Last Escape: Streamer 'CarcinogenSDA' talks strategy for Resident Evil 3's remake

One of the world's most popular Resident Evil runners reveals how he dissected Capcom's remake of Resident Evil 3, how he compares Nemesis with RE 2's Mr. X, and more.

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Some streamers build a following based on their personality. Their fans care less about the games they play, than they do how they play those games. CarcinogenSDA—who prefers to be known by his online handle, or "Carci," as many of his fans call him—has built a fanbase by combining the best of both worlds: He'll stream anything, but his streams of horror games, and in particular the commentary videos he uploads to YouTube, bring viewers back again and again.

I've watched Carci play Resident Evil games for years. He knows them inside and out, and always manages to find new and exciting ways to approach them. That keeps the games fresh for me, as a viewer, and more importantly, fresh and exciting for him, the guy who has to come up with hundreds of hours of content.

After reviewing Capcom's excellent Resident Evil 3 remake—you can find my review here—I caught up with Carci to talk about how he goes about dissecting a new Resident Evil game to conquer challenges such as no-damage, no-save, no-item-box runs, his history with streaming and Resident Evil, and get his take on the controversial decisions Capcom made with its remake of RE 3 that have divided fans.

Author's Note: This interview contains spoilers for the remake of Resident Evil 3. Consider reading after you've finished the game.


David L. Craddock: What was your introduction to Resident Evil? Why did it grab you?

Carci: I was eight years old. My stepbrother had just gotten a PlayStation. We had three games: Alien trilogy, Wipeout, and Twisted Metal. The next game he bought was Resident Evil. We picked it up at a flea market, myself, my stepbrother, and my dad. There were lots of people there selling used games. One was a slightly shabby copy of Resident Evil. The game had just come out, but given that fact, and that it was being sold at a flea market, I have to wonder how much the person who was selling it struggled with the game. Probably quite a bit.

My stepbrother was a big horror-movie buff, so we took the game home. I was just in awe that there were these live-action cutscenes. It didn't matter how cheesy they were. It just thought it was cool, like, "Wow. This is the production value people are putting into video games of this era." Everything before was just pixels and occasionally scanned-in characters, in games like Donkey Kong Country and Mortal Kombat. In Resident Evil, everything looked lifelike and believable. Everything seemed within the realm of possibility. Like, wow, this could happen!

Resident Evil 2 was the first one that I beat. Resident Evil 1 was difficult, even though I had a strategy guide that told you how to beat the game step by step. I didn't get to play Resident Evil 2 for a while. The game had just come out in Japan, but I think strategy guides came out before the game hit the US. I had the guide before the game, so I could see all these screenshots. The text was in Japanese. When I looked at the GameFan guide after I started speedrunning, I said, "What the hell? Enemies are taking a lot more damage in the final game than as indicated in this guide?" When I started speedrunning, I learned the Japanese version was easier.

That strategy guide spoiled a lot, but it was still cool to read about the plot, the way things played out. I've never been one to freak out about spoilers. I care more about the cohesiveness of story. Whenever I hear about a plot spoiler, what I think is, "Well, shit: How'd they get from this to that?" I'm more interested in understanding how the events in a game, or in a movie, play out, than I am going in blind and having that experience.

Craddock: I'm similar. As a writer, I'm less interested in being surprised by twists and turns than I am in dissecting them to see if they make sense.

Carci: That's pretty much exactly the way I feel about it. I'm not a writer, but I still appreciate that craft enough to want to try and learn every little thing. That's where I derive the most enjoyment: Learning as much as I can about something I'm interested, rather than the ups and downs of a story. That's something I can get through osmosis. I still appreciate that there are people who don't want to be spoiled.

Craddock: How did you get started as a streamer?

Carci: I started speed-running Resident Evil in 2006. That was my senior year of high school. While I was waiting for a ride home from high school, I didn't have a whole lot else to do. After I did all of my coursework, I had a [Nintendo] DS with Resident Evil: Deadly Silence, and I just kept beating it over and over again, just trying to see how "perfect" I could make it.

Then I realized, "Hey, this is actually pretty fast." I'd heard that maybe the world record was just under an hour. I'd heard of people beating the game in under an hour on PlayStation, so I posted on a few forums, just trying to see, "Hey, does anyone actually do this?" This was around 2006. It was around 2003, 2004 that Speed Demos Archives started accepting console runs, and I didn't know [back then] that that community existed. It was pretty sizable. Still pretty niche, niche enough to be unknown, but not so unknown that videos weren't circulating. People could see, "Here's this video of a guy playing a game, and he's crazy, inhuman-levels of good."

I guess the first encounter I had with speedrunning was a tool-assisted speedrun by a Japanese guy. It was a Super Mario Bros. 3 TAS. It's one of those videos that went viral at the time; it was showing up on GameTrailers, any kind of website that had viral videos [about gaming] at the time. But at the time, everyone was like, "Oh my god, this is cheating." I was looking at it and said, "Yeah, his reactions are way too fast. There's no way this can be [done without the use of tools]."

Craddock: That is interesting. I started following the Archives with Quake. I never uploaded anything, but I'd watch speedruns. And I remember when TAS runs started, and there was a lot of talk within the community about whether or not those were legit. Even today, they're very much their own category. And it should be, because it's so different from a normal speedrun or challenge run.

Carci: Yeah, yeah. But my exposure to the speedrunning community was very limited until I started posting on Resident Evil fan sites. That was the only time I'd heard of [challenge and speedruns] related to Resident Evil. It seemed in the realm of possibility that someone might be able to beat Resident Evil in a ridiculous time. PlayStation emulators at the time weren't so good. It'd be someone stitching together a video made from their save states. But it was like, "This is real. Somebody had to have done this."

Craddock: I was one of the people who bought bleem!.

Carci: Oh my god. Do I still have my bleem!? I actually did find a copy of bleem! at a thrift shop, so I might have my copy somewhere around here. Unless I sold it to a friend. [laughs]

The bleem! emulator for PS1 games.
The bleem! emulator for PS1 games.

Craddock: The box was very distinctive.

Carci: I'd just bought a Pentium. I probably needed a slightly better machine to run bleem!. So after posting on a bunch of forums, I ran across a thread where people were posting their completion times. One guy posted a time of around 1:09:17, with the knife. I was like, "What? No way!" Then he posted his video. It was on this site I'd never heard of called Speed Demos Archive, so I looked and said, "Wow. Holy shit. There's, like, over a hundred videos [of Resident Evil runs]. This community is huge. How did I never hear about this before? This is awesome."

After that, I started lurking in forums and trying to get better at games. At the time, I was interested in playing first-person shooters competitively. I was making kill montages before they got popular on YouTube. I used to record videos of getting kill streaks in FPS games, setting them to music, and uploading them to file-sharing sites, then reposting it on forums.

Craddock: Since you were interested in competitive FPS and Resident Evil, what steered you toward doing more Resident Evil? Because I know you play a lot of games today, particularly horror games, but is it safe to say you're most well-known in the streaming and speedrunning communities for Resident Evil?

Carci: Sure, yeah. What steered me toward it, I guess, was I'd already beaten Resident Evil 2 and 3 multiple times on consoles before I'd heard of speedrunning. I never got better at that, but one [factor] in deciding to pursue speedrunning more was, I'd always seen these crazy par times. For instance, getting S-ranks in Devil May Cry would require you to beat the game fast, to get a certain number of style points and orbs, stuff like that. Because I had never seen anyone else actually do that... I had plenty of friends in school who were always bragging about, "Yeah, I just did this." Then I would try, but because I didn't know any of the strategy that went into [those runs], it didn't click.

When I saw videos of people doing this, it was like, "Ohh. Okay." I don't know. Video games got a lot more fun for me after that.

Craddock: I've been a Resident Evil fan since '96, but along similar lines, I never thought about speedrunning a Resident Evil game as speedrunning. I'd beat the games fast to unlock special weapons because that's what you had to do. Then I found your videos, and that caused me to look at those games in a different way. Recently, you uploaded no-challenge videos of the original RE 3, and in watching them, I'd forgotten that a lot of elements of that game were random.

Carci: For Resident Evil 3, you have to understand all those variables and plan around them. You set up your inventory so it's like, okay, if I already picked up this item over here, this is what my inventory will look like. Or, I need this many spaces free to pick up gun powder, or whatever.

Those no-damage runs are not really speedruns. My goal is to not take any hits, but I still [end up speedrunning] because that's what I'm used to. It's not like I'm skipping any compelling gameplay. I just do it as a quality-of-life thing.

Craddock: That's something that really stood out to me. One thing you've said in your videos of Resident Evil 2's remake was to the effect of, "All speedruns are speedy runs, but not all speedy runs are speedruns." Meaning, you're trying to play efficiently, and you'll end up playing quickly since you know routes, but you're not intentionally setting out to break or set time records.

Carci: Right.

Watch live video from CarcinogenSDA on www.twitch.tv

Craddock: Which is something else about runners like you that appeals to me. Speedrunning can be fun to watch, but it often involves exploiting glitches and bugs that break the game. It's more interesting, to me, to watch someone attempt a challenge run that involves them subverting the way a developer intended them to play the game, rather than breaking it.

Carci: Yeah. I would say it depends on the category. There are still speedruns that lock their frame rate to 60, so you can't [exploit a glitch that causes the knife to deal more damage in Resident Evil 2's remake at higher frame rates]. Developers lock their frame rate because not everyone is able to achieve 120 frames per second. They level the playing field for those whose computers are not that great.

Craddock: I've been talking with developers for over 16 years, and I'm still surprised to learn how much of a game's gameplay is tied to frame rate.

Carci: Oh, absolutely.

Craddock: When you get a new game, such as Resident Evil 3's remake, do you find it possible to just play a game the way any other consumer who picks up a new game plays it? Or are you so used to analyzing and strategizing that your brain can't help kicking into that gear?

Carci: It's a little bit of both. My average completion time [the first time playing] is the same as anyone who's picking up the game for the first time. Because I'm a full-time content creator, I have the luxury of being able to take my time with games, break them down, as long as I need to. I'm not competitive anymore. I don't have an ego. I don't have a need to be the first to do everything. I just care about learning things and being able to talk more about them.

In the case of RE 3, I've finished the game three times, and for my third time, I did a no-damage run on Hardcore [difficulty]. I finished it once on PC, once on console, and then shifted to Hardcore to do no-damage runs. I like the act of breaking a game down. But for my first couple of playthroughs, I just play normally. When I play a video game, I have to have a goal. For the first two playthroughs or so, my goal is always, "Have fun." I play as I normally would. Why put myself to that standard for my first playthrough? Why compare myself to other people?

At the end of the day, when someone is playing a game for the first time, you're going in blind. Everyone's got their own way that they play games. It just seems pointless to say, "Well, I got through it this [specific] way." It's not a pop quiz where you're expected to [ace it].

Craddock: I was watching a video of your first time playing the RE 3 demo, and someone asked you if you'd stream your first playthrough. You said no, you'd rather play on your own. I've seen people do that with games, and it seems difficult because audiences seem compelled to be backseat drivers. There's this expectation that if you're a streamer, you should be amazing at the game the first time you pick it up.

Carci: For me, it's Resident Evil. It's my favorite game series. I don't want to be pigeon-holed into playing Resident Evil forever, it's still my favorite series, and I'm still going to play a new game when it comes out. I like to get hold of pre-release builds when I can, and I just want to play it.

I wouldn't mind [playing my first run] on stream. I wouldn't mind that. But the stuff I do on streams is more about being able to discover new strategies and talk about the game, and I can't really do that on a first playthrough. I'm a content creator. This [challenge runs] is my content. My content is not first-time playthroughs.

Everyone has a first-time playthrough, and really, the truth of the matter is, I don't react that much to video games. I react to variables fucking me up.

Craddock: I appreciate that, because a lot of content creators love to post reactions: reaction to the new Marvel trailer, reaction to this game announcement or ending. And the thumbnail is always them with their eyes wide open and a hand clapped over their mouths. Like, is that genuine? Really?

Carci: [laughs] Yeah. It's like, I don't know how much of this is real or not. I just don't give a fuck. It's all sensational, and I'm not about that.

Craddock: Before we dig into more particulars of how you play the RE 3 remake, what were you expecting, or hoping for, from it? Especially because it followed the RE 2 remake so quickly.

Carci: Honestly, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, other than that it would be a complete reimagining. Resident Evil 2 remake was exactly that: a complete reimagining, a complete overhaul. Compared to the remake of the original Resident Evil, which was maybe 80 percent different from the original, I would say the remake of Resident Evil 2 is maybe 90 percent different from its original game. All the set pieces and areas are there, but it's all still very different. The level design alone already lays out the game in such a way that the events are not going to be the same [in a remake]. Things will happen in a different order; there'll be different degrees of elaboration on plot points.

In a lot of Japanese games from the early '90s, they left a lot to the player's imagination. A lot of fans wound up doing that. But as games went on, they started to fill things in, like, "Yeah, this is what we originally intended." They don't really go into detail about the collusion between Umbrella and the US government in [the original] Resident Evil 3, as much as they do in Resident Evil 3 remake, for instance.

Simple things like that. In fact, the same scenario writer from Resident Evil 3 classic was brought on for Resident Evil 3 remake, Yasuhisa Kawamura. They brought him on in an advisory role, I think, and rewrote the whole thing.

Craddock: RE 3 classic ranks rather low in my ranking of the series. PS1 was aging, and it was a bit too much of the same thing. I definitely consider this remake more of a "reimagining." Although one sticking point of the remakes of 2 and 3 seems to be the absence of the giant spiders. I might be the only person alive who doesn't miss them.

Carci: Yeah. A lot of people are upset with a lot of the little cuts from those remakes. I can't blame them; certain parts added to set pieces. But Capcom also changed a lot because the whole idea [of a remake] is to subvert expectations. For instance, putting G-mutants in Resident Evil 2's remake as regular enemies, as opposed to a single boss enemy in the classic game—nobody would have expected that. That makes it a lot [scarier] because they're so grotesque. They're just so vile; they root around in the sewers all day, rooting for things to impregnate.

To me, that's worse than spiders. A big furry spider, you just blow it up with a grenade and their fragile bodies will just explode. I didn't find the spiders to be that scary in the original Resident Evil games. They were more annoying because they just spat poison everywhere.

Craddock: Right. And maybe this is because people tend to conflate remake and remaster, but a lot of fans just want the same game they played, but with newer tech. Like, I don't miss the clock tower setting or the Grave Digger boss in the Resident Evil 3 remake. To me, Capcom was saying, "This story centers on Jill and Nemesis. Any other boss would be lower on the food chain, because what's more badass than Nemesis?" With that reasoning, yeah, why bring in another boss, any other boss? It would and should be inherently lesser than Nemesis.

Carci: Yeah, that's pretty much how I felt. The Grave Digger was a fine diversion to sort of create a different kind of tension. You were being pursued [by Nemesis] in a lot of the original game, and then all of a sudden there's a giant, fucking worm coming out of the walls, and it's trying to eat you, and you have to escape.

Capcom still sort of did the same thing by combining [Grave Digger] and the Hunter Gammas into a single monster [the Hunter Gammas in the remake].

Craddock: Oh. Whoa. You just blew my mind. That's a great observation.

Carci: When I saw a screenshot of the Hunter Gammas for the first time [in the remake], and I saw those mandibles, I thought, "Yo, they actually did put Grave Digger in the game."

Craddock: That's even better, to me. Grave Digger is still sort of in the remake, just not a copy-and-paste of its original design and environment.

Carci: And they changed the Hunter Gammas a lot. They made them big enough so you could actually believe they would swallow you whole. Those grotesque mandibles look exactly the same as the Grave Digger.

The Grave Digger boss in RE3 class (left), and the Hunter Gamma in RE3 remake.
The Grave Digger boss in RE3 class (left), and the Hunter Gamma in RE3 remake.

Craddock: We're talking on Tuesday, March 31, and reviews for Resident Evil 3 remake dropped yesterday. The outlets that gave it lower scores wrote, to paraphrase, "There's too much action! This is RE 5 and 6 all over again!" And I was like, "Uh... that's a bit extreme."

Carci: That is a bit extreme. Reason being, in Resident Evil 6, my main gripe was that it was obscenely linear, there were a lot of forced QTEs and walk-and-talk segments. It's not like that with Resident Evil 3 [remake]. Resident Evil 3 is a tighter, more balanced, better experience [than RE 6]. I hate comparing games. I like to look at video games in the context of their own experiences. Now, if it's a remake, you can skew that a bit because you're going to want to compare it to its original game. That can't be helped with a remake.

But as a remake, I don't really think [Resident Evil 3] stacks up quite as well. It is a very fun experience for the first few playthroughs. But that's the thing: part of Resident Evil 3's [classic] experience was replayability. This game does not have that much. There are no branching paths. There's no variation in the order in which you pick up key items. Everything is laid out and very straightforward, even more so than Resident Evil 2 remake.

I can understand why: They had to redesign everything from the ground up. With a new RPD comes a new Raccoon City. They redesigned [the city] to be larger compared to the previous game. It's not designed after the same Japanese back alleys that Resident Evil 3 classic had.

Craddock: My stance differs a bit. It doesn't necessarily have more replay value than RE 3 classic, but it does have a different form of replay value. And I wondered about that going in. I knew they weren't keeping the somewhat random items, like finding the magnum or the grenade launcher in the S.T.A.R.S. office of the RPD, or the branching paths. But you do have the Store and all the unlockables that, to me, makes replaying the game very replayable. Plus the extra difficulty modes, which rearrange item and enemy locations.

Carci: Oh, I didn't know [higher difficulties rearrange items]. Key items, for instance: Are they in different locations?

Craddock: Some of them. There were some items I completely overlooked during my first Nightmare playthrough because I was in autopilot mode and not checking certain locations because there wasn't anything there in Standard or Hardcore.

Carci: Right, right. That's what I feel like the core gameplay loop of Resident Evil is all about. It's about risk and reward, and whether or not you can properly strategize moving around obstacles, whether it's a wide-open area with a lot of enemies or a cramped space with a few enemies you have to eliminate in order to pass through it freely. Those are the kinds of things I like about Resident Evil: Being able to use the game's design to its advantage to complete certain goals.

Craddock: I fully agree. I think the RE 1 remake may do that best, with the addition of mechanics like defensive items and crimson heads. Like, "I killed this zombie, but I didn't decapitate it or burn it, which means it's going to come back. Should I go get some of the little kerosene I have left to incinerate it? Or do I just avoid this hallway? Can I afford to avoid this hallway? Are the other routes safer?"

Carci: Yes, yes. That's pretty much exactly why I stand by Resident Evil 1 remake being the best Resident Evil game: For those very reasons. No other Resident Evil game has even come close to being able to subvert player expectations in quite the same way. The Resident Evil 2 remake sort of did that by putting things in a different order [compared to the original], and by doing things like using G-mutants as regular enemies in the sewer.

But really, Resident Evil 1's remake made it so zombies can follow you from room to room in some cases, and if you don't decapitate an enemy, it'll come back and fuck you up. Even simple things. The experience of the remake is not complete unless you can play the original first. For instance, the dogs bashing through the window—everyone talks about that. Well, in the remake, they break through the window, but only if you go through the same hallway the opposite way, because they know what people are going to expect.

Craddock: Right, exactly. It's even better, because as a fan, you're expecting the dogs to break through during your first run through the hall. There's a small sound of breaking glass, then nothing happens, and you think, "Oh, Capcom probably wanted to make me jump because I was expecting the dogs, but there are no dogs here." So when you come back later...

Carci: Yeah, and I think there's as much subversion of expectations in Resident Evil 3's remake. On its own, that makes me really happy. The only disappointment I feel for Resident Evil 3 remake is—and I won't go as far as to say that it's "DLC" for Resident Evil 2's remake—but it definitely fills in as more of a companion game.

Craddock: It does, in a lot of ways. I believe Capcom was working on both remakes at the same time, but it was taking forever. So they decided to table 3, finish 2, then return to 3 and finish it.

Carci: That would make sense. I have heard both games were in development [concurrently], and that would make sense because [Resident Evil 3] was outsourced. Hot off the heels of Resident Evil 2 back in '98, Capcom was already working on "Resident Evil 1.9" and making that Resident Evil 3, in order to complete their deal with Sony to put out a trilogy of Resident Evil games on PlayStation, while also developing CV. They sort of split up the team, but the next main installment was supposed to be CV.

Craddock: I caught a video-on-demand on your YouTube channel where you brought on the director of Resident Evil 2 classic to sort of commentate the game while you played. That was so cool to see. How did you set that up?

Carci: I've done this twice. I did Resident Evil 3 [classic] first with Kazuhiro Aoyama, who was the director. My friend Alex Aniel, who goes by @cvxfreak, works in the games industry in Japan. He was writing a book on the development history of Resident Evil. I met him at E3, and he said, "Why don't you come to Japan sometime? I think it would be cool to do a stream with the director where you speedrun the game in front of him?"

When I heard about that, I said, "Hmm. I don't know if I really want to do a speedrun. I would like to do a commentary with him." I feel like with the director of a game, while I could be cool and show off [by beating his game quickly], I don't think that would be quite as interesting to me, to my audience, or to the director. To be just straight-up showing off? While my goal was to take minimal hits [on that stream], I ended up taking around nine hits in the first interview I did with Aoyama-san. But my main goal was just to have a good time and talk about the game, go into the nitty-gritty about deeper aspects of that gameplay.

I just wanted to be able to ask more informed questions about the game and make a decent interview. Not just something that only catered to questions about how the game is related to speedrunning.

Craddock: Yeah. Plus, if you're flying through the game while he's trying to go into detail on every piece, it does you both a disservice.

Carci: Right. It's like, I'm spending thousands of dollars to go to Japan to do an interview with the director of Resident Evil 3 and, later, to play Resident Evil 2 [classic] with [lead designer] Hideki Kamiya. If I want to do this right, I'm not just going to go, "Look how good at your video game I am!" This is about them, you know? I, as a player, have things I want to ask him. I don't want to make it about [my speedrunning]. I want to be able to make the streams about the experience of the director's having developed the game.

It was a little different with Kamiya-san. Speaking with him was more about the theme of being the director of the game more so than directing the game itself.

Excerpt from GameFan's strategy guide for Resident Evil 2 (classic).
Excerpt from GameFan's strategy guide for Resident Evil 2 (classic).

Craddock: So, after you played RE 3 remake through a time or two, just enjoying it for yourself, how do you go about breaking it down to devise strategies such as routing for your challenge runs like no-damage playthroughs?

Carci: Generally, I look at the map, the general flow of [an area]. I try to look for the quickest order to collect key items. After that, if I find there's a particularly tough spot—say, a Hunter that will be in my way, and will be tough to dodge—I have to figure out, how am I going to get around this? What is the path of least resistance? In the case of a Hunter, do I try to beat it to the nearest door? Is it going to reach me, hit me by the time I can get to the door?

If it turns out that he does, okay, I'll have to look for another way. I'll have to stop and fight him, or find some way to disable him if I'm not going to return to the room. Or I have to find a way to kill him outright, depending on how many visits through that area I'll have to make. So, there is some speedrun routing involved, but it's not to the degree of, "I'm trying to do this as fast as possible." It's more, "I'm trying to get through this area with as little resistance as possible."

Craddock: I learned from your RE 2 remake videos how to steer Mr. X so he would always be right where I wanted him to be. For Resident Evil 3, how would you describe dealing with Nemesis in comparison to Mr. X?

Carci: Pretty much exactly the same, except Nemesis only pursues you for a few, short, scripted sections of the game. Then he stops after that period of time. The camera, for instance, plays a role in what attacks he's going to use. I've found that he'll sort of jump ahead of you in some places depending on if he's on the map or not. There are some places where you can just walk to, and he'll do his Spider-Man thing [swing into the sky with his tentacle] and go back to his home planet.

Craddock: [laughs] That's a great way to put it.

Carci: There are places where he can't go. Those are generally pretty easy to identify based on, what animations does Nemesis have? How is he supposed to traverse the game? Where can he spawn in off-camera? Things like that.

My favorite area is the region in the demo [Raccoon City streets]. Straight up, that's the hardest place to deal with him. You're coming back from the substation, for instance, and there he is. What are we going to do? If we leave him on the map, he'll keep pursuing us relentlessly. But if we throw a grenade, we can disable him for 30 seconds. He won't follow us over to, say, the railway station [while he's stunned]. If I've already cleared zombies in an area in advance, all I've got to do is blow up a barrel or throw a grenade at him before he can get to me. That gets him to drop an item. Then I can go into the railway station. I already know he won't spawn after that until later.

Basically, it's about beating him to a certain location and getting him to play out his scripted event. To that end, I found Nemesis significantly less threatening than Mr. X. In the second half of the game, there's no Nemesis chasing you. The thing about him, though, is he's faster than you, and he's got ways to drag you over to him. He's like, "Are you trying to ignore me? Pay attention to me, asshole." That's pretty much Nemesis's modus operandi in the remake.

Then, spoiler, he turns into this new, crazy form that we didn't see in the original game. But then he can no longer be a stalker. He becomes a completely different trope: the big, hulking, really overpowered, Resident Evil 2 boss, basically. It kind of decreases the places where he can reasonably appear. It's just different. He's lethal, and then he's bigger and even more lethal; that wouldn't mesh well for him to be following you around.

Resident Evil 3's Nemesis.
Resident Evil 3's Nemesis.

Craddock: You have at least one challenge run ready to go. About how long would you say it took you to break down the game and record that run?

Carci: It took me about 30 hours of gameplay, so a couple of days. I wasn't pounding away at it that whole time. The first couple of days, I did Standard, then Hardcore. I realized Hardcore is only marginally more difficult than Standard, so I said, "Okay, these bosses are just as easy, because I can fight them the same way as I did on Standard. If I break this down, I can very easily do a no-damage run."

I restarted a couple of times because I was considering the idea of also making it an S-rank run. But then I said, "I'm not going to have that much time, especially with the number of resets I'd have to do." So I did it in around 15 segments.

Craddock: How do you define "segment?" When you get hit, you load the last save?

Carci: Yeah. Segmented runs were a category on Speed Demos Archive back in the day, before TASing became the way to hyper-optimize a game. Say the technology was not there to do a tool-assisted run, just like the horsepower to make a movie. Then you'd go to a certain save point, optimize the route up to that point, save, then load, and carry on. If you found another way to save time, you'd revert all the way back to another save and optimize from there.

In the case of a segmented run, some people may cry "Foul" because I used saves. Ideally, I'd like to do a no-damage run without saves. I've done plenty of those in other games, but it depends on how motivated I am, how fun it would be, to do that, and how much randomness is involved. Parasite Eve was a game I did a no-damage run of a little while ago. Because the actions and permutations of everything that could happen are so broad, there's no way I would have an element of control without being able to reset until I got the desired result.

Craddock: Do you prefer to livestream, or do you get more enjoyment out of recording a run, then sitting down and putting together thoughtful commentary?

Carci: I've found over time that I do like streaming, because it's part of my process of recording videos. I couldn't stream Resident Evil 3 remake before release because there was an embargo, but if I had the choice, I would just play over the stream. But I find that my body of content, the things I want people to see, is on my YouTube channel. I like streaming, but streaming is completely different. It's more about what's going on in the moment, versus the informative nature of [recording commentary], which is what I want to go for.

I try to funnel people toward my livestreams and my commentary. At the end of the day, I'd say the best stuff I have is on YouTube. I'm not into the aspect of sensationalism just by the nature of who I am. I'm not a reactionary type. I don't take that much interest in trying to feel a wide range of emotions. I want one thing: "Hey, this is cool, and I want to show people this."

Craddock: You play these games countless times. How do you keep them fun to play?

Carci: It goes back to wanting to learn as much as I can. I always have new goals with these games, and they're still fun because I have those things to do.

Craddock: I watched one of your streams where you played a randomizer mod for the RE 1 remake. That seemed a fun way to freshen up a game you knew so well.

Carci: The randomizer highlighted what I love about the gameplay loop of classic Resident Evil games. When I play speedruns or challenge runs, I know where everything is. I know how to go from point A, to B, to C. But at that point, you're missing that exploration element where you must deduce where to go and what obstacles might be in your way.

Craddock: Resident Evil has taken so many forms. We have the classic style, the RE4 style, the RE7 style, and now the style of the remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3. What would you like to see next? Are you hoping for another remake? Or would you like to see Resident Evil 8 take the series in yet another direction?

Carci: I hope that there's another Resident Evil game that has branching scenario paths. While the current set of Resident Evil games is very high on content, Capcom hasn't done branching scenarios since Resident Evil Zero. Even then, it was not as [versatile] as Resident Evil 1 remake. In Zero, when you had to separate Billy and Rebecca, they each had cutscenes that would play out when they did certain events. They had their own ways to solve certain areas. You need Rebecca to combine chemicals, but if she's not there to do that, you have to go all the way back to the Umbrella facility to grab a chemical. They get different cutscenes on their own than they do together.

Capcom hasn't done anything like that since the Resident Evil 1 remake [and RE Zero], and those came out almost 20 years ago.


Special thanks to "Carci" for this interview. Follow CarcinogenSDA on Twitter and on YouTube.

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at davidlcraddock.com and @davidlcraddock.

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