GDQ Interview: The First Step With JHobz And Keizaron (Pt.2)

Thursday, June 4th, 2020

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OR: So The First Step is a show that aims to teach people [that] anyone can speedrun, and that you don’t have to invest thousands of hours in order to do it. Do you feel like you’ve been successful at this goal?

K: I think so, absolutely. Actually, this wasn’t the game I thought would at all be a really good example of how this show works, but Cat Quest 2 actually- [there] is a really cool success story behind that.

So we both did that as a race, obviously. And after the show, we’re both like ‘let’s look at this, I think we can possibly get a really good time in this.’ So we both got dinner, came back, worked on routing, made a little document for each other, and everything. And I spent all night that night working on it, because [we were] shy of being under the hour mark. I’m like ‘We can do an hour.’ And so I got under the hour with that, and then four days later, someone who had watched the show sent me a message saying that- and these are messages I love getting all the time- that they weren’t doing the best mentally, they were going through depression or they had an anxiety.

But one person, who I can’t remember off the top of my head their username, reached out to me and said that the show really took them out of a dark place and they really liked Cat Quest 2, and so they wanted to pick it up and run it. And within those four days, they set the new world record and there’s a new completely different route for it too. And that’s a success story that I always point out, because that’s just really cool that not only did the show help bring someone [into] speedrunning, but they have a top time in one of the games that we did.

K: I always love to hear that. Another story that we heard was also somebody who saw the show and decided to pick up a game that they played a bunch, and speedrun that. And they speedran it at a marathon called Midwest Speedfest, I think.

They ran it there and they called out in their commentary that they watched the show and it inspired them to start speedrunning. And I was like ‘That’s super cool.’

We’ve gotten a few messages at this point in Twitter DMs or whatever, telling us that it got them into speedrunning. And I love hearing that, because, back to what got me into speedrunning, it feels weird to be on the other side of it. But it’s the best.

“So my advice to anyone wanting to pick up speedrunning is just ‘pick up the game and finish it, man.’

OR: What advice do you both have for someone who sees your show and says “I want to go ahead and try speedrunning out for the first time.”? Should they be gunning for that 4:55 any-percent run in Super Mario Bros.?

H: Oh no. No. *laughs*

K: Don’t do that to yourself! You’ll burn yourself out so quickly!

H: Yeah. They’ve been a few people who’ve tried to get into speedrunning that way, actually. People are like ‘I’m going to be the best at this game when I’m just going to start.’ If you have that competitive drive, then maybe that works for you. But for me, even when I speedrun a game for a really long time, and I get really good at it, I don’t set goal times for myself, ever.

I like seeing fun times- if I get under thirty minutes in a game, you get a sub-thirty, it’s just nice to see big, round numbers get cut. But I don’t set goal times for myself, ever. So I wouldn’t even do that for people. Because when you put a goal time on it, it becomes so easy to feel like you’re not getting anywhere and to really feel like, even when you’re really improving, to feel that you haven’t improved because you’re not beating that time that you just arbitrarily set for yourself.

So for me, personally, I always think that the best way is to just speedrun until you have a run that you’re happy with. And then, for getting into speedrunning, I would say the same kind of thing. Just try it. Did you do better than you thought you did? I bet you will. And then you can always try it again and hope that you do better than you even did that time. And you can keep trying, and I think that the best way to get into speedrunning is something like that. And you can worry about learning all the complex, frame perfect tricks and stuff like that down the line. You don’t need that stuff at the beginning to start doing better and see yourself improve.

K: I think for me, and I wish that I had this advice when I first started- because I kind of did that: ‘I’m going to go after this top time.’ And it took awhile, and I think I deprived myself of one- enjoying getting myself into speedrunning initially, and two- just eliminating that stress. Because such an ambitious goal, you mentally stress yourself out. You don’t realize it right away, but that two-hundredth attempt, one-thousandth attempt- you’re just going to wear you down.

So my advice to anyone wanting to pick up speedrunning is just ‘pick up the game and finish it, man.’ It’s so valuable to finish out runs, even if you do get to a point where you’re competitive and you might not necessarily beat your personal best time, finishing out runs still gives you really valuable information because you can get some late-game practice that you might not necessarily get because you’re resetting all the time, or you can just get a little more comfortable with the sequence of things. You can always break a run into segments, and practice the late game that way, but if you’re not finishing the run, you might not have that same pressure when you get to that point. So you get more and more used to the mentality of doing it.

So finish out the runs that you’re doing, even if they’re bad, even if you’re slow. You’ll get so much information and get so much more comfortable with it. And then, just overall, remember that you’re playing a video game. It’s all about fun. If you’re not having fun, then there’s nothing wrong with taking a little bit of a break. And I know Hobz and I can be stubborn with stuff that we do. And we should probably take a break more than we do when we’re doing our own personal streams. But we’re smart enough to know that if it’s getting to a point where it feels unhealthy, we need to take a step back. And that’s something that people need to remember.

It’s just getting to a point where you’re not having any sort of fun, just remember it’s a video game. You got to take a step back, maybe take a ten-fifteen minute break, maybe take a day break. Maybe even take a week-long sabbatical or something. But always come back to it with a positive and fresh mindset and just finish out your runs.

H: I participated in a bunch of various Discords for games that I speedrun in the past- Crash Bandicoot has a lot of new people hop in and ask ‘Hey, how do I get better at this? Where should I start?’ And one of the things I will say, and this is especially important in 2D and 3D platformers more than maybe anything else- there is never a downside to playing the game more. Even if you’re not speedrunning, even if you’re just playing the game, or if you’re just going slowly through the route, you will just naturally become better at moving your character. And it’s core, platformer, moving your character is the thing that you need to do in a speedrun to get better at it.

So like with Crash Bandicoot for example, people jump in and immediately want to learn a bunch of speed tech and stuff- learn movement tech. I’m like ‘Learn it if you want, that’s cool, learn it if that’s what’s going to be fun for you, but don’t feel like you have to. Just going through the level- the more you do them, the more you’ll have them mapped out in your head and you’ll start to adjust your positioning, your angles, to lead into the next curve of the level.’ That kind of thing is really important, and [it] just comes with time. There’s nothing about ‘You’ve got to be a good gamer or something to be able to read the mind of the level before it shows up on screen.’ Like, you just got to play it more.

And that can mean doing runs, that can mean not doing runs. So it’s just playing the game is the number one thing for me. And that’s more platformer-specific advice, because RPGs are a little bit different. But, in general, it’s never a downside to just playing the game more.

K: To go off the branch for RPG-based stuff: a really good example of just playing through, even if you don’t think you will finish a set goal time, it is Pokemon Crystal. For the longest time, you wanted to get a Pollywag early in the game because it helps you with some plot-related movement later on [by] using Waterpool and Waterfall. And I remember I was getting frustrated because I could never find one. And if you can’t find one early, you’re just guaranteed to lose some time later. But I remember, during that run, knowing that I wasn’t going to finish, I kept going. And the whole time, I was collaborating with chat about ‘What other alternatives can I do? There’s this and this and that.’ And we actually came up with a strategy that we wouldn’t have thought of had I [not] continued to play the game at that moment, which is actually the strategy in the fastest route.

So you might discover things too, just by continuing to play the playthrough in an RPG that you wouldn’t normally do. You don’t want to throw away your run to go out of the way to do something, but if your run’s already technically dead and you’re just trying to play through to get more comfortable with the game, then you can be more experimental and find some more stuff. You still have some fun, and sometimes it leads to actual run-altering strategies.

H: I’ve definitely come up with strats in games before because I was bad at the thing you’re supposed to do. *laughs* And I was like ‘Let me see if there’s something else I can do instead.’ And that’s how I found two things in KINGDOM HEARTS because I was too bad [at the established strategy] and I wanted to find something better. And you’d be surprised.

[OR Note: J_Hobz has been corrected to properly spell ‘JHobz’ since this article has been first published.]

Have you ever been inspired by Keizaron and Hobz to speedrun a game that they’ve featured on The First Step?

Do you prefer them to play co-operatively or competitively on stream?

Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check out Part Three of our interview here!

About Quentin H.

I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it. Do you want to do an interview? You can reach me at

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