The Cosmic Horror of Games Done Quick

It’s a new year, and that means a new Awesome Games Done Quick. The 2018 version, much like all of the others and their equivalent events in the summer, is about speedrunners getting together in one hotel and, well, speedrunning games.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Speed running is the only real esport.

Everything we do as a collectivity is cosmically horrible and sublime in the same way that Cameron is describing.

And that’s pretty awesome. And horrifying. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go now and contemplate the abyssal insignificance I have


If I understand this right, the unknowable horizon is the collective will of enthusiasts on the internet? I like it.

Yeah, I’ve always thought that horror and divine awe were flip sides of the same coin – transcendent, etc. (The article’s “sublime” is probably the better word.) Even in fiction, I experience the two in a very recognizably similar way.

I guess it’s more than appropriate, then, that it’s called _Awe_some Games Done Quick…


This article really hit home for me since I just watched my first two speedruns yesterday and they were Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne respectively. The idea of speedrunning being cosmic horror makes a lot more sense when you see a dude 5-hit a Bloodborne boss that has tentacles coming out of a portal.


I’ve never enjoyed watching speedruns personally. I wish there was a greater focus* on new and novel ways of playing a game in a unique way or setting an especially challenging focused challenge e.g. the Nuzlocke Challenge or pacifist run throughs of Fallout. The one life run throughs of Fallout 3, NV and 4 were really tense and fun watches.

*maybe there is and I’ve just missed it. Can someone please make my day?

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I think those would be categories? Some categories are kind of boring and just say how much of the game to finish, or whether specific glitches are allowed, but other ones are more like their own little “genre”. So for instance, there is the Link to the Past randomizer stuff, which I believe was raced in this AGDQ. Then there are things like low% (usually some variation on “finish the game without picking up any items”), zero% (like low% but also no gold/money/etc. pickups allowed)… and yes, pacifist.

If you look at the various category tabs per game on Speedruns Live, that might give you an idea about what kind of challenges people are doing (at least, on a level of organization/communityness that the article is talking about). At a glance, there’s stuff like “use every single item”, “finish the game without using [super useful/basic item]”, “get [specific ending]”, etc. It’s just that then people aren’t satisfied with just completing the challenge, and move on to… well… trying to complete the challenge faster than before!

On the flip side, there’s also longplay – survival mode, basically. I don’t know whether there is a lot of serious competition with that. In Crypt of the Necrodancer, the game I am most familiar with as far as these sorts of speed things go, longplay is kind of a silly funny thing. It isn’t something you’d really want to watch in a game where it’s possible to survive for a very long time, obviously!

@hope_shattered covered it pretty well above. I’m not THAT familiar with speedrunning but also for me there are just games that are more interesting to watch, for me at least. For me, for example, the problem of routing through an open world isn’t especially interesting. If the order of routing is what makes the speed run work and most of the rest is just playing the game as quickly as possible then I am usually not that interested. But if it’s about learning tricks to exploit the game mechanics to skip sections, or use clipping glitches and things like that I have a lot more fun.

That said, one category of game which is almost entirely routing where I feel like I might be the one genre which I could execute a competent speedrun of is point and click adventures. Probably not that fun to WATCH though.

The other thing is that I’m not sure if what you watched had commentary like the GDQ ones but it really helps me out to have a commentary to contextualise what’s happening. And I find races between two or more players fun to watch as you get to directly compare two runs happening at the same time and notice where some people are saving time and others aren’t

Oh, yeah, and another thing that I found through GDQ – mystery game races. Basically they put together a big list of small games that people probably won’t have played, a lot of free games or Ludum Dare entries or whatnot, and people race to finish the game first despite never having touched it before in their lives. I’m finding this really fun to watch! Not every game is interesting to me, but because of the “mystery” format, more of them are interesting to me as races than they would be otherwise. And of course some games that are interesting, period – I’m watching a mystery tournament from last year and there’s this really fun little puzzle-platformer about rock paper scissors which I thought was quite clever.

The mystery format also makes pure puzzle games raceable, which is kind of refreshing!

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For a classic Mega Man game, they’re looking for frames, fractions of a second that can be cut from a run in order for a person to get ahead of the pack of runners around them.

TMMTO: this comparison of two 41’33" runs of Super Metroid. It turns out that Zoast’s run is faster by exactly one frame.

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I really enjoy watching some of the ADGQ runs, especially for more modern games. I especially like listening to the ones where they take the time to explain the methodology or reasoning behind every decision. The RE7 run this year was really enlightening because it barely relied on glitches, only for the very first boss fight. It was all discussion about triggers, how to deal with RNG on the items, exploiting cut scenes for inventory management, and how the design of the game essentially makes a “perfect” run impossible. It was so interesting watching them talk about evading triggers that would cost a few seconds in wasted time like falling down a staircase at just the right angle to avoid a stumble animation. It really does feel like some galaxy brain shit because I feel like I’m not even playing the same game as them.

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