Mid-run difficulty changing discussion


EDIT: Read the Edit/added quote on the bottom of this post first.

To change difficulty you put in the skill 0?/1/2/3 (0/Easy/Medium/Hard) command and then save and load (skill 1;save quick;load quick) OR go through a changelevel trigger, change skill, leave the level and then come back. The skill command changes the skill for the map you are currently in but needs to reload to come into effect. It is also possible to change difficulty by spamming wait commands, go through the loading trigger and press hotkey for difficulty change before the map loads.

For Latest Steam version Easy difficulty is to me the best difficulty. However if you could change difficulty during a run, that would be cool. Because Easy is the fastest difficulty and if someone chose to play on Medium or Hard difficulty then it wouldn’t be a big deal. On Hard difficulty the vortiguant boost is much easier but in the end it will come to where the fastest runs uses the object boost test chamber skip (meaning you can stay on easy difficulty the whole run and still be fast without doing the ridiculous vortiguant boost on easy). Allowing difficulty changing enables more people to participate in the category by letting them do the vortiguant boost on Medium/Hard difficulty and then switch to Easy difficulty.

Also there may be small advantages in difficulty changing when it comes to armor management, for example, you have 18 armor going up the elevator right before the grenade boost before getting captured, if you play on easy difficulty and pick up the battery it’ll give you a total of 33 armor which is not optimal. However, if you played on hard difficulty you would get a total of 28 armor which is pretty good for the grenade boost. This requires you to plan ahead depending on how the run has turned out so far and probably enables more strats. For me it makes the run more interesting.

How about Half-Life with WON dlls? As of now, the only category is Any% Hard. Technically Easy difficulty is the fastest but it’s too ridiculous in my opinion because of the Easy difficulty vortiguant boost (so from here I will just consider that Easy difficulty vortiguant boost doesn’t exist). I don’t think difficulty changing should be allowed with WON dlls as then you would change from a slower (Hard) difficulty to a faster (Easy) as opposed to when on Latest Steam version where starting on Easy difficulty is going to be the fastest through start to end (disregarding changing difficulty mid run for armor management purposes). When I say I don’t think that it should be allowed, I mean that I don’t think it should be a category. As far as WON Any% goes, Hard only is all that is needed in my opinion. You might as well just play Latest Steam version with removed bhop cap through BXT and unlimited fps. But I can understand if people want to have limited fps as it is more fair and I can imagine myself wanting that too. I’m having split opinions here as I come to realize that there are lots of interesting categories (all any%: WON Hard, WON multiskill*, Latest Steam multiskill unlimited fps with bhop cap, Latest Steam multiskill unlimited fps no bhop cap, Latest Steam limited fps no bhop cap and not so cool Latest Steam limited fps with bhop cap, SS/RTA, *multiskill meaning difficulty change is allowed, - to me, Latest Steam version without multiskill makes little sense unless you do object boost test chamber skip) and I’m just speaking my thoughts and I hope you see my thought process and that it brings a discussion.

If you want to share your thoughts about categories consider going to the SS/RTA Leaderboard Category Organisation thread https://forums.sourceruns.org/index.php?topic=2748.msg20667;topicseen#new
Also, maybe you should have read that thread before this one as they are kinda linked together. Sorry for being so hesitant. And ask if there is something that’s not clear.

What are your thoughts on changing difficulties mid-run?

EDIT:------QUOTING 3rd post on page 2


That would be an interesting category, but I don’t think it should be anything official. It could be an arbitrary category (is arbitrary the right word?) though, kind of like zero gravity% or any other with custom game settings.

The reason why I think so is that the player normally chooses their difficulty before starting a New Game, and after that there’s no option to change that without the use of console commands.


this would not actually be legit, as there is no way in game to change the skill. Once you select the skill and hit start, that sets the difficlty
(in something like hl2 this is possible, as the options menu has a setting for this)


It would sort of clear up the difficulty mess. What I mean is that currently we consider difficulty to be a category definition (separating Easy and Hard) which to me seems pointless because as I mentioned in the category thread, there is so little difference between the two that you may aswell run whatever is fastest. Allowing this would mean that difficulty would not be considered a category definition and therefore you reduce the amount of possible categories making things a lot less messy.

You can also do this. According to quad you can attempt it twice. I succeeded with it a couple of times when attempting Easy runs but for the most part I found it pretty difficult and inconsistent.

I don’t think I could ever agree with only allowing difficulty changing in one version and not the other, it would be an unjustifiable double standard.

Overall I’m on the fence about this because as I said originally, on one hand it would clear up the difficulty mess. You also can’t really make the argument that it’s not possible without the use of console commands because ‘wait’ is allowed and the same applies to that (not mentioning fps_max because it’s pretty much a necessity).

On the other hand, it does seem pretty sketchy to me in that you choose what difficulty you want to play to start out with and I guess that kind of implies you’re not supposed to change it, but ultimately I’m not really sure.

EDIT: Moved category-related thoughts to the other thread.


We never actually select difficulty through the menu and we don’t start the game from the menu either. We do something like skill 3;map c1a0; so the Skill command is like any other command. I just believe that allowing mid-run difficulty changing is better for the community as the gap between the higher tier runners and the lower tier would decrease.

This doesn’t seem very suitable for newer players.

My thinking is that since there is no faster strat than vortiguant boost on WON it would be to your advantage to change from Hard to Easy after the boost. On Latest Steam it is not to your advantage as you could just as well have run the game on Easy to begin with.


After a pretty covering discussion on PJC’s twitch channel I understood it as that me and PJC agreed on that this is purely a subjective matter. People who don’t want difficulty changing mid-run thinks that it is not intended to change difficulty during a run as you select difficulty at the beginning of the game and it requires console commands to change difficulty mid-run. You can see it as Valve added the Skill command for people to adjust their difficulty if they find it too easy or too hard during their casual playthrough or you could see it like they had the command for developing purposes. But if so, shouldn’t it have been sv_cheats 1 protected? Ok, so what about the notarget command? The command makes the enemies ignore you and it is not protected by sv_cheats 1.

First, what is a cheat? Cheating is when you break the rules. What are rules for? Rules are to keep things interesting. No? They are to keep things fair and in order. Maybe some are, but take the example of the off-side rule in football (soccer), it is to prevent people to just hang around on the opponents side of the field all the time. Does this rule make things more fair? No, because the rule applies to both teams and the rule is purely for entertainment purposes and making the sport more interesting. So, is using notarget cheating? Yes, because it was decided to not be allowed because a run using it wouldn’t be entertaining or interesting. But whether something is entertaining or interesting is purely subjective, everyone has certain opinions and feelings about different things.

So we can’t know what was “meant to be” but in my opinion that is irrelevant anyways. The focus should be on what’s the best for the community (having an entertaining and interesting run. Goldsrc as we know it is already broken in the sense that we use all these commands like wait, fps_max, force_centerview, weapon binds, r_drawentities, play “sound/file/directory/.wav” and maybe even cl_pitchdown/up etc. This, to me, because of it’s uniqueness, is the beauty of Goldsrc. And Skill is, like any of these, just a single console command.

Ultimately, the only question is; Do you think the implementation of the usage of the Skill command mid-run would make the run more interesting and that it would be beneficial to the community? Please, make sure you’ve read through this thread and this thread https://forums.sourceruns.org/index.php?topic=2748.msg20667#msg20667 to make sure you express your truest opinion.



edit: yes


Sounds like a mess to me and a minimal entertainment factor. The major purpose seems to be making the game easier for beginners. There is no necessity to skip the testchamber, there’s always the alternative to wait out the sequence if you’re not able to skip it.
Doesn’t matter in my eyes if a nab gets a 49min or 48 thanks to a minute saved in the TC. Not worth it imo.


Seeing as this is mainly a subjective matter, I think it would be best to create some sort of internal(?) poll. I’m not entirely sure how we would define who gets to vote though.

(I’m still undecided on the actual topic)


You are right from a viewer’s perspective. But what matters the most is the player’s perspective.

To be honest, I don’t think Latest Steam version played on Easy difficulty will ever be a category unless you are free to change difficulties. Nobody will bother with doing the alternate strats to vortiguant boost and certainly nobody would want to go through the level the intended way. Especially not when you know you could skip it if you played on a harder difficulty (ie play WON any% Hard). And I see no point of playing Latest Steam version only on Hard because it would just slow you down and limit strats.

Keep Half-Life any% Hard (WON) as it is. I don’t really care about difficulty changing when it comes to WON version but if it’s allowed on one version it should be allowed on the other, according to PJC, although I don’t agree with this. All I want is Half-Life any% Latest Steam version Easy to be a thing and I think it would be a cool bonus with the new way of armor management. I can honestly not see why this seems like a big deal, to me it is the only logical way. It adds a new element to the game, it makes the game more beginner friendly without hurting the veterans, and based on the mindset of speedrunning any% in general. Why decide to create limitations based on “it’s not intended” or “it’s not worth it”. Decide based on whether you think it is lame or not.


Well, as I suggested in the other thread we could at least set up the category on the leaderboard. If nobody runs it then that’s fine (there are many other games on speedrun.com with empty categories), but I think we should at least have the option there, if anything just so people know it’s actually a thing so that they’re given a choice when wanting to submit a run. Besides, all it takes is one person/run to get the ball rolling, someone’s bound to at least show some interest if they know about it.

Not allowing the changing on one version and then allowing it on the other makes the categories unbalanced. Yes, they aren’t competitively comparable but they should be theoretically comparable. To achieve that you need to not apply arbitrary exclusive rules that aren’t related to the category itself. It doesn’t matter if you can use some trick that gives you an advantage. The point is (from save deletion topic):

This applies to all categories in my opinion.


I don’t think a category should have anything to do with another category and should be seen as if they were completely different instances. A category is simply just a rule-set some people chose to go by. Why not put all possible categories on speedrun.com? Like put up Latest Steam version Easy RTA, and Latest Steam version multi-skill RTA and whichever is the most popular category gets to be the Half-Life any% Latest Steam version.


Primary categories in most games are defined by things such as versions (HL2 OE vs NE) and difficulties (Quake Easy vs Nightmare). Then after that you have categories that arbitrarily exclude certain tricks/glitches such as Portal No OoB. Even SS is technically an arbitrary exclusion of save/load tricks.

A WON version category that doesn’t allow something that’s allowed in Steam version would be Half-Life WON (No Difficulty Changing) or something along those lines, not just plain Half-Life WON Any%.

I don’t think we should just create a huge mess by adding every possible category onto the leaderboards, there’s way too many variables in Half-Life. I still think a poll for deciding on whether this should be allowed or not is the best option. The rest of the category discussion is another thing altogether.


So what is the criteria for being eligible to participate in the poll? Current runners and people who intend to run the game?


If there are many reasons to not allow it then please bring those reasons up so we all are aware of them. I’d imagine what you think of as “reasons” has it’s own counterpart which cancels itself out (subjective matter), like most points that have been brought up so far. The point of a speedrun is to have fun and go as fast as possible (unless all you want is to provide entertainment to viewers, but this is irrelevant in this topic - imo). Using Skill the way I see it is more legit than disallowing it. If people are up to date with the discussion and have the knowledge about the speedrun itself, the only major reason I can see why people wouldn’t want to allow it is because they are so used with how it currently is. I can agree with this, and I hadn’t realized how fond I actually was with the current WON Hard run and realized that it would be sad to see WON Hard to not be the main category anymore. It would still exist though, to not make previous runners’ efforts invalid. But, by main category I mean that a run with mid-run difficulty change would be the main one as it would simply stand as “Half-Life (WON) any%” as opposed to “Half-Life (WON) any% Hard”. I’ve actually come to realize that I would prefer to run WON any% on Easy difficulty, if I could do the vortiguant boost on Hard - the option to do the jump strat done in the Crowbar segmented run is still the best as you’d leave the chamber with full HP. And I say this as a current Top 3 runner on the leaderboards for Half-Life (WON) any% Hard.

People say that it is a small change and that it would be causing more trouble than it’s worth. It is a small change when it comes to WON version as it already has an established run but this decision sets the whole future of the Latest Steam categories. It is a change to make the run easier on beginners without hurting the veterans, it is faster, it is legit, - all this applies to ALL versions of the game. The point that it makes WON version faster is actually huge. No matter how much faster, the fastest possible should always be strived for and who are we to decide to disallow something that would speed up the speedrun because we simply don’t like it, when technically it should be allowed. The only thing that matters is if you, as a runner, would want to change difficulty mid-run or not - if even that, looking at it from a speedrun perspective as opposed to looking at it from a more conservative point of view.

EDIT: Should it be Half-Life any% or Half-Life any% Multi-Skill: that is the question.


Half-Life any% just to keep things simpler.


Me, Tryedz and PJC created a list of HL, OF, BS and GMC runners from the leaderboards as well as other actively involved people. This list is supposed to include players who would be affected by the rule addition which is kind of difficult to define, therefore we may have left someone out, so if you feel you or someone else should get to vote, let us know either here or via PM. Likewise, do the same if you don’t wish to vote (maybe you can’t make your mind up or other reasons).

We’ll all vote on whether changing difficulty mid-run should be allowed (applies to all GoldSrc games/categories).

Instead of only going by who the three of us know, we thought it’d be better if people who are reading this spread the word to other runners and let them know about this and encourage them to read through this thread and form their own opinion (via Steam, Skype, Twitch chat etc).

Here is the list:

So what do you think? Reply either here or let one of us know via PM. And please read through this whole thread before making up your mind.

This post was written together with PJC and Tryedz.

Maxam: http://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561197963578651
PJC: http://steamcommunity.com/id/pjcsteam/
Tryedz: http://steamcommunity.com/id/tryedz/


Hmm. I’m not really into merging the difficulties into one category and allowing changing of it in the console. I feel like if this is to make things easier for beginners to get into, it is one of the things that’s easier to understand.

What is confusing about starting to run HL is the fact that there are so many versions, bunnmod pro, NGHL, all the binds to get down, the console commands to optimize the game and experience. I have seen people on twitch on wonky versions, with like 60 FOV and a Bhop cap trying to “run” hl. The difficulty categorization seems to be one of the few things they actually understand.

Now keeping track of the FPS-lowering as well as the difficulty changing back and forth just doesn’t seem like fun to me.

**With that said - **I’m not actively running Half Life for the moment, and probably wont for a few months. And i choose to vote blank. Just because i’m old fashioned doesn’t mean i think it can make the run more interesting.

And if we change, it should be Half-Life Any%. Not multiskill that would just make it a fuckton more confusing with the RTA and SS combinations and scriptless and scripts and whatever…


I’m no top genius on Half-Life but I guess I could say a few words.

People might say that it’ll be a mess because they’re looking at other games and seeing how some might just have the old fashion any% and 100% while others have categories that are different but are clearly reasonable. Arbitrary categories have a long history of hurting the reputation of many communities. And with the SourceRuns community having a lot of category related things being discussed right as i’m typing, I can see why people would say it’s a mess.

Multiple times it’s been said that it makes the game more beginner friendly. In my opinion, the amount of information, installation and time that someone would have to have to actually *get a good time *or have a time that satisfies them wouldn’t be “beginner” friendly for anyone whether it’s Easy or Hard. Something you will have get used to over time with any speedgame. Not really a big fan of this training wheels argument. If you want to run a game and having troubles deciding what difficultly to run, then balance it on which one is better or fun for you and go at it. If you can’t handle the fact that you have to take damage here or hard trick here then deal with it, do another category, or go play a different game. (Not directly speaking to anyone just saying to a person who is wanting to speedrun Half-Life in general) Of course no one can stop you from doing a difficulty changing run competitively, just don’t expect me to take you seriously.

Theoretically, I would love this because it focuses on how fast HALF-LIFE can be beaten and not some difficulty/variable. Eg. HL21’s title says “Half-Life in 20:41”. It doesn’t say whether it was hard or used scripts unless you looked in the description if you really wanted to know the tech side of the run. HL21 shows how fast Half-Life can be beaten using everything possible that doesn’t involve blatant cheating. The reason Half-Life Hard, No Scripts would be much slower because you are limited to what you use to beat the game.

This is my general opinion on the difficulty changing idea without having to counter argue with someone in the thread since I was requested to voice an opinion (and it’s 3 in the morning but that was my choice and fault).

E: To clarify, until more people say their opinion on topic and brings very good points (since Maxam is pretty much an one man army here) on why this should be an actual category, it’s a no for me.


For beginners, FPS-lowering has extremely small effect on the run as they would only use it to make npc’s turn faster which is only used in few instances. Top tier runners use FPS-lowering to avoid getting wall bugged, do edge bugs, slope bugs, slope bounces, reduce fall damage and potentially for pixel setups because of its (rather unknown) effect on ground/air-friction. Difficulty change, for beginners, would only have to be done once and it would affect the whole run. Top tiers runners would potentially use it for armor management and enemy damage boosts, probably meaning, not a whole lot of time save from a beginner’s view. And we don’t know if we will find any new uses for mid-run difficulty changing or not.

My point is that it’s perfectly fine for beginners to just change difficulty once (or not at all) and it’s perfectly fine to run on 100 fps throughout the whole run. However, the option to do it as much as they want is there.

So it’s not a lot to keep in mind if you use it the beginner way as I explained it as. But if you simply just don’t like the idea of having it in a run, I can understand that.

Currently on the leaderboards only HL1 has a Hard category, which should remain untouched. So no merging on this part needed imo.