7dfps games design

Make an FPS in 7 Days – Game idea: “Runners”

Next week is the 7DFPS challenge – design, code, ship a game in 7 Days, on the theme of “first person shooter”. I want to do something unique and interesting. Here’s one of my ideas.

(if you like this idea, please re-tweet this to vote for it – I’ll decide which to do based on which one(s) people like most) Other ideas: “Follow”, “Metamorphosis”)

Title: “Runners”

Premise: what makes an FPS unique/special among games is the visceral, immersive nature. How many Oculus Rift games are not first-person?

One thing FPS’s should be particularly good at is wish-fulfillment. Well, something I’ve “wished” I could do ever since seeing the opening sequence of The Matrix … is superhuman jumps from rooftop to rooftop. (YouTube: the ‘jump’ program and YouTube: the opening sequence)

(I especially like the second clip – this is the point at which we first get proof that the film can’t quite be real; it’s the first leap down the rabbit-hole…)

Core gameplay

Runners is simply an excuse to do desperate, death-defying, running jumps from rooftop to rooftop, while being shot at (and shooting back).

That’s it!

Challenges to the player

Moment to moment during the game, the player has the following decisions:

  1. Big jumps require big runups; you get faster the longer you run (Super Mario Bros stylee). Better plan your run-up, and don’t chicken-out and slowdown at the last minute!
  2. It’s easy to stand-still and snipe: so we make you invulnerable while in mid-air, and create lots of obstacles on the rooftops, that prevent “easy” shots from a distance
  3. You can’t jump forever (remember the bad old days of deathmatch quake bunnyhopping? Ugh). You have a fatigue meter that forces you to periodically stop and hide while you get your breath back
  4. “Guns. Lots of guns” – long distance, wide-open spaces, enclosed target areas? This is a perfect excuse for overblow weapons of insane destruction. Remember Syndicate’s supremely over-the-top Gauss Gun? Oh yeah!

Decisions, decisions

Three conflicting tensions (no upgrades in this one! Just choice of weapons):

  1. Movement: speed, jump-distance, acceleration (run-ups) … heavy weapons = fail
  2. Accuracy: sniping and head-shots requires keeping still, keeping fatigue at a minimum (no jumping for a while!)
  3. Positioning: is it better to circle round behind an enemy and catch them unawares (lots of jumping, weak weapons) … or go straight at them, guns blazing, and try to scare them into running while tired (they fall to their death)?


I like this idea because:

  • …who doesn’t want to play in The Matrix?
  • …”Canabalt … with guns”
  • …most FPS’s give you infinite mass and infinite acceleration … this one makes things a lot more realistic and interesting
  • …level-design will be easy! (procedurally generating skyscraper-roofs = WIN)