Perseverance: Co-op Puzzle Game

I went to the ‘House of Games’ game jam this weekend and ended up creating something pretty interesting with some pretty talented people there.

LIFELINELOGO-600x450

We decided on a genre of games that I think is somehow one of the least common and yet easiest to make something interesting: the multiplayer puzzle game.   Our game is called Life Line, and is a co-op game featuring two rock climbers connected by a rope.  The rope functions as the main mechanic of the game, and if one player falls the other can grip tightly to the rock (by mashing the A button), allowing the other player to swing from them until they get their grip.  Dangle too long from your buddy, and he loses his grip and you both fall to your doom.  It’s all for one and one for all.

Not surprisingly, my coding contribution in the 28 hour project was the dynamic rope physics and player movement, which was a lot of fun to implement and I think has a potential that is only hinted at in this video.  I can imagine taking this mechanic to all kinds of logical extremes – tying the fate of two players together figuratively and very literally, and yet using that interplay to increase the reach of the team beyond the sum of the two individuals.  In the video you can see how we used this: one player can climb to a certain height, while the other one jumps off the rock and uses the rope anchored to his buddy to swing to an otherwise inaccessible rock while the anchored played mashes A for dear life. I’d like to push this mechanic further, and might do that with a future project.  Some ideas:

  • How would this work with 4 players, each chained to the next in turn? Could get some really complex/interesting acrobatics.
  • Life Line as a mobile game.   I’m picturing a multiplayer Temple-Run style game, where all 2/3/4 players are continuously climbing up along different tracks, and players can jump off the rock by swiping left or right, and if your buddy is dangling from you, you survive by tapping the screen to grip the rock.    The multiplayer infinite runner, I think it could really work.  Would need to support seamless matchmaking and easy ways to play with friends on a single device, via bluetooth, or over an internet connection.  With the right amount of polish and a casual, cheeky flair (like Ski Safari with its Sasquatch vehicles) I could see the game taking off.
  • We need a ‘cut the rope’ button because it’s just such an emotional moment to have to cut your buddy loose when he’s dangling from you and you have no other choice.  Push this button and be haunted forever.
  • What else could be done with this?  Lots I think.

Here’s the windows executable if you want to try it.  Use two controls, or keys:

  • Player 1:Arrows to move, Space to grip, Enter to release
  • Player 2: WASD to move, E to grip, Q to release

http://private.strangeloopgames.com/LIFELINE%20-%20Final%20Gamejam%20Build.zip

 

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1 Comment

  1. Nice write-up of the work, John.

    I was surprised at how interesting this mechanic turned out to be (considering the short dev time), but I think what really makes it work is the constant requirement of actively putting your success into your partner’s hands (whenever you jump). A lot of co-op games have fairly passive interdependence, like needing your teammates to revive you whenever you get hit, etc, but I think this has a nice twist to it (he he).

    That said, I’m not convinced it could work for more than two players. Hmmm… I’d need to think about it a little.

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