Gnist and others who've been around for ages can give much more detailed information but I can try to write some sort of novel about it..
Since the Sly 2 (any%) is so long majority of runs have been done as ILs, or IEs (Individual Episode runs) as we like to call them, or just Episode runs for short. But this'll concentrate less on those and focus more on full-game when maybe tying some notable episode runs to it.
Oldest run on the boards, 7:51:51 by ZtarZtorm was still done on Disc and on PS2 but the very next one by the pioneer cooopercrisp on a downloaded digital PS3 version on the game. Regardless of the version, NTSC, PAL or NTSC-J: KOR all top level runs from now on were done with a digital version since it saves so much time in loads and such.
The era before Cairo skips didn't see that many full-game runs to be done (or documented). Gamecuber was the only one credited with more than one record lowering time for any%. Last record without the Cairo skips was Gnist's 5:48:05. There was still a lot of skips in this game founded already by this point. Aside from the runners the most notable founder of skips was Zryu. Also guys like Nero and Joky are credited with finding stuff. List of the biggest skips aside from Bentley's slide show skips or the Blimp HQ ending cutscene skip via game resets already used by this point (Before May 2015): -Breaking and Entering CSS via table clip (credited to Zryu), pre-2015, saves 25 seconds (on Korean) -Battle the Chopper CSS via cutscene intercept (Zryu), pre-2015, saves 15 seconds (on Korean) -Boardroom Brawl CSS via fake floor (Zryu), pre-2015, saves 14 seconds (on Korean) -Spice Grinder Destruction: laser fence destroyed early by a hit from a guard (credited to Sly1020), April 2015, saves 15 seconds (or 3 cycles, on Korean) -Rip-off the Ruby: Slope jump route (credited to Surreal), founded pre-2015, implemented March 2015 with the new Episode 3 route, saves 17 seconds compared to Slope Jump not existing -Operation: Trojan Tank - Terminal skip via position update lag in the hacks (credited to Joky for founding and cooopercrisp for figuring out why it happened), February 2015, saves 40 seconds -Stealing Voices CSS via fake floor (Zryu), pre-2015, saves 12 seconds -Laser Redirection: Paraglide clip (Zryu), pre-2015, saves 15 seconds
In July 2015 the biggest skips in this game, Cairo skips were found (credited to Zryu/Nero) that allow us to complete the first level in the game by clipping out of bounds and skipping all cutscenes in the area excluding the first. Cairo skips consist of several individual skips but are connected via chained triggers meaning that by doing the first skip, which is Bentley skip you have to do all other skips as well. Cairo skips consist of Bentley skip (saves 1:29), Murray skip, (saves 1:09), Carmelita skip (saves 1:09) and the Van skip/Vanless (saves 3 seconds) = about 3:53 in total (Korean cutscene lenghts).
Other skips found in this time period (after May 2015) were: Operation: Hippo Drop CSS via cutscene loading lag allowing a death abuse (Zryu), June 2015, saves 24 seconds (on Korean). Friend in Need CSS via fake floor (Zryu), July 2015, saves 5 seconds but 14 in total when linked to the first lure strat found much later by Hullatant in November 2017. Charged TNT Run CSS via fake floor (Zryu/Gnist), July 2015, saves 15 seconds (Korean) + gives more convenient guard spawns.
First record gotten with some Cairo skips was 5:45:22 by mikl in October 17th 2015. Mikl did all Cairo skips except Bentley skip, which saves the most amount of time from these. This was the norm for Cairo for some time. (First record run that did all Cairo skips was Gnist's 5:38:07 later in December 7th 2015).
The community had allowed the use of SSDs by this point and Gnist took the record back a couple of weeks later with the first full-game run done with SSD, final time being 5:44:37. This started an extremely long streak for Gnist since nobody else had the record for any% from October 29th 2015 to January 3rd 2018. There of cource were a decent amount of other runners and the one who got the closest to record was Alekhine with his 5:30:02 run (Feb. 15th 2017) when the record by Gnist was 5:29:29. The record was taken down to 5:25:28 by June 12th 2017. This 20 minute progression aside from implementing Bentley skip was basically just movement optimization and getting more consistent with skips and tricks since no new skips were implemented during this time period and the only one found was Code Capture CSS via fake floor (January 2016, Zryu) which to this day is considered too inconsistent to use in full-game runs.
Gnist went to do Sly 3 for a few months after the 5:25:28 run and Sly 2 seemed pretty much lifeless what it came to finding new optimizations and such. 2 years had gone by without any major findings but oh boy, things were about to change. It all started with a new cutscene skip in Blimp HQ Recon. It saves 12 seconds with the Korean version so nothing that groundbreaking but everything has to start with something. This cutscene skip was accidentally found by Jake9 in September 2017. What followed this were several minor optimizations found by Hullatant, like the lure strats in A Friend in Need mentioned earlier. Hulla also found a cutscene skip in Rip-off the Ruby (Nov. 2017) that saves 9 seconds in full-game runs and 12 seconds in episode runs. But the breakthrough was just about to happen. Despite the lack of big findings for 2 years, nowadays 3 of the Top 6 biggest skips in this game (that are implemented to full-game runs) have been found within the last 10 months. We'll come back to those later but now lets talk about the different digital versions of this game:
All time saves from cutscene skips earlier have been listed based on how much they save time on the Korean PSN (digital) version of the game. This is because the PSN NTSC-J: KOR is the fastest version of this game since the audio files for dialogue are shorter meaning that cutscenes go by faster. For the longest of times the game was ran on English since it was concluded at some point that different languages on PAL version of the game didn't give advantages in speedruns since it seemed that all PAL languages had the same speed. This meant that the NTSC version of the game seemed to be equally fast with PAL and so North Americans happily did runs with NTSC and Europeans happily with PAL, no problems, no matter what language you used. Other digital versions of the game weren't known about.
Then at some point the version master of Sly games, Suappi got his hands on the Japanese and Korean PS2 versions of the game and noticed that those versions had shorter cutscene lengths than PAL/NTSC releases. On PAL cutcene lengths weren't affected by language but that wasn't the case for NTSC-J versions, they were clearly faster. But the Japanese version didn't have a digital release meaning that it would inevitably lose the time it saves on cutscenes to dics load times. But other member in the community with the name of Oggyerino found out that there actually was a Korean digital release and managed to get his hands on it with his connections. Then Remo (which is me, 3rd persona used just to make it look like I didn't write this tbh) timed the cutscene lengths on Korean vs. English and the Korean PSN version ended up saving over 9 minutes on English. Other skip for the NTSC version was found shortly after called the H&S skip, which is not explained here but basically making the order of fastest PSN versions to be 1. Korean 2. NTSC and 3. PAL being the slowest.
Gnist dropped the record time instantly by over 7 minutes with his first run on Korean (From 5:24:11 to 5:16:40, the 5:24:11 is still the PAL record since people stopped running on it). From here the record with Korean has taken turns between Gnist and Remo and reached the point of sub 5:10 with Gnist's 5:09:56 on June 15th this year. This was the last record before (kinda) the "new age" for Sly 2 speedrunning again since a total of 3 big skips were optimized and implemented right after this run and also a new Community Gold board for best segments in the community for all Sly games was created.
These 3 new "major" skips are 1. The 2nd Blimp HQ Recon CSS, shortly referred to as "Plan CSS" by Gnist based on the fact that for a long time there wasn't a proper setup for it meaning the runner just kinda had to always plan how to not mess it up and it "always was a bad plan". The skip was found by the same person that found the first Blimp HQ CSS (Jake) and once again accidentally in November 2017 and saves 45 seconds. The proper setup utilizing Alarm Clock was found by Remo June 22nd 2018, on the same day Gnist lowered the record down to 5:07:10 with the help of another big skip and the biggest found since Cairo skips; "(Reload) Ghosted Hacks" that are based on fake floor and extensions of fake collision. The name for the skip is based on its founders and to a Sly 3 skip referred to as "Ghost Hacks" which looks similar to Ghosted Hacks. This skips basically all platforming inside the hacks in the job Bentley/Murray Team Up because the hacking drone can phase through walls and saves a minute to doing all the hacks flawlessly but with normal collision properties. This skip was found by Remo on June 17th 2018 based on the idea/concept by SlyCooperReloadCoded. The last of these 3 was "Fake Floor Disguise Bridge" found by Hekksu near the end of June 2018 (it was announced by him June 28th 2018). IT basically skips the entire job of Disguise Bridge in Episode 4 when all guards die instantly when they spawn. This skip on it's own saves almost 40 seconds but since we had to re-route Episode 4 for full-game runs because the fake collision stays active after the job and we still don't want to do Code Capture Fake Floor CSS in full-game runs it only ended up saving about 24 seconds after the re-routing took place.
The current record that has all these 3 "new" skips (or 2 and 1 old with a new setup) and has all updated strats except the new treasure route in Episode 5 that saves about 14 seconds is by Remo with the time of 5:05:47 (July 8th 2018).
(BTW people please be willing to correct me on these things said if they're not true on who did what)
... well this is like 3/4 of my job. Though now I need to find out what skips these are and how to do them.
Thank you. This is A VERY specific and in depth post
I've been moving and my internet comes back on Tuesday. I'll be back with more questions then. I did not forget this, just moving took precedence.
Still didn't forget. Moving is finally all sorted out.
First, does anyone know where old run throughs are? Would they be on SDA or somewhere else? When precisely was the museum skipped discovered? How do the skips now differ from when this game started running?
The earliest runs I know of are ZtarZtorm's run (https://www.speedrun.com/sly2/run/8m737wy0) and Cooopercrisp's runs (i.e. )
The Cairo skips were known about for a long time, however only performed through the use of cheats or mega jump. The setups used in runs today were found by UberNero and Zryu in a collaboration project which I believe lasted for multiple months back in summer/fall 2015. The skips were not found in sequence, but because of how 'chained triggers' works (devs call them 'TheMeta'), any triggers past a skipped trigger would not be active, so if you skipped one part you couldn't beat the rest of the level like normal. So in order for any of the skips to be useful in runs (to be able to beat Cairo) the final part (Carmelita skip) had to be found
I believe the skips were found in the order of 'Murray Skip' (not usable in runs on its own) -> 'Carmelita skip' (now both these skips could be used in runs) -> 'Bentley skip'. I believe the first run to use Murray + Carmelita skip was Mikl's 5:45 (https://www.speedrun.com/sly2/run/wzp1gnrz).
For more details (like how they were discovered) I'd ask Zryu/Nero or join the runner's discord (linked from all the Sly games' links section, found on the left side when on the main page: https://www.speedrun.com/sly2).
The Cairo skips have remained very much the same as to how it was back when it first was discovered. The only difference are faster routes out of bounds and riskier/faster movement near bottomless pits and clips to get out of bounds.
The most recently discoverd skips are more rooted in theory than before; almost like an extension of previous knowledge. If you take 'Fake Floor' for example. It has been expanded to speed up the act of killing guards faster (Disguise Bridge) and complete hacking levels out of bounds (Bentley/Murray Team Up), while previously all use of Fake Floor was strictly to skip cutscenes, either through failing the job mid-cutscene (Code Capture, Stealing Voices, A Friend in Need), hitting the job trigger differently (Boardroom Brawl) or dying mid-cutscene (Charged TNT Run).
There has also been a few cases of rediscovering skips that were brushed aside years ago to being "too difficult", which are now implemented into the run and considered easy (i.e. Blimp HQ CSS #1).