Games Done Quick is a charity event that organizes high-level speedruns of various games in support of Prevent Cancer Foundation and Doctors Without Borders. AGDQ, which occurs in early January, is dedicated to raising funds for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. The event is generally hosted both in-person and streamed online for tens of thousands of live viewers. All with the purpose of raising funds for charity.

Although the primary focus of Games Done Quick events revolves around speedrunning games, additional panels and exhibitions are featured when certain fundraising goals, or incentives, are met. One notable segment is TAS-bot, where computers demonstrate flawless gameplay with inhuman precision, showcasing the capabilities of tool-assisted speedruns. Additionally, glitch exhibitions are frequently showcased, highlighting various bugs and vulnerabilities within games.

For AGDQ 2024, I was approached by Etchy, a renowned speedrunner known for their expertise in several Pokémon games. Etchy would perform a speedrun of Pokémon Diamond during the event, followed by a glitch exhibition. They requested my assistance, leveraging my knowledge of the game’s glitches and vulnerabilities to craft an engaging glitch exhibition.

In response, I proposed to create a customized save file capable of hacking the game through an Arbitrary Code Execution exploit. This would allow us to add a unique storyline and event within the game, without modifying the actual Read Only Memory (ROM) of the game. In other words, this save file could be loaded into any legitimate version of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl and hack the game.

Over the span of two months, I dedicated myself to the reverse-engineering, research, and programming necessary to bring this tech demo to life. While I worked as the sole developer on this project, the invaluable contributions of Swiftalu were indispensable.

Swiftalu is a big contributing speedrunner and artist. Our goal was to add Velocity, the mascot of GDQ’s as an actual Pokémon within the game. Swiftalu created a sprite that seamlessly integrated the design of Velocity into Pokémon world. They designed both the battle sprite and overworld sprite used during the demo.

The glitch exhibition’s fundraising goal was set at $35,000, a target that was quickly achieved by the generous support of the community. Throughout the duration of Etchy’s speedrun and the following glitch exhibition, the combined efforts led to an impressive total of $72,000 raised for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. This substantial contribution underscores the dedication and generosity of Games Done Quick participants and viewers in supporting important causes, and seeing our project achieve such results felt very rewarding.