Metro Nexus: A collaboratively-designed video game!

by Mark LaCroix

MN

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Metro Nexus is a charming, challenging puzzle-platformer game for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, OUYA, and Android TV, where the art and animation for each level will be created by a completely different artist!

A Collaboratively-Designed Video Game?

As a filmmaker and designer, I have always benefited from collaboration. So as I was developing the initial code and early concepts for Metro Nexus, I felt a little trapped in my own head. My workflow as a developer was more formal, and was missing that element of inspired synthesis that comes when working with others. I had a clear vision of the project, but frankly, it wasn’t enough.

So I recruited a series of talented and accomplished visual artists and traditional 2D animators, giving them each a level or two in the game to completely re-interpret in their own unique style. It’s a first-of-its-kind concept for a video game, and to bring it into the world, we need your help!

The Story, or: Armagedd…eh?

It’s the far future year of 20XX, and we’ve run out of oil. The only viable mode of transportation is a form of electric rail operated by a single corporation, World Municipal. There’s just one problem: it barely works. As a result, everyone is always late for work, no one ever goes on lunch dates, and only the very rich can afford to leave their neighborhoods.

One day, you discover an ancient worldwide network of rapid underground lines, probably built by aliens or something. If put into service, the Metro Nexus would link all the rail systems on the planet, make neighbors of everyone on Earth, and unlock the key to everlasting world peace!

And so, armed with purpose, you retrofit an old repair trolley and travel from city to city, providing much-needed connection and power to the planet’s long-suffering commuters! You’ll need to navigate smartly, avoid obstacles, and not accidentally kill anyone… all while avoiding capture by the World Municipal HR department!

Gameplay

Gameplay in Metro Nexus, a blend of 2D platformer and “endless runner,” is an homage to an old Arcade/NES game called City Connection, which I loved as a child but few others seem to remember.

In Metro Nexus, the player drives a vehicle which can jump between platforms, turn around, speed up or slow down... but it cannot stop. Each platform is made of tiles which are powered up when the player drives over them. The player advances once they have powered up every tile in the level.

The real challenge is to find the most efficient path to "solve" each level, requiring careful timing and creative thinking. Every tile you drive over more than once brings your efficiency rating down, which will lower your score... and look bad on your employee review.

Design

The game's user interface takes inspiration from the transit systems of the world's major cities. Sources of inspiration include the famed 1970 NYCTA Graphics Standards Manual and David Vereschagin's re-creation of the Toronto Subway typeface:

Concept Art!

As a backer, you'll get to see new artwork from the various designers as they are created, but here are a few pieces of early concept art that we're ready to show:

Clockwise from top-left: Paris by Chris Handrick, Tokyo by Eyona Bella, Barcelona by Kari Jo Skogquist, Helsinki by Mark LaCroix.

Brasov by Chris Handrick.

Where You Come In

We’re asking for $3,000 to help fund the artists working on the project. To create the game, each artist will need to design and animate all of the game’s elements for their level(s), including the player avatar, enemies, platforms, power-ups, and background elements. This involves not just the design work itself, but research and gameplay implementation.

Additionally, there are some direct costs, such as development hardware and memberships to Google and Apple developer programs.

The game is currently playable, as I have built the core of the game engine already, but there is still much work to do on the development side. This includes testing for multiple platforms, implementing features and unlockables, and of course, general testing and debugging.

Perks!

Perks include the game itself, the soundtrack, and special thanks in the credits. At the $15 donation level, you’ll be able to sign up as a Metro Nexus early access playtester, which means you’ll get access to early versions of game levels which you can play, review, and rate for us using our online feedback form. Check out all the perks on the right side of this page!

OMG, T-shirts!

Stretch Goals

At a minimum, there will be at least 10 stages, with at least 6 unique art styles from the current roster of artists. However, additional resources means that we will be more easily able to create additional levels and designs, enlist additional artists for the project, or both. Additionally, it will also allow us to develop a competitive multiplayer mode, design unlockable player avatars, create native “achievements” for the various platforms, and more.

Multiplayer mode concept art: It's arcade Mario Bros. meets Towerfall meets Splatoon. I really want to include this.

The game will launch on multiple platforms, but with additional recourses I’d be able to distribute the game on even more, which might include Steam, Amazon Fire TV, NVIDIA Shield, and GameStick, among others.

And so…

Thank you for your curiosity and your support. This project is unique not just in its concept, but in its execution. Your tax-deductible donation is what will make it a reality... instead of just a profoundly silly idea!

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