[Post-mortem]Inverse

Introduction

Inverse is an endless runner with the added feature of being able to “invert” between the black and white worlds.

To play this game one has to be “platform-neutral”, or able to instantly switch beliefs. One moment the blacks are obstacles, and the next they are empty spaces to be traversed. It reminds me of this part in the Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss where Kvothe was learning about the Alar for the first time from Abenthy. He was being taught to hold two opposing ideas in his head and to believe absolutely in each of them simultaneously.

Process

I experimented with a few variations of the central idea. First I added collectible coins, as many endless runners do. It didn’t feel right. When I was playing the initial prototype, I decided that the game should be very free-form, similar to skateboarding or parkour. (“Oh hey, I wanna try and see if I can jump on that platform over there! YES!”) Players should be able to choose their own routes and set their own mini-goals, rather than have to go the path traced out by some coins.

Sidenote: Coins in Super Mario and rings in Sonic never made much sense. Why are all these coins FLOATING? Why are they here? Who left them here? Why should I pick them up? Where the heck am I going to keep all of them?

Next, I spent an afternoon writing a whole bunch of code to provide much greater variation in the heights of the platforms, kind of like in Canabalt. That made the game feel more complex and less fun. I think it might have been because it destroyed the middle line, which upon reflection was crucial to the feel of the game.

Win/Lose

I struggled for quite a while to decide on a win/lose condition. I’m usually all for toughness and instant permadeath. But then I felt like players should be able to explore this world a bit more, and so I gave them three lives instead. Falling into deep pits was still instant kill though.

There is no real win condition. In that sense I think Inverse is more toy than game.

Feel

The black and white aesthetics reminded me of the piano. Which is why I wanted a piece of piano music. This track by Chris Zabriskie is awesome by the way.

Conclusion

I think I’m getting better transforming an idea into code. I think it may be time to focus more on polish, and perhaps try on a bigger project. It feels good to be churning out work.

Play Inverse

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