SethBling (born 3 April 1987) is an American Let's Play YouTube commentator and Twitch streamer known for videos focused around the 1990 side-scrolling platform video game Super Mario World and the 2011 sandbox video game Minecraft. SethBling has created original and inspired video games and phenomena within Minecraft, without mods. SethBling experimented a lot and exploited bugs in Minecraft. He created an interpreter for the BASIC programming language and an emulator for the 1977 home video game console, Atari 2600, in Minecraft. In addition to Minecraft builds that run without mods, SethBling has created plugins for the game. Minecraft builds mentioned in this article run on unmodded Minecraft, except if stated otherwise. SethBling has attended YouTube-, Twitch- and Minecraft-related conferences.
In a 2013 interview with Tubefilter, SethBling said, "Until I can find another game with the type of technical flexibility that Minecraft has, it'll be a one-game channel." SethBling has written artificial intelligence programs that play Super Mario World, Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Kart. SethBling holds the world record for Super Mario World and a former world record for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. He achieved the world record for Super Mario World by using a glitch that enabled him to execute arbitrary code and skip to the game's credits. He was first to do so on a home video game console in 2015. SethBling injected code to play a Flappy Bird-like game on Super Mario World by hand on a stock Super Nintendo Entertainment System. He was first to perform this kind of arbitrary code execution by hand. Cooper Harasyn and SethBling created a jailbreak by hand using exploits to save a hex editor onto a read-only memory cartridge, allowing for creation of mods.
SethBling grew up Jewish. He played Super Mario Bros. 3 when he was five or six. Super Mario World was "one of the hot games" of his childhood.:67 SethBling had the Sega Genesis home video game console, and played a lot of Sonic the Hedgehog on it.:68 His nickname is derived from his AIM screen name in high school. SethBling earned a Bachelor of Computer Science. He started playing Minecraft after college, when a roommate told him about it. SethBling was quick to discover redstone, a programmable resource in Minecraft, and began uploading videos of his creations to YouTube weeks later. SethBling worked as a software engineer at Microsoft for three years, working on Xbox and four months on Bing. SethBling would spend almost all his free evenings and weekends in playing Minecraft. SethBling's YouTube channel came to a breakthrough when a video of his was shared by Minecraft creator Markus Persson on Twitter. SethBling quit his job at Microsoft in 2012 because of his YouTube channel's success and is independent since.:65
My roommate was talking about it and I thought the idea of a completely moldable world was really cool. I actually played for several hours without looking at the wiki because I didn't want to spoil the game, and my roommate came home to see me huddling in a dirt castle. I hadn't figured out how to craft. Needless to say, I looked at the wiki shortly thereafter.
I like Minecraft for precisely the same reason that I like programming. I have full control of the world and can shape it exactly as I choose. I can test different constructions and mechanical systems in order to see what the results are.— SethBling, in Daniel Goldberg, Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus "Notch" Persson and the Game that Changed Everything (2013)
In 2012, SethBling and survival map maker Hypixel recreated gameplay, maps, and the eight player classes from the first-person shooter (FPS) Team Fortress 2, within Minecraft. Minecraft creator Markus Persson called the recreations "the most fun and impressive" in a 2013 interview with CNET. In the same year, FVDisco and SethBling created Super Pirate Battle Royale, a Minecraft minigame for two teams in which the team that sinks the other team's ship using TNT wins. Also in 2012, SethBling created SkyGrid, a Minecraft map consisting of blocks only on every fourth coordinate in each axis. In February 2013, SethBling made a mechanical bull in Minecraft. Also in February, SethBling recreated the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong and its introductory cutscene in Minecraft. While players have to avoid falling barrels in the original Donkey Kong, in this version, players have to avoid minecarts. Three months later, SethBling created an air hockey minigame for two players in Minecraft. It consists of a rink and an endlessly sliding object made of many minecarts. SethBling's minigames have been featured on Minecraft Realms, one of them is Blocks vs. Zombies, a 2013 co-op tower defense minigame in which players shoot arrows to defeat incoming zombies in a trench. As players gain killstreaks, they may purchase upgraded weapons, arrow-shooting towers, barriers and traps for zombies. The game ends when a zombie pushes another zombie over the front edge of the field. Julian Benson of PCGamesN said that the minigame takes the "stronghold mentality" of Plants vs. Zombies, the traps of Orcs Must Die!, and the upgrade system of the FPS Killing Floor. SethBling recreated the incremental game Cookie Clicker, released earlier in 2013. In 2014, SethBling recreated the sandbox video game Goat Simulator, and the puzzle game Bejeweled in Minecraft. SethBling also recreated a spinning Stargate, a moving sand wave and the Microsoft Office assistant Clippy. Earlier that year, SethBling wrote a pickpocketing plugin for Bukkit called BlingPickpocket.
Late 2014, SethBling and Minecraft YouTuber Cubehamster created a minigame called Missile Wars where players from two teams spawn missiles to break through the opposite team's wall. The idea came from having a fight between two Cubehamster's Mega Gargantuas, giant robots with cannons and "missile launchers". The robots could shoot flame arrows, launch TNT blocks and shoot down incoming missiles. After the Mega Gargantua fight, Cubehamster wanted them to "turn [it] into a game which focuses on firing missiles at each other and trying to blow them up". In Missile Wars, players receive items which they can use to spawn missiles, and blow up, stop and defuse incoming missiles. Players can jump on missiles and ride them across the playfield. Cubehamster said that "subtle techniques" involving missile mechanics had made the game popular. According to Cubehamster, Missile Wars was built in two weeks and thoroughly tested afterwards. The game was featured on Minecraft Realms. In the same year, SethBling recreated basic functionality of Minecraft in Microsoft Excel, which included navigation and crafting, as a nod to Microsoft's 2014 acquisition of Mojang. In 2015, SethBling created a Minecraft version of Splatoon's Turf Wars mode. SethBling got help from PyroPuncher because he has never played Splatoon on console. The Splatoon minigame is similar to the Wii U game: two teams of up to four players compete to paint as much of the ground and walls as possible in three minutes. The Minecraft version features three of Splatoon's main weapons.
I really like to find out how a game works at a deep level, and see how I can use that knowledge to really break the game wide open. People watch my videos to see the wacky ways I've been able to do unexpected things in video games, and to learn about how those exploits work.— SethBling, in Daniel Bogan, Uses This (2016)
In 2015, SethBling worked with Verizon to create a web browser, and to introduce text messaging and video calling functionality to Minecraft. In 2016, SethBling made an interpreter for the BASIC programming language in Minecraft. Programming a lot of command blocks took him two weeks. The interpreter is slow and slows down with continued use; that is because Minecraft has a clock rate of 20 ticks per second. The build features a virtual keyboard, a whiteboard which displays the code, and a programmable turtle which can mine and place blocks. Later in 2016, SethBling built an emulator for the 1977 home video game console, Atari 2600, in Minecraft. The emulator has 64 kB of functional random-access memory (RAM) which can be edited on the fly, and a functional 8-bit microprocessor based on the MOS Technology 6502; it also has functional and importable read-only memory (ROM). SethBling had the emulator run the original Atari 2600 read-only memory cartridges for the games Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong. The ROM cartridge contains four kilobytes of data; each bit of RAM and ROM is represented by a Minecraft block. More than two thousand command blocks comprise the emulator's processor. The emulator is slow: the Assembly-based processor can complete only 20 instructions per second; in contrast, Atari's processor can execute 510,000 instructions per second (0.51 MIPS). While the Atari 2600 renders graphics at 60 frames per second, SethBling's emulator renders graphics at 60 frames per 4 hours on a virtual screen. The emulator does not have a controller, so games cannot be played on it. SethBling created a resource pack for Minecraft Pocket Edition Alpha, which was released in October 2016. The "Add-On" was titled Castle Siege Battle and was criticized by Kotaku's Robert Gurthrie for causing glitches.
Super Mario career
In June 2015, SethBling wrote an artificial intelligence (AI) program called MarI/O that plays Super Mario World. The program is based on neuroevolution of augmenting topologies; thus, it generates neural networks using genetic algorithms. MarI/O is only given the level layout and the positions of obstacles, and is incentivized to move as far to the right as possible, and as fast as possible. MarI/O tries 300 genomes per evolutionary generation, separated into species. Each genome produces a neural network, and only the most fit genomes are bred into the next generation. SethBling ran the program, and after 34 evolutionary steps, which lasted 24 hours, MarI/O finished a level by spin-jumping through the entire level and avoiding all power-ups and enemies. SethBling published the source code on Pastebin.com. A week later SethBling trained MarI/O to play Super Mario Bros. The program was not able to complete the first level of Super Mario Bros. because of complicated spacial movements required to jump over obstacles. MarI/O continuously played Super Mario Bros. for over 17 days.
In November 2017, SethBling built a recurrent neural network to play Super Mario Kart. He trained the program, MariFlow, with video footage in which he plays Super Mario Kart so that the program learns how to recover from dead-end situations. The video footage used for training MariFlow contains interactive sessions in which SethBling occasionally takes control of the character. MariFlow's goal is to play the game as closely as possible to the video footage provided to it. SethBling has released the source code of MariFlow and all video footage he had collected, including that of MariFlow playing.
SethBling holds the world record of 44 seconds for the Credits Warp Any% speedrun category of Super Mario World. Players can use glitches to modify the game's memory values, which in turn allows them to write a code which when executed makes the game skip directly from the first level to the credits, without players having to defeat the game's boss. SethBling was first to execute the Credits Warp glitch on a home video game console in 2015, with a time of five minutes and 59 seconds, after Twitch streamer JeffW356 had successfully executed the glitch on an emulator. SethBling used four controllers via two Super Multitap devices to finish the game in under one minute. He left specific buttons on the controllers pushed down to manipulate memory bytes and write certain code. In the game, SethBling executed certain actions and pixel-precise moves like duplicating Yoshi blocks and launching a red shell at a specific pixel. In June 2017, SethBling beat Super Mario World in under a minute by switching the game's read-only memory cartridges, which was disregarded as a valid speedrun. Cooper Harasyn discovered a save glitch, which SethBling used to "jailbreak" a cartridge and put a hex editor on it. This allowed for quicker manipulation of the game data. SethBling holds a former world record for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild without use of unlockables enabled by Amiibo figurines, saying in 2017 that using the unlockables is "seen by casual audience members as 'cheating', but they also currently don't affect the run that much." In 2017, SethBling told Kotaku, "When I touch a game, I want to understand it."
In March 2016, SethBling injected Flappy Bird-like code written by p4plus2 into unmodified Super Mario World RAM on a stock Super Nintendo Entertainment System with a stock cartridge, in under an hour. SethBling achieved this by extending the level timer and creating a bootloader to be able to enter processor instructions with precise movements of Mario. SethBling then added code to display Mario's x-coordinate which acted as values in the Flappy Bird code SethBling was writing. SethBling used a power-up glitch to execute his code after running into a mushroom. SethBling used two Super Multitap devices in order to use multiple controllers. SethBling used the arbitrary code execution setup discovered by MrCheeze. Super Mario World had been turned into other games before by automatically feeding pre-recorded controller input into the console via a computer, but SethBling was first to do it exclusively by hand. SethBling and Cooper Harasyn placed a full hex editor and gameplay mods onto a stock Super Mario World cartridge in May 2017, only using standard controller inputs. Harasyn discovered an exploit that lets a player write data to 256-byte save files that are permanently stored on a Super Mario World cartridge. The data can be arranged so that the game is jailbroken every time it starts up. Harasyn and SethBling used the exploit to create a compact, on-screen hex editor, loadable from a save file. A player can edit the system RAM through the hex editor to alter the game state. In-game mods like support for the SNES Mouse and giving Mario telekinesis powers can be written to a save file using the hex editor.
- In Minecraft, command blocks store commands, unlimited in length and possibly nested, which make up a computer program when combined. For example, command blocks can perform operations on other blocks, teleport players and change the game mode. Command blocks are powered by redstone, a Minecraft resource which can form full-size primitive circuits on its own.
- Each player class has its own perks. Player classes can be changed during the game.
- More specifically, SethBling wrote a Bukkit plugin called BlingJeweled, which is a portmanteau.
- The hex editor was first installed on a Super Mario World cartridge save file. It was then copied to a backup cartridge by exploiting the persistence of portions of RAM between system resets.