VapoRun


Overview

VapoRun is an endless runner where you can run with multiple cars at once. The goal is to go on as far as possible dodgind the obstacles. Running with more cars let you have more lives and gain more points.

VapoRun has an outrun aesthetic that links the artistic aspects of the game, from the changing palettes to the music.

The artistic aspects are consistent with the gameplay through the emotions the players experience.

Preproduction and Foundations of the game

During the preproduction, two aspects came from as the foundations of the game, upon which I could design the rest of the game consistently.

The first one was its original gameplay. VapoRun is an endless runner where you dodge the obstacles with the goal to go on as far as possible, but it has a peculiar feature. You can gather more cars coming alongside them or lose them and go on playing with a less amount.

The second one was the outrun aesthetic. Giving a sense of progression through changing different outrun palettes was a certainty from the beginning.

Gameplay

If you swipe next to a car, you gather it. If you crash against an obstacle, you lose the car on that lane, but you continue running with the other ones. Gaining more points will make the speed of the game increase.

An emergent system arise from this simple set of rules with positive and negative feedback loops that autobalance the game.

For a strong player, capable of gathering cars, it will be harder to get a game over (positive feedback loop), but at the same time it will be easier to lose the cars he already has (negative feedback loop).

For a weak player, not capable of gathering cars, it will be easier to get a game over by losing the only car he has (positive feedback loop), but at the same time it will be harder to lose that only car he has (negative feedback loop).

Most of the players will swing continuously between the two states. That until the game will be too fast and too difficult for them, putting them in the “weak player” state and bringing the game to an end.

The obstacles patterns were the hardest part to balance in the game. The player can run with a number of cars up to seven. Each number of gathered cars has a set of patterns. It was difficult because I had to design the sets so that they could afford both losing or gathering a car. This part of the game was further balanced through continuous playtesting.

Most of the patterns in a set are dodgeable by the cars linked in a row or sometimes even linked with a gap. The dodging usually requires to move from one side of the roadway to the other resulting in a challenge for the player.

Some of the patterns are not dodgeable by all the cars linked in a row, but they are usually still dodgeable if there is a gap among the gathered cars. This was made to introduce more dynamics in the game. However I didn’t want to frustrate the player, so even when he is forced to lose some of his cars it is always one or two. It can’t happen that the player has seven cars and he loses all of them. This would be frustrating and would ruin the autobalance I discussed before.

Palettes and User Interface

I used changing palettes as settings to give an additional sense of progression. I used them not only on gameplay assets’ colors but on user interface too.

Each of the five palettes has a background color, a color for wicked elements and one for good elements and UI.

I made a first draft of the palettes starting from outrun, cyberpunk and vaporwave art references. Later I adjusted the colors to make important informations clearly visibles.

The goal of the artistic view that I’ve given to the game is to convey a contrast between the sense of speed and the calm. This mood is what links the different asrtistic aspects and the gameplay.

Regarding the composition of the UI elements, I chose minimalist and elegant references (e.g. Alto’s Adventure) and I used Material guidelines.

I added a white outlines to the interactable UI elements and black frames to make them stand out.

I wanted the white outlines to look like light emitted from behind the icon, to be consistent with the artistic direction of the game (see the white effects on the cars and the side of the roadway).

Music and Sound Design

When i worked with our composer, Lorenzo Cacciotti, I wanted the music to be consistent with the mood that was linking all the game, from its visual aspects to the gameplay. The music had to convey a contrast between the sense of speed and the calm. After the first draft we found the main melody led by the treble. It was too stressing and it needed something to contrast and hold back this sense of speed. We later added a bass calmly foundation, that we used in antithesis of the melody.

Our main references during the composition were “Antagonistic” (by Chris Cardena, Sebastian Robertson and Pacific Avenue), “Hyperspeed” (by Eveningland) and “Melissa” (by Eveningland).

After working on the soundtrack of the game, we added sound feedbacks to highlight significant portion of the experience (i.e. pressing a button, gathering and losing a car) in consistency with the mood we created through the music.

The promo art and trailer you have seen in this page were all created during a collaboration with the Faculty of Design and Professor Laura Giraldi at the University of Florence. I thank the student Virginia Piombino for the execution of these wonderful pieces of art.