Separate Emulator Category
2 years ago
Washington, USA

Hello everyone! I am a fairly new speedrunner who would like to run Friday the 13th. However, there is a fairly huge drawback that I've noticed in this game's rules section: emulated runs are hidden by default. That rule is basically saying "you can submit an emulated run, but we won't acknowledge it". While I understand there can be differences between original hardware and emulation, most of the largest NES/SNES communities on SRC have integrated leaderboards consisting of both original and emulated runs (Super Mario Bros 1/2/3, Zelda 1/2/Link To The Past, Donkey Kong, Castlevania, Metroid, Contra, just to name a few).

Also it's worth mentioning that the current WR for Super Mario Bros. did it with an emulator and keyboard. I took a clip from a Karl Jobst video where he explains how some people devalue emulated runs; but regardless, they will become more prevalent as the original hardware ages, breaks, gets lost, etc:

I think this all boils down to a simple question: do the moderators of Friday the 13th view emulation as legal? If so, emulated runs deserve to be unhidden from their current categories, or moved to their own category, so that they can be viewed for the effort the runners put into them.

I apologize if any of this comes off as rude, as this was not my intention. My intention is to hopefully change the rule where emulated runs are hidden. I know some people look down on emulated runs, but those people doing emulated runs put just as much work on researching, routing, and running their games as anyone else. If this community's original hardware players are opposed to sharing, emulators should get their own board.

I hope this will lend some consideration towards the idea. If you ever do unhide emulated runs or add a leaderboard, I will be adding runs shortly. If not, there's no point for me to waste effort on runs that'll never be seen.

ZeroThe14th likes this
United States

We have nothing against emulators and their use, however in this particular game they give players using an emulator an unfair advantage over people playing on original hardware due to a unique aspect in the games programming. There's a ton of information about that in this thread:

Dugongue's post in that thread explains it better than I ever could. "The RNG in the game is based on the global timer, which is initialized by adding together all the memory addresses in the range 0x000-0x7FF. On emulator, these have a constant value at power-on, so the starting global timer will always be the same from a hard reset. However, on console, memory addresses are not constant, they actually vary on power-on until they are written over. As a result, the global timer will be initialized at a "random" value even from a hard reset on console.

I think this was intentional on the part of the programmers to make the RNG functionally impossible to predict."

This game is very reset heavy because in order to do a run once you reach a certain point, you need Mark in the northwest corner of the lake loop, you need a buzzer to go off, and you need Paul in the bottom middle cabin. If you don't get that, you reset. Emulators can't properly reproduce the resets in the way that original hardware can, so that's where the distinct advantage comes in for emulators. They allow you to manipulate the starting RNG seed in a way that original hardware can't. The games you mentioned above don't have starting RNG or anything like this game does, so emulators don't provide an advantage in one way or another, so they're allowed. Other games like Willow allow emulator times to be posted, but don't allow competitive times if run on an emulator in order to keep things fair, so that may be something we could discuss as well.

Most if not all of us practice our runs on emulators or flash carts where we can have a save state of the right seed, that way we're ready to go. PGH was using an emulator a few nights ago on his twitch stream to research the starting seeds relative to the frame you press start on to see if we could find some way to manipulate that on console, but it just can't be reproduced equally, or even close to equally.

I understand the frustration because owning original hardware and the original cart (or a flash cart) are both pretty large cost barriers to running the game. Emulator runs can still be seen on the boards (there are 9 of them on Any% right now), you just have to choose to show emulator runs when you look at the boards. I realize it's not the same, but it's not fair to the people who have played on original hardware and suffered through the endless resets either.

That being said, I think a separate category could definitely be discussed, but there are a lot of things we'd need to figure out should we decide to implement it. Do we just do Emulator Any%? Do we make emulator sections for every category, so we have Emulator Low%, Emulator Pamela Powerups, Emulator Throw Debbie off a Cliff, etc? Would it end up looking similar to the boards we already have now with most of the same people submitting similar times on emulators, with a few new faces?

I'd love to hear input of other runners of this game to see what they think, since this would be a pretty significant change that impacts their times as well. Would people like things to stay as they are with emulator times hidden, do we add separate categories, or do something like Willow does where we allow emulator times to be shown by default, but don't accept them if they're above certain levels?

HowDoUPlay likes this
United States

I'm leaning toward unhiding emulator runs, but just not allowing them beyond say, sub 3:05ish.

So basically you can use emulator but if you want to get times closer to sub 3/record use console. As mentioned the way RNG resets on emulator is known to be different, and it's easier in general to reset the emulator/start the timer and such compared to console. But yeah I think the simplest approach would be to just have a cutoff for emulator runs. I know a lot of NES games allow emulator up to WR, but Friday is a very unique creature. There is so much RNG, so much randomness from simply resetting the game to how items spawn and Jason behaves.

No apologies necessary though. It's understandable that it might be confusing from first glance why emulator runs would be hidden (or not allowed for top times). But as Zero mentioned it comes down to how the RNG is shuffled on resets. I can't think of any other game that's like Friday the 13th in this way.

Edited by the author 2 years ago
HowDoUPlay and ZeroThe14th like this
Washington, USA

I figured there was a logical reason for why emulators were hidden, you guys have clearly done the research. In fact it was a discussion on MESEN in your forum where Valientlink and another were discussing this same subject almost a year ago that inspired me to post. With that said I've read everything here and wanted to make a few more comments:

  1. If the RNG on the emulators is proven to not be identical to the console, then I would suggest creating an Emu% category so that everybody in their respective categories are competing on as equal of ground as possible.

  2. Valientlink's idea is good, as many people who get super competitive into a particular game will buy the original hardware to compete for a WR. With this info, I still think creating an Emu% category would make it so emulators don't have to be limited to what times they can achieve. Rather, they just won't compete against original hardware for the RNG reasons stated above. Everyone is on equal ground, emulators are competing against each other, and original hardware remains the preferred and first leaderboard on the site.

I want to compete for times, but not if there's an unfair advantage. With this in mind, I'd prefer to separate emulation from original, due to the restrictions that would be placed on emulated runs otherwise. However I would view either outcome as a huge improvement, and would gladly run this game. Thanks again for giving this your time and consideration!

Washington, USA

Also in regards to how many emulator categories, that'd be up to you guys. Personally I think only one: Emu% should be Any% for emulated runs. You have 2 emulated runs total in all categories besides Any%, so I don't know if that's worth mixing up. Technically those emulated runs have different RNG, but they're also at the very bottom of "Pamela Powerups" and "Throw Debbie off a Cliff".

I do see how splitting every category could be bad, but I don't think it's necessary. The vast majority of people run Any%, so that's the one I'm mostly concerned with. However I don't speak for everyone, so I'd like to see if any others have ideas on this.

Edited by the author 2 years ago
United States

After a lot of discussion, we made a few changes regarding emulators. Rather than making a separate category, Emulators (FCEUX and Nestopia) will be allowed on all categories. There will be a few restrictions in Any% and Pamela Powerups due to the nature of how uncommon those seeds are because of the above mentioned advantages on resets from an emulator.

For Any%, times above 3 minutes will be accepted on emulators, but times below 3 will not. Since there are only 9 times on the board that are sub 3 right now we'll figure out exactly how to handle sub 3 times on emulator if/when one gets submitted, but it didn't make sense to try and figure out that detail now and hold everything else up.

For Pamela powerups, times up to the WR will be allowed on emulator, but WR times will need to be run on original hardware.

The remaining categories (Low%, Damageless, Throw Debbie off a Cliff, and Kill All Counselors) have no time restrictions for emulators. If we create any new categories in the future, we'll make a determination on how to handle emulators at that time.

As mentioned above, the accepted emulators at this time will be FCEUX and NEStopia. I think all of the individual categories have been updated to show emulator specifics, but just in case, the full emulator window will need to be included so the name and version of the emulator are visible, and we will also need to see the end of the prior run or the startup (which is really no different than original hardware, the overwhelming majority of runs show power up or the prior reset already), so that part isn't really any different.

Emulator runs should be visible across all leaderboards now as well. If there are any questions or clarifications needed on anything I forgot to mention here, please let us know.

Happy Slashing!

Edited by the author 2 years ago
HowDoUPlay likes this
New York, USA

Rules still got me a little confused. Category rules say MesenRTA is acceptable, but game rules explicitly ban Mesen for sited reasons. Is RTA the acceptable version or were the rule sets not updated together?

Illinois, USA

standard build of Mesen has a "read ahead" function that can influence some runs, but a good explanation of why MesenRTA is in this thread from the Jaws board forums

DarthTyrael likes this
Washington, USA
Deleted by the author