I've been considering various aspects of the Uru Live rules and categories for a while; the current rules are not finalised, and need to be expanded and modified in a few places to account for the differences between offline and online Uru. I've removed the online To D'ni, The Path of the Shell, and Complete Chronicles categories for the time being until everything is worked out. What I'm looking for with this thread is your opinions on the issues described below, if you have any. Even if you don't have opinions on every issue here, any feedback at all would be useful. (Though I realise that asking you to read this 2.5k-word wall of text that has very little importance to anything or anyone and give feedback is... not necessarily entirely reasonable. If you do, I am incredibly grateful, and if you don't, I understand.)
I've split this post up into sections just to make it clear which areas specifically it is that I'm looking for discussion on here. (Though of course please feel free to discuss any other aspects of MO:ULa categories that you have opinions on.)
I am fully aware of the fact that no-one has run this game in over two years, and that the number of people interested in doing so is quite low. Because of this, obviously some of these issues aren't particularly relevant or urgent in the slightest at the moment. As veo said, "i dont know if it's worth getting too bogged down in category discussion if nobody has or is willing to run them". That said, I'd say that it's better to get most of this out of the way now such that when it becomes relevant it's all already done (...co-op runs excluded). Also, I'd imagine that having concrete categories and rules in place is more likely to encourage people to run them, and less likely to cause problems if someone submits a run that breaks not-necessarily-obvious rules that were never explicitly stated. Honestly I also largely just don't want any new individual runners in the future to make up their own rules without consulting the community beforehand.[Hide]
To D'ni / KI calibration category
The premise of To D'ni in offline is that you must: gain access to the Great Zero via Kirel, collect the required markers to activate the GZ, link to Descent (which can only be accessed after turning on the Zero), open Dr. Watson's journal, and jump down the Great Shaft. In Uru Live, however, reaching Descent doesn't really present an issue at all, given that you can just head directly to it via the Bahro Stone in Tokotah Alley. Given that this sucks as a category and doesn't really keep with the spirit of the offline TD category, I'd like to propose just removing it entirely in online.
I would, however, support the creation of some kind of 'Calibrated KI'/'All Marker Missions' category (name suggestions welcome), wherein the run starts upon first movement in Relto and ends upon the completion of the final CGZM mission.
The Path of the Shell
The conditions for completing the Path of the Shell Ages are different enough in online that an online PotS category would be completely different from its offline counterpart. The whole ball-rolling part of The Path of the Shell just isn't in Uru Live, nor is the ending of TPotS. In Uru Live, the Pellet Bahro Cave (which in offline gives you part of the fireplace combination, which is not randomised) gives you a randomised imager combination for the Cleft that takes you to the main hall of K'veer. A linking book to Myst is located in K'veer's other hall. There are no linking books in Myst, meaning that it is effectively the ending point of that particular quest. Additionally, Uru Live also has the ring segments (one each for Er'cana and Ahnonay), requiring touching all of the Journey Cloths and then entering the Shell Portal that appears in each Age.
Thus, should the category end upon reaching K'veer (as in offline) or upon reaching Myst? I personally vote for the latter, since it seems to make more sense for Uru Live (and it's not like any other part of the category is the same as offline, lol). Also; should the ring segments be a part of the category? That is, require the runner to collect them both before linking to Myst to end the run (and if so, should the runner be allowed to link to Myst beforehand in order to get the linking book in Relto?).
Two of the puzzles in this part of UL (reaching the fourth maintenance area in Ahnonay and dropping the pellet in the Pellet Bahro Cave) require multiple avatars to solve; I'll go into more detail on this in a later section.
Given the (potential) removal of To D'ni, I don't think that this category would make sense. An 'All Ages' or 'All Rings' category would also face problems, given the nature of the Pod Age's puzzle. There may be other things that can be done with categories like that, but honestly imo that's a discussion for another time.
The other Relto rings
Just for completeness; aside from ABM and TPotS, there are three other Relto rings. They are:
This isn't really a relevant issue at the moment, but I guess I'll throw it in here anyway, just for future reference.
Currently all online categories allow for a maximum of 4 players (though I may lower this to 2 and change the rules to be solo-only for now, until anyone is actually interested in running co-op). It should be fairly obvious that having more players corresponds to a direct advantage in terms of speedrunning. As Kat pointed out a while back, taken to the extreme you can have each player go to a different Age and solve them independently in parallel. Thus, I feel like just allowing any number of players in every category isn't really the best decision for the purposes of fairness and accessibility.
If more people ever become interested in running the game (in groups, in particular) then I propose that subcategories be added for 'solo' runs (ie. 1 player plus a heavily-restricted second player for Ahnonay and the Pellet Bahro Cave - see below for more on that) and 'duo' runs (ie. the main runner plus an unrestricted second player); possibly also other subcats for larger numbers of players. That does, however, raise several questions. In non-solo runs, should every player be required to complete the game, or just player 1? Should every player be forced to start with a new avatar in Relto? (gonna say no to this one, since synchronising that would be... rather difficult.) Should every player have to record and upload their own PoV? What restrictions should there be for players other than player 1? Where do Eder Delin and Eder Tsogal fit into this?
Start time of Uru Live runs
Presumably because of influence from offline Uru, the current rules state that runs in all categories start timing upon linking to the Cleft. While this may have made some amount of sense when the only online category was ABM, it (in my opinion) definitely doesn't now that other categories are potentially going to be added. You're not required to complete the Cleft at all in order to meet the completion conditions of PotS in MOULa (or, indeed, any category that doesn't require you to go to the Journey Ages). Furthermore, it's possible to do things like open the Relto door / link to various Ages before linking to the Cleft (though this could be specifically forbidden in the rules, of course).
Thus I personally believe that online runs should all (possibly or possibly not including ABM; see below section) instead start upon first movement in Relto (or doing something like viewing your Relto book; just first input other than settings changes).
Start time of online ABM runs in particular
Though I personally think that Ages Beyond Myst online should also start on first movement in Relto, this presents an issue when considering the fact that three online ABM speedruns already exist without that section being part of the run. There are a couple of possible options here:
Rules for the main runner
Creating speedrun rules for an MMO like this, with overly-complicated and obtuse instancing rules, where there are so many potential loopholes (many of which don't necessarily fall under the umbrella of things that 'common sense' dictate aren't allowed), is headache-inducing (especially when multiplayer categories are considered; which again, isn't a thing that I have any intention of doing here). In order to clarify exactly what is and is not allowed when speedrunning Uru Live (in solo only – the rules would have to be modified for multiplayer categories), I've come up with a couple of simple restrictions (in addition to common sense stuff like not using bot commands). I think that these should cover most cases where potential loopholes could exist? If I've missed anything, I'd appreciate suggestions for further additions or changes to the rules.
• All runs must be done with a newly-created avatar.
Rules and restrictions for the secondary runner in solo TPotS
This is the part where I talk about my bullshit and arbitrary plan to still have a solo category in online The Path of the Shell! I propose that, instead of simply disallowing solo PotS runs, the runner be allowed to enlist the help of another avatar for the purposes of the two puzzles that require another avatar (ie. dropping a pellet in the PBC and rotating Ahnonay to reach the fourth maintenance area). This helper player would have a very specific list of things that they would be allowed to do; something like the following:
This area is one I'd particularly like feedback on; are these restrictions too strict? Too lenient? The main reason that I wanted to have this weird semi-solo TPotS category with stringent arbitrary restrictions in the first place, instead of simply having the category be multiplayer-only, is because I wanted people to be able to run the rest of Er'cana and Ahnonay alone (instead of requiring two active runners, and requiring routing around having two players). I completely understand the perspective of disliking this approach, though, if it seems too arbitrary to actually be any fun.
Another, related question: Should the helper have to record and upload their PoV as well? I don't think it's as necessary in this category as it would be in actual multiplayer categories, but I can definitely see arguments for and against it.
This isn't relevant to Uru Live categories or rules, but since I never received any responses when I suggested it in the Discord server, I'm just going to state it one more time here, in case anyone other than me has an opinion on it. How would you all feel about the speedrun.com URL for this game being changed to 'uru'? It would make far more sense than 'moul'. Unfortunately the old URL wouldn't redirect (only the default URL, which in this case is 'URU_Ages_Beyond_Myst', would still redirect), meaning that any links to this game page would have to be updated accordingly.
In conclusion, to repeat what I said at the beginning of this post, I would appreciate hearing anyone's opinions on anything that I've said here, or on any other aspect of Uru Live categories. Even if you don't run this game or only have opinions on certain areas, please share them, either here or on Discord. The purpose of this post is to consult with the community and seek consensus on how Uru Live as a speedgame should operate.
Thank you for your time ^^;
KathTheDragon made two comments regarding this on Discord, which I'll list here as well.
Her first was the suggestion that loading times be excluded from timing; I wholeheartedly agree with this, and honestly I might just implement this (for both online and offline) as soon as I get a chance to do the necessary retiming for the 6 runs on the leaderboard (since I doubt that anyone will disagree with this?). Edit: I just realised that this could be exploited to advance cycles in less time (in terms of time w/o loads), since most cycles still advance in the background even while you're linking (even in offline). I'm unsure how large of a problem that could be, or what to do about it. I certainly don't want to encourage it as a strategy. Edit 2: actually it would be impossible to implement it in multiplayer categories huh. Load removal might be a bust.
Her second point was that it's possible to have a properly solo The Path of the Shell category by playing Uru Live on two computers simultaneously (as a suggestion for an optional alternative to coordinating with a second person). This is valid as well, and could also potentially be applied to any other future multiplayer categories. Watching someone try to control four avatars at once would be fun.
So I finally got around to implementing the changes I suggested. That is:
Please feel free to offer any feedback in this thread, in another thread, or in the GoSR Discord server.