The Mechiknight!

In Runner3, we’re expanding the depth of interaction between CommanderVideo and his world—not only via the environment, but also via helpful elements like vehicles and harmful things like enemies.

Case in point, this handsome devil…

Most items in RUNNER and Runner2 can be “defeated” by a single action, making our cast of enemies feel somewhat… fleeting; you never really get to know them.

But this new enemy we’re calling the Mechiknight will be a nuisance for several beats, forcing CommanderVideo to change up his strategy before being rid of the thing for good. 

Since Runner3 forces CommanderVideo through the world at a breakneck pace, we had to design an enemy that could move with you in a way that wasn’t confusing, and that also made sense thematically.

Enemies work best in our games when they are stationary and you can see them from a distance, giving the player time to prepare. So making sure that the Mechiknight gets into position early enough for the player to parse what’s going on was very important. 

We’ve got these dudes in game now. They work well. And they will Bonk you if you’re not on your toes.

Let us know what you think in the comments and we’ll do our best to amuse you with our witty responsticles!

- Alex

A Chronological Collection of Designer Scrawlings

Initial End-of-Level menu flow design for Runner3, as drawn on my space etch-a-sketch.

Initial End-of-Level menu flow design for Runner3, as drawn on my space etch-a-sketch.

Right before Runner3's development started, I got a fancy-pants iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. I acquired these items because I wanted to see if taking notes while writing on a magical piece of glass with a space pen would be a viable replacement for my usual notebook-filling scrawls, as seen below...

My old notebooks from BIT.TRIP BEAT to Runner2.

My old notebooks from BIT.TRIP BEAT to Runner2.

I used to buy a new notebook for each project and vow to only fill that notebook, regardless of how full some of the pages got. It was fun. But it is now 2017 and paper and pen seems so... quaint.

I don't know if any of our lovely and fragrant readers are interested in perusing my daily notes for Runner3, but in looking back at my notes from previous projects, I often find a few nuggets that I think are fun.

So, without further ado, check out my chronological collection of Runner3 designer scrawlings to date and poop me a message in the comments if you see anything worth seeing.

Going out with a BANG!

Our sweet and supple Producer, Dant Rambo, tells me that I have a devlog post to write today.

So, I’ll tell y’all what I’m working on at the moment.

You remember the cannon micro-game after you got a Perfect run in Runner2, right?

The anticipation is killing me!

The anticipation is killing me!

In Runner3, we’re going to be giving this simple and infuriating micro-game a bit more funjuice.

While we all loved the elegant simplicity of the feature the first time around (insert scream here when you miss the bullseye while going for a Perfect+), it could get somewhat repetitive if you were trying to Triple Perfect+ the whole game.

So for Runner3, each playable character is going to have their own distinct target micro-game! 

The barfening out of creativity.

The barfening out of creativity.

The biggest challenge here is to keep the micro-game as simple as it was in Runner2 for each character’s variation while at the same time making them all distinct from one another.

In game design, one often has to work within constraints, but when the constraints are so simplistic, as in this cannon micro-game, and you have to make so many variations, the constraints can feel overly restrictive. 

It’s also easy to overdesign while thinking you’re keeping things simple. In fact, one of the designs on the whiteboard above is definitely too complex. Which one do you think it is?

The constraints we ended up settling upon were that the micro-game takes one button press, there’s no on-screen HUD telling you what to do, and there’s only one thing moving in each variation. Once we settled on these constraints and made them explicit, the designs fell into place.

So, when you get your fingerhands on Runner3 next year, and you’re trying for an elusive Perfect+, you’ll get to choose which micro-game you want by playing as a specific character.

Now, who are all these characters…

Finding the Fun - The Beginning

You'd think that after making RUNNER and Runner2, we'd already know exactly what to do to make Runner3 the powerful jab jab that it deserves to be.

We've been making frantic and fun sidescrolling auto-running games since before the genre even existed. We've got RUNNER, Runner2, all the retro levels in those games, and the addictive free-to-play Go! Go! CommanderVideo behind us.

So, slam dunk, right?

Well... as my incredibly handsome and pleasantly aromatic business partner Mike Roush pointed out in his most recent post, we're not content with just making a bigger/better sidescrolling auto-runner. We are plagued by always wanting to try something new. It's in our delicious essence. With the original BIT.TRIP series, each game was a distinct genre, with a wholly new gameplay style (except, arguably FLUX). And after Runner2, we went on to make Tharsis and Laserlife as well as several other smaller projects in our quest for new challenges. 

So for Mike and I, making sequels is somewhat problematic, which he talked about last week. 

And that's why we spent the first couple months of development prototyping a level that had the beginnings of each new feature we wanted to fart around with.

We started by playing a lot of Runner2 and drawing what we wanted our Runner3 prototype to be on a giant ream of paper in our war room.

Like any prototype, you find some things that work well, and others that are best left to the cutting room floor. 

Here's some of what we learned:

What tickled our funglands:

  • Changing CommanderVideo's speed
  • Interesting use of camera animations
  • Riding vehicles in frantic, short bursts
  • Runner2-style gameplay
  • Changing the music tempo
  • A few multiple paths

What gave us mind-herpes:

  • Drastic camera animations
  • Long over-the-shoulder gameplay sections
  • Long vehicle sections
  • Super long levels
  • Lots of multiple paths

By focusing on what we liked from the prototype, we've moved on to actually making the game. Hopefully the new sauce will be special enough and will keep the series as fresh as those ridiculous Garden Sausages we all know so well.

It's going to be a wild ride, and if you follow this devlog, you'll be along for a good part of it.