Half-Life Speedrun Sets Amazing New Record

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Half-Life Speedrun Sets Amazing New Record

Prepare to experience the entire original Half-Life, from start to finish, in less than 21 minutes.

Half-Life is a pretty beefy game as I recall, and while there's a tendency to remember it as a flawless classic, it drags at times, too. Yet Quadrazid's Half-Life speedrun just blows by: Ol' Gordo goes from the test chamber to the Nihilanth in just 20:41 - yes, that's twenty minutes and forty-one seconds.

It's an astonishing figure that absolutely demolishes the previous record of 29:41, but as you might guess there's more going on here than just a really good game of Half-Life. It's a "segmented" speedrun made up of 317 separate segments played by seven gamers, and is "heavily scripted" through the in-game console, with scripts including jump spam, duck spam and 180-degree turn. Various glitches were also "caused and abused" in the quest to get this thing done.

That's not meant to diminish the accomplishment in any way - speedruns are all about speed, after all - or to suggest that it was anything less than a massive undertaking. In fact, according to the YouTube post, planning on this speedrun began back in the summer of 2010.

"After almost four years of painstaking planning, theorycrafting and execution, we have arrived at our final time, smashing all of our wildest expectations," the team wrote. "A lot of the improvement from the first estimation and the previous world record (29 minutes, 41 seconds) comes from the very hard work and countless hours put into perfecting each and every segment, no matter how short or trivial. This run has truly been an endurance test for everyone involved, and we're extremely happy to finally be able to share it with you."

The whole of Half-Life - including the hot mess on Xen - in 20 minutes and change. Never say never, but I have a feeling we won't see that mark be broken.

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Damn, I haven't followed the HL1 community that closely but 9 minutes is absolutely enormous in any other game. Congrats to them.

It never gets old listening to scientists and security guards try to address someone as they speed past them like a missile. "Ah, you-" "Gord-!" "Mister Fre-"

Jumping on those laser trip mines is something I wish I'd thought of years ago before spending almost an hour wandering around that annoying level. I always thought it was strange the way the level 'Questionable Ethics' opened as well...this speed run is magnificent.

EDIT: Oh, no...he didn't just climb a wall by jumping on a...wow.

All this speed-run news lately. Ah well, like I said the last two times, so long as the gamer in question had fun and doesn't try to pretend that it was a "full" beating of the game that should be held in equal regard as (and compared to) full play-throughs, then it's not a big deal....

Andy Chalk:
It's a "segmented" speedrun made up of 317 separate segments played by seven gamers, and is "heavily scripted" through the in-game console, with scripts including jump spam, duck spam and 180-degree turn. Various glitches were also "caused and abused" in the quest to get this thing done.

....WUT.

Are you kidding me? Exactly how much manipulation is permissible in a "speed-run" before it stops being considered a "legit" play-through of the game? Or are people still gonna tell me that this is mechanically identical to playing the game normally? I will never understand the speed-run community, and I'm not sure I want to try. ._.

CriticKitten:
Or are people still gonna tell me that this is mechanically identical to playing the game normally? I will never understand the speed-run community, and I'm not sure I want to try. ._.

There's two kinds of Speed Run, one that most people would broadly recognise as a Speed Run (one guy, frantic clicking, one go) and the other is tool assisted.

This is tool assisted, it's like the unlimited dragsters of videogames, nothing short of altering the game's code is off limits in building the absolute fastest run from A to B and the how doesn't matter as long as it's fast.

Of course within speed running there's lots and lots (and lots) of arguments about whether TAS runs are 'real' speed runs or not, because Internet. You've got to admit it's impressive to see a play through strung together that goes from end to end in twenty minutes, that's eleven hours and fourty minutes faster than I managed Half Life!

I'm watching it right now, but, man. It's really confusing because I'm not in the know on what glitches they are abusing, so half the time some seemingly random stuff happens and I have no idea why.
Also, I must agree with @CriticKitten. I saw a pretty damn fast System Shock 2 speedrun once and one of the big things they did was enter the code to the maintenance deck right away. A code that always stays the same, but that you would normally only get after doing a bunch of quests on the med/sci deck.
I dunno about this particular speedrun, but that bit with the code I'd consider cheating. I can't really give you a clear standard on what I would consider legit and what not rather than respond to each individual situation, though.

I was eagerly waiting for this, holy shit. It's amazing to see to say the least :O

This is an updated graphics version right? I'm pretty sure we hadn't invented coloured line wall maps back then

this was AMAZING XD

I'm just imagining Gordon Freeman yelling "I FUCKED UP I FUCKED UP I FUCKED UP" for the entire video past the resonance cascade.

BrotherRool:
This is an updated graphics version right? I'm pretty sure we hadn't invented coloured line wall maps back then

Looks stock to me...

For those of you who only like seeing speedruns if they're single-segment, one of the guys responsible for this segmented run did this on his own:

Edit: That run also explains a few of the tricks, especially around the 12 minute mark.

Are you kidding me? Exactly how much manipulation is permissible in a "speed-run" before it stops being considered a "legit" play-through of the game? Or are people still gonna tell me that this is mechanically identical to playing the game normally? I will never understand the speed-run community, and I'm not sure I want to try. ._.

Yeah that hit me part way through the watching, for sections of the run the guy was outside the actual map. If that's allowed on top of glitches and other things why not just no clip straight from map start to map finish and call it a day.

Saying that some of the sections where out of the world daft glitching wasn't being used, for example Residue Processing the speed with which he was traversing the obstacles was really amazing, I remember how tricky and annoying some of those sections could be.

... why would you count it if it includes different segments? The individual pieces do make up that whole, but whats the point if you can do the run five hundred times and take the best bits of every segment of the game? Might as well count noclips in speedruns and aimbots in marksman challeges if you're going to do that much.

MarsAtlas:
... why would you count it if it includes different segments? The individual pieces do make up that whole, but whats the point if you can do the run five hundred times and take the best bits of every segment of the game? Might as well count noclips in speedruns and aimbots in marksman challeges if you're going to do that much.

Laughing Man:

Are you kidding me? Exactly how much manipulation is permissible in a "speed-run" before it stops being considered a "legit" play-through of the game? Or are people still gonna tell me that this is mechanically identical to playing the game normally? I will never understand the speed-run community, and I'm not sure I want to try. ._.

Yeah that hit me part way through the watching, for sections of the run the guy was outside the actual map. If that's allowed on top of glitches and other things why not just no clip straight from map start to map finish and call it a day.

Saying that some of the sections where out of the world daft glitching wasn't being used, for example Residue Processing the speed with which he was traversing the obstacles was really amazing, I remember how tricky and annoying some of those sections could be.

CriticKitten:
All this speed-run news lately. Ah well, like I said the last two times, so long as the gamer in question had fun and doesn't try to pretend that it was a "full" beating of the game that should be held in equal regard as (and compared to) full play-throughs, then it's not a big deal....

Andy Chalk:
It's a "segmented" speedrun made up of 317 separate segments played by seven gamers, and is "heavily scripted" through the in-game console, with scripts including jump spam, duck spam and 180-degree turn. Various glitches were also "caused and abused" in the quest to get this thing done.

....WUT.

Are you kidding me? Exactly how much manipulation is permissible in a "speed-run" before it stops being considered a "legit" play-through of the game? Or are people still gonna tell me that this is mechanically identical to playing the game normally? I will never understand the speed-run community, and I'm not sure I want to try. ._.

As explained somewhat earlier, a TAS run basically anything goes. However, the point is to push the game to its absolute limits by any means. Speed is one thing, but just warping to the credits isn't the aim. Exploiting everything the game allows you to is. Like in portal where you can just jump through the elevator doors. Things that require frame perfect timing, pixel perfect precision, all go into TAS runs to show what -can- be done.

A lot of times stuff done in TAS runs can work their way into normal runs, and the normal runs improve. So everything you can do in a TAS run you can do unassisted. It just may be way way more difficult to pull off.

Although that was very entertaining and frankly amazing run to watch, I'm not sure if it can be considered legit as it does use multiple runners' clips mixed together and I'm certain they've adjusted the player's health cap to make it even possible to do this. See the later half of the run (over 4000 hp? Really?).

Laughing Man:

Are you kidding me? Exactly how much manipulation is permissible in a "speed-run" before it stops being considered a "legit" play-through of the game? Or are people still gonna tell me that this is mechanically identical to playing the game normally? I will never understand the speed-run community, and I'm not sure I want to try. ._.

Yeah that hit me part way through the watching, for sections of the run the guy was outside the actual map. If that's allowed on top of glitches and other things why not just no clip straight from map start to map finish and call it a day.

As far as I know if you're able to get outside the map or over unusual terrain due to gaps or spaces the map designer has left then it's allowed however if they edit the maps themselves to allow faster movement then it makes the run void. You would be surprised how many shortcuts were taken in older games to lower loading times.

CriticKitten:
snip

oplinger:
snip

fix-the-spade:
snip

A bit of clarification here, this isn't a TAS run. A tool-assisted speedrun is a run where the runner uses outside tools like emulation to slow the game down to a point where they can pull of all of the more frame-perfect tricks in a game.

The technical classification for this run I guess would be a "segmented scripted any% run", a segmented run being a run where the runner(s) take the best time for each individual part of the game and edit that together to make the full run. The difference is that the runners still have to perform each trick in real time they can just retry from that specific spot if they fail.

The scripting is probably the most controversial part, they're binding keys in a way that makes it easier to bunnyhop and some other movement related tricks in the game. Scripted runs are somewhat frowned upon and are banned by Speed Demos Archive, but are generally accepted in the source community since it reduces the tedium of making the runs.

MarsAtlas:
... why would you count it if it includes different segments? The individual pieces do make up that whole, but whats the point if you can do the run five hundred times and take the best bits of every segment of the game? Might as well count noclips in speedruns and aimbots in marksman challeges if you're going to do that much.

Cause the challenge of a TAS or multi-segment run isn't in the execution, it's in the pathfinding, and the planning.

If you take two seconds to pick up a healthpack right now, can it save you fifteen seconds later on down the line? You'll notice several times in this run where they'll take a grenade jump that will knock them down to 1hp; if you did that in a single-segment run you'd be hosed if you didn't get it absolutely perfect, so then you'd take a slightly less risky route for that run. But for multi-segmented runs, it's possible to try over and over until you get it perfect, to show what's possible.

oplinger:
A lot of times stuff done in TAS runs can work their way into normal runs, and the normal runs improve. So everything you can do in a TAS run you can do unassisted. It just may be way way more difficult to pull off.

As an aside, most speedrunners differentiate between a multi-segment-run, where people are playing in realtime, with TAS runs, where you can do frame-by-frame play, or other things that are beyond normal human reflexes.

It says that they used the in-game console to script jumping, ducking, and turning. It just doesn't seem all that impressive to me when they basically wrote a program to do half of the work for them. It's still impressive that they figured out the most efficient route, and it was certainly fun to see a game that took me many hours to finish completed in twenty minutes, but knowing that it was mostly run on autopilot kinda takes away from the fun of it.

Oh boy here we go again escapists, another speedrun argument about not playing in the "spirit of the game"

I personally love this run, it's insane to watch and some of the tricks blow my mind every time. I personally say this is a valid run in the "Scripted segmented any%" category, it obviously can not compete for WR in any other category because it would be cheating. also scripts are commonly accepted by source runners because everyone binds jump to mouse wheel anyway, bunnyhopping with the space bar is atrocious.

Nile McMorrow:
Although that was very entertaining and frankly amazing run to watch, I'm not sure if it can be considered legit as it does use multiple runners' clips mixed together and I'm certain they've adjusted the player's health cap to make it even possible to do this. See the later half of the run (over 4000 hp? Really?).

A multi-segment run is very common. See Quake Done Quick, Half-Life 2 Done Quick, and so on.

As for the health, from the single-segment run I posted earlier in the thread:

Healthdoor; It's a very simple mapping error. The damage value of the door is set to -1 which means that if you get squeezed in it, you'll receive +1 health point. This also applies to armor points. That is why I'm waiting for the grunts to take away all my armor. Once all armor is gone, I shoot an AR-grenade to scare the NPC behind me, he will try to take cover, and the game calculates his path to be straight through the door, and thats enough to make the door get open, neither the door is locked or not.
Once I get stuck in the door, I'll receive 1hp/frame. 100fps - 100hp/sec. To take real advantage of this I raise my fps to 1000, which is max possible - 1000hp/sec. The HUD only display values between 0 and 255. My actual health when leaving the door is ~3850hp

For whatever reason in this run all four digits of health were displayed. Different version of Half-Life, maybe?

I wouldn't call it legit due to the glitches.

But it's still damn impressive to watch. Especially around ten minutes, when they're like "Oh hai thar G-man", and fly right past him.

fix-the-spade:

CriticKitten:
Or are people still gonna tell me that this is mechanically identical to playing the game normally? I will never understand the speed-run community, and I'm not sure I want to try. ._.

There's two kinds of Speed Run, one that most people would broadly recognise as a Speed Run (one guy, frantic clicking, one go) and the other is tool assisted.

This is tool assisted, it's like the unlimited dragsters of videogames, nothing short of altering the game's code is off limits in building the absolute fastest run from A to B and the how doesn't matter as long as it's fast.

Of course within speed running there's lots and lots (and lots) of arguments about whether TAS runs are 'real' speed runs or not, because Internet. You've got to admit it's impressive to see a play through strung together that goes from end to end in twenty minutes, that's eleven hours and fourty minutes faster than I managed Half Life!

One thing that makes tool assisted speedruns matter to exist is that it gives you the idea of what is the fastest possible time to achieve. It isnt really an achievment, at least not a big one, but its still something interesting to watch and understand.

No one is doing these and thinking "Oh, that guy beat the game in that time? Im going to use this little helper here without them knowing and beat his time", its more of a "I wonder how fast this game can be beaten without the human element".

Am I the only one who thinks a "speedrun" should mean the time it takes to beat a game in one sitting? Glitches are also a grey area since you're not playing the game legitimately.

idarkphoenixi:
Am I the only one who thinks a "speedrun" should mean the time it takes to beat a game in one sitting? Glitches are also a grey area since you're not playing the game legitimately.

You're looking for a single-segment run, and those exist, and are counted separately. I posted a 32-minute single-segment run of Half-Life earlier in the thread.

I'm ok with using glitches which are in the game, as most Speedruns do that. However when you start using scripts, well at that point you're into Tool Assisted Territory, so I don't consider this a "legit" run, not even slightly.

It's an interesting curiosity, but to me, it's just not a Speedrun.

Alfador_VII:
I'm ok with using glitches which are in the game, as most Speedruns do that. However when you start using scripts, well at that point you're into Tool Assisted Territory, so I don't consider this a "legit" run, not even slightly.

It's an interesting curiosity, but to me, it's just not a Speedrun.

The Half-Life speedrunning community decided to allow bunnyhopping scripts because people were binding a dozen keys and the mousewheel all to the "jump" function, and mashing them every time they wanted to go fast.

Is there really anything lost in allowing them to hold down spacebar instead?

Edit: Not to mention that most of the really prominent timesaving techniques in this run compared with previous runs are entirely feasible with normal controls. The Health Door glitch, for instance, wasn't in the Half Hour Half Life run, and probably accounts for the majority of the saved time in this run.

I was with it up until they went outside the map. I don't care what glitches you use as long as the speedrun doesn't go outside the map.

oplinger:
As explained somewhat earlier, a TAS run basically anything goes. However, the point is to push the game to its absolute limits by any means. Speed is one thing, but just warping to the credits isn't the aim. Exploiting everything the game allows you to is. Like in portal where you can just jump through the elevator doors. Things that require frame perfect timing, pixel perfect precision, all go into TAS runs to show what -can- be done.

A lot of times stuff done in TAS runs can work their way into normal runs, and the normal runs improve. So everything you can do in a TAS run you can do unassisted. It just may be way way more difficult to pull off.

I did read that before posting, and even with that knowledge, cutting individual segments just seems so... I don't even know a word that quite fits. Alien? Cheap? At that point, its not even really a human achievement anymore. Its not a "speedrun", its a compilation of multiple efforts, in this case well over 300 efforts, and splicing them together to show that their plan is technically feasible. Thats not a "speedrun" though, its a simulation of what it would look like. And you know what? I'm fine with that. But thats not a "speedrun", that a plan of a speedrun. Now the plan may deserve respect for how much effort was put into figuring out every exploit possible, but its not a speedrun.

UNHchabo:
Cause the challenge of a TAS or multi-segment run isn't in the execution, it's in the pathfinding, and the planning.

If you take two seconds to pick up a healthpack right now, can it save you fifteen seconds later on down the line? You'll notice several times in this run where they'll take a grenade jump that will knock them down to 1hp; if you did that in a single-segment run you'd be hosed if you didn't get it absolutely perfect, so then you'd take a slightly less risky route for that run. But for multi-segmented runs, it's possible to try over and over until you get it perfect, to show what's possible.

If thats the point, and you're allowed to undo any kind of human error by taking segmented clips from hundreds, if not thousands, of separate attempts, why is it even really considered any kind of challenge? Like I said earlier in the post to another forumite, thats not longer a speedrun, its a simulation. Thats cool and all, it really is, but thats not a speedrun.

Now if somebody managed to do all of that in one take, I'd respect that. As it currently is, all we have is a plan that has been shown to be possible, but not actually performed by a person in an actual speedrun. Its awesome that people managed to figure it out, but its still not an actual speedrun.

haha oh jeez, more speed run news :D the escapist surely isn't divided on this issue at all, and never resorts to stubborn flaming.

personally I would never attempt something like this, but I can recognize the achievement and find it pretty cool nonetheless. so thumbs up for them.

Wow. This is a hell of a run. Serious kudos to the team behind it. They didn't just beat the previous record, they obliterated it.

And now to sit back and watch the Escapist forum shit all over this run; decreeing it 'illegitimate' because it "wasn't done in the spirit of the game" or some such bullshit.

Anyone want some popcorn?

UNHchabo:

The Half-Life speedrunning community decided to allow bunnyhopping scripts because people were binding a dozen keys and the mousewheel all to the "jump" function, and mashing them every time they wanted to go fast.

Is there really anything lost in allowing them to hold down spacebar instead?

Kind of, but not entirely. Insofar as everything that's done in the video is entirely doable with enough practice, patience, and time. (hell, even I can do a lot of the things they did in the run. In sequence, almost assuredly not, but I certainly know how to do them.)

Edit: Not to mention that most of the really prominent timesaving techniques in this run compared with previous runs are entirely feasible with normal controls. The Health Door glitch, for instance, wasn't in the Half Hour Half Life run, and probably accounts for the majority of the saved time in this run.

Oh it most definintely does. They used a few time saving techniques here and there prior to the door glitch, but those 4k hitpoints allowed for a ludicrous number of grenade jumps, Tau Cannon pushes, etc, etc.

That door might have easily shaved a solid seven or more minutes off the run.

MarsAtlas:
If thats the point, and you're allowed to undo any kind of human error by taking segmented clips from hundreds, if not thousands, of separate attempts, why is it even really considered any kind of challenge? Like I said earlier in the post to another forumite, thats not longer a speedrun, its a simulation. Thats cool and all, it really is, but thats not a speedrun.

Now if somebody managed to do all of that in one take, I'd respect that. As it currently is, all we have is a plan that has been shown to be possible, but not actually performed by a person in an actual speedrun. Its awesome that people managed to figure it out, but its still not an actual speedrun.

Cause there's a difference between a multi-segment-run and a Tool Assisted Speedrun. In a multi-segment run, each segment was successfully done by a person in realtime, as opposed to a TAS, where frame-by-frame play is allowed. Normally segments last for at least a decent portion of a map, so the transition is probably not going to be in the middle of a trick.

Think of it this way: it's hugely impressive to see someone complete an Endurance Obstacle Course without stopping, but that doesn't mean that people can't have a competition timing themselves doing individual stages from that course. It just means you can't compare the times apples-to-oranges.

Edit: Added clarifying text:
at least a decent portion of a map

UNHchabo:
Cause there's a difference between a multi-segment-run and a Tool Assisted Speedrun. In a multi-segment run, each segment was successfully done by a person in realtime, as opposed to a TAS, where frame-by-frame play is allowed. Normally segments last for at least a decent portion of a map, so the transition is probably not going to be in the middle of a trick.

Think of it this way: it's hugely impressive to see someone complete an Endurance Obstacle Course without stopping, but that doesn't mean that people can't have a competition timing themselves doing individual stages from that course. It just means you can't compare the times apples-to-oranges.

Edit: Added clarifying text:
at least a decent portion of a map

Taking away all of that, its still misleading at best to call it a "speedrun" of a game when the entire game was done in separate pieces. If you're doing a speedrun of a singular area of the game, then thats cool, but thats only a speedrun of that entire level, and only if its done in one take. Yes, its impressive, and I've challenged myself to improve on individual levels in games before, but pieceing them all together doesn't make it a speedrun.

Is this one of those bullshit speedruns where the player just glitches the game?

*checks*

Ayup.

MarsAtlas:
Taking away all of that, its still misleading at best to call it a "speedrun" of a game when the entire game was done in separate pieces. If you're doing a speedrun of a singular area of the game, then thats cool, but thats only a speedrun of that entire level, and only if its done in one take. Yes, its impressive, and I've challenged myself to improve on individual levels in games before, but pieceing them all together doesn't make it a speedrun.

It's a full speedrun in the sense that each segment starts where the last one left off, with the same amount of health, armor, and ammo. During the planning phase of most speedruns they'll start off by seeing how quickly they can finish each level, then the next phase is figuring out how to piece those runs together; the sort of "grab a medkit to save a bunch of time 3 maps down the line" thing that I mentioned earlier.

Speed Demos Archive is the most common source for speedruns; they have rules that encompass both single-segment and multi-segment runs (they don't do Tool-Assisted runs), and they're kept in separate categories.

Some key excerpts from their FAQ:

Why do you allow glitches but disallow cheat codes and tricks like crooked cartridge?
Using glitches is simply trying to use whatever is within the rules of the game to your advantage. When you use a cheat device or outside alteration, then you're breaking the game's rules. As for cheat codes and debug codes, they differ from glitches in being intentionally programmed, so they are naturally outside the rules of the game as defined by the designers.

For games that let you save anywhere (i.e. without save points), a half second save penalty is added for each save. This is designed to discourage someone from potentially using thousands of segments in a run.

From the Rules of SDA:

A run is either single-segment or segmented:

*Single-segment: Beats the game in one sitting. Resetting or using save&quits midrun are allowed, but may be a separate category if they speed things up significantly.
*Segmented: Uses saves or passwords to play parts of the game individually and then combines the 'segments' into a full run. We may instead host runs of each level in an "Individual Levels" table if the game is split into levels and nothing transfers between them.

oplinger:

As explained somewhat earlier, a TAS run basically anything goes. However, the point is to push the game to its absolute limits by any means. Speed is one thing, but just warping to the credits isn't the aim. Exploiting everything the game allows you to is. Like in portal where you can just jump through the elevator doors. Things that require frame perfect timing, pixel perfect precision, all go into TAS runs to show what -can- be done.

A lot of times stuff done in TAS runs can work their way into normal runs, and the normal runs improve. So everything you can do in a TAS run you can do unassisted. It just may be way way more difficult to pull off.

This is pretty much how I see it. I don't really personally consider TAS runs to be real speed runs but TAS runs are, however, still important for the development of proper speed runs once the game reaches a certain point and simply "playing the game fast" has been taken to it's limits. TAS runs can show you where the possibilities and limitations are. It's just not a proper speed run to me, however, until it's actually a single player doing it all in one go.

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