Jump to content
IGNORED

How do speed runners hook into their games to create their graphical overlays?


RH
 Share

Recommended Posts

Member · Posted

I'm not much into speed running, but I've watched more than a few over the years.  Especially for games I've loved and when I've heard of near-impossible (to me) speed runs.

The one thing that I've been curious about in the past 10 years or so, is how many speed runners have a timer overlay and when they pass certain bosses or specific checkpoints, a timer beside their game output and the camera on them playing will show that their +/- time once they've finished a boss, and then when they accomplish the very last task of the game, the timer automatically stops.

I'm not asking about video layouts and multiple feeds.  I don't know how to do that, but I'm sure that's not hard.  But how do speed runners tap into their games to create their timers that wrap their video feeds?  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those timers are almost always handled by a piece of software called LiveSplit, and it has a lot of different ways to indicate that the runner reached a split (which is where the timer gets recorded as it moves on to the next split, or records the time of the completed run).

For runners playing on console, they are almost always handling the split timing manually. Usually with some sort of input to their computer which is reachable without letting go of their controller. Often the "official" timing for one such split will often be based on a point where controller inputs aren't required, giving them time to handle it without letting go of control.

For emulators or PC games, a common approach is looking at specific RAM values that indicate progress and automatically record a split. LiveSplit has a lot of plugins that do stuff like this, often configurable to individual games using resources shared by each game's communities.

There's been a lot of talk about hardware solutions for console runners, either using game genie like tools, or automatic video analysis. For the latter I've personally worked with some of the plugins made by some people, and I can say it's still in a very primitive state - that kind of software is usually a lot more complex than you'd imagine due to unreliable artifacts introduced by analog video, etc.

  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think most people use anything that hooks into the game. I'm pretty sure they just have a separate timer that they trigger with the space bar. LiveSplit is the most popular choice for this.

Now, there are some PC games where people have made auto splitting mods. I think I remember several source games have this. 

  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't remember the name of the software but runners use a computer capture card and special software for the timer and splits. I regularly watch a runner named Arcus and he uses a foot pedal controller on his computer to manually register  splits for whatever game he is playing. They probably all do something similar.

 

 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Member · Posted

I see.  So if someone beats a speed run by fractions of a second, I assume fellow speed runners/official score keepers will actually breakdown the footage frame by frame at the start and end, to determine the official time?

It makes sense that they'd have foot pedal.  That makes sense.

16 minutes ago, Sumez said:

...that kind of software is usually a lot more complex than you'd imagine due to unreliable artifacts introduced by analog video, etc.

Actually, I can imagine.  That's why I was impressed with much of what I've observed. I assumed that much of those minute details where figured out but, I guess not, if they simply use foot pedals to say when they've finished a split.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, RH said:

I see.  So if someone beats a speed run by fractions of a second, I assume fellow speed runners/official score keepers will actually breakdown the footage frame by frame at the start and end, to determine the official time?

Yes! This happens very often, at least for games with a very tight margin of competition. Super Mario Bros. is a popular example where timing is usually down to frames (or more precisely, the game's built in "frame rule").

The splits shown live during a stream is mostly just for the streamer's (and their audience's) own convenience, letting them stay aware of the current pace.
It's not uncommon that someone forgets to record a split, and gets it much later than it should have been.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...