In less than a week, many of the world's best speedrunners are coming together for Summer Games Done Quick 2020. Games Done Quick gathers around twice a year and they've done so for the past ten years. They'll be taking a full week to run through the top games as quickly as possible for charity, but for this year, things are going to look a little different. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Summer Games Done Quick 2020 is going fully online.
There are handful of amazing runs lined up for this momentous week of speedruns and Shacknews is among many looking forward to it. So we wanted to reach out and chat with some of the runners before they go on. We'll be doing so throughout the rest of this week. Today, we're continuing with runner Bloodshot9001. He faces a daunting task, as he'll be running through DOOM Eternal on PC. And he'll be doing so on Nightmare difficulty with no major glitches. We made sure to ask about his DOOM runs, some of his strategies, the differences between Eternal and DOOM 2016 as a runner, and his approach for this year's Summer Games Done Quick.
Shacknews: Starting with the most basic of questions, what big changes come with playing DOOM Eternal on Nightmare difficulty compared to Normal and how do those changes affect your run?
Bloodshot9001, DOOM Eternal speedrunner: The biggest changes are that you have to be more careful. And not just in a vague sense, you actually can't rely on reckless strategies. In normal gameplay, you can shoot rockets at your feet or stand still while smaller enemies attack you, but for Nightmare you have to be careful with rockets and you always need to keep moving. Damage is just too high to rely on not staying safe.
Shacknews: From a speedrunner's perspective, what are the biggest differences between DOOM Eternal and DOOM 2016?
Bloodshot9001: I never speedran 2016, but from watching the runs I think Eternal can be more reactive rather than proactive at times. [DOOM] 2016, when played at its best, looks almost like a strategy game, or a resource management game. Eternal has a little of that, but depending on enemy pathing you might have to change your route or strategy on the fly (especially on Nightmare). They both are very similar, but I think Eternal is a bit faster paced and has a little more variance, even in well-routed fights.
Shacknews: What weapons and weapon upgrades do you prioritize when starting a new run?
Bloodshot9001: Immediately you need to choose a Shotgun attachment to even progress with the game, but luckily Sticky Bombs are actually incredibly important for early (and even late) game. Once you get the Heavy Rifle, Precision Bolt is the most important in terms of optional weapons. It can instant kill any weak enemy and finish off stunned enemies, and if you utilize it with quick weapon swapping you can do much more damage to higher-end enemies. It's absolutely the most important weapon that is optional, even more important than lock-on burst rockets (which are a close second).
Shacknews: This game released so recently. It hasn't been out six months. What's been one of the most valuable strats that the community has discovered so far that has helped shave time off a typical run?
Bloodshot9001: For No Major Glitches, it would definitely be all movement involved with Meathooks. There's places you can get extra height with jumps, and places you can fling yourself across gaps to get to later sections of a level if done right. There's also dash boosting, which lets you get even more insane height. There's a lot of tricks that altogether add up to make a very interesting run, but the least obvious but most important way to get fast is to have good routing for all the necessary fights of the run. Fight routing alone has saved something like 20 minutes in the run.
Shacknews: Is it possible to clear every area your first time through, or do you have to backtrack and return to some areas later?
Bloodshot9001: You don't have to clear every area, and there's no backtracking necessary to complete the run. We just go through (or around, depending) every area on our way to the exit.
Shacknews: Have there been any specific areas that have tripped up Nightmare runners? Where do these runs go to die?
Bloodshot9001: The first four or five levels are usually the hardest because you have the least amount of resources. Once you unlock the Super Shotgun and the Ballista, your movement gets better and the later levels get easier as time goes on.
For me personally, the run often died in Cultist Base, Doom Hunter Base boss, or Sentinel Prime's boss. The Gladiator fight can quickly 2-shot you if you're not careful, and is an excellent example of the difference between fights on classic and Nightmare.
Shacknews: You've competed at events like Break the Record, even setting a world record. To you, what are the primary differences between running on a competitive stage versus running for GDQ?
Bloodshot9001: The main difference is that for a competitive setting I feel there's more pressure on me to "excel" and that pressure can get to me. It also felt a little impersonal as I prefer interacting with my chat during runs, even if it can admittedly make me perform a little worse when going for a record. For an event like GDQ, I think it's more about the interaction and just having fun with showing people a cool speedrun. I was more anxious for BTRL than I am for GDQ.
Shacknews: How do you feel you've grown as a runner since you first started?
Bloodshot9001: I'll admit it's weird hearing that question, as I've only been running for the past three or four months. I'd say not much has changed other than my own self-confidence. The more I go on the more people seem to enjoy the runs, and it's extremely validating to have been able to participate in a competition for the game. I used to dream/joke about being a "professional gamer" as a kid, but to actually win prize money by playing one of my favorite games is astounding to me. I've definitely gotten more involved with speedrunning communities as well, as I used to lurk thinking I'd be "intruding," but I've definitely come out of my shell more.
Shacknews: What's more intimidating to you: A GDQ run in front of a live audience or an online GDQ run?
Bloodshot9001: The online run, I think. There's more stuff for me to check on my end to make sure everything's working correctly, and I can't really interact with an audience or gauge audience reactions like I'd want to. I think it would have been more fun (and easier on me).
Shacknews: What advice would you give somebody looking to get into DOOM Eternal speedrunning?
Bloodshot9001: Definitely check out the Speedrunning Discord, we have a ton of people who are willing to help out and a lot of useful resources!
Specifically from me, I'd say just start doing runs and from there try to improve, either by learning new tricks or by just getting better. I think if you watch the World Record, you'll see a lot of insane tricks and won't necessarily understand them or even how much time they actually save, so doing runs first and learning the run later is what I would recommend. And of course, the most important thing is to make sure you're enjoying it. I wouldn't be playing the same game over and over if I wasn't enjoying it!
Summer Games Done Quick 2020 will begin on Sunday, August 16 and continue until Saturday, August 22. Bloodshot9001's DOOM Eternal run is scheduled for Thursday, August 20 at 7:17PM PT. Join the runners at Games Done Quick and raise money all week for Doctors Without Borders. And join us all week here at Shacknews, as we talk to more of next week's runners.