-think.circle- did the first Half-Life run in April of 2004 and watching it, it blew me away. The shortcuts and inventive tricks he used were just off the wall, but I saw potential for improvement. Having played Half-Life mods since the game came out, I had the requisite movement skills, plus I saw opportunity for improvement using grenade jumps and several other small areas. Also I simply loved the game, so it seemed like an ideal choice for my first speedrun.
The next several months I spent looking for shortcuts, practicing, recording, and talking with other people who were stirred up by – think.circle-’s run. During the whole process people were finding new shortcuts, some being small optimizations, some biting off whole minutes. In fact in the middle of recording, Dopefish came up with a run that cut the time down from 55 minutes to 50 minutes. However, with the help of some amazing shortcuts devised by Spider-Waffle, I was able to beat 50 minutes by a significant margin. Since new tricks were being discovered in the middle of recording, I would have to replace segments, being very careful to make sure my health and ammo stayed the same at the end, so it worked in seamlessly.
If you’re not familiar with the term, a segmented run refers to a run that has been broken up into "segments", each one being played separately. Once you complete one segment you can save off the recording and work on the next. In a game like Half-Life, where so many tricks and precise maneuvers must be made, segmenting has a large impact on the final time. Spider-Waffle completed an amazing single-segment run that clocked in at a little over an hour. I could have made my segments much shorter and gained some time overall, but it didn’t feel authentic to me to just play for 30 seconds at a time. Another result of this decision is that some segments ended up taking hundreds of tries to get right.
To record a segment I would first have to pick it, since you can save anywhere in Half-Life. I usually went for the longest segment I thought I could handle at once. Then I study previous runs and look for any new shortcuts and experiment with the best weapon to use in combat situations; generally screwing around and making sure I knew the level inside and out. I’d talk with others and see if they had any tricks to add, then plan out my route, keeping in mind what I’d need later on in the game. After that comes the real practice: identifying trouble spots and making sure I could do them reliably by just doing them over and over. Then I start recording and just try the segment repeatedly until I get a time I like. It got a bit frustrating at times, but in the end if it makes a cool video, it’s well worth it.
Anyhow, I completed the run internet-less apartment during the summer, cobbled together the video and uploaded it (during the weekend) in early July. All in all it took about 3 months working on it part-time during college and my summer job. It was very cool to see it grow to be one of the most popular speedruns today. However it won’t last forever; I know there’s an even faster run in the works. Keep on the lookout for a new run by Spider-Waffle, the man behind the amazing Opposing Force run.