Pikastroff: Hello everyone and welcome back to this new Beyond the Board! Here I am accompanied by AJChimaera. Would you like to introduce yourself?
AJChimaera: Hello there, I’m AJChimaera, I’m a streamer and content creator from New Zealand.
Pikastroff: And so, we would like to talk about what it is that you speedrun, especially with Subnautica…
AJChimaera: Yes, Subnautica I primarily speedrun, I also speedrun some Truck Simulator games and have tried my hand at a couple of others.
Pikastroff: How have you gotten into Subnautica speedrunning and for how long have you been doing that?
AJChimaera: Originally I played Subnautica back when it was in Early Access, and then after it got released I waited awhile before playing it properly, kind of played my way through it and finished the game, but kind of fumbled my way through some of the late game sections. Feeling sure that I didn’t do it properly – like, I didn’t use the Cyclops or the Prawn Suit, which are the late game vehicles – I checked up on YouTube for walk-throughs or guides and came across some of the speedrun videos, found clove’s Hardcore Glitchless, which was the world record at the time, found that I’d done something similar to how it was done in the speedrun routing, but just that they don’t use the vehicles at all, and also learnt a lot of other things that were possible, so I was interested in trying it myself, now that I understood the game and what I needed. That was… about two and a bit years ago now, I think, early 2019, but it could’ve been early 2018, I can’t really remember, to be honest, it’s been a while. I’ve got times into most categories on the main board over the time, and we got our category extension board set up last year, I think, so I’ve put a few times on there as well. There’s a lot of different ways that you can run the game, which helps to keep it interesting.
Pikastroff: Since there are so many things about Subnautica speedrunning and so many ways to run it, what are your favourite aspects of it and why?
AJChimaera: It’s really hard to pick just one favourite or anything. The process of collecting the resources and doing all of the crafting is quite meditative in some ways; it’s really just process-based, so you do your collection routing, your crafting, inventory management… I find running through all of that quite pleasing, it’s kind of like problem-solving in many respects, and it is just a really nice game to play. It’s a really pretty game: great graphics, and it’s got a really good soundtrack.
Pikastroff: You’ve just mentioned problem-solving, and I think that’s the key word that can lead straight into bingos because that’s basically what they really are about. So, would you like to explain your background with bingos and Subnautica bingos specifically?
AJChimaera: Yeah, so Subnautica bingo was never really something I figured, bingo itself was not something I associated with speedrunning at the time because I only just got into speedrunning when I started running Subnautica, I was completely blind to the whole scene earlier than that. After getting into it, I started watching salvner in particular and his regular Subnautica Any% streams. He explains things really well as he goes through and does really good commentary, occasionally he’d do bingo races against kkaktuss, one of the other runners at the time. He had also made his own bingo grid generator based off a spreadsheet of objectives – there’s all sorts of random things to do on there – and he’s keeping refining it over the time. Anyone could go to that particular site that he set up and load up a grid for any random seed, so I started just doing some of those for fun. I’d been looking for other ways to play the game beyond just grinding the same categories again, and the problem-solving aspect of that definitely came into it because I had solved the “problems” I felt the other categories had, or at least had hit a wall in terms of what was good in routing and such, so bingo gave an outlet for that, a bit more freeform.
Time zones are a bit awkward for me in terms of the other runners, being over this side of the world in New Zealand, since most of the runners are in America or Europe, so I didn’t get much of a chance to race head to head, but I had the idea of starting a fortnight play league, where someone could choose a seed, set an initial time on a run, and then others would have two weeks to do their own runs in order to try and beat it, and then the winner would set the next seed and do the next run and so on. It’s kind of like bingo racing, but asynchronous, so a lot friendlier for people who have busy schedules, and we’ve been doing that for a couple of years now. We’ve also managed to organise some special events, where we work out a time for blackout races as well. Those are a bit harder to organise because they can take anywhere from 2 to 5 hours depending on your skill level and the objectives that you get on the grid… But yeah, it’s been a lot of fun!
Pikastroff: Yeah, it’s definitely always kind of hard to estimate how long a bingo can take, especially when you’ve got a wide range of experiences among the runners. As a side note, I think I remember salvner coming along to the Bingothon server just a few weeks ago and asking around for some technical advice, about organising restreams, and I think he was actually talking about organising, as you were saying, some matches for Subnautica. So indeed, it does require a lot, the community is getting very much involved in all that and I think that’s the exciting thing.
AJChimaera: Yeah, he was asking about templates and stuff for doing head-to-heads, and I recommended that he goes and asks you guys because obviously you’ve all been involved in Bingothon, so you had some experience in that, so yeah, I sent him your way, haha.
Pikastroff: What is it that you think that makes Subnautica bingos fun? As in with Subnautica in and of itself and compared to bingos in general?
AJChimaera: So, compared to the normal speedrun bingos have got quite a different way of playing the game, ‘cause it’s a lot more freeform and you do have that kind of on-the-fly problem-solving, or even if you choose your grid in advance and do a better research on it, which kind of helps a lot more in Subnautica than in other games ‘cause of the nature of the game and it’s open world. It’s also a bit more like playing the game casually again, and most of us in the speedrunning community have always felt that if we could, we’d go back and play the game for the first time, and speedrunning the game is just a way of being able to play it more, just to enjoy that experience. Bingo lets you do a lot more exploration than normal, and you see and make things that you normally wouldn’t do in a normal run, and you get to enjoy those parts of the game.
Pikastroff: That’s definitely true about the feeling that you get in speedrunning and bingos where you get to enjoy more of the game you love, and especially with bingos where they let you do things that you don’t usually see in a speedrun, at least not as often, and I suppose it can kind of help just, if that makes any sense, to give you back the wonder you’ve had regarding the game when you played it the first time, which, as you said, so many people would love. Bingo is a good way to provide this kind of feeling and the challenge you might have had when initially playing the game. In what do you think Subnautica bingos are the most challenging or engaging? Is it in routing, execution, or anything else you might think of?
The repetition of movement is an important aspect of routing to consider. Screenshot from Bingothon Summer 2020
AJChimaera: Yes, routing is definitely one of the biggest challenges. Like in most speedrunning, you want to avoid a lot of double movements but since it’s a lot more freeform and a lot more open-world, you need a lot more map knowledge than you normally do and a good idea of what things you need to make and what goes into them so you can route more efficiently. And it’s not always as simple as just going everywhere only once depending on what your objectives are. There is definitely a lot of extra challenge to it. That’s the other aspect of it – once you start grinding the speedgame, to an extent it starts to feel a little bit easy, a little bit just muscle memory, whereas jumping into bingo and especially a blackout bingo, given the range of objectives required, really makes you work again, it really does give that extra challenge.
Pikastroff: How complex is it to get that extra map knowledge that’s very useful in bingos? Because there it makes sense, the more knowledge you have of the overall map of any given game, the better, not only for open world ones, but any that have a relatively free world. How hard is it to learn all these intricacies for a bingo runner? Is it something that just comes naturally as players play, or is there anything specific they need to learn?
AJChimaera: Ah, it’s a bit of both, definitely. Depending on what your casual experience was, you may have encountered some things and that you kind of segue into bingo quite well compared to one of the Any% runs where you could’ve skipped out on a lot of things. Otherwise, there’s a lot of online resources that we’ve put together, or there is just the Wiki that’s mostly accurate in terms of learning where things are and what things are required. There’s definitely a lot you have to take in: there’s an interactive map that someone has put together online, I’ve also put together an annotated map that has a few extra things available.
There’s quite a few resources there and it’s definitely observed that the more people have played the game, the more they’ll get good at bingo, basically. And the jump that you can see in some people who come and will do a bingo and save a decent time, but then they’ll start grinding one of the other categories… or there’s been a couple of people who’ve been gone and done the 100% category, in which you have to scan everything, do all of the achievements, get all of the blueprints… if they come back into doing bingo again, they’ll have a much better idea of the world and where things are, so doing that routing becomes so much quicker and you can see the times just tumble.
Pikastroff: Yeah, it makes sense that people who usually play categories that explore more of the game get to be so to say more “trained”, more prepared for bingos, because it relates to the knowledge of the game. Are there any tricks or glitches that are not often seen in normal speedruns of Subnautica that are useful in bingos?
AJChimaera: We make use of most of the same tricks, and I don’t think there’s too many extra ones, but we use them in more ways and in more places. One example is the clipping out of bounds with the Mobile Vehicle Bay – it’s a very common thing to use to cut corners even in Any%, and we just do that in more places and you’ll learn more spots on the map, as in if I clip out of bounds here in one of the shallower areas, I can just go straight down to one of the late game areas and get what I need. There’s also a different strategy for flooding your base because there’s a Super SeaGlide glitch: When you have a flooded base, we, and most people, just make a large base to make it flood – that’s a lot slower, so in bingo it’s more common just to use some Acid Mushrooms in the Shallows to flood your base in order to enable it much quicker. I’ve started doing that in Any% as well.
You’re also more likely to use some of the funky physics glitches, like Item Flight where you can use the Propulsion Cannon to stand on something and make you fly, especially in blackout. If you have to go to places that are above water, then you can use that to get back to places very quickly because you lose the Super SeaGlide glitch when you leave the water. There’re definitely a few things that we use, Remote Storage is another one, where we can expand our inventory capacity briefly, and that becomes really crucial in something like bingo in order to gather everything that you need without having to do extra trips.
Clipping out of bounds can be a very useful trick to exploit in bingos! Screenshot from Bingothon Summer 2020
Pikastroff: Oh yes, I suppose with the goals and a wide world to explore the key would be to have the ability to carry as many items as you can so that you can craft whatever you need to fulfil your objectives, and, as you mentioned already in the beginning, to reduce your trip times as much as possible. I suppose it’s also the question of speedtech, moving across the world in the most optimised way, alongside those glitches. There must be quite a lot that goes into it. How does Subnautica’s open world and survival elements affect bingos and how they’re played? I’m thinking, for example, about how you manage the oxygen meter. How do you deal with that in the context of the bingo?
AJChimaera: Yeah, oxygen is obviously most important when you’re in an underwater game. A lot of the times, because we use Super SeaGlide that gives you so much more time on target, you don’t have to worry about running out of air quite as often. If you’ve got objectives that take you much deeper though, you can just construct a base and do a death reset and you get all your oxygen back, but if you were using Super SeaGlide, you lose that, so you’ve got a bit of a trade-off there. Or you have to have a Propulsion Cannon to easily flood the base in order to get it back, so there’s that sort of considerations in whether it’s worth the time it takes to do that, or whether you should just make a spare Oxygen Tank, or some other way of getting extra oxygen – eating Bladderfish, for example, gets you a small amount. There’re a few considerations that it definitely brings up. Other open-world considerations, like the different places that you go for resources, can also tie into your kind of oxygen management strategy. It’s the case of well, instead of going to this place way over here that’s 500 meters down, I can go to this other place that’s just up here and say, 200 meters down, and I can also get this, that, and the other thing on the way, for example. All depends on what your objectives are. Otherwise, the other survival elements like food, water, and health are usually not as relevant because you can just do death resets quite frequently.
We also often do death warps back to your base because if you create a base and enter it and then deconstruct the hatchet on it, the game no longer recognises it as being a base, and as soon as you die after that point you warp back to your Lifepod, back at the Shallows, which is where you can have your primary base set up nearby. It’s not considered a glitch at all, it’s one of the game mechanics, kind of a safety mechanic, but we exploit it in order to save an extra load of inventory space. We tend not to do bingo in Hardcore mode so that becomes possible. There’re people who have challenged themselves – that’s one of the things, of course, there’s lots of ways of playing the game, so you can challenge yourself and do a bingo in Hardcore or do it glitchless just for the added challenge. Other than that, the RNG nature of the resource collection is often what comes into play as well, especially in the deeper zones. For example, if we need to get something like Nickel, Crystalline Sulphur, or also Kyanite – that you only get in the Lava Zone areas, that’s where your oxygen can definitely be a problem because you go down there with a certain amount in mind thinking that, “Okay, I should be able to this on 135 Oxygen,” which is what you get with a High Capacity Tank, and you might find yourself running out.
And the other survival aspect is essentially the day-night cycle, especially in a single bingo, where it’s much shorter. You only have a couple of day periods within the run that you can take advantage of to get your base power up, so if you need to make a lot of things, you’ve got to be really keeping an eye on when the power’s going to come back into your base, otherwise you just end up sitting there waiting for minutes for the next day cycle.
Pikastroff: Oh boy, and I don’t think any of us like waiting because, well, we’re speed-runners, not wait-runners. [Hahahahaha – editor’s note.]
Pikastroff: It must be really tricky when you’re both scanning resources and managing your oxygen. How would you deal with the situation where you realize you’ve done some misjudgement and realise, “Oh wait, I don’t have enough oxygen, what do I do now?”
AJChimaera: Those times are scary, haha. It can be tricky, I’ve had that a couple of times. Depending on how you’ve managed your inventory, what you can do, or what’s the easiest thing to do is to just dump your stuff into your remote storage: There’s a glitch that we use where you can access a locker storage from wherever you are on the map by skipping the animation. It defers it until you need to open your PDA, so we’ll do that by just gathering what we need and then, before doing a death warp back to your Lifepod, you just open up your PDA, dump everything into the locker, and then you can go back and do whatever you were doing next. So, if you find yourself short of oxygen and in dire straits, this can be the thing – rather than fretting around and making a mistake – because if you don’t remember to dump your inventory and then drown, you lose it all. So that’s just a case of keeping a clear head, dumping what you have, knowing where you’ve gotta be, and coming back. If you need just one more thing, you dump everything and then you look for that one thing because you want to keep one random item. If you need more than that, then you just take the loss, basically, you go, “Okay, I’m just gonna dump what I have and I’ll come back here, and I know exactly what I need to get,” and you go straight to where you were and pick up where you left off. The map feels very small once you’re zooming around with SuperSea Glide ‘cause you move at about 2.7 times your normal speed or something, so you can usually get to most places again. You’ll waste maybe 2 or 3 minutes with that. Or you have the option of, “Okay, I couldn’t find it here, I’ll dump what I have, death-warp back to the Lifepod, and then I’ll go to the other place where I’m likely to find it instead.”
Pikastroff: I surely like what you said about keeping a clear head during those moments because you basically don’t want to start panicking when things go bad.
Pikastroff: I can relate to that. In general, when routing a bingo card, sometimes you see maybe an intimidating card and you get this “blank head” moment and don’t know what to do. This leads me to the next question: What is it that constitutes a fun and engaging goal in the context of Subnautica versus one that you think might need some rebalancing?
AJChimaera: I like goals that take me to different places on the map, ideally, so you do get that extra exploration element, and have to make me think about what I’m going to have to do to make the most of the distance that I have to travel in order to achieve those things, to try and basically make it more efficient. The rebalancing ones… Sometimes you get a goal that people will suggest – because it’s a freeform thing, we just have a spreadsheet and salvner curates the bingo objectives – and there was one recently, for example, to fill out an entire section of the Databank and it was to do with a lot of the precursor things that exist in the world, but you had to go to sooooo many places that it just had too high of a minimum amount of time required in order to do all of those things, and some of them involved other prerequisite tasks that you had to do first. It then becomes very difficult in balancing that.
Sometimes you also get goals that will combo far too well with certain other things and we’ll just not have those. It’s a case of, well, we added this, then this or this become free, essentially, and you get kind of free squares because you have to do those in order to do this. We still have some examples of those, but the combinations just don’t come up too often, or maybe it’s because we use the Latin Square Model in the bingo grid, where difficulties 1 through 5 are filling out on a 5×5 grid. Then you can make them sort of the same difficulty and that’s highly unlikely that they’ll be on the same grid anyway even if you’re doing a blackout. And if you’re just doing a single bingo, then they won’t be in the same set, so you don’t have those cases where a goal would always be just a free square.
Pikastroff: Yeah, I guess it would definitely be hard, especially for a game like that, to make a really well-balanced goal. It’s interesting what you’re talking about regarding the Databank goal, and especially with the idea of prerequisites. I remember also having this very discussion with Breath of the Wild bingos, where sometimes likewise the goals that were not usually very well-favoured in the community were usually those that also had too many prerequisites to complete, or at least too many compared to the majority of other goals on the card. And therefore, just felt kind of out of place. I guess this could be a cautionary tale against not analysing the prerequisites for goals well and not comparing them with the other goals. What do you think about that?
AJChimaera: Yeah, it does become quite difficult and we had quite a few discussions in the community when things like that arise are to determine whether or not we change the easier goals in order to make the harder one better, or we just have to get rid of a lot of the ones that we’ve previously had as harder goals simply because of them being too difficult, really, and too far out of state with what the others do. It’s always a bit of a give-and-take. Also, all the glitch discoveries and things like that sometimes change the ways in which things can be done. We try to make sure that all of the goals on the grids will always be able to be completed in glitchless runs as well as glitched because we don’t want to deny people who don’t want to do glitched runs that experience as well, but sometimes it does drastically mean that the difficulty will be so much more in the glitchless vs. Glitch because we have, like, a duplication glitch that we can use to get a lot of extra stuff really easily, but in a Glitchless run you gotta to do it yourself, so it’s definitely an ongoing challenge and it’s just a case of there’s people that identified things that feel out of place, we have a discussion about them, and a call gets made one way or the other. Salvner is the one who curates the objective so he gets the final say, basically. Honestly sometimes this is the best way to do things – a community’s conceits is desirable but at the end of the day sometimes you will have people who never agree so you need to have a steady voice who comes and goes “Okay, this is what we’re gonna do.” and then we just move on.
Pikastroff: Yeah, decision making mustn’t be the easiest at times, especially if there is a division between with glitches and glitchless, I guess that can easily create a bit of a divide. But I think that then you could also argue that that will create a lot of variations for these bingos in terms of how people play, and that can be quite interesting to see. And you know, on that note, coming back to what we were discussing, do you have any particular favourite goals that you love having in particular?
AJChimaera: Yeah, I do have a few. There’s a couple of really hard goals that require a lot more mental arithmetic and balancing in your routing. There’s one where you have to fill a waterproof locker with Ion Batteries and you need 16 Iron Cubes for that late-game item. There’s only 24 on the map, I believe, that are freely there for the taking. Otherwise, you need to invest in making a Prawn Suit with its drill arm to get more out of the places that they have put in, where you can get 3 at a time. However that’s a big investment, especially in a single bingo.
So, you have some flexibility in where you can go, getting that 16 out of 24, but you have to be careful if you need them for other objectives that require you to use them for other things. There’s another objective which is to fill a waterproof locker with the Alien Tablets, and each one of those requires an Ion Cube. There are 8 tablets on the map normally that are purple, and there’s one blue and one orange. So you have 10 out of 16, which means MINIMUM you need 6 more. You also have to expand some tablets in order to get some other cubes sometimes.
So, it becomes a real juggle, especially in a blackout situation where you have those combinations that mean that you have to be very careful in the order of operations and how you ration them. It’s the sort of objectives that honestly a lot of the other runners will look at and just go “nope, not doing that grid!”, but it’s those ones that I actually really enjoy.
Pikastroff: That’s challenge there [Laughs]! I guess that kind of thing, their routing must be the tricky thing, like when you’ve got a goal that a lot of people will go “welp…”, but then you’re up to take the challenge of putting that in your route and just enjoy it! Therefore, speaking of routing… You know it’s a topic we’ve mentioned a lot especially when it comes to the movement and making the best uses of said movement… So when it comes to routing, what are the aspects of it perhaps that most people would usually not think of or that might not seem obvious, and are there any mistakes, perhaps in the thought process behind routing, that basically can “damage” one’s potential in bingo, and what can be done then to improve on that?
AJChimaera: Yeah, it’s definitely tricky. One of the things I think is it’s too easy to think towards just a specific task that you’re trying to do at the expense of others, so you don’t do things efficiently because you’re just trying to knock them one after the other. That’s a common thing with people that are just starting out, which is fair enough, you know, when starting out you would go “ok, I’m gonna do this goal, I’m gonna do that goal, working my way through it, finish the set”. But obviously to get better times you gonna have to start thinking more efficiently about it. But you can also be trying to do too much at once and sometimes that means more inefficient movement overall. If you don’t have to work out inventory space, time factors, or your oxygen levels, for example, it can ultimately be more efficient to just do a couple of different trips to 2 different places instead of trying to do everything all in one trip, and in terms of the time factors, especially, like, there’s objectives where you have to hatch some of the creature eggs that are on the map, those take 20 minutes each and especially in a single bingo which normally takes anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes – so 20 minutes is a long chunk of that – you don’t want to be just sitting around for 5 minutes waiting for an egg to hatch, just as you don’t wanna be waiting around for power, like I mentioned earlier, so you want to get those sort of objectives started as soon as you possibly can and then use that mandatory time it takes in order to do other things.
So, you might make what seems at the surface to be inefficient routing choices just to make sure that you get that objective started, but then it makes up for it because you’re not wasting that time at the end just sitting, twiddling your thumbs, waiting for an egg to hatch.
Pikastroff: That makes sense! And I think that makes for an interesting dilemma when thinking about those aspects of routing. Coming back to your first point about choosing objectives, it’s been interesting to think about how you have to be careful not to basically ‘tunnelvision’ while also at the same time going the complete other way and going way too wide. I suppose in that sense that really comes back to the idea of game knowledge, because if you’ve got a wide, and importantly DEEP game knowledge, I suppose that means you’ll be able to identify more easily “ok, I know that if I go towards that objective which looks attractive I could get it but there is a risk that will be at the expense of those other objectives”. Or sometimes you might have a bunch of objectives that might seem ok, these look efficient, but actually they’re not… I suppose it’s an interesting dilemma to take into consideration.
AJChimaera: Yeah, that’s what makes it fun! [Laughs]
Pikastroff: Exactly! So, I suppose that how people will handle things like that, or even regarding what you talked about with the egg hatching, that might differentiate between the newer players and more experienced players. You know, we all mistakes as beginners, we all do! I suppose that’s one of the things that can be interesting to observe between beginners and advanced players. And that leads to my next question – what would you say is the barrier of entry for people who would be interested in picking up Subnautica bingos, and do you have any advice for them?
The more game knowledge you have, the easier time you will have in bingos! Screenshot from Bingothon Summer 2020
AJChimaera: Yes, the main barrier is just the game knowledge in general, the map where to find things, locations of things in relation to where you start, and also where they are in relation to each other, so you can string them together in sequence where it is appropriate to do. And also the alternatives, so you can find most things in multiple places, so having those backups, either because you didn’t find something in the first place, knowing where those RNG fragments are, or in terms of preset data boxes… Knowing where those locations are, so if you’re going into a particular direction, you can head up to one that’s on your way so you don’t have to go out of your way to get to the one you are more acquainted with. So there’s definitely a lot of advantage in having that knowledge. We have a lot of resources available just as part of the general speedrunning community. We have an All Blueprints category and obviously that experience is relevant when it comes to knowing where things are in a bingo situation as well, so that’s a really good guide. I made an annotated map I mentioned earlier that just has a map of the surface area, or at least indicates where some of the less common elements are. There are a couple of plants that you only find in certain places, there’s the five Cuddlefish Eggs that you can find in certain places.
It takes a lot of practice still, and at the end of the day the best advice is simply just to get in and play the game, and just give it a go because you need to remember that any time is a good time when you’re starting out. As you said, we were all beginners once, we all make mistakes, we still sometimes make those beginner mistakes even when we are experienced at the game and it’s important to just get in and enjoy yourself. When starting out, there’s an in-game compass that you can make so you can start navigating by cardinal directions. At the same time you don’t want to RELY on it since it is an extra investment – you don’t want to go out of your way to get it once you’re getting good at the game. So, you should use it while also learning landmarks. It’s a case of “ok, from here I know I need to northwest, but when I face northwest, what do I see? What can I use in the future to be able to tell myself I am going this way?”. You get a feel for it over time. You can always use fixed points on the map as well. The crashed spaceship the Aurora is always in the same place. There’s two islands on the map that usually have clouds over them, you can use those to triangulate your position. So learning to use those things, preferably the underwater landmarks where possible, because you want to spend more time underwater as you possibly can.
It can be a lot to take in. It’s just, you do it bit by bit, and you focus on specific things that you want to learn, ideally. Try not to concentrate too much on specific goals per se because those keep changing, depending on what grid you’re doing. The more general things like the landmarks, to get from biome to biome as opposed to thing to thing, and then you kind of break it down that, “Okay I’m going from this biome to that biome, that biome has these things in it,” instead of thinking, “I’m going from this thing to that thing”, for example. But ultimately it is just a case of bingo being a way to play how you like it and do it in your own pace. Just use it as a guide for that incremental learning, and over time, you will develop a lot of game knowledge. I have over 1000 hours in this game now, so, over that time you start to learn a few things!
Pikastroff: Step by step! Exactly! I suppose that bingo, due to its nature, can be quite intimidating because sometimes it’s just like, you know, it’s BIG by definition! In that regard, something else I am curious to ask *every* single time is – do you think “normal” speedrunners could benefit from doing bingos in some way in the context of Subnautica? I’m especially thinking of runners who usually run categories that may not necessarily explore the game to its fullest. As I said, bingo is a huge thing that explores the entire game, so for runners that are more used to running categories that are much enclosed I suppose that could have an impact. What do you think?
AJChimaera: I definitely think it can be a benefit, it depends on your motivation for running the game. Obviously, some people are more than happy to just jump into the game, learn the specific category… Any% is obviously the most popular, just doing like Survival Any%, and there’s many players for whom that will be their thing, and they’ll be perfectly happy to just learn the current routing and strategies, execute it, grind it down, do it well, put a time on the board and that’s them, and they don’t get tired of the grind or anything like that. For myself, I was getting a bit tired of doing the grind, and my motivation for speedrunning was to play the game more and it was a game I really enjoyed… But once it gets to a certain point where the grind is quite stressful, and you find yourself actually not enjoying your time as much. And bingo is a way to kind of break that up and it’s a welcome break from doing that grind, it helps to remind you of why you fell in love with the game in the first place, if that is your motivation for speedrunning it.
Bingos can be a great opportunity to learn more about the game, and get a new perspective on other speedrunning categories! Screenshot from Bingothon Summer 2020
There’s also the fact that practicing just efficient movement and crafting is something that’s always useful. It’s always good practice, regardless of whether it’s to the same goals that you would normally do in a run. It can also help to challenge your current thinking of other categories… Perhaps Any% not so much because it’s fairly refined but some of the other categories, 100% especially, All Achievements maybe, it just gives you a different perspective on the game and it can help to break those open with new routing suggestions or new ways of doing things.
Pikastroff: Yeah, I definitely agree, especially with the aspect of being reminded of why you fell in love with the game in the first place. It can be easy to tunnel-vision into a category when you speedrun and forget about the game that surrounds it. I’m basically relating that to my own experience with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild [Any%] – it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy speedrunning Any%, but I can definitely relate to the idea that bingo is something that when you do play it, it helps you thinking about something else. So, how do you think the community can further support bingos?
AJChimaera: Well, we still run out a fortnightly league which is a good way to get in because someone else has put a seed together, the person who chose that seed has set a run against that, so you already have a guide that you can use. They’re going to be doing it in a much more refined way, obviously, but even as a beginner you can watch along, basically just try and do what they do, so it’s a great way to just get started. The best thing we can do as a community is just to support people who want to get involved.
As I said before just the reassurance that any time is a good time. If you are getting in and you are just getting started and you complete a run, whether it’s on normal categories or in bingo, you’ve done a good thing because you’ve already done more than what a lot of people have done, you’ve dedicated yourself to doing something, and hopefully you enjoyed it. If you want to, you can push yourself to do better. The faster times that others are getting certainly may be intimidating, like there’s often those comments where people come and say “oh, I want to do such and such, but it will take me 2 hours” – but that’s fine! It took us 2 hours once as well. As I said before I have 1000 hours in playing this, but you have to start somewhere. Getting started is the most important thing, it’s what we always tell people who want to get involved in doing speedruns in general, let alone bingo. It’s just a case of “how do I get started?”. Well, watch someone else’s video on the category that you want and just do it.
Pikastroff: You gotta start somewhere. It’s intimidating but eventually, step by step, you get there!
AJChimaera: Absolutely, and hopefully you are enjoying it! That’s the main thing. If you are finding it too stressful, then maybe it’s not for you, or maybe there’s ways we can help you through that. Some people hit a bit of a wall with certain things and will get stressed out, you know, “I can’t get this thing done!”. We as a community will try and rally around and say ok, what is the difficulty you are having about that? And then they’ll either start streaming or just jump into a Discord screen-share or something like that, and we’ll help talk through it – “so you’re having a problem with this, you should look into doing this and that in order to make it easier”.
First and foremost, it’s important for you to be enjoying this journey! Screenshot from Bingothon Summer 2020
At the end of the day, once you learn how to make your life easier in those regards, it becomes a lot less stressful. If the stress is because you just want to get a faster time then well, that can be part of it when doing something competitively… But you also do have to remember that this is a hobby, and you want to enjoy the time you are spending on it. It can be more advantageous to step back from yourself and just think “ok, I am going to do this, I’m just going to set a time”, and sometimes just taking that stress and pressure off you will make things better. It’s like we talked earlier, about keeping a clear head, because otherwise you make mistakes and if you are stressed about how long it’s taking you to do something or the bad luck you’ve been getting or something like that, that will often then create further mistakes, which will put you further behind and you end up in a negative space.
So the important thing is to try and keep a clear head and have presence of mind that you’re doing this for the reason of enjoyment.
Pikastroff: I agree. Definitely important part, there [Laughs]! So now, we’re soon going to be getting towards the end, now. Before we get to that, are there any anecdotes you would like to share?
AJChimaera: There’s nothing specifically. The times we’ve been doing blackout races, when we were able to coordinate those, it’s just fun interactions with others in the community. You know, normally we’d hang out in the Discord or the stream chats of other people, but being on a call as you are going through one and spending two to three hours doing something and hearing what other people are up to and helping them out as well, like you know, someone’s trying to do this and they keep getting stuck, and we can offer some advice right there and then… And you know, just joking around and having some fun! That’s always good. We also tried having a bingo relay at one point where we would take turns towards the same grid but just 10 minutes at a time, so you’d just jump with the saved game and you have NO IDEA what the other person was doing! So you get in there, in the middle of nowhere, it’s like you know I have an inventory full of stuff, what were they trying to do and what should I try to do? That was a bit of fun. I hope we do another one of those at some point.
Pikastroff: I want to write this idea down, it sounds really cool actually! I love it! [Laughs]
AJChimaera: Yeah, it wouldn’t work too well with some games, but for a game like Subnautica it works quite well. It’s that balance between “I want to make it easy for the next person”, but at the same time there’s a lot of people that you kind of end up almost in a sort of an impostor situation where it’s like “ok, what’s the WORST place that I can leave the next person?” [Laughs]
Pikastroff: Alright, well, we are pretty much getting to the end now. Have you got any final words you’d like to say to the community?
AJChimaera: Just thanks for being such a great community, really. I think we have been really quite open and pretty generous, I think we’ve been really open. There’s always someone online to bounce ideas off, really. There’s been a lot of crazy ideas that get thrown about and it’s usually people available to, you know, just find new ways to break the game!
There’s been a lof of new people getting involved lately, there’s been a surge of popularity for some reason – maybe ‘cause of Below Zero, the sequel, coming out soon, so there’s been a lot of interest in the Subnautica space. There’s been lots of new discoveries that people keep making to break the game further, so it’s a great time to get involved and just, yeah, thanks for everyone, it’s been a good support place over the last few years.
Pikastroff: Alright, thank you so much. Well, that will conclude our Beyond the Board here, so definitely make sure to give AJChimaera a follow on Twitch, as well as, if you really are interested in getting involved with Subnautica speedrunning and bingos, to check out the Subnautica speedrunning Discord as well as speedrun.com page. Thank you everyone and we will be seeing you on the next Beyond the Board!
AJChimaera: Thank you!
And that is it for this month’s Beyond the Board! We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! Definitely be sure to give AJChimaera a follow, and to check out the Subnautica Speedrunning Discord server if you are interested in picking up Subnautica bingos or speedrunning in general.
As a last note, remember that Bingothon Summer 2021 will be happening on both the Bingothon and SpeedRunsLive Twitch channels from May 28th – 31st, and submissions will be opening on April 3rd! Definitely make sure to check out this masterpost where all information you may need, including volunteer submission forms, are included!
Thank you everyone, and see you on the next Beyond the Board!