Mechanic suggestions for endless runner

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Post » Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:26 am

Greetings all, been quite interested on starting game development in a long while, got together with my friend, discussed ideas, and have a few going around but decided to start off with a endless runner/platformer type of game. Before anyone jumps at it, i am reading all post related to it here on the forum, so don't worry, guys, this is not another how to make my screen scroll thread. Instead i'm looking forward to advice on what's the most effective way to go about my project. My main preocupation are the mechanics i want to implement. I'm interested on implementing a series of characters each with various unlockable skins (abilities as well), breakable scenery objects, simple equipable item/weapon system, random scenery object placement/generation, and interchangable in-game characters. My aim is for it to be a mobile app but not sure if the idea is too jammed pack. My worry is how to start structuring and building for it to work, any suggestions? I am quite a beginner and have messed with mmf2 for a few weeks (but found out Construct 2 which seems much more organized and suitable for my project. Would love to hear advice and suggestions, is it possible with Construct 2 and how to go about it

Thanks in advance!

PS: i'm a music composer, anyone looking for a track or piece, pm me some details :Dkraed2013-02-21 23:52:34
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Post » Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:22 am

no love yet? :(
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Post » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:52 pm

This might be interesting reference for a class-based endless runner game: http://www.moddb.com/mods/the-great-class-dash

As for how to start & organize your project, just play around with the platform behavior & the 'simulate control' action for your auto running at first. Do some experimenting & see what's fun.

A non-C2 specific vid that might hold some useful design ideas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=I05TDijQx-Q

Nugget of wisdom from Yann that will help with generated scenery: http://www.scirra.com/forum/how-to-spawn-a-random-object-from-a-set_topic47744.html

Also there's a helpful bunch in the chatroom - http://widget.mibbit.com/?settings=&server=irc.esper.net&channel=%23construct&noServerMotd=true
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Post » Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:14 pm

*high fives* rockin!
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Post » Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:55 pm

It's a four-page thread I posted recently, but it does provide some valuable insight on exporting to Android (in it's present state) in Construct 2. Be aware of the "problems" it poses before you decide to go all-in on your project. -- http://www.scirra.com/forum/bottom-line-construct-2-and-the-ouya_topic62988_page1.html

"Problems" aren't the fault of Construct 2 exactly, just in the way it handles exports to mobile. You may not get 1:1 of what you're looking at while you're building the game on your PC. Me personally, I came to the conclusion that "In order to make a well-functioning .exe that doesn't piggy back any unofficial third party plug-ins that you must troubleshoot/wait for their respective development team to iron out, you're best off going for a straight PC Title using Construct Classic. Added benefit that Construct Classic is free, double bonus (for what I'm doing) is that it doesn't rely on HTML5 but rather Direct X 9."

With all that in mind, I've been playing games since 1988. I do like to help pitch ideas as well as give "historical" insight with my large (useless) knowledge of games and stuff that went into their successful and unsuccessful designs. Nothing here's a criticism of you/what you're doing, I'm just trying to help out!

Here goes.

--A Series of Characters w/ Unlockable Skins--
Something that modern "3d titles" have put into people's brains are that "skins are easier to do than all new models". This is NOT true of 2D... the way they got around this for decades (even into the "3d era") was to palette-swap the main character. Most famous example would be Scorpion/Sub-Zero/Reptile/Smoke/Noob Saibot/etc etc from the Mortal Kombat Series.

There are numerous examples of games created where ONE protagonist gains multiple abilities and simply changes color to reflect the upgrade. Consider "Mega Man", "Metroid", "Super Mario Brothers". It wasn't until much later in each series that their protagonist's actual appearance changed, but nobody questioned that "white and red" mario = Fireball, or Pink/Purple Samus was stronger than Yellow/Orange Samus. The big benefit here (for you) is that you only have to create ONE set of animation, and later if you choose, simply recolor them to reflect advancements. If you wanted to, say, include even just ONE additional "character", you are effectively doubling your work in this department and tacking on the additional time to your overall development cycle.

--Breakable Scenery Objects--
Simple stuff. Create the object (let's say it's a glass window), then set it to, upon colliding with your character, destroy and spawn multiple instances of object "shattered glass". Have THEM get destroyed by either falling off screen and choosing the "Destroy Outside Layout" behavior for each glass shard. That means once they fall off screen, they are removed from memory and life goes on.

The big question here is, "of what genre will your game be?" Obviously there are no big sheets of glass to smash through in a prehistoric/cave man title, and there may be better things than glass to use in a deep future/sci fi setting. It'll help if you decide early on what fixed perspective you will implement... Canabalt, for example, was side-scrolling but had a slight (45 degree?) angle about all of the scenery that didn't change. So did the infamous Battletoads motorbike sequence. So did Prince of Persia (the original, not the new stuff. I will rarely refer to new stuff.)

Mega Man did not. Super Mario Brothers did not... but all they were interested in was the platforms, not the objects that you collided with: There were simply blocks and blocks and blocks... If you're looking head-on with the world detail, you may not fully see the "glass plane".

That said, think on this a bit.

--Simple Equippable Item/Inventory System--
Such as? I mean, it's a non-stop running game right? Part of having items/power ups means integrating their use into your LEVEL design. Assuming that your characters will never "fall into a pit because the gap was intentionally made too wide for your standard jump" is, well, cheap. And a dealbreaker in many cases. This creates artificial difficulty, nobody enjoys that.

What makes powerups "work" in a traditional platformer like say, Super Mario World is that "Yes you can fly if you run long enough, then rock back and forward on the D-Pad to maintain/increase/decrease your height. If you fly in the RIGHT places, you can find platforms, 1UPs, or secret stage exits". Apart from something that, maybe, allows you to recover from falling or (if you're planning on this) shake off damage incurred by enemies or certain destructible objects, I find it hard to imagine how power ups would be a "help" to your game. Have a powerup that makes a character run faster, and you'll have to design -all- of your platforms to be able to "catch and release" the player with enough space to facilitate both the standard run speed and enhanced run speed. Same for gaps. By planning some of your stages to have "quick hop" segments (where timing is everything to land on little platforms", you may end up breaking those sections by turning up the speed too much.

Same with a boost for jump height. You may send players "well over" their intended platform, forcing them to fall into a gap following the landing zone.

I'm not saying there's not powerups that -will- work, it's just... "would they work for an endless running game? Or would they work for a platformer? They're two different genres for a reason."

You would have to meticulously design each level to use a powerup featured on that level in order for such a system to pay off and not become an exercise in frustration as players try to use these "boosts" only to discover "that one keeps killing me." Players would eventually take to disregarding those powerups, which means disregarding your hard work. These difficulties are compounded when you consider that you want...

--Randomly Generated Scenery/Terrain--
This goes hand-in-hand with your powerups as, well, randomly generated terrain more-or-less guarantees a standard set of powerups will be useless... or that those powerups will have to be so vanilla that "they all work for all occasions equally". Something like point multipliers, or distance ran multipliers (which for my liking doesn't sit well if distance ran is a factor in your game). Your scenery generator will most likely end up focused on creating seamless levels, and not "levels that encourage powerup usage, and KNOW what powerups the player has when taking tilesets into consideration".

Random is good, it adds a challenge for sure. Nothing wrong with memorization/rhythm, but if random's what you want then be prepared to put in the extra effort to strike a balance between "ever changing" and "meaningful."

--Thoughts That may Help--
Okay, so maybe I -will- mention a modern title. Have you tried the endless running game "Pitfall", based on the Atari 2600 David Crane classic of the same name? The game is an endless runner that shifts between a "behind Harry" view and a "side scrolling" view. Your standard list of commands are to swipe UP to jump, swipe DOWN to duck/slide, and tap the screen to crack your whip (for fending off enemies on the track). When you're in the "behind Harry" view, the same as above, only now you can tilt your device left and right to shift Harry left and right along the track as he runs forward (away from camera).

Of all the endless runners I've played, "Pitfall" is my favorite. By a large margin. Not just because of the art style, but because of how damn varied the gameplay is. As you make your progress, you are constantly coming across new forms of obstacles... bridges with sections missing, hopping on the back of a motorcycle (You can baseball slide with the bike but not jump... hit ramps instead), jumping into a minecart inside a volcano with lava far beneath you (here again you only really have to duck to avoid most obstacles), hopping on top of a bull that smashes through enemies/objects and basically "auto-runs" the level for you for 200 feet or so.

Maybe "Powerups" aren't the way to go. Maybe vehicles? Animal companions? Robots? Spy Gadgets? This would kind of provide the "Feel" of different characters/skins but saves you the effort of providing a full sheet of separate animations by simply keeping each player add-on/companion set to a specific task. A jetpack, for example, could fly you ahead with no effort a set distance. All enemies/hazardous objects can be avoided through normal means (ducking, jumping) but perhaps can be blasted away with a weapon not included with your default character? But even then, for what exactly? Is there going to be a points/rewards system? Extra lives, or what have you? Maybe including the means to DESTROY an object gives you points where avoiding them gives you nothing. That's incentive right there for a player to not only locate the weapon, but learn how to use them.

I'd be happy to bounce the ball back and forward with ya, feller... I can get more specific with more specifics.
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Post » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:58 pm

Now this is a forum i am starting to like. Exactly the kind of advice i am looking for. I'll explain the gameplay concept to give a better picture of what i am planning. The game revolves around the player trying to reach the farthest distance while avoiding danger and having fun smashing & launching different types of obstacles in the middle to clear the way. There won't be much jumps/gaps, very few here and there which will match the stage/terrain. The terrain itself is not random, it will follow a loop of various stages each with its own theme(aiming for 6-7 at the moment), but each stage will have its own type of obstacles and dangers, once you complete a run trough all stages, you'll reach the first one again but the difficulty increases and here's where the random scenery OBJECT placement comes in place, the challenge comes from the individual obstacles that will be generated in the stage, not the platform terrain.

Each terrain will also have specific specs, the reason for the interchangeable characters in-game. You'll start off with one character but will unlock others which will help you reach farther each time with more ease than before since some are better suited for a stage than others (the so called "abilities" of mine which really are just varying gravities, speeds, and different object smashing capabilities/strength). But of course, you'll have a limit of about 2 additional characters to carry with you of about 6-8 in total (unless you get the full version ;) ).

Power ups will be pick up items that will get you into different types of modes, perhaps one will get you beserk and smash everything seemlesly for a while or another gives you more inmunity to dangers or stage specs. I'm also hoping for collectible craft items to create handheld objects to smash and break objects more easily and fun.

That's the big picture all put together, looking forward to hear opinions. Thanks for the feedback!      
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Post » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:56 pm

--Random Object Generation/Notes on Level Design--
Okay, I dig that over random LEVEL generation. It makes things "easier" on you but now, you gotta develop some interesting obstacles for players to take on.

Think about one of the first "level creators" to be found on home consoles: Excitebike on the NES. Small ramps, large ramps, boosts that restore your engine temp (to prevent overheating, if you filled up this meter you would be forced to pull over and wait until the engine cooled down), and other obstacles. What was cool about this was it allowed players to dodge left and right on the track (from the sideview perspective, up and down on the screen) to avoid obstacles.

Now, if your endless running game doesn't -require- JUMPING, perhaps allowing players to lock themselves to a foreground/background layer would be a nice twist. Think about the SNK classic title Fatal Fury 2/Special. There was foreground and background planes that your characters could stand on, fight across, jump between and knock the enemy "over" into. This allowed for neat destructible scenery when changing layers like kicking an opponent through a wood/paper wall, breaking statues, torches and the like. See, now not only are you able to PLACE objects at random to be dodged, you can also place objects that are "optional" to destroy... say, you're running down a city street and decide to crash through a glass storefront window. Now you're running through the stores with clothing racks, TV displays, food displays and stuff whipping by "in front of the player" that they could also bounce through and wreck for points... in the course of trying to avoid the ACTUAL level obstacles.

--NO D-----! I SAID THERE WILL BE MULTIPLE CHARACTERS!--
If you're determined to spend the time making ONE character suited per level, and then require players to buy the full version to unlock all of those characters, I hope that your "demo" or "lite version" can be completed with the stock character... and whatever these other guys are doing needs to be d--- interesting to justify the price if in fact "the starter guy can do it all". Personally, I think modifying the properties of one -interesting- character would provide the deeper experience than having several specialized classes. I think this a remnant of the Pokemon (we need 300 dudes in your pocket to make the game interesting) train of thought... which, if you look around, is on the way out. Growing a single character gives players a sense of accomplishment...

I'm interested to hear your concepts of 8 different characters that all "run to the right"... as well as 8 stages that move from right-to-left to accomdate them. I'm not downplaying the idea or your percieved importance on this cast of characters, I'm just wondering if the genre is "too thin" for all of this content, and if you couldn't just "make the exact same game" and save yourself the trouble of allocating/paying for art assets. Art should be the last stage of any Construct-developed title, the focus should be on perfecting the game. Some philosophy there. You could have 10,000 characters with 10,000 unique stats and individually-rendered costume pieces per character, but when -the game- is started and you're playing the meat-and-potatoes of the title, "You WILL be looking at ONE character anyway."

--A Rant on Crafting, and Again, NOT a criticism of you/Your Game--
For my tastes, I hate crafting. Through and through. I felt it's the main reason I didn't get into Minecraft, Terraria, there's piles of crafting materials sold in bulk as trash from my times in various Elder Scrolls games, they were auction house fodder in World of Warcraft... it's the reason why I'm on Disc III Chapter 12 of Final Fantasy XIII and running around with maxed out level 1 weapons (because screw abandoning all of those mats I DID invest out of necessity... why do we have all of those shops when nothing drops gold?)

See all of my examples there? That's me trying it, hating it, trying it again, hating it, repeat.

I just... don't like it. Is it because I don't understand it? Perhaps... but I did mention that on a couple of examples I maxed out various areas in a few titles. I just feel it's artificial depth, akin to "Grinding" which is great if you charge players per month to play but not really a definitive selling point. Can't wait for "crafting" to be replaced by something else in game development... maybe "content"?

I'm sure I'm in the minority on this. I know there's people out there madly in love with Minecraft, but at the same effect, I -did- grow up with Legos and K'nex... so it was old news by the time I got to it. Plus the dozens and dozens of clones... It's the new "collectible pets/cards" system, which I also wasn't a fan of. Pokemon did it "best", but then every Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh, etc etc had to have the same thing.

For me, and for people like me, crafting = more of your wasted talents. It also = end of my game/refusal to pay for the full version if your game is focused around it as a means to advance.
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Post » Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:24 pm

The game won't be THAT centered on crafting items, the point of it will be the fun it will provide by having different weapons to choose from and take with for the smash and bash glory during the actual run and you'll find nice supply of "crafting" material from stage to stage. It all follows a nice and quircky story to be doing all of it, you won't be running, bashing, and collecting aimlesly. Not sure if the multiple character part was understood, you'll get slots in which to take unlocked characters right there with you on the run, being able to switch them out to one of them whenever you need to.
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Post » Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:23 pm

If you're convinced, I'm convinced.
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Post » Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:40 pm

starting to understand C2, got very basic mechanics working :)
thanks for the feedback, i'll get working bit by bit.
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