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Skylords unique relationship to speedrunning


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So I think Skylords has a very unique relation to speedrunning that you usually never see in other games.

To illustrate my point, imagine this situation:

In some ego-shooter there is a very difficult room you have a shootout in and enemies come from all sides, there is little cover and ammo. Now imagine someone is searching for advice online and asks a community for help. What you can expect (aside from some "gitgud" replies) is probably people explaining where enemies come from, where to take cover at what moment and which enemies to focus on to get through. You know, normal gameplay stuff. Now imagine there is also someone that comes in and goes "lol this room is SO EASY, all you have to do is jump on the crate in the corner and shoot it with your revolver. the recoil makes it fall through the floor and you with it. now you are on the ground level. ezpz". What sort of reception do you think this sort of advice would get? Definitely not a positive one.

That's because speedrunning and regularly playing the game are usually kept as two very distinct and separate ways to interact with a game.

In Skylords, it's different. It has blurred together. Meta-gaming (approaching the game in a way that directly interfers with mechanics or uses hidden information of the game to gain advantages, playing outside the rules of the game) became part of normal gameplay.

You see it expressed in sentiments and advice like:

"the map is easy, just build Mark of the Keeper to mess with the ranged AI. if you keep them alive then scripted waves stop spawning"

"yeah, it's pretty easy with Nightguard. that absurdly strong unit can be take over by her on this map, so just do that"

"the timer doesn't matter. just block Jorne with buildings so he cannot follow his intended path"

Many people have accepted this as the norm, the regular way to play Skylords. I don't know any other game where meta-gaming and exploit-strats from speedrunning are normalized to the point where when anyone asks for advice for specific maps the very first reply will most likely be something along those lines. Even the ambitious guide to all Expert maps lists known exploits as possible solutions.

Some issues that come with this unique environment are:

People start to completely and utterly depend on meta-gaming. Not only does it seem that many have never even played some maps without it, I regularly see people argue that exploits are downright necessary to beat some maps.

Playing regularly gets looked upon unfavorably in multiplayer. If you don't do "whatever it takes" to win (as in, use the common exploits), you wasted everyone's time.

It warps perceived power levels. Completely overpowered cards may be looked upon as - and I have fallen into this trap myself - "not so bad" because after all, there is this speedrunning exploit that's way more powerful.

It warps perceived difficulty. Many Expert maps are extraordinarily difficult and require many tries and adjustments to deck and strategy if you attempt to solve them from scratch. But if you simply break the game, many hurdles downright vanish.

You can perceive campaign PvE as "done" much sooner. Meta-gaming makes many maps much easier and quicker. You can tick them off, probably never revisiting them again because they are "solved".


What I don't intend is to discredit speedrunning as a way to interact with the game and enjoy it. There is a lot of planning, learning, trial and error going into each speedrunning strat and many solutions people come up with are really clever. Trying to strain the games mechanics to their limits until they break and finding quirks to exploit for that one additional advantage that shaves another minute off your time is an impressive process. Not to mention some speedrunning strategies are very high-execution.

What I am talking about is the various ways this game is affected by the blurred line between speedrunning and regular gameplay. The various exploits and meta-game strats that are commonplace in this approach across all video games do affect this game in very unique ways.

What are some thoughts and experiences with this special environment?

Edited by Cocofang
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i sometimes prefer play on advanced with a nonmetadeck. f.e. if u have 1 quest play map x . and 1 quest with play 100 fire cards.  Speedrunning is omipresent cause its a grindgame and xp and gold is win based. And you need rediculous amounts of gold to upgrade all cards. btw someone pls calculate how much gold u need to upgrade all cards in the game.^^ 

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I like nice strats that work well, but i don't like looking at the clock all the time. What other people do is up to them. Some speedrun strats are just abusing the code and that is a bit weird imo. Trapping spawns and such. Some others are however also just common sense and some expert maps are almost impossible if you dont use what you can to make it work. That is more or less my opinion on this one. I see your point though..there are some exploits which "ruin" the whole experience of certain maps and people may look at you as if you are an alien if you build defense towers in expert crusade instead of mark of the keeper, but as long as it is possible i like to avoid stuff like that.  What also has to be mentioned: Ever played convoy expert without scythe fiends and so on? xD ...trust me i tried, but won't hurt myself again haha

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Some of these exploit metagames I don't mind and some I really do. Sunbridge in particular bothers me as the main mechanic of the map simply doesn't function at all. The waves are totally rediculious with the frequency of twilight dragons and definitely could use toning down so I can see why it became the way to beat it but still, what's the point of sunbridge existing if the gate waves don't exist?

Situations like that where major map mechanics just flat out don't work I'd rather see fixed than left where they are just because it's been the way it works for so long. I do think the difficulty of some maps are a major reason stuff like the sunbridge exploit and convoy exploit became popular though. There are situations where I think the original devs went a little overkill and inadvertently created the culture.

Edited by Torban
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1 hour ago, Emmaerzeh said:

btw someone pls calculate how much gold u need to upgrade all cards in the game.^^ 

grafik.png.677f7b4f6cef618f31a80659299b34b1.png

 

So if you have a pact with the dark lord, you are done: grafik.png.4ea4082126d9c25ed2d05b212ae9c801.png

 

Edit: All information is supplied without guarantee

Edited by Volin
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Is there guide to all expert maps? I guess I have missed it somewhere, could you link it please? In case you mention Missions Briefing, it's not a guide.

To my defence, Mark of the Keeper and Nighguards are designed to do what they do, and are strong because of design idea. As long as I promote attemps with every faction, I feel morally okay with mentioning a few MVP cards - not everyone can roll all maps with Homesoil Glyph MA after all. I like to fool myself, that I promote creative approach to the game, through my introduction - which probably nobody have read.

But then there are maps like Slave Master and Sunbridge. I am not content with approaches, however, I have not developed other strategies to beat the maps yet. Shame on me - I did go the easy way, and many people like doing it either. Those who like the hard way, focus more on meta and often do speedruns, or, absolutely struggle with maps and complete them within 1-3 hours in a single approach.

However, I'd rather more casual players to complete Expert campaign, get reward and continue having fun with the game on replaying rPvE/Standard/Advanced, rather than get extremely frustrated with Expert and have less and less interest in the game.

 

Why? I believe, because many cards are weak, neither competitive nor interesting. I was very happy to use Icefang Raptor once, but that's all purpose I could find for him. That's rather disappointing.

And I dare a statement that many maps are badly made, very frustrating and mentally draining - what promotes usage of exploits. Being afk for first 9 minutes of Nightmare Shard to gather power is rather not interesting approach. Unless you use meta solutions, you must use large army and power flows slowly. Torban explained it better than me, though.

Many people are not willing to spend their time on trying, they find trial and error a waste of time if you can use a superior tactic. It's a lazy approach, but aren't most of us lazy, particularly when it comes to something what should give us careless fun?

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21 hours ago, ThomasMann said:

For me I play as I want to play and I want you to play how you want to play, if I joined a 4 player group and they were going to do a speedrun with tactics that I don't know, I will gladly give up my spot for someone capable. 

Well, individual convictions don't necessarily change or affect how the general consensus and culture of the community is.

20 hours ago, Emmaerzeh said:

i sometimes prefer play on advanced with a nonmetadeck. f.e. if u have 1 quest play map x . and 1 quest with play 100 fire cards.  Speedrunning is omipresent cause its a grindgame and xp and gold is win based. And you need rediculous amounts of gold to upgrade all cards

Yeah, advanced seems to be the in-between where the map isn't too easy but people also don't instantly resort to the most extreme measures available. And also don't get agitated for not playing the expected way.

I don't necessarily think the everpresent speedrunning strats are directly related to the xp and gold grind. If it was only about that, everyone would speedrun Bad Harvest forever. Which many do, myself included, but meta-gaming and speedrunning exploits are used on many different maps that are much slower. However, failure DOES mean you are missing out on close to every reward. So I'd say a big contributor to the culture is the desire to avoid the failure state, no matter what.

20 hours ago, shroomion said:

I like nice strats that work well, but i don't like looking at the clock all the time. What other people do is up to them. Some speedrun strats are just abusing the code and that is a bit weird imo. Trapping spawns and such. Some others are however also just common sense and some expert maps are almost impossible if you dont use what you can to make it work. That is more or less my opinion on this one. I see your point though..there are some exploits which "ruin" the whole experience of certain maps and people may look at you as if you are an alien if you build defense towers in expert crusade instead of mark of the keeper, but as long as it is possible i like to avoid stuff like that.  What also has to be mentioned: Ever played convoy expert without scythe fiends and so on? xD ...trust me i tried, but won't hurt myself again haha

I don't think most people that use speedrunning strats check their time. I would guess it's more about having the easiest time possible. After all a failure is very punishing in Skylords. If you lose, you don't get upgrades, barely any gold or XP. So many would probably consider it a waste of time.

I do however take issue with the sentiment of some people when they act as if certain maps are easy simply because of an existing speedrunning strat. A distinction between regular gameplay and meta-gaming should always be made. If someone suggests a speedrunning strat it should come with the caveat that it interferes with mechanics in unintended ways.

20 hours ago, Torban said:

Some of these exploit metagames I don't mind and some I really do. Sunbridge in particular bothers me as the main mechanic of the map simply doesn't function at all. The waves are totally rediculious with the frequency of twilight dragons and definitely could use toning down so I can see why it became the way to beat it but still, what's the point of sunbridge existing if the gate waves don't exist?

Situations like that where major map mechanics just flat out don't work I'd rather see fixed than left where they are just because it's been the way it works for so long. I do think the difficulty of some maps are a major reason stuff like the sunbridge exploit and convoy exploit became popular though. There are situations where I think the original devs went a little overkill and inadvertently created the culture.

Expert difficulty is notorious for being extremely hard, too much so in some aspects. It might be because originally it was intended to create an incentive for collecting and buying all the most powerful cards that make some maps easier. However, it did come with the side effect that people also went looking for solutions outside of official tools. Fighting unfairness with unfairness in a sense.

19 hours ago, Dallarian said:

Is there guide to all expert maps? I guess I have missed it somewhere, could you link it please? In case you mention Missions Briefing, it's not a guide.

To my defence, Mark of the Keeper and Nighguards are designed to do what they do, and are strong because of design idea. As long as I promote attemps with every faction, I feel morally okay with mentioning a few MVP cards - not everyone can roll all maps with Homesoil Glyph MA after all. I like to fool myself, that I promote creative approach to the game, through my introduction - which probably nobody have read.

But then there are maps like Slave Master and Sunbridge. I am not content with approaches, however, I have not developed other strategies to beat the maps yet. Shame on me - I did go the easy way, and many people like doing it either. Those who like the hard way, focus more on meta and often do speedruns, or, absolutely struggle with maps and complete them within 1-3 hours in a single approach.

However, I'd rather more casual players to complete Expert campaign, get reward and continue having fun with the game on replaying rPvE/Standard/Advanced, rather than get extremely frustrated with Expert and have less and less interest in the game.

 

Why? I believe, because many cards are weak, neither competitive nor interesting. I was very happy to use Icefang Raptor once, but that's all purpose I could find for him. That's rather disappointing.

And I dare a statement that many maps are badly made, very frustrating and mentally draining - what promotes usage of exploits. Being afk for first 9 minutes of Nightmare Shard to gather power is rather not interesting approach. Unless you use meta solutions, you must use large army and power flows slowly. Torban explained it better than me, though.

Many people are not willing to spend their time on trying, they find trial and error a waste of time if you can use a superior tactic. It's a lazy approach, but aren't most of us lazy, particularly when it comes to something what should give us careless fun?

I didn't mean it as an attack that you have to defend yourself against, more as an example how deep that sentiment runs that even extensive resources meant to help people master the game refer to meta-gaming.

I highly doubt Mark of the Keeper was designed with the interaction in mind that indefinitely keeping ranged enemies alive while neutralizing them also blocks scripted waves from spawning. It can be argued it was later made into a real mechanic with Lost Banestone but that's a T3 building. And even then it's questionable if it's within the rules of the game. Fact of the matter is that blocking scripted spawns by keeping part of a wave alive completely undermines the difficulty of maps to a point where it's not even comparable.

Nightguard, and by extension the entire takeover mechanic, is way too inconsistent to be considered functional imo. If that's the design it's broken design. Wouldn't surprise me with how bad even card descriptions are. Orb and energy requirements for enemies seem to be all over the place, it all relies on hidden information.

The amount of viable cards compared to the total pool is disappointingly low, I agree. The total dominance of S tier cards, even outside of meta-gaming, is also on another level. There is like the absolute top, then the viable cards and then the entire rest. And the S tier cards are so ingrained that even the attempt of buffing viable or lesser cards barely has an effect on usage. But that's a different matter.

 

There are many factors why meta-gaming has such a unique role in the Skylords community. Some seem to be:

  • the extreme, sometimes unfair difficulty of some maps
  • the harsh punishment for failure
  • steep requirements for account progress
  • obviously the implementation of an official leaderboard
  • the lack of fixes from the original dev team
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On 1/27/2021 at 10:14 PM, Volin said:

grafik.png.677f7b4f6cef618f31a80659299b34b1.png

 

So if you have a pact with the dark lord, you are done: grafik.png.4ea4082126d9c25ed2d05b212ae9c801.png

 

Edit: All information is supplied without guarantee

I'm at 5.510.050
For 168c (2800 g/card), 150uc (5775 g/card), 135r(15400 g/card), 68ur(30800 g/card) buying every card upgrade and applying it. (Cards taken from Skylords CardBase)

 

Edit: Also the thread seems to be derailing (missing it's own point maybe) from discussing speedrunning. (Definitly not because we started to calculate fictional values! Even if, entirely Emmaerzeh's fault)
I guess the underlying issue here is that normal gameplay also heavily builds on abusing glitches/bugs/bad and unbalanced mechanics like speedrunning does in more well built games.
That speedrunners use every tactic available is normal, the basic issue here has less do to with the relationship of BF and Speedrunning and more with how bugged out the game is to force ppl to rely heavily on abusing uninteded situations.
-> Devs did a botched up job and the game as a whole needs a lot of love in the core basics.

Edited by Darcurse
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Dallarians guide kinda shows, that u dont have to rely on "weird speedrun techniques "as he played the campaign mostly with pure frost (which is usually not speedrun present) and explains that all the maps are doable with a non meta decks aswell.

It is probably also the attitude of many players who simply prefer to take the easy tactic presented to them to solve the expert map, instead of coming up with a new deck concept that might take lots of attempts until it works...

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49 minutes ago, LEBOVIN said:

It is probably also the attitude of many players who simply prefer to take the easy tactic presented to them to solve the expert map, instead of coming up with a new deck concept that might take lots of attempts until it works...

And you can't really blame the players for this. If there's an optimal way to achieve something, most players will likely feel forced to take this approach even if it is not the most fun one. I would say ideally there should be no obvious optimal strategy in maps, because that gives players options to try different strategies without having the fear of missing out on progression because they are obviously playing an inferior strategy.

I know Bad harvest is an extreme case (and that this isn't very representative because of the fact that speedrun strategies are a lot faster to complete so the percentages are a little skewed), but according to some quick math 92% of Bad Harvest matches won on Expert are done using a speedrun strategy (based on the time) :rolleyes:

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2 hours ago, Darcurse said:


That speedrunners use every tactic available is normal, the basic issue here has less do to with the relationship of BF and Speedrunning and more with how bugged out the game is to force ppl to rely heavily on abusing uninteded situations.
 

Its interesting to see how the normal player thinks that a speedrun is working. To explain it a bit - to beat the map fast we just do what is defined in the scripts of the maps. So if there is just the goal kill the final boss we will try to find a way to kill the final boss fast - this has nothing to do with bugs. The speedruns we are doing are no comparison to speedruns of other games that really using crazy glitches and bugs...For sure there are some details for every map that can help you - may call it bugs if you want - but still with these things you will not able to finish the map and speedrun alone.

 

Also i want to clean up another point. Speedrunning on competitive level is maximum teamplay - we are just able to reach such good times because we plan every small detail - and yes e.g. also the right feed  in the right moment is a detail  for this- and no there are not just feeders - most time this players have still important roles even if they are just T1-T3. Witthout voice we would have no chance to perform on top-level- because a lot of details have to communicated or timed in the right moment.

 

Like Ladadoos pointet out - bad harvest is ane extrem example that now seems to be really easy. But you have to think of that some players invested hours to develop this tactics. Thanks to some streamers after the reset the bad harvest speedrun tactic is now well known - i never supported this because i did know this will happen. Another fact is about the exp and gold system of Skylords Reborn itself. You are forced to grind the maps for exp, gold and upgrades. So if there is way to play a map in below 3 min and you  get exp, gold and also upgrades of this map it seems reasonable that a lot of players want to do this.

 

If you are willing to play competitive speedruns you have to use some special tactics to be on top. If you are not speedrunning on this level nobody is forcing you to play with decomposer. Imagine its also possible to speedrun without decomposer or batariel and such stuff - no problem if you know how the map works.

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I don't think our answer are exclusive to each other. I simply talked about speedrunning in general not specific in BF.
Competetive speedrunning =/= BF speedrunning for loot. Sure, never said the opposite.
But BF speedrunning happens due to bad design, broken mechanics, bugs, glitches, missing balance, etc. (and ofc human nature) -> That's all I wanted to say.

---

But you can't discard the fact that even while not going for highscores, most people here are doing speedruns with the intentions to be as fast as possible.
This also means, they're most likely do everything they know/can in order to make that happen. Sure, if they're missing a certain expensive card for example, they will do it without and just go with the rest, too.
Your personal take on speedruns doesn't display the whole community.
I for example wouldn't go into the game and do like 3h of speedruns every day to farm tons of gold, doing the same map over and over and over again, just because it's "efficient". This is just a game. Does that mean, that everyone here won't do extensive speedruns? Apparently not.

 

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