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The Best of the Worst: Authorblues on AGDQ 2017's Awful Block
INTERVIEW // Speedruns // By Dustin Steiner // 12d ago
One of the most popular blocks at AGDQ has always been the Awful Block, where runners try their hand at some of the worst-coded games ever put to retail.
To understand why a runner might choose to do a so-called 'awful' game, as well as to find out how the largely undocumented communities around these games operate, we caught up with AuthorBlues. He will be running The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle on Wednesday, January 11th at 11:40 PM Central, as part of the Awful Block.
What attracts you to playing a so-called "awful" game like Chester Cheetah or Rocky and Bullwinkle over these games?
A lot of the appeal of these games is the absurdity of taking a terrible game and making it fun and fast. People expect Sonic to be fast. No one expects Cheetahmen to be fast. Speedrunning has the unique ability to take a game that is particularly terrible in a casual sense and make it fun as a speedrun. This is either because the game was too difficult and it becomes playable with practice, or because the game was too easy and speedrunning it adds an extra layer of challenge.
If I wanted to go about speedrunning Pepsiman, for example, what would I do? I know for games like DKC there's a big supportive community and tons of guides to help - is the same true of these awful games?
Games tend to be better documented when there is a larger demand for documentation. This means that so-called "awful" games tend to only have maybe a few runs, maybe a TAS, and maybe a rough guide to follow.
In some cases, this may not be a bad thing; for popular games, the games are so heavily documented that new runners fall into the trap of just learning existing routes and not bothering trying to innovate. When it comes to bad games, new runners can bring a lot of new insight to improving the existing routes and strats.
What games should people absolutely not miss out of the awful block?
Cheetahmen has a notorious history of both being one of the worst games and being exceptionally broken. This one is probably a must-see. By contrast, I'm certain no one has ever even heard of WolfQuest, but it is an absurd educational game that should be a great laugh. Donkey Kong 5 is a Taiwanese bootleg game that shouldn't be missed.
For games outside of Awful Block, Trauma Center is an extremely technical game that should be impressive for anyone to watch, in addition to the big names like the DKC Trilogy race, A Link to the Past race, TASBlock, and of course, GrandPOOBear running Super Dram World.
Did you start out in one of the more well-established games, or have you always been a specialist in more obscure titles, like those found in the "awful block"?
I started speedrunning in 2013 with Super Mario World, but it wasn't until 6 months later that I started running a game called Kiwi Kraze (also known as NewZealand Story), a game that I grew up playing on the NES. When I realized how much fun it was to route, glitch hunt, and run a game that went largely overlooked, I was absolutely hooked. At this point, most people know me best for the wide array of (sometimes terrible) games that I run, so that has definitely become my specialty.
What kind of tech should we be watching for in your Rocky and Bullwinkle run?
The game is a bit too difficult to leave much room for swag, but there is a bit of tech. A TAS was released in October 2016 that revealed two new tricks and several optimizations. There is a glitch that skips the boss of chapter two entirely, which I will (hopefully) be using in the marathon.
Do you have a favorite AGDQ moment that you'd like to share?
My favorite memories at GDQs are always the big races in the practice rooms. Everybody shows up and instantly make friends with people they have only ever known online. As speedrunners, we race each other relatively often, but there is something special about being surrounded by all of your friends, speedrunning shoulder to shoulder in a room full of TVs and consoles.
While Pokehero goes bananas on the main stage, we've got 28 players in the practice room for a Super Mario Sunshine community race! pic.twitter.com/2IXufuu3f1
I think a lot of people have an idea of what GDQs are like behind the scenes, but until you attend one and see how much fun everyone is having off-camera, you just can't really understand. I've been to five (every marathon since AGDQ 2015) and it is a different, amazing experience every time.
Who's going to be on the couch with you during your run and how'd you pick them?
I discovered the game from a bad games tournament called Kusogrande, organized and commentated by Brossentia (who will also be running WolfQuest), so he was a perfect choice to provide commentary for my run. I have also invited Skybilz and GrandPOOBear for support, as well as a handful of friends to pull up a chair so they can join in on the fun.
Dustin Steiner has seen esports from nearly every angle, from tournament administration to live event coverage. He has worked in the space for over six years for outlets such as the Capcom Pro Tour, eSportsMax, ESFI World, Evil Geniuses and GameZone.