Ascend is an infinite-runner styled action and platformer game for the Android marketplace. The player, at the helm of their touch device, controls an etherial guardian and attempts to protect the hero figure from all manners of obstacles as they ascend a dark, perilous tower. Move stone platforms, collect light orbs and dispel the shadowy creatures that threaten to drag the hero back down into the depths.
The game can be downloaded for free on the Android App Store, found here!
This game was developed over the course of my Fall 2014 semester for Advanced Interactive Media Development, in conjunction with two other students, Caleb Bill and David Hartsough. Under the restrictions that, first, the game had to be built for Android touch devices and second, that the game had to be some kind of “infinite runner” game (a la “Robot Unicorn Attack," for those not familiar with the genre). We were also tasked to satisfy, in some way or another, a randomized theme, consisting of an adjective and a noun.
We got, “Wistful” and “Stairs.”
The idea we settled on was a mysterious and shadowy “Hero” figure, slowly and endlessly climbing and equally mysterious and shadowy tower, perhaps with the hopes of one day reaching the top. Of course, since this game is an “infinite runner,” there is no top - only hopes and dreams. In our small development group, I was in charge of a large majority of the coded functionality, including procedural and infinite level generation, the physical mechanics of the game (like moving platforms, physics collisions, dispelling shadows), and, of course, crushing some of the more diabolical bugs. Over the course of this process, I became very, very familiar with and fluent in C#, as well as the Unity3D engine.
David Hartsough handled basically all of the user interface, menus, buttons and implementation of sound and animations - he also chipped in with some of the core gameplay functionality. Caleb Bill was our incredibly prolific artist. Every visual asset in the game was his creation, and the acquisition of much of the public-domain music and sounds was also his doing.
Incredibly, and despite overwhelming doubts that we were significantly over-scoped, the final release of the project contains nearly every feature we had planned to implement by the time our preproduction plans were finalized. Original plans to implement other obstacles, like doors, were abandoned during preproduction because of these doubts, but in the end, user testing showed that the platform-moving mechanics provided plenty to do. The project wound up being an invaluable learning experience - best yet, a learning experience that didn’t require catastrophic failure in order to be educational. The three of us worked hard to stay in communication, hold each other to deadlines, and finally - and this was mostly me - accept and respect the fact that all of us constituted the “development” team. It’s very hard sometimes to make compromises about an idea that you’re passionate about - and harder to accept that everyone else feels the same way.