2020-Jan-15: Awesome Games Done Quick 2020 -- The Personal Post
I know this is 99% a blog about the games I play and stream because I enjoy writing about games, but this is a bit of a special thing. I attended AGDQ2020 and it seems it'd be silly to throw all my thoughts in a pastebin when I have this perfectly usable space here.
At some point soon I'm going to give a tech breakdown of what I saw while on stage at the event, but this is more about what I did and how I felt there. Also no, I didn't have a run in, but I did commentate one.
When I landed in Orlando I ended up stuck on the tarmac for 30 minutes because our gate was blocked by another plane who did not taxi in properly. So you know, whee. I at least had the good fortune of landing there at the same time as Karma. Karma's been a regular in my stream and someone I've grown quite fond of, so we were passing messages back and forth trying to orchestrate a meetup. She was still in the airport when I finally deplaned so she urged me to meet her at the Starbucks near baggage claim. I stumbled to four Starbucks shops before finding the right one; this would become something of a running gag for the rest of the event. "Meet me at the Starbucks"
We ended up crammed into a Lyft together: three of us in the back seat of a coupe. So we got a little cozy there. Arriving at the event we stuck together for a bit, which led to us standing outside and talking about where to go for dinner. The conversation led to one of us (not saying who) yelling "ROTATE MY ENTIRE ASS" just as a father with three little kids walked by. He gave us a bit of a wilting look; that became another running gag for the event.
Later that night we ended up plunked in the practice room messing around with a NES and a flash cart. The mistake was made to let me choose the game we'd be playing so I chose Super Kart Fighter. Kart Fighter is a fighting game bootleg starring the Mario Kart cast, and it's bad. So bad it drew a crowd. I met a bunch of people this way and we all had a blast, so it made for a really awesome first day.
One of those evenings we ended up at the local Wendy's and ran into authorblues, Freyaspirit, and another person or two I didn't recognize. That was neat though to run into them-- we ended up eating together and talking about MOBAs and MMOs. Also authorblues is taller than me, which is a rare thing to see. In fact I went most of the event wishing I was about six inches shorter so I wouldn't constantly be the tallest one in a group. My height did come in handy when I met Gliitchwiitch and got to pick her up, though! Anyway, auth is a class act. We ended up sharing a couple of kusoge titles during the event and plotting Kusogrande things as a result. Muahahaha.
One of the big todo list items for me for the event was to be in the stream room during an incredibly energetic run. I wanted to compare the crowd in person with what you hear on stream. I got a taste of this by being present during the Binding of Isaac run. In the final loop of an all characters run, the D100 dropped and the runner picked it up. The crowd began cheering every time he used it, completely shuffling and randomizing his build with each use. I thought the roar within the room was deafening, but that's nothing compared to what I'd hear later!
The true roar would come during the Mushihime-sama run. Mushi is one of the hardest bullet hell games ever created, and this run was on a patch that's even harder than what we know as the main release version. The runner ended up finishing with no lives and no bombs left, barely clipping over his score goal. The crowd just... exploded. My tablet indicated over 100dB but it's a tablet-- who knows if that's correct. It was the first standing ovation of the event that I saw and I ended up stumbling out of the stream room with my ears ringing. The energy of that crowd though was tangible, and that's exactly what I wanted to see from the stream room-- it'd be quite rare that I'd return until the finale. I had too much to do!
Around that evening I found a group of people hanging around a famicom messing with FDS ROMs on a flash cart. Seemed like my jam so I walked over and everyone introduced themselves. I rifled through the FDS library with EnchantressOfNumbers for most of the evening; we found some fun things. Only after the group broke up for the night did I realize I unwittingly crashed an EdgeCaseCollective meetup. I mean, I was welcomed, so I didn't crash it, but still. Neat seeing that group represented there. They're good people.
Speaking of represented groups: RetroGamingLive was also there. That group does a cool little thing each GDQ. They grab anyone at the event and have a marathon-in-a-marathon there in the practice room. They call it NESblock, with a focus that's probably pretty clear from its name. They don't stream it though, since competing with GDQ would be a little silly. Instead they local record it and VODcast it later after GDQ is over. I ended up hanging out in their corner of the practice room during NESblock and got to watch Karma race Gliitchwiitch in Cocoron, a neat Super Mario Bros race, Karma racing Ztox in Immortal, and a race of Pyramid. It was a wild time; I've never been to a nesting egg of marathons before.
Along the line of unexpected happenings: I attended an engagement party. Gliitchwiitch got engaged while at AGDQ, so she threw a room party where I got to meet a couple of other people I've known on Twitch for years. Mainly Aquas and And4h. To my surprise, And4h did not want to kill me for making him play Castelo Ra-tim-bum on Kusogrande, and overall he was a pretty sweet person. We ended up dueling in Twinkle Star Sprites; I won, but I think I was the only not intoxicated person playing so I don't hold too much sway on it there. I stumbled over to Waffle House after the party at like 2am and talked to the waitress for 20min about the event.
Thursday morning I commentated Cybergenic Ranger. The run got pushed back 4 hours and I stayed up all night for it, so I was quite loopy by the start of it. I ended up going from expecting to be solo on the couch to being one of three, which ruined my plans a little but I think it turned out okay anyway. Having a strong representation of the Kusogrande crew is more important than my own self-gratification. I do want to be the central voice in a GDQ run at some point though; I want to experience that. I wasn't even nervous for this one. I guess I'm just so used to commentating now.
Friday night was the Best of NES meetup. Since I'm a BoNES admin now I was uh... quite invited to that. We met up at Friday's (haha good one) and ended up as a party of about 25. So we basically took over the entire back dining area. That group was a who's who of people who got me into speedrunning way back in the beginning, so I was a bit star struck. People who come to mind from that list... Feasel, Mithical9, dxtr, badbrakes, DragonDarch, NESCardinality, TheMexicanRunner, Pro_JN... I basically crossed off half my to-meet list in that one dinner. It was a blast.
However, it was also a meetup of a bunch of cis dudes who drink, so around four rounds of beers I said bye to everyone and excused myself. I walked back over to the hotel and ran into Karma again. We'd been hanging out a lot that event-- like a lot a lot. So we just plunked in the lobby to talk. The thing about the lobby though: its seating was all these futon things with no backrests, so we ended up seated on one leaning on each other. Yeah okay, we were also being affectionate. As we were sitting there, Dance Dad walked up.
If you watch GDQ you know Dance Dad. He sits in the front row chair-dancing between every run. It's a meme that started a couple of events ago and now he ends up with an entire front row of dancers each event. He's important. His actual handle is wolfman2000, and he's someone I got to know during SNES Superstars, so when I saw him I said hi. He walked over and we talked for a minute or two; he was on his way somewhere but he wanted a photo before he left. Then he looked at Karma and said "Oh but I don't want to interrupt your time with your partner..." I froze.
I'd grown quite attached to Karma over the event but Dance Dad had the wrong idea. Not that I blame him, we were pretty snuggly on that sofa-thing. I hesitated for a moment, wondering if she was going to correct him, or if I should. Nothing. So I decided to just let it go and laugh about it later. I stood up, took the pic with Dance Dad, and he goes "thanks, let me just write in my notes who's in this pic! Mmh... Trysdyn, partners with Karma... Okay bye!" and he was gone.
I sat down and giggled; Karma giggled. It stuck in my brain. I was trying to figure how to say I was fond of her all night and here Dance Dad just accidentally put it out there. Later that night Karma turned to me and deadpanned "So are we gonna let Dance Dad be the one to announce it?"
SO I GUESS THAT HAPPENED! Thanks Dance Dad. You made that process way easier and I may not have even said anything at all if not for you. Karma and I have been calling him Based Dance Dad since. This is probably going to stick.
Saturday I was people'd out. I hid in my room for most of it. Karma and Mouse came by to watch the event. This was the first time we met up since Karma and I officially became an item so it was an exploration in how to handle the social dynamics therein. But yeah, very much crush, much love. After they left I was content to sit in the room and watch the finale, but then the big sub/bit burst in the donation total happened.
See, until then I considered it unlikely we'd hit $3m in donations. If we did I wanted to be in the stream room for it. Well when they tabulated up the twitch revenue for the event they hit $2.88m. I jumped up and sprinted to the stream room. Literally sprinted. I got there when they hit $2.95m and the people rushing to snipe the $3m rollover was in full swing. People were already cheering and counting down the thousands to the goal.
I barely got settled in when $3m hit and whew. The wave of emotion, the screaming and cheering and clapping of the crowd. That's why I wanted to be there when it happened, and I almost missed it! It's hard to describe, but there's definitely a certain electricity being in a room with 1000 people all celebrating the same thing; especially when that thing is such a big deal as $3m for charity. I mighta cried a bit during the finale; not ashamed to admit it.
I ended up taking 17 flights of stairs back to my room after that because the elevators were packed. I'm out of shape... I was too wired to sleep so I ended up staying up all night just taking in the entire event. My reward for this was an amazing sunrise over downtown Orlando as seen from my hotel window, and then 36 hours total without sleep as I fought my way home through crowded planes and airports. I expected to sleep on the flight back, but ended up in the middle of the exit row next to a screaming baby so... Anyway I made it back somehow.
If I tried to list everyone I met that I've wanted to meet for years I wouldn't be able to. I think at one point I noted I hit 50 people I met that I've known for awhile online. I got almost everyone really. I even got to meet InfiniteMystery, who's someone I really admire. I also made some new friends, like TPC and Patashu-- though Patashu had been following me on Mastodon for a couple months beforehand anyway and I only just realized it when getting to the event. Also Lenalia who was adorable and I had dinner with; getting to meet Garbi finally and we hung out quite a few times... So many people.
Just such an amazing time. It re-sparked my enthusiasm for speedrunning. I have some plans. I want to get something into AGDQ 2021 and, if plans hold out, will definitely be going again.