GDU: Games Done UNIQUE

Speedruns are cool, right? I used to be pretty sceptical of their value as entertainment but after digging through some ways people have broken or cheesed a game and clocked up some wildly quick runtimes whether it was completing Fallout 3 in 15 minutes or Hitman 3 levels in less than 20 seconds I had to acknowledge that that’s pretty cool. What I really love reading about and watching though, are games completed in a unique fashion whether it’s imposing ludicrous restrictions or finding a method of playing the game that bucks the general trend.

Two examples that come to mind are the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts runs where players have completed no level up run throughs. I remember reading about the No Square Grid (sometimes even specific characters only) runs and found this video of someone beating Dark Anima (one of the game’s most challenging superbosses) over the course of 90 minutes. They even incorporated one of these sorta runs into a GDQ event a few years back when “Bloody Bizkitz” (gamers, why?) beat all the Org XIII data battles at level 1 in a wild 25 minute run - Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix LV1 Data Org RTA by Bl00dyBizkitz in 25:59 - SGDQ2017 - Part 121 - YouTube

Finally, and maybe a less challenging run but one I found especially cool and interesting was the Fallout pacifist run. Now maybe launching ICBMs at two major factions shouldn’t count as “pacifist” but seeing someone go through the game without any direct kills on their pip boy was pretty cool and something I actually tried to do as well but failed fairly miserably.

Playing Hitman myself has been quite important in prompting this in me. It’s a game that encourages you to run at your own pace and figure things out in a sandbox. This is something that I find CHALLENGING in itself. It also made me think about Patrick and Austin’s dichotomy when it comes to gaming with Patrick saying he needs to be pointed in a specific direction and Austin making his own narrative. I think I empathise more with Patrick because I spend too much time chopping and changing games and learning their systems that it doesn’t even occur to me to try and experiment and also my imagination sucks. I do want to be more like Austin though and try and roleplay a bit more and that’s something I used to in Elder Scrolls games or Dynasty Warriors Empires games which is maybe because I was limited to what I could play

So my question to everyone is: what are your favourite unique or unconventional runs in games that you’ve seen or attempted?

When you play a game do you like to try and play within the game’s confines, stated or otherwise? Or do you like to try and find your own unique or unconventional method of playing? What are some memorable runs for you?

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Probably will be the response of many, but Pokémon is one of the few series I know in and out such that I’m comfortable trying weird stuff the first time through. (I don’t really replay games.)

My first attempt at Yellow I tried to do a Nuzlocke, which was tough, especially as I’m a kind of lackadaisical note taker and it was hard to keep track of whether I was following the rules. Then my Pikachu “died” and I decided fuck it that’s no fun in this game.

I did do a successful almost all ice-type run in Sword when that came out. Winter is the best season and Ice types have always interested me even though they’re maybe the worst type individually. Additionally, Sword & Shield are PACKED with Steel types, basically the worst matchup you could ask for. So it difficult! Ice types still rock, though.

The other thing that comes to mind was a Madden franchise mode save where I realized my favorite element of the mode was growing rookie players into stars. So I said fuck it, let’s cut out the years of seasons it takes to acquire a bunch of my own “guys” and force-traded all the year 0 rookies onto my team. That was a fun run, and I got to pretend I was an expert football-knower when some of those guys blossomed into stars years later. Shoutout to Cameron Heyward, the only one I can remember off the top of my head.

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I did a lot of these when I was younger for Pokemon. Often it was something simple like “Use only a single Pokemon the entire game for battling” which it turns out is a lot easier then you would think. I think the Nuzlocke runs are really interesting especially when paired up with modified ROM’s that swap up the wild Pokemon per area as well as increasing trainer difficulty. Eevee and eeveelutions only run is pretty fun because you get a fairly well rounded team.

XCOM 2 a robots only run is pretty fun especially when combined with some mods that make them a lot more versatile. I think there is a lot of room in this game to add all sorts of interesting challenges. Like instead of a timed speed run I would like to see people compete for the least number of turns or in game days using a set seed at the start of the competition. I think having to adapt on the fly and not prepare based on a known seed is a lot more interesting.

I found setting rules in something like Apex or PUBG to be a lot of fun. Things like shotguns/pistols only or after you pick up a weapon you have to get a kill with it before you can drop it. PUBG in particular was fun to do this with because there were a lot of guns that were just arguably bad or could incorporate vehicles into the challenges.

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a classic one: Meet the Game Dev Who Never Fires Guns in Games by Danielle Riendeau.

an even more classic one, speaking of pokemon: the first Twitch Plays Pokemon! I don’t think I’ll ever actually play pokemon games, so that was a fun way to catch up on a beloved and influential game

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I just had a flashback to high school playing BF 2142 and there were two quite popular servers that had very unique rules.

One server was pistols and knives only. Through server side modding they made it so all you had were pistols and knives. It was incredibly silly but fun to watch 64 players duke it out.

The other server was a snipers only server. The server was modded so that each team had set control points with a line drawn down the middle of the map. If you passed the line you were auto killed then auto kicked. The entire point of the game was to find a good spot to snipe from and look for the other players on the opposite side and snipe them before they sniped you. Was honestly pretty fun and I’m surprised we never have gotten a small game that is just this.

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This is stressful to even read. I struggle enough with two full loadouts in Warzone

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I would only suggest doing it with a group of people who have all signed on to the idea! Like right now for Apex I would recommend something silly but somewhat viable like cowboys only which would be wingman (revolver), 30-30 (lever action), and peacekeeper (shotgun) on top of which everyone must agree to try and use the most Texan accent as possible.

If you want an even more stressful situation let me tell you about Ultimate Bravery. When I used to play League ages ago and we were looking to either do warmups or close out the night we would play something called Ultimate Bravery. Ultimate Bravery is a site where you spin a roulette and it not only tells you what character you are playing but also what items, masteries, etc you are taking and in what order. You almost always lost but the few times you won you felt like you were king of the world.

Back before the reworking of the 3v3 gamemode we would also come up with incredibly gimmicky troll team builds. For example everyone takes a character who can place a trap of some kind and you just spend the entire match putting traps all over the map and kiting people into the traps. We once won a match by going all tank and stalling the game for 80 minutes at which point people on the other team rage quit despite us having an incredibly negative KD because a 3v3 match was supposed to take at most 40 minutes.

I used to play Star Wars Battlefront 1 and 2 so much on my PS2 that I had to come up with new ways to play the game. This led to the discovery that unlike Battlefield the game will stop spawning AI on a team once your ticket count drops below a certain point so as to not make the player feel like the AI dying was causing them to lose. This in turn learned to the creation of the homebrew gamemode “last survivors” where you would sit at your very last spawn point and tell your AI soldiers to hold position and to follow you. This would inevitably lead to you losing every single control point and eventually you would have almost no tickets left where if an AI died they would not respawn. You would then have to sit there and try to survive waves of enemies until they also were down to their last few soldiers at which point you would need to adventure out and retake the all the other command points and find their last soldiers and finish them off. It is worth mentioning that at the point at which AI soldiers would no longer respond they would also no longer use vehicles. This led to interesting situations where the enemy would roll up in tanks and you would have to hope that your AI with the rocket launcher was still alive or find a way to cheese the tank to death using grenade spam.

I also would do a variant of the above on the Hoth level for Battlefront 2 where I discovered that the area behind the bunker was actually still in play despite being completely removed because it was used in other gamemodes. We would play “taxi” where we would pick up AI soldiers in the snowspeeders and fly over to this cut off area of the map and drop them off resulting in a collection of soldiers running aimlessly into a wall trying to get to the action.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 was another game my brother and I dumped hundreds of hours into. At one point we found you could push the AI civilian cars into the shortcuts and that they really did not like that. They would move around trying to find a way back on to the main street. So we of course did the thing of devising a game around it called “Car Zoo” where one person tried to push cars into the “zoo” and the other had to be the zoo keeper and prevent them from escaping. You won when you got all the cars into the zoo and they would no longer spawn on the street. I want to say we did something similar in Midnight Club 3 Dub Edition but instead was about causing as many cars as possible to get stuck on a highway.

I’m actually really curious to know if this kind of play is still common among younger gamers. The only reason we came up with a lot of these was because I had like 10 games. Today games are so much more affordable and easy to get your hands on not to mention the free to play scene that I can only imagine how much easier it is to find new games to play.

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I used to play the original Counter Strike and outside of a pistol only allow myself to get new guns by picking them up off of people I killed.

I played troll rounds of PUBG where I wouldn’t use a single weapon but would only try and run people over with cars and see how far I could make it.

In terms of people who have actual skill at the games they play, I like watching speed runs with extra challenges like no hit runs.

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Oh my god, reading this took me back. I don’t know if we’re secretly the same person or something, but my brother and I did the same things in Battlefront 2, Hot Pursuit 2, and Midnight Club 3. Incredible.

As for my GDU pick:
As long as there exist gaming peripherals, there will always exist people trying to use them to beat Dark Souls…

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I have a whole thread dedicated to challenge runs of a certain kind :sweat_smile: if not unique I feel confident they’re uncommon approaches to playing games.

Shout out to the Parrot.py developer who recently finished Hollow Knight hands free

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When PUBG introduced bots into public games, the game got a bit less interesting for me, but I remedied that by doing silly things for myself. One of the modes I did was “yeehaw mode” where I used only shotguns, revolvers, and the lever action rifle on maps it’s available. Plus NO backpack and no helmet; cowboy hat must be worn. I managed to win once this way but I live in Australia where the matches were 10 players and 90 bots.

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there must be at least a strain of younger players that rely heavily on “making their own fun” because of the popularity of things like Minecraft and Roblox. also, I think online multiplayer “live” games are often rabbit holes people fall in with their friends instead of jumping quickly from one to another. so lots of people are playing hundreds of hours of the same game with their friends, that seems conducive of house rules and wacky restrictions.

in fact, this reminded me every once in a while my DOTA 2 crew decided to try really hard to get offbeat strategies to work, like going Roshan at lvl 1, tri-laning or using Smoke on the 5 of us to get an “easy” first blood, or just using some specific hero combination in order to pull of some stunt on team fights. honestly, it’s not very much “unique” but playing captain’s mode with 5 people on the same room was a feeling I never had with any other video game, only sometimes with actual team sports.

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While I haven’t personally played in years, The Sims seems to be a great platform for this kind of stuff. Back when Gita was at Kotaku, I remember she did a series of streams chronicling her attempt to finish the Black Widow Challenge; while I don’t believe that was ever completed, it was really interesting to watch the game be played in such a specific way.

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I don’t know if this is quite in the same vein, but when I was in early high school, I played through the Midgar portion of FFVII with all of the characters renamed “Tifa” (except of course Tifa, who was just using her regular name.) It’s different than most of these examples in that it mechanically didn’t change the game, but it did reduce the story and dialogue of the game to a madlib jumble of nonsense. Also, any time you needed to choose party members to split up and do specific missions was a real game of roulette.

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I think the heyday of achievement hunting was kind of the pinnacle of games done unique for me. Being a broke student I had to make every game last as long as possible and wring every drop of content out until the game was nothing but an empty husk. Lots of games had absurd achievements that required very specific runs in order to beat. I have all the stupid achievements for the Dead Space games like only using the plasma cutter, and all the hardcore mode achievements. If I remember right that meant beating Dead Space 2 with only three saves and beating all of Dead Space 3 without dying once. If you ever died it deleted your save. It’s also how I beat Dishonored with no kills, detects, or skills beyond blink, Dishonored 2 with no skills at all, more pacifist runs of games than I can recall, etc. I usually don’t have the imagination to invent runs for myself, but having that dangling carrot really helped me extend the life of games I really enjoyed in ways I wouldn’t have thought to do of my own accord. Now that bundles of games have come along and I’m an adult with a job and kids I have more games than free time so a lot of that has gone the way of the dodo sadly.

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Yea, I think the big change in my playing habits for me has been disposable income and the proliferation of services like PS Plus, Games with Gold and especially the Game Pass Ultimate. I’ve had to tally up a list of games I would maybe play and that combined across three consoles comes up to about 200 games which left me with choice paralysis for a while. I’ve got a bit better at finally playing through stuff (I made it through about 30 games since January of 2020) but even then it’s mostly been one and done. I would like to go back to some games with a fresh take on playing and I’m trying to do that this year as I did used to enjoy playing Elder Scrolls like an NPC or even something as simple as a Halo campaign where I respect the Covenant’s prohibition on human weaponry as the Arbiter.

The all Tifa run through of FFVII cracked me up though.

Yeah with the glut of smaller indie games and game pass I’m in a weird position where I just don’t finish games which has almost never happened before. I usually had to live with my choices and stick things through to the bitter end, but now I just bail.

so uh…this is a thing

(cw food)

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I watch this live! It was very fun. Rudeism is great. The pomegranate is one of his classic fruit controllers. He’s had many truly inspired homebrew controllers for other games. Lot of things with the guitarhero controller, dark souls with a frying pan, a whole lot of fun controllers for various overwatch characters, civ6 with six sieves, and a pokemon ‘multi-locke’ where he plays 3 different pokemon nuzlocke runs simultaneously with a single controller.

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Also I recently saw a Hollow Knight multiplayer speedrun. Basically a runner has a certain time to beat the game, but there are X other players in the game trying to stop/delay him. They have max gear but very low health. Really fun run that showcases a very cool mod:

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