Posted by on 26 enero, 2017

What is a survival runner?

We are a hopeless case. We need to classify everything so we can understand it, to feel it exists. Nobody likes genres, but we all resort to them when we need to explain a TV show, a book or a video game to a friend. It suits us very well; it’s a way of not having to start every development from scratch. Instead, there are rules and a tone already known by everybody. From the audience’s point of view, it’s a clue about what you can expect. In a few words: it’s useful for fulfilling satisfactions.

What happened to us with Dissident: Survival Runner is similar (besides some obvious differences…) to what Capcom faced with Resident Evil, more than twenty years ago. In one of the first screens after you pressed the ‘new game’ button, a message from the developers welcomed the player to the ‘world of survival horror’. It was the first time this expression appeared in the games industry…, at least as far as I remember. And although there were already a lot of horror games out there, Resident Evil was the first to name a reality that until then could only be named with words stolen from other genres. The most important thing here is that ‘survival horror’ didn’t refer to horror games (which were already called like that, ‘horror games’). It referred to a particular style, a different approach: a new kind of (sub)genre in video games.

Panzer Dragoon Saga (Team Andromeda, 1998)

Panzer Dragoon Saga (Team Andromeda, 1998)

Great, but what’s a ‘survival runner’? A survival runner is a point of view different from other runners’. Its game mechanics draw inspiration from console games more than from mobile games. We acknowledge the influence of games such as Lara Croft: Relic Run (Simutronics Corporation, 2015), Agent Dash (Full Fat, 2012) or Subway Surfers (Kiloo, 2012), but our vision goes beyond. It goes back to classics like Panzer Dragoon Saga (Team Andromeda, 1998), Crash Bandicoot (Naughty Dog, 1996) and WipEout (Psygnosis, 1995). Games that went deeply into their mechanics and were more demanding with player’s reflexes. They were tough, yes, but also more satisfying in the long run.

In short, these are the keys that have helped us shape the idea of survival runner:

  • Combination of game mechanics. No more division between shooting, dodging and jumping sequences. Any of these three actions can be required to survive the world of Dissident, anytime. This feature demands higher ability to get used to the environment, but it also rewards the player with a constant diversity of situations.
  • Dissident (Agaporni Games, 2017), the first Survival Runner

    Dissident (Agaporni Games, 2017)

    Free movement. We have opted for an organic and natural movement instead of a predefined movement between rails. Rails exist from a level design perspective, but they don’t restrict player’s mobility.

  • Handmade levels. One of the first decisions we made was to discard the idea of procedurally generated levels. This path has lead us to a bigger workload, but we believe that’s something that will affect the player in a positive way. Each level of Dissident is unique and has been thoroughly designed to offer an adjusted and measured learning curve.
  • A bigger challenge. All this leads us to a more challenging game experience. Although the attention and reflexes needed are higher, the resulting experience is also richer and more satisfying. The possibility of comparing the rankings and the inclusion of achievements in each level allow all types of players to enjoy Dissident.

Betting on a new concept is a always a risky step. It makes the player learn how to get used to an uncharted environment. The reward for their effort, though, deserves the risk. What about you? Do you dare to try Dissident: Survival Runner?

Game/level design and CM stuff.

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