Speedrunning Planetfall

Planetfall’s my favorite Infocom game, so probably my favorite game of all. I first played it around 1987, and I have played to the end possibly hundreds of times. I know a lot about the game. I’ve found a lot of bugs in it.

I’ve long been sort of aware that speedrunning is a thing, but I don’t know much about the subject. I’ve read a little bit, and watched a few videos. I decided I wanted to try to finish Planetfall as fast as possible.

But I don’t really care about speed in terms of time elapsed. I’m a pretty fast typist, but the challenge I set myself was intellectual rather than physical. I wanted to finish the game in the least number of moves. I came up with a pretty good plan. I decided on an “Any% run”, meaning just get to the end of the game, not worrying about completing all parts of it, and even allowing buggy shortcuts. BTW, I did this on release 37, but every version but the Solid Gold should work as well.

Once I had my plan, it turned out to be a physical challenge after all. Even not caring about physical speed, I found it took me quite a number of tries to get through my planned sequence of commands without making a mistake. Finally a few minutes ago I finished. There are a total of 223 greater-than signs in my transcript, so not counting the initial SCRIPT and the final Q, I finished Planetfall in 221 turns.

That’s not best possible. I think with better RNG luck this could be reduced to 214. But as far as I can see there’s no shorter path to the end.

A 100% run, where you get the good ending, would take a lot longer.

The other Infocom game I know just about as well is Zork II, but that’s totally broken for speedrunning. Depending on the version (and, again, the RNG), there are bugs that let you swipe the Wizard’s wand within a few moves and skip to the end.

EDIT: Oops! The SCRIPT command doesn’t get saved to the transcript. So the correct move count is 222.

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I just recently happened upon the QFG speed running…

If I were to coin a phrase to describe what you’re doing (omitting speed), I would call it “efficiency running”. Running with the least amount of steps. :wink: One thing about the video I linked, the guy also realized that you can use synonyms with less letters, thus increasing the efficiency. I wonder what the least amount of keys pressed could be to solve Planetfall as well?

Thanks for sharing! :smile:

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Will you make the transcript available somewhere?

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I hadn’t thought about that. Looks like it’s possible to upload files here.

Fun facts:

  • I used three access cards.
  • I ate only twice.
  • I never dropped anything after the ladder.

Those last two really surprised me.

PlanetfallV37.txt (34.0 KB)

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This brings back memories. Many, many years ago, a work colleague and I had a competition to see who could finish an Infocom game the quickest. We chose Planetfall, as it was one that we both had and neither of us had started. I stayed up until the wee hours of the night, but I beat him. So I solved Planetfall in one evening. I’ve probably still got my map and notes somewhere.

What you call “speed running”, I would call a “minimum move solution”. I always do this as a matter of course.

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What about “speed walking” a game? :wink:

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The only Infocom game I’ve tried speedrunning (in the sense of minimizing the number of actions, including movement) is The Witness. This is what I came up with:

GO TO DOOR. RING BELL. ASK PHONG ABOUT SUICIDE. WAIT. SIT ON WOODEN CHAIR. WAIT UNTIL 9:04. YES. YES. STAND. PUSH BUTTON. WAIT. NO. ASK PHONG ABOUT BUTTON. WAIT. YES. NO. HIDE BEHIND LOUNGE. WAIT UNTIL 1:00. [YES until Duffy returns] ARREST MONICA

It’s short enough to fit into a tweet, with some room to spare! Though good luck making sense of the story if you play it that way.

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The Royal Puzzle in Dungeon and Zork III was used for competing on MIT to find the minimum moves solution. I made the Royal Puzzle into a standalone game but no one bothered to send scores :smile:

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I was thinking about trying Infidel. It’s got some time-saving glitches.

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In speedrunning that I’ve seen (Elden Ring mostly), runs are categorized into those that allow glitches/bugs, and those that do not.

While some people may be interested in the shortest possible glitch run, others are defintiely interested in the shortest possible intended solutions.

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Visit Skuga Lake tracks your moves and your completion rate to facilitate speedrunning. I added this when I realized there were enough alternate solutions and weird interdependencies that I couldn’t be sure what an optimal solution for my own game would be.

I mean, any% would probably be pretty easy to figure out. 100% magic items would be interesting to optimize. True 100% with all worry dolls would probably be interesting, but I don’t know if anybody has even found all the worry dolls to begin with.

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Two tiny improvements got my move count down to 218.
PlanetfallV37.txt (32.2 KB)

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