During your time on Speedrun.com, you may have noticed that sometimes a leaderboard for a new game will be created but you can’t submit to it until a certain date. This is commonly referred to as an embargo (even if it’s technically more of a moratorium) and it’s very useful to speedrunning communities — especially their moderation team. Embargoes are common with popular new releases for a multitude of reasons which we’ll cover today, using the recently released Resident Evil Village as an example, taking a look at what has been done in the past couple weeks of the embargo.
Enjoying the casual experience
Due to the competitive nature of speedrunning, some people may feel pressured to hop right into speedrunning the game if the leaderboards are open right away. Introducing an embargo for any sort of length whether it's a week or a month allows people to just sit back and enjoy the game casually if they want to. Some runners like to dive right on it, but it’s nice to at least have the option.
Another great use of time during the embargo is to create tools to assist runners. For Resident Evil Village, CursedToast first created the base for the load remover and autosplitter which is used to time runs and read the memory to split automatically (and more accurately). There are also other tools that aren’t entirely necessary but are incredibly helpful and can save someone a lot of time when testing different theories or just practicing a hard trick. The community has a tool created by VideoGameRoulette, Squirrelies and Sychotix, (with some help from Cursed Toast as well) called the Speedrun Tool (SRT) which displays all kinds of information including boss health, cutscene values, player position, and pretty much anything you would ever want or need for routing or testing.
Typically, Resident Evil games would be timed using the In Game Timer (IGT) that displays your time played after you finish your playthrough, but it was discovered very quickly that the IGT didn’t track things like time spent in the inventory or shop, but timed during cutscenes — essentially the opposite of how speedrunners wanted the timer to work. This leads us directly into the next reason embargoes are super helpful.
Learning about the game
Finding strategies, routing the best path through the game, and hunting for glitches/exploits -it’s kind of like a community wide easter egg hunt where everyone works together, many people say it’s the most fun part about speedrunning as a whole. Aside from the entertainment aspect, this is also the part of speedrunning a new game where you learn the most about the game which is crucial for deciding on things like categories, subcategories, rulesets, and of course, timing methods. Learning about the game and taking time to make important decisions during this embargo process prevents more work from needing to be done later down the line, as opposed to if the leaderboard was open for business on day one.
After the initial rush of discovering and learning is over with, resources like guides and tutorials can then start to be created so that runners are on a similar playing field, relying primarily on execution for their runs rather than just knowledge.
Embargoes are useful for a variety of reasons, whether practical or just quality-of-life. The embargo for Resident Evil Village ends on May 28, so if you’d like to see some runs be sure to check it out then! On another note, speedrunner and content creator Waifu is putting together a Resident Evil Village Speedrun Tournament taking place June 5, and it should be a sweet kick off to the launch of the leaderboard — so definitely keep an eye out for that!