Master RC Interview
I was looking at some of the latest stories on halo.bungie.org and I came across a video labeled “Halo: Reach Heroic in 1:26:26 – 6 WORLD RECORDS!” and I decided to give it a quick glance. What started as a quick glance ended with me glued to my computer monitor watching a 90 minute video from start to finish. I was amazed by what Master RC was doing and I found it to be a learning experience. Halo has turned into a online experience and a lot of us have forgotten what it is to play the campaign. It was cool to see all the tricks RC came up with along with a example of how good some people are in a different setting. After I watched this video
I told myself I had to get this guy on our show. I sent RC a message and he responded back quickly. We had been working getting together so that he could be on our show but it just didn’t work out so we ended up doing a Q & A interview. I hope you enjoy this and come to realize that there is a whole different world out there when it comes to Halo and that would be the wonderful art called Speed Running.
Q: Tell us about your gamertag Ultimate RC, is RC what I think it is?
A: Well, what do you think RC is?
Actually, RC is just my initials. Back in the N64 days, you could usually only have 3 characters for your profile name, so using my initials was convienent. Plus I wasn’t particularly creative! I started using ‘RC Master’ in the Xbox era because just two characters seemed awfully lonely. When I created my gamertag in 2005 (I think), for some reason they wouldn’t let me use ‘RC Master’ or just ‘RC’ so I needed to come up with something else. Ultimate was what I decided to add instead, and for some reason I decided it sounded better with the ‘Ultimate’ part first.
Q: Why post the videos, aren’t you worried copy cats will challenge your records?
A: No – that’s actually the point. While, at the end of the day, most speed runs are attributed to just 1 person, the base of knowledge, the tactics, the tricks that go into most runs are a collaborative and iterative process. I actually enjoy it when people break my records because it often gives me something new to work with, or at least a new target to aim for. Beating yourself over and over again is good, but at a certain point it’s really hard to see how it could possibly be improved and you really need a new pair of eyes on it.
Q: Where are you recognized as having these records?
A: Mostly HighSpeedHalo.net - the premier (and only) campaign speed running and high score community for Halo. It’s been going for something like 7 years now. I only really got into speed running with Halo 3 and the saved films you could
Q: Do you hold speed records for any other games? Any other than speed?
A: Unfortunately I don’t. Halo is the game I play by far the most – sometimes to the detriment of getting to play other games. I think its safe to say I’ve played Halo an order of magnitude more than any other game.
Q: How many attempts per level?
A: Do you mean per speed run? It really depends a lot on the difficulty level, and how optimised the target time already is. Some of my Heroic speed runs in Reach are 3rd or 4th attempts, based on the experience I already had on Legendary. Some Legendary runs, like Tip of the Spear and Pillar of Autumn, represent dozens and dozens of attempts – and I’ve made several iterations on those so it’s probably in the hundreds of attempts! My Legendary Single Segment was several dozen attempts over many months – with every scrap of experience I had going into it.
Q: There are some genius tricks and shortcuts here. Did you come up with most of them yourself?
A: Some of the tricks I definitely came up with myself yes – like jumping through the girders under the BXR facility on Tip of the Spear, or grenade-jumping up the wall in Boneyard on Pillar of Autumn to skip the fighting there. Not sure I would say ‘most’ though – some I definitely borrowed from other people, and others I forget who did it first. I can credit myself with putting it all together though!
Q: I noticed several times in the video some showmanship. Playing with shadows, taking extra time to assassinate enemies. Although these aspects made the video entertaining have they ever led to a restart, or worse, seconds shy of a record?
A: Yes! One of the things I like to say about speed running is that if something can go wrong, it probably will do at some point! You see some absolutely ridiculous things that you never thought were possible when you’re speed running! I remember a piece of accidental showmanship on a Heroic Sword Base run I did: I meant to just quickly backsmack this elite, but I accidentally went into the full assassination, which of course cost me a couple of seconds!
For the Single Segment, just getting the no-deaths part was the biggest challenge really. There were some showier tricks that I needed to cut out because I just kept failing them too much – like stealing the Falcon on Winter Contingency
Q: What were some of the hardest moments and levels?
A: For the Single Segment, Nightfall was the level I probably dreaded the most – at least the part where you’re going through the first settlement. Nightfall is an easy level to speed run in itself if you’re allowed to restart, since it’s quick, and the strategy isn’t very complicated. But it’s also random and on Legendary you can die fairly easily. I ended up haveing to invent a new strategy for that area only a few days before I finally nailed the whole run, which dramatically increased my odds of survival.
Long Night of Solace is also a pretty hard one – I remember getting cut to pieces by the Sabres more than a few times. As well as messing up the low-grav sections a few times.
A level like Pillar of Autumn, in the final room with the Zealot Elites got pretty tough. I mean I was worn out from playing for 2 1/2 hours solidly, and the adrenalin was pumping and my hands were shaking and I messed up and the Field Marshall didn’t move back like I was expecting him too
Q: It seems like you have played the campaign quite a bit. Have you came across some annoying glitches?
A: Probably the one that stands out for me is the suicide Wraith on Tip of the Spear. You get to the second Tyrant anti-air gun, after the BXR facility, and there are either two Wraiths, or one Wraith. Which if you’re trying to plan out what you’re going to do in advance, is super annoying because it completely changes what you can and can’t do. There are probably others but sometimes you don’t know if they’re glitches or just something with the AI.
Q: What is you favorite and most hated level to play?
A: I’m gonna say New Alexandria for both. It’s so unique as a level since you’re in a Falcon most of the time, travelling between several different on-foot sections. I find it a really fun level to play and explore and just fly around. But on the other hand, because the order of the objectives are random, and the side-objectives are random, it’s a real pain the ass to speed run since you have to keep restarting, not because of something you did, but because the game gave you a Buck side mission or something! So it’s kind of a love-hate relationship there.