Cross Country finally has its own video game

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Written by Jonathan Gault
November 3, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of Americans to quit their jobs and millions of others to work remotely, we will all be spending more time at home in 2020. King tiger Or bake sourdough bread, Ryan craven He decided to spend this time in a more productive way: he designed a video game. Specifically, a cross-country video game.

While there have been a number of athletic video games over the years, cross country games have been in short supply, partly because there is very little demand, and partly because … well, how exactly You are Create an exciting cross-country video game?

This is the challenge for 32-year-old Craven. In the creative genre, Craven released a music album called Running in 2013 with song titles like “Fartlek” and “Ballad of the Injured Runner”.

“a“Whenever I’m looking to do something, I always put it in the race lens and try to tell race stories in different ways,” says Craven.

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Later he became interested in 3D design. While Craven had no background in designing a video game, he realized that it could be possible with some effort.

“There were all these really cool programs available that you could do the things you used to play when you were a kid. [you] You had to buy $ 200,000 worth of equipment to manufacture and now you can practically do it in your desktop browser, ”says Craven.

Craven learned to code and before the pandemic began to develop the game part-time while driving Uber in Austin, TX. Once infected with COVID, he returned home to Indiana and redoubled his efforts. He spent over 50 hours a week working on the project over the summer, creating every component of the game himself, from the animation to the coding to the soundtrack. A free trial version is now available for download for Mac, Windows or Linux (promo clip here).

The game is called XC: Cross-country racingSimilar to racing games like Mario kart And the Crash Bandicoot, With the player alternately clicking on the “g” and “h” keys to run and using the “f” and “j” keys to rotate. But he also wanted the game to be real, which created a problem. Craven felt that a difficult element was needed to keep the game from being too easy. But there are no green or red background seashells.

His solution: the formulation. Running in another sports stream allows the player to maintain the endurance bar. Run too close and the player character gets out of line, wasting valuable time.

“I wanted it to be like you were climbing,” Craven says. “You are following closely and this is your punishment for it.”

And just like in real races, there is a strategy. Each opponent changes gears 24 times during the race; It is up to the player to decide which moves to follow and when to beat them with their own move.

Craven doesn’t think of himself as a big gamer, but he still enjoys old video games; One of the traditions of Christmas is gambling Super Bowl Tecmo Against his brother every year. It was the kind of atmosphere he walked in XC: Cross-country racingThe straightforward gameplay and campfire animations make it feel like it’s part of an NES game or mid-90s computer game (ultimately, Craven says, he sees it as a mobile / VR game. ).

The game will look familiar to anyone walking through the suburbs – which Craven did, and it was a hit. He was a 2005 finalist at Illinois 2A (which ultimately spawned a celebrity photo), finished third on Foot Locker Citizens that year and continued to race at the University of Wisconsin – Craven says the one of his claims to fame would go undefeated in Suburban against Evan jagger, Which hit it in the States, the FL Midwest, and the citizens of FL.

Typically the beta has a single route, the classic high school route that crosses school buses and Porta Potties, and includes a wooded section and a track section. Craven hopes the final version of the game, which is still under construction, will feature four courses (cycle # 2 will be a golf course). He also made sure to give each character their own racing style.

“It was a big challenge for me,” says Craven. “You have to express your personality with these different runners 90% of the time you see it from behind. “

Craven started out with character models based on Little Mac, the main character in the 1987 NES boxing game. Punch !!Then he asked friends to record themselves running on the windmills and used an animation technique known as rotoscoping to track the footage and translate it into animation. From there, he would have added his own tweaks before customizing each runner’s look for a different character.

The main player-controlled character is based on footage of a runner from Eastern Michigan University’s Running Science Lab, but Craven says he doesn’t know the runner’s exact identity. So if you notice any familiar movement while playing the game, Craven wants to hear from you (the game has its own Discord server here or you can access Craven at Twitter).

“Some runners in Eastern Michigan have a good shot, and I’d like to keep it in the game if I could,” Craven said.

Craven is absolutely unsure of his ultimate goal in the game. As a standalone title, Craven accepts that the game is unlikely to make a lot of money (the download is free, but users have the option to donate, and the tip is always great).

“Just being in the racing genre and putting together a kind of crowd that really appreciates is all I can’t wait to do,” Craven says.

Until now, Craven has been reluctant to release the full version of the game; It still has to work in multiplayer and adapt it to different platforms. But his biggest challenge, he says, is sticking to his own take on the game.

“I always feel frustrated,” Craven says, “because when I think about where I started from, it’s so much better than I thought it would be.” “And then on the other end of that, there’s still that feeling, well, it’s not good enough yet.” There are still a lot of things I would like to do with it.

But Craven knows the best way to make the game better is to put it there, listen to the comments, and then incorporate that feedback into the changes. Craven says his friends complained that the first copies were too harsh. So far, it is extremely difficult, even for a “beginner” difficulty, if you fall in the wrong place on the course. But for Craven, the challenge is part of the call. Part of what has been done Super mario kart It was fun for him was not Easy. He hopes XC: Cross-country racing Feel the same.

Craven is also hoping that, for those who are deprived of a real cross country season this fall, his game will fill the need and bring back some of the feelings of cross country.

“It would be great to be able to post this now when the contest is needed, even if it’s in a stupid digital way,” Craven says.

Download a free trial version of the game here for Mac, Windows, or Linux. The trailer / preview of the game appears below.


Discuss the game on the LetsRun forum: Megabyte Cross-country video games were invented. Play it here for free.

Video preview of the game



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