Bust-N-Rush Producer Talks Alienware, Game Modes, and Audio Design
A few weeks ago, I published a preview of Bust-N-Rush, an endless running game that literally changes the genre in that instead of running away from dangers, players run and bust through enemies and (some) hazards as the badass Kovo. It’s fast, frantic, and it’ll do it’s best to challenge players with it’s procedural level generation and tension mechanics.
I recently sat down with Techtonic Games’ Jeromy Maligie, Producer of Bust-N-Rush to talk about the game’s different modes, unique audio design process, environmental hazards, and their exciting partnership with Alienware.
Check out the full interview after the break.
JTM Games: Hi Jeromy, could you tell us what Bust-N-Rush is and what game modes can players expect from the full game?
Jeromy Maligie: Bust-N-Rush is a 3D endless runner that’s for PC and Mac. We’ve got a couple different modes including Quest Mode. Quest Mode’s whole thing is that we wanted to take the idea of getting challenges within the game and completing them (these mini-objectives) as your run through the levels. Say you bust through three blue objects in the very beginning, just to get you used to how the mechanics work, as we add on more different types of quests -which you can have simultaneously – we build up how much they challenge you so you’re never going through a level and not feeling challenged.
Then we’ve got Survival Mode, and it’s all about getting the highest possible score that you can. We’re going to always make you go faster and eventually we’re going to add in what’s called an “Assassin Chunk” where – depending on your difficulty level – at five, eight, or ten minute intervals we add in chunks where you have to be very precise with your movements.
And then finally, once you’ve honed those skills in Survival Mode, we would love people to play Bust-A-Friend which is our multiplayer mode that’s going to allow you to send challenges to your friends by connecting on Facebook. You can get the best possible score you can get on the different levels and then send a challenge to that friend – it’s like a taunt – asking if they can beat your score. If your friend beats your score, they can send a challenge back to you, and then it builds up these kind of rivalries and competitive contests. I know for me personally, especially with my good friends, that’s the most fun I have in a video game; going back and forth with someone doing the best I possibly can and beating each others scores.
JTM Games: You had mentioned a partnership with Alienware in our previous conversation. Could you elaborate on it?
Jeromy Maligie: Yeah we’re partnered with Alienware and we’ve integrated Alien Effects into our game. Alien Effects is Alienware’s lighting SDK, so they’ve got these cool lights that are colored on their devices (laptops, mice, keyboard, tower) and we sychronize events in the game to correspond with the lights so you get more immersive effects. For example, when you hit something and you take damage it’ll flash red on the Alienware machines. When you pick up a power for example, it’ll glow yellow (corresponding to the power-up coloring) It’ll also pulse with the music to get you into it. It really brings you into the game a little bit more. It’s a lot of fun especially in a dark room.
JTM Games: Could you talk about Bust-N-Rush’s randomly generated level design and how it scales to a player’s skill level?
Jeromy Maligie: We tried to make our system as intelligent as we possibly could. It knows what you’re trying to do in-game, in particular in Survival Mode it knows how well you’re doing and we have a system we call the “Tension System” which allows us to build up tension for the player. They’re going to get more and more difficult stuff up until they reach what we call a peak chunk in the game, which is a custom-designed chunk by a designer that’s designed to be a little bit more difficult.
Once players have completed that, we drop you back down a bit. It’s really subtle and most of the time it’s going to come off as you getting more excited about what you did. Our system tries to be as intelligent as it can not only what it spawns in front of you, but also what kind of density we’re giving to you. So as you get faster, we want to challenge you more; we start moving the objects slowly closer together, we start adding in more red objects. And like I said, the extreme of that is the assassin chunks where the whole job is to try to kill you.
(Jan: Check out this vidoc about Bust-N-Rush’s sound design for a better understanding of the process.)
JTM Games: Could you talk about the different levels and environments that players can expect in Bust-N-Rush?
Jeromy Maligie: The three worlds are Depths of Thurl, Gearmageddon, and then there’s The Last Bound. Depths of Thurl is the inside of a planet; so you’ll see a lot of lava, we really wanted to play with the rock aesthetic and try to make it exciting to run across. There’s a lot of really cool glowing lava parts to it.
Then we move into engineering in Gearmageddon. It’s this hyper-greasy factory; not human dirty but machine grease dirty and so they played a lot with materials in particular to try to make it look greasy and grimy with the fog in the background a little bit green which really makes the level feel more enclosed. Mechanics-wise, when we go from something simple in the Depths of Thurl to Gearmageddon, we really build on the places where you’ll get ping-ponged across the screen and players can use that to get a lot of points. On the harder difficulties, there’s even barrels that go across and you have to actually hit one of those to shoot you up to go over it to survive.
And then in The Last Bound (Space) that’s where we got to have a lot of fun. There’s spaceships that you literally bust in and out of. There’s two different types of mechanics, two different types of worlds and they’re connected through these openings of the spaceships. You bust in through the bust of one spaceship and then you start running inside where there’s different items and hazards in there including gravity flips which turns gravity on you and if you dont find another gravity flip you’re kind of screwed. Of course we try to make it so it’s possible for people to do but it’s another element of the Tension System that’s there.
JTM Games: I found the Bust-N-Rush audio design process to be quite an interesting one. Could you talk a little bit about the process and why it’s so unique?
Jeromy Maligie: We have an amazing Sound Designer Catherine Arthur. She did the sound effects in the game FROM SCRATCH; I don’t think we have any stock sounds in our game which is really cool. A lot of times, because of resources people have to use stock sounds, but she gets in there and it’s like old 1930′s radio foley style where she’ll actually manipulate the coolest stuff to try to get the most convincing sound that she possibly could. She’ll spend hours getting the perfect sound. For example the rock bust sound, it’s a combination of a whole bunch of different things together; but the way that she messes with audio effects and processing at the end of it, it’s all to make you feel more immersed.
And that’s only half of it. The other half, she’s an amazing composer as well. She put together a system for this game that actually layers on top of itself depending on how well you’re doing. As you get a higher score she layers more and more tracks on each other until you get to a point where you’re doing really well and there’s this sweet guitar solo or a synth solo and you feel just badass while you’re playing it. In the space level in particular, she programmed in this part where you’re busting in and out of spaceships and when you bust out she cuts almost everything except for this sweet choir track so you’ve got this suspended calm and then you bust into another spaceship and the music returns full-force.
JTM Games: Where can players purchase Bust-N-Rush? Which distribution platforms carry (or will carry) the game?
Jeromy Maligie: We’re getting published through EA on Origin. That’s our main distribution platform right now. We’re also going to sell through our website and a couple other partners but we’re really pushing with EA.
Bust-N-Rush actually released today, September 14th on EA’s Origin service. Those who purchase from Origin will not only get the game but a whole smattering of goodies including:
- A FREE Standard Edition copy to gift to a lucky friend (for players to get started with Bust-A-Friend Mode)
- Behind the scenes video of Bust-N-Rush: “Crunch Time Chronicles”
- Bust-N-Rush wallpapers
- The Bust-N-Rush Soundtrack
- New Survival level: Transition Mode (where players can bust all three worlds offered in the Standard Edition simultaneously)
Like I said earlier, it’s a fast and frantic endless running game that slides its difficulty depending on the player’s skill. And when you think you’ve mastered the levels, you realize that there’s multiple challenges and achievements to conquer whilst running through them. And hell, you can even send challenges to your friends even when they’re not playing the game.
Have you tried Bust-N-Rush yet? What excites you about endless running games?