The annual week-long speedrunning marathon for charity, SGDQ (Summer Games Done Quick), is now underway, and we’ve already seen some really great runs from a variety of games. Watching speedruns can often bring new insight to games of old and introduce people to a side of gaming that they never knew existed.
But, for people who have never watched a SGDQ or speedruns in general, the lingo that the runners and members of the community use might leave you scratching your head about what they’re talking about. So let’s break down all of the important and common verbiage so that you can be an informed viewer throughout the week.
- Any% – Pronounced “any percent,” this refers to a type of speedrun that only requires the runner finish the game with any percent of the game completed, be it 2% or 100%. This is the most common form of runs, as it focuses on pure speed and mechanical exploitation rather than doing everything in a game.
- Frame Perfect – Refers to a trick or exploit in a game that can only be successfully done during a single frame of a game. A “frame rate” is how many times per second the game updates what’s happening on the screen. For example, if a game runs at 60 frames per second, and a runner must pull off a trick that is frame perfect, they have 1/60th of a second to pull it off.
- Lag/Slowdown/Frame Loss – Refers to the slowdown or loss of frame rate that can result from too much happening on the screen at once in a game. This is most common in older games and older systems like the NES, and this slowdown is often used to the runner’s advantage to exploit the game.
- RNG/Luck Based – Refers to the term “Random Number Generator,” a system that many games operate by. This essentially means that an element of a game is random, so that the runner can never accurately predict what will happen. RNG can often be the reason for varying times in a run, and depending on the game, can make or break a good time.
- TAS/TAS Run – TAS refers to the term “Tool Assisted Speedrun,” a type of speedrun meant for time optimization. This type of speedrun uses third party programs and tools to artificially manipulate a game (be it set back time, create new checkpoints, or change elements in a game). The goal in the end is to artificially create the fastest time possible. TAS runs are rarer than traditional runs, usually.
- “Save/Kill The Animals” – Every year during SGDQ (and the annual January event Awesome Games Done Quick), it’s a tradition for there to be a run of Super Metroid. At a certain point during the game, the player has the choice to either “save” or “kill” the animals that are on the map. Saving the animals is moral, but letting them die makes for a faster run. The decision is left up to the viewers in the form of a donation incentive. Whichever choice receives more donations is the one chosen.
- Death Warp – Refers to when a runner dies purposefully to improve their time, usually through some checkpoint exploitation of the game.
- Sequence Break – Refers to when a runner does something in the game out of sequence, or before they were supposed to. For example, a common sequence break is getting the master sword in the first few minutes of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
SGDQ and the world of speedrunning can be a confusing one to anyone who isn’t usually a part of it, but hopefully this little guide will help you better understand what’s going on in any given run so that you can sit back and enjoy the show.