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Looper

Quick start and a propose to remove 'skill' from it

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What is quick start? The first few frames. The time actually depends on the source port / settings / GPU / resolution etc. but let's say the first 7 frames = the first 0.20 seconds are the quick start. You press W+A + move your mouse before the game starts / before the wipe screen effect. This makes the player move as soon as possible with desirable angle, instead of waiting a couple frames at the start of an attempt.

 

Let's say you are going for Doom 1 E1M1 nomonsters record. The map is quite simple on nomonsters, and most of the restarts come from the very start of the level. Why? Because the angle to be super fast to reach the first door at 1.89 seconds requires you to pretty much have two of the possible 256 different angles. The angles are shown in the link https://i.imgur.com/F1i0hKt.jpg . From left to right: Doom guy does no quick start. Doom guy gets the wanted angle. Doom guy gets the other wanted angle. This means you gotta get TR46 or TR47 turn command out of the 256 possbilities.

 

You can get quite consistent with the angles, something like +-5 tics (TR41-TR50) from the wanted perfect angles in this case. This means you have roughly 2/11 = 20 % chance to get the correct angle, OR it means you restart the game immediately 8 out of 10 times before you have actually even played the map. Your attempt can be ruined before the wipescreen effect. Is this fun? Not really. (Check the picture what kind of spamming of attempts it is. Not cherry picked: https://i.imgur.com/2FdGvIy.jpg .)

 

Now as a speedrunner, I've figured that I must reduce the amount of meaningless attempts as much as possible. How can I do this? There are couple ways:

1. Practice:

Now this is obvious, but at the same time it is quite obvious that you get a lot of practice quite fast. After just 60 minutes, on average you have around 1000 attempts. Problem is that it starts to hammer your hand because of the same repetitive movement.

 

2. Use some kind of 'tools' that are(?) allowed:

I could use some kind of mechanical blocks to physically block my mouse while using perfect DPI settings (to adjust mouse sensitivity). Just move from the very left to the very right to get the perfect angle every time. Or Maybe I could use a joystick calibrated perfectly, so that if I hold it to the very right, it will turn perfectly TR46 or TR47 to the wanted angle. Or maybe I just hold 'turn right' key down certain amount of time to get it correct. Now how do I time this perfectly? Simple, just increase the black screen time accordingly, introduced in CNDoom. OR maybe a spring of a some kind that has a consistent push to move your mouse identically to the right every time to get TR46 or TR47.

 

3. Just 'remove' the whole quick start by introducing a new feature into the source ports:

There could be a feature, where: you start the game, but the game won't run before youy press a certain 'start run' key. Again in Doom1 E1M1 the Doom guy would be standing still and the game wouldn't move anywhere (except for 1st frame so that it draws something). Now all you have to do is to turn to the perfect angle at TR46 or TR47. The timer is not moving in this situation. The source port would remember this angle. This would lock the angle for the first frame, so you don't have to move the mouse every time you start a new attempt.

 

2. and 3. points could significantly reduce the amount of useless attempts, in my opinion. I feel like the solution provided by the point 2. is a bit annoying and would make the playing field unfair. To me, the only reasonable solution is to introduce some kind of feature into the source ports that remove this annoying quick start completely, which has a lot of other annoying uncertaintities and unfair advantages between different source ports and hardware. The only problem here is that it is somewhat unfair in certain maps (like E1M1) to compare it to the older runs... or is it? Who knows, maybe old school speedrunners used similar technique in the past. In any case, they had the opportunity to use tools/setups presented in point 2, but they probably didn't. They weren't as hardcore back then :-D

 

Personal ridiculous experience with the current quick start system from 2020:

I played a lot of Doom in 2020 summer. I noticed that a lot of quick starting started to irritate my hand as the mouse movement is so monotonic, hence I had to limit myself to around 5-6 hours / day (of speedrunning), so I could speedrun 5-6 hours every day. Otherwise the pain would start to creep over the pain tolerance. However, start of August 2020 I knew I am going to a LAN party, so I knew I am not gonna speedrun Doom for a couple days. This meant that I could overload my hand quite a bit as it would be fully recovered after the LAN party anyway. And that's what I did. I 'pumped' some extra attempts in, hand was quite sore, but the plan worked out. I just think this kind of planning is stupid and not part of the gameplay :D

Edited by Looper

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I didn't care about quick starting until recently (eg: Valiant Map07 has a shooting switch 90 degrees to the right kind of start). I do feel a lot of pointless resets because of this. Though, I personally would say maybe I haven't been using this for a long time, but it does contribute to the experience of speedrunning I suppose.

 

More like it's those kind of having in-game reset instead of restarting the whole sourceport QoL improvement, I suppose.

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Number 3 is actually implemented in dsda-doom already as a tas option. You can supply the first input as a command line option and it will execute it before the wipe screen. There's definitely skill involved in performing the quickstart, so the question comes down to whether or not that's important enough to outweigh the benefits of removing it. Obviously any run that used quickstart before such a rule change will be "easier" to achieve (at least, that it will take much less time). But that's also true for all the runs before in-game restart was a thing. For short runs, we can already pump out way more attempts now than a runner could a decade ago. This feature would also mean that we are building the first tic though, so I can understand if that's distasteful to some. From a philosophical standpoint, the wipe screen feels like the "start" of the run to me, and we're talking about the frame before that, so I'm not as bothered by it.

 

I'm curious what @4shockblast and @depr4vity think about such a thing 🧐

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31 minutes ago, Shepardus said:

What makes the first tic special that warrants automatically building it?

Input handling for the first tic varies by port and also evidently by hardware. Some people can't even execute inputs on the first tic, in worst cases. As one example, I could only execute certain angles for quickstart on my old laptop. I have no idea why. It must have had something to do with the polling rate of my mouse and how the events interacted with SDL during startup? No idea tbh. In some ports with in game restart, you need to turn much faster on the first frame of the restarted demo, as if you're playing with super low sensitivity. This is kind of a mess.

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1 hour ago, kraflab said:

Input handling for the first tic varies by port and also evidently by hardware. Some people can't even execute inputs on the first tic, in worst cases. As one example, I could only execute certain angles for quickstart on my old laptop. I have no idea why. It must have had something to do with the polling rate of my mouse and how the events interacted with SDL during startup? No idea tbh. In some ports with in game restart, you need to turn much faster on the first frame of the restarted demo, as if you're playing with super low sensitivity. This is kind of a mess.

Ah, that's worse than I thought. I'm all for making the quickstart behavior more consistent. The part about Looper's #3 proposal that doesn't sit right with me is the part about "locking" the angle so it doesn't have to be repeated on subsequent attempts, i.e. "building" the first tic. I get that it is a pointlessly repetitive thing, but I think something fundamental is lost if the player isn't actually executing all the inputs in the demo. I also think repetition just comes with the territory of speedrunning, and if you're doing thousands of attempts over hours of play, you kind of have to expect that to take its toll. If you're not killing your hand over the first turn, you'd be doing it over the second.

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4 hours ago, Shepardus said:

The part about Looper's #3 proposal that doesn't sit right with me is the part about "locking" the angle so it doesn't have to be repeated on subsequent attempts, i.e. "building" the first tic. I get that it is a pointlessly repetitive thing, but I think something fundamental is lost if the player isn't actually executing all the inputs in the demo.

Yeah, I get that there's something 'not exactly right' about it, but at the same time there's something "not exactly right" about the quick start itself, too. I've seen plenty of new players come to Discord and show their E1M1 runs. Most of the time loss in a bit more refined runs comes from the very start of the level, instead of actually playing the game.

 

Removing the quick start completely would solve many silly issues, and make the playfield a lot more even as you are not forced to know some hardware/sourceport issues that say: "Hey, did you know your source ports sucks, so you lost 1-7 frames in 90% of the attempts for no reason." If there was a feature like in point #3, it would be so obviously out there that you cannot miss it even as a new player. Currently, there is way too much random noise / (dis)advantage from a quick start to compare runs of different source ports in heavily competed maps.

 

Another problem, though I am not sure if it is a fair point, is that a feature like this may be accepted in the future anyways. The reasoning is that the quick start is far from fun. I know not everything has to be fun in speedrunning. There has to be something annoying in speedrunning to enjoy the end result(s), new starts and tricks, but this particular annoyance from the quick start is not annoying in a 'traditional' sense. It is annoying because it has nothing to do with the gameplay.

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Took a video to show, how the quick start spamming looks like.

 

 

The run is over before the melt screen most of the time. In this 'session', I played it casually but serious. Otherwise all of those runs, except one, would have been too slow to the first door.

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I've been meaning to comment here, but personally, I am in favor of some way to make the quickstart feature become more usable, although it's not very clear to me how.. I agree it's not quite like the annoyance of any other trick in the game because of just how port and hardware dependent it is, and the idea to lock the angle is intriguing, although I do wonder how that will work with first tic movement. This is another thing that personally, I have not seen happen consistently; on my old PC, I would get it more regularly, but after upgrading, it is quite difficult to get that (impossible to get angle, all in pr+ 2.5.1.4, though). If we hypothetically built the angle for the first tic, what would happen with the movement? Do you still have to press the straferun keys during wipe screen (I assume DSDA-Doom already puts start movement at wipe screen from first tic consistently, unlike other ports)? If so, what would happen if someone were to press strafe50 keys? I assume the game would have to ignore that input for a frame and then continue with strafe40, which is valid movement for the start of a run, but it does result in additional weirdness of this feature.

 

Additionally, would there be any point in scenario 3 to even require moving to the right angle in the first place? I guess locking the angle is a bit less like actually building the run, but still, it seems like it's an intermediate step that makes limited sense; obviously, someone would just restart a bunch of times until they get that angle and then lock it, which isn't much different from just allowing a command-line param that just sets a start turn angle or something.

 

That said, I cannot think of any other way to make quickstart less obnoxious, so, not sure. One other idea I suppose is actually showing on-screen during the wipe screen what angle you are getting, either as a number, or a direction, somehow. I'm not sure the time that wipe screen takes is reasonable enough for someone to be able to read the angle on-screen, but might be worth a try?

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17 hours ago, 4shockblast said:

If we hypothetically built the angle for the first tic, what would happen with the movement? Do you still have to press the straferun keys during wipe screen (I assume DSDA-Doom already puts start movement at wipe screen from first tic consistently, unlike other ports)? If so, what would happen if someone were to press strafe50 keys?

Angle is locked, every other key is still needed to be pressed, assuming the movement, use and fire keys work from the first tic. If not, lock those too. If angle != 0, then S50 is not allowed.

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