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Derek Kisman

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Snap (left) with his friend Infil (right)

Derek "SnapDragon" Kisman is a founding father of the Perfect Dark Elite.

After coming across some rivalries online over fast mission times for Perfect Dark levels, Derek decided to use his programming knowledge to create an automatic updating system. Highly modified versions of this program are still used today, nearly a decade later, for both the PD and GoldenEye rankings. In his Perfect Dark career, Derek held the #1 position early in the life of the Elite, at one point holding all Agent records simultaneously. He was also the person to discover (and prove) that the 1.2 control scheme is inherently capable of faster times than 1.1. Shortly after this frustrating realization, Derek, a 1.1 user, retired from PD competition.


Derek holds two bachelor degrees (a B.Sc. in computer science and a B.Sc in Pure Math) from the University of Waterloo, a school well-known for its scientific accomplishments. He is generally considered to be the brightest mind in the Elite; in addition to his stellar academic career, Derek has a history of competing in intellectual competitions. He has represented Canada on numerous occasions for a variety of competitions, including the World Puzzle Championships (every year since 2000) and, as a high school student, at a Math Olympics event in India. Additionally, Derek competes in programming competitions, a style of competition where participants are given a set of problems, and they must code robust solutions to as many of them as possible within a time limit. Derek is highly regarded as one of the best coders at TopCoder, consistently ranking in the highest percentile and earning multiple big paydays through contest wins. He has also served as a judge at the prestigious ACM-ICPC, and has even written questions that have been used in the finals.

Gaming Accomplishments

Derek is also perhaps the most accomplished gamer in the Elite. Outside of Perfect Dark, Derek has completed many insane challenges on countless games; he often pushes a game's strategy to its limit (by conceiving ridiculously difficult challenges), and then proves they are possible by being the first person to accomplish the feat with video proof. A full (but currently outdated) list of all his videogame accomplishments, complete with entertaining stories and background information, can be found at his website, but a small listing of his most notable achievements are below:

  • Tetris Attack - For years (and perhaps still currently), Derek was considered the best in the world at this great puzzle game.
  • Pikmin - Derek was the first to prove that the game's minimum completion time was 9 days, complete with video. He also maxed out many difficult levels in Challenge Mode, holding untied records on these levels for many months - some of his runs have found their way onto a Pikmin DVD!
  • Amplitude - Derek used his computer savvy to build a program which would find the optimal path through a song with a given powerup configuration. Derek used this to slaughter the world record on 20 of the game's 26 songs (and Infil helped on 1 of the remaining 6), creating untouchable world records many thousands of points higher than the next score. Examples of this are his Kimosabe run and Infil's Synthesized run.
  • Super Monkey Ball - Derek was the first in the world to reach the Expert Extra and Master level stages. He also achieved the unthinkable (at the time); a no-continues run of the entire game, from Expert through to Master. He even received an email from SMB's level designer, commending him for being the first in the world to accomplish a feat the game designers thought unachievable!
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day - Derek completed a no-deaths run of this difficult game, with video proof; it is currently posted on SDA.
  • Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask - Derek was the first to conceive that the game could be completed in as few as 6 in-game days (referred to as the 6-day challenge; only resetting the game clock on the one mandatory instance). His initial strategy and video paved the way for a community around the 6-day challenge.
  • Donkey Kong Country - Perhaps Derek's most famous speedrun is his DKC1 101% run in 50 minutes, breaking the old record by a substantial margin (though new tricks since discovered have helped others to barely beat this time). Derek also has a 102% run of DKC2 in 1:33, a record which stood for several years on SDA.
  • Prince of Persia - Derek completed a very fast speedrun of PoP1 (2:10, single-segment) for SDA - perhaps his most downloaded video. Derek also thoroughly slaughtered the sequel, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, by beating the previous time on SDA (which was done on easy difficult) by over 20 minutes, all while playing on Hard, single-segment, and acquiring the "good ending", none of which the previous run had done. Derek considers this his best speedrun.
  • Ikaruga - Derek played this game competitively and exclusively for several months while training for an Atari-sponsored competition. By the end, he was ranked 4th, and was the 2nd best non-Japanese player to submit a score, completing the (extremely difficult) game without dying and chaining nearly every level in the game with ridiculous high-end strategy.
  • Ninja Gaiden - Quite possibly Derek's biggest videogame achievement, he was flown to Japan to play in a Tecmo-sponsored Ninja Gaiden tournament at the Tokyo Game Show after winning a tournament which spanned several months of intense competition. He finished in second place (due to some rule confusion), and won a signed ninja sword from Tomonobu Itagaki, the game's creator. For the full entertaining story, visit his website.
  • Xbox Live Arcade - Since the release of the Xbox 360, Derek has spent most of his gaming time devoted to getting achievements on each game released for Xbox Live Arcade. He enjoys the challenge of mastering a new game (or two) each week, and currently has 200/200 Gamerscore on nearly all of the 200+ XBLA games. He has had the #1 (legitimate) Gamerscore over all XBLA games numerous times, and continues to play each new release each week.
  • Myst - While living in Calgary, Derek and Infil beat all five games in the canonical Myst series, an adventure series known for its well-designed, difficult puzzles, in sequential order. Derek and Infil are, in particular, quite proud of beating Riven and Myst IV, two exceedingly difficult games, without using a FAQ.


Derek currently resides in Mountain View, California, and is employed by Google. He maintains a good friendship with fellow Calgarian Infil, with whom he played games on a routine basis for many years. He is not too involved with the Elite these days, though he will occasionally post on the forums or participate in a KotH.

External Links

The 2008 Elite Summer Contest
Full Bracket | First Vote | Euro First Vote | Spread Betting | Matchups, Results & VotDs

Jimbo's Dead Weight
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