Narrated 18 minute speedrun of Ocarina of Time
August 2, 2014 10:46 PM   Subscribe

Cosmo Wright narrates an 18 minute 10 second speedrun of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It includes descriptions and histories of many of the glitches and hacks required to complete the game. Behold.
posted by rider (34 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's only what, twice his current speed?
posted by Yowser at 11:39 PM on August 2, 2014


Never mind, I've forgotten how long Ocarina of time runs are. Those damn chickens.
posted by Yowser at 11:41 PM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Cosmo Wright is a cutie, an incredibly fun speedrunner to watch, and just all-around impressive. His OoT any% runs are just incredibly impressive. This run from the 2013 Awesome Games Done Quick is a full four minutes longer than his current world record run, but is similarly enjoyable to watch. Cosmo's been repeatedly breaking his own record in the last couple months, this video captured from his live stream where he hit 18:29 includes his live commentary with less explanation but more exultation in his successes.
posted by silby at 11:43 PM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Cosmo is amazing. I also recommend this run, which is also Ocarina of Time but a different sort of run, where he has to get all of the elemental medallions before winning, so it uses a different set of glitches. He explains what he's doing and how it works very well, it's fascinating.
posted by rifflesby at 11:54 PM on August 2, 2014


Jesus Christ. I just watched 10 minutes of that and I'm convinced modern gamers are insane and wasting their lives, even worse than I'm insane and wasting my life on other stupid things.

I'd checked out of the gaming world not long after "Ms. Pac-Man," which I'm really good at. Nothing really tops "Discs of Tron" for me. That was the apogee of gaming in my universe.
posted by obsolutely at 12:02 AM on August 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Virtuosity is a strange thing.
posted by fleacircus at 12:09 AM on August 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Obsoletely, Cosmo is making a lot of money playing a those games, and setting himself up for a career as some sort of entertainer if he ever gets around to fixing his teeth(he.. Doesn't have television friendly teeth.. ).
posted by Yowser at 12:11 AM on August 3, 2014


Hush, those teeth are adorable
posted by silby at 12:21 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


The skills and patience required to pull this of are truly amazing. That it happens in a context of gaming doesn't seem all that relevant to me.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:55 AM on August 3, 2014


This is interesting, but to me, this is less playing Ocarina of Time as manipulating it. Interesting, yes, but for the same reasons that systems hacking can be interesting. Playing games this way wrecks the story metaphor of the game; it's no longer a cohesive narrative related to the game's story in any way, it's entirely a collection of tricks that sorta orbits the game's scenario in an erratic fashion. Because of this, it doesn't feel like it's "Link" doing these things, it's just a series of arbitrary control inputs at arbitrary times. That's not bad, indeed it's awesome. But it's a different kind of awesome.

Because of things like this, probably my favorite speedruns to watch are of the original Zelda, which has a few glitches but nowhere near as many. That all the factors Cosmo demonstrates and describes combine to make Ocarina of Time an interesting speedrun challenge is largely accidental; the developers never intended the game to be played this way, and would probably be mortified to find out all this is possible. The Legend of Zelda, on the other hand, seems almost to encourage playing the game in non-linear ways.
posted by JHarris at 3:27 AM on August 3, 2014


That's what a speedrun is, though: ends-justify-the-means gameplay. The set of tasks is defined and they have to be completed as fast as possible through the game engine in its given state. Some speedruns permit glitch exploits, some don't. Some are machine-assisted, some aren't.

Speaking as somebody who will only ever relate to speedruns as an occasionally interested outsider, I think the real critique is that some games work better than others as the media in which entertaining glitch-based speedruns are made. Which isn't even a function of how exploitable any game is, as much as how the glitches look and how they get exploited. Some glitchruns are so quick and subtle that there's nothing to grasp onto; others seem more like spacetime triptoys.
posted by ardgedee at 3:59 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Speedrunning is an art form that can be visually exciting, but gets even more exciting as you go deeper. Game breaking tricks in OoT are bizarre, but when you learn that most of them have a 1/20 s. precise window to execute, they become mind-boggling.

There's a certain thrill of watching a person who is ridiculously good at something. It can be anything. Cooking, woodworking, playing the piano, dancing, whatever. It also helps if you have some appreciation for the art, to judge how good the person you're watching is.

I like speedrunning because you can watch people who are ridiculously good at playing video games do amazing things without the lame macho atmosphere of Starcraft or fighting game tournaments.
posted by sixohsix at 5:06 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Playing games this way wrecks the story metaphor of the game; it's no longer a cohesive narrative related to the game's story in any way

I think it's worth pointing out that games are fundamentally systemic, not narrative. Theme and story are a means to introduce mechanics; the best games integrate the two well, but not all good games have strong narrative or theme, so it's certainly not essential.

You could still argue that glitch-based speed runs violate the game's systems, but you could also say that they use the systems as they exist in a more complete way.
posted by WCWedin at 5:09 AM on August 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


For comparison, the current TAS record is only around a minute faster. The level of precision required to execute several of those glitches is breathtaking.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 5:12 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Cosmo actually did this run live on Twitch, and you can see it right here.

It it pretty interesting to watch, as there is an interesting switch from his usual live stream banter to super serious mode, and a lot of strong emotion.
posted by I Havent Killed Anybody Since 1984 at 5:51 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Game breaking tricks in OoT are bizarre, but when you learn that most of them have a 1/20 s. precise window to execute, they become mind-boggling.

The real mind-boggling part to me is how anyone found them in the first place.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:54 AM on August 3, 2014


Steely, check out www.twitch.tv/sockfolder to watch one of the two or three people who live stream hacking n64 games. Warning: he doesn't explain much, and he's boring.
posted by Yowser at 11:06 AM on August 3, 2014


There was a good comment on reddit about this, essentially to the effect of "have any of you actually TRIED these tricks? A lot of them are essentially impossible".

I used to be a bit of a beast at speedrunning starfox 64 when I was way younger. I worked on it every day when I got home, and eventually had discovered a bunch of tricks and the perfect routes, etc.

So a couple months ago or something, after both seeing one of these videos, a friend and I decided we were going to try and do as much of this stuff as we could. Not go for max speed, just try the insane tricks.

Most of them are literally harder than big fighting game combos, or precision parries of them. A couple are sort of doable, but the rest are essentially impossible unless you have the timing down pat.

I was honestly shocked at how much skill is involved. It's not just memorizing a bunch of tricks at all. Actually executing them is firmly into gaming black belt territory.
posted by emptythought at 12:43 PM on August 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thank you for posting this. It's been such a long time since I watched a speed run, that I had almost forgotten it was a thing.

One thing I found somewhat funny is that toward the end of the video, Cosmo talks a bit how Ocarina of time is a masterpiece and that he hopes this video will help show people what a great game it is. Although calling OoT a masterpiece is certainly uncontroversial, I can't agree that him playing a foreign-language version of the game, while exploiting as much code as possible and skipping as much of the game's narrative and action as possible, shows by any stretch that the game is a masterpiece. It's interesting to me that over time, his view of the greatness of the game seems so impacted by what strange things are going on underneath the hood. Anyway, it was really fun to watch!
posted by heycoder at 2:39 PM on August 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


It is possible for it to be both a masterpiece as a game and a shambolic mess of programming. After all, people are playing the game as an experience of narrative and interaction, and the quality of the underlying code doesn't have to have Dijkstra-esque elegance and purity to provide a smoothly-working game.

The fluid way he discusses all the details in the game says to me that he is fully appreciative of the game in its conventionally-experienced state. The glitch exploits and speedruns are, in a way, a deeper appreciation of the game, or at least a way a way for him to continue finding new things about a game to enjoy, after having played it thousands of times.
posted by ardgedee at 4:06 PM on August 3, 2014


Speaking as somebody who will only ever relate to speedruns as an occasionally interested outsider, I think the real critique is that some games work better than others as the media in which entertaining glitch-based speedruns are made.

I should clarify -- my intent was not to critique. I am as fascinated by these things as anyone.

Maybe I should put it this way instead: goddamn. That's awesome, but I'm going to stick to bettering my personal time in the original Zelda. Not going to try to compete with that.
posted by JHarris at 7:13 PM on August 3, 2014


I think it's worth pointing out that games are fundamentally systemic, not narrative.

They are! In fact I probably said something very much like that in an @Play column or two.

But our ability to get interested them, for most people at least, tends to rely on the construction of metaphor, relating the fundamentally abstract events depicted in the game with some mental construct, usually rooted in life experience. Hitting narrow game timing windows like that has no experiential equivalent. It's a lot like magic, in that way.
posted by JHarris at 7:16 PM on August 3, 2014


It is possible for it to be both a masterpiece as a game and a shambolic mess of programming.

I don't think any Zelda is a mess of programming. The glitches in question happen because of the large number of things a game of Ocarina of Time's complexity does, both between scenes and in the background.

Nintendo's games have always done things like this. Super Mario Bros' infamous "minus world" is exactly this kind of thing happening; the player triggers a pipe warp before the game has gotten around to figuring out where the pipe should go, so it sends you somewhere undefined.
posted by JHarris at 7:22 PM on August 3, 2014


He spent hours comparing the text loading times of the chinese and american versions of the game.
...wow
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:53 PM on August 3, 2014


JH: In my experience, developers aren't mortified at all by even the most game-breaking tool-assisted speedruns. It's always amazing to see someone gain such expertise in the system you designed (bugs and all) that they can create new forms of entertainment using it, in ways you never imagined. In a way, speedruns are similar to the actual act of programming a game on limited hardware -- you're constantly refactoring and squeezing the tiniest bit of efficiency out of a process with hard limits, trying to find and circumvent those limits. These are the people I'd want on MY team if I were making a game oh shit I actually am

Dude

Okay but back on topic, since I only have anecdata from "new wave" game devs who love speedruns, and can't speak for the oldschoolers (unless they've spoken on this in some interview), I accept the possibility that some developers might truly believe what they're making is magical or sacrosanct, and should only be consumed in the "proper" way.

But the kind of mind that dreams up Zelda strikes me as the kind of mind that lives in a constant state of wonder about finding fun in unexpected places, and about using lateral thinking to invent new ways to enjoy yourself within established structures. I imagine he'd laugh his ass off and be blown away to watch TAS videos, and drop some hardcore pith like "That young man sure enjoys Ocarina!"
posted by jake at 9:35 PM on August 3, 2014


The makers of Zelda are artists, yes, but they're also craftsmen, and any time a computer program produces unintended behavior, that is a problem from a construction standpoint. It can be bent into being interesting behavior, but part of the wonder of these speedruns is, the tricks done this way allow for massive sequence breaking, but done almost any other way crashes the program, or may even allow the player to put the game into an unwinnable state.

The fact that it's possible for one of these bugs to be triggered on purpose means it's also possible for it to be triggered accidentally, and I wouldn't doubt that people clipping into walls or exiting during a loading process has caused game crashes in the past, possibly for someone who hasn't saved the game in two hours.
posted by JHarris at 4:21 AM on August 4, 2014


I watched several of Cosmo's conquerings of his previous record, but missed watching the 18:10 one live. Having spent enough time around his stream, saying the chat went "ballistic" is him ... understating it. Lots of people as or more popular than him set their twitch chat so that only subscribers (people who chip in $5, part of which goes to the streamer) can speak... Cosmo for whatever reason prefers a looser chat. 7k people when it's time to hype can generate quite the semi-unreadable scroll of nonsense.

This really is an insane achievement, and watching him work on this over the last few months has been a treat. He stopped streaming for a couple weeks while he worked on the commentary for the video this thread is based around. He's streaming for the first time since tonight, apparently, but hasn't said what game he'll be playing. We can be sure it's not OoT though.

Also, he just tweeted about a new wrong warp being found. It doesn't affect the run, it's still a weird/neat trick.
posted by sparkletone at 7:45 PM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


He's streaming for the first time since tonight, apparently, but hasn't said what game he'll be playing. We can be sure it's not OoT though.

Turns out I was way wrong about this. He's practicing some stuff for the Ganonless route. I knew he was going to do that eventually, but kind of assumed he'd be doing Commander Keen or some random casual thing for his first night back.
posted by sparkletone at 8:33 PM on August 4, 2014


That was a really great watch! The mini-history of the OOT speedrunning/glitch hunting/code diving community was fascinating.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:22 PM on August 6, 2014


In other bizarre-things-to-do-with-old-video-games news, after 18 years of Super Mario 64, the uncollectable 192nd coin (discovered in 2002) on Tiny-Huge island was finally collected.
posted by Guy Smiley at 11:57 AM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


"At this point, I shouted expletives and it felt like my entire body was shaking."
posted by SassHat at 2:53 PM on August 8, 2014


I don't think any Zelda is a mess of programming. The glitches in question happen because of the large number of things a game of Ocarina of Time's complexity does, both between scenes and in the background.

Nintendo's games have always done things like this. Super Mario Bros' infamous "minus world" is exactly this kind of thing happening; the player triggers a pipe warp before the game has gotten around to figuring out where the pipe should go, so it sends you somewhere undefined.


Another thing worth noting is that this was like, the very first 3d game ever like this. You could make a huge list of things it did first, many of which became conventions in any 3rd person 3d RPG-type game(or even some platformers). Mario 64 and OoT went out and did a whole lot of stuff that no one had even more than tried, at most, before. You could probably dig up some painful to use half-baked examples from the saturn or something, but it was really untrod territory for the most part.

They were really shooting from the hip. It reminds me of the first iphone presentation where they came up with a path that everything worked from, and divergence would cause a crash. They did their absolute best and got the game into a state where you could play it without crashing.

The fact that you can intentionally, or in edge cases shit it up was just sort of a like or lump it proposition. And it's pretty telling that they issued what, 5 software revisions of the cartridge?

As far as i know, and have ever seen or heard, there were no games like OoT before OoT. There just weren't.
posted by emptythought at 3:54 PM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


> I don't think any Zelda is a mess of programming. The glitches in question happen because of the large number of things a game of Ocarina of Time's complexity does, both between scenes and in the background.

I wasn't accusing OoT of having bad programming, only meant to illustrate that the quality of gameplay and quality of the code underlying it are loosely correlated at best: A game badly programmed will probably not sustain good gameplay, but a good game can be managed by a lot of coder's baling wire and duct tape. Any game probably is to some extent.

If anything, it's crazy how tight OoT is. The glitch exploits here are extremely subtle and required massive all-hands efforts across over a dozen years to discover and use. Compare that with other successful major games which have massive exploits (and mesmerizingly disorienting speedruns) within a year of release.
posted by ardgedee at 5:05 PM on August 8, 2014


Well, the reason Ocarina of Time is the way it is is probably due in part to the architecture. Many of Nintendo's games from the time, including Ocarina, are developed using modified versions of the Mario 64 engine, which has certain limitations.

I am given to wonder about the history of Nintendo game engines. The company is so idiosyncratic, there are bound to be interesting connections between the games of the time, and indeed probably the engines used for post-N64 games.
posted by JHarris at 1:54 PM on August 9, 2014


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