I stumbled across RND in the last month, and immediately noticed the tape interface system, which while it definitely showed signs that it could be strengthened (keyboard shortcuts for things like record and play, as well as controls like "Frame Step-back" so that you can try out multiple pathswithout having to put a save on every such point or play through the tape every time except stop it just before the end), showed itself to be rather more friendly for making crude TASs than most games are out of the box.
For samples of what to expect from such a venture, I went ahead and compiled tapes for the levels in both tutorials, the ones the make good watching and the ones that...well, don't.
Niko Boehm: http://www.zomis.net/rnd/info.php?f=710
Aaron Davidson: http://www.zomis.net/rnd/info.php?f=711
So has there ever been interest in this kind of tape construction beyond just regarding it as "cheating" (and perhaps hope for a future version to be even more facilitative to them)? I'm sure with all the level varieties RND is capable of, there's some level set that makes for quite an entertaining watch that way.Boehm 1 "Emeralds & Diamonds" - 0:07
-Yeah, not much happening here.
Boehm 2 "Rocks and Walls and Nuts" - 0:12
-Introduction to luck manipulation. Getting a 13 here is easily possible, but 12 requires a 1-in-4 occurrence: the purple gem must fall to the left and the rock above the green gem must fall on the same side as the gem did.
-Speaking of randomness, how is it formulated in RND? Pick a seed at the beginning of the level, and all events are deterministic at a given time (though the player can interfere with the order these things happen)?
Boehm 3 "Magic Walls" - 0:06
-Introduction to "don't try this at home", creating over-quota gems. Other than that it's just what you'd expect.
Boehm 4 "Bombs and Dynamite" - 0:23
-Quite a busy level with so many concurrent goals, making it an ideal TAS candidate.
-Clearing out the left side is the main bottleneck in this level. I could drop a third dynamite in the initial salvo to clear the diamond, but that just means it takes 17 more frames to get back after the detour, whereas dropping it in the next round can be done for no loss instead.
-Strangely it's 7 frames faster to clear out the goal with dynamite compared to the bomb ball. While I'm there, I might as well clear out some gems: dropping the diamond is a requirement, and if I'm doing that, the green gem costs a further 2 frames. I could take the BD diamond above the letter T instead; this would also cost 2 frames.
-Leaving half the dynamite behind, spending quite a bit on things like rocks and the exit, and I still have just enough to free the petrified gems. How convenient. Almost as though it was planned that way.
Boehm 5 "Amoeba" - 0:28
-That's quite the artificial restriction you've got there.
-Optimizing this level is going to take tools beyond just the 1-stepper. The last bottleneck (the one that you can't take away, at least not if you want a way out) seems rather slow, and getting the amoeba to fill space more quickly can take off about 4 seconds. The question is, which seed yields the most desirable result and is there a way to determine that more efficiently than brute force?
-My early TASs on this level would record fine only to play back with Rockford getting killed or not having enough gems. This is a problem with rapidsnap: If you want to snap in two or more directions and you do so on consecutive frames, the playback engine will interpret this as a constant snap that never gets turned off and reinitialized in the new direction, so it desyncs. The solution is to insert 1 frame of dead space before making the second snap. Yes, it's a loss of a frame, but it's comparatively minor in exchange for actually having the tape work (until a new version comes out with a fix).
Boehm 6 "Starships" - 0:15
-Not much of note. Just silly oversized hitboxes against the starships taking away some options.
Boehm 7 "Bugs" - 0:15
-Since the gem count seems to have been taken with "rock kills come on the bottom row" in mind, it's an invitation to leave out some gems that take too long to get.
-The time spent gathering up those gems is offset by the fact that I don't have to contend with falling gems in the amoeba pit, so this level finishes as fast as the previous one.
Boehm 8 "Yam Yams" - 0:21
-Pathwise the level is straightforward, with luck manipulation thrown in to ensure I never have to wait for a yamyam to move out of the way.
-Uncollected dynamite forming a bridge to free the fourth yamyam without having to wait for a pushed rock later on or contend with amoeba? Good times.
Boehm 9 "Robots" - 0:07
-Maybe it's just me, but robots are extremely manipulation-friendly, and it's almost always possible to get them to do what you want (or at least not have them interfere with your path).The line taken here is simply the most efficient that can be done on the level.
Boehm 10 "Invisibility" - 0:22
-While of course a TAS uses advance knowledge of the map, I haven't gone much further with this level. The path may well be prioritized incorrectly--this is a rather low 22, so even a 1-step savings should cut the second.
Boehm 11 "Keys and Doors" - 0:17
Boehm 12 "Snap It!" - 0:20
-This is just linear up until the freeform ending, which may well be improvable. My approach is to smother the dynamite from the get-go and use the space for storage; is any other way superior?
Boehm 13 "Keys and Doors 2" - 0:15
-Still boring, though even with the 1-frame "snap sync delay" this run barely cuts the second at 15.98...
Boehm 14 "Life and Biomaze" - 0:13
-With Life on a predictable 40-frame iterator, this is the best path I can find. The diagonal cross and cutback is ugly, but it gets that done with just 16 frames of wait that get absorbed by the biomaze anyway.
-One thing I've found no documentation on whatsoever: What's the formula that dictates the evolution of biomaze? Everything says "it's a variation of Life that forms mazelike patterns", but no detail on just what makes it a variation and how it may be manipulated. What I've gathered is that its iterations are staggered, but without any rhyme or reason that I can tell.
Boehm 15 "Pac Men" - 0:22
-This level is luck manipulation hell. All the Pac-men's movements seem locked in at the start of the level and you have to keep playing through to see if they cooperate and if not restart from scratch, or at least wait a long time. This current path just has 16 frames waiting for the first linear pac-man, so a random seed that corrects that while keeping the other good stuff will be a ticket to 21.
Boehm 16 "The Dark Side of the Yam Yam" - 0:17
-Welcome to the wonderful world of TAS. If anyone tries to play the level like this at full speed, they deserve what they have coming.
-This level has a very high amount of on-the-fly trial and error. Because of all the robots lying around, it's quite likely that they'll eventually manipulate something for you. The brief trip left while the dark yamyam is running to its doom serves as a visible example of this.
-Unfortunately I did have to double back at one point in the huge mess in order to forge a successful path, but a 40-frame total loss there more than makes up for just how early I end up being able to get into the lair.
Boehm 17 "Let There Be Light" - 0:33
-The big thing that stands out is that a perfect opening lets you beat the bug into the central plaza by one frame, saving a large amount of time by not having to wait on back-to-back 8-frame turn delays, at least not in this portion.
-Saving two lights to hit while going the "wrong" way is pure novelty, done for entertainment value of the TAS, and that never hurts. At least when it costs no time (those silly turn delays again).
Boehm 18 "Growing Walls" - 0:21
Boehm 19 "Dynabombs" - 0:20
-This is probably the most wide open level in the set. If there may be further improvements, at least you know the kind of ridiculousness to be had in putting them together.
-Speaking of wide open, how silly that it actually achieves much of that openness by having one specific square closed at the start: namely the rock at 1,11.
-I can start setting up the first salvo of bombs sooner, but if I do, the amoeba on the outskirts of the explosion will not be dead yet and it'll just refill the space I spent so many bombs to clear out.
-It's quite the bug that enables me to survive the second salvo: Normally the player is supposed to get killed off on the 9th frame in the blast radius. However, when I have dynabombs on both sides of me, one triggers the other so that on the 8th frame, the second one's explosion overwrites the first and resets the frame counter, allowing me to successfully stay in the blast for 10 frames before the smoke dissipates from above. Given all the useful stuff that gets cleared out by having that salvo go off as planned, I'm not complaining.
-Up for grabs: You can save a bunch of frames by having the red gem fall off to the right of the purple one. Assuming the rest of the level doesn't make you pay for it in other ways.
-Catching pearls in midair is pwn and win.
-The sixth and final salvo is stretched as thinly as possible. If I lay any more than 6 bombs there (each bomb costs a frame), I can't get back to the green gem as a hideaway spot without dying. Coincidentally, I can't lay any less than 6 bombs there either, at least not without giving up the hideaway's duplicate function as a backdoor.
Boehm 20 "Butterfly and Firefly" - 0:12
-Trickery with the starship saves 16 frames. The butterfly yields no such result.
-...why is there such an overage on gem quota?
-Anyway, given the inconvenient firefly position, it's always nice to have a sliding gem perform double duty as a path diversion.
Boehm 21 "Do the Mole" - 0:54
-Considering that the first 37 seconds are basically autoscroller mode...
-Sadly, dropping a rock on the mole such that the explosion overlaps with the petrified gems will yield red gems, not 3 and 8.
-For some reason, if I don't snap up there, the mole always turns left; where if I do snap up the mole doesn't take that path, but it changes its turn to right? Strange...
Boehm 22 "I Love Penguins" - 0:17
-About what you'd expect here and not much else, though the harmonic convergence of 8 penguins on the goal in 1 second almost makes up for the monotony.
Boehm 23 "Pigs" - 0:05
-Of all the (tutorial) levels that get nerfed by consecutive snaps causing a desync in the replay, this one gets hit the most. If you only make 1 snap per step, you get low 6 all the time (see also: EM/BD doors that take an absurdly long time to open).
-It might be worth doing a TAS-like completion to see exactly how many gems it's possible to save from the pigs. Probably even more so if the desync ever gets fixed and it becomes reliably possible to hoard gems at 15 per second.
Boehm 24 "Fire" - 0:24
-This one's quite reminiscent of level 16, though with even harder luck to manipulate.
-It's possible to get through the "rock complex" by 0:10, but you won't take a bite out of any gems that way and the entrance to the lair will certainly still be blocked.
-Let's all give a big hand to fire-to-robot-to-bug combos. That probably accounts for a full minute saved.
-Going back into "prison" only to free myself just as the lair's opening becomes clear is just more entertainment.
Boehm 25 "Baloons" (sic) - 0:31
-Not really much to say, though I can only think there may be some crazy sequence of sub-step wind swaps that'll get the balloons cleared out much more smoothly.
Boehm 26 "Satellites" - 0:09
-Hey, look! It's a short level! And it actually plays like classic BD! Someone call the Weekly World News!
Boehm 27 "The Speed Pill" - 0:13
-Fast Rockford is fast. Come to think of it, this plays out rather similarly to what you might see in level 23 if you just don't hit any controls.
-This was made under single-snap steps, though with 4 frames to a step I'm not even sure snap delay would work.
-It might be worth considering doing something useful with the bugs at left, if you can get more diamonds to survive and do so on a path that melds with everything else you're doing. Whether that can take the level down to 12 is doubtful.
Boehm 28 "Sokoban" - 3:26
-Maybe this is good, maybe it's bad. I haven't had enough experience with optimizing sokoban to know.
Boehm 29 "Supaplex I" - 0:27
-Nothing special. I've tried to formulate a way to get the end with just 2 dynamite, but I can't get it to come through without Zonks getting in the way.
Boehm 30 "Supaplex II" - 0:15
Boehm 31 "Supaplex III" - 0:33
-The enemy-trapping hasn't really been checked for optimization at all. There's probably at least 2 seconds to be had in that.
-On the other hand, the detonation had to be delayed to a rather precise time in order to trap the sniksnak in 1x1 without crushing it (otherwise I lose trons), so an improved grouping would have to take into account avoiding such board positions.
Boehm 32 "Supaplex IV" - 0:15
-There's an extremely large luck factor here. I dodged the blockades as best as I could get in a reasonable number of tries, but you still see signs of time lost to blocked squares.
Boehm 33 "Conveyor Belts" - 0:25
-The conveyor belt makes for a difficult element to optimize to the frame. After snapping a belt control, there seems to be no ability to snap it again without moving, regardless of frame count. I was forced to use a method that's prone to waste, as best as I could as far as minimizing unneeded time loss. Future TAS facilitation should make it easier to work with these.
Boehm 34 "Switch & Time Gates" - 0:44
-Switch gates are another element that's difficult to work with, namely in judging the first possible opportunity to pass (since it doesn't sync well with its animation). The dragon went well except maybe the second drop; the last drop came with rather nice timing as far as the gauntlet of doors, but probably even better would be for the last one to be delayed significantly so that it's after passing the last gate and I don't have to go to the upper right in the last room. However, getting a distribution like that would be quite the statistical outlier.
Boehm 35 "Be Careful" - 0:14
-At least it went over significantly better on the hazard timing than level 32 did.
Boehm 36 "If There Were More Time..." - 0:13
-Who needs extra time? As you can see, the level can go down fast enough that you only need the bare minimum one time upgrade that you need just to move off the starting square. Maxing out the time bonus costs an extra 2 frames (also yay for doors taking too long to open again).
Boehm 37 "Shielded" - 0:28
-I can only wonder if the insect field has a smoother solution. Beyond that the level is straightforward.
Boehm 38 "It's Spring Time" - 0:26
-What I really want here is a way to change the bug's direction, which has 4 seconds in it. So far the only way I've found to do so involves dying immediately. Maybe this has something to do with the oversized hitboxes mentioned in level 6.
Boehm 39 "Tubes" - 0:30
-It's level 10 again! This time remixed by level 33! And a bug that's in horrible position! There's just not much this level can be.
Boehm 40 "Gravity" - 0:21
-So I close out the set with this. Who needs balloons? Even having to skip the fifth dynabomb, it's well worth it. If I could somehow skip the balloon and still get the extra bomb, 20 would be easy.
Davidson 1 "Bare Bones" - 0:38
-At least it's more interesting than the other level 1. The "headbonk pit" might have to undergo further investigation.
Davidson 2 "Rock On" - 0:16
Davidson 3 "Nuts!" - 0:24
-Yes, they're nuts. What don't we know?
Davidson 4 "Odds and Ends" - 0:14
-Quite a bit more pushing of random rocks than I'd expect would be necessary for a tutorial's level 4, though maybe it is supposed to be that slow.
Davidson 5 "Things That Go Boom" - 0:32
-Is there any difference in which spot you attempt to blast through the first wall?
-Again we see two snaps in one step come in quite handy. It's just too bad the space in "NOW RUN" is an invisible wall.
Davidson 6 "The Bad Guys" - 0:56
-More robots that don't need manipulating, more enemies that do the things enemies do. I do manage to create gem overage by swiping the diamond that presumably a yamyam is supposed to take.
Davidson 7 "The Yam-Yam, In Depth" - 0:22
-Now here's a level that's interesting to optimize. The first yamyam's gems may seem slow, but that's the best that can be done without having gems fall a long way down or get blown up.
-Somehow I managed to manipulate immediate reaction from the enemies that had to move. All that and still 0 wheels hit.
Davidson 8 "Icky Slimy Things" - 0:35
-Okay, so I lose 3 frames to robot manipulation. It would have been a lot more except the mingling among their ranks around 0:24 is dead time playaround.
Davidson 9 "It's *Magic*!" - 0:11
-Not much to say about this simple...wait a minute, this probably isn't the way a completion on this level was envisioned. But it is (1) a way to get past the dynamite faster, (2) a much easier trip out, and (3) the right direction to synchronize "last gem" with "by the exit". That and the "normal" way always leaves you with a rock in the way for another 16-frame loss.
Davidson 10 "Key to My Heart" - 0:16
-Yay more key levels! Except not.
Davidson 11 "Quicksand" - 0:25
-Just how much of this level is comprised of a 1-square forced path?
Davidson 12 "Emerald Mine Review" - 1:25
-At the yamyam, the desired setup requires snapping a green gem one frame before it gets caught up in an explosion.
-Quite a bit of advance planning and multitasking at the magic wall to get everything through in time.
-Like I said, robots are their own manipulation.
-Starships were a bit tougher when it came to making them cooperate, but there's only a second or two to pick up even if you can somehow divert them at will.
Davidson 13 "Boulderdash-ing" - 0:27
-The key here is to divert the bug into the starship's domain and crush the bug instead, creating a massive gem overage and letting you skip stuff like the trenches. Not much else to it.
Davidson 14 "BD and EM Interaction" - 0:27
-Great! Autoscrollers, tutorial-style!
-And even if I could swipe gems from the magic wall, they wouldn't help!
Davidson 15 "Sokobanned!" - 0:25
-At least it's not as tedious as that other Sokoban puzzle. That counts for something.
Davidson 16 "Diamond Caves II" - 1:50
-Right away, I wonder why that rock didn't kill me.
-Surprise non sequitur switch in the minefield! It ends up saving some time later on, after the bug field.
-No midair pearl catches this time. Too bad.
Davidson 17 "DX-Boulder" - 0:57
-Not much to this. If you need something to think about, ponder the thought "What if, instead of a shield, he accidentally put in dynamite?"
Davidson 18 "Prettyfull" - 0:13
Davidson 19 "Pig Out" - 0:28
-I wonder if it's worth it to construct a path that only hits 9 diamonds in the triangle and take 2 from the top row. Gravity does tend to get in the way in formulating such paths, though.
-This level was notorious for desyncs in the dirt section, where I would record a tape but then it would fail to destroy the pig in playback. I finally managed to get a working run in this.
-It has nothing to do with a TAS, but he first time I played this level, I snapped the dirt before entering the pigs' tunnel. That was a fun experience.
Davidson 20 "Miner 49'er" - 1:09
-The starting room is highly susceptible to improvements, or at least it looks highly wasteful.
-Multiple unskippable hints are just poor UI.
-Dynabombs just aren't the same when you can only lay 2-3 instead of 7-9. The crazy salvos as seem in Boehm-19 are nowhere to be found, with only a small chain salvo in the final room as salvation.
Davidson 21 "Odds and Ends, Redux" - 0:39
-Once again we see biomaze, and wonder how to manipulate it effectively. The rest is...well, redux.
Davidson 22 "Creature Feature" - 0:36
-Enemy manipulation is all in the start, so manipulating it was easy enough.
-The mole section is downright silly. At least Aaron Davidson gives you something to do during autoscroll.
-Why are there starships instead of bugs? At least with bugs you'd give the player a reason to go up and visit the dragons.
Davidson 23 "A Few More Round Things" - 0:48
-More narrow hallways! I don't think the "push" at the end meant that direction, but whatever works for me.
Davidson 24 "Welcome to Supaplex" - 0:36
-The one nice thing about Supaplex is that their exit doors "open" immediately. Not that it matters much on this level.
Davidson 25 "The New Stuff" - 0:19
-On the other hand, it does make a difference here.
-Yay for snapping yourself a point of egress through double-speed tubes. Every bit helps.
Davidson 26 "Gravity" - 0:30
-Complex gravity levels like this were another difficult-to-use mechanic in a TAS, and even when they did ostensibly work they'd often desync on tape.
-Gravity snapping rules seem rather dumb, as do rules like "can't get the green gem by bailing out of the climb with Right". Oh well.