Speedrunning may be a fairly niche activity, the preserve of enthusiasts that exchange ideas on forums and at events, but it can be impressive for anyone to watch when talented gamers show off what they can achieve. It's especially impressive when speedruns are completed on the original software, without manipulating mods or ROMS on PCs, but rather picking through the code in-game and finding glitches and small tricks to exploit.
One talented individual in this area is Cosmo Wright, who back in January cleared The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in a little over 22 minutes as part of the Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) event. That event itself was a notable success, raising an extraordinary $448,000 for cancer research over seven days.
Wright has spoken to CVG since, and outlined just how much time and persistance — along with collaboration — is required to put these runs together, as well as highlighting the importance of a strong instinct for picking apart code and searching for gaps that provide invaluable shortcuts.
It takes 100 to 150 hours for me to truly understand a game on a speedrunning level. Then I can decide if I want to continue pushing it or if the game is not for me.
Understanding a game is from a speedrunning perspective is not obvious, it takes a while. I actually put about 150 hours into Banjo-Kazooie and then I thought 'this game is really good, but I'm not sure it's my style of game'.
I wish I could tell you how many hours I've spent playing Ocarina, I really have no idea. Any number I give would be a complete wild guess. It's a lot.
...When you start to mess with game mechanics on a deeper level and understand how a game works you can find a lot of exciting things out. Sometimes it's crazy glitches, or the physics in the game are really interesting and will allow you to do a lot of cool shortcuts. It comes from a love of the mechanics, wanting to master them and show the world what you've been able to do with the game.
As for the Ocarina of Time run itself, below is the footage from the event, in which Wright explains the whole process in detail from start to finish. It's an absolutely fascinating watch, but bear in mind that it shows the end of the game and therefore constitutes as a big spoiler.