Forums  /  Battletoads series  /  Battletoads (NES)  /  Keyboard
  TionicTionic

So, dot3r is playing on a keyboard. I didn't actually think anyone would speedrun toads at high level not on a controller and d-pad. Is it really fair to compete this way? Obviously, neither am I active nor planning to speedrun this game again, so this isn't something that affects me personally, but it's pretty annoying to think of all the advantages keyboard has over controller and how it affects competing.

I imagine console runners would just go "lol emu", but all of the original hardware bullshit argument aside, keyboard kind of forces every emu runner to play on keyboard because better consistency in general. Like, diagonals suddenly become free, robo manus is 10 times easier because 2 fingers on WASD. In rat race, you can just use 2 index fingers to skip ledges and the consistency is through the roof because 2 separate keys don't wobble like a d-pad... arctic caverns ledge cancelling, etc.

Clearly not fair. I would even consider splitting keyboard to a separate leaderboard, but it would be drastic for a game that has 3 active players. Thoughts?

 
  chryoyochryoyo

Absurd as it may seem, many world record runs have been achieved on keyboard. Here is an extreme example: https:/​/​www.​speedrun.​com/​sm64/​run/​yl4p552m

In regards to fairness, it really depends on the game. I can't speak for battletoads. I don't know much about the runs for this game. What I can say is that controller is usually preferred because it offers very precise control and its easier to play with. In most cases this is an advantage. You can play EMUS with a controller by the way.

Should you make separate category? No. Personally I don't think so. As you've said, there are only 3 active players. Plus, I see very little reason to do so. I mean, just looking at the times it didn't seem to give a huge advantage.

ZaccZacc likes this. 
  timmyshotguntimmyshotgun

@TionicTionic You yourself used a non-standard gamepad, what is it all about?
As for me, no matter how the input data is entered, the main thing is that the person enters them into the RTA.

 
  TionicTionic

@chryoyochryoyo
Yea, I'm actually aware SM64 has an emu leaderboard with keyboard players. But, that's exactly it - it's already split into a separate leaderboard. Here we may very well run into a situation where WR becomes keyboard and the only way to compete will be by using keyboard because of its inherent advantages. All of the reasons I mentioned above are valid btw. Especially ledge dashing and even more complex ledge dashing in rat race are both significantly easier. For example in the fangame communities it's widely accepted that mechanical keyboards provide superior precision and basically you'd be a fool not to use a keyboard if wanting to compete seriously. And that's just the regular keyboard over mechanical perspective let alone vs controller.
@timmyshotguntimmyshotgun
I used a wired 360 controller for my 12:47. I played on a d-pad. My gripe is about using multiple fingers and separate buttons for controlling movement. It is hugely advantageous to do so, even for a newbie (just try robo manus juggling if you don't believe me).

Anyway this thread is mostly aimed at sub 14 runners who are experienced with tight tricks such as ledge dashing/reverse headbutting and so on. And especially console runners like JC and TMR as I feel it would be very unfair to them to do WR attempts on keyboard. I would like to hear their thoughts on this. Possible compromise could be to restrict WR/top 3 to controller-only.

Thanks and sorry if this is offensive to you @dot3rdot3r but keyboard is an advantage and that is fact. It should be discussed.

 
  chryoyochryoyo

If playing this game on keyboard has these advantages then I think it would be wise to separate them, but it doesn't seem to be a problem yet. We may want to wait and see what happens. Or wait to hear the opinion of others.

ZaccZacc likes this. 
  timmyshotguntimmyshotgun

I understand that many NES games have contentious issues. Let's ban other gamepads, let's ban emulator races, because they are all debatable. But this will not happen, so let's respect someone else's work. dot3r drove the Battletoads for a long time and did nothing impossible in his race.

 
  ANGEL_UNDEADANGEL_UNDEAD

That's pointless to discuss, because you can connect keyboard to original hardware and noone will ever know, unless you pointing webcam to your hands. So let's delete every run without it.

 
  TionicTionic

Just like it isn't pointless to mark submissions as emu, which is based on the same logic, it is important to ensure fairness amongst runners. Even if keyboard use may not be immediately transparent in a run, its use is reflected in gameplay and strats utilized, and the resulting consistency and quirks that follow can certainly be called into question.

There's also no need to generalize to the point of paranoia, known facts can be dealt with accordingly, and what is currently unknown may come into light later and also be sorted out.

What we do know is a potential keyboard WR on the way, which begs the question if the community is comfortable with this sort of advantage being allowed as WR or on the main leaderboard. I know I wouldn't be because it isn't fair to controller players and especially console grinders limited to the standard brick controller. It simply wouldn't be a competition on an equal footing if the differences in control were to be considered.

 
  jay_ceejay_cee

Hello. I haven't been on in a while but I've been asked to check out this thread. Tionic, it is great to see you again!

I have my agreements and disagreements. My first thought is it should at least be acknowledged that the standard PC or mechanical keyboard has its disadvantages too. Deeper keystrokes, longer springs, less precise hold time. For example, ask the same IWBTG fangame community if 1-frame jumps are easier on controller or keyboard without the jump-cancel trick, and I think they'll agree the controller has the upper hand there due to the shorter overall movement of the button. I've asked this to yoyoyodude1, and he says even 2 frames are free in comparison on controller. And for another example, ask the contra emu runners if they'd rather mash a mechanical keyboard button or the B button on the nes controller. I'll get into battletoads-specific things in a moment, but I just wanted to acknowledge off the bat that the keyboard isn't solely advantageous, and shouldn't be propped up as such.

But the advantages listed are true too. Quicker directional switches, which can help with the pause-dash trick and the ledge-dashes in arctic cavern, as you can probably hold the run button for longer before switching, saving what I assume is at least a frame or two on average per ledge. I won't deny, that's at least a few frames of advantage. The rat race ledges however - I don't need the A or B keys in rat race, so my technique has always been to just put two thumbs on the d-pad. I don't see how the keyboard holds an advantage over me there.

Actually, one part in particular I think holds a pretty good edge on keyboard is the stalactite jump at the end of arctic cavern. Coming out of a crouch and doing a dash jump to the barrier saves roughly 10 frames by my count over a regular jump, and I gotta tell you, this trick is very tough on the d-pad, but effortless in comparison on the keyboard. If there's any point of contention, I think this is the largest one in the game that I've seen.

We in fact had this discussion back in early 2013, when I was still brand new to twitch and TMR was still using keyboard & emulator. We weren't going for the dash jump during the stalactite jump, but TMR developed the first of what I would call a controversial technique on keyboard. In order to make the jump easier, he would use the crouch-dash along the moving platform before jumping off of it, making the stalactite jump a lot easier. (That is, down to down-right to down to down-right in quick succession to slide along the platform a bit further before jumping.) I mentioned how much harder this is to do on controller, and he agreed to simply do the run without using the crouch-slide there. The discussion ended there, but then we were the only two runners at the time, so it's fair to say we just swept it under the rug.

The disadvantages of the keyboard specific to battletoads are more mechanic-related. The longer keystrokes makes pressing two buttons on the same frame a bit harder. Not excruciatingly harder, but there's enough dash jumps in the game that I think the consistency average is a relevant subtopic in itself. There's also the issue of one-frame jumps being tougher as I mentioned before, and this is relevant in the out-of-bounds section of terra tubes. That final horizontal swim-stroke squeezing between the two in-bounds sections above and below you is pretty tough, and I've seen more runs die there than any other part in that section with every runner I've watched. My strat there is to try to do a one-frame A press, which I've confirmed yields a smaller swim-stroke than a two-frame A press, giving that swim-stroke a slightly larger timing window. I'm really, really good at one-frame taps on controller... yet I still mistime that swim sometimes. Having to do that with a much longer keystroke every run would frighten me.

Aside from that, I have the logistical problem. It's just a third-party controller, and it's impossible to define it as anything but that. You've told me yourself the disc d-pad on your 360 controller helped you out a little, at least in personal preference. It may not be significant, but then really neither is this. I know I could bring the main category to a 12:2x if I wanted, so I know we're not at that point yet. And I could argue myself that the original controller hurts my hands & thumbs more, therefore making the case that all other controllers should be separate. I mean if it hurts less it means you can practice longer right? That is of course taking it to its logical extreme. And then on top of that it's not impossible to use your controller like a keyboard. Set the controller down, put two fingers on the dpad & two fingers on the face buttons (the NES Speedboard comes to mind), and bam, you're playing on an original controller with all the advantages of the keyboard you just listed.

That is of course not to shut down the discussion. There may one day be something significant we can only describe as a keyboard-friendly trick, so it's fair to entertain the discussion now, but I feel like that day hasn't come yet. I'll wait until then before I think it warrants a possible policy change. Even then, I'd wait a little while longer to see if anyone can prove otherwise on a controller, to which I may likely volunteer.

For now, it's good to bounce ideas around and make sure of what we conclude in a neutral way. List all advantages and disadvantages we can think of, tally them up, and see which one comes out on top, give-or-take for all the things we didn't think of. But the proof is in the pudding, and right now it's hard to make the case when it's just one guy. And besides, no record is forever. I expect to lose all of mine one day.

And two quick messages for dot3r -- First of all congrats on the 12:44. Second, this is why I switched to original console/controller, because I knew this discussion would come up one day. 🙂 I'd say give the original hardware a shot. It doesn't take too long to get used to. It took me about 4 days of practice before I was as good on console as I was on emulator.

ukionikukionik and JosephHTobinJrJosephHTobinJr like this. 
  ukionikukionik

Well, to be honest any hardware which differs from original can give you advantages. For example, I'm playing on dualshock 4 gamepad and it's more comfortable for my fingers. It's doesn't hurt your fingers like on nes. That's why you can grind and practice much more. So is it also an advantage? Besides no one can check do you change your buttons bindings on gamepad or not if you are using an emulator. I mean sometimes people change the select button for example to left trigger or other button and it's really cheaty thing. I'm for using the original hardware and I hope one day I will use it. But I'm not against emulators and keyboard using untill it will give you a really huge advantage. Everything is doable on gamepad what you can do on keyboard. Maybe it's a bit harder, but doable. So I don't see any big differences for now.
And also I think if you compare all efforts for wr grinding it doesn't matter which device you are using. If you have a really good skills in the game you can play on keyboard or gamepad. It's just your preference. So I don't see any problems for now.

 
  TionicTionic

Hi, JC! Glad to see your input on this. Hope the streaming career is going well.

On your keyboard assessment I'm not totally sure if I understand correctly how deeper keystrokes, spring length and hold time factor into it versus a controller, but from what superficial knowledge I've gathered over years, I do recall multiple runners, including BBF, stating quite casually that some techniques in fangames are limited to mech keyboards in terms of consistency. I can't say that I'm an authority on the subject, though. My gripe is using fingers vs thumb.

You are absolutely right about the stalactite jump, which is part of my overall concern that using keyboard you would consistently save many more frames on average at a high level just due to the finger advantage, but the keyboard's precision as well - I imagine missing a doubletap on a tactile mech keyboard is much more rare than on a membrane controller - something with which you had your fair share of issues yourself - Intruder Excluder comes to mind.

So, I'm just going to state this right now: I believe that if keyboard should be separated, it'll be due to these subtle technical advantages that aren't visible to the naked eye. Why? Because it inspires emu players to only get good at keyboard and never switch to a NES controller - not something I can pride myself on admittedly, but it'd be a concern for the community in general. That is not to say that I hate the idea of playing toads on a keyboard since I actually think the game is quite suited for it, but that's also why I think it's important to underscore why keyboard gameplay provides a much different footing to a controller player who is forced play DDR on a d-pad with a lightning fast thumb. The only exception to this might be mashing since (if I'm not wrong on how common/doable this is, which unfornunately I cannot reliably verify) mech keyboards tend to repeat keystrokes much like faulty mice double click, so if I'm imagining the possibilities correctly, with the right peripheral you could double your mashing speed and mash through that infamous wall in caverns.

I'm not entirely certain how you've come to a conclusion that dash jumps are harder on a keyboard, dot3r sure doesn't seem to have any trouble with them. Maybe the one you used just wasn't very well suited for toads, but I'm sure a switch exists that will be massively superior to a membrane controller - if it isn't already utilized by him. Perhaps the issue with keystroke travel could be reduced by applying o-rings? To address whatever subjective problem you had with 1 frame presses on a keyboard.

The 360 controller, no, you couldn't play on it with fingers. You'd give yourself a hand injury. It is a d-pad with membrane rubber and 8 directions much like any other except it's crap out of the box so the common solution was to add the so-called "pringles mod" to it. I also tried a DS3 controller and I found that to be more comfortable in the end albeit both were kind of mediocre. A DS4 is probably a much better choice in the modern controller selection.

I mean, entertaining logical extremes is all fine, but we obviously aren't going to be that anal about it. The argument here is that lumping in keyboard with controller harms the emu community because of the incentives it gives to focus on keyboard mastery rather than controller. What do you think strat advice from a keyboard WR holder is going to be? "Just map WASD and go to town. Controllers suck." - Sounds a tad silly when the original hardware doesn't even allow such peripherals (that is, without a tremendous hassle of engineering one). I always thought playing on a d-pad provided a single unifying factor that helped the community grow and learn strats from each other, and the idea of just switching to keyboard discards that entirely.

So, in closing I'm going to express somewhat a disappointed view that resorting to passivity and inaction is just going to create more disappointment later when very high level keyboard gameplay will be objectively viewed as able to achieve more than controller - at least when it is finally proven to be that with concrete evidence in gameplay when it is produced. It is my honest belief that the precision mechanical keyboards provide as well multiple finger style of control that doesn't cause nearly as much fatigue as on a controller can already be extrapolated on in our minds to see how it provides a definite advantage over thumb. I just don't see how these facts alone, as well as keys on the keyboard not being part of the same piece of plastic and instead being separate buttons that don't sway like a d-pad would, wouldn't be sufficient evidence to make some kind of a decision.

As for listing the advantages to help actually resolve this in ways other than waiting an eternity "to see what happens", I feel that would be a tremendous amount of work. I'd be willing to pitch in, but doing that on my own would be overwhelming. I hope others will contribute. And again, I don't actually think it's reasonable to look for things that only keyboard can do when keyboard can already be a more effective tool, which is the actual root of the problem. Tapping diagonals being one example.