Run Like Hell

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April 23, 2017

An asymmetric co-op(tional) infinite runner game that was developed for Nordic Game Jam 2017.

What if the level wasn’t there? Well, in this case it’s not. One person uses the mouse to rotate and place down block patterns, and another controls the player, jumping and navigating the level as it’s built.

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Project took 48 hours to develop.

Erik’s notes

This Game Jam started out a little different for me. Usually, I go without a team, and without an idea. But this time, I had half a team (but still no idea). One of my friends from Dania, Tor a programmer, was attending the game jam and suggested that we should have a team. We then teamed up with Manuel (a sound designer), who I had met at the GGJ 17. He was already part of a small team, composed of 2 artists so we merged. This all happened before the first talk at NGJ 2017.

Nordic Game Jam usually plan some amazing talks, and this year was no exception. There was a really good talk by Ditte Deenfeldt about the idea generation processes. There was a great talk from Nels Anderson, with a lot of game design advice that could be applied.

The Idea Process

We each got a paper where we would write some game ideas down that related to the theme. Then after 5 minutes, we would shuffle the papers, so everyone ended up with a different paper than the one we just had. Then we would expand upon those ideas for 5 minutes, before shuffling the papers again. We kept doing this until no one was expanding on any of the ideas. In the end, we had 6 distinct ideas.

Then we selected the distinct ideas and put them into a table, where we could score them in different categories. I think the categories were Feasibility, Novelty/Originality, how much we wanted to develop it, and adherence to the theme.
3 ideas came out ahead:

  1. A game about being a ghost and scaring people who visit your haunted house.
  2. An infinite runner where the platforms are missing.
  3. A robot dating sim where you play as a Roomba*


Here is a flowchart developed from the idea generation process (it’s in Danish)
Flow chart for NGJ17

The game


Everyone got to work so quickly in this jam. Manuel (the audio guy) created a bunch of 8-bit’ish character sounds. Casper and Anne started creating some simple level assets. Unfortunately, Casper got sick and had to leave during the night. He did not come back, which left Anne (the other artist) with a lot of work to do. After submitting the assets she went to work on the player character. Tor imported the Unity asset that he was working on: Odin – Inspector and Serializer, and started to create the core level systems. While I went to work on the player character code. And this all happened the first night.

I am usually in charge of the core functionality, but seeing as Tor was already 10 commits in before I got to work, I went with doing the other parts. One mistake I did was that I relied too much upon the physics simulation to create a fun play experience. This gave us all kinds of collision issues (which there wasn’t enough time to fix), and I think this contributed to the game controls being difficult.

Design challanges

One of the main design challenges of the game was the balancing the relationship between the two players. There were the obvious parameters to be adjusted: Jump length, scroll speed, size of the platforms, and the number of obstacles.

But one of the far less obvious was the camera angle. If the camera showed a lot of the level at the time, it would become hard for the platforming character to perform the precision jumps. But if the camera was zoomed in, the player who is building the platforms didn’t have enough time to create a good route. And the more straight down the camera was the easier it was for the builder to create the platforms, but the harder it was for the player.

Here is an excerpt of the camera angles we tried:


Initial configuration


Camera zoomed a little bit out


Camera angled


Final, with colors pronounced and camera moved slightly down

*: I am a little sad that we did not do the robot vacuum cleaner game, we intended to sneak a quick text adventure in if we had the time. But on the other hand; there was no way that it was going to be good.