[Pikastroff]: Hello! Welcome to this new edition of Beyond the Board! I am Pikastroff and I’m gonna be your host for this edition, and I am accompanied here by APerson13!
[Pikastroff]: So, would you like to introduce yourself and what you do in the speedrunning community and in bingos?
[APerson13]: Alright, so… As you said, I am APerson13, I sort of started off in speedrunning with speedrunning Terraria – if you remember, during Bingothon Summer 2020, I ran Terraria Prehardmode bingo there. So since then I’ve moved on from Terraria, though I’m still semi-active in the community, but I’ve moved on to the Pikmin speedrunning community. So yeah, more so for Pikmin 3, I don’t do so much ‘speedrunning’ necessarily as most people, I focus more on glitch hunting and also hacking it, to a point. So, I’m sort of our guy for looking into the game files and finding stuff that we need to go fast.
[Pikastroff]: So, do you do that with just Pikmin 3, or did you get interested perhaps with the series as a whole?
[APerson13]: My main focus is Pikmin 3 because it is the least documented one, from a speedrunning perspective. I have also done runs of Pikmin 2 and at some point or another I want to get into Pikmin 1, although it is a very difficult speedrun.
So yeah, I sort of got into Pikmin 3 speedrunning because, like this was right after Bingothon, so my mind immediately jumped to bingos, and so I go onto Bingosync, and there was a Pikmin 1 bingo and a Pikmin 2 bingo, and there was no Pikmin 3 bingo. I saw this as an opportunity to sort of make my mark and make my own bingo board for the Pikmin 3 community.
While Pikmin 3 bingos are new, the first two games have had bingos for a while – and Pikmin 2 in particular has been featured a few times in past marathon, such as during Bingothon 2019!
[Pikastroff]: Yeah, that’s true, that’s a really good point you’re bringing up here because as one of the main organizers of Bingothon, I did see that there were bingos for those two first games; we even had runs of Pikmin 2 in the past. So definitely, it was interesting then when I first heard that you were working on a Pikmin 3 bingo. So, when did you actually get started with that project as a whole?
[APerson13]: So this is still a very, very young project. I maybe started putting together a list of goals in the beginning of September or so, so this is still very much still young – it’s constantly evolving. I think we’ve put out good results so far.
[Pikastroff]: Yes indeed, I believe it’s been a few weeks or a couple months by now, as you said! I believe it must be quite a tricky game because from what I heard in regards to how the Pikmin 3 bingo was being developed, the main challenge you had as a whole is that it is quite a linear game – which I recall quite well from my casual playthrough. That is a concept that can potentially be seen as counterintuitive for a lot of bingos because for example, if I think of games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I can easily see how these have bingos, since they are very open and have a lot of freedom and possibilities. But where I find the Pikmin 3 bingo project interesting is in that linearity, meaning that you have to figure out how to create all these goals and fit them and balance them while still taking that into account. So, how did you tackle that, because I guess that this is a massive thing to start off with?
[APerson13]: So, quite a lot of it is just trial and error. Try and make a balancing that works *sort of*, do a few runs with that board and then adjust accordingly. So, we’re still doing quite a lot of that. It’s also trying to find the balance of how far out of the way is it to get to a specific goal, versus how far is it into the story. You can have both routes where you don’t really have to go that far into the story but have to take quite a few extra days to do extra things to fill up your goals. And then there are routes where you can just beat the game as fast as possible and maybe kill an extra enemy here or there.
[Pikastroff]: Hmm, I see. I can especially think for instance, you know… It’s really more a question about Pikmin speedrunning as a whole, but you know, with the daytime limit mechanic that you have to deal with every in-game day, it really means that each goal must be quite adapted to that mechanic, I suppose. And then, I guess you also have to work with having to unlocking the various regions in the game, because I believe in Pikmin 3 the first region is Garden of Hope, if I am not mistaken?
[APerson13]: The beginning of the game can be a bit confusing. You start off in Distant Tundra – there’s actually a few goals where you escape the tutorial and do stuff before going back and getting on with the story – and then you do the tutorial segment in Tropical Wilds, and THEN you go to Garden of Hope. And then from there the progression is Garden of Hope, Distant Tundra, Tropical Wilds, Twilight River, back to Garden of Hope, and then the final area which is Formidable Oak.
[Pikastroff]: So, how long does it take on average to unlock all these areas? I guess it would be very important in the context of a bingo to have access to all areas as soon as possible. Well, that is if you can even answer that because I suppose it might differ depending on all the things you have to do.
[APerson13]: Yes, so that’s kind of a difficult question to tackle… I guess the easiest way to look at it would be to look at an Any% run. At the moment, the Any% record is just under 45 minutes, and that goes through all the parts of the game in 7 days. And I think, I’m not entirely sure, 7 minutes of that is the final day, so we can make an estimate and say that it takes about 40 minutes to unlock all areas – and that’s if you make a B-Line for it.
[Pikastroff]: I see. In that case that’s not how it would go in bingos, because by definition you are trying to go all around, with getting all your objectives. So for those that are not familiar with Pikmin 3, could you perhaps do a reminder on how that progression works, like, you already talked about the order of the regions and how they are unlocked, but for anyone who might not be familiar with the game, how does it work?
The game features 5 regions that are unlocked in a linear fashion, which plays a key part in routing bingo. Image from Pikipedia
[APerson13]: Alright, so…The story starts off with a Charlie segment – Charlie is the captain of the three people you take. He just goes through a small area in Distant Tundra and meets the Yellow Pikmin – but then you don’t actually unlock them at that point because the Yellow Pikmin and Charlie get eaten by a boss. Then it cuts over to Alph in Tropical Wilds, which is where the game really begins. So you first unlock the Red Pikmin there, and then the day ends once you are done with the tutorial. You then go to Garden of Hope and you unlock the Rock Pikmin, and then you rescue Brittany who is in the Garden of Hope. Then you head off and fight the Armoured Mawdad and recover a cell phone, which helps you to expand the communication range of your ship. From there you can go to Distant Tundra and then unlock the Yellow Pikmin for real. From there you go and kill the Vehemoth Phosbat and you rescue Charlie, who was eaten by that phosbat. And from there, they pick up a signal from Tropical Wilds, so you head off there and kill the Sandbelching Meerslug and you get a flip phone. That flip phone allows you to find the Twilight River, and in Twilight River, you first rescue the Winged Pikmin Onion, and then you go and fight the Scornet Maestro to rescue Louie who has been eaten/captured by them (not really sure?). From there, Louie steals all the food of the characters and runs off to Garden of Hope. You blast a wall and unlock a new area there in the process. So from there you get the Blue Pikmin and you kill Quaggled Mireclops. By killing him, the fifth boss in the game, you can rescue Louie a second time and that will unlock Formidable Oak. And at that point, the game is pretty much open-world.
[Pikastroff]: Yeah, ok, thank you so much! Indeed, especially considering all of what you said here, I think we can all agree that what bingos really test you on is routing. Something that I’ve always been curious about is, you know, in the first Pikmin you only had Olimar, in the second game you had Olimar and Louie, and in this game you have Alph, Brittany and Charlie. And in that particular game, in Pikmin 3, you have various mechanics to control and command them to do stuff all around the map. What I’m thinking about is the routing potential this can have, both in terms of speedrunning in general, but especially in the context of bingos, when thinking of all the objectives that you must do to unlock all areas, PLUS the objectives of the bingo card, plus all the fruits you must collect… How do you feel as a whole about those mechanics and the routing aspects of Pikmin 3? What could be the most INTERESTING aspect of routing, would you say?
[APerson13]: So, most people when they would hear this question they would probably immediately think of Pikmin counts – how many Pikmin do you need to do this? It sounds crazy but in Pikmin 3, Pikmin counts are really lenient because you can kill just about any enemy and suddenly you have a million Pikmin. So, I guess it really just comes down to experience as a whole, knowing if I need for example to go to Twilight River and blow up a wall there or something like that, and therefore I need to go for the story and kill Sandbelching Meerslug, and from there you can also go ‘ok, going into Tropical Wilds at this point in the story, can I do anything else there?’. So it really comes down to knowledge, knowing when can I do this, or that.
[Pikastroff]: That’s actually really interesting what you are bringing up here. I didn’t think about it, regarding the Pikmin counts. The idea that it doesn’t matter as much (I am not sure if this would be the correct wording) is definitely interesting. When you talk about game knowledge indeed I guess that could bring up the point of, I guess that would mean you would need to know all the enemy drops? Is it particularly different compared to the older Pikmin games?
[APerson13]: For pretty much all the games there are drastic differences in how many sprouts a specific enemy will give you. In Pikmin 1, Fiery Blowhog for example you kill it and bring it to base and it will yield an absolute ton of Pikmin. In their routes I believe they actually just kill one Blowhog and a few Shearwigs and they have all the Blue Pikmins for the entire run. In Pikmin 2, by contrast, the Fiery Blowhog barely gives you any, for how decently difficult this enemy is. All games are very different, and I wouldn’t say that you need to know the exact values, like even now I wouldn’t be able to tell you on the spot how many Pikmin the Bulborbs would give you, but as long as you know that this enemy can give you more than that enemy, that’s good. It’s decently consistent in Pikmin 3, more so than in Pikmin 2 for example, so it’s very much just, is the enemy big and can you kill it quickly? If so you can get a lot of Pikmin from it.
[Pikastroff]: That’s actually really interesting! I’m actually thinking, I guess in most cases for someone who’s experienced this might not happen as often, but something I’m thinking about is, since we’ve been talking about the subject of Pikmin counts, how punitive can it be to lose a lot of Pikmin, how bad can it be to recover from that when doing a bingo?
Losing too many Pikmin can throw your route off – so being careful is important!
[APerson13]: At that point it very much depends on how safely you are playing, because sometimes you can make a B-Line for the goals and barely grow any Pikmin, and then if you lose even just 20 Pikmin or so you’re pretty much doomed. You might even have to choose a new route if you can’t do the normal one that you first chose. However, that’s where you have to find a balance of playing safely, by growing a whole bunch of extra Pikmin compared to what you would normally need.
[Pikastroff]: Since now you’ve brought up the topic of balancing, how to word it best… Something you said earlier was that balancing and creating all these goals all came down to trial and error. So, to you, what would be the ‘criteria’ that would make you think ‘ok, this is a good goal’, or ‘no, this is a bad goal, let’s get rid of it’, if that question makes any sense?
[APerson13]: So there’s something I’ve been thinking of trying, and…It might be able to be done between this interview and when this video (INSERT LINK TO VIDEO) goes up. But something I’ve been thinking of trying is just generating a bunch of boards, giving them to the community and asking them which of these rows look viable, which ones look disproportionately better or worse than others, because otherwise I would be the only one trying to balance it, and I am very biased towards certain things, as do most players I’m sure.
[Pikastroff]: Ah, so basically having more involvement in the community, basically?
[APerson13]: Yeah. I very much try and involve them in most of everything that I do on the boards, at least the big changes. I have a community spreadsheet with all the goals and tiering, and there are areas for people to leave suggestions or notes on different goals. Basically, asking the community for help – there are some very talented runners who have pointed out specific goals that I didn’t think would be unbalanced but apparently they really were. For example, I think there’s one goal where you have to collect a certain number of specific data files, and because I sort of just see it and think ‘wow, that’s a lot of data files for this specific type’, since it’s a category. I therefore put it on a very high tier, but then that would make the boards unbalanced because if you know where these data files are, you can get them – and there’s your Tier 23 goal, already!
[Pikastroff]: So actually, on that whole topic really, what would you say is your favourite goal that you managed to put in? And alternatively, is there perhaps any goal that you really wanted to put in, but it turns out it didn’t work out? Any particular goals that jump in your mind?
[APerson13]: Ok so, I’m actually going to bring up my spreadsheet here, so I can see the goals that we have… [Searches for goals] Hmm… There’s a lot that I really like. One thing that I think really shows game knowledge well is building all the bridges in the game. How Pikmin 3 works is that there’s a lot of points where the game sort of tries to slow you down by making you build a bridge, and so you need to find the piles of fragments around and use those fragments to build the bridge. So I think knowing how to build all the bridges quickly and in a timely fashion is a very valuable skill. And in terms of one goal that I wanted to put in but couldn’t, really… [Thinks] I’m trying to see here… I actually don’t know if we had any goals like that so far. There was one rather one mean goal that involved killing a flying enemy with the minimum possible number of throws. But then there was a lot of maths involved in that, and very precise throws, so we just had to *throw* it out, and… well, pun intended there!
[Pikastroff]: [Laughs] I was just thinking there ‘hmm, should I say it, SHOULD IT SAY IT? No!’. And yeah, you just *threw* it, indeed, there we go! Yes, I approve. That’s really cool though. Something that I think is interesting that you brought up while discussing all of that is actually the skillset. You were mentioning for example that one piece of knowledge or skill that is useful is knowing where all the bridges are located on the map, where the pieces are located… And you know, earlier we discussed how to optimize the Pikmin count, that kind of stuff… Do you think there is a particular skillset – let’s say we were saying that to a runner who is just getting into Pikmin 3 speedrunning or bingos – what do you think would be the core skill you think that they’d need to get and to practice to get better and better at bingos?
[APerson13]: So the big one is just knowing what to do at any specific points. There’s lots of goals that aren’t in any of the main categories, and I’m the sort to believe that Pikmin 3 is a decently easy speedgame to get into normally – just anyone can pick up and play through the game, learn the controls and then do an Any% run, at least with the old route since there’s been some much more difficult stuff added recently. But then with bingos, there’s a few obscure easter eggs that even top runners didn’t know about when I put them as goals. So it’s really just knowing about everything you can about the game, really. Definitely knowledge in this case over execution or something. Recently we were doing a race, I was racing against one guy who I would say is one of our best execution-heavy players as he currently holds the record for the first row of Mission Mode Collect Treasures Missions – this is Jay596. And somehow I was able to beat him because we both pretty much fall on the same routes, but I was able to think ‘ok, I need to do this now’ and despite my horrible execution and bad mistakes, I was still able to beat him.
[Pikastroff]: Hmm, yeah that’s true with bingos. A lot of times effective routing can beat execution and that’s quite a balance to have, between knowing how to execute things and how well you can plan things. I suppose that’s more a question about Pikmin 3 speedrunning as a whole and not just bingos, but what do you think would be the trickiest thing to ‘execute’, the technically trickiest parts of it, really, if that makes any sense?
[APerson13]: Well, so I mentioned I was a glitch hunter and when I came to this community in the summer the route was fairly standard. There was one slightly difficult part in Distant Tundra, that is normally Day 3 in speedruns, but that was about it. I saw this and I said ‘this is slow!’, so I went and found a very extensive out of bounds movement to skip a huge chunk of Distant Tundra. Then coupled with a few things like manipulating a specific enemy called the Swooping Snitchbug to basically pick you up and throw you out of bounds, we came up with Snitchbug Special Delivery to get quickly to the phosbat fight. It’s this huge out of bounds movement just to get to basically from the beginning of Distant Tundra, straight to the Phosbat fight, so I’d argue that’s probably the hardest thing to learn, especially just since it’s in normal Any% runs now. Some more difficult things are escaping the tutorial for some of the goals as well as… Well I don’t know about this one but we have one goal involving obscure out of bound tricks to… Well, early Blues [Pikmin] is not possible – it gets to the Blue Onion before you’re supposed to, but you can’t actually activate the Blue Onion… But yeah, basically any out of bounds movement is the hard part.
[Pikastroff]: Yeah, I was actually thinking about how much sequence breaking is there in this game? And how well that would affect the balancing of the goals? That’s what I was also wondering. What do you think, then?
[APerson13]: For the time being there’s basically no major sequence breaks at all. Like I mentioned you can escape the tutorial and you can go straight from there to the Phosbat fight. You would think that would skip the first boss, Armoured Mawdad, but because you never actually get the Red Onion, that means you can’t get ANY Onions at all, so you’re basically stuck there without any Pikmin and you would have to restart the run entirely. So, we basically don’t have any major sequence breaks, it’s just all skips are getting to the big thing that unlocks the next area first. At least in that term, speedruns remain fairly linear.
[Pikastroff]: It comes back to what you were saying about the fact that it is quite linear. Even now you’re still working on it – as a whole, considering what we discussed all the way back earlier, it was quite a massive thing to start off from, and I guess it can seem quite intimidating from the perspective of anyone who would want to get started making their bingo card. So, you know, you started about a month ago (editor’s note: at the time of interview, 10th of October 2020), you intend on still doing this until you really are confident that it’s well balanced which might take some more time… So I guess the first question would be, is there anything you’d like to say to any of those people who would be interested in creating a bingo card but aren’t sure where to even start? And two, how long more do you think you’ll need to really create a card that you feel, you know, ‘this is it, for the time being this is going to be how it is for this card’ and therefore won’t much more work, unless new things are discovered?
When it comes to making a bingo card, they key is to just try. If you don’t try, you won’t know whether it works or not!
[APerson13]: So to answer your first question, to people who want to make their own bingo cards for a game, I would say just go at it. What I did is this system of ‘sorted’ and ‘unsorted’ for the goals, so all the goals start with no notes at all, and people can start looking at them and sort of decide what tier it should be. What I sort of did is, like, I have ‘Defeating the Final Boss’ as a goal, and that is tier 20 out of 25. So using that goal and also ‘Grow 100 Blue Pikmin” which is Tier 15, I used those as a sort of a base to gauge roughly where in the tier I would want all the goals. And from there, in terms of brainstorming goals it’s really just looking at the goals you have, looking at how many goals there are in each tier, and attempting to find goals or think of goals that would fit into those tiers. And… could you repeat the second question?
[Pikastroff]: Oh, yeah, of course! My second question was, since you’ve been working on this bingo card for a bit of time and you’re still working on the balancing, for how long do you think you’ll still need until you get to a state of the card where you’ll feel like you won’t need to do any other major changes, until there are any other major discoveries in Pikmin 3 speedrunning that would warrant a rebalancing? This is just to get kind of an idea of the kind of scale of work that’s needed generally for creating a bingo card.
[APerson13]: Ok so talking in the very long term, in terms of quantity of goals ideally… So at the moment we have 94 sorted goals, and ideally we’d like to at least double that, so we’d have very varied cards and we can start adding many more tags to the goals to make sure that you don’t get two goals that are ‘collect a certain amount of fruits’ for example. That’s on the quantity side of things, in terms of balancing, the best ideal situation… So a bingo card has 12 possible bingos you can take: 2 diagonals plus 5 rows and 5 columns. Best case scenario, you would be able to consistently generate cards where each of those is equally viable. But obviously this is very difficult to do. So I think a good goal for us to reach would be even just 4 or 5 bingos that are equally viable.
[Pikastroff]: So how would you define ‘viable’ for a row or column? What would make you say ‘ok, it is viable’? You were talking earlier about difficulty tiers, so would you say that a viable row or column would have a certain amount of goals with a certain difficulty tier, for example?
[APerson13]: I would just say, have the best routing you can possibly do have that number of possible bingos all take the same amount of time. That’s what would be the most viable. Take the lowest number of time to complete a specific row, and all rows and columns that are like that will be viable.
[Pikastroff]: I see. That’s something even I wasn’t thinking about when I was asking that question; it’s not just about the difficulty, but also about the synergy between goals. There’s really a lot that goes into all of that.
As a side note, since you’ve been talking about difficulty tiers and tags, I guess you are referring to the SRL system of cards if I recall correctly? This is actually a topic that was discussed on the Xenoblade Chronicles: Future Connected Beyond the Board – is it the same system here that we are talking about?
[APerson13]: Yes, it is the same system as far as I know. We are using the SRL v5 Bingo, I think, so how it works if I remember correctly the explanation that I actually got from that Beyond the Board video, you have 25 squares on the card and 25 difficulty tiers. And it works sort of like a magic square – it will place one goal from each tier onto the board and arrange them so the range of the tiers for each row, column and diagonal is always the same. I think that number is 40 if I am not mistaken.
[Pikastroff]: That’s actually really interesting because I was just thinking about that when you were talking about it; I myself only got familiar with the SRL system during that Xenoblade Beyond the Board, so it’s really cool to see that principle now applied on Pikmin 3 and its balancing, because that is definitely quite a complex system, but there’s a reason why it’s there. It’s definitely nice to see in a way that Beyond The Board is fulfilling its purpose, in a sense!
In any case, I wanted to ask you something… But umm, I forgot, so bear with me for a minute… [Thinks] I guess that it is on another topic, but something that I was wondering about is, considering all of what you said so far, you already talked about the differences between the three Pikmin games such as for example with how to deal with Pikmin count, and if also considering that what inspired you to create the Pikmin 3 bingo card is the existence of cards for the first two games, did you get any inspiration from the bingos of these two games, in terms of their balance and their goals or any other specific ways you can think of or was it entirely from scratch?
[APerson13]: I did it in my own style and what felt natural to me. I also briefly looked at the other two and I am not too familiar with Pikmin 1 but the Pikmin 2 bingo… I honestly couldn’t tell if they used an SRL bingo. They have 200 goals on it and each of those goals is unique and has different ways to approach it. It’s the same thing where it tests your routing, it tests what tricks you can do to get into different areas early.
[Pikastroff]: 200 goals, that’s rather massive! I was thinking how much would you say that it’s a good thing to be influenced by other cards or do you think it’s better to really just be completely focused, especially in the context of a game series, where you can have bingos of another game, and you could think ‘oh well maybe I can be inspired by that one’, that is the perspective I am interested by. That can be quite tricky I suppose to answer, I don’t expect you to be able to answer that too much depth, especially since you haven’t played all these bingos yourself!
[APerson13]: I actually saw that there was someone else who tried to make a Pikmin 3 bingo board before I was part of the community, and obviously it didn’t get made. I found an old goal list that they did and I just looked at it and thought ‘this tiering is all over the place!’, it was way too weird. I think it’s because they were much more influenced by the Pikmin 1 and 2 bingo lists, because while it is the same series, the first two games play mostly the same while Pikmin 3 is drastically different and a big part of that is the shift from swarming enemies to targeting, throwing and charging as well as just overall movement, the linearity of the game… It is such a completely different game. So I think it really helps that I wasn’t influenced too much by the other games in this case.
[Pikastroff]: That makes sense actually! Even if a game can be on the same series it can still be good to try and detach yourself a bit because it’s also about the details, really. If you are extremely familiar with all of the games and then a different game comes along, those are indeed things that can influence you on that. If there was a first version of a bingo card that didn’t feel balanced because of an influence, that’s an interesting perspective to think about. Even for anyone who might be interested to create a bingo card for a game in a series for which the other games also have a bingo card, that can be something to remember – just make sure to also not forget the details of the game, it’s not because it works for one game that it works for the other!
So, we’re getting to the end, now… Is there any final thing you’d like to say as a whole, whether it be about Pikmin speedrunning, bingos, or to your community, anything?
[APerson13]: One thing I will just say is, Pikmin 3 itself sort of caters itself to speedrunning a lot in general because the entire basis of the game is routing and planning your days, which is pretty much exactly what you do in a bingo, randomizer, or even speedrun. But then, despite that it’s still not nearly as popular as other speedgames such as Pikmin 2 or even as popular as some of the platformer games out there like Super Mario 64. So, what I’m trying to say is, if you like a game and you’ve been sort of trying to do speedruns of it by yourself, try and find a community for it. We have this amazing Discord for the full series linked on Speedrun.com and we are always open to new people.
Don’t think that speedrunning is this exclusive thing that only some people can do. Anyone can speedrun if they want to. Challenge yourself to seek out a community for the games that you enjoy and see if there is a speedrunning scene for it, see what resources there are.
[Pikastroff]: Absolutely. Yes. I especially agree with what you are saying about speedruns; they are not an exclusive thing, and don’t be afraid to try it out. And of course, likewise to bingos. I love that bit and statement! I think for me, that is it. I know that technically speaking I could go on another tangent, but then we’d be here for quite a few hours! [Laughs] So I think we should be good, unless you have anything else you would like to say?
[APerson13]: No, that is all I wanted to say, really.
[Pikastroff]: Alright! Well, thank you so much for participating in this Beyond the Board, and to anyone who may have watched or read it! Thank you, thank you so much! Make sure to give a follow to APerson13, thank you again, and we’ll be seeing you on the next one! Thank you!
[APerson13] Alright, thanks for having me on!
And that was Beyond the Board! Did you enjoy it? In any case, do make sure to give a follow to APerson13, as well as to check out the Pikmin Speedrunning Discord if you ever are interested in joining in on their fun not just bingo-wise, but for speedrunning as a whole!
On another note, do remember that Bingothon Winter 2020 is happening soon! The event will happen on November 27th, but if you have any submissions you want to do, you better hurry, because submissions will be closing on November 15th! You may find all info about this specific event, including link for submissions on this masterpost that we wrote!
Thank you all, and see you on the next Beyond the Board!