Sunday, 4 July 2021

04/07/2021: Game optimization patterns

Two notable events in the world of competitive gaming.

Rolling has been a viable style in classic Tetris and we found Cheez breezing through loads of world records. The way he broke the 100 line speedrun so casually when the previously newly set record was made upon multiple extreme optimization is simply spectacular. Rolling allows one to input above 20Hz edging close to the hardware limit (30Hz for the on-off cycle). The problem now is about consistency and flexibility, and we will know more in upcoming CTM and of course CTWC.

The SMB1 Any% record has been broken once again, this time entering the last possible second at 4:54. The human sum of best is merely a few frames slower than TAS. This is probably the closest against TAS in gaming history after dragster. 

They represent the frontline of game optimization: it reaches the realm where inputs are almost impossible to humans, which is a mechanical problem rather than a software problem. This matches the spiral theory where software and mechanical optimizations take the role in turns. 

Fortunately we also developed more tools during the years using science. Taking SMB1 as an example, in early days people experimented different tricks and do whatever is the fastest. We knew that there are shortcuts (e.g. 4-2 clips) but we didn't know how that worked but to take that as pure luck. As time passed, we started to use TAS first to get a route that works. We then refine that to "humanly possible" tricks -- after that it's speedrunners' job to execute those "humanly possible" tricks. And how refining works? Well the science of NES games and SMB1 itself is very well established, so people can calculate all the subpixels bit by bit for the possible route. If we take subpixels as a chaotic parameter as affected by the dynamics of the character, we may perform exhaustive searches around the possible routes until we found one that works for players. 

Since I mentioned the science behind speedrunning, I should mention the Youtuber that does a great job on the matter. In fact, everything I wrote above is just a set up for one of my favourite comment that mentions 4 great youtubers, three of which make videos that I would watch at highest priority. Here is the comment from this video...

Remember people:
* Summoning Salt for History
* Bismuth for Science
* FlibidyDibidy for Technology
* Karl Jobst for Social Sciences

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