Our Games: 

All Blog Entries by Tag

Brainstorming - Marathon Runner


Summary: Play as a marathon runner and try to beat your best time - despite coming up against obstacles such as other runners, delivery trucks and spaceships, which you must defeat in turn-based combat.

Description: A linear, replayable 10-15min adventure in which you must defeat a sequence of characters as fast as possible to get the best marathon time. Battles are short, turn-based fights with timing mini-games that determine power of attack, and effectiveness of defense. If you get 3 ‘perfect hits’ in a row, you go into a “Runner’s High” and unlock special attacks and temporarily boost your stamina (which functions as a sort of ‘mana’).

The clock is always running, so you must do everything you can to keep up your character’s speed, which also replaces a traditional health bar. If the bar falls to zero, it’s game over. Once defeated, enemies drop items that can be used during and after battle, which offer various benefits. Level up your character by defeating enemies efficiently to earn XP, and unlock new attacks, higher top speeds, and better stamina. When you’ve completed a race – start over again from level one to try to beat your best time using the skills and strategies you have learned.  

Platform: iOS


  • Battles! - 2min max. The aim is to have 8-10 battles in a game.
    • Enemy intro – Plays the first time you encounter an enemy (clock does not run during intro). It will be possible to encounter the same enemy multiple times. 
    • Stamina – Functions like 'mana' - costs stamina to attack
    • Speed
      • Top Speed is determined by character’s level
      • Functions as your HP in a fight – if it gets to zero, it’s game over
      • How fast you are running – so it determines the time in which you complete the marathon
    • Actions
    • Attack
      • Can only attack when attack meter is full (rate that it refills is determined by combination of stamina and speed)
      • Basic attacks
        • All attacks cost some amount of stamina 
        • Every attack features a timing mini-game to determine the amount of damage dealt (maybe mini-games will work slightly different depending on the type of attack)
        • Some example attacks:
          • Simple dash – slam enemy with shoulder
          • Advanced dash – creates energy burst that hits enemy
          • Simple circle – quickly circle around enemy
          • Advanced circle – creates mini whirlwind
          • Simple throw – throw your hat (don’t worry, you have more underneath!)
          • Advanced throw – pick up road chunks
      • Special attacks/Runner’s High
        • Unlock when you complete a chain of 3 maximum damage attacks in a row (when you get the best possible outcome of the attack timing mini-game). Gives you a “Runner’s High”
        • During a Runner’s High (which lasts for a set amount of time)
        • Stamina meter is full
        • Special attacks are unlocked, which feature a more complicated mini-game
        • Higher damage, cooler looking attacks
        • Examples:
          • Around the world dash (higher levels) – character runs around the Earth, gaining momentum, does a ‘super slam’
          • Rapid throw (lower levels) – throws multiple items rapidly, instead of just one
          • Super strength throw (higher level) – character throws cars, buildings   
    • Defend
      • Timing mini-game. Different depending on the type of attack (super simple – like, just hit the buttons at the correct time to block)
      • Example
        • Reaction to things being thrown - swipe up and down to jump over, slide under.
    • Use Item
      • Items are obtained 2 ways
        • After a battle is over, enemies sometimes drop items
        • During the between battle mini-game, you can get extra items
      • You can use items during battles, and immediately after a battle is over
      • Types of items
        • Refill stamina
        • Help you get to the next level quicker
        • Refill your attack meter quicker for a set amount of time
        • Give you a bigger defense window
    • Experience Points – Gained from every battle, how you level up.
      • Determined by factors such as
      • How quickly you defeated an enemy
      • Rate of success in attack timing mini-games


  • Enemies
    • Appear in a somewhat random sequence
      • As your character levels up, the pool of enemies will change slightly (but there will always be a random chance of facing low level enemies, even when you have reached the highest level)
    • It is possible to face the same enemy twice (but maybe not twice in a row?)
    • Encounters always feature 1 enemy, but an enemy might have multiple target points
      • Example – Gaggle of slow runners, one target point for each runner
    • Example enemies
      • Gaggle of slow runners
      • Pizza delivery bicycle
      • Cake delivery truck
      • Arrogant runner
      • Muscle car guy
      • Jet plane
      • UFO
      • Tank
      • Battleship (you are running next to water)
  • Between Battles
    • After a battle, get ‘results screen’ which shows the XP you have gained, and any items you have picked up (off the clock)
    • Showboating mini-game
      • Choose difficulty (1, 2 o 3 stars)
      • 3, 10 second sequences of button presses (probably something like a music/rhythm style sequence?)
      • When you complete one successfully, your character does a showboating move.
      • Depending on the difficulty of the successful move, the crowd throws different items to you (quality of items match difficulty of move)
      • If you fail a move, you don’t get any items for that move (so you have 3 separate chances to get items)
      • Examples of moves:
        • Moon walk
        • 6 Step
        • Walk on hands
        • Handspring
    • Get opportunity to use items (off the clock)
  • Overall
    • Time (always displayed)
      • Time will be modeled after actual realistic marathon times, scaled to fit within real time played
        • Note: Distance will not be portrayed accurately!! You will always be running. You will do things like run around the world to do a special attack.
      • Best possible time: “2 hours” (world record is 2:03:38!) = 5min
      • Great time: “3 hours” (Boston qualifying time is 3:05) = 7:30min
      • Average time: “5 hours” = 12:30min
      • Slowest time: “9 hours” = 15min
    • Distance (always displayed)
      • Your goal is 26.2 miles. The game is over when you reach this goal
    • Level
      • 5 levels possible
      • New attacks are learned at each new level, and halfway between levels
      • Stamina bar is increased in length
      • Top speed is increased at each level
    • General Note:
      • The idea is that the game will get increasingly ridiculous as you progress. As you level up, your attacks get increasingly unrealistic. You also attract bigger and weirder enemies.
  • When the Marathon is Over
    • You have completed a single game loop, and get a marathon time from this
    • When you start your next marathon, you start back at level one, and play through the whole progression again
    • When you are done, you compare your marathon times – the overall concept is to try to get the best possible marathon time by skills that you learn while playing
    • Leaderboards? (There are good arguments for and against leaderboards – we will need to evaluate)

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (3)

So it's turn-based but the clock is always running? Since you mention that the timing of your moves is important I assume that's also how you prevent a player from just sitting on their turn until the clock runs out- i.e. some kind of fail state for inputing anything at all in a timely manner?

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Shurtleff

er, whoops, I mean a fail state for NOT inputting anything at all in a timely manner... :)

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Shurtleff

Hmm! I'm not sure I get what you're asking exactly! You wouldn't want to sit and wait because of the fact that the clock is always running, and you're trying to complete the marathon in the best possible time.

(Although maybe the clock would stop if we wanted a move to have a long, elaborate intro - since we wouldn't want you to be be discouraged from using it --- or as I type this I realize probably if the windup is long, the move would deal more damage, so it could be a fun cost/benefit thing to play with?)

But yeah, I think if they player wants to sit on their hands... they'll just get a really crappy overall marathon time. They won't really gain anything.

May 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterCat

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>
« Game Journal Entry: Fez (XBLA) | Main | Webcomic: The Avengers »