Interview with puwexil from RPG Limit Break

RPG Limit Break Interview with puwexil Featured

There are few more entertaining ways to benefit a good cause than a gaming marathon. Speedrunning gets the most attention, with events like Awesome Games Done Quick pulling in millions of dollars each year. But what about fans of longer games? Speedrunning naturally lends itself to action games and platformers, where runs can be done in under an hour, and we see far fewer RPGs as they can take hours to complete.

Well, my friends, can I interest you in RPG Limit Break? A speedrunning charity event focused entirely on RPGs and benefiting the National Alliance on Mental Illness, RPGLB is an amazing week for RPG fans looking to see what longer speedruns are like while benefiting a worthy cause.

We got a chance to ask a few questions to one of the co-founders of RPG Limit Break and got some wonderful insight into the event. If you ever wanted to know how a speedrunning event gets founded, or want to know some runs to introduce you to the event, keep reading!

RPGFan: Please introduce yourself and your role with RPG Limit Break.

puwexil: I’m puwexil – I co-founded RPG Limit Break in 2014 and currently serve as the Event Director, Business Manager, and Games Committee Lead.

RPGFan: What inspired the formation of an RPG-focused speedrunning marathon?

puwexil: The rapid growth of Games Done Quick in the early 2010’s showed how much interest and potential there was in in-person speedrun events (both as charity fundraisers and as fun community meetups).  It also became clear early on that speedruns of RPGs, due to often being multiple hours long, will always face challenges at being accepted into all-genre marathons like GDQ events (which only have a week’s worth of time and can only give so many of those hours to any one genre of games).

In late 2012 an event was started in Canada called Crystals for Life, which did a charity speedrun marathon in 2013 of Final Fantasy series games, and then another one in 2014 that was open to any RPGs. After the 2014 marathon the organizers of Crystals for Life eventually decided not to continue that event. Around that time, several Crystals for Life participants (myself included), wanting to see RPG-focused speedrun charity fundraising and fun community meetups continue, came together and launched RPG Limit Break. Since our first marathon in 2015, we have held six in-person events; and between those and two online charity events organized by other RPGLB community members during COVID-19 lockdown, over $800,000 has been proudly raised for charity.

Four player race of Final Fantasy IV
Races provide an exciting twist on the speedrun formula.

RPGFan: How did the team decide on NAMI as the charity for the event?

puwexil: During planning for RPG Limit Break 2015 we held an open discussion on the Speed Demos Archive forum (which was the main forum for speedrunning discussion and event planning at the time).  The community very quickly agreed on mental health as a cause to support, between being a different cause from what GDQ’s events were supporting at the time (cancer prevention and humanitarian medical care) and a cause that many community members had a personal connection to (due to having personal struggles with depression or other forms of mental illness, or similar struggles by loved ones).  After further discussion, the National Alliance on Mental Illness was settled on as a charity partner, due to their long, established history and US nationwide reach.

RPGFan: What makes RPG Limit Break different from other marathon events?

puwexil: In addition to the obvious difference of being focused on RPGs, I’d say what sets RPGLB apart from similar events is how close-knit and supportive our community is, both of the event itself (we’ve had some events where over half of our attendees have also helped run the event via volunteer tech, donation processing, venue cleaning, etc roles) and of our mental health cause.

RPGFan: What do you look for in a good speedrun to include in the marathon?

puwexil: We like to see entertaining/engaging runs of a wide variety of RPGs: Japanese and Western developed games, heavily glitched/broken runs and runs that play through the game mostly as intended, tactical/turn-based games and action-focused games, etc.  We also like to see runs with strong potential for raising donations, such as strong donation incentives (like optional superbosses that can be fought during or after the run) and bid wars (in-game characters that can be renamed based on donations, branching storyline paths, etc).

Riku uses a balloon attack in the Tron world in Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance.
If you love balloons, 2018’s Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance run is a must-see.

RPGFan: Do you have any standout moments from previous events that really left an impression?

puwexil: Here’s one from each of our previous events:

Final Fantasy IV (RPGLB 2015) – four top runners of a pretty competitive speedgame (including one from Australia) came to our first event to do a pretty hype race.

Drakkhen (RPGLB 2016) – the runner’s game not only crashed mid-run, but also corrupted itself and couldn’t be finished until a few days later. It still remains the only RPGLB run to date to be split across multiple sessions (despite being under an hour total).

EarthBound (RPGLB 2017) – a big, exciting community relay race with three four-person teams, which still remains the biggest RPGLB run/race to date.

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance (RPGLB 2018) – a run where the primary method of attack is throwing balloons at enemies, so the runner/commentators gradually filled the stream room with real balloons over the course of the run.

Lunar: Dragon Song (RPGLB 2019) – it’s a run of a very janky Nintendo DS RPG where the way you run away from battles is by blowing into the DS microphone.  Need I say more?

Final Fantasy X (RPGLB 2022) – a very unique showcase of a speedrun not done by a human player, but by Artificial Intelligence software that had been programmed to speedrun FFX in real-time.

RPG Limit Break 2023 Screenshot 003
RPG Limit Break celebrates RPGs of all stripes, allowing for a wide variety of game types.

RPGFan: Is there anything this year that viewers should make sure to keep an eye out for, whether it’s an exciting run on the schedule or simply some part of the event that’s always interesting to see?

puwexil: I’d feel bad about recommending any specific runs as we do intend for the schedule to have at least a little something for everyone. Aside from runs of games that you know/like (or at least games you’d like to see beaten very quickly and skillfully), I’d definitely recommend checking out the marathon Finale, where a number of RPGLB attendees share some touching and inspirational stories about mental health and their own personal experiences.

RPG Limit Break goes live July 16th and runs non stop through July 22nd. A full schedule is available now.

Wes Iliff

Wes Iliff

Wes learned to read playing Dragon Warrior on the NES and they haven't stopped playing RPGs since. Through a superhero-esque origin story, they started writing like crazy and eventually ended up writing features at a site they'd been reading since high school, which was... some time ago. They love sharing the joy in whatever flawed masterpiece has caught their attention this week, usually to the captive audience of their spouse, children, and small menagerie of pets.