Speedrunning Defender's Quest


#1

Defender’s quest stands out from the horde of tower defense games in a number of ways. One of these is that the RPG-like progression system makes beating the game in minimal real-time into a real challenge.

I’m currently working a speedrun route for this game, and the challenges it presents are a lot of fun.

  • Determine straightforward and consistent unit placement that will allow for levels to be completed quickly without needing to go into “panic pauses.”
  • Determine when it’s worth backtracking to pick up a reward and some experience from advanced or extreme to keep the flow. (example - picking up the 14 power bow from extreme Coliseum)
  • Actually execute the above quickly.

My current RTA is 2:45:51 but I’m gonna keep improving it - I have almost 10 minutes to save leading up to ozimal alone, for example. Ingame time was 2:25. Under 2 hours seems pretty easy just for accounting on timelosses to dying and other “ah crap plowing through each level on normal is hard” situations.

Edit: Down to 1:52:54! Also, requested creation of a speedrun.com page, if anyone else is interested.
( http://speedrun.com/defendersquest )


#2

Figuring out how many levels can be won just by maxing Lightning and spamming it is a good idea too. I can rush down Eztli Tenoch’s forms just by shocking him to death on Normal.


#3

Is that 2:45:51 for NG+? I assume no, because that would be absurd. Tell us your rules! I’m up to try this as soon as I can spare a couple hours.


#4

Here’s the rules I’m using:

What I’ve defined as the “normal” speedrun of this -
Win condition - Beat Eztli-Tenoch on new game (not +), from a brand new file, on normal difficulty.

  • Default EXP, Gold, and Death Penalties.
  • Anything else goes.

I had been maxing frenzy with enough points in crystal and fireball to clear groups that start leaking, instead of lightning… I’ll try switching to lightning tonight.


#5

I made another attempt last night, and clocked in at 1:52:54! (cut another 53 minutes off the time! Turns out having a plan is faster than repeatedly dying.)

I tried out lightning, but it’s not as powerful as Hlo implied. The Frenzy/Crystal/Fireball build I’ve been going with seems better.


#6

Oh, I forgot that lightning scales not only with points, but also with level. Oops. That’s why I thought it did insane damage. I guess it’s kind of weak at level 16.

Is it ever worth it at any point in the run to reset a character’s points and adjust their build? Also, do you think you could speedrun Hero Mode? There’s a real challenge, even at 300%. :smiley:


#7

Ahh, that explains why it doesn’t seem that powerful. I never really use it in NG+ either, so I had never noticed how much damage it does when azra is higher level.

I did try to minimize the amount of fiddling with builds, but I think it’s correct to reset at least 1 berserker to immediately max the bleed skill (Rage) when it becomes available. I did some other tinkering with builds, like speccing an ice mage into max chill / freeze.

Hero mode would certainly be interesting.

I still want to refine this speedrun a little further - I am still hitting some really inefficient speed bumps in the late game, particularly leading up to the archerless level. I can’t figure out how to beat that level without going back and grinding to level 15 on some of my guys for better AOE to deal with the super fast groups of slugs that spawn from the Monstrosities.

Also, Hall of the God King seems to require some decent armor for the two knights that will sit at the either spawn point (at least, given my low level and lack of money to buy good staves for everyone) since they get the living daylights beaten out of them and giving them just a healer as backup doesnt seem to be enough.


#8

Ah ha, you’ve caught me Syl! I was just taking a peak at the newest run, but don’t have time to watch it all yet. (He is a friend of mine from college, so I had the inside line on his ideas for trying this.)

So I’ve now taken 3 attempts at this, but have a few differences to contend with. Specifically the fact that I’m still on the Legacy version, and so cap at 4x speed in battle. (Also my new hires come in at level 1 always.) My first two tries both came in at about 2:20 (though the second one, the first one I “streamed” had a lot fewer fails/partials) and only on the third attempt did I make the 2:02 mark.

The first try does have a neat start even though I spend too much time later on grinding. I think it is correct because it allows getting the +14 bow right after receiving the heal spell, which is the earliest it could possibly be done I think. In the video I describe it as a bit of showboating, but once you know the targeting configuration to use I think the burst power of the 14 bow makes up the time in the next level or two.
( is at: https://www.twitch.tv/et11235813/videos/all )

I had a massive advantage initially due to my longer experience with the game, but I’m not great at thinking “fast” - both in that I move and think a bit slowly (if deeply… I hope), and that I don’t understand as well how to optimize for speed (I’ve never tried to speed run anything before). I knew it was only a matter of time till I was caught, but was surprised and rather delighted that even with my Legacy build of the game, and a matching “Legacy brain”, the game was curved so well that experience and knowledge were more important than raw speed.

I knew I never had a chance of keeping up once Syl sunk his teeth into it though, so I rather doubt I can catch him again… but maybe my opening “script” and a few other ideas will prove the fastest.

Splitting points across multiple spells is an idea I hadn’t thought of though - I’m so used to slow play “max power” that I never really considered anything other than frenzy till it was maxed, since in a linear type playthough you need to learn when to time it for each level to burst down the biggest HP slug that is incoming. But that might well be overkill in this setting, which is a neat idea I’ll be pondering.


#9

Here’s an interesting thought: Zelemir has always been unfortunately cheeseable during Zelemir Appears, to the point where most people would quickly figure out “Hey, I can just gang on him at the start, GG EZ.”

You kill him really fast at normal difficulty, where he has 30,000 HP. On Advanced he has 81,429, meaning it would only take less than three times longer to kill him if you surrounded him with melee people.

Would it be possible, or beneficial, to try ganging on him on Advanced difficulty? Doing so would get you the normal rewards, along with a bonus 1,100 EXP for all and 4,300 scrap. Not sure how beneficial those numbers are during the speedrun, though.


#10

In one of my attempts I think it tried exactly that, but didn’t hit hard enough. I may have been over-relying on archers though - while the strongest class in normal due to the range and lane coverage, their raw dps is still lower than Slack or Markos.

I do believe the first level after the monastery can be done without too much trouble on advanced, which is worth it if true. A critical crux for me is always the level without archers - I can’t get past that without being level 15, which forces a bit of grinding. I also know my “linear any level” uses that river level as the first level above normal (but lack of the 14 bow makes it slow) and by early ng+ is on pure extreme, so you can “grind at the same time” - the question is where is it fast enough to be worth it?


#11

Zelemir 1 I can (and do) rush down. However, on advanced he ports away before the melee pack can finish him off, so at best I’d have to beat the level conventionally.

The sticking points I’m having are the last few battles before the two bosses. I haven’t figured out a good configuration that lets me beat the Ketta-less level without grinding to level 15 first. The monstrosities are really rough, especially without having an archer “follow” those super fast slugs all the way down the path. 15 gives access to swipe on Slak + one or two other zerkers, and Ice Blast on Wrenna, both of which help a ton, but it requires extra grinding.

The level after that killed my run last night (was 10 minutes ahead coming into it, then proceeded to wipe on it repeatedly) because I think I was skimping too much on archers, having spent a lot of money on swords to ensure that the archerless level went smooth.


#12

Oh, I was thinking it might be possible to pause when he does that, refund everyone, get your PSI back and put them back down to kill him before the first enemy reaches Azra. I guess that scrap/EXP bonus isn’t obtainable, though.


#13

Doing “easy” levels on advanced is definitely worth it in some situations, but what do you mean “slow”? Is it a matter of unsummoning and resummoning berserkers at specific times? That’s probably too slow to be worth it. At that point in the game, scrap feels pretty tight (trying to hire zerkers and archers for later in the game) and extra rewards sound mighty nice.


#14

@sylverfyre:

This is really interesting! Really glad to see someone trying to speedrun the game :slight_smile: I was wondering – what rules are you applying with regards to adjusting the in-game speed? Do you always play on say 1x speed or do you adjust as necessary? And I assume you are counting “real time” elapsed for your speedrun time?

Also – are there any features I can add in to the game that would benefit the speedrunning experience (without necessarily making it easier/harder or affecting the core stuff you do). Things like an in-game clock / splits, a setting that auto-skips cutscenes, etc?

EDIT:
Just looking through your run it seems like having some hotkeys to automatically confirm whatever button is onscreen would probably help a lot. I bet you could probably shave a lot of mousing and clicking on any given run with e.g. a steam controller, which would let you combine precise mousing w/ the convenience of one button presses to advance through confirmations and menus. I should probably add something like an “OK” for keyboard mode.


#15

The ingame speed is a tool to abuse, I’m abusing it as much as possible, while trying to not kill myself from running at 16x. That’s one reason that I’m trying to emphasize straightforward setups rather than ones that require too much micro, as that would likely require pausing or slowing down. For example, almost all of my knights get set to target strong, and have that setting saved and almost never touched.


#16

Interesting approach!

I imagine that if one were to count only “simulation” time then the game would be an insane micro-optimization fest, and runs would take tens of hours.

Your way seems more fun. But I guess that’s the beauty of speedrunning, you can define your own categories. I think yours would probably be the dominant format.


#17

Is there even a way to accurately measure simulation time?

On a related note, how is ingame time measured? I’ve been seeing some pretty disparate results from the IGT - a 2:45 run ended with 2:25 ingame time, then a different 1:54 run ended with 2:04 ingame time. I’m confused.


#18

Simulation time can be accurately measured, at the very least on a per battle basis. The actual game runs at a fixed simulation timestep, running at faster speeds just increases the number of timesteps taken per real time second – so it would be easy to keep track of and output how many “simulation frames” had elapsed. Everything outside of battles happens at 1:1 speed so those “simulation frames” could be recorded reliably as well.

The actual time that’s stamped onto your save slots is done in a suuuuuper lazy way and wasn’t implemented particularly carefully (I threw it together in a few minutes just to have something).


#19

Regarding the thread appearing deleted: Initally the spam filter chomped the thread, but I approved it the other day. :slight_smile: It was only down for a little bit.


#20

Whew, that’s a relief. Well done, Hlo.