15 years ago a mysterious GameFAQs user called Ditman333 casually posted about a discovery he’d made in Resident Evil 4. He had stumbled upon a glitch that allowed the player to move 50% faster. All of a sudden, the emerging Resident Evil 4 speedrunning community took notice and the glitch became a revelation.
But speeding up the player wasn’t the glitch's only use. Ditman had opened up a Pandora’s box of glitches that allowed speedrunners all over the world to expose new exploits and even bypass entire sections of the game altogether. Resident Evil 4 speedrunning exploded in popularity, with new finds and records still being set to this day, all thanks to Ditman’s simple discovery.
But in 2007 the original post has been purged from the forum. Today, there’s no evidence of its existence. Ditman333, apparently no longer an active presence on the internet, has since faded into rumour, myth, and eventually legend.
The ghost of Ditman333 has left a legacy. The exploit was dubbed The Ditman Glitch and it’s a name that still stands today, strong as ever. And so, in a quest to learn the true story behind the glitch’s origin, there’s only one thing for it: it’s time to find Ditman.
This is the inside story of Ditman: the mysterious gamer and glitch that changed Resident Evil 4 forever.
In 2005 the long-awaited return of Resident Evil arrived in the shape of the genre-defining Resident Evil 4. Along with the return of fan favourite character, Leon S. Kennedy, the game — under the stewardship of series creator Shinji Mikami — took a brave new turn into an over-the-shoulder playstyle, abandoning many of the played-out ideas that had made the series so successful. The change paid off: Resident Evil 4 was immediately a smash hit out of the gate.
“It was very modern at the time, a groundbreaking game when it came out on Nintendo GameCube,” recalls Sunblade, a former Resident Evil 4 speedrun world record holder.
“I just loved it. It was just the best game I've ever played,” says Scottish runner Derek T, the current (as of February 2022) world record holder for his New Game+ PC run. “It's the feeling of it, the movement, the whole game's engine was like it was just a language to me.”
Resident Evil 4 received an overwhelmingly positive critical response, earning over 30 game of the year awards. It was unquestionably the biggest hit of 2005, and because of this popularity players began to compete. The goal was simple: Who could finish this masterpiece the quickest? It’s a challenge commonly known as speedrunning.
“Speedrunning is something I've been interested in since around 2015,” says prolific speedrunner Mike Wave. “I ran Breath of the Wild first for a little bit, but then I moved on to RE4 because it was a game I really, really liked. The rest is history. I just ended up running that for, at some point, every day!”
“When I bought the game, I entered a German high school speed run community,” says Sunblade. “All of the guys there had some awesome achievements and I was pretty much the only one who didn't have anything. I was like, ‘I'm playing Resident Evil 4 right now, let's check the current world record on Speed Demos Archive. And I was like, 'Okay let's try to beat that time’ and somehow it happened and then I never let go.”
Players from around the world gathered to try to set record times in Resident Evil 4. This all happened in parallel to the rise of YouTube and Twitch (which at the time known as Justin.TV.) Gamers could now share videos of their times and tips with ease like never before, and that only encouraged more to try it out.
But two years after the game’s release and seemingly out of nowhere, a new exploit arrived. And with it, every single speed-running strategy was about to change forever. Enter The Ditman Glitch.
So, how does the Ditman glitch actually work? Let’s break it down:
- In order to trigger the glitch, you need a shotgun called Striker.
- When aiming with the Striker, a red laser will pop up.
- The key is to aim the Striker, but to hit the inventory button before the laser shows.
- In the inventory, you then switch to any other weapon.
- When you go back, Leon will now be moving 50% faster.
- Taking damage, healing and a litany of other things will cancel the glitch.
“I think the Ditman Glitch was found in the summer of 2007 and I got the world record right before that time,” recalls Sunblade. “I was on holiday and my friend called me on my cellphone and he said, 'Oh my God there's a huge glitch in this game. You have to come back and do a new speed run!', and I was very excited.”
“I think I had heard about it just wtching some YouTube videos back in the day,” says Wave. “It's probably the most well-known glitch in the game. A thing even casual players know about.”
“I was surprised by just how much you have to use it in the run,” he adds. “You're literally using it for half of the run, in every single room!”
“I was watching Pitted speedrun it, who was a big speedrunner back in the day,” shares Trichael Man, a former speedrunner and current Super Moderator on RE4 Speedruns. “I watched it and I'm like, ‘Wow, he’s breaking the game that I love. This is really cool!’
“I didn't understand what was happening when Pitted was running the game. And then I watched his speedrunning guide. That was when I was like, ‘That's how he’s hacking the game to go fast’.
“It’s also pretty cool, because there are a bunch of [other] glitches that you can only do with the Ditman glitch,” Trichael Man says.
When the Ditman Glitch arrived on the scene it quickly altered the landscape of an elite time for Resident Evil 4. It not only drastically improved speedrun times, but it could also be used to find whole new skips. This was no ordinary glitch, it was a Pandora’s box of glitches.
“Because Leon is doing everything 50% faster while he's in Ditman, that opens up the avenue for out of bounds, clips and a lot of really weird stuff happening in the game,” says Wave. “The most famous example probably is the mine cart skip.
“About 60% of the way into the game, there's a mine cart ride that you have to go on. It's like three or four minutes long,” Wave explains. “It's an auto scroller. You just sit in the mine cart and shoot the enemies as they jump in. And then you just wait until it's over.
“If you have Ditman active and you jump off the platform to go into the mine cart, if you drop off that platform at a certain angle while Leon is carrying the TMP specifically, then he'll just clip out of bounds. We [then] found a specific pathing that you can do where you can just go through a wall and you just run the rest of the way to the end. You just skip the entire thing. It saves like two or three minutes. It's by far the biggest skip in the run. The one everybody went crazy about when it was originally found.”
The Minecart skip was the tip of the Ditman iceberg. Runners, with the understanding that the glitch could expose all kinds of exploits, got to work testing every chapter and section they desired to skip, and they weren’t disappointed. A particular highlight being a complete skip for the Dual El Gigante fight, activated using a zipline while in Ditman mode to sail straight through the wall and beyond the boundaries of the map.
With knowledge of the glitch now widespread, the exploits kept coming. Some, such as the Salazar boss fight skip, which can only be performed on the 30FPS version of the game, were even eventually discarded when the 60FPS version on Steam became the runners’ version of choice. But it wasn’t just speedrunning exploits the glitch presented, it also created funny moments such as the popular clip of Leon riding an invisible jet ski.
The Ditman glitch quickly established its importance and soon became (and still is!) essential for anyone dreaming of top times in Resident Evil 4. Yet despite being found only 15 years ago, in internet years that might as well be a century. Thus the story of its discovery (and discoverer) has already drifted in mythical status.
“The legend, as we've all been told, is there was a person on a GameFAQs thread from back in the day,” says Wave. “I think like 2005 or 2006. There was a person who found the glitch. His name was Ditman. That was his GameFAQs username.”
“All I know is there's a guy named Ditman, but I don't know how he discovered this,” says Trichael Man. “Did he just randomly decide to aim with weapons and decide to change weapons? I don't know how he figured it out.”
“I think he found it by accident,” theorises Sunblade. “Well, if you know how the glitch works, that could easily be the case.”
“I've tried to contact him and tried to find people who knew him on GameFAQs,” says Derek T, who is also desperately seeking answers. “But he seems to have just vanished into nowhere…”
At this point, I was invested. I wanted to know the true origins of the glitch, and so the next step was obvious. I had to find Ditman.
“Go to the GameFAQs forum and find the post,” is what you’re probably thinking. And yes, I was right there with you. But there was, unfortunately, an El Gigante sized spanner in the works.
In the process of either moving servers or just a lack of foresight, old GameFAQs posts from 2007 had been purged long ago. The thread, and any trace of the thread, has been permanently deleted. And yes, I did try the Wayback Machine. No dice.
But I wasn’t deterred. Ditman was at one point a presence on the internet, so there had to be something. What followed was weeks of clues and dead ends. But, thanks to more than a little determination, I eventually did it. I found Ditman. Here’s how:
My first port of call was GameFAQs, just to be certain the post had been deleted. It had, but the user Ditman333 still existed. However, their last login was in August 2015 and there was no sign of any Ditman activity since then. Still, I sent him a message just in case.
With GameFAQs feeling like a dead-end, I quickly switched to old reliable Google, which immediately led to a YouTube channel called Ditman333 that contained an odd mix of classical music, guitar covers and skateboarding videos. But with no activity for eight years, I imagined the message I left would never be received. That’s assuming it was even the Ditman anyway; I’d certainly already come across a few pretenders.
For example: a comment on Sunblade’s excellent tutorial was left by a user called Jesse Edmond, claiming he was Ditman, but such a claim was never seemingly proved. I also found a post by an account called Not Sans with a similarly bold claim, as well as a declaration by an account called Aware Bear. I couldn’t validate any of them through research and it was starting to get messy.
Back to Google, and my search eventually led to — of all places — a forum about Stardew Valley. A user called Ditman333 had made a post in June 2019. Closer, but there had been no activity since and ultimately very little presence there. There was a single post looking for fellow players on Nintendo Switch though, which conveniently left a friend code to investigate. I sent Ditman a private message on the forum and then moved over to the Switch.
By entering the friend code on the Switch I quickly learned that the person who could potentially be Ditman was called Tony and, frankly, not much else. I sent a friend request to what I understand now to be a largely inactive account, but due to Nintendo’s (perhaps sensible) restrictions, I couldn’t send a message.
Now armed with a first name I searched ‘Ditman333 Tony’ and quickly stumbled upon an old YouTube playlist called ‘Ditman’ from 2012, with the description written by an apparent proud mother called Melanie. Yes, I actually found Ditman’s mum before I found Ditman.
In the Ditman playlist, amongst a number of glitch demonstrations, were two videos from the aforementioned account, Ditman333, and even one from a Tony who shared the same surname as Melanie. The pieces were starting to add up, but because there was little-to-no activity on the Tony account, I decided to revisit the Ditman333 account and dig a little deeper.
Despite no mention of the glitch on the account, 11 years ago Ditman333 had posted a video of someone playing a guitar cover of the Resident Evil 4 save theme. In the video’s comments was a reply from an account I’d stumbled on before, Aware Bear. Not only had Aware Bear claimed to be Ditman previously, but they were now doubling down as the mysterious guitar player.
Besides a video about a glitch in Oblivion though, Aware Bear didn’t really have anything on his channel to back up the claim he’d made in comments. But just like all the other accounts, I sent a message just on the off chance I’d hear back. This time though, I got an immediate response and, amazingly, an email address…
After a lot of hesitancy and a quick chat over a Discord call (with a different username again, just to keep it extra confusing!) it finally became apparent that Aware Bear, Jesse Edmond, this Discord user, and Ditman333 had a lot in common. They were all the same person.
I did it, I had Ditman. Well, one half of Ditman…
“Hi, my name is Jesse and I’m the co-creator of The Ditman Glitch.”
After a lot of conversation, Jesse finally (and kindly) agreed to talk to me on the proviso that one thing was clear: the Ditman glitch was something that he discovered with his brother, Tony.
“We had rented [Resident Evil 4] from Blockbuster I think,” Jesse recalled. “We brought it home to try it out. We played it for a couple of days and just fell in love with the game and eventually bought a copy for ourselves. We ended up beating it through at least 50 times, we unlocked everything in the game you could possibly unlock. During going through that, that's when we discovered the Ditman glitch.”
At this point I’d built up the discovery as a monumental occasion in my head, almost as if they’d had this great epiphany that they knew would change the Resident Evil 4 speedrunning scene forever. But that wasn’t quite the case.
“I know you're looking for something wholesome, but at the time, me and my brother were into smoking a lot of weed,” says Jesse. “We were playing the game, and I didn't know if it was the weed that was kicking in or what, but I said to him, ‘You know you're running faster?’ Tony started moving around and he's like, ‘Yeah, definitely.’ So we backtracked a little bit as to how this had happened. I said, "I think you have the shotgun equipped." So we just kept fumbling with it until eventually, we figured it out. We were super amazed. Like, how has nobody ever figured this out before?”
“My brother had an account on GameFAQs, I wasn't really into it,” says Jesse, recalling the day they posted their discovery. “I remember [Tony] used to go on there and post stuff and he's like, ‘Yo, let's post this on GameFAQs!’ So we wrote up this huge thing on how to do it and we posted it. We didn't even name it, but obviously, we had our tag Ditman. So then it just became known as the Ditman glitch. I thought that was pretty cool that they named it after our post.”
“Turns out it snowballed into something and eventually people got all into it,” he adds. “We were seeing that people could jump out of bounds with this glitch and do really weird stuff. It was just amazing to see it progress in that way.”
Jesse and Tony never expected the response the glitch received, so much so that today they’re still a little overwhelmed by it all. Tony seeks little to no attention for their discovery whatsoever and is happy for Jesse to speak on their behalf.
“Even now that I look back and I think about it,” says Jesse. “How the hell did we figure out that you had to aim with the weapon and then switch it? We literally figured it out so fast, It just felt like we broke the game.”
I’m sure at this point the more cynical amongst you might still be concerned that Jesse was a pretender, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I had my initial doubts. However, something I haven’t mentioned yet is Jesse, after seven years absent, managed to successfully log into the old Ditman333 GameFAQs account to validate his claim.
“I couldn't believe I got on it, because my brother tried to get on it before and he couldn’t remember the username or password,” says Jesse. “I was like, ‘Oh, let me try.’ I tried to get on and it worked. I actually got on!
“I remember going back on YouTube videos and saying ‘Hey, we were the ones that made this,’ and people would say, ’Oh you're a liar.’” recalls Jesse, sharing stories of the other times people doubted their claim. “We got all these hate comments about how we're trying to take credit for it and all this stuff. It's not like we really wanted credit, it was just we found it pretty cool.”
15 years of extremely minimal follow up certainly validated this. Hell, the Ditman333 channel didn’t even have a video about the glitch. The brothers were simply content enough with the fact that their glitch was so beloved.
Despite having the discovery confirmed though, there was still an outstanding question: where did the name Ditman come from?
“It actually came from my dad. He had a little nickname for all of us,” Jesse explains. “I'm not going to say what mine was, but my brother was Ditter. He would always call him Ditter. I don't know why or where that came from, but he ended up just taking that, turning into Ditman and using that for all of his usernames. So technically I'm not Ditman, but I'm affiliated with the name.”
“Me and my brother have always been tight-knit,” reveals Jesse. “We shared a room our whole lives. Sometimes we'd even share a bed if we had to because we had 10 kids in the family. We've always been really close and we always played games together. I was the one who would always sit and watch. I remember the first time we got Zelda Wind Waker, it was like the greatest thing ever. There were four of us to play and we'd sit for an hour and a half and watch my [other] brothers play, then it would switch to Tony and then I would always get last because I was the youngest.”
Jesse’s story is one I’m sure anybody with a younger sibling could relate to. I myself was an older brother who definitely stifled my younger brother’s gaming time, forcing him to watch me more than he could play. But, like Jesse, it was something we always did together and built a bond over. When Jesse and Tony first posted their find on GameFAQs, little did they know their precious family gaming time had created a moment they could bond over for a lifetime. A moment that influenced a new generation of speedrunners around the world.
“We weren't even thinking about speed running at the time,” says Jesse. “We thought it was just more of a comical thing. We didn't think of it as like, ‘Oh, we could use this to beat the game faster.’ It was like, ‘Hey, we can use this to screw off and do these funny things.’”
Despite their intention, the glitch has become the essential tool for speedrunning Resident Evil 4. So I had to ask: had the creators ever actually tried speedrunning the game themselves?
“No,” says Jesse flat out. “I've tried to beat it as fast I could, but I think my record was like 17 hours. I would just like to take my time. I like to get every item when I play through, I don't like to just rush through.
“Kudos to [speedrunners] for being able to sit through a game that long and grind through having to beat through it that many times,” he says. “I just can't do it. I can't see myself making one wrong turn and wasting half a second and saying, ‘Oh, I got to restart now.’ I really give credit to the speedrunners being able to do things that are framed perfect. It's unreal.”
Resident Evil 4 speedrun records have been regularly broken for 15 years now, with new strategies and techniques constantly being developed. But since 2007, there’s been one constant: Ditman. The glitch has stood the test of time, carrying over into ports on every console imaginable.
“If they patched it out it would definitely change the way people looked at the game,” says Jesse. “I think people were very excited about the glitch. So I don't feel like [Capcom] had any reason to take it out.”
“Funnily enough it is, I think, one of the only glitches in the game that never got patched out,” says Wave. “It was found in the original version and works on every single version of the game up until now, I think besides the VR version for obvious reasons. I like to believe they just like it. They're like, ‘Oh, that's pretty funny.’ And then they just left it in.”
“They do patch all the other glitches and Ditman's is always one that stays, every single version it can be done,” says Derek T. “Maybe it was a fault in the design that’s just easier to leave in.”
With no signs of the glitch ever being removed, it’s fair at this point to say that the Ditman Glitch and Resident Evil 4 will forever be entwined. As long as people are speedrunning this classic game, then the Ditman legacy will continue to exist, hopefully evolving how people speedrun Resident Evil 4 for years to come.
“When we talk about or when you think about a Resident Evil 4 speedrun, the first thing that comes to mind is the Ditman glitch,” says Sunblade.
“I don't think the game would be as popular to run without Ditman,” says Wave. “It is so, so important to the games culture and the speedrunning culture. It just would not have taken off the same way.”
“Ditman is a really easy glitch to do,” says Trichael Man. “You can do it even if you're a casual runner, which is I think a big deal about how accessible it is to other people that they can somewhat live in the life of a speedrunner, just for a little bit.”
“He basically broke the game,” he adds. “When people think of Resident Evil 4 they love the game and probably a good chunk of them will be like, ‘Yeah I know there’s a glitch that made you go fast’. And that’s the legacy of The Ditman Glitch.”
The Ditman glitch is a design flaw in a game. An error in the code that, despite breaking the game, has birthed an entire community whose passion refuses to waver. 15 years ago two brothers accidentally found something broken in a video game. Since then, that discovery has profoundly changed people’s lives, prolonged the life of an iconic video game and, hopefully, brought two brothers a little closer together.
Dale Driver is a Senior Video Producer, and he'd like to thank Sunblade, Trichael Man, Derek Taylor, Mike Wave and of course, Jesse (ditman). Incredible artwork by Eric Sapp and Will Batchelor. Follow Dale on Twitter.
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