Hyper Speed Walking to Parallel Universes via Scuttlebug Raising
January 25, 2016 2:07 PM   Subscribe

Scott Buchanan is a Super Mario 64 challenge runner who can do amazing things in the game while pressing buttons as little as possible. Here's a 25 minute long video of him collecting the Watch for Rolling Rocks in Hazy Maze Cave star while only pressing the A button one half of a time.
posted by Small Dollar (39 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
Lest you think these are advanced techniques being employed, perhaps you don't remember, but they're all basic moves outlined in the manual ;P
posted by juv3nal at 2:23 PM on January 25, 2016 [26 favorites]


I wanted to love this but this endless "what counts as pressing A" thing is just killing me.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:25 PM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


"I do need to build up speed for twelve hours. But before that, I need to talk about parallel universes..."

How is there not a cyberpunk novel featuring speedrunners yet??
posted by BungaDunga at 2:31 PM on January 25, 2016 [11 favorites]


this is hugely impressive and very close to hacking. if i were the nsa, i'd be giving this guy a job.
posted by andrewcooke at 2:32 PM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love how the meticulous insanity escalates in this thing.
-_-
-_o
O_O
@_@
x_x
posted by nom de poop at 2:37 PM on January 25, 2016 [10 favorites]


Someone get this guy into a graduate program in Mario 64 -- he's already doing masters level work.
posted by demiurge at 2:47 PM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was almost following this until he got to quadruple parallel universe speeds. I don't think I will ever be as dedicated to anything as this guy is to avoiding A presses.
posted by sparklemotion at 3:01 PM on January 25, 2016 [7 favorites]


As far as I can tell, the quadruple parallel-universe speed thing is because of how the physics engine works. Instead of just saying "add Mario's velocity vector to his current position to get his next position", it checks for each quarter-way point along that line to make sure he's still somewhere valid. So, he can't just build up enough speed to traverse a single PU, he needs four times that amount.

Which apparently takes twelve hours, and that kind of thinking is why I adore this challenge. Between that and the ½A-press, I unironically love that people put this much thought into achieving silly things with retro games.
posted by wanderingmind at 3:09 PM on January 25, 2016


I'm known for spending a lot of effort to avoid doing simple tasks, but I've got nothing on this guy.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:10 PM on January 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Frankly a lot of that went over my head, but some of you seem to understand this so if you don't mind answering a question:

If this is true and our universe actually is a Mario 64 instance, does that actually have any practical uses for the average taxpayer or is this just stuff egghead scientists worry about?

Because if not, this just comes across as just another underhanded attempt to smear those of us who choose to collect goombas on our own private property for our own personal use.
posted by tychotesla at 3:13 PM on January 25, 2016 [12 favorites]


How is there not a cyberpunk novel featuring speedrunners yet??

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One, despite a fairly insufferable introduction, kind of qualifies. It certainly does celebrate obsessive knowledge of interactive ephemera.
posted by lumensimus at 3:14 PM on January 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


THIS IS AMAZING!!!!!
I love it, everything about it. I love how Mario 64 is still being played and mastered to such a high level. It's ridiculous and I absolutely seeing videos that show off these kinds of things. Also, I love he's explaining everything, such a great job.
posted by Neronomius at 3:43 PM on January 25, 2016


Someone get this guy into a graduate program in Mario 64 -- he's already doing masters level work.

He is.
posted by eruonna at 3:45 PM on January 25, 2016 [17 favorites]


Someone get this guy into a graduate program in Mario 64 -- he's already doing masters level work.

Anybody who cares to take on postgraduate research: The same guy has announced a $1000 bounty for anybody who can reproduce an upward warp in Tick-Tock Clock.

This was five months ago and nobody has claimed it yet. When you consider the level of skill shown in the Rolling Rocks video - and a community of people who do that for free - it's probably going to be a white whale for a while. There's glitches yet.
posted by solarion at 4:13 PM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I heard about this one challenge runner, a pretty well-known guy as far as these things go. He used to post videos like these. This was a few years back. Anyway, this guy was in a really terrible car accident. His car flipped over the median and he ended up getting pretty severe brain injury. He was in a coma for days and the doctors didn't think he was going to wake up. He did, eventually, but he was never really the same after that. He started making these crazy rambling posts in game forums. Something about finding glitches in the physics engine of the universe—just crazy incoherent stuff like that. Everyone assumed he was nuts. It was kind of like a sad joke for a while, until eventually people just started ignoring him. At some point in 2013 he stopped posting and all of his accounts went silent. Didn't respond to messages or emails or anything. Nobody really knows what happened to him, but there were these strange reports later, where various witnesses said something about seeing a man running furiously against a brick wall for hours and then suddenly disappearing.
posted by dephlogisticated at 4:26 PM on January 25, 2016 [8 favorites]


This needs to make its way into Common Core.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:29 PM on January 25, 2016


He's such a great teacher!
posted by oceanjesse at 4:46 PM on January 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


How is there not a cyberpunk novel featuring speedrunners yet??

Magicians and/or super-heroes are just people who have figured out how to exploit bugs in the universe's software.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:49 PM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'd imagine this guy understands the game engine better than the original programmers at this point.
posted by codacorolla at 5:39 PM on January 25, 2016


"Like most enemies, Scuttlebugs have a home."

Well, now you're making me feel sympathy for them, dammit! How can I go on like this?
posted by capricorn at 5:41 PM on January 25, 2016


Amazing, and really well explained. It's funny, the idea of someone digging through flaws and cracks in my code horrifies me, but at the same time there's a part of me that really hopes I'll one day make a game that people speedrun.
posted by lucidium at 6:05 PM on January 25, 2016


There are people who play games, and people who break them. This guy has transcended both categories by walking backwards for twelve hours straight.
posted by brecc at 6:25 PM on January 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


by walking backwards for twelve hours straight.

While holding the final half of an A Button Press all that time.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:29 PM on January 25, 2016


This is bonkers. I kind of watched to the end, though.
posted by carter at 7:37 PM on January 25, 2016


I love that moment, which feels like something out of a science fiction novel like Tau Zero, where he says, Unfortunately we can't just teleport to the mirror galaxy 27 trillion light years away, because the intermediate stutter steps between the galaxies would kill us. But we can step beyond the mirror galaxy all the way to the next mirror galaxy. Four times. Four galaxies for each of the dozen-meter hops we want to take in our world, making sure that the final set of four-galaxy jumps lands us back in our own galaxy.

(Also, the planets in the mirror galaxies have floors, but no walls, objects, or creatures. And if you open your eyes, you die.)

What I don't quite get is how he executes the moves once he's reached the proper speed. Does he just tap the stick once to take a single, 3,296,488 pixel step? I suppose this must be a tool-assisted run, but I don't get what inputs would even theoretically be needed.
posted by straight at 7:52 PM on January 25, 2016 [8 favorites]


can't believe i watched that. fascinating
posted by rebent at 8:00 PM on January 25, 2016


No... words... They should have sent a poet!
posted by 3urypteris at 8:06 PM on January 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


So wait—there are 4 parallel universes existing simultaneously in the game? Does this mean Mario 64 is a stable simulation of timecube?
posted by Jon_Evil at 12:28 AM on January 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


There are infinite "parallel universes" (which as far as I can tell is really just way of visualizing a quirk of how the game stores Mario's position) but the only way to safely utilize them is to go four universes over at a time. So, to answer your question: yes absolutely.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:35 AM on January 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Y'all seen the guy who beat Mario 64 using his feet to manipulate the controller, right?
posted by dismas at 5:20 AM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


"25 minutes? There's no way I'm watching this!"
25 minutes later:
"God dammit."
posted by duffell at 5:29 AM on January 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


There are infinite "parallel universes" (which as far as I can tell is really just way of visualizing a quirk of how the game stores Mario's position)

Not really infinite. It's bounded by whatever is the largest floating point number the N64 can handle.

And I think there's a certain "reality" to them. To the extent that Mario can have a position in a game, Mario's position really is a vast distance away from the regular map. Usually when Mario gets outside of the bounds of the map, he falls to his death. But in this case, there are certain places where, when the game checks to see if Mario is standing on ground, the floor-checking odometer has rolled over so it matches a number where he wouldn't fall.

So there really are places far, far, far away from the regular map where Mario can stand. And the areas where he can stand conform to copies of the floor map of the regular level.
posted by straight at 6:59 AM on January 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


I've seen other TASes do stuff sort of similar to this before, like this Link to the Past TAS. In this one, I think the runner glitches into level geometry to take a series of doorways through garbage parts of memory that are read as rooms, until they hit one that warps them to the same coordinates as the ending sequence. If you're interested in these videos you can search "glitch TAS" on youtube and take a look at some similar techniques being used to completely destroy various games.
posted by codacorolla at 7:40 AM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not really infinite. It's bounded by whatever is the largest floating point number the N64 can handle.

Actually long before that, because floating point allows representing very large numbers at the cost of the least significant bits. Space itself becomes kind of granular at this point. Mario's acceleration won't be enough to move him far enough to update his position, and he won't be able to go beyond to the next universe.
posted by JHarris at 9:54 AM on January 26, 2016


(Which is enough to make me wonder if quantum phenomena in our world is just the result of the processor that runs our reality running out of floating point precision when it comes to simulating particles down to that scale, and I'm only half kidding there.)
posted by JHarris at 10:00 AM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


"to update his position" I should have said "to update his velocity," sorry, I'll duck out now.
posted by JHarris at 10:02 AM on January 26, 2016


Okay, one more comment!

This, the Smash Bros. Brawl variant Project M, and the post I made (exactly) on month ago, on the speedrun racing tool Zelda Randomizer, are examples of something new, results of playing these games beyond the officially sanctioned avenues of enjoyment. You wouldn't be able to find out how to do any of these things without emulation, and performing them almost requires tool assistance. And adjusting the rules of your copy of Brawl, or randomizing your Zelda ROM, those are things that of course requires hacking.

These advanced forms of game enjoyment, because they rely on manipulating and observing the state of virtual machines and mucking about with their sacred program code, are entirely unapproved by Nintendo. And because of the increasingly ludicrous primitiveness of copyright law, this guy and people who play Zelda randomized are technically breaking the law, unless the obtained licenses for the ROMs for these purposes, licenses that Nintendo would never give out. These copyrights will not expire in any of our lifetimes.

On Nintendo's console-based social network Miiverse, even alluding to Project M will earn you a ban. Miiverse is about enjoying Nintendo-brand entertainmentTM in Nintendo-approved waysTM.

The result is that there's a kind of gray market of ways to enjoy these games, although market is the wrong word because you can't make money off of it. And increasingly, this gray area, outside the approved enjoyment mechanisms, is where the interesting things are happening.

As this happens more and more I predict it'll eventually evolve into a form of Orwellian double-speak with regards to these games, the official statements from the companies, and maybe eventually the gaming press, who as we've all seen desperately seeks the approval of these companies for news of upcoming products.
posted by JHarris at 10:24 AM on January 26, 2016 [10 favorites]


Is Project M deceased, or what? I had heard that the dev team scattered due to the looming possiblity of lawsuits.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 11:17 AM on January 26, 2016


I imagine that the ISO of the last released version will be around for a long time, in Certain Places, but yes, I had heard the same.
posted by JHarris at 12:23 PM on January 26, 2016


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