' Saltman's one-button action-opus Canabalt
(covered earlier in a previous column
) will likely go down as 2009's biggest viral surprise -- to no less even than Saltsman himself, who admitted at this year's Austin GDC Indie Games Fest to squandering and then scrambling to capitalize on the success the game near instantly saw (the first 120,000 players the game captured by its second day, and subsequent 650,000 by the week's end, saw none of the cross-indie/Twitter/iPhone port
promotions subsequently rolled out as quickly as possible).
But there's almost no one in the industry that hasn't taken serious note of its acclaim and wondered what magic formula there might be hidden in its design that can be replicated elsewhere. And so -- in service to fans, would-be devs and established designers alike -- Saltsman has provided us with his sketches and notes, illustrating each leap to logical leap he made in finishing that first version.
Interestingly -- though maybe not so surprisingly, given that the game was created for the Experimental Gameplay's 'Bare Minimum' challenge
-- the documents show a game more complex than what we eventually received, with its anonymous runner able to pull off sliding ducks on top of his now-singular jump, and 'edit' and 'profile' modes obviously stripped from the game (indeed, the entire game seems to now live inside what Saltsman originally had planned as a 'quick race' option).
And so, what follows is the necessarily brief notes and calculations for a necessarily brief production, neither any less worse off for it: let us know if you crack Saltsman's magic code.
[Canabalt fan art at top by Georgia 'garlicbug' Hurbgljjsa, via Pauli MadamLuna Kohberger's BBS, via Saltsman]
Saltman's first page shows the rooftop decorations that would eventually make it into the game, as well as the first try at the fine-mist-making dropped bomb, with all other front menu options (and what appears to be a Mirror's Edge
inspired vent system) having been stripped from the completed game.
More Mirror's Edge
parkour-acrobatics having never made it in are shown above, in the first sketchy mockup of how the runner would eventually move, along with Saltsman eschewing a day/night progression for the simple black and white palette the game would take on.
And finally, the first color sketch of the look of the final game, and the first evidence of its un-expounded-on far-backstory with the giant invaders in the far background, and the military-dropship-esque vehicles passing in mid-ground. Also, note back to page one to see Saltsman arguing with himself over the size of the game's John Woo-esque scattered doves.
If you haven't already, by all means play the final game itself at its official site
, and pick up its essential iPhone port at the App Store
, then check either the unofficial Twitter leaderboards set up by CapnDesign
to see just where you rank in the eternal race.
See sample pages from this book at Wink. After Dinner Games: 40 of the Greatest After Dinner Games by Jenny Lynch (editor) Lagoon Books 1998, 96 pages, 4.8 x 6 x 0.5 inches $1-$8 Buy a copy on Amazon This pocket-sized book is for that time when things get awkward. That time when conversation has […]
Techpowerup caught hardware giants MSI and Asus shipping them graphics cards that were preset for a software-based overlock mode, meaning that the cards performed better out of the box for reviewers than they would for customers.
“After over 100 hours of work, I present to you Seinfeld.wad,” writes Doug Keener. “A replica of Jerry Seinfeld’s Apartment from his hit sitcom, Seinfeld!” Join Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine in this neat Doom/Seinfeld crossover! There are many custom textures and sprites to bring you the full experience of being inside Jerry’s Apartment, inside […]
Some truths are universal. For one, your phone will always run out of power when you most need it. For another, the charging cords that come packaged with your Apple device will fray, split, and rip faster than Usain Bolt in a game of tag.Instead, pick up a charging cord that anyone would have a tough […]
Some people say magic tricks are nerdy and best left to your 12-year-old asthmatic cousin. But others see value in perfecting the slight of hand and showmanship associated with a perfectly executed routine. We’re firmly in the latter camp. And now, we’re giving you the ability to put a few parlor tricks up your sleeve with the Penguin […]
Bluetooth speakers may be convenient to use, but many of them just aren’t that powerful. Sure, it may be fine if you’re seated in front of the speaker. But move across the room, and you may strain to hear what’s coming from those tiny drivers.There’s a reason why the G-BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Boombox (now $79.99 in the Boing […]