If you’ve ever watched one of your favorite Twitch streamers attempt a speedrun of their favorite game (or marveled at the spectacle of Awesome Games Done Quick), you’re no stranger to the allure of speedrunning.
While some players’ feats seem near superhuman, there’s something about watching a well-done speedrun that makes you want to attempt it yourself.
Speedrunning may seem like a daunting endeavor at first—and it certainly isn’t easy—but it’s not as impossible as many people tend to think. All you need is some time, dedication, a whole lot of patience, and tips on how to get started.
We can provide some of the latter. Here are our tips on how to start speedrunning as a beginner. You’ll be doing your first speedruns in no time!
1. Watch More Speedruns
If you’re trying to get better at speedrunning, it may seem like any time you’re not spending improving your skills is time wasted. To that end, watching speedruns may feel like you’re slacking off.
But that’s not the case. Watching speedruns is the fastest way for a brand-new novice to get aquainted and start improving.
Watching speedruns of the game you plan on running can give you examples of what to expect and what can go wrong. If you want, you can study and learn game-specific speedrun terms and strategies you can incorporate in your own runs.
Watching how a speedrunner sacrifices some health to get through a certain section in record time (for example) could give you ideas on how to improve your times on your own runs.
2. Join a Speedrunning Community
Speedrunning on your own is a quick way to run out of steam.
Without other people to back you up, give you tips and advice, and offer words of encouragement, there’s a higher chance you’ll grow frustrated and give up on speedrunning—long before you’ve had enough time to get really good.
Fortunately, there are plenty of speedrunning communities.
Speedrun.com has a directory of game-specific communities that can help you learn and discuss game-specific mechanics. The r/speedrun subreddit is a general speedrunning community that is friendly to beginners.
There are plenty others out there. As you become more involved in speedrunning, you’ll find the communities that fit you best.
3. Evaluate Your Hardware & Software
Depending on what game you want to speedrun, you may need special hardware and/or software.
For example, if you’re playing Super Mario Bros on the original NES, you’ll need dedicated hardware to capture and record video of your NES speedruns. If you’re playing Half Life on your PC, you may not need any special hardware at all.
If you want to livestream your speedruns, you’ll probably want to download and install OBS, which is a free program that can record your screen, stream to Twitch, flip between scenes, and more.
You’ll also need software to track your times so you can compare, either with your previous times or with the times of other runners. Livesplit is a popular option, which even integrates with speedrun.com.
4. Choose the Right Speedrunning Game
You might think your favorite game—the one you can’t stop playing—is the best choice for your speedruns.
That may or may not be true.
On the one hand, not all video games are suitable for speedruns. If a game has heavy random elements or frequent game-breaking or game-altering bugs, it’s not going to be great for speedruns.
On the other hand, you may not want to risk ruining your favorite video games with any potentially frustrating experiences that might come from speedrunning.
That said, if your favorite game is relatively stable and you can always count on a given path through the game world, even with a few other random elements, it may be a great candidate.
5. Do Research and Keep Notes
You could go into a game blind and try to run it as fast as you can. Of course, you could also travel to a foreign country without knowing the language and just wing it.
But we don’t recommend it.
Being prepared will help you skip a lot of early pain points. Read up on your game of choice, learn its most common glitches, and study up on general speedrunning strategies. This ties into the advice above about watching speedruns.
Keeping notes on the game can help you get to know the game even better, even if you thought that wasn’t possible.
6. Always Finish Your Runs
You may think that if you miss a key time savings early on in your run, you might as well reset and start over. But before you do that, you may want to reconsider.
It’s one thing if you’ve already completed countless runs and you’re after a personal best (or world record), in which case it makes sense to reset as soon as you know you’ve messed up.
But as a beginner speedrunner, resetting is the worst you can do.
If you start over again and again, all you’re going to do is become overly familiar with the early levels of the game. You won’t ever become familiar with the later levels. By always finishing your runs, you get to practice the entire game each time.
Once you’re familiar with every aspect of the game, then you can go back and focus on areas that could use improvement.
7. Record Every Speedrun for Review
Even if you’re not streaming your runs, you should still get used to recording them. This is handy for a few reasons.
For starters, if you encounter a glitch you’ve never seen before, it’s worth seeing how you triggered it. Whether it hurts or helps your run, it’s good to know what conditions caused it to happen—so you can either avoid it or duplicate it in the future.
It’s also handy to watch your runs in order to pick up on strengths or weaknesses you’re not aware of. This also lets you examine parts of the game world you may ignore when you’re focused on your run.