Written by Jonathan Gault
November 3, 2020
As the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of Americans to leave work and millions more to work remotely, we will all spend more time at home in 2020. King tiger Or bake a sourdough loaf, Ryan Craven He decided to spend that time more productively: He designed a video game. Specifically, a cross-country video game.
Although there have been a number of track and field video games over the years, cross country games have been few and far between, partly because there is very little demand, and partly because … well, how exactly You are Create an exciting cross-country video game?
This is the challenge that Craven, 32, puts himself. In the creative genre, Craven released a music album titled Running in 2013 with song titles like “Fartlek” and “Ballad of the Injured Runner”.
“a“Anytime I’m looking to make something, I always put it in the running lens and try to tell running stories in different ways,” says Craven.
Later on, he became interested in 3D design. Although Craven had no experience designing a video game, he realized that it might be possible with some effort.
“There were all these really cool programs available with which you could make the things you used to play as a kid [you] You had to buy $ 200,000 worth of equipment to make and now you can practically do it in your desktop browser, ”Craven says.
Craven learned how to code, and prior to the pandemic, he began developing the game part-time while driving Uber in Austin, Texas. Once infected with COVID, he returned to his home in Indiana and redoubled his efforts. He spent more than 50 hours a week working on the project over the summer, creating every component of the game himself, from animation to coding to the soundtrack. A free trial version is now available for download for Mac, Windows, or Linux (promotional clip here).
The game is titled XC: Cross Country RaceSimilar to racing games like Mario Kart And the Crash Bandicoot, With the player alternately clicking the “g” and “h” keys to run and using the “f” and “j” to turn. But he also wanted the game to be real, which created a problem. Craven felt that a challenging element was needed to prevent the game from being too easy. But there are no green or red cross-country shells.
Its solution: the wording. Running into another sports stream allows the player to maintain the stamina bar. Run too close and the player character veers off course, wasting valuable time.
“I wanted it to be as if you were escalating,” Craven says. “You’re following closely and this is your punishment for that.”
And just like real racing, there is a strategy. Each opponent changes his speed 24 times during the race; It is up to the player to decide which moves to follow and when to beat them with his own move.
Craven doesn’t consider himself a big gamer, but he always enjoys old video games; One of the Christmas traditions is play Tecmo Super Bowl Against his brother every year. This was the kind of atmosphere he was walking in XC: Cross Country Race, The simple gameplay and campfire animations feel like they belong to a NES game or a mid-1990s computer game (in the end, Craven says, he sees it as a mobile / VR game).
The game will sound familiar to anyone running across the suburb – which Craven did, and he was a hit. He was the runner-up in 2005 at Illinois 2A (in the end that spawned a celebrity photo), finished third on Foot Locker Citizens that year, and went on to run at the University of Wisconsin – Craven says one of his claims to fame would go undefeated in Suburban against Evan Jagger, Who hit him in the states, FL Midwest, and FL citizens.
Generally, the beta version has one course, the classic high school layout that runs through the school buses and Porta Potties and includes a wooded section and a track section. Craven hopes that the final version of the game, which is still under construction, will include four courses (Cycle # 2 will be a golf course). He also made sure to give each character their own running style.
“That was a big challenge on my mind,” says Craven. “You have to express your personality with these different runners 90% of the time you see it from behind.”
Craven began with character models based on Little Mac, the main character from the NES 1987 boxing game Punch out !!Then he asked some friends to record themselves running on the mills and used an animation technique known as rotoscoping to track the footage and translate it into animation. From there, he would have added his own tweaks before customizing each runner’s look to a different character.
The main character controlled by the player is based on footage of a runner from the Running Science Lab at Eastern Michigan University, but Craven says he doesn’t know the exact identity of the runner. So if you notice a familiar move while playing the game, Craven wants to hear from you (The game has its own Discord server here or you can access Craven at Twitter).
“Some runners from Eastern Michigan have a good move, and I’d like to keep him in the game if I could,” says Craven.
Craven is completely unsure of his ultimate goal in the match. As a standalone title, Craven accepts that the game will likely not make much money (the download is free, but users have the option to donate, and the tip is always great).
“Just being in the race genre and gathering some kind of crowd that really appreciates is all I’m looking forward to doing,” says Craven.
So far, Craven has hesitated to release the full version of the game; It still needs to work on multiplayer and adapt it to different platforms. But his biggest challenge, he says, is sticking to his own vision of the game.
“I still feel frustrated,” Craven says, “because when I think about where I started from, it’s so much better than I thought it could be.” “And then on the other end of that, there’s still that feeling, well, it’s not good enough yet. There’s still a lot I’d like to do with it.”
But Craven knows the best way to improve the game is to put it there, listen to the comments, and then incorporate those comments into the changes. Craven says his friends complained that the first copies were too tough. So far, it’s extremely challenging, even for a ‘beginner’ difficulty, if you hit the wrong spot in the course. But for Craven, the challenge is part of the appeal. Part of what was made Super Mario Kart Fun for him was that was not Easy. He hopes XC: Cross Country Race Feel the same.
Craven also hopes, for those deprived of a true cross country season this fall, his game will fill the need and bring back some of the cross-country feelings.
“It would be great to be able to publish this now when the competition is needed, even if it’s in a silly digital way,” Craven says.
Download a free trial version of the game here for Mac, Windows or Linux. The trailer / game preview appears below.
Discuss the game on the LetsRun message board: Megabyte Cross-country video games were invented. Play it here for free.
Video preview of the game