Pokemon Sapphire RTA FAQ

g_heinz Aug 14th, 2016 (edited) 164 Never
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  1. Pokemon Sapphire RTA FAQ
  3. Q: What are you trying to do?
  5. A: Beat the champion as fast as possible.
  7. Q: What is the current best time?
  9. A: 2:05:03 by me.
  11. Q: What does "RTA" mean?
  13. A: RTA stands for "real-time attack". It's a term used by the speedrunning community to designate timing metrics that use real time to compare runs.
  15. Q: If you weren't using real time to compare before, what the hell is the timer for?
  17. A: The main series Pokemon games have traditionally compared runs based on the in-game timer (IGT) as it is displayed upon entering the Hall of Fame (in glitchless categories). In the case of Sapphire, the game records your first HoF entrance on the back of your trainer card, so in the past we would reload our save file after completing the run to display this time in the recording for officiating purposes. In that sense, the split timer was only ever for the purpose of keeping track of our pace *during* the run, and did not play any official role.
  19. Q: If IGT is "official", why use RTA?
  21. A: The community has been in discussions over several weeks about switching our metric to RTA, and is currently in the process of doing so. As far as logistical reasons for the RTA shift, the main argument is that most Pokemon games' in-game timers are simply not fully accurate in terms of what moments of gameplay they record. In the case of gen 3, lag frames (of which there are many) and a variety of other gameplay sequences (notably the beginning of a battle/encounter, where the Pokemon/trainer is "sliding" across the screen as they appear) are not counted by the in-game timer. This was documented in more detail by MKDasher.
  23. Q: What exactly does a shift to RTA entail?
  25. A: When IGT was used as a metric, a concomitant rule was that a runner could not reset their game at all (the "single-segment" rule; alternatively, "no save+quit" rule--although saving was not banned, there is no reason to save if you cannot reload the file). This is because with IGT as a metric, if saving and reloading were allowed (say, to redo a fight, etc.), a player could reload their file ad infinitum to achieve a very low IGT by resetting for the best luck, but the time elapsed from when they started the game in the real world (i.e. pressed "new game") could be very large. This is obviously not in the spirit of speedrunning, and would make no sense from a competitive standpoint. The argument, then, was that the single-segment rule kept the "IGT/RTA ratio" consistent. Ironically, that is in fact one argument against IGT as a timing metric now, as even if the single-segment rule is abided, the game does not keep this ratio consistent.
  27. So a switch to RTA allows the player to S+Q at any time, but the cost of this is of course *real* time loss. This is a bit of "atarimae no koto" (obvious fact) to speedrunners of other games, who in their history have never dabbled with this sort of debate.
  29. Q: Does this change Sapphire at all?
  31. A: Yes! And for the better, in my opinion. Not only is Abra manipulation possible (although horribly inconsistent still, so something I will not be going for), but due to the way starter manipulation works in R/S (but not E/FRLG), there is a large window of Mudkips that are strictly inaccessible if the player can't S+Q (approximately the first 9500 Mudkips). There is, however, one kip that can be obtained almost immediately after resetting--kip 148 Naughty 24/27/10/31/31/30. To obtain, I have to save in front of the "starter bag", reset, reload the file, and confirm Mudkip approximately 11.3s later.
  33. Q: Doesn't saving and quitting lose time?
  35. A: Yes. Saving is ~8s, so adding the 11.3 is ~20s of timeloss. However, Sapphire is still a bit far from a very competitively low time right now, and this Mudkip is actually materially better than almost any other kip for the Abraless route, which I will be running. In addition, even if I reset for first try 148 (meaning I will wipe my save and start again from "new game" if I do not get kip 148 on my first S+Q), it is still approximately the same length of a reset as compared to a lot of single-segment kips that we have reset for in the past--many of which were much longer waits.
  37. Q: What route will you be using?
  39. A: The route is currently very much a work in progress, but Exarion has written a version here:
  41. Q: Why didn't you start the timer when you started the game?
  43. A: It is easiest to get the Mudkip if I use an offset with my split timer (that is, setting the timer to -11.3s, starting this timer when I reset, and confirming Mudkip at 0.0s). This means my timer will be inaccurate for the duration of the run, but I will add the time spent from "new game" later. I could use two timers, but that is cumbersome, so for now I am sticking with this setup. For first-try 148, the S+Q timeloss is ~20s, and each reset after that is ~15s. So to get a feel for my pace, you can add about 3m to my splits for first try, 3m15s for second try, and 3m30s for third try. I won't take anything worse than third try.
  45. Q: Why did you reset without checking stats?
  47. A: I am trying not to check stats at all, because the Mudkip I want is one of just two Mudkips with this general timing that have 21HP at L5. Also, we have noticed patterns with the sex of the Poochyena in the first fight, so if I don't see a female Pooch and 21HP male kip, then I will reset. If I reset after the first rival fight, it's because my stat gains indicated I got the wrong kip (16 atk at L6 is good, 15 atk is a reset).
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