Film Inspired Running Platform Game
As part of the festivities associated with the 2014 Leamington Underground Cinema (LUC) film festival, the Emerald IT LUC Video Game Award was launched. Entrants were invited to submit a game inspired by film and Staak thought, what the hell, let’s mix it up; our running platform game took inspiration from three classic films and one iconic TV programme.
Whilst the prospect of winning a prize is always nice, what really drew Staak to this project was the opportunity to broaden our technical skillset and use new tools in a creative capacity.
A brainstorm session brought a plethora of ideas to the table as we discussed the types of gameplay available to us in the tight time frame before the submission window closed. In the end a triumvirate of iconic cinema won the day. A twist on Quantum Leap trapped our hero, Sam Beckett, in the main characters of three films. Jumping from Indiana Jones to Luke Skywalker to Dorothy Gale, it is Sam’s task to run – and keep running – for as long as possible.
We decided to mix design styles as well as films. Whilst characters are pixelated in an intentionally retro fashion, the landscapes Sam runs through are beautifully sharp. This mix provides a nostalgic air to gameplay whilst keeping the more static visuals fresh.
Once we’d decided on the concept of our game it was time to start designing. Quantum Leak features three playable heroes, each moving thanks to nine sets of animation, and each animation populated by 16 sprites.
No game is complete without villains, and the landscape of the game is populated with angry arrow –firing natives, laser-firing storm troopers and a wicked witch who enjoys hurling balls of fire. It’s a witch thing.
The game features a bespoke soundtrack – old-school gaming music that supports the character style.
Sound effects were sourced and placed so that specific actions (jump, die, and falling objects) were linked seamlessly to a suitable bing, groan or whoosh. And there’s cackling too.
Lights, Camera, Action
Gameplay mechanics are deceptively simple to the player. The main character runs on his own, and all the player needs to do is hit the space bar at the right moments in order to avoid weapons, obstacles and cavernous drops. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. Each character is uniquely animated. Weapons need to be fired with timing that adds a level of threat but isn’t impossible to dodge. And on top of this there are sounds, scores, an eternally scrolling landscape, and the slow but progressive build in speed.
Creating a game that runs seamlessly is no mean achievement, and the development behind this game is considerable. Our team used HTML5, a one-code-fits-all solution, providing a gaming platform that will adapt to support any browser.
Pixi.js, a web renderer, was used to integrate all of the game elements into a playable format. The 2D webGL renderer with canvas fallback increased the speed of the game and provided cross platform support. Our developers pulled all of the necessary and complex elements together, which is just as well since the deadline for entries was looming.
Designers and Developers worked closely together to ensure that Sam’s run was seamless. Scoring capacities were tested, death scenes – in all their various forms – were tested, and an in-studio addiction to the game emerged. It’s a hard life testing a game, but someone has to do it.
On deadline day www.quantumleak.com was submitted to the Emerald IT LUC Video Game Award.
On the final day of the Leamington Underground Cinema festival Quantum Leak was announced as the winner.
Smooth gameplay fulfilling a specific brief.
Delivery within a tight deadline of a game we are proud of (and can't stop playing).
New skills acquired – all the best games deliver achievements.
A trophy. Staak won first prize and the coveted Emerald IT LUC Video Game Award, 2014.