Rift Runner Postmortem

Rift Runner Postmortem


In January 2013 Hadyn Lander and I, with some help from a couple of others developed a prototype during the 2013 Global Game Jam, this prototype was named Adventricule. Adventricule was an endless sidescrolling platformer, where the player had control of a nanobot that was working to clear the ventricles of cholesterol.

It was this prototype that formed the basis for what eventually turned into the shipped title Rift Runner. This postmortem will discuss some of the things that we struggled with, some of our successes and failures, and what I can look at doing differently next time.

What went right?

1 – Core gameplay.

The early prototype that was created during the 2013 Global Game Jam, was something that came together really well and is still the basis of the core gameplay that is featured in Rift Runner. Of these systems only some of them received a minor modification in order to streamline the gameplay.

A couple of these systems were completely overhauled in order to make the gameplay more exciting and challenging to the player, and one feature that didn’t really fit in either version of the game got removed entirely.

2 – Aesthetic change.

There was quite a lot of discussion in the early stages of changing Adventricule into Rift Runner, probably the biggest discussion was in regards to the games aesthetic’s. As mentioned earlier the original prototype saw you controlling a nanobot going through the blood stream, and some of the developers didn’t feel that this would be for the game as a whole.

This lead to brainstorming sessions as to what we could use instead which eventually lead to the hermit crab swimming around under the ocean.

3 – Changing some of the mechanics.

Even though we tried to keep the core gameplay as similar to the initial prototype as possible, we still found it necessary to alter some of the mechanics in order to improve gameplay as a whole.

The biggest mechanics change was to the wave system, as this was one of the more unique mechanics that is implemented into the game. The way the wave originally worked was that when it rushed by, the player needed to grip onto the rocks surface to avoid being punted back. This made it way to easy to avoid the wave as a mechanic, resulting in it being re-designed so that there is only one way to avoid it now.

This added a whole new form of difficulty to the game and made the overall gameplay experience more engaging for the player, the change to the wave system was also one of the hardest features to get wright with the game.

4 – Using the Perth Games Festival for testing/release.

By taking the chance of showcasing Rift Runner in such a public forum, we were able to gain some valuable insights into what we were getting wright and wrong with the game and whether or not it was actually worth continuing with the game development.


What went wrong?

Now that I stop and actually think about it nothing really went massively wrong during the games development, that’s not to say that things didn’t go wrong its more to say that there are things that could be handled differently next time. With that being said no project will ever run so smoothly that nothing will ever go wrong, its just that in this instance it seems more like a learning experience than anything else.

What could I have done better?

Overall we could have managed our time spent working on the project better as well as how the developers communicated with each other. But overall I think the launch could have and should have been handled a lot better.

Getting closer to the 2015 Perth Games Festival I was being kind of pushy and trying to make sure that the project was ready for release in time for the festival. That I may have stuffed up the release, by not preparing for it enough and making sure that people were aware outside of the development team as to what was actually happening.

Ultimately by rushing the release in this way it may result in some missed opportunities, that may effect how well the game sells. This comes down to a massive learning experience, and acts as an invaluable lesson in what not to do moving forward, into the next and future projects.


Game data:

Rift Runner

Developers: Hadyn Lander, Michael McKIE

Publisher: AltF4 Interactive

Release Date: 28th of November 2015

Length of Development: elapsed time: 2 years, actual time: about 4 months

Lines of Code: Approximately two – three thousand

Development Software Used: Unity, Blender, Photoshop, not sure what audio software was used


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