While watching AGDQ this year a discussion came up once again — this category is “No Major Glitches” (NMG), but why are they still using glitch after glitch? Now while naming conventions and decisions in speedrunning communities are often benign, spot on, or even inside jokes I’ve noticed a consistent trend the last few years. The general category naming convention has been moving towards the following:

  • 100%/Any%/etc – Beat the game as fast as possible by any means the game (and hardware) allows.
  • NMG – Beat the game as fast as possible while keeping the integrity of speedrunning. Avoiding glitches that completely break or essentially remove the game from being “played”.
  • Glitchless – Beat the game as fast as possible using only the games given mechanics.
  • Exploitless – Beat the game as fast as possible using only the games intended play. (No one explicitly does this as a competitive speedrun).

I tried to summarise this and we essentially have three categories. The reason I made four is because of why this discussion keeps coming up. When a naive viewer hears a speedrun is NMG, they’re actually thinking that would mean “Glitchless”. When the same viewer would be told a speedrun is Glitchless, they assume it’s actually “Exploitless”. To be fair the lines each community draws between glitches and exploits is not always a consistent one. In general it comes down to this:

  • Glitch – Perform an action that is unintended or tricks the game to generating an unexpected outcome.
  • Exploit – Perform an action that is intended but was not developer intended.

You could word this better, but examples would be like this:

  • Glitch – Exiting an animation prematurely to play in another game state where you can break the speed cap.
  • Exploit – Jumping at the right angle to get onto a ledge that was meant for you 4 levels later with a ladder.

I tried to pick generic examples that make the line in the sand more clear. An exploit would or should generally be taking advantage of a developer oversight using mechanics or skills in advantageous ways not previously expected. A glitch is finding a way to perform actions no one expected to happen. Sometimes developer oversights lead to naturally occurring glitches! Like maybe my exploit example can also accidentally zip you across the map, making what started as an exploit…glitch the game.

That said this is why we have communities that discuss these things. The people that play the game, that intimately know the game, get to decide what they feel makes sense here — unfortunately, how they feel and what outsiders don’t know will always lead to confusion in this scope.

Anyway, maybe this will help someone later as a “jumping off point” on exploring this topic. I think it’s great speedrunning categories are having more popular NMG categories, they often make games more accessible and if anything keep games fun to watch. At one point I thought the “main” categories should ban over the top glitches like arbitrary code execution, make a “Glitch” category, but NMG has really grown on me. Especially since it’s seeming like one of the general consensus naming conventions across communities.