question-circle What to do about Gravity Swap and its 0s World Record?

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01 Mar 2023 17:58 #1
On February 21st, 2018 Xedron achieved what might be the most controversial World Record in the history of Marble Blast, a time of 00:00.000 on the leaderboards custom level Gravity Swap. This caused an immediate uproar because this time literally cannot be beaten. There are many claims that certain World Records are unbeatable but there is always theoretically time to be saved, here that is not the case, the timer never ticked up even a single millisecond, actually factually unbeatable. But the consensus was that because this time was so far ahead of now second place time 3.877, that no one would beat it or even come close to it for a long time.

Then in August 2019, up and coming speedrunner Doomblah became the second person to achieve a time of 0 seconds, tying the WR, after discovering a tweak to make achieving a 0s time much simpler. A year after that a 3rd 0s time was set by Mazik and before long Battlecube314 set a 0s time, and suddenly there were many many more. That brings us to today where runner Hirassy tied this 0s WR becoming the 11th person to do so pushing the list of WR holders to the second page, once again sparking conversation about this topic.

At first only Xedron's time was counted as a World Record and all subsequent zero second times being ranked 2nd, 3rd, and so on. At some point the change was made so that all tied times counted as the same rank, making them all the tied WRs they deserved to be. But now that 11 people have tied this unbeatable World Record, the controversy has arisen yet again. What should be done about this?

I'm making this forum post to be a hub for this popular and controversial topic so as not to lose each discussion in the glut of messages on Discord. Please share your thoughts on the matter, so we can decide what if anything to do about this issue.

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01 Mar 2023 18:15 #2
I don't know all that much about how this could be done or if it's even possible, but I wonder if we could somehow rank the times on the leaderboards of that level based on elapsed time rather than based on when each person got their 00:00.000 time (this would only be done with the 00:00.000 times, not *all* of the times on that level).

As for how those times should visually be shown, there could be something next to the 00:00.000 time itself that shows the elapsed time in parentheses (sort of like this: 00:00.000 (42.200)). I don't know how else we could show the actual time on there while also mentioning the fact that the in-game clock was at 00:00.000 during that run so it doesn't come in conflict with other scores (as in, having a 42.200 time ranked above a 2.300 time, that kind of conflict).

...I hope this all makes sense to everyone, if not I can try to re-word it later :pinch:

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  • Yoshicraft224
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01 Mar 2023 18:24 #3
I've said this multiple times before, but elapsed time should count as a second metric for how scores are counted anyway, no matter the level. I've also suggested that there be a separate visible elapsed time leaderboard similar to EEs, Quota 100%, and all that stuff. Having elapsed time listed right next to the real time on the leaderboards screen could be even better though, at least for levels that actually have TTs, but I feel like that could be too cluttered, especially on smaller screens.

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01 Mar 2023 18:33 #4
My opinion on this has changed a lot over time, probably as a result of my time "beating" the WR in bonus time until Xelna got his 0s time. I admit my bias to have a WR pushed me to convince HiGuy to implement the tied WR function on the LBs which I still believe is a good change regardless of whatever times I may have set along the way. This bias also made me encourage leaving this issue alone. Well, I might still be biased, but I think I've grown a fair bit in the years since. I'll try to lay out my reasoning for what I think should happen to this level going forward and you can judge for yourself what you think of it.

I don't think that we should just have an ever expanding list of 0s WRs on this level, thats just kind of silly. I also think that removing the level entirely is also quite silly and while perhaps that's the simplest solution is the one that seems least fair. My preferred solution is one that Battlecube314 suggested, reduce all the Time Travels in the level from 5s to 4s. This effectively makes each time 6s longer as there is now 6s less bonus time (6x 5s TTs). Without changing anything else.

This has been proven to not be a complicated task to do, take all the times > 25s bonus time and subtract the time to 25s and the time that was subtracted off is added to the timer, so a time of 0s with 29.555 bonus time would become a time of 5.555s with 25s bonus time. This doesn't have to deal with the issue of there being a catch that must be accounted for because all TTs, were they 4s long, have been proven to run out before they reach the finish. All times are adjustable easily with this method. This turns the board of all 0s times into one where they're all between 5 and 6 seconds long, except for Whitepoplar's 4.700. This effectively solves the elapsed time issue without having to fundamentally rewrite how the entire leaderboards works which is not only more work but I think a an unfair way of ranking times.

Times on the Leaderboards as of right now are ranked first by the time on the clock, the final time, then by date submitted to the LBs. Some people are suggesting that we instead have times ranked first by Final Time then by Bonus time (elapsed time but if the final time is the same then the only difference is bonus time), then thirdly by date. I think this is the wrong way to go about this issue. Because what matters first and foremost is that final time, and whoever achieves that time first deserves to be ranked above anyone else who sets that time. This second ranking by bonus time obliterates that and I don't think that's fair. Now, I'm all for creating a second parallel leaderboard for all levels that have Time Travels whereby times are ranked by elapsed time (final time + bonus time), since this is a categorically different kind of competition it deserves its own leaderboards. We shouldn't fundamentally change how the current times are ranked, but instead include this second leaderboard for this second type of competition on levels with Time Travels.

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  • Yoshicraft224
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01 Mar 2023 19:07 #5

I don't think that we should just have an ever expanding list of 0s WRs on this level, thats just kind of silly.

Yeah that's kinda the whole point of this thread existing

I also think that removing the level entirely is also quite silly and while perhaps that's the simplest solution is the one that seems least fair.

Why would you remove the level? It's still a fine level regardless of the times people get on it. I guess it's technically a solution? Just the same as blowing up the planet would solve world hunger. That seems like an even worse outcome than leaving the problem alone.

reduce all the Time Travels in the level from 5s to 4s

This would easily invalidate almost every single run of the level, speedrun or casual. If all the TTs are the same value then I guess you could just add a second of time for every x seconds of bonus time there is where x is the value of every TT. But if you're already editing the level, why not just remove the TT(s) that's accessible from the start pad? Editing the level as a whole wouldn't even be in the picture if elapsed time was accounted for, though.

This effectively solves the elapsed time issue without having to fundamentally rewrite how the entire leaderboards works

If you give a man a fish, he eats for one day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for his whole life. Not only would accounting for elapsed time fix any future levels where a time of 0 is possible, it also breaks ties on any level, regardless of what the tied time is, or even if it's WR or 420th place.
Aside from this argument, it also just seems like it makes sense for elapsed time to work as a second metric for tiebreakers. And, even if not elapsed time, for there to be some sort of tiebreaking metric.

rewrite how the entire leaderboards works which is not only more work

Elapsed time is already saved on the LBs. All you would need to do is display that time somewhere exactly the same as is already implemented for stuff like EEs, Quota 100%, Laps, and Double Diamond, and then also just have the game look for elapsed time when ranking if two players' top scores happen to be the same. This fixes ties on every level on the LBs.
That seems a lot easier than changing the TTs in Gravity Swap to be a different value, and then manually editing every time on the level to fit with these new TT values. Which, aside from being harder, only breaks ties for Gravity Swap.
You could write a script to change all the times on Gravity Swap based on bonus time, but at that point you might as well just write code for the game instead to do what I said in the first point of this message. Only issue there is then having to wait for Randomity to push the next update no earlier than the 2030s.

fundamentally rewrite how the entire leaderboards works which is [...] I think a an unfair way of ranking times.

How is it unfair? Elapsed time is a direct result of how your run goes.

Some people are suggesting that we instead have times ranked first by Final Time then by Bonus time (elapsed time but if the final time is the same then the only difference is bonus time)

If two people get the same amount of TTs, then their bonus time will be the same. The elapsed time is the one that would be different based on when they reach the finish pad in real time.

and whoever achieves that time first deserves to be ranked above anyone else who sets that time

If someone sets the same time, but has a lower elapsed time, then they got to the finish faster, which is the whole point of speedrunning a level.

I'm all for creating a second parallel leaderboard for all levels that have Time Travels whereby times are ranked by elapsed time (final time + bonus time), since this is a categorically different kind of competition it deserves its own leaderboards.

I agree, which is why I think it should be a separate leaderboard similar to EEs and such. However, every completion of a level inadvertently also has an elapsed time associated with it, so faster final times can compete with other final times based on their associated elapsed times while a separate leaderboard can exist for separate scores with slower final times but faster elapsed times.

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  • Xedron
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02 Mar 2023 16:41 #6
Honestly if it were up to me I would just remove the level. The only other options are

1) To get rid of the time travel that causes the clock to stop at 0 seconds, which would just turn the level into a catch level, and I find that isn't much better and would turn the level into boring nothingness.

2) Make the leaderboard rank based on elapsed time, which I'm sure is not the option that Devs would prefer because they would have to deal with every other catch level having an instance like this. Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but if you were to go with that route I'm pretty sure that older times (probably pre-PQ) don't have any stats on what their elapsed time would be. This is at least the case for how SP scores are recorded on that PQ leaderboards sheet. This is also the case for some times in Gravity Swap from people like hPerks, Imperial, Eguy etc, just none of the 0 second times. So doing this would cause a lot of inconsistency with the other levels on the LBs.

3) The thing that was suggested about changing the values of the time travels. I honestly just don't see the point of this especially if the runs that people saved are still going to be used. And again, for some people we don't know how much time travel bonus was actually used up so it would be complicated for the older runs. I don't think any solution that involves saving the scores and changing the level data can feasibly work.

So yea, I would just remove the level. Either that or just living with the giant wall of blue text.

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  • Yoshicraft224
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02 Mar 2023 17:06 #7

Make the leaderboard rank based on elapsed time, which I'm sure is not the option that Devs would prefer because they would have to deal with every other catch level having an instance like this

What's the problem with that?

older times (probably pre-PQ) don't have any stats on what their elapsed time would be

If this is the case then I guess just rank them above times that do have an associated elapsed time since they're earlier

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02 Mar 2023 17:19 #8
It's 4am and I'm not coherent enough to write a full response but I think that

1) Gravity Swap should remain as it is, either with the leaderboards sorted by elapsed time (preferred option) or unchanged. I think elapsed works better due to the relevancy in optimising a zeroed level, but unchanged also conveniently takes care of The Dragon Awakes at the same time (although I'd still prefer a removal of the achievement's rating or even the achievement entirely)

2) Future levels that can be zeroed should be automatically moved to the Not Considered sheet unless altered.

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02 Mar 2023 17:21 #9
I definitely agree with petal. I think we should do everything we can to avoid messing with levels already on the leaderboards. However, if we do go with the elapsed time method, I don't think zeroed levels are bad if they're still not 0 with elapsed time.

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