NodeRunner

NodeRunner is an arcade style game made Solo for the ScoreSpace x Alakajam in 72 Hours.

The Goal of the game is to launch yourself from Node to Node, collecting points and power ups while outrunning the Chaser Node that is slowly but surely following you. If you miss a node, you'll be stranded until one bumps into you, so time your launches carefully!

The Game makes itself procedurally more difficult the further you get, making getting a high score an exponential challenge!

Controls - Keyboard
WASD / Arrow Keys - Launch while connected to a Node
Spacebar - Deploy an Emergency Node (Once you've collected one)
Escape or X - Pause game (Also brings up Settings while in game)

Controller support is implemented, however you're still restricted to 4 directions of movement to keep a level playing field.

Controls - Controller (Tested on Xbox 360 Controller)
Left Joystick - Launch from Node
A Button - Deploy Emergency Node
Start Button - Pause / Settings

Voting results

Overall
11th
30%
6.792
Graphics
22nd
64%
5.792
Audio
19th
55%
5.542
Gameplay
7th
18%
7.083
Originality
11th
30%
7.167
Theme
14th
39%
7.292

This game entered in the Solo competition (33 entries).

Comments (27)

MatchaMaze
 • 4 months ago • 

Cool game! Simple but clear desing!
Had a blast playing it!

TomBuston
 • 4 months ago • 

Clever concept ! I think emergency nodes were a bit too rare otherwise the difficulty was well adjusted.
Well done!

AaronBacon
  • 4 months ago • 

@TomBuston Thanks! The main idea for the Emergency Nodes was that they could save you from a random mistake but you couldn't rely on them at all since they aren't constant enough to stockpile.

I will admit though, I think I skewed my view on the emergency nodes, since when I first implemented them, I saw 3 of them fly past me by pure chance, and probably nerfed them more than I should have. It maybe also doesn't help that there was a time where the boosts were straight up crashing the entire Unity Editor, so my eternal hate for them may have meant I didn't give them as much testing as I should have lol.

Mills !
(@Mills_Himself) • 4 months ago • 

Nice!

The game is simple, but fun. The only thing I don't like is when you "jump" into no one and you just do nothing and wait for a node to catch you, which is frustrating, but apart from that I liked it

AaronBacon
  • 4 months ago • 

@Mills_Himself Thanks =)

I guess what I was going for is that RNG should never screw you over unless you've already made a mistake like mis-timing a jump. So it's like a "You missed the Node, Roll a 6 to be saved". The Emergency Node was meant to at least let you recover from a single mistake but as Tom Pointed out, they maybe don't spawn frequently enough (Thinking about it now, probably would've been better to give the player 1 to start with so you have a safety net right from the start, but not much I can do now =P)

pyxelrfcp
 • 4 months ago • 

It's so addictive

CFusion
 • 4 months ago • 

The idea is solid though there were a few cases where the player orb immediately leaves a node after arriving due to it been close to the previous location. The end result did have me floating around hoping for a passing node to save me.
Outside of that small quirk, it's good fun when you are able to jump between the nodes quickly and accurately. It has already been mention but perhaps player starting off with some emergency nodes incase you need to make a get away.

Yaro
 • 4 months ago • 

Very simple, but also addicting!
Sometimes I wish you had an emergency node from the start, because sometimes you miscalculate your trajectory, and get stuck for a looong time, just to see yourself being eaten at the end.
Also, a restart button in such situation would be nice.
I enjoyed it a lot, it's the kind of game you want to retry over and over again!

MrAmericanMike
 • 4 months ago • 

Really nice mechanics, loved the concept and how it plays. Gets more and more complicated for sure, so have to think fast. Nice entry, keep the great work.

AaronBacon
  • 4 months ago • 

@Yaro @CFusion @MrAmericanMike Thanks for the feedback, glad you enjoyed the game =)

And yeh seeing these comments it definitely would've been a good idea to start the player with an emergency node, both so the player could test it and also to make early mistakes a bit more forgiving =P. Not much I can do now but If I ever make a sequel I know the first thing I'm adding lol.

Also @Yaro you can Hit Escape or X at any time and there is a restart button on the pause menu, maybe I didn't make that clear enough lol

BPM
 • 4 months ago • 

This is a fun game. It reminds me of a game I played years ago called Osmos.

AaronBacon
  • 4 months ago • 

@BPM Thanks, just looked it up, looks like they had a little bit longer to work on visuals than 72 hours given the insane detail in those sprites 0_o

DiningPhilosopher
 • 4 months ago • 

Great concept! And I really liked the gameplay it at first, but after a while it started to feel too random whether any good nodes would come by in time, or scoop me up after I got (unavoidably) stranded. Still, kept me hooked for long enough to get third place :-) One suggestion I'd have is to make nodes more frequent near the "center" of the level, to give the player an impulse to move around the chaser node rather than just away from it.

AaronBacon
  • 4 months ago • 

@DiningPhilosopher Thanks for Playing =), If I had more time I would've made the nodes more complicated than "go in the general direction of the player" but yeh, with playtesting I can see it can get annoying, especially once you get further and the difficulty algorithm starts making nodes sparser and faster.

Good work on getting 3rd anyway =) (2nd if you don't count me competing for my own game lol)

ratrogue
 • 4 months ago • 

A very solid entry, I had fun playing it. The only thing that drags me down a bit every time I play it is when I miscalculate and don't reach another node, and then I can't do anything at all. Maybe allow for at least a tiny bit of movement, just to make it a bit more satisfying?

DictorDro
 • 4 months ago • 

Hm, there is something solid in this game. Though it's pretty simple gameplay, but it's interesting. Good job!

Antti Haavikko
(@anttihaavikko) • 4 months ago • 

Maybe it's just my awesome gaming skills or something about the game but I got my best score on my first try and can't seem to to top that no matter what. Seems to be very RNG dependant and quickly eating stuff in the early game when there is loads available. The end game is pretty much just hurl yourself away from the evil and hope something hits you before you get eaten. Not the most encaging and skill based technique out there.

I don't know if allowing more freeform aiming or at least adding diagonals too would make it too easy. Right now just having the four directions made it feel kinda restricting and often just a waiting game. And waiting is never really fun. Same kinda goes for when you miss and get punished for a random amount of time before something comes and hits you. Sadly this made the just randomly throwing yourself in a direction sometimes the most effective strategy since it might punish you for less time than waiting and trying to find a real target. Being further away for the "waiting time" also meant that more nodes spawned there instead of closer to the chaser one.

And speaking of random, I didn't quite like how random the special nodes were. And how absurdly rare the yellow one was. Spreading them so randomly that one game I get five and one game I don't even see one doesn't feel great. Sure having them isn't a necessity but using one can still make or break your run with an additional dozen points or so. I think spawning them on constant intervals (or every n nodes) would be better. Still does't mean that you can reach them so wouldn't really change the balancing too much.

The visuals had this weirdness when nodes were overlapping. Kinda looked like blending and z-fighting at the same time. Dunno if this was intentional though but at least to my eye it looked awkward. This looked especially awkward when the used darker nodes overlapped with active light ones and their orders were just all over the place. Some of the active ones being under the dark ones and some on top. Consintency man!

Anyways, good job, fun game!

AaronBacon
  • 4 months ago • 

@ratrogue @DictorDro Thanks for playing, and thanks for the feedback =)

@anttihaavikko Yeh I think If I was to make this again there are certainly a few things I would tweak. First would be to start the player with an emergency node, to forgive early mistakes more. Second would be to have some limit on how far you can get screwed by RNG when missing a node, either by @ratrogue 's suggestion of having like 10% movement speed, or another Idea I had where a node spawns after being stuck for too long so that theres a hard limit for how much time you can lose from being stuck.

And I agree that if I had time, I should have added some sort of balancing to the Rare spawning so that you'd be guaranteed to encounter one at least once per run (Possibly even automatically giving you one at 50, 100, 150 points etc.)

In terms of diagonal/360 travel, It was definitely a consideration, especially when i was implementing controller support, and thinking about it now I could have implemented Mouse movement to allow 360 degree movement, but at the time it didnt occur to me, and even now im not sure it would be a level playing field with controller players. (Which was really my main concern from the start given the importance of high scores on this one)

My goal of the game was to try make sure that if you timed every jump perfectly, you should never rely on RNG, and it's only when you miss a jump that it becomes a roll of the dice. I do see that limiting how bad the RNG can be would be a good idea, like rolling a 6 sided die and getting -52.

As for the overlap visuals,it really was just a side effect of having all the nodes at the same Z, which I never changed because I thought it mostly fit with the style, though I can see what you mean that different brightness nodes look a bit strange. Anyway, thanks for all the feedback, definitely learned alot from this Jam and all the comments on here.

hattoum
 • 4 months ago • 

This is a pretty nice game. The concept is neat and the gameplay is pretty fun. I see others have already adressed the issues so I won't go into that. One thing I liked though is how the game speeds up, it not only makes the game more difficult but it also makes it more fun given the amount of time one playthrough takes. Really nice entry.

AaronBacon
  • 4 months ago • 

@hattoum Thanks for Playing =)

thomastc
 • 4 months ago • 

Clever game! Simple but well executed. It would be nice to have a "crosshair" across the screen to see when something would intersect, and also to give a clue to new players that movement is only possible in the four cardinal directions. The RNG could be made a bit more forgiving though :)

AaronBacon
  • 4 months ago • 

@thomastc thanks for the feedback =)

I think the How To Play Section as well as the description of the game does a decent job of explaining the movement, but even if you dont read them the game is simple enough that you'd likely pick up on the fact that player movement is restricted after a run or two. As for the RNG, like I've said in previous comments, definitely something I'd need to work on if I did this again.

Thanks for playing my game anyway =)

plasmastarfish
 • 4 months ago • 

Nice entry! The concept is interesting and has good relation to the theme.

I liked how the gameplay worked for the most parts, especially when the amount of nearby nodes is somewhat dense. It felt good to jump to nodes as they were zipping by and capture them as you move away from the glowing red orb of doom.

However, when it gets sparse, it's a bit less engaging. Occasionally, just due to random chance, you get stranded and have to wait several seconds for a node to appear within dashing distance (that isn't in the direction that will kill you quicker). It's even worse should you miss a node, then get stranded without your jump and just hope something appears.

Solid work for 72 hours, I could see the potential for even more content in the form of additional powerups, etc. if the jam was longer!

AaronBacon
  • 4 months ago • 

@plasmastarfish Thanks for playing and thanks for the feedback =)

I've left a note in my Game book to definitely try make a sequel/developed version of this at some point with safe zones and lives and powerups and a whole load of potential content =P.

remco
 • 4 months ago • 

Well it's got that nice 'I want to do better' vibe that a good hi-scorer should have. (Which is probably why your hi-score list has 15 entries already.)

I can echo the 'when you make a mistake it's just waiting' complaint a lot of people have made. I think it would be great if you could move just a little bit, even if it's jus to give the player someting to do (or to have an illusion of control).

Also it would help to have a circle to show how far my current 'power' will get me (or something to that effect). This would also serve as a nice reward for picking up a power-up ball.

I found that I sometimes mis-shot because another ball was very close to where is was (but not the one I wanted to shoot at) intersected with my position, and therefore altered it, causing the shot to go into another direction.

The audio was … not in the way, but that's about it. I think I'd have preferred some sound effects over the current music. It's not that it's bad even, just that it's both a bit hectic/chaotic and on a short loop.

It does play very smoothly though, and does make want to try again!

Birdwards
 • 4 months ago • 

Good work! This is a unique concept and fun to play.

I didn't mind waiting if I missed a node; it seemed like adequate punishment for mistiming a jump or moving blindly. That said, I would also be fine with the suggestion some others made of allowing the player to move, albeit much more slowly than if they were jumping from node to node. As long as there's still an element of risk to motivate the player to avoid getting stranded unless they absolutely have to, I think it'd work.

The issue that CFusion pointed out was a much bigger problem for me: the fact that, when you jump to a node that's particularly close to you, you pass straight through it and get stranded instead of sticking to it. I'm guessing that this is a bug, but if it's intended behavior, it should be mentioned in the rules. At first, I thought it might be because I was holding down the arrow key/control stick too long and the game thought I wanted to jump twice, but I tested that theory and it doesn't seem to be the case. As such, I just tried to avoid jumping to any nodes that were too close, but it was very difficult to judge what the distance threshold was.

Other than that, though, I quite enjoyed it, and felt motivated to keep improving my score. I'd certainly be interested in trying my hand at the future version you mentioned in your last comment.

AaronBacon
  • 4 months ago • 

@remco Thanks for playing!

I did consider some sort of crosshair/circle to show your current range, but My thinking was that it took away the skill involved in judging your shot and risking whether you can make a jump or not. Whether that makes the game more fun or not, guess I'll have to see =)

This game was my first time fully making the audio for my games, so honestly "not in the way" is an ok result to me lol.

@Birdwards Thanks for the feedback

I've never encountered the bug everyone is talking about, which makes me think it must be an issue with having a controller plugged in, since I always play the game keyboard only.

I have a sneaking suspicion I know where the bug is coming from. The game basically suspends all input when you press an arrow key/WASD until the key comes back up, to stop exactly what you're describing happening. I didn't put any such system for the controller controls, since honestly Controller support was an afterthought given the 4-directional nature of the game, so I assume the bug must lie with having a controller plugged in/playing with a controller.

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Info

Connect to as many nodes as possible while outrunning the Chaser Node

Links

Itch.io Page (WebGL and Windows)

Author

AaronBacon

High scores Submit score

#UserScore
1@pyxelrfcp138 
2@AaronBacon131 
3@Thrainsa118 
4@Antti Haavikko111 
5@DiningPhilosopher105 
6@Yaro101 
7@CFusion98 
8@Birdwards97 
9@MatchaMaze90 
10@plasmastarfish89 
Total submitted scores: 16
View all 16 scores

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