Results from Game Design Challenge: No Jumping!

By Danny Cowan [04.30.13]

 Super Mario Bros. firmly established a template for the platforming genre upon its release in 1985. In the years that followed, numerous clones and similarly inspired titles followed its example. Though the characters and settings change, many platformers, at their core, feature an agile main character who can run and jump to outwit foes.

Some of the most memorable platformers have ignored these conventions, however. Capcom's Bionic Commando, for instance, features a main character who cannot jump, forcing players to instead use a tough-to-master grappling hook. The game's unique mechanics required players to adopt unique strategies in order to surmount its challenges, and the result remains one of the Nintendo Entertainment System's most memorable experiences.

Modern-day developers have also adopted unique approaches to the platforming genre. Subdued Software's Magnetic Joe features magnet-based gameplay mechanics, for example, while Might & Delight's indie hit Pid (though it features jumping in a limited capacity) requires players to manipulate gravity in order to cross gaps and climb to higher ground.

For Game Career Guide's latest Game Design Challenge, Game Career Guide challenged its readers to create a platformer in which the main character cannot jump. Here are our top picks.

Best Entries

Balaji MD, Game Designer at Twist Mobile, Rocket Jike (see page 2)

Martin Brochu, AI Programmer, You Have No Legs (see page 3)

Kurtis Thorp, Combustion (see page 4)

Craig Browne, Ohio University, MagnaLine (see page 5)

Eduardo Ramírez, Game designer at Green Lava Studios, I Fall in Love (see page 6)

Daniel Zubiria Izquierdo, Quo's Adventure (see page 7)

Bernard John (B.J.) Badger, Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy alumnus, Muzzle Velocity (see page 8)


Balaji MD, Game Designer at Twist Mobile, Rocket Jike

It was 17th Century in china, the festival month of the year. Colors, celebrations and fireworks covered the vast sky. "Jike" the kid who was so crazy about firecrackers ran out of fireworks that day. He sneaked inside the cracker's castle and packed a bag full of fireworks so much enough to fire for the whole month.

You play as the kid (Jack) in the game who robbed firecrackers form the fireworks castle and trying to escape back home. He packed a bag full of firecrackers on his back which apparently made him too heavy that he can't even jump. He realized and then, an idea rouse in his head binding a rocket on his back could help him with jump (Actually a smart kid, it worked!!).


High Concept:

Escape back home remaining in stealth mode. Solve the puzzles making use of each and every element in the game.

Objective:

The main objective is to get back home through different levels without alerting anyone around. Best thing, it was a night scene so the kid can make use of the dark.

Controls:

Use left and left for controls.

Up or down to climb ladder.

"A" Action button for lighting the rocket, and for various other actions inside the game like pulling trigger and pushing buttons.

"B" Holding B during walking will make the player run. Using the combination of run and jump makes the character jump higher and longer

Rocket in the back of the player will come in handy whenever you need to jump. But you need have a fire source to use the rocket. So player basically can't jump. But thinking could help him find a way.


Gameplay:

Player has very simpler controls but reacts different with different elements in the game. Player can counter jump (i.e. from one fire source to another source which is as long player has a fire source he can jump). Holding the "A" button will make the player run and combining "B" with it will give him high long jumps (which will be higher compared to using it normally without running). You can jump towards any direction in the game by pressing action with the respective direction towards where you want to jump.

Play the game safe in stealth mode. If the Guard or anyone finds him, he will get busted (don't worry!! nothing's going to happen, he will be sent home without fireworks).


Martin Brochu, AI Programmer, You Have No Legs

You are an archaeologist. While on a trip to Teotihuacan, Mexico, the ground was ripped open by an earthquake and you fell into what appears to be the ruins of an ancient Aztec Temple. You must escape and find your way back to civilization, but there is one problem: You Have No Legs.


Gameplay is controlled entirely with the mouse; you rotate the character's arm with the mouse and can grab onto surfaces by clicking. While holding on to a surface, moving the mouse will move the character, effectively allowing you to drag your character along by dragging the mouse. Simply moving forward is a challenge, as could be expected for a legless character; the player must place the mouse cursor on a surface, click on it to grab, pull the mouse back to drag his character forward, release the mouse button to let go of the surface and then repeat.


These controls are the character's only mode of locomotion and apply to all situations; climbing up a wall is achieved by placing the mouse cursor above the character, dragging downward and then quickly clicking above the character again, inching your way up little by little. This same technique allows you to shimmy across gaps by holding onto the ceiling. The player can also "leap" across gaps by releasing the mouse button while moving forward, using his momentum to propel himself forward.


The game centers around mastering this control scheme. While it may feel awkward at first, the mapping of mouse movement to character movement quickly becomes second nature. As the player explores the world, he discovers upgrades which enhance his climbing abilities, letting him climb up walls, across ceilings and eventually launch himself through the air. In keeping with the Mesoamerican theme of the game, these upgrades take the form of ancient Aztec artifacts, such as Bracers of Huitzilopochtli and Plumes of Quetzalcoatl.

You Have No Legs takes inspiration from Metroidvanias for its game structure; the Aztec ruins are full of secrets and hidden paths, which contain various upgrades that the player can collect. The player visits a wide variety of areas throughout the ruins, going through an ancient temple, dangerous caverns, peaceful jungles and more. Such paths may be blocked off at first, but exploring the ruins yields various upgrades that can be used to unlock new paths.

The game ends when the player finds the exit to the ruins and returns to civilization, covered in priceless Aztec artifacts. He rapidly becomes famous for his discovery and lives happily ever after, although he will no doubt one day return to the ruins to discover more of its secrets and achieve 100% completion.  


Kurtis Thorp, Combustion

Combustion is a 2d platformer in which the player stars as a firefighter. Use your water pack to put out flames or charge the pressure and propel yourself over gaps. Rush to save people caught in the fire or their pets and valuables. Make it quick as fire spreads fast. Earn a high score by saving day as fast as you can.

Gameplay:

Combustion is played like a twin stick shooter. One stick controlling where the player is going the other where the hose is pointing. The player can not jump. To over come this, the design is to have the hose be able to "charge" to build up pressure and when release while aimed toward something solid the character will be propelled away from the solid object. Levels will consist of Apartment buildings, Government builds, High rises and whole city blocks. The game will be point based. Earn points for each civilian saved, how much property was saved, extra items found and time spent getting to the exit. Strive for the high score.


Controls:

Right Stick - Aim Hose
Left Stick - Character Movement
R1 - Shoot Button
L1 - Close Hose Button
R2 - Hook Axe Button
L2 - Use Button

Items:

Water hose/tank - Main item of the game. Has infinite water. Has a gauge showed on UI for pressure. Hold Shoot to spray water, lowers the pressure gauge. Hold Closed Hose button and Shoot Button to build pressure. Release Close Hose Button release the built up pressure, uses large amount of pressure. Pressure will rebuild while not using the hose.

Hook Axe - Doubles as a hook and an Axe. Use as an Axe to break down doors and weak walls. Used as a hook to grapple edges and swing from support beams.

Fire Extinguisher - Found within levels. Uses foam to coat chemical fires. Limited use item. Use button to use.

Survivors - Use Button to pick up survivor. Can not use Hook Axe or carry Fire Extinguisher when carrying a survivor. Need to be taken to a drop off point.

Hazards:

Flames - Flames will come in 3 different colors representing different types of fires:

Gas pipes - Flames from gas pipes can not be extinguished. Used for floor obstacles and timed obstacles.

Environment - Floors and ceilings can fall apart. Debris from these can hurt the player.


Craig Browne, Ohio University, MagnaLine

The name of my game idea is "MagnaLine". MagnaLine's story focuses that on Axel , a robot who puts together other robots on an assembly line. That is until the company he works for decides to upgrade to the new assembly model robot. With a new, more efficient assembly robot, Axel is scheduled for decommissioning. To survive Axel has to take to the assembly lines as means of escape.

The games dynamics are that it is a 2D side scroller made for touch screen mobile devices, the object is to get to the end of the assembly line that Axel is running from left to right on. You do not directly take control of Axel but instead he continuously runs on the spot as the assembly lines roll past. The assembly lines are not all connected and have gaps in random places that if you do not get over them you fall and are caught.

The catch is that you cannot jump these gaps in the assembly lines since you are made too heavy due to being made of metal. Instead to transverse the gaps you must tap and hold the magnets that are above the assembly line in certain places, touching and holding the magnet will magnetize Axel and start to lift him towards them, you have to utilize touching the magnet at the right time to lift Axel up over the gap and onto the next assembly line. This is all going on still as the screen scrolls from left to right. The magnets will work as they physically should, Axel will be pulled up in an arc. The strength of the magnet will also affect how Axel is pulled.

 

In later levels new magnets will be implemented into the scene. This will include faster magnets that lift Axel faster towards them, Slower magnets that have the opposite effect of the fast magnet, Magnets that will switch on and off randomly or only have one use per touch, there will be magnets that move on a set position around the screen, and magnets that have different strengths.

Levels will also include some obstacles you have to magnetize Axel over as he moves along the assembly line. These will be items such as scrap parts, crates, and off course the gaps in the assembly line. In more difficult levels there will be the fast, slow, switch, different strength, and moving magnets; Along with the obstacles such as crates. There will also be other assembly lines higher up or lower than the line you are on at the moment and you will have to use the magnets to pull yourself from magnet to magnet, in order to reach another assembly line.


Eduardo Ramírez, Game designer at Green Lava Studios, I Fall in Love 

Platform: Touch screen devices.

Story: A blue boy falls in love with a pink girl... yes yes, he loooves her.

Gameplay: This gameplay will be explained with the 3 images below.


Image 1: The blue boy lives in a little 2D planet. He is always walking going right; the player can't stop him. This blue boy can't jump and wants to reach the pink girl.


Image 2: The 360° gravity of this planet always pushes the blue boy to the center of the planet.


Image 3: The player can move the planet by touching and swiping it with one finger in any direction. The blue boy will fall, hopefully avoiding obstacles. Technically, he is falling to avoid obstacles, not jumping. If the player's finger is not touching the planet, it will return to its initial position.

Additional information: The blue boy will not jump if the player moves the planet quickly against the gravity direction. If blue boy touches fire, he will die and respawn at starting position. If blue boy touches pink girl, the level is cleared and moves to next level.


Daniel Zubiria Izquierdo, Quo's Adventure

Specifications

Description

Our only controls are moving left and right, and placing bombs that will displace our hero around the screen. The closer the bomb is to our hero, the farther it will displace him.

There will be obstacles (walls, rocks, holes...), traps (fire, falling platforms...) and enemies that will eat you as soon as they have a chance (frogs, lizards).

The target of the gameplay, as most of the platform games, is to reach a certain point or collect some distributed elements on a stage. Some of the stages will be timed to create tension in the players and have some variety in the gameplay.

The game could be adapted for any device with a touch screen (or even a PC), but it is specially designed for tablets.


Story

Quo is a brave adventurer from a tribe called the Bombos. Bombos are small and very tasty creatures always alert from the risk of the bigger predators.

Quo in his determination to find a safe place to his tribe will live hundreds of adventures. Help him to achieve his goal and save the tribe of the Bombos.

Core mechanics

Game controls

The controls:

Enemies


Bernard John (B.J.) Badger, Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy alumnus, Muzzle Velocity

Meet Joe. Joe lives in a world where killer zombies and flying thugs are always trying to bring him down. Fortunately, Joe also lives in a world with plenty of big, impressive guns to deal with these threats. There's one quirk, though: the recoil from these guns is strong enough to lift Joe completely off the ground. In fact, he can effectively fly!

Muzzle Velocity is a game based on using the recoil of guns to maneuver in mid-air. Each shot of a gun pushes Joe in the direction opposite of firing, creating a Balloon Fight-esque system of movement where momentum must be carefully managed against the constant pull of gravity. Different guns provide not only different offensive options, but also different movement capabilities. Rapid-fire guns like machine guns and flamethrowers give a steady push, whereas single-fire guns like shotguns and bazookas provide a strong, sudden kick. Joe must also land in order to reload his weaponry, so clip size becomes a limit on flight time.

Enemies in Muzzle Velocity come in two broad categories: land-based, and aerial. Land-based enemies typically attack in swarms and are too numerous to deal with head-on, encouraging Joe to take to the air and mow them down from above. Since Joe can't remain airborne forever, though, keeping the ground clear enough that he can find a spot to land and reload is important. Aerial foes are less prolific, but more intelligent and mobile. Since firing upward risks blasting Joe downward into the land-based mobs, it's often advantageous for him to maneuver himself above aerial threats and engage them from superior altitude.

In between bouts with enemy hordes, there are also segments of puzzle-platforming. Long, obstacle-laden jumps from one safe platform to another will test not only the player's coordination, but their planning in regards to which gun is best for which situation. By equipping a gun in each hand, Joe can take advantage of two different movement capabilities at different moments during a single flight.

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