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Endless Forest - 2d infinite runner (my first major project)

Discussion in 'Works In Progress - Archive' started by The_Least, Jul 26, 2015.

  1. The_Least


    Jan 21, 2015
    Hello all! I've been dabbling in Unity for about six months now, and last month decided to get serious about making and releasing a complete game. I've chosen to make a 2D infinite runner, inspired by Canabalt, to ease myself into the process.

    I'm still quite new to this - before 2015 the only programming I'd ever done was some Pascal for High School, back in the 90s. I welcome any and all comments, criticisms and advice.

    First gameplay footage:

    All visual assets are placeholders. Yes, there are bugs and glitches.

    You play as a dryad, running through a forest, jumping across chasms, while planting seeds in enchanted soil, and gathering whisps. Whisps increase the dryad's speed and score multiplier, running into an obstacle will reset both. The game ends when the player fails to make a jump.

    Dryad concept art:

    Input is simple:
    Action 1 - Jump (hold to jump higher)
    Action 2 - Plant a seed (cartwheel animation)

    Assets Used (in this build):
    Core GameKit - for pooling and global variables
    Ultimate Bloom - for bloom and lens dirt
    Particle Playground - for particle effects

    - Tighten up controls, eliminate any jerky movement
    - Replace and improve art assets
    - Greater variety of platforms (ten times those in the preview video, minimum)
    - Refine scoring system and track records for most whisps collected etc.
    - Release for PC & Mac

    - Themed levels with different environments, platforms and challenges
    - Story mode consisting of themed levels
    - Release for mobile devices

    - 2D or 3D player character? 2D will be substantially less costly, but 3D is much more flexible. 2D takes less pre-production, but drawing indivudal frames is very time consuming. 3D requires extensive pre-production for modelling, texturing and rigging, but animation is substantially faster. I'm also more experienced in 3D.

    Behind the Scenes:
    I looked at a few Infinite Runner starter kits on the asset store, but ended up creating my own controller for creating fake parallax in the background layers. The parallax controller automatically scales and moves the background plate appropriately, based on its distance from the camera. This controller has taken up the majority of my development time so far, but it's really robust now. New plates are selected at random from a list (each layer only has 1 plate at the moment) and spawned to the right.

    Platforms are selected randomly from multiple lists, depending on how close the player is to an invisible ceiling & floor. The closer they are, the more likely it is that the next platform will take them back towards the centre. All platforms have multiple spawn points for obstacles, whisps and patches of enchanted soil - these are spawned every time a new platform is spawned. Platforms also have multiple start points, leading to variety in how platforms connect to each other.


    The visual assets are a mixture of sprites, 2d textures with normal maps, and 3D models.

    The player animator is a bit of a mess at the moment, but will be cleaned up after I decide whether to go 2D or 3D for the character.

    About me:
    I'm a professional writer, most recently employed at BioWare Austin. Since then I've been working on my own series of Fantasy novels for young adults (first book is complete, and I'm looking for an agent/publisher... hint hint). Previously, I've been Technical Director for a small animation studio, and the sole writer and artist for Crimson Dark, a Sci-Fi Webcomic.

    I've always been a gamer, and making my own games is the fulfillment of a life-long dream.
    Haagndaaz and theANMATOR2b like this.
  2. stevehbin


    Apr 29, 2014
    Wow, that looks fantastic.

    I see you're looking for a publisher or maybe a little help. If so, please feel free to email me at and we can discuss it a bit more.

    We offer help with publishing or general development, usually free of cost, in many different areas.

    Look forward to hearing from you!

  3. The_Least


    Jan 21, 2015
    I've decided to make the character 3D, I think it'll cure more headaches than it solves.

    The High-res geometry is mostly done:

    After cleanup, she'll be ready to UV Map and texture, then I can work on the low-poly version to bring into Unity. This model will be used to bake normal maps, and to render promotional and story stills.
  4. flopshotQQ


    Jan 8, 2014
    You can always tell when the developer was an artist first. Very consistent and wonderful style. The parallax scrolling is done beautifully and the modelling is on point. I'm curious if it handles as well as it looks.
    theANMATOR2b and The_Least like this.
  5. The_Least


    Jan 21, 2015
    Thanks :)

    After the 3D character is in-game, I'll aim to get a Webplayer build up so people can give feedback on the handling.

    High-poly model is done:

    Dryad_BUILD_0015.jpg Dryad_BUILD_0016B.jpg

    Tomorrow I start the low-poly build. When that's done, I can finally get back to Unity :D
    theANMATOR2b likes this.
  6. The_Least


    Jan 21, 2015
    Low-poly model is rigged, baked and in Unity:

    There's clean-up needed on the baked texture maps, and the run animation above is from Unity's Standard Assets. I just wanted to make sure that the rig and material were working as intended.
  7. theANMATOR2b


    Jul 12, 2014
    Great presentation and thanks for laying out your decision making process. This looks like it's going to be a fun little title.

    I agree the parallax BG looks very nice. The random platform spawn is a little confusing and maybe a little overly complex, but as long as it makes design sense to you - no need to explain further.

    One great take away about your design is the cohesiveness of the concept. It's really refreshing to see a game like this (not too complex but not simple) where every element ties into the main concept.
    It's discouraging to see other runner type games, where the space ship or military truck, or Sci-fi character collects gems, coins, candy, stars as they progress through the levels. How are those elements related to anything in the space ship world?

    Very nice work so far. Will keep watching for your next update.