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This PlayStation RPG is the game the GDQ tech team hates the most

This PlayStation RPG is the game the GDQ tech team hates the most

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I asked which game gave the speedrunning event’s tech crew the biggest headaches, and the answer surprised me.

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Screenshot from Chrono Cross featuring the main character, Kid, a light-skinned woman with spiky blond hair smiling against the sky
Image: Square Enix

Making sure an event as large as Games Done Quick (GDQ) runs smoothly is a monumental task. There are lots of technical moving parts, from video equipment, to lighting, sound, and stream overlays, to donation trackers that have to be kept running 24 hours a day for a week straight. The tech team also has to consider the individual needs of over 100 runners playing on consoles that range in age and complexity from the NES to the PlayStation 5.

With all of that going on, I wondered which game out of the thousands that have been run at GDQ throughout its 10-plus-year history the tech team hates the most, and the answer surprised me.

It’s the PSX SquareSoft (remember them??) RPG Chrono Cross.

After speaking with GDQ’s director of technology, Jason “Wyrm” Deng , and its head of tech, Aharon “TestRunner” Turpie, I learned that Chrono Cross gives the tech team the most problems because of the game’s varying resolutions.

It has to do with the capture cards the team uses to capture video from the older console. In Chrono Cross specifically, the gameplay parts of the game — like the battle screen and the overworld — use a different resolution than the game’s menu.

“The capture card basically takes a few seconds to recognize the resolution change,” said Turpie in an interview with The Verge.

Each time a runner playing Chrono Cross goes into and out of the menu, which happens fairly frequently and fast over the course of a roughly six-hour run, the capture card recognizes that change and takes a brief moment to adjust.

“You’ll get the two-second drop-off when they enter the menu and the two-second drop-off when they leave the menu,” said Deng. “And during that entire menuing, it’s possible that [the screen] is completely blank. We’ve spent a considerable amount of resources trying to fix this problem.”

You’d think the kinds of games that would give the GDQ tech team the most headaches would be something that has a lot of hardware-intensive tricks or a run that has an odd controller setup, so it’s interesting to hear that something as seemingly insignificant as a resolution change in a PSX-era game would cause so much trouble.

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