In 2009, indie game designer Adam Saltsman released Canabalt, a retro-style side-scrolling experience that birthed an entirely new genre of video games now known as “endless runners”. Since Canabalt, a profusion of endless runners have taken its lead on mobile platforms including the enormously successful Temple Run series.
Unpossible seeks to deliver a new form of endless running—one that unfolds in first-person in a visually-stunning sci-fi world.
Bryan Duke, founder of mobile gaming studio Acceleroto, discusses the genesis of his visceral endless runner, Unpossible, and how he enhanced the game’s already impressive sci-fi visuals for NVIDIA Tegra K1-powered devices like the SHIELD tablet.
“I toyed with making a tube-riding racing game for a few years before I started Unpossible,” Duke explains. “When hardcore twitch games started rising in popularity, I knew the way I had to go with it.”
Duke says that he designed Unpossible so that gamers of all skill levels can enjoy it. While the game is easy learn, especially on the Simplicity level, things become a great deal more challenging once players advance to the Futile and even tougher Ultra difficulty settings.
As Duke points out, another thing that sets Unpossible apart from other endless runners is its control schemes, which include touch, tilt and gamepad controls that each feature their own custom Kalman filter and control laws.
“[T]he result is three different control schemes that get players quickly immersed in the game,” he says. “Players who typically don’t like tilt controls often find that they love the tilt controls in Unpossible. Whatever your preference, it has a control scheme tweaked just for you.”
When creating Unpossible’s vibrant, neon-lit universe, Duke enlisted the talent of artist Michael Heald from Fully Illustrated to bring its futuristic world to life.
“When [Michael] sent me the first concept art, I was completely blown away,” Duke recalls. “Turning his concept art into a fluid, playable experience was a really fun challenge.”
While optimizing the game for the NVIDIA SHIELD tablet, Duke and team of developers saw a real opportunity to take advantage of its next-gen Tegra K1 processor to enhance the game’s visuals and effects.
“The Tegra K1 is a powerhouse,” Duke remarks. “In addition to the real-time glow effects that some other high-end mobile devices can do in Unpossible, I added god rays and more advanced shaders to Tegra K1 devices.”
“When you play Unpossible on a Tegra K1 device, you’ll want to show your friends — people you don’t know will look over your shoulder and ask what you’re playing.”
“The Fresnel effects in the new shaders make the obstacles pop,” he continues. “The shading across the faces of the obstacles also has a richer feel. The god rays look great in screenshots, but they give the game even more ‘wow’ when you see them moving around at 60 frames per second on the SHIELD tablet.
Now that Unpossible has launched on Android and the SHIELD tablet, Duke says that he plans to bring the experience to more platforms starting with Android TV and then on Steam for PC, OS X and Linux.
“After that, I’d like to get it on as many consoles as I can,” he adds.