Bagdadsoftware: Please introduce yourself to our readers. Who are you and what do you?
Nicholas Hoppe: My name is Nicholas "Sir VG" Hoppe. I’m a long time game player and I do speed runs as a hobby, to keep gaming fresh and take a break from my job.
Bagdadsoftware: How long have you been speedrunning?
Nicholas Hoppe: I started speedrunning in spring 2005. My first published run was Legend of Mana, which was completed in August 2005 and published on SDA October 2005. My latest run published is Dawn of Mana, though that run was already done in 2007, while the most recent run completed that’s published is my Castlevania Judgment run, done in March 2009.
Bagdadsoftware: What introduced you to the scene?
Nicholas Hoppe: I initially heard about Speed Demos Archive due to Radix’s infamous Metroid Prime 100% run in 1:37. When I watched the video, I was like "People do this type of game competition? Sign me up!"
Bagdadsoftware: Your most famous run is Legend of Mana (Dragon’s Quest). What prompted you do it?
Nicholas Hoppe: Legend of Mana is my favorite game, and since I was very familiar with it, I felt it was a good place to start.
Bagdadsoftware: Why an RPG? RPGs, even more action-adventure orientated ones, are generally very long games and depend more on tactic and luck rather than on fast finger skills. Doesn’t sound like an interesting combination for a speedrun to me.
Nicholas Hoppe: How fast an RPG is depends on the runners strategies. Sure, RPGs are almost always on the top length of the list, but throw in a game-breaking glitch, and you can boggle somebody’s mind with an RPG run. There’s also a greater unique challenge in RPGs in strategy. You have to know the game and plan things out. FPS games are pretty much memorization and timing.
Bagdadsoftware: How did you plan and prepare your run of the game?
Nicholas Hoppe: Initially, I just took what I knew and ran with it. In later revisions, I got smart by reading FAQs, mapping out routes and the like, and making practice runs when I had time.
Bagdadsoftware: So it was more of a bookie-approach? Looking at the numbers, comparing the stats and then think about which weapons and skills would be more useful and which additional quests to take on.
Nicholas Hoppe: With Legend of Mana, there are not a lot of weapon changes and stats aren't as important as other RPG games. The biggest thing is knowing the "rules" of the game – knowing that this mission gives you these items so you can do these missions, or doing this mission will prevent you from doing this one, etc. So the closest thing to a "bookie approach" is which missions are faster to do in what areas I have access to.
Bagdadsoftware: Besides the stats, what other unique challenges did you face before and during the run?
Nicholas Hoppe: In RPG games it's knowing where to go and what items, weapons, and armor you need to survive.
Bagdadsoftware: Speaking of game-breaking glitches: Did you use some during the run and if yes why? Did you find any new ones while attempting the run?
Nicholas Hoppe: The biggest trick I used in the Dragon Storyline run was a save file from a different game. Since the two games were developed by the same company (Squaresoft), it's basically a save bonus. But as for actual glitches, the game is pretty solid. There's not much to glitch in there.
Bagdadsoftware: Okay seriously: Why did you have to kill all those cute rabbit-thingies in the forest? What did they ever do to you?
Nicholas Hoppe: They stole my candy! Damn rabbits!
Bagdadsoftware: Since the combat is more action-orientated: Did you ever have problems with your AI-controlled party-members messing things up for you?
Nicholas Hoppe: A little, mostly with the AI characters (especially Elazul) pushing the enemies away from me, so I have to chase them down again.
Bagdadsoftware: How long did it take you to complete the Dragon’s Quest the first time you played it the "correct" way?
Nicholas Hoppe: The Dragon storyline used to take me a little over 2 hours. The mission is actually pretty straight forward compared to the other two storylines. The biggest changes actually came from side stuff – one of the "rules" is you need so many artifacts (which create the areas in the game) out on the world map in order to trigger the end of the game. Just doing the Dragon Storyline alone doesn't give you enough, so most of the non-save bonus time saved came from changing which alternate missions to do.
Bagdadsoftware: I know it took you roughly six month to master the game and perfect the run. Did you ever think about giving up during that time? What kept you going?
Nicholas Hoppe: Sometimes, it takes a very short time to get a game down pat, and sometimes it can take an excruciatingly long time to get a run down very well. Indeed, it can be VERY frustrating (sometimes to the point of controller throwing). Sometimes I end up just leaving a game for a while and coming back to it later. Whether this wait is a few hours or a few months, it depends.
Bagdadsoftware: What hardware did you use to record the run?
Nicholas Hoppe: When I first started speed running, I used a VCR, but I've been using DVD recorders for a few years. The recording quality between the two is night and day.
Bagdadsoftware: Do you still see places for significant improvements even after your fourth run of Legend of Mana (Dragon’s Quest) or do you think now the time can’t be really improved without using scripts or mods?
Nicholas Hoppe: At this point, Dragon probably can't be improved much other then polishing the game play, thanks to all the studying I've done.
Bagdadsoftware: Are you still playing the game regularly or were you so sick of it after all those countless hours that you haven’t touched it ever since you finished the run a year ago?
Nicholas Hoppe: Legend of Mana is a game I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of. However, I haven't played it much for an entirely different reason – I'm working on so many other speed runs right now!
Bagdadsoftware: Do you’ve a preferred platform to do a speedrun on? And why do you prefer it?
Nicholas Hoppe: I'm pretty much a console runner. But while I find myself generally doing stuff on either the SNES, PS2, or Wii, I don't really have a "preferred" console. But I generally find myself doing more games in 2 or 2.5D, probably stemming from my "old school" background as my first console was an Atari 2600. I do have a favorite controller however – the PS2 controller. I’ve got adapters for that so I can play it on the SNES and Gamecube/Wii. It’s the most comfortable and solid controller for gameplay.
Bagdadsoftware: What genres are do you think are definitely not suited for a speedrun? Could you for example picture a speedrun for a sports or even racing game?
Nicholas Hoppe: Most sports games I think are a definite no, since they’re a complete set length. So a Madden or FIFA game would generally not work, unless there was a special mode. But I generally want to be encouraging and see how many games can be run. We’ve even got some rail shooters up on the site, like Star Fox. There can be some variation in time, mainly on boss fights.
Bagdadsoftware: Since the beginning of SDA in 1998 with the Quake-runs, speedrunning has changed significantly in many ways – not just by widening the range of allowed genres. There are also many different types of possible speedruns that offer an even greater challenge than just beating it in the fastest way possible like completing it 100% in the fastest time possible. Based on these huge changes in the last 11 years - what do you think will speedrunning look like in 2018?
Nicholas Hoppe: Speed running is a definite evolving thing, much like anything else in life. I think a lot will depend on the continually changing technology. When a lot of us started, we used VCRs to record, but now that DVD recorders have become cheaper, VHS has been mostly phased out. I think things like this will dictate where speed running will go in the future.
Bagdadsoftware: Are you currently working a new run?
Nicholas Hoppe: I think the better question is "when am I not?" I always seem to find myself working on something new. Coming up with new things, understanding it, and running it always creates new challenges that keeps speed running exciting.
Bagdadsoftware: What still motivates you to do a run? Is it the challenge of figuring out how to beat the developer at their own game? Or is it something else?
Nicholas Hoppe: I think a lot of inspiration comes from that there’s so much to be done and can be done. The rest comes from the fact that I’m not perfect (and never will be). Improvements can always be made, so I’ll often revisit an old run with new ideas or strategies.
Bagdadsoftware: Are you actively on the lookout for ways to do a speedrun when you play a new game or is it an "urge" doesn’t develop until after your first or second playthrough?
Nicholas Hoppe: It kinda depends on the game. Some games I could see that "hey, this is very speed runnable" very quickly. Some games I may need to play it a few times to get it down and before I see it as feasible for doing a speed run.
Bagdadsoftware: Do you think that someone needs to have played the game or share your passion for speedrunning before he can enjoy watching one?
Nicholas Hoppe: I think it comes down to the game itself and what genres you like. I don’t think you need to share the passion, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. That said, I think the absolute very casual gamer might not like watching it though.
Bagdadsoftware: What speedrun would you show to someone who has never before watched one and why?
Nicholas Hoppe: Some of my favorites actually more involved the runner’s commentary, so Satoryu’s Castlevania: Symphony of the Night run would be one. A good one to watch without commentary would be Andrew Gardikis’s Super Mario Bros. run, because EVERYBODY knows that game.[CH]
(Veröffentlicht am 05.07.2010)