room and this C64 that my buddy Dana had going with an everdrive. Let’s say that when we had the C64 going we put a few good hours playing around with the games on that.

It was really exciting to see my friends up on stage playing games when it came too their runs. PJ managed to break an arcade button in the middle of his Battletoads run which could only be described as “PJ’s dumb luck”. He had a backup planned and it only took him a few moments to switch over to a backup (what a backup? Yes if you know PJ….). It was also really fun to watch The Mexican Runner play the rocket ship part in Battletoads for NES blindfolded. There’s always going to be a few blindfolded donation incentives and I didn’t want to miss this one as it’s known for being extremely frustrating even without a blindfold. I have huge respect for TMR as he played every NES game as part of a challenge and that meant playing all the Powerpad games. If you know me I love the powerpad and try to stream it as often as I can and knowing someone else actually beat Street Cop gives me hope that I can do it too. I also saw Zallard1 do his amazing Two-Punchout One Controller challenge. Fellow streamer Omnigamer helped out and rigged up this splitter that would help him use one controller to beat both games at once.

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Zallard1 who played Starfox2 and Punch Out & Super Punch Out at the same time

Please when you share these runs don’t use click-bait tactics like “Some Dude just killed Contra” but share links properly as in “Watch The Mexican Runner play Battletoads blindfolded” as its more about the player and less about the game itself at these events. I was also reading a lot of game devs upset with people who were using words such as “this game is broken” to describe certain manipulations and taking offence to it. I can’t say that for all games, but having see some of the codes from some of my most favourite games I would be safe in saying that not all games are broken, but having broken mechanics and code in a game does make the game more easy to be manipulated hence why they can use glitches to a speedrun advantage. I can think of many fan translations projects my friends worked on where they had to clean up the original source code and fix game ending bugs left in the code itself simply because a game was rushed into development to make a sales date. I’m not saying all games are like that, but I also don’t put any game up on a pedestal of perfect coding either. Even great paintings have mistakes in them and it is those mistakes that we as players love/hate to our advantage.

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The Dank Zine core staff: Aquas, AnnK, Lady Te and trap15 (as JJ Squawkers)

The BEST thing about the entire trip was finally meeting up again with Lady Te who I hired to edit my Dank Zine. We’ve known each other before the Dankness set in, but this was the first time we have met up face to face since she’s been staff. I was able to get a very rare staff photo of Aquas, myself and Lady Te and hopefully one day we will be able to get trap15 in there as well. That’s pretty much the core Dank Zine staff right there and I am lucky to have these wonderful people in my life. My little zine has really grown in just under a year and now I have people who contribute to it all over the globe so it makes me getting a photo with everyone harder. I hope that in the future when my zine gets bigger I can start actually traveling to these places and meet everyone.

Overall it was a great time and I was happy to meet up with a bunch of people I have only known thru Twitch, chats and over the internet. Maybe when I get things figured out I’ll work on my fishing game and see if it’s something I want to submit and if its something people would like to see at an event such as this. In the meantime I’ll be hard at work making Dank Art, Dank Zines and trying to give back as much as I can to the retro gaming community.

 

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