After my run in Pokémon Conquest, wich used the pokémon-swarm passwords, we (the runners) oppened a discussion about the legitimacy of those passwords and the possibility of creating Any% No-Passwords as a separate category. This topic is to address that discussion and make it open for the PSR community as a whole.
I'd like to open the discussion with my stand on that. While I think that creating an Any% No-Password category is nice (just like many Zelda games have their No-S&Q category due to the huge differences in strategy), the premier category should have the passwords allowed and should still be nominated the classic Any%. My arguments are listed below:
1. Since after the 5th castle, inserting a Password is an in-game feature and thus is endorsed by the game as another game mechanic. The counter argument for this could be done using an example like old Mega Man games, in wich there is also the Password option but that is not allowed in a speedrun. Let's remember Mega Man games Paswords carried information from previously playing the game, so that is the reason they are not allowed, not because they are simply 'passwords'. Refer to reason 3 in this one.
2. Nintendo distributed those passwords in official events and is now distributing it in the official Pokémon Conquest website. To picture this out, imagine a JRPG in wich you could give a free-writing text answer to a character. After a couple time it is released that one specific answer enables a strong weapon, and that message wasn't available to be discovered in game at all unles you used brute force try and error. Would that be allowed at a speedrun? Probably yes, because that does not 'sound' like a 'code', but in the essence it's the same thing.
3. Other games in the Speedrun community use passwords that are built-in features of the game. The clear example here are Yu-gi-oh games, in wich you can also type in a password not available in-game, but got by a physical way or searching on the internet. Although the systems usually involve some form of currency, I don't see where it is that different. Also, if you think in a wider frame, you could also consider the word inputs in Heart Gold as 'passwords' obtained in not an in-game event, although that is forcing the bar a lot.
4. The passwords were not created as a way to 'cheat' the game or make it easier, they were built to give access to Pokémons not available in the pokémon-camps in usual ways. Although most of those pokémons can be obtained through swarms and such, those are very rare and unreliable, so the developers used event Passwords as ways to the player complete the gallery without putting in thousands of hours into the game.
5. The passwords are not gamebreaking at all. At most, comparing two optimized runs, passwording partners save from 5 to 10 minutes in a 2 hour speedrun - and that's not because they are that overpowered, it's because it saves grinding. Although enough to create a new category, it is far from enough to say 'omfg this is just like contra password ban it'.
6. A lot of people use those passwords in casual playing of the main campaign, and almost all of them use passwords when completing the post-game content. Again, it was intended as a complimentary game feature.
Those are basically the arguments I have in favor of enabling passwords in Any% runs. The contrary arguments I've heard so far:
1. It does not 'sound' right to have Password codes in a speedrun. Actually I could refute this argument by refering to reasons 1 and 3 to why the passwords should be allowed, but let me raise another point. Our speedrun rules should always be indutive and clear to people not following the community. Passwords in Conquest are so natural (refer to reason 6) that I doubt someone that never had contact with PSR (let's say, someone only posting content to youtube) wouldn't consider using them in a speedrun. Our rules should feel natural and not arbitrary - if password usage is so common in the casual playthrough this game, it should naturaly be allowed on speedruns.
2. SDA rules specify that cheating codes should not be allowed on games. This rule was mostly done to prevent cases as I already discribed in the post: Contra invulnerability passwords, Mega-Man loading previous saves, etc. And see that it specifies cheat codes - the Passwords in this game are not cheat codes, since they are a built-in feature endorsed by the developers and are also available at the official nintendo website.
I think this wraps up my 2 cents regarding this topic. In the end, I'm in favor of creating Any% No-Passwords and remain Any% as it is (except returning to considering in-game time as the official timer but that's discussion for another topic ).
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